In complete contrast with his brother’s views about drug policy, Christopher Hitchens expresses a more libertarian view, criticizing and advocating an end to the War on Drugs in the United States and Britain. In conversation with David Frum, it is pointed out how if drugs were legalized, addiction rates may increase. Well, why the hell should we ever advocate for a policy that would have such a result? (more…)
I’m going to step away from the two sensational articles I’ve written on drug addiction and decision making to discuss some feedback I’ve been getting about some of the articles I’ve posted. Don’t worry, I will wrap up my discussion on drugs soon.
Have you ever been told something you were quite surprised by and didn’t want to believe at all, only to see over time that it was in fact true? Perhaps, at first, you denied it vehemently. Then you accepted it begrudgingly. Then you regarded it as a a mere fact. Perhaps you have even come to a point where you find it interesting and take a pride in it.
For example, maybe you’ve been told that you look just like someone else whom you’d rather not look like, perhaps a celebrity that you don’t see as particularly attractive. At first you may be insulted and claim you look nothing like them. Over time, however, enough people point out the resemblance and you begin to see objective truth in their observations and eventually impersonate this celebrity every year on Halloween. Though I was mortified when it was first brought up in high school, I’ve simply come to terms with and embrace the fact that I’m a near perfect duplication of a young Brad Pitt:
Today, I have some neuroanatomy for you: prefrontal cortex.
Mmmm…goes down smooth.
What is a prefrontal cortex (PFC)? This is an area of your cerebral cortex located in the frontal lobe that carries out what neuroscientists will often refer to as “executive functions.” These include mood and action regulation, working memory, attention, etc.
Let’s discuss action regulation. Have you ever had a thought you didn’t want to have, or perhaps were not so bothered by having, but simply would never act upon? That’s because your PFC shuts down your urges. It makes sense then that reductions in prefrontal volume, as well as low connectivity of the PFC with other brain regions has been seen in criminal populations. Some people simply have a reduced capacity not to do bad things. Causes of this include life stressors, lead poisoning and cancer. (more…)