Do you know what time it is?

You Can’t Escape Our Ever-Expanding Scope of Knowledge
by Alva Noë
June 27, 2014

Does the word “at” occur in the “Star-Spangled Banner”?
If you’re like me, it won’t take you long to answer. You sing the song through at faster-than-normal speed in a whisper, or in your head, until you hit the phrase: “at the twilight’s last gleaming.”
(Hat tip: cognitive scientist Daniel Levitin gives this example in his book This is Your Brain on Music.)

Now consider this: did you know the answer all along?
No, you might say. You needed to look it up.
You’re in the position of a person who, when asked whether he knows the time, answers “yes,” and then looks to his wrist to read his watch. (Hat tip to philosopher Andy Clark for this example.)

It’s one thing to know an answer and another to know how to get it.

The Self That’s Left When Memories Fade

The Self That’s Left When Memories Fade
January 24, 2013

Our memories and experiences help shape who we are, so what happens when memories are erased?
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin talks about the role memories play in defining our sense of self and the challenges that arise when we lose them.

Daniel Levitin, professor of psychological and behavioral neuroscience at McGill.
His forthcoming book is titled “The Organized Mind.”

LEVITIN: Well Neal, it goes back to John Locke, the philosopher who said our memories of our past are part of what gives us a sense of identity. Now what do we mean by that? Well, the University of California Santa Barbara psychologist Stan Klein has distinguished a number of different components of what we mean by self.

And it’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? We talk about self-control and self-esteem, self-regulation, self-improvement, self-image.
Well, Klein distinguishes seven components of the self, and I’d like to talk with you about four of them.

LEVITIN: First there’s self-awareness. That’s the ability we have to recognize ourselves in a mirror or to recognize the parts of our body and know that they are ours.
And separate from that we have a sense of agency or responsibility. You recognize that your body belongs to you and that you more or less control it

Peter and the Wolf
nucleus accumbens

Memory loss sparks a plan for running and living

‘Imperfect Harmony’: How Singing With Others Changes Your Life

‘Imperfect Harmony’: How Singing With Others Changes Your Life
June 03, 2013


making music vs. listening

Daniel Levitin, psychology professor at McGill University, and author of This Is Your Brain on Music, joins the conversation to explain the science of group singing.