Required skimming: the brain and behavior

The emerging science behind why we do what we do

This month, CJR presents “Required skimming,” a daily miniguide to our staffers’ beats and obsessions. If we overlooked your favorite voice in the mind beat, please tell us in the comments.

When writer David Dobbs announced he was moving his blog, Neuron Culture -which covers genes, brains, and everything in between-from Wired to his own platform, the Internet had a tiny little hissy fit. Now, Dobbs is back writing on his personal site on everything from the science of wonder to overzealous diagnosis of PTSD. He’s also at work on a book about the duality of genes that cause mental health problems and creativity, also known as the “orchid hypothesis,” commemorated in a Neuron Culture post. Back at Wired , senior writer Greg Miller, who published fantastic work on neuroscience as a reporter for Science, is holding down the brain beat quite nicely.

Benedict Carey has carried his interest in the brain and behavior throughout his career at the The New York Times , penning the paper’s Mind column before moving onto a reporting post. His subjects hit at politics, policy, and scientific understanding, an often murky intersection that Carey navigates with skill, whether he’s explaining diagnostic revisions or exploring the behavioral aftereffects of playing violent video games.

One of the most fascinating parts of the evolving science of mental health is watching our diagnostic definitions scramble to keep up with the pace of discovery. British writer Suzy Chapman tracked the latest stream of updates on her blog, DSM 5 Watch, until the American Psychiatric Association served her a trademark infraction notice. Now you can keep up on her new site, Dx Revision Watch , which also follows the development of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), put out by the World Health Organization and used as standard practice in Europe.

Virginia Hughes has been called “the journalist whom neuroscientists trust to get something right.” She gets it right often on her National Geographic blog Only Human, where she covers the serious (the effects of orphanage rearing, the science of recovery) and the less serious (Internet dating, the guy who outed JK Rowling as the pseudonymous author of a mystery novel using forensic linguistics) with equal dexterity.

Karen Franklin is a former criminal investigator who uses her blog, Forensic Psychologist , to break down the space between mental health diagnostics and the legal sphere. Whether she’s looking at the statistics behind recidivism) or the effects of a DSM revision in court (in an excellent two-part series), the blog is just as fascinating as you might expect from its material.

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Alexis Sobel Fitts is a senior writer at CJR. Follow her on Twitter at @fittsofalexis. Tags: , , ,