James Doty

Can we rewire the brain to become more compassionate? That’s one of the questions central to the work of James Doty, director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Doty’s new book, “Into the Magic Shop”, chronicles his journey from a chaotic childhood in Southern California to a scientist at the cutting edge of the heart-brain connection.

James Doty, neurosurgeon, clinical professor, Stanford School of Medicine; author of "Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and Secrets of the Heart"

  • jakeleone

    I know these question are really spaced out, but I am consumed by them.

    Why is the brain/mind so transparent?

    Why is so much of what we measure in the brain electrically dominated by spikes and spikey rythms? But nothing we can recognize as an image or sound (or other useful specific data) (when viewing a living brain from the outside). (not data conjectured by analyzing guessing from patterns of electrical activity or, if that is the only way to describe it, why is it wrong to think of it any other way (swarm – intelligence)?)

    Why can an oscillating wire carry so much more power over long distances? (do the electrons “see” a bigger wire, when the current oscillates (like the brain signal spikiness)?

    Do electrical signals open a path for the soul to enter?

    Does a photon, in the double slit experiment, actually spread out, and is its mind-space bigger than what we take it for?

    I have long been fascinated by bridging the machine-animal experience can you help me (seriously, no pun intended)?

  • geraldfnord

    To what extent can having a better life increase if not the capacity for charity then its readiness of expression. I wonder because though the poor are capable of astonishing acts of charity, it also seems to be true that hatred of the poor and the weak seems easily fomentable among the harried and worried poor and nearly poor—`I work too hard for anyone else to get anything for free. ‘.

    Or as the punch-line of a Chasidic story has it: ‘If he eats meat, he will know the poor need bread; if he eats only bread, he will think the poor can live on stones. ‘.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Parents and teachers play the biggest role in limiting a child. How do we change this?

    • William – SF

      Parents and teachers play the biggest role in expanding a child. How do we promote this?

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        (smacks self) That’s what I meant to ask. Thank you.

  • marte48

    There is nothing new about “the power of positive thinking.” It still doesn’t pay the rent.

  • Noelle

    I wish the politicians and media would stop appealing to our fears, this has to be one factor that limits us in so many ways.

  • Anne Petersen

    I love the title – so metaphysical. And the transformation that this young boy went through by going “Into the Magic Shop” is so affirming to the goodness of people.

  • Chris OConnell

    Yes, 4 million listeners of Glenn Beck are angry and hostile, or certainly plausibly could be argued to be ignorant and angry.

  • John McCadden

    My aunt used the expression: There but for the grace of God go I. When I was a Christian it was at the center of what I considered my relationship with others and now that I’m an atheist I still do.

    • Meryl Selig

      My mother drilled the same expression into our minds and daily lives. A simple sentence but it is truly at the core of compassion.

  • Hassan Rostam

    Programs like this are why I listen to Forum, and to KQED in general. This was moving and educational, for both heart and mind.


    The ancient Egyptians with their great wisdom and knowledge ,and very advance knowledge of the human anatomy ,thought that the human spirit Ka resided in the heart ,and that is why in our western culture we always link the heart with love and romance , including putting our engagement Ring oh that finger in the left hand ,as the Egyptian found it is the shortest distance from the heart to that finger…..Later on the Geeks adopted that concept with their Cupid ,love and romance all represented by the heart….

  • With depression in the family, being vigilant against negativism and
    militantly optimistic is necessary for survival.

  • JimmyOo

    can’t listen or download, archive file is 0 bytes

    • Kitty Whiteside

      I’m having the same problem – still at 7 pm Tues.

  • Sandy Miranda Robinett

    This was a wonderful show. I’ve just tried to download it and the file is empty. Hope you can fix it! Thanks, Michael, James, and team there at Forum. Wonderful work.

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