Biological Mind with Alan Jasanoff (BS 146)

Biological Mind with Alan Jasanoff (BS 146)

BS 146 is an interview with Dr. Alan Jasanoff, author of The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are. We talk about how what he calls “the cerebral mystique” causes people to forget that the brain is not autonomous, but relies on its interaction with the body and its environment to create the Mind.

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Jeff Hawkins Explores a New Theory of Cortical Function (BS 139)

Jeff Hawkins Explores a New Theory of Cortical Function (BS 139)

Jeff Hawkins, author of the bestseller On Intelligence tells us about his latest research into how the neocortex produces intelligence. He proposes an exciting new model that could change the way we imagine cortical function.

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Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Brain Science 136 is a discussion of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg. We explore some recent discoveries from reading science and ponder why there is such a large gap between these scientific discoveries and current educational practices in the US. 

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Honoring William Uttal's Contributions to Cognitive Neuroscience (BS 132)

Dr. William Uttal, who died last month at the age of 86, had a very unusual career, going from physics and engineering to psychology and cognitive science. I think his unique background contributed to the refreshing skepticism that he brought to the growing use of imaging (especially fMRI) in the cognitive sciences.

He was a prolific writer on the subject and back in 2012 I had the honor of talking with him about his book Mind and Brain: A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience. In addition to shedding light on the limitations of imaging (such as poor reproducibility), Dr. Uttal also argued that it was premature to abandon other psychological testing methods.

This month I am replaying that 2012 interview. Brain Science 132 includes a new introduction and closing remarks.  While Dr. Uttal's writing was aimed at a technical audience I think it is important for listeners of all backgrounds to be aware of these issues because they remain as relevant as ever.

How to get this episode:

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Links and References

Announcements

  • You can now record your voice feedback at http://speakpipe.com/docartemis.
  • Brain Science is now 100% listener supported. You can support the show via direction donations, Premium Subscription, or Patreon
  • I am planning to attend this year's Society of Neuroscience Meeting, which is being held in Washington DC November 11-15, 2017. Please email at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com if you are going to be in Washington during those dates. If there is enough interest I will arrange a listener meet-up.
  • I am also in the early stages of planning a trip to Australia in 2018 and would love to hear from Australian listeners for ideas and advice, including leads on speaking opportunities.

Neuropsychology and the Study of Memory - Dr. Brenda Milner (BS 129)

Neuropsychology and the Study of Memory - Dr. Brenda Milner (BS 129)

BS 129 features pioneering neuroscientist Brenda Milner. Dr. Milner is best known for work work on memory including key discoveries she made while working with the famous patient HM. She also made important discoveries about the differences between the brain's hemispheres by studying the so-called "split brain" patients. This interview was recorded in 2008 when Dr. Milner was 90, but I am glad to report that she is still going strong at age 98.

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9th Annual Review of Neuroscience (BSP 125)

9th Annual Review of Neuroscience (BSP 125)

BSP 125 is our ninth annual review episode. We review some key ideas from each of the 10 episodes that were released in 2015, and then take a look ahead to 2016. Check out the show notes for a complete lists of this year's guests and the books we covered. The transcript for this episode is FREE.

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Neural Reuse and Embodied Cognition (BSP 124)

BSP 124 is an interview with Dr. Michael Anderson, author of After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. We also continue our ongoing discussion of Embodied Cognitive Science.

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Phenomenology and Embodied Cognition (BSP 123)

Phenomenology and Embodied Cognition (BSP 123)

BSP 123 is an interview with philosopher Anthony Chemero, author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science and Phenomenology: An Introduction with Stephan Käufer. The focus of this interview is understanding how phenomenology has influenced psychology and cognitive science.

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"The Cognitive-Emotional Brain" (BSP 106)

  Luiz Pessoa  of the University of Maryland

Luiz Pessoa of the University of Maryland

In The Cognitive-Emotional Brain: From Interactions to Integration neuroscientist Luiz Pessoa argues that emotion and cognition are deeply intertwined throughout many levels of the brain. In a recent interview (BSP 106) Pessoa and I focused on recent discoveries about the amygdala and Thalamus that challenge traditional assumptions about what these structures do. The amygdala processes more than fear (and other negative stimuli) and the Thalamus is more than  a mere relay station.

This a fairly technical discussion but Pessoa did a good job of making the material accessible to all listeners. The reason I think these concepts matter is that not only do they challenge overly simplistic notions of how the brain works, but they also challenge our tendency to see emotion and cognition as separate and often opposing processes.

How to get this episode:

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  • Buy Episode Transcript for $1.
  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References and Additional Reading

Related Episodes

Announcements

Robert Burton's "Skeptic's Guide to the Mind" (BSP 96)

 Robert Burton, MD

Robert Burton, MD

In On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, Robert Burton showed that the feeling of certainty, which is something we all experience, has its origin in brain processes that are both unconscious and inaccessible to consciousness . Now in his new book, A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves, he extends these ideas to other mental sensations such as our feeling of agency and our sense of causation.  The idea that much of what our brain does is not accessible to our conscious awareness is NOT new, but Dr. Burton considers the implications for our understanding of the MIND.

When we talked recently (BSP 96), Dr. Burton explained that his new book has two main parts.  In the early chapters, he extends the principles he developed in On Being Certain to other mental sensations. We tend to take things like our feeling of certainty, agency, and causation for granted, but he points out that these are generated in parts of the brain that we can neither access or control.  What makes A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind stand out is that Burton then explores the implications of this reality. He argues that while we can become ever more knowledgeable about how our brain works, the MIND, which is something that we each experience subjectively, is much more elusive.

The fact that we are trying to study the MIND with the MIND has inherent limitations and I think that Dr. Burton is right when he says our response should be HUMILITY.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References:

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 42: A discussion of On Being Certain
  • BSP 43: Interview with Robert Burton about On Being Certain
  • BSP 67: Interview with Thomas Metzinger, author of The Ego Tunnel  
  • BSP 85: Interview with Sebastian Seung, author of Connectome.

Send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

Neuroscience Highlights for 2012 (BSP 92)

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The Brain Science Podcast recently passed 4 million downloads and it remains entrenched at or near the top of the iTunes rankings for Science and Medicine. So now it's time for our 6th Annual Review Episode. The purpose of this year-ending podcast is to review some of the year's highlights and key ideas. As I reviewed the transcripts of this year's episodes, I was struck by the fact that although each episode stands alone, they also inform one another. One unifying theme was the importance of taking an evolutionary approach to understanding how the human brain generates complex features like mind and consciousness.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

 

Interviews have become an outstanding feature of the Brain Science Podcast. This year I interviewed 10 scientist, including five who have appeared in past podcasts.

Scientists Interviewed in 2012:

#Indicates returning guest. See Guest List for previous episode.

*See the Bibliography page for books featured on the Brain Science Podcast.

In addition to discussing the books by these guests, I also reviewed Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brainby Michael S. Gazzaniga, and Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brainby Antonio Damasio.

Related Episodes: 

  • BSP 32: Brief Introduction to brain anatomy.
  • BSP 47: Basics of brain evolution.
  • BSP 57: Chris Frith, author of Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World.
  • BSP 67: Thomas Metzinger, author of The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self.

Announcements:

Ways to Support the BSP:

Tell me what you think:

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"Mind in Life" with Evan Thompson (BSP 89)

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Evan Thompson, PhD

 

Embodied Cognition is a movement within cognitive science that argues that the mind is inseparable from the fact that the brain is embedded in a physical body. This means that everything that the brain does, from the simplest perception to complex decision-making, relies on the interaction of the body with its environment.  Evan Thompson's book, Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, is an in-depth look at what he calls the "enactive" approach to embodied cognition. The enactive approach was pioneered by Thompson's mentor Francisco Varela, and it emphasizes the importance of the body's active engagement with its environment.

In a recent interview (BSP 89) I talked with Thompson about some of the key ideas in Mind in Life. Unlike most episodes of the Brain Science Podcast, this is not really a stand-alone episode. It is part of my ongoing exploration of both embodied cognition and the controversial topic of emergence. It is also intended as a follow-up to my recent interview with Terrence Deacon.

How to get this episode:

 

References:

Related Episodes: 

  • BSP 5: A bried introduction to philosphy of mind
  • BSP 25: Embodied Intelligence with Rolf Pfeifer
  • BSP 36: Art Glenberg on Embodied Cognition
  • BSP 53: Discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? (emergence and free will)
  • BSP 62: Warren Brown, co-author of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?
  • BSP 73: Lawrence Shapiro, author of Embodied Cognition.
  • Books and Ideas #47: Terrence Deacon, author of Incomplete Nature.

Announcements:

  • Continuing education credit is now available for selected episodes of the Brain Science Podcast. Click here to learn more.
  • I will be in Philadelphia, PA October 16-21 to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Please contact me if you would like to get together.
  • My eBook Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certainty is on sale for only $2.99. Please post your review.
  • Next month's Brain Science Podcast will be a discussion of Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Damasio. Self Comes to Mind is also available from our sponsor Audible.com.
  • Please visit the Brain Science Podcast on Facebook or Google+, or join the BSP  Discussion Forum at Goodreads.com.
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  • Send me (Dr. Campbell) email at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter (@docartemis).

"Mind and Brain" with William Uttal (BSP 83)

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William Uttal, PhD

There is nothing more exciting than the mind/brain problem" according to Dr. William Uttal, author of Mind and Brain: A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience.  In the latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast  (BSP 83) I talked with Dr. Uttal about why he feels that brain imaging can not solve this mystery.

First, there is the problem that brain imaging represents the wrong level of analysis because every spot you see on a brain scan actaully represents thousands of neurons.  This means that the activity and interaction between individual neurons has been lost. Then there is the problem of reproducibility, with divergent results between studies.

The evidence is accumulating that "much of the brain responds to any stimulus, and every area of the brain participates in multiple functions."  This means that asking where a given function occurs may be the wrong question.

BSP 83 represents an on-going discussion of these issues, so I have included links to related episodes in the show notes. 

How to get this episode:

References: 

Related Podcasts:  

Reminders:

Send me feedback at gincampbell at mac dot.com.

How Mind Emerges from Brain (BSP 82)

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In his latest book, Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain, respected neuroscientist, Michael S. Gazzaniga, explores how the discoveries of neuroscience impact how we see ourselves as human beings.  After providing a brief review of 20th century neuroscience, and even some of the work from the past decade, Dr. Gazzaniga concludes that nothing neuroscience has discovered changes the fact that "we are personally responsible agents and are to be held accountable for our actions."

Gazzaniga's position contrasts with those who think that recent discoveries show that the brain creates the mind in solely "upwardly causal" way, and who argue that since much of what our brain does is outside our conscious awareness or control, we should not be held responsible for our actions.  Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain presents what I think is a convincing argument against this common position.

In the latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 82) I present a detailed discussion of Dr. Gazzaniga's book.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References:

Related Episodes:

  • Links to episodes of the Brain Science Podcast that are mentioned in BSP 82.
  • BSP 81: Interview with Patricia Churchland about the brain and morality.
  • BSP 53: Discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy, Warren S. Brown.  (Also BSP 62)
  • BSP 35: Discussion of Mirror Neurons.
  • BSP 66: For more on scrub jays.
  • BSP 3: Memory and the use of animal models.
  • BSP 38: Interview with Jeff Hawkins.
  • BSP 47: Brain Evolution.
  • BSP 74: "Small world architecture" in brain networks (Olaf Sporns).
  • BSP 75: Interview with David Eagleman (arguments for legal reform).
  • BSP 76: "Choking" with Dr. Sian Beilock.
  • BSP 56: Interview with Eve Marder (implications of muliple realizability in neuronal circuits).

Announcements:

Send feedback to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

Patricia Churchland on Neuroscience and Morality (BSP 81)

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Patricia Churchland (photo by Nines Minquez)

 

BSP 81 marks the return of philosopher Patricia Churchland, who I first interviewed back in Episode 55.  Our recent conversation focuses on her latest book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality.  We discuss the historical background and contrast Churchland's approach to that of Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape.  Then Professor Churchland discusses how recent discoveries in neuroscience are shedding light on the evolutionary origins of morality.

It's a fascinating conversation that you won't want to miss. 

 

 

 

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References:

Links: 

Announcements:

Cognitive Dissonance (BSP Extra)

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I am putting Episode 43 of Books and Ideas into the Brain Science Podcast feed because it should be of interest to BSP fans. This episode is an interview with psychologist Carol Tavris.

 

We talk about the relationship between psychology and neuroscience as well as cognitive dissonance, which is the subject of Dr. Tavris's recent book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.

 

Post your comments in the thread on the BSP Discussion Forum in Goodreads or send me feedback at gincampbell at mac dot com.

"Why Neuroscience Matters"

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On May 11, 2011 I gave a talk entitled "Why Neuroscience Matters" at the London Skeptics in the Pub.  Episode 42 of Books and Ideas is an edited version of that talk, including the lively Q and A with the audience.

References

From the Brain Science Podcast

Announcements:

  • Dr. Campbell will be a speaker at The Amazing Meeting 9, which is coming up in Las Vegas, Nevada July 14-17.

Please send your feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbel at mac dot com, or post a comment on the Facebook Fan Page.

Don't forget to sign up for Ginger Campbell's Newsletter so you can get show notes for every podcast.

Embodied Cognition with Lawrence Shapiro (BSP 73)

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Lawrence Shapiro

In his new book, Embodied Cognition, Dr. Lawrence Shapiro provides a balanced introduction to embodied cognition's attempts to challenge standard cognitive science.  His interview in Episode 73 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of a few of his book's key ideas. It also continues our ongoing exploration of the role of embodiment. 

 

 

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 25: Embodied Artificial Intelligence with Dr. Rolf Pfeifer.
  • BSP 36: Introduction to Embodied Cognition with Dr. Art Glenberg.
  • BSP 58: "Extended Mind" with philosopher Alva Noë.
  • BSP 66: Computational cognitive science with Dr. Randy Gallistel.

Some scientists mentioned in this episode:

References:

Annoucements:

Send feed back to Dr. Campbell at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com