"The Self Illusion" with Bruce Hood (BSP 88)


Bruce Hood, PhD


The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity, by Bruce Hood, is a fascinating look at how our brains create both our experience of the world and our sense of being a single, coherent self.  As the word "illusion" in the title indicates, neither is exactly what it seems.  When I interviewed Dr. Hood (BSP 88), he explained that The Self Illusion is a broad introduction to this somewhat surprising idea. The  Self Illusion was written with a general audience in mind.  For those already familiar with the topic, he also puts a new emphasis on the role of development.  All readers should come away with a new appreciation for the critical role social interactions play through out human life.

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"SuperSense": Bruce Hood on Believing the Unbelievable

Episode 34 of Books and Ideas  is an interview with Bruce M Hood, author of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable .

Dr. Hood is a developmental psychologist with a long-standing interest in why people believe weird things.  In SuperSense, he argues that innate cognitive structures (how we think without being taught) give people a natural tendency toward belief in the supernatural.  Our intuitive sense of how the world works is often at odds with the findings of modern science.

In this interview we discuss the evidence for these conclusions and their implications.

Click here for detailed show notes and to learn more about more free episodes of Books and Ideas.

Why Play is Essential to Brain Health with Dr. Stuart Brown (BSP 60)

In Episode 60 of the Brain Science Podcast, Ginger Campbell, MD, interviews Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul Our focus is on the importance of play for normal mental development and psychological health. We also explore the importance of play in adults.

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Send email to Dr. Campbell at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

All in the Mind: Is the Adolescent Mind a Myth?

natasha_mitchell The March 28th episode of All in the Mind is an excellent discussion of the controversy surrounding the meaning of adolescence. While some researchers point to the growing evidence that parts of the brain (such as the frontal lobe and its connections) do not mature until early adulthood as evidence that the adolescent brain is different, some writers, like Dr. Robert Epstein, argue that the problems of adolenscence are created by Western culture not changes in the brain. The episode includes a several distinguished guests with different view points. One of the guests was David Bainbridge, whose book Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain was discussed in Episode 32 of the Brain Science Podcast. I am looking forward to reading his new book Teenagers: A Natural History when it is released in the United States (August, 2009).
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Meditation and the Brain with Daniel Siegel, MD (BSP 44)

Daniel Siegel, M.D.

In Episode 44 of the Brain Science Podcast I talk with Daniel Siegel, MD about meditation and the brain.  Dr. Siegel is the author of several books including The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.  In this interview, we review the scientific evidence about how mindfulness meditation changes the brain, both in terms of short term activity and in terms of long-term structural changes.  The evidence is convincing that a regular mindfulness practice can be an important element of brain health.

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Show Notes and Links

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.:

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Note: Insight Meditation is based of vipassana meditation, the mindfulness practices of Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism.  Insight Meditation is easily adapted to secular purposes because it not based on beliefs or dogmas.  The most well-known secular form is called mindfulness meditation, which begins with a focus on breath awareness and then advances to developing compassion for oneself and others.

Researchers are studying people who practice other types of mediation also. Richard Davidson has focused his work on the study of Tibetan Buddhist monks.  Their practice emphasizes the development of compassion.

*I discussed the therapeutic use of mediation with Delany Dean, PhD, in Episode 20 of Books and Ideas.

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Send email feedback to Ginger Campbell, MD at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com

From SharpBrains™: Ten Tips for Improved Learning

Last year I interviewed Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg about the effects of aging on the brain (Episode 18).  Dr. Elkhonon is the co-founder of the website SharpBrains™, which is an excellent place to find the latest information about brain health.  Recently Dr. Alvaro Fernandez, who runs the SharpBrains™ website invited me to become an expert contributor to the site's blog.  He has also given me permission to share content from his site here.

It seems fitting that I start by mentioning a recent post from Laurie Bertels who writes the Neurons Firing blog. Laurie is a regular Brain Science Podcast listener.  Her blog focuses on how neuroscience applies to learning.  You can find lots of useful background information on her Brain 101 page.

Here is are some excerpts from Laurie's post on SharpBrains™:
If you agree that our brains are designed for learning, then as educators it is incumbent upon us to be looking for ways to maximize the learning process for each of our students, as well as for ourselves.  Some of what follows is simply common sense, but I’ve learned that all of it has a scientific basis in our brains. (Read more...)

She goes on to list 10 tips for applying brain science to help promote better learning. You will find that these tips dovetail nicely with what we learned from Dr. John Medina in Episode 37.

Read Laurie's complete post.

"The Female Brain" with Dr. Louann Brizendine (BSP 20)


Episode 20 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. Louann Brizendine of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco.   Her book, The Female Brainwas just released in paperback, and it is on the New York Times Bestseller list.

We explore how hormones and neurotransmitters effect our brains, and how these effects are different in men and women.  This episode has interesting stuff for listeners of both sexes.

If you would like to learn more, visit Dr. Brizendine's website at http://louannbrizendine.com.

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Review of "The First Idea" by Shanker & Greenspan (BSP 6)


Episode 6 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, And Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans, by Stanley I. Greenspan, MD and Stuart G. Shanker, DPhil.

I wanted to talk about emotion, but I generally base the Brain Science Podcast on my current reading; which is why I chose this rather difficult book that touches on psychology, child development, evolution, and theories about the emergence of language and intelligence.

The basic premise which is discussed in the podcast is that emotional signaling is the basis for the emergence of language and intelligence.  Evidence supporting this hypothesis is discussed, as is how the theory challenges long-standing theories about language and intelligence.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy BSP 1-10 (zip file of mp3 files)
  • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Review of "The Great Brain Debate" (BSP 4)


The debate about the relative contributions of nature versus nurture has probably been going on as long as humans have wondered about the origins of human behavior.  In his 2004 book, The Great Brain Debate: Is it Nature or Nurture?, Harvard neuroscientist, John E Dowling, describes how recent discoveries about brain development shed light on this controversy.  Episode 4 of the Brain Science Podcast discusses the main ideas of Dowling’s book.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy BSP 1-10 (zip file of mp3 files)
  • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.