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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Summer Announcements about Brain Science Podcast

Dennis Smith and Ginger Campbell (taken ~2000)

Dennis Smith and Ginger Campbell (taken ~2000)

Because of my husband's recent unexpected death, I will not be posting a new episode of the Brain Science Podcast until sometime next month. However, I have posted a brief audio announcement. This includes the content of Books and Ideas #58, which shares some memories of our life together.

New logo for Brain Science with Ginger Campbell, MD

New logo for Brain Science with Ginger Campbell, MD

  • Donations in honor of Dennis G Smith (1946-2015) are going to German Shepherd Rescue of Central Alabama.
  • BSP 121 had some regrettable sound quality issues: Click here for the improved version. [Special thanks to Jeff King for his help!]
  • Some minor changes in the Premium Subscription: all episodes after BSP 92 will remain free, but for each free episode there will be a "Premium Version with Transcript." In the future, the Premium version will contain an Audible.com recommendation, but no additional advertising. Click here to learn more.
  • The name of the Brain Science Podcast is being changed to Brain Science with Ginger Campbell, MD. This is in keeping with current trends in show names and to make the show more attractive to other outlets like radio. This will not affect the website URL or feed address.
  • The next new episode will be out in the last half of September
  • Please send feedback to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter.

"How Do you Feel?" with Dr. Bud Craig

"How Do you Feel?" with Dr. Bud Craig

BSP 121 is an interview with AD (Bud) Craig, author of How Do You Feel?: An Interoceptive Moment with Your Neurobiological Self. Even though his book is quite technical he does a great job of describing his discoveries in a way that is accessible for listeners of all backgrounds.

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More on CI Therapy with Ed Taub (BSP 120)

More on CI Therapy with Ed Taub (BSP 120)

BSP 120 is the second half of our interview with Dr. Edward Taub who leads the ongoing development of Constraint Induced (CI) Therapy. We continue to explore the role of learned non-use as well as the expansion of CI Therapy beyond stroke to include traumatic brain injury (TBI) and even spinal cord injuries.

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Dr. Ed Taub revolutionizes Stroke Rehab (BSP 119)

Dr. Ed Taub revolutionizes Stroke Rehab (BSP 119)

BSP 119 is the first half of a new interview with Dr. Edward Taub, inventor of Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, which is a revolutionary approach to rehabilitating people with brain injuries, such as stroke and trauma.

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BSP 115: Eastern Philosophy and Western Neuroscience

EvanThompson

Scientific interest in the Mind and Consciousness is relatively new, but both Western and Eastern Philosophy have a long tradition of exploring these topics. In his new book Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy, Evan Thompson explores how these diverse traditions can inform and enrich one another.

Thompson goes beyond a narrow view of consciousness, which focuses only on the waking state. Instead he considers how dreaming, lucid dreaming, and even near death experiences can advance our understanding of how our brain's generate both consciousness and our sense of Self. 

 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)<<<CORRECTED LINK
  • Episode Transcript [Buy for $1]
  • Premium Subscribers  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.

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 5: Very brief introduction to Philosophy of Mind.
  • BSP 55:  Patricia Churchland, PhD, discusses Neurophilosophy.
  • BSP 58: Alva Noë, PhD, discusses Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness.
  • BSP 67: Thomas Metzinger discusses The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self.
  • BSP 73: Embodied Cognition with Lawrence Shapiro, PhD.
  • BSP 81: Patricia Churchland discusses Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality.
  • BSP 89: Evan Thompson discusses Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.
  • BSP 96: Robert Burton, MD discusses A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.

Announcements:

  • This month's Audible recommendation: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults byFrances E. Jensen, MD
  • The next episode of the Brain Science Podcast will feature Dr. Norman Doidge talking about his new book The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.
  • Reminder: the 25 most recent episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always free, but Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all back episodes and transcripts. The Brain Science Podcast Mobile App is FREE. It is a great way to consume both free and premium content (since this will not appear in iTunes or other podcasting apps).
  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+. I am looking for help with these community pages so please email me at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com if you are interested.

Brain Science Podcast Celebrates 8 Years of Neuroscience

Ginger CampbeLL, host of the Brain Science Podcast  (L>R: Greta, Rusty, & Jake)

Ginger CampbeLL, host of the Brain Science Podcast  (L>R: Greta, Rusty, & Jake)

The first episode of the Brain Science Podcast appeared on December 5, 2006, which makes it one of the longest running shows in any genre, not just science or medicine. I am especially proud of the fact that we have reached listeners in 219 different countries. BSP 114 is our 8th annual review episode and as a part of our year-end celebration all previous annual review episodes have been added to the FREE feed that also includes our most recent 25 episodes.

The goal of our annual review episode is to highlight some of the key ideas that we have explored during the last years. For 2014 this included discussions of brain plasticity with Dr. Michael Merzenich, the integration of cognition and emotion with Dr. Luis Pessoa, the science of sleep with Dr. Penny Lewis, the hazards of neuromaniaconsciousness with Dr. Michael Graziano, exercise and the brain with Dr. John Ratey, neurobiology with Dr. Frank Amthor, and mirror neurons with Dr. Greg Hickok. We ended the year with highlights from the event "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which featured the Dalai Lama and three previous Brain Science Podcast guests.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • Download FREE Episode Transcript
  • Premium Subscribers  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.

2014 Episodes:

 

 

"Neuroplasticity and Healing" (BSP 113)

Click to play BSP 113

Click to play BSP 113

The Dalai Lama's first visit to Alabama included several large public gatherings but I was invited to attend "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which was the scientific symposium he hosted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The featured neuroscientists were Dr. Edward Taub and Dr. Michael Merzenich. The moderator was Dr. Norman Doidge.

The Dalai Lama has a long-standing interest in science and he told the rapt audience that his four areas of interest are cosmology, physics, neurobiology, and psychology.

He is very interested in neuroplasticity and his visit to Alabama was actually prompted by a desire to see the work of Dr. Edward Taub who has pioneered a revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation. During this event Dr. Taub and Dr. Merzenich both shared how their work in brain plasticity is being used to help people with a variety of neurological challenges, but Dr. Merzenich also emphasized that these same principles can be applied by everyone. He explained that brain plasticity "is a two way process," which means that the choices we make are important. The Dalai Lama noted that Eastern practices like Meditation "work from the inside out," which is why he feels that Buddhist psychology and modern neuroscience can inform each other.

Episode 113 of the Brain Science Podcast includes audio excerpts from "Neuroplasticity and Healing" as well as my summary of the key ideas. Extras for the Mobile app include a free download of BSP 26 with Dr. Norman Doidge.

Right Click to Download free mp3 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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.

Links and References:

Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

  • BSP 10: Introduction to Brain Plasticity (Discussion of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain)
  • BSP 26: Norman Doidge, MD, author of The Brain That Changes Itself
  • BSP 28: Edward Taub, PhD: applies brain plasticity to Stroke Rehab  
  • BSP 54: Michael Merzenich, pioneer of Neuroplasticity
  • BSP 105: Michael Merzenich talks about Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life

Announcements:

  • Next month's episode will be our 8th Annual Review Episode.

  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. Older episodes and episode transcripts are available for $1 each. Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all 100+ episodes and transcripts.

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.  Check newer episodes for extra free content!

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+.

The Dalai Lama explores Neuroplasticity (BSP 113)

The scientific highlight of the Dalai Lama's first visit to Alabama was an invitation-only event called "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which was held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). BSP 113 features exclusive coverage of that event.

Click here to play the audio. Right click to download the mp3 file.

The episode transcript and full show notes will be posted next week.

What Do Mirror Neurons Really Do? (BSP 112)

Greg Hickok, PhD (Click on photo to hear his interview)

Greg Hickok, PhD (Click on photo to hear his interview)

Ever since their chance discovery back in 1992 mirror neurons have captured the imagination of both scientists and nonscientists, but their actual role remains mostly speculative. In The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition Dr. Gregory Hickok (UC-Irvine) explains why the most popular theory is probably wrong. He also provides a fascinating account of how science is really done and the sobering lesson that scientists can fall prey to the same cognitive biases (and tendencies toward laziness) that plague all humans.

I first discussed the discovery of mirror neurons back in BSP 35 when I featured  Mirrors in the brain: How our minds share actions, emotions, and experience (2008) by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Corrado Sinigaglia. At that time what I found most fascinating was that since mirror neurons fire both when a subject (usually a monkey) performs an action and when a similar action is observed, this proves that single neurons are not necessarily purely motor or purely sensory. This surprising discovery seems to have been overshadowed in the rush to use mirror neurons to explain everything from autism to language evolution.

The latest Brain Science Podcast  (BSP 112) features an interview with Dr. Gregory Hickok. BSP 35 is also available for FREE via the Brain Science Podcast Mobile APP.

 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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 Links

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 35: introduction to Mirror Neurons (free as an episode extra if you use the BSP mobile app)
  • BSP 39: Dr. Michael Arbib on the possible role of mirror neurons in language evolution (note this interview doesn't represent his current views)

Announcements:

  • Next month's episode will provide exclusive coverage of "Neuroplasticity and Healing" an event being hosted by the Dalai Lama at the UAB School of Medicine.

  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. Older episodes and episode transcripts are available for $1 each. Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all 100+ episodes and transcripts.

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.  Check newer episodes for extra free content!

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+.

Exercise Promotes Brain Plasticity (BSP 111)

John Ratey, MD
Click picture to hear interview

According to psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey the best way to improve brain plasticity is by exercise.  I spoke to him shortly after he published his best-seller Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008). He commented that even compared to drugs "Exercise is the champ."

Download BSP 111

Since then Dr. Ratey has been traveling the world promoting the value of exercise for people of all ages, but his main focus has been on young people and on trying to restore and invigorate physical education programs in the schools. In Spark he provided some of the preliminary evidence that vigorous exercise promotes better academic performance, but that evidence had continued to mount.

Besides improving academic performance regular exercise also helps over all mental health. Exercise is especially effective for problems like depression and ADHD. Our brains rely on a complex mixture of neuroactive chemicals (neurotransmitters, etc.), but since our understanding of these is still very primitive, treatment with drugs can be unpredictable. Dr. Ratey feels that medications can be an important part of treating problems like ADHD, but that exercise should be included as an essential element.

Of course, even those of us who don't struggle with mental illnes are concerned with keeping our brains healthy as we age. Here again Dr. Ratey argues that exercise is essential. He speculates that exercise tricks your brain "into thinking that you're younger and that you still need to grow, as opposed to being stationary and having atrophy occur." Also, when you keep on learning (new things) your brain continues to respond and build new pathways. This is very similar to what Dr. Michael Merzenich (one of the pioneers of brain plasticity) told us in BSP 105.

Dr. Ratey is working on a new book that will be an update on the science that has been done since Spark was published, but his 2008 interview remains one of my favorites. That's why I just released an updated version of this interview as BSP 111. 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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 Links

Related Episodes:

Announcements:

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. Click here to learn more.

  • This is the first time I have reposted an older episode. I need listener suggestions about what other older episodes you would like me to share with new listeners.

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+.

"Neurobiology for Dummies" (BSP 110)

Frank Amthor, PhD: Click image to play BSP 110

Frank Amthor, PhD: Click image to play BSP 110

Frank Amthor's latest book Neurobiology for Dummies isn't just for readers who are new to neuroscience. In this excellent follow-up to his Neuroscience for Dummies Dr. Amthor discusses a wide variety of brain-related topics. Since I have known Frank for several years it was a special treat to interview him for BSP 110. We talked about a wide variety of ideas ranging from what makes neurons special to how brains differ from current computers. 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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.

Reference and Links:

Announcements:

Avoiding "Neuromania" (BSP 109)

I have spent the last 7 1/2 years sharing and promoting neuroscience and while it has been encouraging to see the field grow in popularity, there has also been a disturbing trend toward increased hype. One goal of the Brain Science Podcast is to provide accurate information that helps the average listener enjoy the science and avoid pseudoscience. BSP 109 was inspired by several excellent books that have documented the hazards of what some writers are calling "neuromania" or neurocentrism, which is the tendency to see the brain as the only path to understanding.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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.

This episode is based on:

Additional References:

Announcements:

Consciousness as Social Perception (BSP 108)

Michal Graziano and Kevin (click image to play interview)

Michal Graziano and Kevin (click image to play interview)

In his latest book Consciousness and the Social Brain  Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano proposes a unique and compelling theory of consciousness. He proposes that the same circuits that the human brain uses to attribute awareness to others are used to model self-awareness. He emphasizes that his attention schema theory is only tentative, but it is testable and it does fit our current knowledge of brain function.

In a recent interview for the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 108), Graziano used the following clinical example to clarify his approach. A colleague had a patient who was convinced that he had a squirrel in his head. When confronted with the illogic of his claim the patient replied “Not everything can be explained by science.” In this example it is clear that the squirrel doesn’t really exist, so the question to be answered is HOW did his brain reach the conclusion that it does.

While imagining one has a squirrel in one’s head is thankfully rare, we also know that our subjective experiences of the world are not necessarily accurate. Our perception of the world is shaped by how our brain processes the sensory inputs it receives. For example, we perceive white light as an absence of color even though in reality it consists of all wavelengths.

Perception is something our brains do constantly and which we can not consciously control. In considering awareness (and by extension consciousness) perception-like Graziano is emphasizing several important features. The most important is probably the fact that it is only “quick and dirty model” of what is really going on, which means that our intuitions about consciousness are not necessarily reliable. In fact, humans have a strong tendency to over-attribute awareness to the world around us. This is part of the social circuitry that has made us the most successful species in the earth’s history, but it can also lead to amusing results (as anyone who has interacted with Siri on an iPhone has no doubt observed).

Another implication of considering awareness as a form of social perception is that it reverses the usual approach taken to understanding consciousness. Instead of asking how a physical brain can produce something subjective and non-physical called consciousness, we ask what kind of information processing leads to the conclusion that I (or anyone else) is conscious. As Graziano points out, this is a “mechanistic” model. Not only can it be tested but it has interesting implications. Dr. Graziano concluded that one of the key implications is "that awareness and consciousness are tools for information processing, and they are mechanistically understandable, and presumably can be engineered.”

I find the attention schema theory to be very compelling. Besides being testable, it has a simple elegance that I appreciate. It also explains why most humans experience a world filled with spirits, and are utterly convinced that their own consciousness is something special and non-physical.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
  • 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.

Related Episodes:

Since understanding consciousness is one of the deepest questions facing neuroscience, it has been explored on many previous episodes of the Brain Science Podcast. Rather than list all those episodes I want to mention just a few that I think are particularly relevant to this month’s episode. 

Announcements: