Pain is a Complex Emotional and Sensory Experience (BSP 93)


Dr. Fernando Cervero  


Dr. Fernando Cervero of McGill University has been studying pain since the beginning of his career back in the 1960s.  These decades have seen tremendous advances in our neuroscientific understanding of what causes different types of pain, as well as changing attitudes.  Pain was once regarded as something that most people had to endure, but now most of us demand adequate pain relief, sometimes even to the point of not tolerating minor pain.  Dr. Cevero's new book, Understanding Pain, provides an accessible account of both the history of pain research and a thoughtful consideration of the challenges facing the field.

The latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast  (BSP 93) is an interview with Dr. Cervero.  This is Part 1 of a planned two-part series.

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Meet Dr. Campbell in Person:

  • Downtown Atlanta, Georgia February 19-21, 2013.
  • South by SouthWest: March 7-10, 2013 (Austin, TX, USA).
  • Johannesburg, South Africa April 8,9 2013.

I would love to some listener meetups, so please drop me an email at gincampbell at mac dot com, if you will be at any of these places on the right days.

Other Announcements:


  • Don't forget to get your copy of my eBook, Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certainty, from  If you don't have the Kindle app, just send me your Amazon receipt and I will send you the PDF.
  • The Brain Science Podcast is supported by listener donations.  It also relies on your word of mouth, so don't forget to share it with others.
  • Join the Brain Science Podcast  Fan Page on Facebook, Google+, and share your thoughts in our Discussion Forum on Goodreads.  Of course, you can also send me email at
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The Origin of Emotions with Jaak Panksepp (BSP 91)


Dr. Jaak Panksepp

In his new book, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human EmotionsJaak Panksepp set out to make his life's work more accessible to a general audience.  To be honest, reading this book requires a significant commitment, but I think he does a wonderful job of updating his classic textbook, Affective Neuroscience.  Anyone who is interested in this field will definitely want this book as a reference.

The other strength of Archeology of Mind is its evolutionary approach.  The primary emotional processes that Panksepp has spent his career studying have their origins in the ancient parts of the brain that are shared by all mammals.  This contradicts longstanding assumptions in neuroscience, but it has important implications for both humans and other animals.

In Episode 91 of the Brain Science Podcast, Dr. Panksepp and I talked about some of the new information contained in Archaeology of Mind, with a particular focus on FEAR, which, contrary to what many researchers claim, does NOT begin in the amygdala, but begins much lower.  We do talk briefly about the experimental evidence, but this was covered in more detail during Dr. Panksepp's previous appearance on the Brain Science Podcast in BSP 65.

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Related Episodes:


NMX - I'll Be There

The earliest episodes of the Brain Science Podcast  are now disappearing from iTunes but they remain freely available here.  They are also available within the Brain Science Podcast  app for mobile devices.  By the way, the mobile app has been updated, and I need users to post new reviews.

Don't forget to get your copy of my eBook, Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certaintyfrom  You can also buy the PDF version HERE.

The Brain Science Podcast is supported by listener Donations.  It also relies on your word of mouth, so don't forget to share it with others.

Next month's Brain Science Podcast  will be our annual review episode. Meanwhile don't forget to check out my other podcast, Books and Ideas.  The most recent episode is an interview with Emily Reese from Minnesota Classical Radio.

Join the Brain Science Podcast Fan Page on Facebook, Google+, and share your thoughts in our Discussion Forum on Goodreads.  Of course, you can also send me email at gincampbell at mac dot com.

To get show notes automatically and never miss an episode of the Brain Science Podcast sign up for the BSP Newsletter.

Review of "Self Comes to Mind" by Antonio Damasio (BSP 90)


Episode 90 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Self Comes To Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, by Antonio Damasio. Damasio's book focuses on the answer to two key questions: How does the brain generate the Mind? and, How does the Brain generate Consciousness? His approach is unusual because many scientists and writers treat the Mind and Consciousness as identical. In contrast, Damasio argues that Mind precedes Consciousness. Listen to this podcast to learn how the Mind becomes Conscious.

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Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast: 

  • BSP 21 and BSP 23 How the Brain Creates Maps of the Body
  • BSP 65: Jaak Panksepp talks about the subcortical origins of emotions
  • BSP 89: Evan Thompson talks about his book, Mind in Life


  • Next month's Brain Science Podcast will be a return interview with Jaak Panksepp to talk about his new book, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions.
  • Please check out my other podcast, Books and Ideas.
  • The earliest episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are no longer available from iTunes but you can get them here or by buying the Brain Science Podcast  app, which is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
  • Get my eBook, Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certainty, from for only $3.99.
  • Social Websites for the Brain Science Podcast: Discussion Forum on Goodreads, Facebook Fan Page, Google+ page.
  • Don't forget to get some high quality Brain Science Podcast Logo gear from Printfection.
  • Sign up for the Brain Science Podcast  Newsletter so you never miss a new episode.

Send me feedback at or follow me on Twitter (@docartemis).

"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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Terrence Deacon (Podcast Interview)


In his new book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, Terrence Deacon writes that his goal is to “demonstrate how a form of causality depending specifically on absent features and unrealized potential can be compatible with our best science.” (page 16).  But in a recent interview (Books and Ideas #47) he also contends that his book "grew out of a dissatisfaction with the systems theory approach."

He feels strongly that "to understand the origin of end-directed phenomena, representational phenomena, or mental phenomena, you need to take one further step; you need to figure out what’s beyond self-organization that needs to be explained to account for these things."  Thus, his ambitious goal is to find a place for meaning within science.

Incomplete Nature is a dense but compelling book, and the goal of this interview is to introduce listeners to the idea that life and meaning are compatible with a scientific world view. 

Disgust with Rachel Herz (BSP 86)


Disgust is an universal emotion, but unlike emotions like fear and anger, disgust must be learned.  This is the main conclusion of Dr. Rachel Herz's latest book, That's Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion.  In a recent interview (BSP 86), Dr. Herz told me why she spent the last several years studying this rather unusual subject.  We also discussed what the study of disgust can tell us about how our brains process emotion.

This is Dr. Herz's second visit to the Brain Science Podcast.  Back in BSP 34 we talked about her first book, The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell.

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Sebastian Seung Explores the Brain's Wiring (BSP 85)


Dr. Sebastian Seung

Dr. Sebastian Seung (MIT) is an ambitious young scientist; his goal is to unravel the entire wiring diagram of the human brain.  Considering that it took over a decade to determine the wiring diagram for the roundworm C elegans, which has a mere 302 neurons, it is clear that scientists can't leap directly to the 80 billion neuron human brain.  Even so, in his new book Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, Seung makes a very good argument for the value of this long-term project.  In Episode 85 of the Brain Science Podcast I talked with Dr. Seung both about the challenges and potential benefits of this work.

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Update on Consciousness Research with Christof Koch (BSP 84)


Christof Koch, PhD

he scientific study of consciousness was once viewed with skepticism, but this has changed dramatically in recent years.   According to pioneering neuroscientist, Christof Koch, "the great thing is we’re not condemned to just sort of philosophical speculation, but we can make some predictions, and then go out and measure them.  And those are the things I talk about in this book, Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist." In Brain Science Podcast  #84, Koch reflects on the progress that has been made since I interviewed him back in 2007 (BSP 22), and he also talks about the latest initiatives at the Allen Institute for Brain Research, where he as recently become the chief science officer. 

How to get this episode:

  • Buy Audio (mp3) for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.



How Mind Emerges from Brain (BSP 82)


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.

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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).


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Patricia Churchland on Neuroscience and Morality (BSP 81)


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. 




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Brain Science Podcast Turns Five Years Old (BSP 80)


Original Logo from 2006

I launched the Brain Science Podcast in December 2006, so to celebrate I am posting my Fifth Annual Review Episode (BSP 80).  This podcast includes a review of the highlights from this year's episodes along with my reflections on what we have learned about brain health over the last few years.  I also take a look ahead to 2012 when I hope to continue to produce a Brain Science Podcast every month.

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This Year's Episodes:

  • BSP 72:  Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, authors of Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions.
  • Extra: Books and Ideas  with Dr. Paul Offit, author of Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.
  • BSP 73: Lawrence Shapiro, author of Embodied Cognition.
  • BSP 74: Olaf Sporns, author of Networks of the Brain.
  • BSP 75: David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.
  • BSP 76: Sian Beilock, author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To.
  • BSP 77: Fabrizio Benedetti, author of Placebo Effects and The Patient's Brain
  • Extra: Books and Ideas with Carol Tavris, co-author of Mistakes were Made (But Not By Me).
  • BSP 78: Review of Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines---and How It Will Change Our Lives by Miguel Nicolelis.
  • BSP 79: Interview with Miguel Nicolelis.


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Brain Machine Interfaces (BSP 78)


In his book Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines---and How It Will Change Our Lives neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis puts his recent work with brain machine interfaces into historical context and explains why this work should change the way we understand how brains work.

Nicolelis challenges several long-standing assumptions including the primacy of the single neuron and strict localization, which is the idea that each area of the brain has a relatively fixed function.

Episode 78 of the Brain Science Podcast is a brief discussion of the key ideas presented in Beyond Boundaries, including a look at the implications of experiments such as the wide publicized work that culminated in demonstrating that a monkey in Nicolelis' lab at Duke (North Carolina, USA) could control a robot arm in Japan using only its brain. 

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David Eagleman on The Secret Lives of the Brain (BSP 75)


David Eagleman, PhD

In his new book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brainneuroscientist, David Eagleman, describes consciousness as "the smallest player in the operations of the brain" (page 5) because most of what the brain does is outside conscious awareness (and control).  In a recent interview (BSP 75), Dr. Eagleman reviews some of the evidence for this startling position, as well as the implications both for the average person and for social policy.

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Related Episodes of BSP:

  • BSP 13: Our first discussion of unconscious decisions.
  • BSP 15: Interview with Read Montague, PhD, author of Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions.
  • BSP 19: Review of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, by Gerd Gigerenzer.
  • BSP 42: Review of On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, by Robert Burton.
  • BSP 43: Interview with Robert Burton, MD.

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"Why Neuroscience Matters"


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.


From the Brain Science Podcast


  • 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.

Brain Networks with Olaf Sporns (BSP 74)


Olaf Sporns, PhD

Networks of the Brain by Olaf Sporns is an excellent comprehensive introduction to the use of Network Theory to study both the brain and the nervous systems of invertebrates.

In Episode 74 of the Brain Science Podcast, I interviewed Dr. Sporns (Indiana University) about some of the key ideas in his book.  Network Theory is becoming increasingly important as a tool for dealing with the massive amounts of data being generated by current techniques, such as brain imaging.  It is also a valuable tool for dealing with the fact that nervous systems consist of multiple scales (from the molecular level up to billions of neurons), which can not be reduced to a single scale.

While Networks of the Brain will be of greatest interest to those working in neuroscience and to those with a background in fields like engineering, mathematics, and computer science, this interview provides an introduction for listeners of all backgrounds.





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  • BSP 31: Interview with György Buzsáki, author of Rhythms of the Brain.
  • BSP 46: Discussion of Brain Imaging, including Diffusion Imaging.
  • BSP 56: Interview with Dr. Eve Marder about the use of circuit theory in neuroscience.
  • BSP 61: Mapping the Brain (and generating huge amounts of data).


  • The Brain Science Podcast will be returning to a monthly schedule on July 1, 2011.
  • Please join the new Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at
  • Get show notes automatically via our Newsletter.
  • Dr. Campbell gave a talk in London last month entitled "Why Neuroscience Matters." (Available here.)
  • Dr. Campbell will be a speaker at The Amazing Meeting 9, July 14-17,2011 in Las Vegas, NV.
  • Don't forget to check out the Books and Ideas podcast and SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG.
  • The Brain Science Podcast app is available for iPhone, Android, and iPad. If you have purchased the iPhone version, it will now work on your iPad (no additional purchase needed). The iPad is the perfect device for reading episode transcripts, especially if you want to read along as you listen.
  • Send Dr. Campbell email at

Magic and the Brain (BSP 72)


Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde

Neuroscientists Dr. Stephen Macknik and Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde have an unusual hobby: Magic!  Actually, it is more than a hobby since for the last several years they have been working with leading magicians from around the world to create a new field: the neuroscience of magic.  In Episode 72 of the Brain Science Podcast, I talked with them about their new book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions, which is the first book to explore the neuroscience of magic.


Dr. Stephen Macknik

With the help of their co-author Sandra Blakeslee, Macknik and Martinez-Conde provide an excellent overview of this new and exciting field.  Their book also provides an excellent review of many of the principles that I have introduced in the last 4 years.



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 Links and References

Scientists mentioned during the podcast

Magicians mentioned during the interview


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Celebrating 4 Years of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 71)


The latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 71) is our 4th annual review episode.  As usual, I review highlights from this year's interviews, but this year I added a new feature: my personal reflections on how the Brain Science Podcast has impacted my life.  This episode also contains a special announcement for UK listeners.

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Major Topics from Season 4:

  • Emotions with Jaak Panksepp (BSP 65).
  • Memory with Randy Gallistel (BSP 66).
  • Consciousness with Thomas Metzinger (BSP 67).
  • Alzheimer's Disease with Peter Whitehouse (BSP 68 and Books and Ideas 36).
  • Glia Cells with R. Douglas Fields (BSP 69).
  • Pop Psychology Myths with Scott Lilienfeld (BSP 70).



  • The Brain Science Podcast app is now available for both iPhone and ANDROID (NEW!)
  • Be sure to subscribe to my Books and Ideas podcast. The next episode will come out in December.
  • The next episode of the Brain Science Podcast will come out in January 2010. 
  • Sign up for our Newsletter so that you won't miss any episodes.

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Pop Psychology Myths with Scott Lilienfeld (BSP 70)

The latest Brain Science Podcast (BSP 70) is an interview with Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior.  This episode was recorded live at Dragon*Con 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  We focused our conversation on the fact that scientific reasoning and critical thinking do NOT come naturally; instead, we all tend to make similar errors, such as mistaking correlation for causation.  Dr. Lilienfeld shared his experiences, and an extensive question and answer session with the live audience allowed him to explore additional examples.

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Detailed Show Notes:

This episode includes an extensive Q and A between Dr. Lilienfeld and the live audience. Here is a list of some of the questions:

  • A mother asked for advice for being pressured to have her child subjected to treatment approaches that may not be evidence-based.
  • Is hypnosis an effective treatment?
  • Another woman asks for Dr. Lillienfeld to give some examples of practices that were popular in the 90's, which caused him concern.
  • Myths about anger management.
  • Problems with validity of self-evaluations.
  • Claims about changing your brain and bringing it into balance esp with regards to elementary education.
  • Problems with staff in mental health institutions believing in pseudoscience.
  • Problems with portrayal of psychological issues in movies and TV.
  • What about IQ tests and theories of Multiple intelligence?


  • 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior, by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, Barry L. Beyerstein.
  • What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought, by Keith E. Stanovich.
  • Rotton, J, & Kelly, I. W. (1985). Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunary-lunacy research. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 286-306.
  • Dunning, D., Heath, C., & Suls, J.M. (2004) Flawed Self-Assessment: Implications for Health, Education, and the Workplace. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, (5.3) 69-106.
  • Delmonico, L.M., & Romancyzk, R.G. (1995). Facilitated Communication: A critique. Behavior Therapist, 18, 27-30.
  • Jacobson, J.W., Mullick, J.A., & Schwarz, A.A. (1995) A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience. American Psychologist, 50,750-765.


  • Scott Lilienfeld, PhD (Emory University).
  • Dr. Lilienfeld's book has an extensive list of recommended websites.

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Exploring Glial Cells with R. Douglas Fields (BSP 69)

Recent research has discovered that glial cells (the non-neuronal cells that make up about 85% of the cells in the human nervous system) actually do more than just support neurons.  In Episode 69 of the Brain Science Podcast, I explore some of these recent discoveries with pioneering researcher, R. Douglas Fields, PhD.  Dr. Fields is the author of The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science.  The Other Brain provides a compelling introduction to this exciting new field.  It is aimed at general readers, but it should also be on the must-read list for all students of neuroscience.

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Donations are appreciated


  • The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science, by R. Douglas Fields (2010).
  • Glial Neurobiology: A Textbook, by Alexei Verkhratsky and Arthur Butt (2007).
  • Bullock, T. H., Bennett, M. V., Johnston, D., Josephson, R., Marder, E., Fields, R. D. "Neuroscience. The neuron doctrine, redux." Science 310. 5749 (2005): 791-3.
  • Perspectives.
  • Bullock, T. H. (2004) The Natural History of Neuroglia: an agenda for comparative studies. Neuron Glial Biology 1:97-100.
  • Fields, R. D. (2006) Beyond the Neuron Doctrine. Scientific American Mind June/July 17:20-27.


  • The Other Brain website.
  • R. Douglas Fields: Chief and Senior Researcher of the Section on Nervous System Development and Plasticity at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is part of NIH.
  • Dr. Ichiji Tasaki; worked at NIH for over 50 years and was a pioneering researcher of nerve conduction. (See the episode transcript for links to the other researchers that were mentioned in this episode.)

Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

  • BSP 8: How Neurons Communicate.
  • BSP 56: Interview with Dr. Eve Marder


  • The Brain Science Podcast application for iPhone/Touch now contains transcripts for all episodes.  Your reviews are greatly appreciated.
  • The next new episode of the Brain Science Podcast will come out in September, 2010.
  • Be sure to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.
  • For more science podcasts go to
  • Stay informed by subscribing to the BSP Newsletter.
  • Correction: Barbara Strauch is the author of The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind.  (Note the correct spelling of STRAUCH)

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Alzheimer's Disease with Dr. Peter Whitehouse (BSP 68)

Brain Science Podcast 68 is an interview with Dr. Peter Whitehouse, co-author (with Daniel George) ofThe Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis.  Alzheimer's Disease originally referred to a relatively rare form of premature dementia, but in recent decades the diagnosis has been expanded to include patients of all ages. This change is not based on science, and in this interview we talk about why being labeled with with Alzheimer's may be doing older patients more harm than good.

Dr. Whitehouse is one of the pioneering researchers in this field, but advocates devoting resources to helping elders with with a wide range of age-related brain changes.  This interview should be of interest to physicians, scientists, as well as patients and their families.  I will be posting a supplemental interview with Daniel George, the co-author of The Myth of Alzheimer's later this month.  (Learn more at

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  • Subscribe to the Books and Ideas podcast to get the extra interview with Daniel George.
  • The Brain Science Podcast iPhone application also works on the new iPad, but we are having to re-upload our old episode transcripts.
  • Don't forget you can get show notes to each episode automatically if you subscribe to the Brain Science Podcast   Newsletter.
  • This podcast is supported by listener donations.

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