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.

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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:

Sleep Science with Penny Lewis (BSP 107)

Penny Lewis (click image to play interview)

Penny Lewis (click image to play interview)

In The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest Dr. Penelope A. Lewis provides a highly readable account of the fascinating world of sleep research. Fascinating research is being carried out with animals as varied as fruit flies and rats, as well as with humans. I was surprised to learn that most people actually find it fairly easy to fall asleep in an fMRI scanner.

I have just posted an interview with Dr. Lewis (BSP 107) that includes a discussion of the role of sleep in memory as well as interesting findings about how synapses in the brain actually change during sleep. We still don't know exactly what sleep (and dreaming) are essential, but research in this field is growing. Dr. Lewis is excited about emerging research that suggests improving slow wave sleep may significantly improve learning and memory.

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References:

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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.

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References and Additional Reading

Related Episodes

Announcements

Brain Plasticity with Michael Merzenich (BSP 105)

                              Michael Merzenich

                              Michael Merzenich

If you have read anything about brain plasticity you have seen the name Michael Merzenich. Dr. Merzenich is one of the pioneers in this field, having spent over 30 years documenting that the human brain (and that of other mammals) continues to change throughout life. I interviewed Dr. Merzenich several years ago (BSP 54), but the publication of his first book Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life gave us another opportunity to talk about how we can apply these discoveries in our daily lives.

According to Dr. Merzenich, "No matter how much you've struggled, no matter where you've been in your life, you're in charge of your life going forward.  And you have the capacity; you have the resources to change things for the better—always have that capacity.  And that's what the book is trying to emphasize. “ (BSP 105)

I found Soft-wired very compelling because it combines a clear explanation of the science with many stories about real people facing a wide variety of cognitive challenges. The overall tone of the book is very optimistic even though it also considers the way bad choices can contribute to cognitive decline. 

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.
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 10: Introduction to Brain Plasticity.
  • BSP 17: Discussion of The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg.
  • BSP 28: Interview with Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself.
  • BSP 33: Interview with Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
  • BSP 54: Interview with Dr. Michael Merzenich, author of Soft-wired.
  • BSP 87: Interview with Dr. Pam Greenwood, co-author of Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind.

Further Reading:

BSP launches Premium Subscription

Today I am launching the new Premium Subscription program for the Brain Science Podcast. This subscription will provide unlimited access to the entire library of Brain Podcast episodes and transcripts for only $5 per month. Individual episodes and transcripts are also available for sale here.

All new episodes of the Brain Science Podcast will continue to be FREE as will the most recent 25 episodes. This represents about two years of free content. I am hopeful that this combination of free and premium content will allow me to continue to produce the Brain Science Podcast for many years to come.

The first 500 people who sign up can get a 50% discount by using the coupon code:

BSP-500

Click here to Subscribe

 

 

Mobile Apps are now free:

Both Free and Premium content are easily accessible via our free Mobile apps that are now Free for iOS and Android Devices. (The Windows 8 app currently supports only free content). Premium content will also be accessible via any web browser.

I expect we will have a few growing pains over the next few days, but please send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

Synapse Evolution with Seth Grant (BSP 101)

Seth Grant (click photo to hear interview)

Seth Grant (click photo to hear interview)

Early in his career Seth Grant helped develop the transgenic mice that Eric Kandel used in his studies of how memory works. Since then he has combined his skill in genetics with his work on isolating the proteins that form the functional components of the synapse. (The synapse is a key component in the nervous systems of all multi-cellular animals.) When we last talked back in BSP 51 I was particularly struck by how many of these proteins actually evolved with single celled life--long before the arrival of nervous systems.

Recently Grant's work has focused on the discovery that the vertebrate synapse is actually much more complex than the one present in invertebrates. For BSP 101 we got together to talk about two papers he and his collegues recently published in Nature Neuroscience. These papers explore how small changes in the synapse proteins effect learning in measurable ways.

Grant has a special gift for making complex ideas clear, which means that this interview can be enjoyed by all listeners, even those who are new to the Brain Science Podcast and neuroscience. 

Download MP3

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.
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References: 

  • S.G.N. Grant, T. J. O'Dell, K. A. Karl, P. L. Stein, P. Soriano, and E. R. Kandel, "Impaired long-term potentiation, spatial learning, and hippocampal development in fyn mutant mice." Science 258 (1992):1903-10.
  • Emes RD, Pocklington AJ, Anderson CN, Bayes A, Collins MO, Vickers CA, Croning MD, Malik BR, Choudhary JS, Armstrong JD, Grant SG, "Evolutionary expansion and anatomical specialization of synapse proteome complexity." Nature Neuroscience 11 (2008) 799-806.
  • Nithianantharajah, J., Komiyama, N., McKechanie, A., Johnstone, M., Blackwood, D. H., Clair, D. S., Emes, R. D., van de Lagemaat, L. N., Saksida, L. M., Bussey, T. J. & Grant, S. G. N. “Synaptic scaffold evolution generated components of vertebrate cognitive complexity.” Nature Neuroscience 16 (2013) 16-24. doi:10.1038/nn.3276
  • Ryan, T. J., Kopanitsa, M. V., Indersmitten, T., Nithianantharajah, J., Afinowi, N. O., Pettit, C., Stanford, L. E., Sprengel, R., Saksida, L. M., Bussey, T. J., O'Dell, T. J., Grant, S. G. N. Komiyama, N. “Evolution of GluN2A/B cytoplasmic domains diversified vertebrate synaptic plasticity and behavior.” Nature Neuroscience 16 (2013) 25-32. doi:10.1038/nn.3277 
  • List of research papers by Seth Grant
  • See FREE transcript for more links and references
  • More episodes about brain evolution: BSP 47, BSP 48, and BSP 51

Announcements: 

Leave feedback here or visit the Brain Science Podcast discussion group at Goodreads.com, our Fan Page on Facebook or our page on Google+.

Brain Fitness with Alvaro Fernandez (BSP 100)

Alvaro Fernandez of SharpBrains

Alvaro Fernandez of SharpBrains

I have been using the SharpBrains website as a source of information and ideas since the early days of my Brain Science Podcast, so it seemed fitting to invite SharpBrains co-founder Alvaro Fernandez to be my guest for Episode 100.   We talked about the second edition of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age, which he co-authored with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg (BSP 18). The goal of this book is to give people from all backgrounds a practical guide for evaluating the current science and establishing their own "brain fitness" regimen, much in the way that each of us must choose a physical fitness that meets our individual needs and lifestyle.

Brain Fitness should not just be a concern for older people, it should become a key component of a healthy lifestyle at any age. The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness is a great first step.

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.
  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links and References: 

Celebrating BSP 100

To celebrate Episode 100 of the Brain Science Podcast I invited listeners to contribute audio to the show. I couldn't use everything, but I want to thank everyone who submitted content.  The following listeners are featured:  

  •  "I Got a Brain" Written and Performed by Dr. Jay Einhorn
  • Interview with Darryl Ferges
  • "Mindfire" (new theme music) by Tony Cotraccia
  • Audio comments:  Leon Mcgahee, MD., Eric Lindley, Julio Dantos, Hamish Kebb, and Adelia Moore, PhD
  • Email from Jana Johnson

Send Feedback to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com. 

      Interview: Temple Grandin (BSP 99)

      photo by Rosalie Winward  (Click photo to play mp3)

      photo by Rosalie Winward  (Click photo to play mp3)

      Last month I posted a detailed discussion of Temple Grandin's latest book The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum (with Richard Panek), so I am pleased to share a follow interview with Dr. Grandin (BSP 99). This interview is different from the typical Brain Science Podcast because our focus is on the practical issues that face people who are dealing with autism. Of course, as Dr. Grandin emphasized, autism occurs across a wide spectrum ranging from those who can never learn to speak to high functioning professionals exemplified by Temple Grandin herself.  Dr. Grandin speaks from personal experience grounded in her own scientific curiosity.

      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.
      • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

      Links and References:

        Announcements: 

        • The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now available for Windows 8 devices.
        • Deadline for listener submissions for BSP 100 is August 1, 2013
        • Unfortunately Mensana has closed down, so CEU's are not currently available for the Brain Science Podcast. I am looking for a new vendor. 
        • Don't forget to sign up for the BSP Newsletter so that you can get episode show notes automatically, and never miss a new episode. 

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        "The Autistic Brain" by Temple Grandin (BSP 98)

         The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum  by Temple Grandin (with Richard Panek), is a tremendous gift, not just to patients and their families, but also to teachers, mentors, friends, and everyone who is interested in understanding how our brains make us who we are.

        I think that this is a book everyone should read because as we come to appreciate the fact that the strengths and challenges of autism occur across a broad spectrum, we may also realize that some of these issues actually affect people who aren't considered autistic.  It is not the label that matters.  What does matter is recognizing that each of us has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, but thanks to brain plasticity, we all have the potential to nurture our strengths and, when necessary, accommodate our weaknesses.

         

        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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        References and Related Episodes:

        Announcements: 

        • I am still trying to schedule an interview with Dr. Temple Grandin, but there is a possibility that the next episode of the Brain Science Podcast will not come out until August 2013.
        • The Deadline for listener submissions to Episode 100 is August 1, 2013.
        • Several products are not available directly on this website including the PDF version of Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certainty by Ginger Campbell, MD and a zip file contain BSP 1-10. Click here to learn more.
        • Be sure to sign up for the Brain Science Podcast Newsletter so that you can receive show notes automatically and NEVER miss a new episode. (But there was a glitch last month, so if you did not get the show notes for BSP 97, please click here.

        Understanding Pain (BSP 95)

        In Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain,  Dr. Fernando Cervero does a wonderful job of condensing his 40+ years of research and immersion in the field of pain research into a concise but readable account.  It's a great introduction, and it's bound to inspire a new generation of physicians and researchers.

        I interviewed Dr. Cervero in BSP 93, and this month's podcast (BSP 95) is the promised second part of our discussion of pain.  I focus on some of the topics that Dr. Cervero and I did not have time to discuss, including a look at how the mechanisms of acute pain differ significantly from those of chronic pain.  The growing appreciation of these differences offers hope to the millions of people around the world who suffer from chronic pain, but the ongoing efforts of researchers like Dr. Cervero also offer hope of improved pain relief for everyone.

        Unfortunately, for those of you who love audiobooks, Understanding Pain, is not available in audio; but it is a relatively short book (under 200 pages) that I recommend to everyone.  

        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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        References and Links:

        Announcements:

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

        FC4.gif

        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.

        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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        References:

        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:

        Reminders:

        • Don't forget to get your copy of my eBook, Are You Sure? The Unconscious Origins of Certainty, from Amazon.com.  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 brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.
        • To get show notes automatically and never miss an episode of the Brain Science Podcast, sign up for the BSP Newsletter.

        The Origin of Emotions with Jaak Panksepp (BSP 91)

        Jaak-crop.jpg

        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.

        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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        References:

        Related Episodes:

        Announcements:

        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 Amazon.com.  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)

        selfcometomind-thumb.jpg

        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.

        ow 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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        References:

        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

        Announcements:

        • 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 Amazon.com 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 brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter (@docartemis).

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

        BruceHood.jpg

        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.

        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.
        • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are still FREE. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

        Related Podcasts:

        Additional References:

        Announcements:

        Disgust with Rachel Herz (BSP 86)

        disgusting-cover.jpg

        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.

        How to get this episode:

        8163085-18960950-thumbnail.jpg

        Announcements:

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

        Sueng.jpg

        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.

        How to get this episode:

        References and Links:

        Send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

        Brain Science Podcast Turns Five Years Old (BSP 80)

        BrainScience-logo1.jpg

        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.

        How to get this episode:

        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.

        Announcements:

        Send your feedback to Dr. Campbell at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

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

        Eagleman.jpg

        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.

        How to get this episode:

        References:

        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.

        Send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

        Brain Networks with Olaf Sporns (BSP 74)

        Olaf.jpg

        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.

         

         

         

         

        How to get this episode:

        LINKS:

        REFERENCES:

        RELATED EPISODES:

        • 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).

         ANNOUNCEMENTS:

        • 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 GoodReads.com.
        • 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 brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

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

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        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.

        How to get this episode:

        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).

        References:

        Announcements:

        • 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.

        Send me feedback at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

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