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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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.

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"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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Review of Year 2 of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 52)


Brain Science Podcast #52 is our Second Annual Review Episode.  We review some of the highlights from 2008.  I also discuss the various other on-line resources that I have created for listeners.  Then we look ahead to what I have planned for 2009. This episode is aimed at all listeners, including those who are new to the show.

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Highlights from 2008:

Early in the year (#30) I discussed language evolution.  My criticism of Noam Chomsky's claim that human language results from a Universal Grammar Module generated quite a bit of discussion.  My main purpose was to emphasize that current neuroscience does not support this hypothesis.  I discussed Chomsky's work in follow-up interviews with Dr. Michael Arbib (BSP 39) and linguist Alice Gaby (BSP 41).

It is my impression that, at least to some extent, this debate comes back to the age-old "nature versus nurture" controversy, which I discussed more explicitly way back in Episode 4.  The evidence seems to be mounting that human intelligence is a product of  both processes.

There is no doubt that the capacity for language is inherited, but brain plasticity appears to be equally important.  One piece of evidence for this is that the changes in the brain that occur when people learn to read are different between languages like English and German and those like Chinese and Japanese. (Episode 24 and Episode 29)

We had 17 guests on the Brain Science Podcast in 2008, so I can't mention them all here.

  • John Ratey, MD: In Episode 33 we talked about exercise and the brain, while in Episode 45 we talked about ADD.
  • Robert Burton, MD:  In Episode 43 talked about the implications of the discovery that our sense of knowing (feeling certain) is generated by parts of the brain that are outside our conscious control!
  • John Medina, PhD: In Episode 37 we considered the practical implications of neuroscience, such as the importance of getting enough sleep and why true multi-tasking is actually impossible.
  • Dr. Brenda Milner: In Episode 49 this pioneering neuroscientist shared highlights from her long career.

Another highlight was our first live podcast, which was recorded at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia on August 31.

In the fall I returned to the subject of evolution with a three part series on the evolution of the brain.

  • Episode 47, Episode 48, and Episode 51.
  • Episode 51 is an outstanding interview with Dr. Seth Grant in which we discuss the surprising discovery that synapse complexity seems to have evolved BEFORE larger more complex brains.

Online Resources for Listeners:

  • I encouraged listeners to frequent this website and to subscribe to the RSS feed so as to receive information between posts.
  • I encouraged listeners to explored the sidebars and tabs on the website for links to other sites of interest.
  • I reminded listeners that this website includes a complete listing of previous episodes as well as a list of all the guests that have been on the show.
  • It is now possible to support the Brain Science Podcast  via both PayPal and by direct mail.
  • I encouraged listeners to participate in our Discussion Forum and to post pictures to our Flickr Group.
  • I invited listeners to contribute content to the Brain Science Podcast Room on FriendFeed and the new Neuroscience News Network on SocialMedian.
  • I reminded listeners that my personal blog is now at  This site includes abridged show notes for the Brain Science Podcast as well as the complete show notes for Books and Ideas.
  • Listeners are encouraged to continue to post reviews on iTunes™, Podcast Pickle, Podcast Alley, Digg, and similar sites. All blog posts and tweets are greatly appreciated.

Send email feedback to Ginger Campbell, MD at


Dr. Brenda Milner: Pioneer in Memory Research (BSP 49)

Brain Science Podcast #49 is an interview with pioneering neuroscientist, Brenda Milner, PhD.  Dr. Milner is known for her contributions to understanding memory and her work with split-brain patients.  Her work as an experimental psychologist has been fundamental to the emergence of the field of cognitive neuroscience.

This interview is a follow-up of Dr. Milner's recent interview with Dr. Marc Pelletier on Futures in Biotech.  I highly recommend listening to both interviews.

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Listen to Dr. Milner on Futures in Biotech (Episode33)

Additional Links:

Send email feedback to Ginger Campbell, MD at

Welcome to the New Brain Science Podcast Website!

As of today, June 14, 2008 the official Brain Science Podcast and Blog has moved here. The old site will remain up because it has an extensive archive of show notes and posts, but no new show notes will be posted there. Make sure you have bookmarked the new site at Within the next day or so you should also be able to get here by using Please explore the new site and send email to docartemis at if you find any band links or other problems.
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Mirror Neurons with Michael Arbib (BSP 39)

Episode 39 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. Michael Arbib from the University of Southern California.  Dr. Arbib's work with functional brain imaging has established the presence of mirror neurons in the human brain.  In our interview, we focused on the role of mirror neurons in imitation and language.  In particular, I questioned Dr. Arbib about the Mirror System Hypothesis (MSH) of Language Evolution that he proposed in 1998 with Giacomo Rizzolatti.  We also explored how this hypothesis diverges from the universal grammar proposed by Noam Chomsky.  Dr. Arbib also shared his enthusiasm for future research and we talked about the special challenges caused by the interdisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience.

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Scientists mentioned in the interview:

  • Giacomo Rizzolatti: His team discovered mirror neurons at the University of Parma, Italy. Other team members: Vittorio Gallese, Luciano Fadiga, and Leo Fogassi.
  • Ursula Bellugi (Salk Institute): pioneered the neurobiology of sign language.
  • Richard Byrne (University of St. Andrews): studies how gorillas learn in the wild.
  • Michael Tomasello (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Anthropology): studies social behavior of primates, including how communicative gestures vary between groups.
  • Noam Chomsky (MIT): famous linguist who has proposed an inborn universal grammar.
  • DL Cheney and RM Seyfarth:  research about primate vocal behavior, especially the use of calls in the wild.


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"Brain Rules" with John Medina (BSP 37)

John Medina, PhD

Episode 37 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.  We talk about how exercise, sleep, and stress effect our brains, with an emphasis on practical advice for healthier brain function.  We also look at how research on memory, vision, and the brain's attention system suggests how we can improve our ability to learn and our ability to share ideas with others.

Dr. Medina's focus is on considering real world examples of how our schools and work environments could be reformed to utilize the growing knowledge of neuroscience.  But he also stresses the importance of compiling sufficient experimental data before embarking on new programs.

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Embodied Cognition with Art Glenberg (BSP 36)

Art Glenberg, PhD

Episode 36 of the Brain Science Podcast  is an interview with Arthur Glenberg, PhD, about embodied cognition.  Dr. Glenberg recently moved to Arizona State University, after over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin's Laboratory of Embodied Cognition.  His research focuses on the relationship between embodiment and language.  In this interview, we explore the experimental evidence for a theory of language that embraces the concept that our language abilities are actually rooted in our perceptual and motor abilities.  Dr. Glenberg also explains how his work has practical implications in helping children learn how to read.

Since Dr. Glenberg has had a long career as a working research scientist, this interview also provided an opportunity to explore how scientific hypotheses are formed and how experiments are designed to test these hypothesis.  I think this interview will give you a fascinating look into the real world of cognitive psychology.

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Arthur Glenberg, PhD

Other scientists mentioned in the Episode:

  • George Lakoff: pioneering linguist.
  • James Gibson: known for his ideas about affordances.William Epstein-emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Joseph Campos: University of California (Berkelely).
  • Amy Needham and Amanda Woodard-experiments with velcro mits and infant cognition.
  • David A Havas: graduate student and co-author with Dr. Glenberg.
  • Mike Kashak: Florida State University.
  • Mike Rinck: German co-author-see paper under Glenberg (more papers).
  • Vittorio Gallese, Dept of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Italy (where mirror neurons were discovered): extensive experimental with motor neurons in monkeys.
  • Fritz Stack (Germany): experiments showing that facial experiments affect mood and cognition.


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Transcript of György Buzsáki's Interview Is Now Online

Episode 31 of the Brain Science Podcast was a challenging interview with György Buzsáki about his book Rhythms of the Brain.  Thanks to listener Diane Jacobs, we now have a transcript available for Episode 31.

Click here for the transcript.

Be sure to visit Diane's Blog at  When it comes to reading books about neuroscience, Diane makes me feel like a slacker.

A Closer Look at Mirror Neurons (BSP 35)

Mirrors in the Brain

Brain Science Podcast #35 is a discussion of Mirrors in the Brain: How Our Minds Share Actions, Emotions, and Experience, by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Corrado Sinigaglia.  Mirror neurons were discovered in Rizzolatti's lab in Parma, Italy, in the early 1990s, and his book is a detailed to discussion of the experimental evidence in both monkeys and humans.  Direct single neuron recordings have been made in monkeys.  The evidence in humans is indirect, since it is based on mainly on neuro-imaging studies like PET scans and fMRI scans.  Even so, mirror neurons appear to be essential to our ability to understand both the actions and emotions of others. 

In this episode, we also explore the evidence that there are other neurons in the motor areas of the brain that have sensory properties and that the areas of the brain traditionally thought to be devoted to sensory functions also contain neurons with motor properties.  Another fascinating discovery is the fact that there are neurons that respond not only to somatosensory inputs (such as being touched) but also to visual or auditory inputs from objects within our peri-personal space.  For background on these body maps, I recommend listening to Episode 21 and Episode 23.  If you are new to the Brain Science Podcast, you may want to listen to those episodes first, because this week's episode is a little more technical than most.

I will be exploring the importance of these discoveries in future episodes.

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Dan Rather's Reports on Neuroplasticity

Today HDNet™ is re-showing an episode of Dan Rather Reports called "Mind Science."  It is an excellent review of neuroplasticity. It includes interviews with several leading scientists in the field.  I especially enjoyed seeing Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, talk about his work with memory.  (I talked about Kandel's work on the Brain Science Podcastin Episode 3 and Episode 12.)

"Mind Science" also features the Dalai Llama and scientist, Richard Davidson, talking about the evidence that meditation can change the brain.  Rather interviews Sharon Begley about her book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves  (which I discussed in detail in Episode 10 of the Brain Science Podcast).  Other scientists featured in the episode include Michael Merzenich on improving brain function as we age, and Dr. Edward Taub on his revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation.  (My show notes for Episode 10 include links for all the scientists interviewed by Rather.)

It was particulary gratifying to see Dr. Kandel endorse Ed Taub's Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy.  Dr. Taub was interviewed in Episode 28 of the Brain Science Podcast.  If you don't get HDNet™, you can watch Dan Rather Reports on-line, via podcast or on Facebook.

Summary of relevant episodes of the Brain Science Podcast::

More on BDNF: "Miracle Grow" for the Brain

In Episode 33 of the Brain Science Podcast, Harvard's Dr. John Ratey introduced us to brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which he described as "Miracle Grow for the Brain" because it actually stimulates the grow of new neurons in the brain.  The emphasis in our discussion was on the importance of exercise in stimulating the release of BDNF.

If you are interested in checking out some further references on BDNF, you may want to check out Charles Daney's Science and Reason Blog.  Daney also does a good job of explaining exactly what a neurotropic factor is and does.

Treating Vets with Mirrors

Jamie Davis of MedicCast sent me a link to an interesting article from the CNN website.  It describes how mirror box therapy is being used to help veterans who have suffered amputations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Those of you who heard Sandra Blakeslee's interview about body maps back in Episode 23 will remember that she described how her son built the first mirror box for VS Ramachandran several years ago, while working as a graduate student.

It is good to see that military physicians are beginning to apply some of the recent findings of neuroscience to helping injured vets, but you may also recall that when we talked with Dr. Edward Taub about stroke rehab, he reported the difficulty of getting new methods of head injury treatment into the VA clinics.

link to article about mirrors:

Rachel Herz Talks About Smell (BSP 34)


Rachel Herz, PhD

Episode 34 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Rachel Herz, author of The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007).  Dr. Herz teaches at Brown University, and she is a leading authority on the psychology of smell.  We talk about the how smell works, its role in emotion and memory, why it is so vulnerable, and why smell is much more important than most of us realize.  We also consider some of the questions that remain unanswered.

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Links and References:

Rachel Herz:

The 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their discoveries of "odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system."

BuckL, Axel R.: "A novel multigene family may encode odorant receptors: a molecular basis for odor recognition."

Cell. 1991 Apr 5;65(1):175-87.

"The (Shocked) Nose Knows" by Gisela Telis Science NOW Daily News 27 March 2008.


The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007), by Rachel Herz

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Exercise and the Brain (BSP 33)


John J. Ratey, M.D.

Episode 33 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Harvard physician, Dr. John Ratey, about his new book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

We explore the exciting evidence about how exercise helps the brain.  It stimulates the release of a number of different neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, but probably more importantly, it helps keeps these compounds balanced.  We consider why exercise is so important in dealing with stress, in treating a wide range of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder.  There is also evidence that exercise improves our ability to learn and our ability to avoid the loss of mental agility associated with aging.

We explore the exciting evidence about how exercise helps the brain.  It stimulates the release of a number of different neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, but probably more importantly, it helps keeps these compounds balanced.  We consider why exercise is so important in dealing with stress, in treating a wide range of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder.  There is also evidence that exercise improves our ability to learn and our ability to avoid the loss of mental agility associated with aging.

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This episode contains information that everyone can use.  I hope you will share it with your friends and family.

Links and References:



Here Is a Working Link to the Enhanced Version of Episode 32

I want to apologize to anyone who got the "enhanced version" of episode 32 in their feed, but found that it had no graphics.  The Brain Science Podcast is currently part of an ad campaign on Wizzard Media (Libsyn). They failed to tell us that the technology they use to insert ads will not work with enhanced files, so they just converted it back to a stripped down mp3.

Since I can't put the episode into the normal feed, but you can get it here. It should play in Quicktime™ on your computer. To save the file on to  your computer, right click on the link and choose "save as." All iPods can handle this format, but many other players, such as the Zune™ will not. Sorry about the inconvenience. (Note: If you are using Windows make sure you have the latest version of Quicktime™.)

If you just want to look at the illustrations on your computer click here.

Brain Anatomy: Illustrations for BSP 32


I have posted  the illustrations I  promised last week when I released Episode 32 of the Brain Science Podcast.  Except for the colored diagram of the lobes of the brain, these illustrations come from Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brainand have been used with the permission of the author, David Bainbridge.

Click here to see thumbnails of all the illustrations, along with the approximate time they were discussed during the episode.  (Note: because of the automatic ad insertion process the times may be off by up to 67 seconds.)

Here is a link to the enhanced version of the podcast, which includes the illustrations but not the captions.  Unfortunately, due to some technical issues with Libsyn's ad-server software, I am currently unable to put the enhanced version into the regular feed.