Brain Science Podcast's Third Semi-Annual Review (BSP 40)

Episode 40 of the Brain Science Podcast is a look back at the highlights from the last six months.  We have talked about numerous topics including brain plasticity, mirror neurons, language, brain rhythms, and the sense of smell. We talked with 9 guests and we have also explored the practical implications of neuroscience, including the importance of sleep and exercise to brain health.  This brief review episode is intended for both new listeners and long-time subscribers.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • 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.

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

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    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.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy mp3 for $1.
    • Buy Transcript for $1.
    • 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:

    Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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    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.

    Rachel Herz Talks About Smell (BSP 34)

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    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.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy mp3 for $1.
    • Buy Transcript for $1.
    • 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:

    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.

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

    Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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    Exercise and the Brain (BSP 33)

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    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.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy mp3 for $1.
    • Buy Transcript for $1.
    • 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 contains information that everyone can use.  I hope you will share it with your friends and family.

    Links and References:

     

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    Year-end Review for 2007 (BSP 27)

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    Episode 27 is a look back on the first 26 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast.

    I look back on some of the main topics that we have explored including memory, consciousness, emotions, decision-making, body maps, and plasticity.  Then I talk a little about what I hope to do in the covering year.  This episode is a little more personal than most, and will mainly be of interest to regular listeners.  It includes some ideas about how you can help the Brain Science Podcast grow and prosper.

    However, in preparing this episode, I went back over the past year's episodes, and I have prepared a list of all the episodes so far and the main topics.  This should help both new listeners and regulars to find episodes that pertain to particular topics.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy mp3 for $1.
    • Buy Transcript for $1.
    • 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.
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