2013 Neuroscience Highlights (BSP 104)

Ginger Campbell with Rusty and Greta

Ginger Campbell with Rusty and Greta

Its time for the Brain Science Podcast's seventh annual review episode. In 2013 we had the chance to talk with ten scientists, including three returning guests. We also celebrated our 100th episode and passed 5 million downloads.

BSP 104 is a review of some of the key ideas we explored in 2013. I also announced the launch of a new Premium Subscription program. Beginning around December 30 the twenty-five most recent episodes will remain free while the rest of the 100+ podcasts and transcripts will be available either by subscription or for individual purchase. 

Click here to learn more about our new Premium Content.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
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  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

2013 Episodes and Books

Announcements

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

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.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

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?

References:

  • 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.

Links:

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

Send comments to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com.

Using C. elegans in Neuroscience with Guy Caldwell, PhD (BSP 59)

Episode 59 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with molecular biologist, Guy Caldwell, PhD, from the University of Alabama.  We talk about the role of the tiny worm C. elegans in neuroscience research.  Dr. Caldwell is collaborating with other leading researchers (including his wife, Kim Caldwell, PhD) in work that may lead to a cure for movement disorders like dystonia and Parkinson's Disease.

Kim and Guy Caldwell

Kim and Guy Caldwell

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Show Notes and Links:

During this interview, Dr. Caldwell emphasized the importance of collaboration.  His work involves tagging the dopamine neurons in C. elegans with green florescent protein (GFP).  His work depends on the pioneering work of many scientists (some of whom I list below).  He also collaborate with researchers who are doing similar work in yeast, mice, and human cell cultures.

Scientists mentioned in this interview:

  • Martin Chalfie (Columbia University): Caldwell's mentor won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his work with using Green Florescent Protein (GFP) to tag specific cells inside C. elegans.  Dr. Chalfie was interviewed on Futures in Biotech: Episode 37 and Episode 38.
  • Susan Lindquist (MIT): a leading geneticist who is using to take human alph-synuclein protein and place it into yeast to study the effects of protein clumping due to misfolding. (Futures in Biotech #1)
  • Sydney Brenner (Salk Institute): a leader in C. elegans research.
  • John Sulston (University of Manchester): pioneer in C. elegans research.
  • Robert Horvitz (MIT): well-researcher in the field of worm biology.
  • Cynthia Kenyon (University of California-San Francisco): is studying aging in C. elegans.
  • John White (University of Wisconsin): worked with John Sulston to determing the complete "wiring diagram" for C. elegans (which has only 302 neurons).
  • Jeff Becker (University of Tennessee): Caldwell's mentor in graduate school.
  • Chris Rochet (Purdue University): his study of mid brain cultures of rat neurons allows Caldwell to validate his findings in mammalian neurons.
  • Richard Myers (Boston University): human geneticist who has done important work in Parkinson patient genotyping.
  • Rudolph Jaenisch (MIT): expert at reprogramming skin cells into pleuripotent stem cells. This technique shows great promise for the treatment/cure of diseases like Parkinson's.
  • Xandra Breakefield (Harvard): discovered the torsin gene in 1997.

Three recent Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers working on C. elegans.

Announcements:

 

  • Dr. Campbell is the guest speaker at the July 18 meeting of Skeptics in the Pub in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Dr. Campbell was interviewed on Episode 96 of Brains Matter.
  • Transcripts are now available for all past episodes of the Brain Science Podcast.
  • Please join our new Brain Science Podcast Fan Page on Facebook.
  • Donations of $25 or more qualify you for the new monthly book give away.
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Join our Discussion Forum:

Send feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac.com.

Michael Merzenich Talks About Neuroplasticity (BSP 54)

Brain Science Podcast #54 is an interview with Dr. Michael Merzenich, one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity.  We talk about how the success of the cochlear implant revealed unexpected plasticity in adult brains and about how brain plasticity can be tapped to improve a wide variety of problems including dyslexia, autism, damage from disease and injury.  Healthy people of all ages can also tap the resource of brain plasticity to help maintain and improve their mental functions.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
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  • 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

Previous Episodes on Brain Plasticity

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

Review: "Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?" (BSP 53)

 Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will, by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown.  This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains.

Instead, the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalistic/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up).  In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model.  We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe.  This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book's key ideas.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

Additional Show Notes

References:

  • Books and Ideas #12 ("The Myth of Free Will")
  • Alice Juarrero, Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System.
  • Terence Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain.
  • Terrence Deacon, "Three Levels of Emergent PHenomena," in Nancy Murphy and William R. Stoeger (eds.) Evolution, and Emergence: Systems, Organisms, Persons (OUP 2007) ch 4.
  • Alwyn Scott, "The Development of Nonlinear Science", Revista del Nuovo Cimento, 27/10-11 (2004) 1-115.
  • Roger W. Sperry, "Psychology's Mentalist Paradigm and the Religion/Science Tension," American Psychologist, 43/8 (1988), 607-13.
  • Donald T. Campbell, "'Downward Causation' in Hierarchically Organized Biological Systems." in F. J. Ayala and T. Dobzhansky (eds.) Studies in the Philosophy of Biology 179-186.
  • Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
  • Robert Van Gulick, "Who's in Charge Here? And Whose Doing All the Work?"In Heil and Mele (eds.) Mental Causation, 233-56.
  • George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought.
  • Ludwig Wiggenstein, Philosophical Investigations.

Other scientists mentioned in the episode:

  • Antonio Damasio: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.
  • Arthur Glenberg: interviewed in Episode 36.
  • Rolf Pfeifer: interviewed in Episode 25.
  • Leslie Brothers, Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind.
  • Raymond Gibbs, Embodiment and Cognitive Science.
  • Andy Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again.
  • Gerald M.Edelmanand Guilo Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination.

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

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

gin-bud08-100

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.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

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 http://gingercampbellmd.com.  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 brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com

 

Transcript Now Available for Episode 8 (Neurotransmitters)

Episode 8 of the Brain Science Podcast was a detailed discussion of how neurons communicate via neurotransmitters. Many listeners found the material challenging, so I am happy to announce that I have just posted a transcript of Episode 8. Jenine Johns did an excellent job.

If you haven't had a chance to listen to Episode 8, I highly recommend doing so because the material will be relevant to next week's episode of the Brain Science Podcast.

Note: A transcript for Episode 42, the discussion of Robert Burton's book, On Being Certain is also available.

Highlights from Neuroscience 2008 (BSP 50)

Episode 50 of the Brain Science Podcast is a change of pace from our usual format.  In this episode I share a few highlights from this year's Neuroscience 2008, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which just concluded in Washington, DC.

How to get this episode:

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Show Notes and Links:

Scientists featured in this episode:

  • Eve Marder (Brandeis University)-current president of SfN.
  • Tom Carew (UC-Irvine)-incoming president of SfN.
  • Michael Bate (Cambridge University): his talk about the study of the development of movement in fruit flies is featured in this episode.

References:

Announcements:

  • Books and Ideas #23: Interview with Nobel physicist, Dr. Frank Wilczek.

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

Brain Evolution with Gary Lynch, PhD (BSP 48)

Gary Lynch

Gary Lynch

Episode 48 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Gary Lynch, PhD, co-author (with Richard Granger) of Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence.  Dr. Lynch has spent decades studying memory at the level of the synapse.  His work with computer simulations based on how the brain really works led him to a fascination with the question of how our brains got so large.  Are humans smart because we have big brains or because are brains are different?

Dr. Lynch argues that the unique features of the human brain are a natural result of increased brain size.  He also argues against the conventional view that increasing brain size resulted from selection pressures during the millions of years of primate evolution that proceeded the emergence of homo sapiens.  We talk about the evidence supporting this radical position during the interview.

We also talk about another radical theory that Dr. Lynch has proposed, which is the idea that the olfactory cortex formed the template for the evolution of the cortex in mammals and primates.  This intriguing theory brings a new perspective to the fact that the olfactory system has unique access to important brain systems including the frontal lobes, the amygdala (which is involve in emotion), and the hippocampus (which is essential to long-term memory.

In addition to discussing the evidence that led him to his controversial theories, Dr. Lynch discusses the challenges facing scientists interested in pursuing research questions about brain evolution.

How to get this episode:

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  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References and Links:

The figure below is used with the permission of the author and the artist (Cheryl Cotman).

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

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Review: "Principles of Brain Evolution" (BSP 47)

Episode 47 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Principles of Brain Evolution by Georg F. Striedter.  My goal is to highlight the main ideas of this complicated and often controversial subject.  Understanding the principles of brain evolution is an important element in our multidisciplinary attempt to understand how our brains make us who we are.

How to get this episode:

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Show Notes and Links:

Important terms:

  • homologues: characteristics with shared ancestry.
  • neurocladistics: a rigorous method for classifying neural structures based on their ancestry.
  • small-world network: a mathematical graph where most nodes connect to nearby nodes but almost any two can be connect in relatively small number of steps (the famous six-degrees of separation).
  • Boskop man: an extinct hominid that is thought to have had a larger brain than modern humans.

People and scientists discussed:

Announcements:

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Brain Imaging: Recorded LIVE at Dragon*Con 2008 (BSP 46)

Dragon*Con 2008

Dr. Campbell at Dragon*Con 2008

Brain Science Podcast #46 is a discussion of brain imaging with Dr. Shella Keilholz and Dr. Jason Schneiderman.  The focus of our discussion is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is revolutionizing neuroscience.  We talked about both the strengths and weaknesses of this technique.  Both of my guests agree that mainstream coverage of this technique tends to exaggerate what we can actually tell from this kind of brain scan.  An important principle is that the scan of any single individual can vary greatly from day to day, which means that valid conclusions require data from a large number of people.

Since this episode was recorded LIVE in the Podcasting Track at Dragon*Con 2008, it includes audience questions at the end, which helped bring out additional ideas.  I have posted an edited version (but there is still some noise from the room next door).  If you are interested in hearing the raw unedited version, click here.  I also want to thank Swoopy from Skepticality for all the work she did to make the podcasting track a great success.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

More about my guests:

Shella Keilholz, PhD, is an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineeering at Georgia Tech and the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.  She is doing studies that involve correlating fMRI scans with the reading from electrodes placed in rat brains.  This work is fundamental to improving the correlation between fMRI scans, which reflect brain activity only indirectly, and what is actually happening in the neurons of the brain.

Jason Schneiderman, PhD studied psychology before earning his PhD in neuroscience.  His dissertation involved the use of diffusion tensor imaging, which is a new method of scanning that is being used to track the axonal connections in the brain.  He is currently doing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, where his team is trying to determine if the connections in the brains of young schizophrenics are different from normal.  The goal is to improve early diagnosis because early intervention makes a big difference.

Some recent discussions of fMRI:

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John Ratey, MD Discusses ADD (BSP 45)

John J. Ratey, M.D.

Have you ever wondered why a child with ADD can play videos games for hours, but can't concentrate on his homework for a few minutes?  This is one of the paradoxes of attention-deficit disorder that John J Ratey, MD, co-author of, Driven To Distraction : Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood, explains in Episode 45 of the Brain Science Podcast.

During this interview, Dr. Ratey discusses the latest findings about the biological basis of what he calls "attention variability disorder."  He also offers practical advice for patients and parents dealing with ADD/ADHD.  One very important, and somewhat surprising, fact that he shares is that patients who are treated with medications during adolescence have a significantly lower risk of developing problems with addiction and drug abuse later on compared to those who are not treated.  Also, successful "ADD-ers" like Michael Phelps show that "having a mission" makes a huge difference.

Dr. Ratey's most recent book is Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which he discussed with me (Dr. Campbell) in Episode 33.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

Detailed Show Notes

Topics discussed:

  • Why our current cyber-culture  exacerbates symptoms.
  • The genetic component.
  • The role of dopamine and epinephrine.
  • The relationship between ADD and addiction.
  • Why ADD effects all the brain systems including memory.
  • The importance of strengthening executive (frontal lobe) function.

Successful people with ADD:

  • Michael Phelps-winner of 8 Gold Medals for Swimming in 2008 Olympics.
  • Rick Warren-founder of The Purpose Driven Church.

Practical Advice:

  • the need for a mission.
  • environmental changes.
  • the role of meditation and exercise.
  • why stimulant medication helps.
  • training the cerebellum.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Dr. Ratey recommends OmegaBrite™).

Links:

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

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Meditation and the Brain with Daniel Siegel, MD (BSP 44)

Daniel Siegel, M.D.

In Episode 44 of the Brain Science Podcast I talk with Daniel Siegel, MD about meditation and the brain.  Dr. Siegel is the author of several books including The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.  In this interview, we review the scientific evidence about how mindfulness meditation changes the brain, both in terms of short term activity and in terms of long-term structural changes.  The evidence is convincing that a regular mindfulness practice can be an important element of brain health.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
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  • 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.

Show Notes and Links

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.:

Scientists and writers mentioned in Episode 44:

More information about meditation:

Note: Insight Meditation is based of vipassana meditation, the mindfulness practices of Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism.  Insight Meditation is easily adapted to secular purposes because it not based on beliefs or dogmas.  The most well-known secular form is called mindfulness meditation, which begins with a focus on breath awareness and then advances to developing compassion for oneself and others.

Researchers are studying people who practice other types of mediation also. Richard Davidson has focused his work on the study of Tibetan Buddhist monks.  Their practice emphasizes the development of compassion.

*I discussed the therapeutic use of mediation with Delany Dean, PhD, in Episode 20 of Books and Ideas.

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"On Being Certain": Interview with Robert Burton, MD (BSP 43)

BSP 43 is an interview with Robert A Burton, MD, author of On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're NotThis is a follow up to BSP 42.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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.

Other scientists/writers mentioned in this episode:

Other terms mentioned in the interview:

  • Cotard's Syndrome: when the patient believes they do not exist or that they are dead
  • Cognitive dissonance: a mismatch between what one believes and what the evidence supports

Previous Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

  • Episode 42: Part 1 of our discussion of On Being Certain.
  • Episode 13: Unconscious Decisions-featuring Blink, by Malcom Gladwel.l
  • Episode 15: Interview with Read Montague about unconscious decisions.

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Review: "On Being Certain" (BSP 42)

Episode 42 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, by Robert Burton, MD.  This Part 1 of a two-part discussion of the unconscious origins of what Dr. Burton calls "the feeling of knowing."  In Episode 43 I will interview Dr. Burton. Today's episode provides an overview of Dr. Burton's key ideas.

In past episodes I have discussed the role of unconscious decision-making.  On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not ,by Robert Burton, MD, takes this topic to a new level.  First, Dr. Burton discusses the evidence that the "feeling of knowing" arises from parts of our brain that we can neither access or control.  Then he discusses the implications of this finding, including the fact that it challenges long-held assumptions about the possibility of purely rational thought.

How to get this episode:

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  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

References and Links:

Other scientists mentioned in this episode:

  • Leon Festinger-proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance in 1957.
  • Joseph Ledoux-research with rats and the role of the amygdala in the fear response.
  • Michael Merzenich-showed how the auditory cortex in young rats is affected by experience.

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Alice Gaby Talks About Linguistics (BSP 41)

Alice Gaby

Episode 41 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Alice Gaby, PhD, from the University of California-Berkeley.  Dr. Gaby is a linguist who studies the role of language in cognition as well as the aboriginal languages of Australia . In this episode, Dr. Gaby introduces some of the basic areas of linguistics.  We also talk about why linguistics is important to understanding brain function, as well as the importance of interdisciplinary communication to advancement in both fields.  Dr. Gaby's infectious enthusiasm makes this potentially intimidating subject accessible to everyone.

How to get this episode:

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  • 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:

Other scientists mentioned in the interview:

Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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

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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    Interview with Jeff Hawkins "On Intelligence" (BSP 38)

    Jeff Hawkins

    Episode 38 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Jeff Hawkins, author of On Intelligence.  Hawkins is well-known for founding Palm Computing and Handspring.  He invented the Grafitti handwriting recognition system and helped develop the Palm Trio SmartPhone.  Since he published his bestseller On Intelligence, he has devoted his work to his passion for neuroscience.  His current company, Numenta, is developing software that models the hierarchical structure of the neocortex.  In this interview we talk about the ideas in Hawkins book and how he is applying them to develop a computer model of cortical function.  This is a follow-up to Episode 2, which first aired in December of 2006.

    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:

    Vernon Montcastle: pioneer who proposed that all parts of the brain's cortex work the same way.

    • Vernon Mountcastle (1978), "An Organizing Principle for Cerebral Function: The Unit Model and the Distributed System", The Mindful Brain (Gerald M. Edelman and Vernon B. Mountcastle, eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Please let me know if you find this paper on-line!)

    Redwood Institute for Theoretical Neuroscience (UC-Berkeley) founded by Jeff Hawkins.

    Numenta: company website includes extensive educational information about hierarchical temporal memory system (HTM).  The company's focus is practical implementation of HTM Theory.

    Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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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.

    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 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:

    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.

    References:

    Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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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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