Explore the Synaptome with Seth Grant (BS 150)

Explore the Synaptome with Seth Grant (BS 150)

BS 150 is our 4th interview of Seth Grant, the molecular biologist who has uncovered the fascinating evolution of synapse complexity. In this interview we learn about the first whole brain mapping of the mouse brain synaptome. We discuss the implications of the surprising level of diversity found in synapses in different brain areas. Dr Grant introduces us to a new theory of perception and memory recall.

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The Reading Brain with Maryanne Wolf (BS 145)

The Reading Brain with Maryanne Wolf (BS 145)

BS 145 is an interview with Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century: The Literary Agenda. Dr Wolf has spent her career studying how the brain is changed by learning to read. We also explore her concerns about how the shift to digital media will change our reading brains.

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Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Brain Science 136 is a discussion of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg. We explore some recent discoveries from reading science and ponder why there is such a large gap between these scientific discoveries and current educational practices in the US. 

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Lisa Barrett on How Emotions are Made (BS 135)

Lisa Barrett on How Emotions are Made (BS 135)

BS 135 is an interview with Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of How Emotions Are Made. We explore the evidence AGAINST the classical assumption that emotions are universal and hard-wired, but we also discuss a fascinating new Theory of Constructed Emotion, which is very consistent with current neuroscience.

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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. 

How to get this episode:

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 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.

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:

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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Taking Tests Might Help Your Memory!

There is an interesting paper in this week's Science magazine that suggests that being tested might be an essential component of making what we study part of longterm memory.  In the study, students had memorize Swahili-English word pairs.  According to the authors,"Repeated studying after learning had no effect on delayed recall, but repeated testing produced a large positive effect."

"The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning," by Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Henry L. Roediger, III2, Science 15 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5865, pp. 966 - 968

The Evolution of Language (BSP 30)

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Episode 30 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, by Christine Kenneally.  We focus mostly on the first part of the book, which tells the story of how the study of language evolution has grown from almost a banned subject to a new field of inquiry called evolutionary linguistics.  We also reflect on how recent findings in neuroscience like the importance of plasticity are influencing the field.

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.

Scientists discussed in the Episode:

*References:

*Additional references can be found in Kenneally's book and at the websites of the scientists listed above.  Also, be sure to check out Kenneally's blog for follow-up information.

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Reading and the Brain with Dr. Maryanne Wolf (BSP 29)

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Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Director ofThe Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University

Episode 29 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.  I discussed her book in Episode 24, so this interview was an opportunity to ask her some follow-up questions, and to focus more on how children learn to read.  Dr. Wolf shares her ten years of experience helping children learn to read and developing programs to help children with problems like dyslexia.  She shares some practical advice for parents as well as her concerns about how reliance on the internet could influence reading skills.

I enjoyed the conversation and, while I especially want to share this episode with parents, I think Dr. Wolf gives everyone some interesting ideas to consider. 

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:

Maryanne Wolf

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The Reading Brain (BSP 24)

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Episode 24 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf.

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.

Show Notes:

Dr. Wolf's book, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, is divided into three main topics: the history of how writing and reading developed over the last few thousand years, the developmental stages involved in learning how to read, and what happens when the brain can't learn to read.  My podcast concentrates on the main ideas from the first two topics.

History of Writing:

  • The discovery of symbols.
  • Early writing systems- cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
  • Why Chinese gives us a window into the past.
  • Importance of the alphabet.
  • Why Socrates opposed literacy.

The stages of becoming a reader:

  • The early pre-reader-with emphasis on language development.
  • The novice reader-connecting letters to the sounds of language.
  • The decoding reader.
  • The fluent comprehending reader-learning to "read between the lines."
  • The expert reader-why reading continues to change us throughout our lives.
  • What goes wrong when the brain can't learn to read: how new findings are leading to new solutions.

Links and References

  • Maryann Wolf, Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.
    • FastForward -a successful approach to treating dyslexia.
    • Michael Posner - a psychologist who used PET scans to study what happens during shifts of attention (a necessary first step in reading).

    Follow-up interview with Dr. Wolf (BSP 29)

    "Why Choose this Book?" with Read Montague (BSP 15)

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    Show Notes

    Episode #15 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. Read Montague of the Baylor School of Medicine.  We discuss his recent book, Why Choose this Book? How we Make Decisions (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.

    Here are some of the questions we discussed:

    • What is computational neuroscience?
    • What is the computational theory of the mind (CTOM)?
    • How isthe objection that the CTOM doesn't account for meaning answered ?
    • What about choice and responsibility?
    • Is there room for free will in this model?

    "Memory: From Mind to Molecules" (BSP 12)

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    This episode of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of memory based on the book, Memory: From Mind to Molecules (2000), by Larry R. Squire, and Eric R. Kandel.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy mp3 for $1
    • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
    • 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

    I highly recommend that you get this book for yourself if you want to read the details of the experiments.  The book contains excellent illustrations.

    Some of the experimental animals mentioned in this episode include Aplysia (giant sea snails), drosophila (fruit flies), and mice.

    Mechanisms of memory formation and storage seem to be shared from the simplest non-vertebrates up through humans.

    Types of Memory:    declarative and non-declarative. Non-declarative memory is generally NOT subject to conscious awareness or control.

    There are many different types of non-declarative memory including:

    Declarative memory, which seems to be unique to animals that have a hippocampus and cerebral cortex, includes short-term (immediate and working memory) and long-term memory.  Much research has been devoted to discovering how and where long-term memory occurs.  The answer may surprise you.

    This episode includes a discussion of some of the unanswered questions in memory research.

    Review of "The First Idea" by Shanker & Greenspan (BSP 6)

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    Episode 6 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, And Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans, by Stanley I. Greenspan, MD and Stuart G. Shanker, DPhil.

    I wanted to talk about emotion, but I generally base the Brain Science Podcast on my current reading; which is why I chose this rather difficult book that touches on psychology, child development, evolution, and theories about the emergence of language and intelligence.

    The basic premise which is discussed in the podcast is that emotional signaling is the basis for the emergence of language and intelligence.  Evidence supporting this hypothesis is discussed, as is how the theory challenges long-standing theories about language and intelligence.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy BSP 1-10 (zip file of mp3 files)
    • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
    • 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.