"Remembering" with Donald MacKay (BS 157)

"Remembering" with Donald MacKay (BS 157)

Brain Science 157 is an interview with Donald Mackay, author of Remembering: What 50 Years of Research with Famous Amnesia Patient H.M. Can Teach Us about Memory and How It Works. We explore the experiments that revealed that the hippocampus also plays a critical role in language.

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Neuroscience of Emotion (BS 151)

Neuroscience of Emotion (BS 151)

BS 151 is a discussion of The Neuroscience of Emotion: A New Synthesis by Ralph Adolphs and David J. Anderson. We talk about key ideas from the book and relate them to several previous episodes about emotion including interviews with Jaak PankseppLisa Feldman Barrett and Luiz Pessoa.

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Eve Marder's Life in Neuroscience (BS147)

Eve Marder's Life in Neuroscience (BS147)

BS 147 is a discussion of Lessons from the Lobster: Eve Marder's Work in Neuroscience by Charlotte Nassim. I explain why I think Dr. Eve Marder deserves a Noble Prize for her life time of contributions to neuroscience. Please note that Marder’s original interview (BSP 56) is also now available for FREE download.

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Biological Mind with Alan Jasanoff (BS 146)

Biological Mind with Alan Jasanoff (BS 146)

BS 146 is an interview with Dr. Alan Jasanoff, author of The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are. We talk about how what he calls “the cerebral mystique” causes people to forget that the brain is not autonomous, but relies on its interaction with the body and its environment to create the Mind.

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Language in the Brain (BS 144) with Angela Friederici

Language in the Brain  (BS 144) with Angela Friederici

BS 144 is an interview with Dr. Angela Friederici, author of Language in Our Brain: The Origins of a Uniquely Human Capacity. This is an extensive review of several decades of research, but this interview makes the field accessible to listeners of all backgrounds.

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Michael Graziano explains Peripersonal Neurons (BS 142)

Michael Graziano explains Peripersonal Neurons (BS 142)

BS 142 features the return of Dr. Michael Graziano, who first appeared on Brain Science in BSP 108. In this episode we talk about his new book, The Spaces Between Us: A Story of Neuroscience, Evolution, and Human Nature. This is an exploration of peripersonal neurons. We explore not just how they were discovered, but why they are so important in our daily lives, affecting everything from tool use to getting along with others.

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John Medina on Aging Well (BS 138)

JMedina.jpg

Dr. John Medina has spent his career in bio-engineering, but he also has a deep interest in how the brain works. In his latest book Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp, he presents our knowledge brain aging in an engaging manner that can be enjoyed by readers of all backgrounds.

In this month's episode of Brain Science (BS 138) we discuss some of the most important principles for nourishing brains as we age. He describes what he calls the "dopamine lollipop," which is the surge of dopamine created by activities such as teaching and physical activities like dancing. Some of his ideas reinforce what we have discussed in previous episodes, but there are new ideas that are relevant to listeners of all ages.

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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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Counting Neurons with Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel (BS 133)

Counting Neurons with Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel (BS 133)

This is an interview with Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel, the scientist who discovered that the human brain has an average of 86 billion neurons, which is significantly less than the 100 billion that was long assumed. She has also written a wonderful book called The Human Advantage: How Our Brains Became Remarkable.

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What is Mind? (BS 131)

In part 2 or our 10 Anniversary Retrospective we consider the question What is Mind? I reflect back on books and guests who have appeared in the last 5 years, and consider how my take on this question has evolved over the 10 years I have been creating  Brain Science (formerly called the Brain Science Podcast.) Listener feedback is also included.

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What Do Mirror Neurons Really Do? (BSP 112)

Greg Hickok, PhD (Click on photo to hear his interview)

Greg Hickok, PhD (Click on photo to hear his interview)

Ever since their chance discovery back in 1992 mirror neurons have captured the imagination of both scientists and nonscientists, but their actual role remains mostly speculative. In The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition Dr. Gregory Hickok (UC-Irvine) explains why the most popular theory is probably wrong. He also provides a fascinating account of how science is really done and the sobering lesson that scientists can fall prey to the same cognitive biases (and tendencies toward laziness) that plague all humans.

I first discussed the discovery of mirror neurons back in BSP 35 when I featured  Mirrors in the brain: How our minds share actions, emotions, and experience (2008) by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Corrado Sinigaglia. At that time what I found most fascinating was that since mirror neurons fire both when a subject (usually a monkey) performs an action and when a similar action is observed, this proves that single neurons are not necessarily purely motor or purely sensory. This surprising discovery seems to have been overshadowed in the rush to use mirror neurons to explain everything from autism to language evolution.

The latest Brain Science Podcast  (BSP 112) features an interview with Dr. Gregory Hickok. BSP 35 is also available for FREE via the Brain Science Podcast Mobile APP.

 How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)

  • Buy Episode Transcript for $1.

  • 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

References and Links

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 35: introduction to Mirror Neurons (free as an episode extra if you use the BSP mobile app)

  • BSP 39: Dr. Michael Arbib on the possible role of mirror neurons in language evolution (note this interview doesn't represent his current views)

Announcements:

  • Next month's episode will provide exclusive coverage of "Neuroplasticity and Healing" an event being hosted by the Dalai Lama at the UAB School of Medicine.

  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. Older episodes and episode transcripts are available for $1 each. Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all 100+ episodes and transcripts.

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.  Check newer episodes for extra free content!

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+.

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.

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)

  • Buy Episode Transcript for $1.

  • 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.

References:

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.

  • 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.

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: