Eric Kandel Talks About Memory on Futures in Biotech


The latest episode of Futures in Biotech (FiB 20) is an interview with Dr. Eric Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize in 2000 for his discoveries about how memory works.  I think you will enjoy listening to Dr. Kandel's interview.

I discussed Dr. Kandel's book, In Search of Memory, in Episode 3 of the Brain Science Podcast.  I also discussed his textbook, Memory: From Mind to Molecules in Episode 12.

For anyone who would like to go back and listen to these episodes, I have provided direct links to the audio files below:

#3: In Search of Memory

#12: Memory: From Mind to Molecules

Author Sharon Begley Talks About Neuroplasticity

Science writer, Sharon Begley, was interviewed about neuroplasticity. on the August 7 episode of Science Talk, the podcast from Scientific American.

I discussed her book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, on Episode 10 of the Brain Science Podcast.

Listen to Science Talk interview of Sharon Begley

Listen to the Brain Science Podcast #10: Neuroplasticity

You can also find more on neuroplasticity, including links to some of the scientists she mentions in her interview here.

Some Recent Podcasts Worth Listening To

I haven't done a very good of posting about other podcasts that are relevant to the Brain Science Podcast, but here are a few you might enjoy: 

The July 27 edition of Science Friday included a discussion of discoveries related to depression and language acquisition.

The July 14 episode of All in The Mind addresses the nature versus nurture question.

The July 13 episode of the Science Magazine Podcast includes recent research on autism, and a discussion of the question of memory suppression.

There is also an interesting discussion of depression on the July 14 episode of the Science Show.

I have mentioned all of these podcasts in the past.  It is interesting that both All in the Mind and the Science Show come from Australia.  These shows are both consistently worthwhile. Transcripts are available on their websites.

Talking Robots: A podcast About Artificial Intelligence


Talking Robots from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, EPFL, Switzerland  Talking Robots "is a podcast featuring interviews with high-profile professionals in robotics and artificial intelligence for an inside view on the science, technology, and business of intelligent robotics"  (description quoted from the website).  The host and project director is Dario Floreano , Director of the School of Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Thanks to David Gordan, one of my  Brain Science Podcast  listeners, for letting me know about this really fascinating podcast produced in Switzerland.  I think it will be of interest to those of you interested in the human brain as well people interested in computers and especially artificial intelligence.  I have only listened to a couple of episodes so far, but I have been amazed to learn how far this field has come.

From Nature: The Idling Brain


On the May 3rd episode of the Nature Magazine Podcast, the front page story The Idling Brain is featured.  Researchers present evidence that there is a large amount of brain activity going on even while we are asleep or under anesthesia.  This is actually rather surprising, as it was previously assumed that the brain was quiescent during unconsciousness.

The full article is current on the newstand, or you can buy it on line.  You can also get a full transcript of the podcast.  At the very leas,t I recommend subscribing to the Nature Podcast if you haven't already.  This week's episode also includes discussion of some research that might have implications in the future for treating Alzheimer's dementia.

All in the Mind, Another Excellent Australian Podcast


I am grateful for the new listeners I have received thanks to the mention of the Brain Science Podcast in the April/May issue of Scientific American Mind (page 22), but I want to take a moment to recommend the other podcast that was listed.

All in the Mind is actually a radio show from ABC Radio National , which I think is Australian Public Radio.  Obviously, they have more resources than I do as an independent podcaster, which means they have lots of diverse interviews.

I think the last two episodes are particularly relevant to recent discussions on the Brain Science Podcast.

Last week they replayed an interview from 2006 with Harvard psychology professor, Jerome Kagan.  Dr. Kagan pioneered discoveries about temperament in children, but he also argues persuasively against seeing temperament as being hardwired.  He advocates the importance of appreciating that who we are is a combination of genetics and experience.  I highly recommend listening to listening to this interview.

This week's episode is entitled, "You are not Your Brain Scan!"  It is a panel discussion from the recent World Congress of Science Journalists, which was held in  Melbourne April 16-20,2007.  The role of functional MRI and other technologies in communicating science to the public is discussed, along with issues like genetics and neuroplasticity.  One unusual feature of these podcasts is that you can get full transcripts of each episode from the website.

Both Sides of the Paranormal Debate?

Personally, I have very little interest in the paranormal or parapsychology, but I have to commend Alex Tsakiris of the Skeptiko podcast for presenting interviews from both sides of the debate.  Alex clearly does believe that parapsychology is a valid science, but his podcast is surprisingly balanced.  I think it is very valuable to listen to what those with different viewpoints have to say, and there are a surprising number of scientists devoted to trying to find replicable data in the field.


When we consider findings like those that show that meditation leads to measurable changes in the brain, we realize that current mechanistic models may be incomplete.  My focus is on mainstream neuroscience, but I think it is useful to try to be aware of other approaches.  For one thing, it helps us to see more clearly where the holes are and where we need to ask more questions.

The Sci Phi Show: Interview of David Chalmers about Consciousness


On the Brain Science Podcast #5 I talked about Consciousness and mentioned that David Chalmers is a proponent of a modern version of dualism and also quite concerned with what he calls the "hard problem;" which is explaining the subjective nature of consciousness, which he has called qualia.  If you would like to hear him explain some of these ideas himself, I suggest you listen to Jason Rennie's interview of David Chalmers on The Sci Phi Show  Outcast #36.

One thing that surprised me in the interview was that he actually defined consciousness as subjective awareness.

I  don't share Chalmers' views on these issues, but I think is a good interview, because Jason always lets his guest speak for themselves.

Futures in Biotech: MS and the Myelin Repair Foundation


Futures in Biotech

On the latest episode (#14, posted on 3/23/07) of Futures in Biotech, host Marc Pelletier talks with the founder and scientists from the Myelin Repair Foundation.  The MRF is pioneering a new collaborative form of research aimed at developing treatments for multiple sclerosis, which is a disease where the myelin insulation of neurons is destroyed in an intermittent and unpredictable manner.

As of March 24, there are no show notes on the website; but I will mention that although this podcast appears fairly irregularly,  it often has interviews with leading-edge scientists in the biotech field.  One of my favorite interviews was Episode 10 with Harvard neurobiologist, Dr. Carla Shatz.

Latest Episode of Books and Ideas Posted in Brain Science Podcast Feed


This week's episode of Books and Ideas is a discussion of the book, Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life , with author Lee M. Silver of Princeton University.  I have inserted it into the Brain Science Podcast feed so that listeners can sample my second podcast. If you are already subscribed to both podcasts this will be a duplicate, which you can delete.


Highlights from Other Science Podcasts


I recently posted a list of some of my favorite science podcasts.  Today I want to mention a few recent episodes that I think are worth listening to.

First, on March 8th, the BBC 4 podcast, In Our Time, did an excellent review of the history of microbiology.  Host Melvyn Bragg is joined by John Dupré, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Director of Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, at Exeter University, Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at Aberdeen University, and Andrew Mendelsohn, Senior Lecturer in the History of Science and Medicine at Imperial College, University of London.

Jason Rennie ofThe Sci Phi Show has a reputation for getting interviews with many diverse people, usually on subjects related to philosophy.  This week he posted two episode on the philosophy of science.  Outcast #33 is an interview with Steve Fuller about Thomas Kuhn and Sir Karl Popper, who made important contributions to the philosophy of science during the 20th century.  Outcast #34 is a discussion with Dr. Del Ratzsch about the philosophy of science.  His viewpoint on the conflict between science and religion is different from mine, but it is still an interesting interview.

Has Science Made Metaphysics Obsolete?


Alan Saunders of the Philosopher's Zone

Ever since the logical positivists in the early 20th century, there has been a debate over whether science has made metaphysics obsolete.  Is science all we need to describe and understand the ultimate meaning of reality?  Even those who consider themselves philosophers of science can't agree on the answer to this question.

Metaphysics and its relation to science is the starting point for the discussion on this week's Philosophers Zone podcast.  This is an excellent podcast, that is enjoyable no matter what your level of knowledge is of philosophy.  It is put out by the Australian version of public radio and the website includes full transcripts of each episode.