Encephalon #50 Edition: Brain & Mind Research

Wel­come to Encephalon 50th edi­tion, where you will find anoth­er superb col­lec­tion of blog posts on all things Brain and Mind.Encephalon brain and mind blog carnival

Enjoy these contributions:

Sci­ence & Technology

Mind Hacks reports that Face­book ate my psy­chi­a­trist. We can learn about the ben­e­fits of social net­work­ing sites like Face­book, bring­ing great per­spec­tive to recent and mis­guid­ed media spec­u­la­tion (fuelled by a recent talk at the Roy­al Col­lege of Psy­chi­a­trists). Vaugh­an, will you please report on the ben­e­fits of par­tic­i­pat­ing (and, bet­ter, host­ing) Encephalon?.

Dun­geons And Drag­ons — Or Mazes And Mon­sters?: Pod­Black Cat offers a thought-pro­vok­ing review of the ther­a­py (includ­ing self-ther­a­py) appli­ca­tions of role-play­ing games such as the clas­sic Dun­geons And Drag­ons and the more recent mas­sive­ly mul­ti­play­er online games.

Cog­ni­tive Dai­ly cov­ers anoth­er type of game. In One more way video games might be good for you, Dave reviews a paper by C.S. Green and D. Bave­li­er that showed how  “spa­tial res­o­lu­tion of vision can also be improved by play­ing video games”, and that “gam­ing might be used as ther­a­py for old­er adults whose vision often fades in pre­cise­ly this domain.” As a bonus, you can con­duct a fun experiment.

Uses of Deep Tran­scra­nial Mag­net­ic Stim­u­la­tion (TMS): Brain Stim­u­lant explores emerg­ing and poten­tial future appli­ca­tions of this non-inva­sive inter­ven­tion. Weight loss? Alzheimer´s? Schiz­o­phre­nia? Depres­sion?. Check it out to read respec­tive developments.

The appro­pri­ate use of all these tech­nolo­gies, and oth­ers, will ben­e­fit from more wide­ly avail­able cog­ni­tive assess­ments. I ana­lyze the Oppor­tu­ni­ties and Con­cerns of Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Assess­ments, high­light­ing that health com­pa­nies and the mil­i­tary are start­ing to use new tools to assess brain func­tions in con­texts that nei­ther neu­roimag­ing nor tra­di­tion­al neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing can reach.


Com­pul­sive Col­lect­ing of Toy Bul­lets and Tele­vi­sions: Neu­r­o­crit­ic brings up two unusu­al case stud­ies from the neu­ro­log­i­cal lit­er­a­ture describe the emer­gence of com­pul­sive col­lect­ing behav­ior fol­low­ing frontal lobe damage.

Jake at Pure Pedantry explains both The func­tion of a Fear­ful Expres­sion and its very evolved phys­i­o­log­i­cal effects, and why he couldn´t wait to read this Encephalon edi­tion: I Want It Now-Tem­po­ral Dis­count­ing in the Pri­mate Brain, com­ment­ing on a recent experiment.

Atten­tion Deficits At Work: Pas­cale here at Sharp­Brains reports, based on a recent large study by Ron de Graaf and col­leagues, that work­ers with AD/HD spent more than 22 few­er “role per­for­mance” days per year (includ­ing 8.7 days absent) work­ing com­pared with non-AD/HD workers.

Going with the flow: Cal­ci­um ion home­osta­sis and Alzheimer’s dis­ease: Ouroboros high­lights promis­ing areas of Alzheimer´s research, specif­i­cal­ly how “con­trol­ling intra­cel­lu­lar cal­ci­um home­osta­sis appears to play a major role in con­trol­ling lev­els of the ƒ¸ pro­tein, a major com­po­nent of the senile plaques that char­ac­ter­ize Alzheimer´s Disease”.

Neu­roan­thro­pol­o­gy lives up to its premise and ana­lyzes The Cul­tur­al Brain in Five Fla­vors, pre­sent­ing five dif­fer­ent ways to think about the inter­sec­tion of cul­ture and neu­ro­science. Not only that, but they pro­vide a brain-based under­stand­ing of “cul­tur­al learn­ing” by explor­ing the role of mir­ror neu­rons.

Dr. Spurt com­ments on two recent papers: Reward pre­dic­tion based on stim­u­lus cat­e­go­riza­tion in pri­mate lat­er­al pre­frontal cor­tex and Neur­al Ensem­bles in CA3 Tran­sient­ly Encode Paths For­ward of the Ani­mal at a Deci­sion Point (check out the ani­ma­tion if you have some time to read the context).

News You Can Use

San­dra at Chan­nel N pro­files a video on pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy and Laugh­ter Yoga to enhance men­tal health: Oh Hap­pi­ness.

Improve Mem­o­ry with Sleep, Prac­tice, and Test­ing: Bill Klemm here at Sharp­Brains explains the process of mem­o­ry con­sol­i­da­tion, or why, “a short-term mem­o­ry is very vul­ner­a­ble, as all of us have expe­ri­enced from look­ing up a phone num­ber only to have some dis­trac­tion cause us to lose the num­ber before we can get it dialed.”

That´s all for this edi­tion. The Mouse Trap will host next Encephalon, on August 4th. Enjoy the week!


  1. Michael Meadon on July 21, 2008 at 6:21

    Good edi­tion, thanks! 

    Note that the new RSS feed does­n’t seem to work… it only allows a sub­scrip­tion to all of Sharp Brains, not only to Encpe­halon specifically.

  2. Alvaro on July 21, 2008 at 6:40

    Thank you Michael, I need to see if I can fix the prob­lem today or include it the next edition…

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SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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