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