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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


MetaCarnival #1: a conversation across the blogosphere

Wel­come to the first edi­tion of MetaCar­ni­val: a Car­ni­val of Car­ni­vals (announced here), the new, sycamore treemonth­ly, and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary gath­er­ing of blogs and blog car­ni­vals.

Let’s pic­ture all par­tic­i­pants in the shad­ow of an expan­sive sycamore tree, con­duct­ing a live­ly Q&A lunch dis­cus­sion.

Gen­er­al Advice

Q: What would you rec­om­mend to live as long as pos­si­ble, and as healthy as pos­si­ble?
- Hour­glass (biol­o­gy of aging): Try Not To Stab Your­self Repeat­ed­ly. Or smoke. Or eat that much fast food…you get the idea.  “The vast major­i­ty of peo­ple are quite com­fort­able engag­ing in habits that cause great harm to the old per­son they will one day be, cut­ting off years or even decades of health.”

Q: Can blog­ging help, too?
- I and the Bird (birds): Indeed. Just read about these life-chang­ing moments in the Kenyan high­lands, brought togeth­er spon­ta­neous­ly as a col­lab­o­ra­tion between researchers, con­ser­va­tion­ists, blog­gers. And, yes, birds.

Sports (Well… Brain and Sports)

Q: Tell me some­thing inter­est­ing about ath­letes and “The Zone”.
- Encephalon (neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy): why don’t we review this recent study on the Momen­tum Chain in Sports. You can con­duct your own mini exper­i­ment while watch­ing TV: watch the reac­tions of the play­ers and the teams right after “pre­cip­i­tat­ing events” to see if they actu­al­ly lead to game-chang­ing moments.


Q: Should patients be patient?.
- SurgeX­pe­ri­ences (sur­gi­cal expe­ri­ences): Patience in indeed a virtue, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the inter­val between the biop­sy and the report.

Q: How can genome research help treat can­cer?.
- Gene Genie (human genet­ics and per­son­al­ized med­i­cine): Let me give you an exam­ple. There are many secrets to be dis­cov­ered about brain can­cer. The Can­cer Genome Atlas, an inte­grat­ed net­work of clin­i­cal sites and research resources that work togeth­er to accel­er­ate our under­stand­ing of the mol­e­c­u­lar basis of can­cer, has just pub­lished very mean­ing­ful find­ings to under­stand gliobas­toma, the most com­mon and aggres­sive type of brain can­cer.

Q: Are there oth­er ways in which med­i­cine can become more effec­tive, apart from devel­op­ing and apply­ing new research?
- Med­i­cine 2.0 (web 2.0 tech­nolo­gies for health­care): Indeed. We should be doing our best in pre­vent­ing med­ical mis­takes and, should they occur, learn­ing from med­ical errors in a trans­par­ent man­ner, to min­i­mize the chance of repeat­ing them.

Q: What is next, now that men­tal health par­i­ty has become law in the US?
- Change of Shift (nurs­ing): “I would assert that those who have so valiant­ly and tire­less­ly fought for the rights of the men­tal­ly ill here in the Unit­ed States should now chal­lenge them­selves to broad­en their visu­al field, take in the big pic­ture of glob­al men­tal health, and direct some of their ener­gies in sup­port­ing the time­ly efforts of the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion.”


Q: Can you give me an exam­ple of why the peer-review sys­tem is to impor­tant?.
- Car­ni­val of the Blue (oceans): So that we accu­mu­late knowl­edge over time and don’t spend time in arti­fi­cial, prob­a­bly polit­i­cal­ly-dri­ven, con­tro­ver­sies around polar bears and cli­mate change.

Q: Now, there is also talk that the peer-review sys­tem itself needs to evolve to  reward true inno­va­tion and not just senior­i­ty and spe­cial­iza­tion. What are some options?
- Prax­is (aca­d­e­m­ic life): Think a Wikipedia of peer-reviewed pro­pos­als, papers, results. What about a plat­form to enable col­lab­o­ra­tive online peer-review “pub­lish­ing”. There are obvi­ous chal­lenges, but the idea is worth explor­ing.


Q: We haven’t talked about the econ­o­my yet, an issue that mat­ters much these days. What, if any­thing, could we do to accel­er­ate the pace of recov­ery from the upcom­ing reces­sion?
- Four Stone Hearth (anthro­pol­o­gy): I may not answer the ques­tions the way that either the read­ers or you, our host, want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and let them know that I am not sure what anthro­pol­o­gists are up to these days. Take a look at this post titled A Very Remote Peri­od Indeed, which goes on and on about  sea crea­ture for­ag­ing, Nean­derthals and ear­ly mod­ern humans. All non­sense. The earth is 6,000 years old, so tell me, who are those Nean­derthals, and where do they live now? I don’t see any. (Edi­tor’s Note: I have tak­en some lib­er­ty here not to spoil the twist…Four Hearth Stone did noth­ing but sub­mit an excel­lent blog post).


This is the first edi­tion of a new con­cept, so your feed­back is very valu­able to refine future edi­tions. Can you sug­gest a bet­ter name? (if peo­ple like “MetaCar­ni­val”, I will cre­ate an Archives page using that name). And, what image should we use to rep­re­sent it?

Next hosts (remem­ber, MetaCar­ni­val will be pub­lished the last Mon­day of each month):

- Novem­ber 24th: Kim @ Change of Shift.

- Decem­ber 29th: Berta­lan @ Med­i­cine 2.0.

- Jan­u­ary 26th: Jef­frey @ SurgeX­pe­ri­ences.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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