Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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