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Encephalon #70: on Mysteries and Ilussions

Wel­come to the 70th edi­tion of Encephalon, the blog car­ni­val that offers some of the best neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy blog posts every oth­er week.

Mys­ter­ies of Brain and Mind

Cog­ni­tive Dai­ly,
by Dave Munger
Guys on dates want to know: Is it real­ly impos­si­ble to ignore an attrac­tive face?
Recent research seems to demon­strate that, indeed, attrac­tive faces can dis­tract us from a vari­ety of tasks. Dat­ing Tip of the Week: what about impress­ing your date with a home­cooked din­ner next time and avoid poten­tial mis­un­der­stand­ings?
Neu­roan­thro­pol­o­gy,
by Greg Downey
BIG NEWS: First Neu­roan­thro­pol­o­gy Con­fer­ence!
The first Neu­roan­thro­pol­o­gy Con­fer­ence will be held 8 Octo­ber 2009 at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame. Great theme, great speak­ers. Will it offer a cross-cul­tur­al analy­sis of the research men­tioned above?

On Neu­rons, Jour­neys, and Chem­i­cal Friends

Brain­Health­Hacks,
by Ward Plunet
The pow­er of one — neu­ron
We have all been told about the pow­er one per­son, that one per­son can make a dif­fer­ence. Well, does the gen­er­al prin­ci­ple also hold true about a sin­gle neu­ron? Can a sin­gle neu­ron make a dif­fer­ence — change your sleep state, motor move­ment, or induce a behav­ior?
Neu­rophiloso­pher,
by Mo
New cells in the adult brain migrate long dis­tances by crawl­ing along blood ves­sels
The jour­ney under­tak­en by new­ly gen­er­at­ed neu­rons in the adult brain is like the cel­lu­lar equiv­a­lent of the ardu­ous upstream migra­tion of salmon return­ing to the rivers in which they were hatched.
Neu­ro­topia,
by Sci­cu­ri­ous
The ele­gant log­ic of dopamine
What do we know about the for­ma­tion of dopamine neu­rons and the reg­u­la­tion of gene expres­sion?. A sim­ple and ele­gant recent study pro­vides some much-need­ed, crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion that could dras­ti­cal­ly affect how we pur­sue new ther­a­pies dopamin­er­gic dis­eases such as Parkinson’s.
Brain Stim­u­lant,
by Mike
Brain Synapse Com­pu­ta­tion­al Capac­i­ty
Evo­lu­tion has exploit­ed mul­ti­ple avenues to increase the brain’s com­pu­ta­tion­al capac­i­ty. This is great news for all humans, except per­haps for those try­ing to mod­el the mind exact­ly by build­ing com­put­er brain sim­u­la­tions, since they will like­ly have to mod­el all of these pro­tein inter­ac­tions to func­tion in a man­ner sim­i­lar to a real brain.

On Brain Func­tions

Sharp­Brains,
by Tra­cy Alloway
10% Stu­dents may have work­ing mem­o­ry prob­lems: Why does it mat­ter?
In screen­ing of over 3000 school-aged stu­dents in main­stream schools, 1 in 10 was iden­ti­fied as hav­ing work­ing mem­o­ry dif­fi­cul­ties. Why does this mat­ter? Clue: Work­ing mem­o­ry seems to be even more impor­tant to learn­ing than oth­er cog­ni­tive skills such as IQ.
Neu­ro­topia,
by Sci­cu­ri­ous
Cake or Death? It’s all a mat­ter of self-con­trol, and your vmPFC
A recent MRI study helps pin­point where sig­nals for self-con­trol may orig­i­nate, and could be a big deal clin­i­cal­ly. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly as a diet aid, but rather for prob­lems where there’s a lack of self-con­trol, as in addic­tion.
The Mouse Trap,
by Sandy Gau­tam
Low Latent Inhi­bi­tion, high faith in intu­ition and psychosis/creativity
What is the rela­tion­ship between low latent inhi­bi­tion (brain’s capac­i­ty to screen from cur­rent atten­tion­al focus stim­uli pre­vi­ous­ly tagged as irrel­e­vant), high faith in intu­ition and psychosis/creativity?

Fron­tiers in Per­cep­tion

Dr. Deb,
by Deb Serani
Can You Find The Twelve Faces?

How many faces can you see in this image?

Mind Hacks,
by Vaugh­an Bell
Deep­er into the neu­ro­science of hyp­no­sis
A new arti­cle from Trends in Cog­ni­tive Sci­ences explores how cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists are becom­ing increas­ing­ly inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing hyp­no­sis and are using it to sim­u­late unusu­al states of con­scious­ness in the lab. Might hyp­no­sis help you see the Twelve Faces above? or per­haps 25 of them?

Next edi­tion will be host­ed by Neu­roan­thro­pol­o­gy on Mon­day, May 25th. If you can’t wait until to read more, you may be inter­est­ed in the new in-depth fea­ture, Cog­ni­tive Month­ly, offered by Cog­ni­tive Dai­ly blog for $2/ month. This month’s issue, “The Illu­sion of The­ater,” dis­cuss­es the “remark­able sci­ence behind what the­atri­cal pro­fes­sion­als seem, to laypeo­ple, to do intu­itive­ly: cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that encour­ages us to believe that what we see on stage is a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of real­i­ty.”

Aging, neuroscience, psychology blogs

2 excel­lent recent blog car­ni­val edi­tions:

Encephalon #58 (neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy), host­ed by Wal­ter at High­light Health.
Hour­glass #5 (biol­o­gy  of aging), host­ed by Lau­ra at psique.

Enjoy!

Brain Blogs and Michael Merzenich

Two quick notes:

- Encephalon #56 edi­tion: the lat­est edi­tion of this neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy blog car­ni­val is ready for your read­ing plea­sure.
- Michael Merzenich Elect­ed to Insti­tute of Med­i­cine: Con­grat­u­la­tions! “The Insti­tute of Medicine’s total active mem­ber­ship is now 1,576 and the num­ber of for­eign asso­ciates is 89. With anoth­er 71 mem­bers hold­ing emer­i­tus sta­tus, IOM’s total mem­ber­ship is now 1,736. Estab­lished in 1970 by the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine is a nation­al resource for inde­pen­dent, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly informed analy­sis and rec­om­men­da­tions on issues relat­ed to human health. With their elec­tion, mem­bers make a com­mit­ment to devote a sig­nif­i­cant amount of vol­un­teer time as mem­bers of IOM study com­mit­tees.”
You may have seen him talk­ing about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in the PBS spe­cial titled Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram.

Neuroscience Q&A: Encephalon #52

Chris hosts a superb edi­tion of Encephalon, pre­sent­ing the arti­cles as an engag­ing and pret­ty com­pre­hen­sive Q&A ses­sion. If you want to read the answers, to the ques­tions below, by some of the best neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy blog­gers, sim­ply vis­it Encephalon 52: Q&A.

Q: What is the rela­tion­ship between neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and depres­sion?

Q: For that mat­ter, is there a rela­tion­ship between depres­sion and dia­betes?

Q: What is the mol­e­c­u­lar basis of bipo­lar dis­or­der?

Q: Can brain stim­u­la­tion make you a bet­ter dri­ver? Read the rest of this entry »

Encephalon: Briefing the Next US President on Neuroscience & Psychology

Dear Mr or Mrs Next US Pres­i­dent,

We are glad to wel­come you to our blog car­ni­val. After a short hia­tus, Encephalon is backScience Debate 2008 and gath­er­ing steam. We have pre­pared this “revival” edi­tion just for you, so you can be well informed and impress us all dur­ing the upcom­ing Sci­encede­bate 2008.

With­out fur­ther ado, let’s pro­ceed to the ques­tions posed by 24 blog­gers on neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy issues. We hope they pro­vide, at the very least, good men­tal stim­u­la­tion for you and your advi­sors.

Big Ques­tions

Do I deserve to vote even if I don’t have Free Will? (Marc at Neu­ro­sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly Chal­lenged).

If cul­ture sculpts our brains, what can our brains do to refine our cul­ture first? (Stephanie at Brains On Pur­pose).

Is God more than a fly­ing brain? (Jes­si­ca at bioephemera).

Is Your brain real­ly read­ing This? (Pete at Brain Ham­mer).

A Few Intru­sive Ques­tions

Do you play any musi­cal instru­ment? (Megan at Sharp­Brains).

Read the rest of this entry »

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