[Image: Cover of The Case for Mental Imagery by Stephen Kosslyn with co-authors William Thompson and Giorgio Ganis. One of many cool books he's written, including the must-read Clear and To The Point on psychological design of PowerPoint presentations.]
title What Shape are a German Shepherd's Ears? description Mental imagery and visualizing, preconceptions and perceptions, social cognition, how mental imagery affects your body and visual simulations that manipulate it. producer Edge Video featuring Stephen Kosslyn format Quicktime date 16/07/02 length 00:10:18 linkhttp://www.edge.org/video/56k/kosslyn.html
title Operant learning of Drosophila at the torque meter description A new pubcast at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), Issue 16, explaining procedures used for experiments in operant conditioning and Drosophila (fruit flies). Indexed into eight sections, with accompanying text in HTML and PDF. doi: 10.3791/731 producer Bjoern Brembs, Department of Neurobiology, Free University of Berlin and JoVE featuring Dr. Bjoern Brembs format Flash (in JoVE Video Player 4.0) date 16/06/08 length 00:17:31 linkhttp://www.jove.com/index/details.stp?id=731
Bloggingheads.tv associate editor David Killoren sends in a diavlog (split-screen webcam interview) on an always-popular subject, Free Will: Happiness and the Foundations of Morality. Will Wilkinson joins Jonathan Haidt to discuss the issues. The full interview is an hour long, but Killoren recommends an "especially engaging (to me) clip, in which Haidt argues that morality is a 'big, complicated mess of human instinct' with more than one foundation." The clip is below, or watch it all here.
Aside from my intentional emphasis on neuro-related videos, a theme has emerged from the Encephalon contributions I've received: food. Does calorie restriction allow us to live longer? Ouroboros contributes some thoughtful arguments in Of mice and men: Deleterious psychological effects of CR may be limited to rodents. Chris Patil criticizes the CALERIE study on psychological effects of calorie restriction (CR). Previous studies in rodents showed that extreme CR brought on anhedonia, however, early results from CALERIE seem to indicate that a 25% CR in healthy subjects has no psychological effects.
Even if there isn't direct causation, family exacerbates the problem sometimes. This was almost certainly the case with singer Karen Carpenter, who died of anorexia. The very-banned 1987 film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story by Todd Haynes depicts her life and illness. He was sued by her brother and by their record company and the film will not be legally distributed again, but lo, here's a torrent, here's another link, and it's on Google video below (00:43:19). Superstar is unique in using Barbie-like dolls as actors. You might not imagine that method would create such sympathy and poignancy, but it's a brilliant and powerful film. It's also the most badass thing you'll likely see here on Channel N - watch it before someone threatens to sue me.
To control food intake in a far healthier way, Walter Jessen of Highlight Health explains how Remembering lunch can help reduce the desire to snack. "Mind over matter may really work when it comes to managing appetite. Researchers at the University of Birmingham, U.K. have found that recalling foods eaten at lunch has an inhibitory effect on subsequent snacking later the same day."
Vaughan also lends a link to a vintage video featuring renowned psychologist Albert Bandura explaining his 1961 experiment on social learning and aggression in children. The post Battering Bobo supplies some background, and here's the video (00:05:03):
Kylie S. of the PodBlack Blog compares past to present in her comprehensive post Classic science paper - Belief in fortune telling amongst college students. "Although times have changed, much has not when it comes to belief in fortune tellers. Thankfully, we can now see how a variety of factors influence how we think about weird things and may even have a chance to do more in comparison to a 1930s paper on college students' beliefs."
A Mormon/LDS pediatric neurology resident who invites us to call him Doc discusses Modern medicine for manipulation of the mind in his blog Mind, Soul and Body. His subject is the hormone oxytocin, produced during reproductive functions, which promotes bonding and trust. Experiments have demonstrated that boosting oxytocin levels lead to people being more easily manipulated in economic games. Fortunately, he points out, there is no way to surreptitiously dose someone with oxytocin. (I will add that those "trust sprays" on the market are useless.)
ScienceBlogger Jake Young of Pure Pedantry writes a great research summary in his post The use of adjuvants in Alzheimer's. Nasally-administered Protollin and glatiramer acetate, basically immune activators for microglia, dramatically reduced the ABeta plaque (or "molecular crud") that accompanies the disease. He cautions that the study is limited to rats, but is still promising. For prospective Alzheimer's drugs, it's all about location, location, location is a post that looks at other drug research aimed at reducing ABeta production: in this case enzyme inhibitors. In both entries Jake does a fantastic job of distilling complicated molecular biology for the layperson while remaining just as informative for students and professionals.
Mo Costandi of Neurophilosophy sends in three posts. Socializing promotes survival of new nerve cells and may preserve memory, in songbirds at least, and a new study described in the NYT speculates on a link. Growing new brain cells to treat depression follows a press release from San Diego-based pharmaceuticals company BrainCells Inc. announcing clinical trials of their proprietary technology BCI-540 in a quest to stimulate neurogenesis as treatment for depression. (Note: oddly, the clinical trials will take place exclusively at sites in Canada. Possibly this is due to American politics surrounding stem cells but the company has not divulged sufficient info to speculate.) The third post, Channelrhodopsin restores vision in blind mice, reports on an exciting new study in Nature Neuroscience. Mice lacking photoreceptors had a photosensitive protein gene found in green algae introduced to cells in the retina, which made them re-sensitive to light. Senior author Connie Cepko comments on his post, clarifying that the introduced gene did not integrate into the chromosomes.
Two entries are offered up from the group blog Brain Blogger. Neuroscience: Psychotherapy's Executioner by Jared Tanner calls for a balance between dualism and "monoism." The Bipolar Trend by J.R. White discusses the assertion that bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed. You can find my opinion on the subject in the comments on that post, since J.R. solicited me to comment on it. I answered before I realized he was spamming a lot of other bloggers to do the same. J.R., please don't do that, it's not nice.
Alvaro Fernandez of Sharp Brains looks at Executive functions, education and Alzheimer's disease. He connects a Newsweek article on the importance of executive functions (attentional control over behaviour) for students to a news item on the decline of those functions with Alzheimer's. As well, Dr. Janice Dorn offers a well-written piece about "Behavioral NeuroFinance" titled This is your brain on trading. Dorn discloses some traits of stock traders, who must excel at quick decision-making, and how they have trained to become experts.
The Neurocritic exhibits some fabulous artwork from BRAINWAVE: Common Senses, a group show about representations of mind and brain, held at New York's Exit Art gallery. Watch an interview with the curator. Works range from Suzanne Anker's juxtaposition of 3D Rorschach ink blots (iconic to the public, but not used in contemporary clinical psychology) with butterflies and MRI brain scans, to Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns' robot performing Sleep Waking (00:02:51). "Using recorded brainwave activity and eye movements during REM sleep to determine robot behaviors and head positioning, 'Sleep Waking' acts as a way to 'play-back' dreams. Through this piece we hope to investigate one of the possible human-robot relationships."
title The Reshaping of the Neurobiology of Autism description In the keynote address from the 2007 Summer Institute on Neurodevelopmental Disorders, neurologist Nancy Minshew discusses how and why autism is a multisystems disorder, how it's diagnosed, and functioning. She rambles a bit (admittedly sleep deprived) but it's a very good talk that includes some funny moments and practical advice for caregivers. (She runs a Center for Excellence in autism, is highly regarded in her field and has over 20 years experience, but vaccine conspiracy theorist alties have rabidly smeared her online and off. She is angrily attacked during the Q&A here too.) producer University of California Davis M.I.N.D. Institute featuring Nancy Minshew, MD format WMV, Quicktime date 02/08/07 length 01:09:45 linkhttp://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/events/si_recorded_events.html direct video linkhttp://media.mindinstitute.org/video/suminst/2007/mov/minshew_2007_suminst.m4v