The Frontal Cortex

Archives for July, 2006

Testosterone and Euphoria

I’m still puzzled over why Floyd Landis might have taken testosterone. After all, bicyclists are supposed to be svelte, and injecting yourself with a little hormone the night after a tough ride probably wouldn’t lead to increased muscle recovery in time for the next day’s race. So why do bicylists (like this guy) do it?…

Neurofeedback Wins World Cup!

Well, sort of. A well-timed insult by Materazzi also helped. But the WSJ reports today that several members of the Italian team used neurofeedback earlier this year to help hone their powers of concentration: In February, months before the tournament started, some of Italy’s best soccer players, including a handful who would later play in…

Are Scientists Productive?

After my last post on the frustrating inefficiencies of experimental failure, I recieved an interesting comment: I discovered in the late stages of graduate school that my extremely long hours (upwards of 80/week) were extraordinarily unproductive. I was doing cell culture and electrophysiology and while I had reams of data, it wasn’t going anywhere. Only…

Adoption and IQ

The NY Times Magazine described an interesting study that I’d never heard about before: A study of French youngsters adopted between the ages of 4 and 6 shows the continuing interplay of nature and nurture. Those children had little going for them. Their I.Q.’s averaged 77, putting them near retardation. Most were abused or neglected…

Mirror Neurons Redux

Small Gray Matters has an insightful post on the recent mirror neuron debate here at Scienceblogs. While I think a dose of skepticism is always helpful (especially when big mysteries like “empathy” and “theory of mind” are being tossed around), Small Gray Matters offers a persuasive defense of this circuit in the motor cortex: Mirror…

Scienceblogs is abuzz with discussion over the difficulty of melding family life and an academic career in science. Having worked for several years as a tech in an ambitious neuroscience lab, I’m amazed that post-docs even contemplate a family life. Most post-docs and grad-students I knew worked 60 hours a week (or more) for piss-poor…

Are Mirror Neurons Too Cool?

Mixing Memory tosses a helpful bucket of cold water on the mirror neuron frenzy. The post focuses on the hypothesis that mirror neurons were a crucial ingredient in the development of human language. While I think much of the skepticism is well deserved – mirror neurons remain a mysterious bunch of cells – I think…

The Stem Cell Debate of 2007

So we lost the stem cell battle this year. Moral self-righteousness once again defeated pragmatic common sense. Of course, important political progress was made: Congress supported science, and Bush was forced to veto a popular bill. So what should we do next year? I think one important argument for the pro-stem cell side was missing…

Electric Cars Are Not Dead

The new Tesla has officially been unveiled. Wired has already taken it for a test drive: He releases the brake and my head snaps back. One-one-thousand: I get a floating feeling, like going over the falls in a roller coaster. Two-one-thousand: The world tunnels, the trees blur. Three-one-thousand: We hit 60 miles per hour. Eberhard…

A World In A Grain of Sand

The Wellcome Trust just announced the winners of the 2006 Biomedical Image Awards. The pictures are absolutely stunning: Here is a goblet cell, which line the inside of the intestine and respiratory system. And here is a cerebellar granule cell, growing in culture.