Neuron Culture

Archives for January, 2008

Why the Mona Lisa’s smile vanishes

Stumbled across this early this morning: Why the Mona Lisa’s smile is so strangely alluring, and seems to come and go. From the website of Harvard neuroscientist Margaret LIvingstone: The elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile can be explained by the fact that her smile is almost entirely in low spatial frequencies, and so…

A bit o’ squabble has broken out about hopeful monsters. As paleontologist evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne notes in a guest post at The Loom, Carl Zimmer’s blog, hopeful monsters are the products of … well, there’s the problem: They were either the product of sudden large evolutionary forces, as suggested in a recent NY Times…

I’ve written before, both here and in print, about how FDA policy and drug company practices have allowed drug makers to publish (and the FDA to base approval on) only the most flattering drug-trial results while keeping less-flattering studies in the drawer. Today a New England Journal of Medicine report shows how things change when…

The public will soon start getting quicker access to research results it sponsors. From BioMed Central Blog : NIH Public Access Policy to become mandatory: NIH Public Access Policy to become mandatory Many open access advocates will already have heard that NIH’s Public Access Policy, until now voluntary, is set to become mandatory following President…

A new journal from the Nature Publishing Group (publishers of Nature, Nature Neuroscience, and other favorites of mine) has just started a journal about climate change, and to my delight they feature a story about climate change and Atlantic cod, an old love of mine from my time on the Gulf of Maine. Atlantic cod,…

There were a mess of interesting items in the New York Times Magazine annual “Ideas” issue last December 9, but I keep thinking of this one every time a) I wait to make a left-hand turn or b) see a UPS truck. Short v: Avoid left turns and save … Here’s the whole thing: Left-Hand-Turn…

The Garden Waits

You’re supposed to bring Adirondack chairs in for the winter, to make them last longer. But I like to leave them in the garden, sitting in their comfortable circle. They look tough, as mountain chairs should. And they remind me the garden, and spring and summer, await. \

Spatial cognition research is a major interest of mine. This one’s a doozy. From ScienceDaily, Jan 3, 2008: Gay Men Navigate In A Similar Way To Women, Virtual Reality Researchers Find ScienceDaily (Jan. 3, 2008) Gay men navigate in a similar way to women, according to a new study from researchers at Queen Mary, University…

A New York Times piece by Atul Gawande gives some good news and bad news about a life-saving checklist developed to prevent fatal infections in intensive care units. The good news: A year ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published the results of a program that instituted in nearly every intensive care unit in Michigan…

Mirror Neuron Backlash

A backlash is brewing against the mirror neuron theory, or at least its overextension. (Fair disclosure: I was part of the alleged problem.) I picked this up distinctly at the Society of Neuroscience meeting last November. I’ve seen it in the literature since. Last week, I convinced Greg Hickok, a cogsci/language researcher at UC Irvine,…