Neuron Culture

Both Mind Hacks and Jonah Lehrer took interesting note — Jonah’s the longer, and a pretty nice summary itself — of the fascinating NY Times piece on ultramarathoner Diane Van Deren, who began running long distances after brain surgery removed much of her right temporal lobe. This gave her a great advantage: the lack of memory of the run behind her, and thus of any dread of the punishment still to come. Downside: significant memory problems, and she can’t read a map.

Speaking of memory …

Newsweek has a good piece on unconscious plagiarism — that is, how genuine lapses in “source memory” — that is, where you learned something — can lead to unintentional plagiarism. In a way, this is no surprise to me, as my memory is not what it might be, and I often forget where I first heard or read something. This makes it both more understandable and more troubling that we hear so many stories of writers “accidentally” using material, often verbatim, without meaning too, because they kept faulty records of the origin and/or copied passage but failed to note source. Of course it’s easy to later mistake the source or think you wrote it yourself. That’s why you’re supposed to be careful in notetaking. Then again, maybe I’ve slipped up at that some point myself — and I suppose I wouldn’t realize it if I had, now, would I?

Cognitive Daily has a nifty post on a study exploring how we can recognize scenes — e.g., desert versus mountains — by being fed cues that aren’t actually part of such scenes. Pretty cool stuff.

Effect Measure looks at how swine flu is playing out so far in the southern hemisphere, while Helen Branswell looks at rising worries about Tamiflu-resistant swine flu in Hong Kong. (Other looks at same by WSJ Health Blog and Avian Flu Diary.) The CDC briefs us on what to do if you get flu-like symptoms, while the HHS offers an Individual Planning Page. . And Avian Flu Diary looks at the take-home message from yesterday’s flu summit, in which the Obama administration sent the message that it’s time to prepare seriously for what could be “a serious situation this fall.”