Welcome to the most recent installation of the neuroscience blog carnival, Encephelon, here at Of Two Minds! Steve and I thought we would mix things up a little bit and let a guest blogger summarize the best brain blogging (submitted to us (this week)). That guest is none other that famed socialite Paris Hilton, who wished to take this opportunity to attempt to change her image from fashionista to neuronista. Please welcome Paris!
Hi neurokids, Paris here. While I’m sure that you have already formed an opinion of me due to the massive media coverage of my escapades and foibles, hopefully that won’t taint your enjoyment of my science blogging. I am actually a very intelligent student of neuroscience – after all if Blossom can become a neuroscience grad student at UCLA so can I! Neuroscience is sooo hot!
The Dalai Lama spoke at the Society for Neuroscience meeting a few years back, demonstrating an active interest in neuroscience (although perhaps a less robust understanding of a few fundamentals). Anyway, the more public figures interested in the brain, the better, I say. He does seem to have a knack for asking interesting and less-than-straightforward questions.
Neuroscience bloggers have been busy covering the science of video games. Mind Hacks highlights the Emotiv headset which is set to hit stores soon, and relies on EEG technology to predict the gamers moves and wishes inside the game. And contrary to industry stats that show females gamers on the rise, one study promotes the idea that men are innately geared towards enjoying video games more than women. Dreaming about video games sounds like an effect of playing them too much, however, people have been found to dream about playing Tetris after a particular long session and that even amnesiac experience these dreams, despite being unable to remember playing the game.
I said a few months ago that “It’s no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends, … I will not go into the details of what happened. All I will say is that Nicole knows what she did, and that’s all I am ever going to say about it.” But I think it’s time to come clean about what our disagreement was actually about. Nicole seemed to think that spanking her kids was fine, but now with this post from Brain Blogger I can prove her wrong. As a matter of fact when kids are spanked there is “an increased probability of verbally and physically coercing a dating partner to have sex; risky sex such as premarital sex without using a condom; and masochistic sex such as spanking during sex.”
Everyone loves dopamine (Especially ME!). Some people (like ME!) spend their lives (and their fathers’ fortunes) chasing the dopaminergic dragon. Marc Digman blogs about a great review article in April’s Nature Neuroscience regarding the current view of the neurobiology of pleasure and pain and the difference between ‘wanting’ and ‘liking.’ Marc also covers evolutionary theories as to why we love sweet things so much (hint: has to do with dopamine) and how it impacts obesity. Neuroanthropology tackles obesity as well, with a well thought out analysis of the genes vs. environment arguments. I do wish they’d stop hating on the twin studies though.
The Neurophilosopher describes how the evolution of language, and the specification of areas devoted to the processing and production of language, proceeded to rewire the brain via the development of the arcuate fasciculus. Neuroanthropology blogs about a fascinating paper which analyzes how being bilingual might impact how people solve social perception problems.
Jennifer at Cocktail Party Physics has been neuro-blogging lately, and here covers a bit about the fascinating history of neuroscience. Why are golgi called golgi?? Who exactly is Ramon y Cajal?? Inquiring minds want to know! She also discusses how the public perception of mental illness has evolved over the past few decades, using the story of Senator Thomas Eagleton as a case in point.
John Medina, affiliate professor at the University of Washington, has written an intriguing book called ‘Brain Rules’ touted at Sharp Brains. While probably not containing much new info for the seasoned brainiac, these popular neuroscience books serve a role as distilling the science into bite-size pieces for a lay audience via anecdote.
‘Mentalizing‘ refers to being able to infer the mental states of others, which can be impaired in disorders like autism and borderline personality disorder. The Neurocritic summarizes recent fMRI studies on mentalizing, including a ‘Bush, not-Bush’ task. Hilarity ensues. I wonder what happens when someone mentalizes me?
Celebs will pay big bucks for aromatherapy, but stinky-foot smell is likely not to be one of the featured scents. However, exposing someone having an epileptic seizure to stinky-foot smell has been thought (for unknown reasons) to interrupt the seizure. Oddly enough, there may be something to it. Speaking of smelling, our sense of olfaction may be intimately linked with sensing danger, as a person’s sense of smell can be heightened following electric shocks.
Synesthesia is when one experiences sensory input as a different sensory “output,” like seeing colors in response to music or experiencing a particular taste when you smell someone’s perfume. This blogger describes their own synesthesia experience and breaks down the clinical definition. Phantom pain is also a phenomenon related to altered sensory experience: when an amputated limb continues to “cause” pain despite its obvious absence. Jake at Pure Pedantry blogs that mirrors may be the simple answer.
Tabloids aren’t the only publications prone to exaggeration and mis-stating facts. Psychology textbooks do it too, and have perpetuated falsehoods about Descartes, the discovery of Broca’s area, and Morgan’s canon. I might have to sue some of those textbooks as well as the usual tabloids.
Who knew that the powerful anti-psychotic drug lithium chloride actually began as a salt substitute for people with heart and kidney disease? When people began dying from lithium toxicity, the compound was reclassified from a food additive to a drug after it was discovered that lithium could sedate rats quite efficiently. Although it certainly has more side effects than Prozac…
Looks like an at-home ‘spit-test’ for bipolar disorder is being sold by a company called Psynomics, which puports to diagnose the disorder by assaying for two mutations on the GRK3 gene which have been linked to it. I’m a bit worried that this might circumvent the care of a physician, or be misinterpreted by the user, but the kit could be useful for physicians to support a diagnosis. That’s crazy I thought that pregnancy was the only thing I could test for at home.
Anyway, hope you have enjoyed this installment of Encephalon! The next one will be hosted at GNIF Brain Blogger.