Brain Science Podcast Update

Last month we launched a completely redesigned website for the Brain Science Podcast. It is intended to be more accessible to people on mobile devices, but it also makes it easier for visitors to submit feedback directly from the site.

 

 Here is a brief summary of our most recent episodes:

Pain Part 2 (BSP 95):

Click image to listenBSP 95 is the second part of our discussion of Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain by Fernando Cervero, who is the current president of the International Society for the Study of Pain. Dr. Cervero was interviewed in BSP 93 and in this episode I discuss additional key ideas from his book. (BSP 93 and 95 can be enjoyed in any order.

Listen to BSP 95 

Click here for the detailed show notes.

 

 

 

How the Brain Understands Language (BSP 94):

Dr. Benjamin BergenBSP 94 was an interview with linguist Benjamin Bergen author of Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning.

Listen to BSP 94

Go to the complete show notes.

 

 

 

Neuroscience of Pain (BSP 93)

Click Logo to ListenDr. Fernando Cervero of McGill University has been studying pain since the beginning of his career back in the 1960's. These decades have seen tremendous advances in our neuroscientific understanding of what causes different types of pain as well as changing attitudes. Pain was once regarded as something that most people had to endure, but now most of us demand adequate pain relief, sometimes even to the point of not tolerating minor pain. Dr. Cevero's new book Understanding Pain provides an accessible account of both the history of pain research and a thoughtful consideration of the challenges facing the field.

The latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 93) is an interview with Dr. Cervero. This is Part 1 of a planned two part series.

listen-to-audio Listen to Episode 93

Click Here for Detailed Show Notes and Episode Transcripts

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Christof Koch returns to the Brain Science Podcast

Christof Koch, PhDThe scientific study of consciousness was once viewed with skepticism, but this has changed dramatically in recent years. According to pioneering neuroscientist Christof Koch, "the great thing is we’re not condemned to just sort of philosophical speculation, but we can make some predictions, and then go out and measure them.  And those are the things I talk about in this book, Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist." In Brain Science Podcast #84 Koch reflects on the progress that has been made since I interviewed him back in 2007 (BSP 22), and he also talks about the latest initiatives at the Allen Institute for Brain Research, where he as recently become the chief science officer. 

 Listen to Episode 84

Episode Transcript (Free PDF)

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Latest Brain Science Podcast looks at Brain-Machine Interfaces

In his book Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines---and How It Will Change Our Lives neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis puts his recent work with brain machine interfaces into historical context and explains why this work should change the way we understand how brains work. Nicolelis challenges several long-standing assumptions including the primacy of the single neuron and strict localization, which is the idea that each area of the brain has a relatively fixed function.

Episode 78 of the Brain Science Podcast is a brief discussion of the key ideas presented in Beyond Boundaries, including a look at the implications of experiments such as the wide publicized work that culminated in demonstrating that a monkey in Nicolelis' lab at Duke (North Carolina, USA) could control a robot arm in Japan using only its brain. 

 

listen-to-audio Listen to Episode 78 

Click here for complete show notes and free episode transcript.

 

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Magic and the Brain (BSP 72)

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Neuroscientists Dr. Stephen Macknik and Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde have an unusual hobby: Magic! Actually, it is more than a hobby since for the last several years they have been working with leading magicians from around the world to create a new field: the neuroscience of magic. In Episode 72 of the Brain Science Podcast I talked with them about their new book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions, which is the first book to explore the neuroscience of magic.

With the help of their co-author Sandra Blakeslee, Macknik and Martinez-Conde provide an excellent overview of this new and exciting field. Their book also provides an excellent review of many of the principles that I have introduced in the last 4 years.

listen-to-audioListen to Episode 72 (Right Click to download)

Click here for detailed show notes and episode transcripts.

 

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The Importance of Play (BSP 60)

In Episode 60 of the Brain Science Podcast Ginger Campbell, MD interviews Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Our focus is on the importance of play for normal mental development and psychological health. We also explore the importance of play in adults.

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

Click here for Detailed Show Notes and Links

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Send email to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac.com.

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Dr. Brenda Milner: Pioneer of Memory Research (BSP 49)

Brain Science Podcast #49 is an interview with pioneering neuroscientist, Brenda Milner, PhD. Dr. Milner is known for her contributions to understanding memory and her work with split-brain patients. Her work as an experimental psychologist has been fundamental to the emergence of the field of cognitive neuroscience. This interview is a follow-up of Dr. Milner's recent interview with Dr. Marc Pelletier on Futures in Biotech. I highly recommend listening to both interviews.

Listen to Episode 49 of the Brain Science Podcast

Listen to Dr. Milner on Futures in Biotech (Episode33)

Click here for detailed show notes and links.

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Third Semi-annual Review Episode (BSP 40)

Episode 40 of the Brain Science Podcast is a look back at the highlights from the last six months. We have talked about numerous topics including brain plasticity, mirror neurons, language, brain rhythms, and the sense of smell. We talked with 9 guests and we have also explored the practical implications of neuroscience, including the importance of sleep and exercise to brain health. This brief review episode is intended for both new listeners and long-time subscribers.

Listen to Episode 40

For detailed show notes including links to all the resources discussed in the episode

please visit the Brain Science Podcast website

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Michael Arbib on Mirror Neurons (BSP 39)

Episode 39 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. Michael Arbib from the University of Southern California. Dr. Arbib's work with functional brain imaging has established the presence of mirror neurons in the human brain. In our interview we focused on the role of mirror neurons in imitation and language. In particular I questioned Dr. Arbib about the Mirror System Hypothesis (MSH) of Language Evolution that he proposed in 1998 with Giacomo Rizzolatti. We also explored how this hypothesis diverges from the universal grammar proposed by Noam Chomsky. Dr. Arbib also shared his enthusiasm for future research and we talked about the special challenges caused by the interdisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience.

Listen to the Interview

Related Episodes:

Click here for  detailed show notes including links and references

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Could the eye have evolved? The answer is YES!

I have been meaning to recommend the excellent website Expelled Exposed, which documents all the lies and misleading statements in Ben's Stein's creationist "documentary," Exposed. A central claim is that professors who believe in intelligent design are being persecuted, a claim that is totally unfounded. Expelled Exposed was created by the National Center for Science Education. You can hear an excellent interview with Director Eugenie Scott on the April 9th episode of Science Talk, Scientific American's podcast. One of the claims that is popular with ID proponents is the idea that the eye is too complex to have been the product of evolution. Actually, as was pointed in David Bainbridge's excellent book, Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain, nothing could be further from the truth, because there is evidence that eyes have actually evolved a surprising number of times. (For more on Bainbridge's book listen to Episode 32 of the Brain Science Podcast.) To learn more about the evidence for the evolution of the eye check out this new video which NCSE has posted on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOtP7HEuDYA
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Art Glenberg discusses Embodied Cognition (BSP 36)

Art Glenberg, PhD Episode 36 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Arthur Glenberg, PhD about embodied cognition. Dr. Glenberg recently moved to Arizona State University after over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin's Laboratory of Embodied Cognition. His research focuses on the relationship between embodiment and language. In this interview we explore the experimental evidence for a theory of language that embraces the concept that our language abilities are actually rooted in our perceptual and motor abilities. Dr. Glenberg also explains how his work has practical implications in helping children learn how to read. Since Dr. Glenberg has had a long career as a working research scientist, this interview also provided an opportunity to explore how scientific hypotheses are formed and how experiments are designed to test these hypothesis. I think this interview will give you a fascinating look into the real world of cognitive psychology.

Listen to Dr. Glenberg's Interview (left click to listen, right click to download)

Links and References: Arthur Glenberg, PhD Other Scientists Mentioned in the Episode:
  • George Lakoff: pioneering linguist
  • James Gibson-known for his ideas about affordances
  • William Epstein-emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin
  • Joseph Campos: University of California (Berkelely)
  • Amy Needham and Amanda Woodard-experiments with velcro mits and infant cognition
  • David A Havas: graduate student and co-author with Dr. Glenberg
  • Mike Kashak: Florida State University
  • Mike Rinck: German co-author-see paper under Glenberg (more papers)
  • Vittorio Gallese, Dept of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Italy (where mirror neurons were discovered): extensive experimental with motor neurons in monkeys
  • Fritz Stack (Germany): experiments showing that facial experiments affect mood and cognition
References: Listen to Dr. Glenberg's Interview (left click to listen, right click to download)

Share your comments on the Discussion Forum

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Mirror Neurons (BSP 35)

Mirrors in the Brain Brain Science Podcast #35 is a discussion of Mirrors in the brain: How our minds share actions, emotions, and experience by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Corrado Sinigaglia. Mirror neurons were discovered in Rizzolatti's lab in Parma Italy in the early 1990's and his book is a detailed to discussion of the experimental evidence in both monkeys and humans. Direct single neuron recordings have been made in monkeys. The evidence in humans is indirect since it is based on mainly on neuroimaging studies like PET scans and fMRI scans. Even so mirror neurons appear to be essential to our ability to understand both the actions and emotions of others. Listen Now. In this episode we also explore the evidence that there are other neurons in the motor areas of the brain that have sensory properties and that the areas of the brain traditionally thought to be devoted to sensory functions also contain neurons with motor properties. Another fascinating discovery is the fact that there are neurons that respond not only to somatosensory inputs (such as being touched) but also to visual or auditory inputs from objects within our peri-personal space. For background on these body maps I recommend listening to Episode 21 and Episode 23. If you are new to the Brain Science Podcast you may want to listen to those episodes first because this week's episode is a little more technical than most. I will be exploring the importance of these discoveries in future episodes.

Listen to Brain Science Podcast Episode 35 (mirror neurons) NOW.

Links: Giacomo Rizzolatti- University of Parma Mirror neurons (wikipedia entry) Mirror neurons (Scholarpedia entry written by Dr. Rizzolatti)

Listen to Brain Science Podcast #35 (mirror neurons) Now

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Dan Rather Presents Neuroplasticity

Today HDNet™ is reshowing an episode of Dan Rather Reports called "Mind Science." It is an excellent review of neuroplasticity. It includes interviews with several leading scientists in the field. I especially enjoyed seeing Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel talk about his work with memory. (I talked about Kandel's work on the Brain Science Podcast in Episode 3 and Episode 12.) "Mind Science" also features the Dalai Llama and scientist Richard Davidson talking about the evidence that meditation can change the brain. Rather interviews Sharon Begely about her book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves (which I discussed in detail in Episode 10 of the Brain Science Podcast). Other scientists featured in the episode include Michael Merzenich on improving brain function as we age and Dr. Edward Taub on his revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation. (My show notes for Episode 10 include links for all the scientists interviewed by Rather.) It was particulary gratifying to see Dr. Kandel endorse Ed Taub's Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy. Dr. Taub was interviewed in Episode 28 of the Brain Science Podcast. If you don't get HDNet™ you can watch Dan Rather Reports on-line, via podcast or on Facebook. Summary of relevant episodes of the Brain Science Podcast: itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email

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Rachel Herz talks about Smell (BSP 34)

rachelherz.jpgRachel Herz Episode 34 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Rachel Herz author of The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007). Dr. Herz teaches at Brown University and she is a leading authority on the psychology of smell. We talk about the how smell works, its role in emotion and memory, why it is so vulnerable, and why smell is much more important than most of us realize. We also consider some of the questions that remain unanswered. Listen to the Rachel Herz interview now. (Right click to download.) Links and References: Rachel Herz The 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology was awarded to Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their discoveries of "odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system." BuckL, Axel R "A novel multigene family may encode odorant receptors: a molecular basis for odor recognition." Cell. 1991 Apr 5;65(1):175-87. "The (Shocked) Nose Knows" by Gisela Telis ScienceNOW Daily News 27 March 2008 scentofdesire.jpgThe Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (2007) by Rachel Herz Listen to Episode 34 (Right click to download) Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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Exercise and the Brain (BSP 33)

Episode 33 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Harvard physician, Dr. John Ratey about his new book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. johnpic_profile.jpgJohn J Ratey, MD We explore the exciting evidence about how exercise helps the brain. It stimulates the release of a number of different neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, but probably more importantly it helps keeps these compounds balanced. We consider why exercise is so important in dealing with stress, in treating a wide range of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder. There is also evidence that exercise improves our ability to learn and our ability to avoid the loss of mental agility associated with aging. Listen to Episode 33 Now. This episode contains information that everyone can use. I hope you will share it with your friends and family. Links and References: spark-ratey.jpgSpark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008) by John J. Ratey Dr. Ratey's website: Go here for more interview of Dr. Ratey and also to find links to the latest research about exercise and the brain. Listen to Dr. Ratey's Interview Now. Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email

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Illustrations and Enhanced Versions for BSP 32

mri200.jpgEpisode 32 of the Brain Science Podcast was a whirlwind tour of brain anatomy based on Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain (2008) by David Bainbridge. The author has graciously share the illustrations from his book and I have posted a special page that is keyed to the podcast. I have also created an http://media.libsyn.com/media/brainsciencepodcast/32-enhanced-brainscience-anatomy.m4a, which will appear in the feed tomorrow. I think the images are best viewed on the web, but I would appreciate your feedback on both the website illustrations and the enhanced podcast. See the illustrations on the Brain Science Podcast website. View the enhanced podcast (requires Quicktime).
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A Brief Introduction to Brain Anatomy (BSP 32)

zonulesofzinn.jpg Episode 32 of the Brain Science Podcast is a whirlwind (55 minute) tour of brain anatomy. It is based on David Bainbridge's new book: Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain (2008). Within the next few days I will be expanding the show notes to include key illustrations from the book. I want to thank David for sharing these images and I encourage everyone to read the book. Listen to Episode 32 (Transcript coming soon, see below*) Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email

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*As of 12/9/08 this episode has not yet been transcribed. When it is transcribed the show notes on the main Brain Science Podcast will be updated. Please send email to docartemis at gmail.com if you would like to be notified when the transcript is ready (it will be several months).

Note: If you would like to comment on this episode please go the the show notes on the Brain Science Podcast website or to the Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com.

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Brain Rhythms with György Buzsáki (BSP 31)

rhythmsofthebrain.jpg György Buzsáki, author of Rhythms of the Brain (OUP 2006) is a Professor of Neuroscience at Rutgers University. His book is a comprehensive review of the current state of research in the field of brain oscillations. It includes the role of these oscillations in sleep and memory. In episode 31 of the Brain Science Podcast Dr. Buzáki explains why the rhythms of the brain are important and reflects on why this field has been neglected by some neuroscientists. I think he makes a convincing case for the position that these rhythms are an essential component of brain function. Listen to Dr. György Buzsáki's interview about Brain Rhythms Transcript of Episode 31 SHOW NOTES: Partial List of Scientists Mentioned:
  • Stephen Strogatz: known for his discovery of "small world" architecture
    • His 2003 bestseller Sync: The emerging science of spontaneous order is aimed at a general audience
  • Nancy Kopell: mathematician
    • Buzsaki recommends her review of the analytical approaches to neuronal oscillators: We got Rhythm: Dynamical Systems of the Nervous System. N Am Math Soc 47: 6-16 (2000).
  • Zoltán Néda (Bebes-Bolyai University Romania): the spontaneous synchronization of hand clapping
  • Hermann Haken: German laser physicist who studies bidirectional causation
    • The Science of Structure: Synergetics (1984)
  • John O'Keefe (University College, London): along with Lynn Nadel he discovered how the hippocampus forms a cognitive map of the world
  • David McCormick (Yale University): showed that neurons from the thalamus of a ferret can oscillate spontaneously
    • He has also studied the oscillations of place cells in the hippocampus
  • David Hubel and Thorston Wiesal: along with Vernon Montcastle they pioneered the use of single neuron recordings in the neocortex of casts and monkeys
    • Montcastle, VB (1997) "The Columnar Organization of the Neocortex." Brain 102:01-722.
  • Claude Shannon: founder of Information Theory
  • Jan Born (University of Lübeck, Germany): experiments with how sleep improves both memory and problem solving
Topics and questions:
  • Basics of oscillations and synchrony
  • What functions are accomplished by brain rhythms?
  • The role of hippocampal ripples in memory
  • What happens to our brain rhythms while we sleep
  • The importance of synchrony in saving energy in the brain
This episode will appeal to listeners with a background in math or engineering, but Dr. Buzsáki provides numerous everyday examples that make the material accessible to everyone. Listen to this episode now. Share your comments on the Discussion Forum Audience Survey itunes-chicklet.gif Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe in a reader or podcatcher Subscribe to Brain Science Podcast with Dr. Ginger Campbell by Email

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