Friday, December 28, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #27: Year-End Review

brainscience-logo1.jpg Episode 27 is a look back on the first 26 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast.

I look back on some of the main topics that we have explored including memory, consciousness, emotions, decision-making, body maps, and plasticity. Then I talk a little about what I hope to do in the covering year.

This episode is a little more personal than most, and will mainly be of interest to regular listeners. It includes some ideas about how you can help the Brain Science Podcast grow and prosper.

However, in preparing this episode I went back over the past year's episodes and I have prepared a list of all the episodes so far and the main topics. This should help both new listeners and regulars to find episodes that pertain to particular topics.

Click here for a brief summary of episode 1-26 with links to the audio files.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Books and Ideas #15: Interview with Robert Schleip, PhD

I have just posted episode 15 of Books and Ideas.

Books and Ideas Podcast #15 is an interview with Robert Schleip, PhD from the University of Ulm in Germany. Dr. Schleip is an experienced practioner of the body work method known as rolfing, but several years ago he went back and earned his PhD in Biology and began a second career as a research scientist. In our interview we discuss some of the recent discoveries that may revolutionize the way we look at the connective tissue that is commonly called fascia. We also talk about the importance of applying the scientific method to the evaluation of alternative and complimentary healing methods (CAM). Dr. Schleip's enthusiasm for science made this a very enjoyable interview. Listen to the interview now.

References and Links:

Dr. Schleip recommends the Wikipedia entry on Fascia if you would like to learn the basics.

To learn more about Dr. Schleip's work visit the Fascia Research Project website at

The First International Congress International Research Congress was held in October, 2007 in Boston, MA.

You can find some of the scientists Dr. Schleip mentions on this speaker page.

Dr. Schleip has not yet sent me a link to his German references, but I think you can find them if you follow the links on the Fascia Research Project website.

Listen to Books and Ideas Episode 15

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

FINAL TAXI: Evel Knievel - Alabama Connection

Evel Knievel Direct Download the MP3

Alabama is the home of the best in college football and NASCAR’s Talladega Superspeedway, but nestled in the middle of the state is the Barber Motorsports Park and the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. The 144,000-square foot, four-story museum, which is just a few miles outside of Birmingham, includes the world’s largest collection of vintage and modern day motorcycles and the largest collection of Lotus race cars.

The museum and collection is the brainchild of George Barber, a resident of Birmingham and the former owner of Barber Dairy one of the largest dairies in Alabama. Barber who raced sports cars in the early 1960s, started out collecting cars, but soon turned his attention to motorcycles in 1989. In the intervening years, he has gathered examples of some of the most significant bikes in existence. Barber began to purchase entire collections, housing them in a nondescript old building that had once been used for the maintenance of milk delivery trucks. As the number of motorcycles grew, the exhibit was opened to the general public. Eventually, almost ten thousand visitors a week were coming to see “that dairy farmer’s motorcycle collection.”

Barber built the current museum at The Barber Motorsports Park which opened September 19, 2003 with a collection that now has over 900 vintage and modern motorcycles.

A few years after it opened Barber met someone who is considered a legend in the field of motorsports, Evel Knievel. Knievel is the flamboyant motorcycle stuntman whose thrilling triumphs and spectacular failures enshrined him as America’s consummate daredevil.

Evel Knievel survived at least 38 broken bones, multiple concussions and countless abrasions acquired in daring jumps that ended in unplanned crashes, but he did not escape the Final Taxi at 69.

He was born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana, on Oct. 17, 1938. He was always getting into trouble and once after one particular police chase in 1956 in which he crashed his motorcycle, Knievel was taken to jail on a charge of reckless driving. When the night jailer came around to check the roll, he noted Robert Knievel in one cell and William Knofel in the other. Knofel was well known as “Awful Knofel” (”Awful” rhyming with “Knofel”) so Knievel began to be referred to as Evel Knievel. He chose this misspelling both because of his last name and because he didn’t want to be considered “evil”.

Knievel opened a Honda motorcycle dealership in Moses Lake, Wash., in 1965, hyping sales by offering a $100 discount to anyone who could beat him at arm wrestling. That same year, he started Evel Knievel’s Motorcycle Daredevils. They toured the Western states as a latter-day mechanized rodeo. However, one by one the riders dropped out, unwilling to keep up with someone whose idea of crowd-pleasing was being strapped to a parachute and then towed behind a drag-racer at 200 miles per hour.

Knievel made his name in America with a single jump in Las Vegas in 1968. Accelerating up a ramp, he soared his motorcycle upwards 141 feet over the ornamental fountains outside the Caesar’s Palace hotel. On landing, he pulverized his spine and pelvis and had to walk with crutches for the next year. His gained popularity led Knievel to tell people he would one day jump the Grand Canyon.

In February 1971, still not fully recovered, he broke his own distance record by jumping 150 feet to clear 19 cars placed side-to-side. On the flight back to Butte, he was told the US government would not allow a Grand Canyon jump. Knievel looked out the window and saw Snake River Canyon and decided to jump it instead. Knievel then hired former NASA engineer Robert Truax to design and build the X-2 Skycycle. During two test jumps, the rocket failed to make it all the way across the canyon. Knievel said that there would be no more tests and that he would go ahead with the scheduled jump on September 8, 1974.

The event was only available through pay-per-view. During the jump the parachute accidentally deployed when the three 1/4 inch bolts holding the cover for the chute sheared off with the force of the skycycle blast. The wind began to cause it to drift back as the skycycle turned on its side and started to descend into the canyon. Knievel survived the failed jump with only minor injuries.

Knievel decided to retire after a jump in the winter of 1976 in which he was again seriously injured. He suffered a concussion and broke both arms in an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Amphitheater. By 1981, Knievel’s son Robbie had taken over the daredevil act.

Knievel made somewhat of a marketing comeback in the 1990s, representing Maxim Casino, Little Caesar’s and Harley-Davidson among other companies. In 1999, Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

While on tour with the Evel Knievel rolling museum he came to Alabama and visited George Barber’s Vintage Motorsports Museum. Knievel and Barber hit it off immediately.
I talked with Lee Woehle, librarian of Barber’s Vintage Motorsports Museum, who is a self professed Evel Knievel fan. She remembers that day when he toured the museum. She said “It was like meeting an icon. I was surprised by the how fragile he looked at the time. He looked all of his age when he came to meet with us. You could see all the crashes and breaks had taken a toll on him.”

Woehle said she believes that Knievel helped to get motorsports a name and helped get it noticed on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and other programs.

Others visitors at the museum when I visited agreed with her. Kent Landerdale from Opelika said he not only helped the sport, but Harley Davidson. “I don’t think that company would have survived if Evel Knievel not used them. He had that big number 1 on the side. Most people didn’t know the abuse they could take or the extra springs that they had.”

Ty Bragg from Jemison brought his boys out for the day to Barber’s. When I asked the youngsters if they knew who Evel Knievel was they could not tell me, but Ty knew. “I remember being their age and watching the Snake River jump. My friends and I would take our bikes and do jumps to try and be like him. He was a hero and we wanted to be like him. I had toys and action figures and I wish I still had them today.”

Everyone agreed on one thing, Knievel showed the true American spirit. Lee Woehle said “The crashes we saw were pretty bad, but what was cool is that he came back every time. He was a survivor. We all received an inspiration from Evel Knievel.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #25: Rolf Pheifer discussed embodied intelligence

howthebodyshapesthewaywethink.jpgHow the Body Shapes the Way We Think, by Rolf Pfeifer and Josh Bongard

Brain Science Podcast episode 25 is an interview of author Rolf Pfeifer, Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich. The focus of our conversation was the importance of embodiment. Brains (and intelligence) can not be understood separate from their interaction with the body and the physical world. Pfeifer explains how this realization has led the field of artificial intelligence away from a pure computational approach to one he calls embodied artificial intelligence. His interview is spiced with numerous examples that demonstrate why this approach is relevant to those of us who are interested in the human brain. Listen Now.

Episode Highlights:

  • A brief overview of artificial intelligence
  • introduction to biorobotics
  • why artificial intelligence and biorobotics are relevant to understand the brain
  • the meaning of complexity and emergence
  • why the close coupling of the sensory and motor systems is essential to intelligence
  • applying design principles to understanding intelligence
  • Numerous examples make these potentially intimidating topics accessible to all listeners
  • I also introduced a new way for listeners to support the Brain Science Podcast (learn more)

Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

Scientists mentioned in the podcast:

Where to learn more about Pfeifer's work:

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #24: Reading and the Brain

proustandthesquid.jpg Listen to this episode now.

Show Notes

Dr. Wolf's book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, is divided into three main topics: the history of how writing and reading developed over the last few thousand years, the developmental stages involved in learning how to read, and what happens when the brain can't learn to read. My podcast concentrates on the main ideas from the first two topics.

History of Writing:

  • the discovery of symbols
  • Early writing systems- cuneiform and hieroglyphics
    • why Chinese gives us a window into the past
  • Importance of the Alphabet
    • some claims and conclusions
  • Why Socrates opposed literacy

The Stages of Becoming a Reader:

  • the early pre-reader-with emphasis on language development
  • the novice reader-connecting letters to the sounds of language
  • the decoding reader-
  • the fluent comprehending reader-learning to "read between the lines"
  • the expert reader-why reading continues to change us throughout our lives

What goes wrong when the brain can't learn to read: how new findings are leading to new solutions

Links and References

  • FastForward-an successful approach to treating dyslexia
  • Michael Posner-a psychologist who used PET scans to study what happens during shifts of attention (a necessary first step in reading)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Books and Ideas #14 Dr. Pamela Gay from Astronomy Cast

pgay_headshot.jpg Listen Now

Show Notes for Books and Ideas Podcast #14

This episode is a conversation with Dr. Pamela Gay from the Astronomy Cast. Dr. Gay teaches astronomy and physics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Before the Astronomy Cast she was one of the hosts of one of the first science podcasts, Slacker Astronomy. I think her enthusiasm for science and especially for astronomy comes through in this interview.

Besides astronomy we talked about the challenges of teaching science as well as the challenges of being a female scientist.


Astronomy Cast

Pamela Gay's Blog

FemaleScienceProfessor Blog

Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar by Kameshwar C. Wali

Buffy Between the Lines: an audio drama definitely worth checking out if you love the Buffyverse

Pushing Daisies my favorite new TV show

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #23: Interview with author Susan Blakeslee


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Show Notes

This episode is an interview with Sandra Blakeslee, co-author (with her son Matthew) of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps Help You Do (almost) Everything Better, which we discussed in episode 21.

I asked Blakeslee to tell me a little bit of her background as a science writer. She wrote for the New York Times for many years and was the co-author of both Jeff Hawkins groundbreaking book, On Intelligence and VS Ramachandran's modern class Phantoms in the Brain (1998), which was one of the first books to explore neuroplasticity.

In this interview we explored the relationship between body maps and neuroplasticity, as well as questions from listeners about out of body experiences and other oddities once considered "paranormal." We talked about how body maps are relevant to understanding why some methods of alternative healing appear to be effective.

I asked her to tell me which scientist she met made the biggest impression. Here are a few of those she mentioned:

Blakeslee told me about some of the pioneering work that Merzenich is doing to apply his discoveries to help people, both those with disabilities and those who just want to combat aging. You can learn more about his work at

If you would like to contact Sandra Blakeslee to give her feedback or ask her questions she has a contact form on her books website at She is going to let me know when she gets the references posted on the site.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Warning: Watch out for bad audio links

The audio files for both of my podcasts are hosted on Libsyn and they have recently changed the addresses for people's podcast audio files. Unfortunately this means that I probably have a lot of bad links floating around not just on this site, but in numerous other locations around the internet. I intend to try to fix the ones I remember posting, but that may take a while, so if you find a bad link please let me know.

Thanks to SpiritSeeker for originally bringing the problem to my attention.

If you are in a hurry to find an old episode you can go directly to my Libsyn sites:

Books and Ideas is at

Brain Science Podcast is at

Friday, October 12, 2007

Comics About A Guy Named Archie: Richard Goldwater’s World

Download MP3 - Richard Goldwater

Archie Comics president and co-publisher Richard Goldwater, 71, who, with his father John, created “Josie and the Pussycats,” has taken his Final Taxi.
He assisted co-publisher Michael Silberkleit with efforts to expand Archie’s core characters into other mediums – including countless Archie, Sabrina and Josie animated TV series, a long-running live-action Sabrina series that has been seen in 34 different countries, a Josie and the Pussycats theatrical motion picture, and “The Archies,” a musical group that had tremendous success in the 1960s and 1970s.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #22: Interview with Christof Koch

questforconsciousness.jpg Listen to the Interview Now

Brain Science Podcast #22 is an interview with Dr. Christof Koch of Cal Tech, one of the pioneers in the neurobiological study of consciousness. About two decades ago when Koch and Francis Crick began looking for what they called the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), such a quest was considered controversial, but now the field is increasing in popularity. In our interview we talked a little about his book, The Quest for Consciousness, as well as his on-going research and his thoughts about what the future might bring.

Show Notes

Here is a list of some of the topics we discussed:

  • Why Francis Crick was an outstanding mentor and colleague
  • A Working definition of consciousness
  • How consciousness relates to awareness
  • What are neural correlates of consciousness
  • Why vision is the focus of Koch's research
  • The search for the "footprints" of consciousness
  • The role of functional imaging and the use of monkeys
  • Neurons-"the atoms of perception"
  • Why we need a theory of consciousness
  • The role of the frontal lobes in consciousness
  • Is consciousness an emergent property?
  • What about zombies?
  • Why do we need consciousness?
  • Will artificial intelligence become conscious?
  • The hard problem: how does the brain generate subjective experience (qualia)


Christof Koch's homepage

The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach (2004)

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

FINAL TAXI : Alice Ghostley


Tony Award-winning actress Alice Ghostley, well-known to TV viewers for playing confused sidekicks on Bewitched and Designing Women took her Final Taxi at 81.

From 1966 through 1972, she made regular appearances on the sitcom Bewitched as shy, bumbling witch Esmeralda From 1986 through 1993, Ghostley portrayed oddball neighbor Bernice Clifton on the hit series Designing Women. She earned an Emmy nomination for the role in 1992.

Over a six-decade career, she made more than 90 TV appearances in such shows as Evening Shade, Love, American Style, Capt. Nice, and Mayberry R.F.D.
Ghostley appeared in 30 films, including To Kill a Mockingbird , The Graduate, Gator and Two on a Bench

FINAL TAXI : Brett Somers

DIRECT MP3 DOWNLOAD: Brett Somers Takes Her Final Taxi

Actress and comedian Brett Somers, who amused game show fans with her quips on the “Match Game” in the 1970s, has taken her Final Taxi at 83.

Hosted by Gene Rayburn, “Match Game” was the top game show during much of the 1970s. Contestants would try to match answers to nonsense questions with a panel of celebrities; much of the humor came from the racy quips and putdowns which many came from Brett Somers.brettsomers21.jpg

She stared in my Broadway shows, movies and television shows like Barney Miller, MaryTyler Moore, Love American Style, and Perry Mason.

I adored her quick wit and outspokenness. She will be missed!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #21: Body Maps

Featured in this episode: The Body has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better (2007), by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee. (Also available on from

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  • Body Maps and the role of embodiment
  • Basic ideas about the body maps in the brain
  • Mapping the world around us
  • How Body maps differ between species
  • Body Schema and Body image
  • The role of body maps in disease
  • The role of belief in health and illness
  • How body maps explain non-traditional healing methods and unusual experiences
  • The role of motor imagery in improving motor skills
  • Mirror Neurons
  • Place and grid neurons in the hippocampus (see more on Scholarpedia)
  • How sensation and emotions come together (the role of the insula)

Scientists mentioned in the podcast:

Other scientists mentioned in The Body has a Mind of Its Own:

Note: This list is not exhaustive. I know I left off VS Ramachandran and several others, but those listed above did work that was addressed, directly or indirectly, in my podcast.

Brain Structures (links include diagrams of the brain):

Listen to the podcast now

Friday, September 14, 2007

The voice of Jaws and Airplane’s Lipstick Lady

Direct Download MP3- Percy Rodriguez & Charlotte Zucker The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Percy Rodrigues, whose role as a neurosurgeon on the 1960s television series “Peyton Place” broke ground because he was cast as an authority figure when relatively few black actors were given such parts, has taken his Final Taxi at 89. He will be known by Star Trek fans as Commodore Stone in the original series but most have heard his voice in movie ads and voiceovers. His most popular would be for “Jaws.”

Charlotte Zucker was the mother of filmmakers David Zucker and Jerry Zucker (aka The Zucker Brothers) who appears in her sons’ movies, including Airplane!, Top Secret!, Ghost, My Boss’ Daughter, First Knight and The Naked Gun trilogy. In Airplane she was the ‘Lipstick Lady.”

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #20: The Female Brain with Dr. Louann Brizendine

Listen to this episode female-brain-web.jpg

Episode #20 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Dr. Louann Brizendine of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco. Her book, The Female Brain was just released in paperback and it is on the New York Times Bestseller list.

We explore how hormones and neurotransmitters effect our brains and how these effects are different in men and women. This episode has interesting stuff for listeners of both sexes.

If you would like to learn more visit Dr. Brizendine's website at

Please participate in my audience survey at

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Monday, September 3, 2007

FINAL TAXI: Inventors of Mr. Freeze & Beach Party Movies

Direct Download: Final Taxi Podcast

This week the Final Taxi talks about Max Hodge who took an unknown comic villain and turn him into on of Batman’s most remembered rouges, Mr. Freeze.

Also we follow the life of Tony Caras who after working in horror films with Rodger Corman and made film history in the 60s with ‘beach party’ movies.

Frankie and Annette

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #19: Gut Feelings

gutfeelings.jpg Click here to listen to this episode.

Show Notes for Brain Science Podcast #19: Gut Feelings

This episode is a discussion of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (2007) by Gerd Gigerenzer

Dr. Gigerenzer argues that unconscious decision-making or intuition is actually based on the use of hueristics (rules of thumb) that can be explored, and even brought into awareness. In this episode I discuss his basic arguments with an emphasis on the differences between intuitive reasoning and formal logic. Then we explore some examples including the application of these ideas to more controversial areas like morality and social instincts. Listen to episode.

Some of his ideas are provocative and I hope you will discuss them on the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum.


Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (2007) by Gerd Gigerenzer

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) by Malcolm Gladwell

See also Brain Science Podcast #13: Unconscious Decision Making

Links of Interest

Gerd Gigerenzer-wikipedia

Gerd Gigerenzer-home page at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Jonathan Haidt-social psychologist mentioned in this episode

Listen to Brain Science Podcast #19: Gut Feelings


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Group on Facebook

I just started a new group on Facebook called Alabama Podcasters. I am using the Birmingham Podcasting logo because I hope this group will help us find more local podcasters both from around Birmingham and the rest of Alabama.

Friday, August 10, 2007

FINAL TAXI : Charles Lane -The Face Is Familiar


Charles Lane, the prolific character actor whose name was little known but whose crotchety persona and roles in hundreds of films made him recognizable to generations of moviegoers took his Final Taxi at 102.

Lane, whose career spanned more than 60 years, appeared in such film classics as “It‘s a Wonderful Life,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Primrose Path.” He also had a recurring role as the scheming railroad man Homer Bedloe on the 1960s TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction” and appeared often on “I Love Lucy.”

Mr. Lane’s voice was heard in Disney’s 1970 animated feature “The AristoCats.” He was an admiral in “The Winds of War” TV miniseries and appeared in the movie “Murphy’s Romance” with Sally Field in 1986.

He also acted in TV episodes of “Soap,”"The Flying Nun,” “Bewitched” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” and showed up on “L.A. Law,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Lou Grant.”

Mr. Lane had small parts in “The Music Man,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “The Carpetbaggers,” among his many films. His acting résumé included roles as a judge, gambler, priest, bank examiner, military officer, customs and immigration official and Western lawman.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #18: Interview with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg

Brain Science Podcast #18 is an interview with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD.elkhonongoldberg.gif

Listen to Brain Science Podcast #18 Now

Show Notes:

  • I apologize for the uneven sound quality of this episode. If any one out there has any suggestions please drop me an email.
  • Dr. Goldberg shared a little bit about the breadth of his work as a neuropsychologist.
  • We talked about his rather unique perspective on the difference between the right and left brain hemispheres. He explained why he feels that as we get older we move from reliance on the right hemisphere, which he feels is the novelty hemisphere, to a reliance on the left hemisphere, where our lifetime store of patterns enables us to use pattern recognition as a short cut in problem solving.
  • We talked about the importance of constant mental challenge, and Dr. Goldberg gives his advice about how we can keep our brains healthy through out our lives.


The following are two companies that Dr. Goldberg is working with to provide information to the public and also tools for cognitive enhancement:

  • SharpBrains-this is a clearing house for information and they evaluate many of the products currently being offered.
  • HeadStrong Cognitive Fitness-this Australian company offers a net-based program for cognitive enhancement based on Dr. Goldberg's research. I am hoping to test their products in the near future.

Listen to Brain Science Podcast #18 Now


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Friday, August 3, 2007

Books and Ideas #13: Harry Potter with guest co-host, Patrick Pricken


Even if you haven't finished reading Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling you can enjoy this podcast, which features guest co-host Patrick Pricken, from Germany. Patrick's blog, which features movie and book reviews can be found at (The blog is in German, but translation to English is available from Google.)

We talked about what why JK Rowling's work has international appeal, even among adult readers. We explore our favorite characters and talk about whether Book 7 lived up to our expectations.

The episode is spoiler-free up to the 17 minute mark. The last 15 minutes does contain specific material from the last book, so if you haven't read it yet you will want to stop listening at 17:00, until you finish the book.

If you would like to talk about the podcast or share your favorite Harry Potter memories, please join us in the the special section with in the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brain Science Podcast #17: The Wisdom of the Aging Brain


This week we discuss another book by Elkonon Goldberg, Ph.D. I highly recommend this book to everyone because it is an excellent review of many of the topics we have discussed over the last several months including memory, emotion, and neuroplasticity. In this episode we continue our discussion of the role of the pre-frontal lobes in intelligence, as well as what happens to our brain as we age.

Show Notes

Episodes that are referred to in this episode:

Note: You should have no problem listening to episode to #17 first, but I have provided these references for those who want to review or go back for more details.

Definitions used in this episode:

attractor: a cognitive template that enables pattern recognition. An attractor is thought to be a concise set of neurons with strong interactions among themselves. A unique and important quality of attractors is that a broad range of inputs activate the same set of neurons. This is thought to be the mechanism of pattern recognition.

cognitive competence: the ability to relate the old to the new so as to recognize the similarities between a new problem and one that has been previously solved

cognitive wisdom: an enhanced capacity for problem solving

generic memory: memory for patterns

Brief List of topics discussed in this episode:

  1. Review of important ideas about the prefrontal lobes from #16
  2. An hypothesis about the differing roles of the right and left hemispheres
  3. How the brain changes in normal aging
  4. Mechanisms that protect the brain from degenerative changes
    1. generic memory-why this type of memory is more robust
    2. pattern expansion-how parts of the cortex expand with use
    3. effortless experts-why familiar tasks are less demanding
  5. Why vigorous mental activity is important throughout life

For more links related to Dr. Goldberg's work see the show notes for episode 16.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Books and Ideas #12 Explores Free Will


I have posted episode 12 of Books and Ideas. It is my response to The Myth of Free Will (2007), which was edited by Cris Evatt.

This is a very controversial subject. I hope that you will listen and then submit your comments to the new Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum, which is at

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Brain Science Podcast Update



The Brain Science Podcast #16 is a discussion of The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind (2002)
by Elkhonon Goldberg.

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Show Notes

This episode is an introduction to the role of the pre-frontal lobes in decision-making, and the other "executive" functions of our brain. The functions of the pre-frontal lobes are not only the keys to what makes us human, but also the keys to our individual personality.

In this episode, using Dr. Goldberg's book, we discuss how the frontal lobes relate to the other structures of the brain. We also, discuss some ideas about why the left and right sides of the brain differ, as well as several important ways in which the cortex, and especially the pre-frontal lobes differ from some of the older parts of the brain.

We discuss briefly the vulnerability of the frontal lobes to damage and disease, and we consider the implications of frontal lobe dysfunction. Questions are introduced that will be considered in more detail in future podcasts.