Tag Archives: Neuroscience

The Brain documentary series reaches Australia

I’ve started watching the TV series The Brain featuring the accomplished American neuroscientist Dr David Eagleman, who has made major contributions to synaesthesia research and many more areas of neuroscience. Face recognition and synaesthesia are some of the many topics mentioned in the first episode, which has already been broadcast on SBS.

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/628370499520/the-brain-what-is-reality

Article about the vertical occipital fasciculus in November 2015 issue of Discover

Try saying that fast!

Blair, Jenny Lost and Found: How a pair of scientists rediscovered a part of the human brain. Discover. October 1 2015.

http://discovermagazine.com/2015/nov/5-lost-and-found

 

Eagleman always working on very interesting research

This article in the October 10th 2015 issue of New Scientist about David Eagleman by Helen Thomson is well worth a look, but unfortunately behind a paywall. Dr Eagleman is known to me as a leading synaesthesia researcher whose team developed the world’s best test of synaesthesia, which anyone can do online at no cost, and get the full results. The recent article is not about synaesthesia at all, but the research theme is very similar to synaesthesia in that it is about a device created by Eagleman and his team that can use one sensory modality to sense input that is completely different to what is normally sensed through that sense. The versatile extrasensory transducer (VEST) can convert non-sensory data streams or sensory information into touch sensory input, and apparently Eagleman’s team are trying to find out if it can be used to help the deaf to hear through the sensory mode of touch, which would be a clever feat on a par with blind people who can echolocate. Some of the other ideas about using the device to sense data streams fascinate me with the wide-open potential for this technology, but the idea of using this kind of technology to monitor one’s own blood glucose level seems redundant. Surely a more efficient way to acquire this skill would be through feedback training to boost a latent natural ability to sense this biological state? I am certain that I can sense my own blood pressure levels, and probably many other states.

Dr Eagleman has a new TV series airing in the USA and a book out that is a companion to the series. How long until we will see them here in Australia? I can only guess, and wait.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22830420-500-my-smart-vest-will-offer-you-extra-senses/

Eagleman Laboratory

http://www.eaglemanlab.net/

The Brain with David Eagleman

http://www.pbs.org/the-brain-with-david-eagleman/home/

Make no mistake

Occupational Therapy and neuroscience are not the same thing, and I find it pretty annoying when the former is presented in a way that makes it look like some kind of science that I or anyone should take seriously. Don’t waste my time. For heaven’s sake, there’s enough nonsense, hype and shoddy work in neuroscience as it is.

What does the memory competition community to have to offer prosopagnosics?

O’Brien, Domininc Never Forget a Name or Face. 

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Forget-Name-Dominic-OBrien/dp/0811836347

It comes as no surprise that a book on the subject of memorizing names and faces by a memory competition champion is apparently not a massive success. Dominic O’Brien won the World Memory Championships eight times over, and he is the author of many successful and highly respected self-help books about memory, so he is most definitely an expert on memory (a practicing expert, not an academic researcher expert) and writes good books on the subject. So why is his book about remembering names and faces apparently unpopular, with only one review on Amazon, a negative one? Perhaps it is because face memory is different to memory in general. Poor face memory is a visual agnosia and is not the result of a lack of effort in memorization or a lack of knowledge about mnemonic techniques. Memory sport champions with normal abilities in visual recognition and visual memory might be very good at using memory techniques, but do they have anything much to offer the prosopagnosic?

We can’t dismiss mnemonists and memory performers before establishing exactly how they achieve their feats of memorization. The American Harry Lorayne is one memory performer who has an incredible record for matching names with faces. He reputedly memorized more than 7,500,000 names and faces over a lifetime, but such claims (found in a 1994 book by Buzan and Keene) are hard to test. Are researchers in the science of face memory, prosopagnosia and super-recognizers the only ones to look to for knowledge about face memory and face memory impairment, or can non-academic practicing memory experts make a useful contribution? We shouldn’t forget that one of the most famous academic case studies of superior memory, published in the book The Mind of a Mnemonist by Alexander Luria, was a study of a man who had at one time worked as a stage mnemonist. Many people believe that Luria misunderstood the basis of the astounding memory abilities of Shereshevsky.

Wikipedia contributors Harry Lorayne. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Harry_Lorayne&oldid=543782362

Mo Costandi worth reading

I find that the tweets of the UK science writer Mo Costandi are more worthwhile than most, as is his science blog at the Guardian newspaper.

Neurophilosophy.
blog by Mo Costandi
Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/neurophilosophy

@mocost
by Mo Costandi
Twitter
https://twitter.com/#!/mocost