Wednesday Round Up #14


Philosophy of Memory, The Effect of Collaboration on False Memory Reduction
Memory as more than rote recording—narrative construction and social validation on false memory tasks

Shankar Vedantam, When We Cook Up a Memory, Experience Is Just One Ingredient
Why Friday are always better: “When a conflict arises between meaning and memory, meaning usually wins”

Tom Jacobs, Total Recall… Or At Least the Gist
Two separate systems of memory, and things that never happened

Prefrontal Cortex

Developing Intelligence, Prefrontal Organization: Attentional Networks for Filtering and Orienting
Great review of a recent piece advancing the importance of attention to prefrontal cortex function

Deric Bownds, Models of Cognitive Control in Prefrontal Cortex
Two great graphics

Developing Intelligence, Impulsivity Due to Distortions in Time: Hyperbolic Discounting and Logarithmic Time Perception
Does hyperbolic discounting exist? Probably not—might just reflect a “systematic ‘skew’ in the way people perceive time.” Or, the mind perceives time in a non-linear fashion.

Consumer Life

Regina Lynn, Social Media Eat Porn’s Lunch (Again)
Or, how sex even runs Christian dating

Vaughan Bell, In the Midst of the Video Game Fury
Mind Hacks on the latest good/bad arguments over gaming

NYT Editorial, The Worst Way of Farming
“The astonishing increase in the number and size of confined animal operations has been spawned largely by the very structure of American farm supports.”

Dan Mitchell, Legitimizing Marijuana
California business making it all right for everyone else?

Tara Parker-Pope, What Your Eyes Say about Your Mood
Plastic surgery, the loss of expressiveness, and the ways we read faces—or biology and culture collide

Emilie Boyer King, Isle of Eigg A Model of Self-Sufficiency
Scottish island creates all its own electricity, and lessons for the world

Zachary Meisel, The Pink-Bubble-Gum-Flavored Dilemma
“Why doctors give out antibiotics you don’t need”

The Long Tail, The Real Meaning of “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”
Add in other things like time, attention, and the other things you might have done, and free also carries an opportunity cost—or, how culture runs the economy

Patrick Farrell & Kasie Bracken, A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue
Miracle fruit changes taste sensations (sweet lemons…) and the Supreme Commander throws a party

John Tierney, The Future Is Now? Pretty Soon, At Least
Futurist Ray Kurzweil and neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran debate the brain, technology, and future products

Simon Romero, Peru Guards Its Guano as Demand Soars Again
Guano, once popular and imperialized, re-appears as an organic fertilizer–and the loss of sustainable exploitation

Roger Cohen, The World Is Upside Down
Not flat or first-world dependent—the developing world in the driver’s seat

More on the Brain

Machines Like Us, Does the Brain Control Muscles or Movement?
Muscle memory, little guys dancing in your heard, or some computational synthesis—accounting for the “dynamic, coordinated symphony of muscle movements required for action.”

Machines Like Us, Scientists Identify Food-Related Clock in the Brain
Finding food works as a circadian clock: “This new timepiece enables animals to switch their sleep and wake schedules in order to maximize their opportunity of finding food”

Deric Bownds, What and Where Pathways in the Auditory Brain
Location and identity of sounds processed by different parts and functions

Michael Pleyer, Talking Brains
Skepticism about mirror neurons ruling our social life

Jeanna, Bryner, Key to All Optical Illusions Discovered
Our brain thinks it can see into the future


NPR Weekend Edition, Why Education Isn’t a Hot Topic in Election 2008
Great show with Roy Romer, chairman of the “Ed in ’08” campaign. Romer also runs a highly recommended blog on education in the US

Gary Becker, Paying the Poor to Improve Their School Performance
Do incentives work? A cross-cultural take by an economist

Richard Posner, Paying the Poor to Improve Their School Peformance-Posner’s Comment
Rebuttal to the Becker piece on incentives and schooling

Science Daily, Fixing the Education Digital Disconnect One Video Game at a Time
Federation of American Scientists launches Immune Attack, a video game that teaches you about immune function as you play Mr. Killer T

Peter Doherty, A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
Education advice from the Australian professor who wrote, The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize

Kylie Sturgess, Girls Got What? Competitions, Science Careers And Benefits
Science competitions and gender equality: Are these the right incentives? Aiming for progress beyond medals

Brian Greene, Put A Little Science in Your Life
Science and the meaning of life—a nice NYT op-ed

Stephanie Strom, Alumni Group Tries to Elicit Social Action from Harvard
What would you do with $35 billion? Invest in one institution or seed initiatives elsewhere?

Winnie Hu, District Puts All the World in Classrooms
“integrating international studies into every aspect of its curriculum”

Gail Mancini, Teaching beyond the Term Paper
Neuroanth gets some press. One student post also made Reuters!

3 thoughts on “Wednesday Round Up #14

  1. I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

    Recently read another incredible book that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil’s work. The book is “”My Stroke of Insight”” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor’s talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It’s spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I’m not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I’ve read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they’re making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
    If you haven’t heard Dr Taylor’s TEDTalk, that’s an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it’s 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

    There’s a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best “”Fantastic Voyage”” , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!

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