Encephalon #25 – The Neuroscience and Psychology Blog Carnival

Welcome one and all to the 25th edition of the mighty Encephalon blogging carnival!

Welcome one and all to the 25th edition of the mighty Encephalon blogging carnival! Before saturating you with all the neuroscience and psychology-based goodness from the blogosphere, I need to warn you about a serious condition called to my attention by the Neurocritic: Conditioned Blog Aversion. And once you’ve read my sickening attempts at humour below, you’ll have first-hand experience.

Right. Into the fray.

The neurobiologist Dr. Robert Sapolsky is well-known for the theory that, as we have no natural predators, stress in humans results from our social environment. Channel N points to two of Dr Sapolsky’s talks, one has video, the other audio. In these he discusses the effects of stress in the brain and in evolutionary psychology.

My favourite quote: “Physiologically, it doesn’t come cheap being a bastard 24 hours a day”.

Neurofuture raises the frightening possibility that neurosurgeons will be able to operate using their mobile phones.

“Can you put that brain tumour on hold, I’ve got a hemispherectomy on line two.”

Dr Deb speculates that John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s son, Jett Travolta, may have autism. As a result of their alleged denial of his alleged condition, he could be missing out on useful treatments (shout out to Encephalon’s lawyers for that sentence).

Talking of Scientologists, I happened to be standing outside a Scientology ‘shop’ the other day with a group of fellow psychology postgrads when one of the suited salesmen thought he’d have a go at converting us. When he opened up with “Perhaps you’d like to take a personality test?” we all chorused back, “We’re psychologists, we’ve got enough personality tests!”

After that the debate was all downhill as some members of our party had been drinking…

Ouroboros brings us two papers from Nature which cover the neuronal (and pharyngeal) mediation of calorie restriction signalling in the worm. I want to do a weak joke about eating disorders, but I fear it is in bad taste.

Developing Intelligence reports a study looking at whether children can tell fantasy from reality. What we really need is a study on whether children can understand the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, or whether they’re just messing with us.

Pure Pedantry looks into a study showing how monkey brains encode numbers. Personally, my brain pilot relies on a tiny abacus. With a couple of beads missing.

Aaaah, in the sea of serious scientific endeavour, the mighty OmniBrain is an island of iconoclasm. See here, they’re on about pigeons playing ping-pong, laughing rats and the top ten annoyances to people with bipolar disorder.

From GrrlScientist comes the simple question (with complicated answer): Why don’t all smart people make smart choices? I especially like the scare-quoting of ‘decision scientist’ in the first paragraph. It seems to beg the question: if ‘decision scientists’ are so chock-full of knowledge about decision-making, how come they ended up in academia? Bloody good point really.

Here’s a few interesting posts for which (mercifully) my flippancy deserted me. The Mouse Trap dreams of the biological basis of imagination. Memoirs of a Postgrad asks: what is embodiment? SharpBrains muses on Richard Dawkins, Alfred Nobel and the nature/nurture debate.

And we wrap up this Encephalon with a tussle over foreskin. No, an intellectual tussle. The Neurocritic reports on the penile homunculus. Sometimes, flippant remarks are not required.

That’s your lot. Next time Encephalon is coming home to Neurophilosophy.

PsyBlog out.

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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