Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Encephalon #28

The 28th edition of Encephalon is now up at Bohemian Scientist. This issue covers a wide range of subjects as usual; from biology and neuroscience, to psychology and neuroscience, and reviews of books and lives. The articles I most enjoyed from this edition are the following:

- From the Neurocritic comes a review of a study which looked to see if there were differences between the neural activities of children looking at angry faces, and whether it differed between those who were ajudged more or less susceptible to peer pressure. The post has more of the details from the paper, but just to summarise the conclusions: children better able to resist peer pressure showed better executive control functions.

- From the Thinking Meat Project, we have a review of two books described as being "informative and worth reading". Both are concerned with various aspects of neuroplasticity (find the references to these books in the post) - a subject I find fascinating. In the first book (by Doidge), presents a case study of patient which displayed dramatic examples of neuroplasticity as a lead into discussing the neuroscience issues. The second book (by Begley) prsents an ordered discussion of neuroplasticity from animals, to children, and through into adults. I like the review, and have the books to my ever-growing to-read pile (which I already can't keep up with).

- Finally, from The Third Culture comes a post entitled "Art, Context and the Brain" - a look at neuroaesthetics. This field aims to look at the neural processes underlying human behaviour in order to aid in aesthetic design and the understanding of art. After reviewing the problems with this approach (and this approach in general too, such as neuroethics and neuroeconomics), it goes on to give some examples of where this approach may be justified - the 'neural correlates of gambling' study. It even looks at the Ramachandran ethology example, which I personally like on a conceptual level at least, as a means of demonstrating the importance of context. If I might quote a part of the conclusion: "As the fields making up applied neuroscience explode in every direction, it is crucial that we keep two things in mind. First, we must not overstate what the findings can actually say, ... Second, and more central here, is that we must always be cognizant of the effect of context on any life experience." A good read.

All round a good issue of Encephalon. Finally, I'm pleased to announce that the next issue of Encephalon will be hosted here, at Memoirs of a Postgrad, on Monday th 13th of August. Submissions can be made through the usual channels. The more the merrier!

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