Encephalon #45 – Life Is Good, Brains Are Better

Encephalon is a selection of the best psychology and neuroscience blog posts from around the blogosphere, giving readers an excellent overview of what we have to offer online.

Today, May 12th, happens to be the anniversary of the death of Erik Erikson, whose work I studied whilst getting my degree in special learning needs. In honor of his contribution to the field, I’ve made the decision to break this edition of Encephalon #45 into the Erikson life-stage virtues.

Hope – Trust vs. Mistrust

Daniel Lende, demonstrates fine form by proposing a selection from the Neuroanthropology blog, which features the work of students. Thus Greg Downey presents us with David Blaine’s Record Breaking Breath-Hold. Yes, I think there’d be an element of hope somewhere there, despite the trickery….

Domestic Violence and Executive Dysfunction by Robert Yourell, makes a compelling argument on Brain Blogger : “We need to look at every angle on how to improve treatment and sentencing, because the rates of recidivism are high.”

Will – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Greg Downey returns with the doubt he has regarding the ethics and practice of using propanolol, with ‘Psychological Kevlar’ and the Burden of Remembering War:

Although propanolol might not call wholesale amnesia (it doesn’t), it might make it more difficult to recall dramatic events. Then again, it might make it easier to recall them accurately if they become distorted by stress — I just don’t know.

In a similar thoughtful and doubtful vein, Neuroanthropology also provides us with David Brooks, Part One: The Cognitive Age“in one sense, Brooks is simply pointing out the neuroanthropology of globalization! There’s just one problem. I don’t really know if that exists.”

Purpose – Initiative vs. Guilt

Marc Dingman of Neuroscientifically Challenged tells it as it is, with Ghrelin and Omnipresence of Food:

It really is difficult to travel a mile in this country without being exposed to something trying to entice you to eat… Thus, high levels of ghrelin may make our advertisement-laden and food-available environment a dangerous one in which to live.

Naturally, if you want to know where it’s all happening in the meta-world of brainscience, you can’t go past the ever-erudite Mind Hacks with Brain Trends Exposed in ‘State of the Neuron’ Study:

A fascinating study on the social trends in neuroscience research has found that New York is happening but Boston is hot, dementia researchers are the most influential, high-level processes are hip and that neuroscientists need to practice professional ‘birth control’ to avoid mass starvation.

Competence – Industry vs. Inferiority

The Digital Cuttlefish shows us the wonderful industry behind the stereoscopic atlas of the human body as shown on the New York Times – in verse! Here DC shows us what is More Than Skin Deep:

Beautifully, dutifully,
eHuman industries
Hopes to make public the
Atlas once more;

Wonderful news for the
Students, or those who just
Really like gore.

For your viewing, rather than reading pleasure – Channel N digs up a video featuring Stephen Murdoch on the history of IQ tests, including abuses, and why it’s a surprisingly emotional topic.

In addition, get industrious with some key questions on cognitive health and training that we should discuss more often, given the implications. You’ll find that at Sharp Brains with Exercise Your Brain in the Cognitive Age. Sharp Brains also features a directory of great resources and websites for information on the brain and brain health with Brain Resources and Websites!

Fidelity – Identity vs. Role Confusion

Giovanna Di Sauro presents a detailed breakdown on ‘fruitless flies’, illustrating what is indeed ‘some of the coolest studies on gender-specific behavior around‘ – with Female Flies Get Turned On By Light Switch:

Now, apart from the results and the hype, you might still be wondering what are the implications of the study, from a more neurobiological point of view. What the results suggest is that behavioral differences between the sexes might not be necessarily due to differences in neural circuitry, but in the presence or absence of sex-specific regulators of such circuitry.

Jake Young of Pure Pedantry defines the concept of a double dissociation and discusses an example (using the auditory cortex of cats!) with the very cool Double Dissociation of Sound.

Love – Intimacy vs Isolation

Love in the way only Death Cab for Cutie and The Neurocritic can bring it, with a tale of how the latest single leads to a post on stalking, Huntington’s Disease, OCD, basal ganglia pathology, and possible abnormalities in serotonin and dopamine pathways. I’ve strangely fallen for I Will Possess Your Heart, and so should you.

Caring – Generativity vs. Stagnation

Dr Karen Vieira of Brain Blogger presents something to care about with her post on Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The Mind/Body Connection and how ‘…it has long been known that Generalised Anxiety Disorder can affect someone physically, new research is pointing to potential causes for GAD.

Podblack Cat wonders where is the caring for those with differences – and is she just heading for stagnation when waiting for some answers to the questions? Learn more in Autism Spectrum and DORE Spectulations!

Wisdom – Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Got wisdom? Sharp Brains presents some sharp minds with a blogging overview of what they have to feature with Brain and Cognition Expert Contributors.

Cognitive Daily presents some fascinating blogging on peer-reviewed research, making despair… well, musical! Click in time to get to “Non-Musicians Can Identify Minor-Ley Tunes, But Only When Labeled “Sad“.

And a final one – by authors Jessica Peyton, Jen Hames, Rebecca Llontop, and Mike Many – Stress and Addiction: The Vicious Cycle. “Today, new research offers some insights regarding the cyclical nature of stress and addiction…” – oh, if you want to know more, you better get reading!

Thanks very much to all contributors (if you’re Australian, also consider contributing to the Australian Skeptics of Carlos! It’s out tomorrow!); it’s been an absolute pleasure to read and learn from you.

The next Encephalon will be hosted in two weeks, at The Neurocritic on May 26th. As always, the address to get our neurons cracking is encephalon.host at gmail.com.

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