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Talking back

Talking back

A science blog, sans blague


Neuroquotes of the Month...Maybe the Year

Christof Koch, a columnist for Scientific American MIND, a professor at the California Institute of Technology and the chief scientific officer for the Allen Institute for Brain Science, has the best characterization that I've ever seen of futurist Ray Kurzweil's speculations about the imminent merger of mind with machine and the domination of cyborgs.This is the kind of thing that should normally be confined to Tweetland, but Koch's prose, from his review of Kurzweil's new book "How to Create a Mind" for the Feb...

STAFFFebruary 25, 2013 — Gary Stix

On "Media Refusal and Conspicuous Non-Consumption: The Performative and Political Dimensions of Facebook Abstention"

I just did something that I'm sure is not on any "helpful tips" list for aspiring science bloggers.To write this post, I just copied a title from an academic journal and hit <CTRL> V in the headline field of WordPress.I wouldn't usually do a cut and paste, but this title brought a big smile and, after all, isn't consummate fascination the sine qua non of search engine optimization?The headline above also happened to top an article by Laura Portwood-Stacer, a visiting professor at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, an article published online in the journal New Media and Society...

STAFFFebruary 22, 2013 — Gary Stix

Map of Brain's Speech Centers May Help `Locked-In' Patients Talk

Wilder Penfield's famous homonculus map of the brain had a large area on one side capped by a gaping cartoon mouth labeled simply "vocalization."During the 1930s, Penfield stimulated that same area, but was unable to elicit any recognizable utterances...

STAFFFebruary 20, 2013 — Gary Stix

Action Plan: Making Brain-Controlled Prosthetics That Can Open a Clothespin

Last year a group of researchers at Brown and Harvard universities reported on a study called Braingate, in which a paralyzed woman picked up a container of coffee with a robotic arm and drank from it through a straw, an action directed by electrical signals from her motor cortex.Brain-controlled interfaces have advanced dramatically during the past decade...

STAFFJanuary 23, 2013 — Gary Stix

Are Delta-FosB, or 5-HTT the Obama Genes?

The Atlantic featured a captivating fantasy in its November issue about a scenario to assassinate the U.S. president in 2016 by using a bioweapon specifically tailored to his genetic makeup—a virus that targeted the commander in chief and no one else.A great plot for a Hollywood thriller...

STAFFJanuary 14, 2013 — Gary Stix

Levi-Montalcini, A Giant of Neuroscience Leaves a Living Legacy

What may have been Rita Levi-Montalcini's last paper was published almost a year ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . By no means a retrospective of a career that produced a Nobel Prize, the paper ("Nerve growth factor regulates axial rotation during early stages of chick embryo development") added still one more bit of knowledge about the protein involved with the growth and survival of nerve cells, a molecule that was Levi-Montalcini's passion for 60 years.Until her death on Sunday in Rome at 103, Levi-Montalcini had been the oldest living Nobelist and a woman who had never let anything stop her from pursuing a destiny as a scientist...

STAFFDecember 30, 2012 — Gary Stix

Gun Control: Searching Down Under for Change to Believe In

Barack Obama talked on Sunday night about how the children who died in Newtown could have been from Anytown America.His words hit a resonant chord. Both of the given names of my two kids—Benjamin and Madeleine—were mentioned among the list of the dead children...

STAFFDecember 20, 2012 — Gary Stix

Einstein's Brain: New Insights into the Roots of Genius

Ever since his death in 1955, scientists have asked what features of Einstein's brain contributed to his extraordinary insights into physical laws. Research on the anatomy of Einsteins' genius was stymied because many of the post-mortem images and slides of tissue from the subsequently dissected organ were unavailable to researchers...

STAFFNovember 16, 2012 — Gary Stix

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