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Archive for December, 2006

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This week’s Nature features a nice battle between creationists and evolutionists in the correspondence section.

The debate contains the following parts:

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figure1.jpgIs binding the single most important concept in neuroscience? I think it is, even without making the concept too general or vague. On the contrary, binding seems to be a general concept to understand the workings of the brain. No more need for modules of perception, cognition, memory and action. Binding is the solution.

More specifically, what is binding? Or, to reframe the question 100%: what happens when the brain works? To many, the brain binds information together at all levels throughout the brain. If you perceive an object, that particular object is a mixture between colour, form, position, movement etc., that is bound together. Because of you look at the early sensory processes in the brain, we know that the features of an object are treated by separate processes in the brain. Accordingly, they can be lesioned separately, leading to e.g. acquired colour blindless but with intact movement perception.

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religionscience.jpgI just received the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. It’s nothing short of a mammoth book on this topic — and I didn’t even know it was such a big topic. Basically, the book’s aim is to provide a comprehensive introduction and review of the field. The book also attempts to provide a discussion of the relation between naturalism and supernaturalism

It does this by a series of chapters of different religions and their stand on science. I’m reading the book (at home; too heavy to carry around), and hope to be able to provide a tentative review soon.

…and I always wonder why they call it a ‘handbook’ — I need both arms and feet to hold it, let alone read it.

-Thomas

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brain_child_by_temabina.jpgIt’s really a slow digestion period, getting back from SfN in Atlanta. Other than an aching back and jet-lag the conference experience has been tremendous. But at the same time it was rather confusing. Those talks and lectures that I expected to be good turned out to be boring or far too complex (or ill presented) to comprehend. Other talks — IMO wildcards relative to my own area — were tremendously informative.

It strikes me that this year didn’t have one or more major themes that were dominating the discussion and themes as such. This very much as we’ve seen in previous conferences, and at other conferences, where topics such as e.g. stem cell research (SfN) or brain development or imaging genetics (Human Brain Mapping) was on everybody’s lips. So while I sit here back home and reflect on some highlights — other than those very technical aspects that I myself found interesting — a few come to mind.

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brainconnection.jpgIt’s been a while, and whoah! have we been drowning in work or what? The media here in Denmark have caught on both our stories about teenage brains and stem cells in mother’s brains.

Here is a nice demo of how MRI can be used to study not only the brain per se, but also how mental functions work as different functional and physical networks. In a really neat study Takanashi et al. in NeuroImage combined fMRI and Diffusion Tensor Imaging, a scanning technique that basically makes it possible to calculate the brain fibers in the brain, i.e. their homogeneity, direction and so forth.

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