Monthly Archives: February 2010

News Round-Up: February 2009 4th Edition

Just a brief round-up today.

An fMRI study provided evidence of different regions involved in learning new verbs (left posterior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus) and nouns (left fusiform gyrus) as well as a relationship between hippocampal activity and the efficiency of learning new nouns. This information could be of relevance to a number of conditions which involve disorders of language and memory. For more information on the study see here.

A study involving neural prosthetic devices in people provided evidence of the function of the beta and delta oscillations identified in the EEG. Based on their findings about the timing of the oscillations, the researchers concluded that the beta oscillations were strongly associated with anticipating commands for initiating movements. For more information see here.

Discover reports on some experimental evidence to suggest that smells and sounds are perceived together as hybrid ‘smounds’ – at least in a murine model. These conclusions are based on the activity of cells in the olfactory tubercle which respond not only to smells but also auditory tones presented alone or in combination with smells*.

Vaughan Bell has a good round-up of Spike Activity where he looks at the recent findings on the XMR virus in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome amongst other studies.

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor has been suggested as a possible therapeutic intervention in dementia. The authors of a new study reported on here found that slow versus rapid application of BDNF to cell cultures had different effects and this is discussed further in the report.

* Since smells are closely related to taste it is tempting to speculate that this could even be relevant to Pavlovian conditioning if confirmed in other species.

Index

You can find an index of the site here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order.

Twitter

You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link

Podcast

You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).

TAWOP Channel

You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link

Responses

If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer

The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Review: Mind Podcast Episode 17

The podcasts reviewed here are the 17th  episode in the Mind Podcast series by Hoevens. In episode 17 (freely available here) Hoevens discusses sleep, hypnosis and psychoactive drugs in an episode lasting over 50 minutes. When looking at sleep, Hoevens describes the stages of sleep and the nature of the circadian rhythm. Although not delving too deeply into this very complex subject, Hoevens discusses dreams with a passing reference to Freud and also some interesting facts about sleep. Hoevens then covers hypnosis briefly while linking in with previous material on filtering of sensory information in the perceptual process. He finishes of with a look at psychoactive drugs. He emphasises the associated health risks. There is a lot of material covered here and I found it to be at a slightly more basic level than in previous podcasts which perhaps reflects the amount of material that was covered.

Twitter

You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link

Podcast

You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).

TAWOP Channel

You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link

Responses

If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer

The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Book Review: Delete

The book reviewed here is ‘Delete’ by Victor Mayer-Schonberger and narrated by Dennis Holland. Holland narrates at a moderate pace and with an upbeat style.  In the book, Mayer-Schonberger argues that the digital age has created a permanent store of memories which now poses a challenge to society. At several points he discusses individual memory in more detail, for instance outlining some of Baddeley’s ideas on how memory works. He compares the permanence of digital memory with the impermanence of biological memory and with the impermanence of cultural memory through the ages due to the absence of large-scale methods of storing memories. The large scale methods of storage later appear in the form of books and I was intrigued to hear of the output of scribes in the early middle ages in contrast to the capabilities of the printing press.  Mayer-Schonberger argues that the permanence of memory in the digital world has arrived suddenly:

A world without forgetting is difficult to predict

He provides the audience with some case examples showing how these memories have been problematic but argues speculatively that people will doubt their own memories if presented with ‘perfect’ digital memories of their life, many of which they themselves will have ‘forgotten’. Mayer-Schonberger also argues that our memories are impermanent because we ‘become’ someone different with time, learning from our mistakes. I thought these were perhaps existential themes and it was interesting to see them being considered in relation to the use of information technology.

The essence of Mayer-Schonberger’s argument is that we should have some degree of control over our personal information and he suggests digital rights management as a possible solution which he then further expands upon. He even suggests that such information can be monetised and I was somewhat bemused to think that the concepts of some of the existential philosophers might form the basis for a digital economy.

Going off at a slight tangent, Mayer-Schonberger’s arguments made me consider Jung’s writings on archetypes. If as Jung suggested, we have a collective unconscious that is stored within culture then how would this be affected by the advent of our present age of digital permanence? Would such archetypes, if they exist, be affected by the abundance of cultural memories stored without decay in our digital world? Would they become distilled within the ever expanding cultural heritage that is available on demand, where society is in the process of creating subculture upon subculture?

It would be interesting to see the results of general population-based surveys to see if people would want to manage their personal information in this way and perhaps a small pilot study to see if it is feasible and is capable of producing the expected outcomes. Even if all of this pointed in the right direction there would still be the matter of making it work economically which is obviously an important test of any technology.

Mayer-Schonberger has tackled an important issue in the digital age and it will be interesting to see how things develop in this area.

References

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger. Delete (Unabridged). Audible Inc. Narrated by Dennis Holland. 2009

Index

You can find an index of the site here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order.

Twitter

You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link

Podcast

You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).

TAWOP Channel

You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link

Responses

If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer

The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.