The blog reviewed here is ‘Nou Stuff‘ by neuroscientist Maria Page. Page has an account on Twitter where she has already posted over 4700 tweets. These are mostly high quality links to articles on neuroscience and in this medium she is one to follow for those with an interest in neuroscience. Page also has this blog where she includes posts in which amongst other themes she has expanded on some of the material from Twitter.
Appearance and Design
The background and title pane feature a graded white-cyan space which evolves into angled and evenly-spaced lines with a plant motif. There are several articles on each page. Each article features a white background with black text and a blue heading and comments are enabled. The blog can be navigated using features in the right hand pane. Thus the reader can use the search facility, the categories box and access top posts. There are also links to external sites as well as updates from the twitter account, delicious and the blog stats for the site. To move backwards chronologically the reader must click on the next page link at the bottom of each page sequentially.
The first listed article was dated 20.7.09 and is a look which components of music are thought to convey emotion including the key and tempo. This is particularly interesting in view of emerging evidence of a close link between music and language. A neat feature of the articles is the inclusion of links to a series of relevant references providing the reader with additional and useful reading material. Page focuses in detail on some key areas. For instance in this post she looks at some of the possible neurobiological underpinnings of laughter. I found this material interesting in view of an evolutionary theory of laughter (see review here) although it should be noted that in our nearest relatives chimpanzees, smiling is seen as a threatening behaviour. Page also covers case studies of interest. For instance in this post, Page looks at patient H.M (who suffered a profound anterograde amnesia following a bilateral hippocampectomy for intractable epilepsy) and the post-mortem project to produce a virtual dissection. The posts contain a wide variety of material across neuroscience and are complemented by pictures or embedded videos.
This is a good neuroscience blog with articles varying from brief descriptions of new studies with links to detailed articles with useful references. This blog also complements the twitter posts by Page which provide the audience with current and interesting neuroscience posts. Gladwell has written about the number of hours it takes to develop expertise in an area and the evidence seems to point out that it is about 10,000 hours (see review here). Obviously the definition of expertise will vary from one subject to another but it will be interesting to follow Page’s combined blog and twitter postings. Assuming that an average of 5 twitter posts can be produced per hour (after scanning the articles) that would be roughly equivalent to 50,000 twitter posts (assuming all were about neuroscience). We are at the forefront of new social media technologies. What does a person become by posting 50,000 twitter posts about neuroscience? Obviously doing science is the core of being a scientist. Nevertheless the use of twitter involves finding material, reading and filtering material, communicating this and producing an index for this material for future reference. I would speculate that this process contributes meaningfully to the core abilities of a scientist not only in communicating and popularising science but also in receiving continuous feedback from peers. For instance with twitter, I’ve found it useful in quickly tapping into the ‘narrative’ of current events relating to psychiatry and allied disciplines. Thus I would say that the results of a using twitter are complex with many potential benefits. The use of blogging seems to complement this well. Will Page become one of the leading neuroscientists of the 21st century? Time will tell but the skills displayed here could be argued to be integral to the neuroscience team of the 21st century.
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