Encephalon, Forthy-Third Edition

We at Brain Blogger are honored to the host the Encephalon for the our second time. Since 2006, this blog carnival has inspired countless discussions on matters related to the brain and mind — and everything in between. In this edition, I review just a few quality blog entries worth checking out. Enjoy…

The Neurocritic presents two interesting pieces. First, he discusses how popular media is distorting the body image of young men. Second, he covers a story on how sex induces more financial risk taking behavior in men? Neuroanthropology must have sex on his mind too, for he also wrote a piece on the latter issue. However, he takes a “crap-tastic” viewpoint. My favorite sentence of agreement is

… much of the worst ‘evolutionary psychology’ is practiced by people who know very little about evolutionary science, psychology, or genetics.

The Brain Blogger offers an article on pseudo-scientific theories focusing on Bruno Bettelheim’s assertion that autism was caused by bad parenting. Yourell says it best with,

… we can thank Bettelheim for causing an extraordinary amount of suffering because of his unscientific… thinking. Countless mothers were blamed for their children’s autism. What a thing to live with!

Cognitive Daily addressed how babies learn where one word ends and the next one begins and discriminates the functions of consonants and vowels in the understanding of language.

Missives from the Frontal Lobe offers a cautionary article on oversimplifying brain functions, succeeds to a “complex multi-level integration of system, cell, molecule, and gene”, and labels our state of knowledge towards a working model of intelligence as not in its infancy, but rather “embryonic.” Harsh, but I fully concur.

SharpBrains is running high-school student essays on their blog. Thus far, they have written on Alzheimer’s disease and its prevention. What a pleasure to see students interested in science, medicine, literature, and popular media… I recommend other bloggers to take on such a project. Simply, team up with a high school teacher in a subject of your respective blog and make arrangements to have their student’s write potential blogs/essays — not only will they learn the discipline, but also how to effectively portray complex topics to a general public.

PsyBlog presents a series of articles related to the psychology of money. Among them, I most enjoyed reading “Money and Self-Control” — where the author connects simple life-situations to our spending habits.

If you don’t know what is ensemble encoding, I suggest you have a look at Pure Pedantry. Young takes a crack at answering a fundamental question in neuroscience: how does the brain encode sound? In another article, he discusses the limitations of studies that aim to link single-genes to human behavior — all in the context of a recent article “linking” the vasopressin receptor AVPR1a to ruthlessness. Though much of these arguments aren’t new, they must be retold.

Suggested Scholarly Reading

Dick, D., Rose, R., Kaprio, J. (2006). The Next Challenge for Psychiatric Genetics: Characterizing the Risk Associated with Identified Genes. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 18(4), 223-231. DOI: 10.1080/10401230600948407

Kendler, K.S., Greenspan, R.J. (2006). The Nature of Genetic Influences on Behavior: Lessons From “Simpler” Organisms. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(10), 1683-1694. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.10.1683


I would like to thank the bloggers featured in this edition of the Encephalon. To submit your posts for the next edition scheduled for April 28th hosted by Cognitive Daily, email encephalon {dot} host [at] gmail {dot} com.

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN, is a board-certified neurologist and pain specialist, medical educator, and scientist. He is the executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF). He is a published scholar in biomarkers, biotechnology, education technology, and neurology. He serves on the editorial board of several scholarly publications and has been honored by the U.S. President and Congress.
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