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The Anorexia Debate: Biology v Culture

A recent study of 60 people with anorexia suggests that a biological mechanism may be a causative factor. It was found that there was a reduction in blood flow to a specific area in one of the temporal lobes in those with the eating disorder. The author of the study believes that sociocultural factors have been over emphasized. Not all agree. By way of contrast, another research group has just published findings which purport to show that "even small amounts of exposure to thin bodies can have a short-term negative effect on body image." And adult anorexia rates are said to be rising.
There's associated debate too, regarding the contributing role played by therapy that seeks to personify eating disorders. Flourishing underground online communities derive some thinspiration by referring to their 'lifestyle choices' as 'Ana' (for anorexia) and 'Mia' (for bulimia). Argentina is responding to the body image controversy by enacting a size law. previous mefi threads [via + via ]
posted by peacay on Jun 5, 2005 - 44 comments

Ramachandran for brain enthusiasts

Phantom limb illusions Dr. Ramachandran is an investigator of the senses. His explorations on synesthesia, phantom limbs, and human consciousness are revealing excursions into sensory awareness. And his reader-friendly books, such as A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness and Phantoms in the Brain (both from Amazon) are a pleasure to read. His greatest gifts appear to be a childlike simplicity, coupled with straightforward empiricism. His writing is easy-to-understand, often sparked with unpredictable humor. Recommended for all mind & brain enthusiasts who may not have heard of him yet.
posted by ember on Jun 3, 2005 - 10 comments

Brainware

11 Steps to a Better Brain Funny, reading MeFi is not on the list.
posted by peacay on May 26, 2005 - 25 comments

Mine is always pegged.

Dozens of MeFi posts finally explained. How can I replace the batteries when I don't even have a meter?
posted by bashos_frog on May 23, 2005 - 48 comments

Gender Based Brain Research

A review of the current state of gender based brain research shows that women and men differ both in the way their brains are constructed and in how they function.
..correlation between brain region size in adults and sex steroid action in utero suggests that at least some sex differences in cognitive function do not result from cultural influences or the hormonal changes associated with puberty--they are there from birth.
Treatment for such things as schizophrenia and depression will likely have gender specific variations in the future. Previously, brain research that examined gender differences was considered controversial because it was argued that the results might give rise to more sex discrimination against women. That view may be changing.
posted by peacay on May 3, 2005 - 33 comments

Sorry, can't hear you, there's a probe in my ear.

Wearing a shiny red hard-hat could be the latest way to gauge brain activity on the cheap, Aussie researchers report.
posted by greatgefilte on Apr 18, 2005 - 5 comments

In your face

How well do you read faces? Better than this baby, I hope.
posted by homunculus on Apr 8, 2005 - 13 comments

Cognitive biases and other fun tricks

You are very bad at making decisions. Welcome to the world of cognitive biases. They are why it is so easy to see conspiracies in the death of microbiologists, to be unaware of how incompetent we are, to regret our bids on eBay, and to be superstitious rationalists. Perhaps you should learn to use them before you are taken in. Finally, cognitive biases are why you will remember the end of this po
posted by blahblahblah on Apr 6, 2005 - 27 comments

This Is Your Brain On Jeb

Blogger analysis of Terri Schiavo's CAT Scan. Healthy brain. Terri Schiavo's brain.
posted by fandango_matt on Mar 23, 2005 - 105 comments

SexID

SexID Some researchers say that men can have 'women's brains' and that women can think more like men. Find out more about 'brain sex' differences by taking the Sex ID test, a groundbreaking experiment designed by a team of top psychologists:
posted by srboisvert on Mar 8, 2005 - 81 comments

How to mail a brain

How to mail a fresh brain
posted by ColdChef on Feb 26, 2005 - 25 comments

Take _that_, social constructionism!

The psychology of taboo. Commenting on the Harvard hullabaloo that took place a few weeks ago, linguist/cognitive scientist Steven Pinker offers his opinion, using ideas he previously presented in The Blank Slate (via AL Daily)
posted by greatgefilte on Feb 8, 2005 - 63 comments

Vision without Sight

Esref Armagan is an accomplished painter, and has been blind since infancy. Brain scans show he uses his visual cortex while drawing, but not while imagining an image (as a sighted person does.)
posted by Zed_Lopez on Jan 31, 2005 - 12 comments

Ivan Noble's Tumour Diary

Ivan Noble's Tumour Diary The BBC's Ivan Noble has been keeping an online diary of his fight against a malignant brain tumour. Alas, his illness is now getting the better of him, and this will be his final column. He has been, at times, an inspiration, incredibly brave and totally honest about his illness. As a former colleague, he shall also be remembered fondly. Start from the beginning, it's a must read.
posted by scaryduck on Jan 27, 2005 - 10 comments

White Matter and Gray Matter a Matter of the Sexes

She may not have the grey matter, but what's that matter anymore, anyway? A recent study shows that men have more gray matter, women have more white matter and in the end these differences seem to be no matter. Apparently men have more raw computing power, while women have a more efficient infrastructure -- resulting in similar general intelligence.
posted by ThePrawn on Jan 21, 2005 - 27 comments

Through the Looking Chords

Dr Hugo's Museum of the Mind - Synaesthesia
posted by Gyan on Jan 20, 2005 - 22 comments

People who drink to excess also tend to be chronic smokers

Speaking Of weight loss and exercise... Those who like their booze also like their nicotine. People who drink to excess also tend to be chronic smokers, and a new report suggests the combination of the two might prove more toxic than either one alone. a small study found chronic smoking + alcohol dependence = increased severity of brain damage. The frontal lobes (short-term storage sites) turn out to be the most damaged. A separate study used rats to show that alcoholism and excessive food intake may share the same chemical pathways in the brain. Forbes has the HealthDayNews report that focuses mainly on the smokes, MSNBC looks more at the eats. They also have an interesting Addictions Sections. Could it be that some folks are just prone to addictions and everyone settles on something different?
posted by Blake on Dec 17, 2004 - 21 comments

Brain in a Dish Flies Plane

Brain in a Dish Flies Plane. Hallowe'en-esque research conducted at the University of Florida.
posted by grabbingsand on Oct 29, 2004 - 3 comments

Brew's clues - Booze clues

Coffee makes it harder to think clearly, while alcohol makes the mind sharper. (At least if you're British.)
posted by soyjoy on Aug 2, 2004 - 28 comments

Simian Cybernetics

Brain implants 'read' monkey minds. (No, not that monkey mind.) A group of CalTech neuroscientists have been able to predict the actions of monkeys by observing neural activity in the parietal and premotor cortices related to planning and motivation (PDF.) Other research previously allowed monkeys to control a robotic arm with their minds; this observed the higher-level goal and value signals, and could lead to more natural thought-activated prosthetic devices for people with paralysis. [Via MonkeyFilter.]
posted by homunculus on Jul 10, 2004 - 29 comments

Our Entire Species is Based on Lies!

Scientists speculate that the reason that we have such big brains is so we can lie effectively. Even our primate cousins fool each other so that they can sneak off for extra grub or enjoy a quick round of illicit monkey sex. Apparently, it all comes down to the neocortex.
posted by rks404 on Jul 2, 2004 - 28 comments

Speak Deutsch?

Being Bilingual Protects Against Some Age-related Cognitive Changes.
Full paper link.
posted by Gyan on Jun 14, 2004 - 20 comments

The Day My Mother’s Head Exploded

"The Day My Mother’s Head Exploded". Hannah Palin's mother suffered an aneurysm, eventually woke, and built herself a new personality. A downloadable audio piece from Transom (thanks headless)
posted by iffley on May 25, 2004 - 2 comments

Brain tricks

Red and green dots have never been so interesting. At least to a geek like me. I love it when my brain plays tricks on me.
posted by jeremy on May 21, 2004 - 33 comments

MetaCreativity

What is the modus operandi of creativity? According to two cognitive scientists, Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, the subconscious operation of conceptual blending. The formal theory, known as the Network Model of Conceptual Integration (CI), seeks to explain how creative insights are derived from pre-existing knowledge and understanding.
[More Inside]
posted by Gyan on May 13, 2004 - 10 comments

NeuroFilter

Interesting papers in neuroscience. From Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology.
PDFs
posted by Gyan on May 6, 2004 - 6 comments

Sensestage

The maps of perception.
2nd link: java applet.
posted by Gyan on Apr 25, 2004 - 6 comments

Enjoy the plasticity of your brain!

The McCollough effect is a visual illusion somewhat similar to regular color aftereffects, but the working mechanism is different, and despite a wealth of theories, not entirely explained. Once the effect is established, it does not seem to go away and can last for days or even weeks. Proceed at your own risk.
posted by ikalliom on Apr 10, 2004 - 22 comments

Big heads wobbling on wee necks?....

Nootropics ("smart" drugs) - all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon, the effect seems temporary. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
posted by troutfishing on Mar 5, 2004 - 20 comments

Juggle me this!

Learning to Juggle Causes Changes in the Brain. In a possible twist for the "nature vs. nurture" debate, this study proves "what was not thought possible -- that new stimuli can alter the brain's structure." The head researcher from the University of Regensburg in Germany says "Our results challenge our view of the human central nervous system. Human brains probably must be viewed as dynamic, changing with development and normal learning."
posted by soyjoy on Jan 21, 2004 - 11 comments

Making the Mind

Making the Mind. "The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
posted by homunculus on Jan 17, 2004 - 16 comments

Super cool squirrels!

Super cool squirrels! "We believe that a ground squirrel, when it goes into hibernation, produces chemical messengers that are released from the brain that direct the slowing down of the metabolism... If we were able to synthesize the same chemical compounds and make them available in an injection, it could be administered to induce a hibernation-like state in humans."

And they're cute, too.
posted by moonbird on Dec 11, 2003 - 5 comments

Funny lines

Cartoons act like cocaine. *snort* (via PVP)
posted by jozxyqk on Dec 5, 2003 - 3 comments

Ouch

Being snubbed socially provokes exactly the same brain response as being physically hurt, say US researchers.
posted by MintSauce on Oct 10, 2003 - 16 comments

So you want to be a brain surgeon...

The Harvard Brain Atlas has a veritable plethora of images of the brain, whether normal or diseased. Tours, 3-D Java exploration and a [very difficult] quiz are available. Plus: the top 100 brain structures!
posted by goethean on Aug 19, 2003 - 3 comments

Phrenology makes a comeback.

Phrenology makes a comeback.
posted by phylum sinter on Jul 28, 2003 - 11 comments

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky and the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness

We are because of others. We are born into this world with minds as naked as our bodies and we have to rely on others to feed, clothe us, and to teach us to think of ourselves as selves. The key is language -- grammatical speech and human culture build upon the brain's biological capacities to create a mind that is something different again than that with which we are born. We are conscious because we can speak to others and ourselves, because we can speak of ourselves to others and ourselves. Language gives us as individuals, memory, and as groups, culture, the social memory. Or so thought Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, among others. Welcome to the the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness.
posted by y2karl on Jul 11, 2003 - 36 comments

Well, what about pain?...

No Brainer - I've eaten a lot of Tofu in my day and was concerned about "brain-shrink". Then I found about this, and stopped worrying - Is your brain really necessary? Apparently not:

"...The student in question was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all." I'm hungry...where's that tofu?...
posted by troutfishing on Jun 28, 2003 - 48 comments

Pot Head

Pot doesn't cause permanent brain damage? According to this University of California at San Diego study, no it doesn't even though other illegal drugs, even alcohol, can cause brain damage.

"...marijuana has only a marginally harmful long-term effect on learning and memory."
posted by Ron on Jun 27, 2003 - 33 comments

Savant for a Day

Savant for a Day! NYTimes journalist Lawrence Osbourne becomes a guinea pig for a University of Sydney's professor's mind-enhancing device based on the theories of autistic "Rainman" cognition with interesting results.
posted by skallas on Jun 20, 2003 - 27 comments

Ommm you rough beast, Ommm.....

Buddhism tames the amygdala Covered recently on Metafilter (here), new research at the University of California San Francisco Medical Centre ( into the "Happy Buddhist" phenomenon ) shows that Buddhist meditation techniques "can tame the amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory." [BBC] -Is this the Rx for a nation of Americans gripped by fear? Do Christianity, Islam or Judaism have effective techniques to tame the amygdala too?
posted by troutfishing on May 22, 2003 - 48 comments

Paging Philip K. Dick

Brain fingerprinting seems to have nothing to do with fingerprinting, but it's still ominous, a step toward a lot of sci-fi dystopias. Don't worry, they'll only use this against criminals and terrorists *cough*
posted by soyjoy on Feb 11, 2003 - 10 comments

Princess, Brain, Jock, Basket Case or Criminal?

Which Breakfast Club character are you? No, it's not another online quiz. It's an article on a project done by a social researcher, asking 900 high school sophomores to choose which Breakfast Club character they were most like. Following up 16 years later, their associations played out to a high degree as they grew older. So which were you, Jock, Princess, Brain, Basket Case or Criminal? Did your self-image in high school have lasting effects on your life?
posted by JParker on Feb 6, 2003 - 45 comments

Drivin' and dialin'

Inattention blindness has been documented in a study of drivers using cell phones. Back when the driving-while-yakking phenomenon first started growing, I told friends I could always tell if the driver of the car ahead of me was on a cell phone: They had a certain style of stupid driving that I couldn't quite describe but I always knew it when I saw it. Now a team of researchers has pinpointed it; they also effectively debunk "you're just as distracted talking to someone in the car"-type analogies. The question remains, now that we know what's wrong with this practice, what do we do about it?
posted by soyjoy on Jan 28, 2003 - 82 comments

Music

Rock n Roll! We know that Sex and Drugs ain't good for us, but researchers at McGill University are using very fancy devices to learn how our brains react to music. (Probably not much to discuss, but it's an interesting article)
posted by adamms222 on Nov 27, 2002 - 6 comments

The strange range of human behavior continues to draw us like moths to a flame. Consider Amanda Fielding who continually performed self-surgery on her braincase, Catharina Geisslerin, the woman who vomited frogs, and the Collyer brothers, who collected so much junk that it crushed them in their own home. Samuel Johnson, compiler of the first dictionary of the English language, was compelled to whirl, twist, and make highly ritualized hand motions when going through doors. When he went for a walk, he touched every post he passed. If he missed one, he went back to touch it. Recent research suggests that obsessive-compulsive child behaviors can be caused by strep infection. Who do you think are the most interesting, eccentric, and compulsive personalities?
posted by Morphic on Oct 23, 2002 - 31 comments

Sex Therapy or Chemotherapy?

Sex Therapy or Chemotherapy? If you suddenly start collecting pornography, soliciting prostitutes, making sexual advances toward young children and lusting for your 90 year old landlady don't worry, you may not be developing socially and legally deviant behaviour but you actually may just have a brain tumour. I thought brain tumours just gave you headaches and blurred vision but apparently they can cause all kinds of symptoms and uncontrollable urges.
posted by henriettachicken on Oct 22, 2002 - 4 comments

Tumor-induced Pedophilia

Tumor-induced Pedophilia - the BBC reports on an american man who, at the age of 40, developed completely uncontrollable and ammoral sexual impulses after developing a tumor in the right lobe of the orbifrontal cortex. After the tumor was removed, he returned to normal. More inside...
posted by Irontom on Oct 21, 2002 - 28 comments

Gene Prevents 'Brains Everywhere'

Gene Prevents 'Brains Everywhere' The human version of the gene probably is not involved in keeping the human brain inside the skull, but likely plays some other role in nervous system development in human embryos, says Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, a developmental biologist at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Cool.
posted by Grod on Oct 11, 2002 - 6 comments

Musicians are really smart. They have larger and more sensitive brains than non-musicians, and their collective IQ is much higher. They have 130% more grey matter in one area of their auditory cortexes. The question of how this explains Ozzy Osbourne nonwithstanding, I'll bet if you're really, really smart, you could be one of the new members of Men Without Hats. Must be very knowledgeable in midi, sequences, and sampling.
posted by iconomy on Jun 25, 2002 - 18 comments

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