Monthly Archives: March 2007

Encephalon 19: Emotion and Reason Match Postponed Due to Flares on the Pitch, Hooliganism!

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.


Recently, I’ve been thinking of the false dichotomy between emotion and reason in the arts, sciences, and in society generally. Just such a schism is manifest in science reporting, and some of the posts here point to the media’s exasperating oversimplification of scientific findings. You may even find some conflict between emotion and reason in the comments within the linked posts, with enlightening discussion afterwards. Thanks to all submitters!

So, I present a (mostly) thematic Encephalon, and provide a twist for any sleuths out there. I’ve hidden in the text of this carnival the words of a great emotion quote; in fact, I used this quote to start a job talk once, to great effect. As an advantage, I give these hints:
1) the quote words are presented in order
2) there are 11 of them
3) a hint as to the author is at the end of the post.
Let me know if you discover the quote and who said it!

The degree of one’s emotions varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts – the less you know, the hotter you get.

Bertrand Russell

First off, Bohemian Scientist sent a link about scientists arguing. The “discussion”, part of which takes place outside of normal channels for scientific discourse (you’ll see what I mean…), is about the detailed changes in membrane potential as neurons fire.

Bioblog briefly covers the “gay sheep” paper of a while back, criticizing the media bastardization of that work with a nice discussion. Atheism, Atran’s work and that pesky “Darwin’s God” piece in the NYT has generated a lot of heat, too.

Speaking of media bastardization, Zuska takes umbrage at a recent report suggesting a sex difference in the size of a brain region and IQ (please note that she did not request inclusion herein). Great comments ensue in the discussion; again, the media drops the ball. I personally agree with a commenter that such work is of basic science merit. What’s done with it is a darn shame, though, and ought to make us all want to work harder towards a more scientifically literate society!

Sandeep over at The MouseTrap covers the rat metacognition work that was recently published. He warns us to take account of risk aversion in the results (an appropriate observation). As an aside, the experimental setup of this research reminds me a bit of the “experimental neurosis” that Pavlov induced with increasingly difficult sensory discriminations…

The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.

William James

The James quote brings us to a post on the top ten psychology studies, recently completed by Jeremy at PsyBlog. I voted for Schacter and Singer, but they are way behind the pack led by Beck and Milgram. Vote early and often!

In addition to a flair for great science media criticism in the past, The Neurocritic discusses PTSD in women. We are taken on an frustrating ride through what the VA suggests is therapy for these patients, and in the process new research on the possibility of memory erasure during reconsolidation is detailed.

I’ve been to college, I’ve been to school
I’ve met the people that you read about in books
Here come a riddle, here come a clue
If you were really smart you’d know what to do when I say
Jet pilot gone out of control, ship captain on the ground
Stock broker make a bad investment when love has come to town

Where, where is my common sense?
How…did I get in a jam like this?
Believe, I believe in mystery
Love, love love love is simple as 1-2-3

Here come a riddle, here come a clue
If you were really smart, you’d know what to do when I say
Why am I going out of my head, whenever you’re around?
The answer is obvious, love has come to town

David Byrne & Talking Heads

Cognitive Daily has a post about recent work with Crohn’s sufferers. In a nice study, active and silent phase patients were compared in their EGG (electrogastrogram) and self-reported arousal level after viewing a variety of film clips. The data reveal support for the notion that emotional arousal is influenced by “gut” feedback, which clearly argues against any sort of a sharp dichotomy of the type evidenced in the quotes I’ve used here.

The Neurophilosopher (the Godfather of Encephalon!) has a great and related post on new findings of differential moral judgments by patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex lesions compared to intact controls. In the process, Damasio’s Somatic Marker hypothesis is raised, as is the curious and never really resolvable case of one Phineas Gage. Good coverage of the same work is also at The Phineas Gage Fan Club.


Shaheen at Brainblogger hosts links to important papers on brain implants and a hot of the press account of the role of sleep in next day memory formation.

Chris at CoolMRIstuff presents a case of Central Pontine Myelinolysis. It’s a fascinating case, and brings up an important question in my mind; what are the factors that lead to Korsakoff’s versus CPM? Both have the lack of nutrition as a result of chronic alcohol abuse as precipitating factors. Did this patient present with any anterograde memory problems?

The Neurophilosopher posts on neurogenesis work in the adult mouse olfactory bulb, or, more specifically, the migration route of new neurons to the bulb. Many neurons that start the journey are “lost”; are these lost progenitors the source of new neurons in other areas of the mouse brain?

Bioblog also contains a post with some chewy links on the relationship between autism and insula dysfunction.

Positivity Blog outlines some personal factors enabling success; they are all important guidelines for sure.

Alvaro of SharpBrains highlights an essay by a high school student on oxytocin and generosity. With so many high school students taking psychology, and with the number of AP Psychology tests taken soaring in the past several years, let’s hope we see more essays like Alexandra’s. Alvaro also highlights two other recent articles; one on the efficacy of brain games and the other on the use of exercise to fight dementia. Alvaro’s blog takes the lead in relating basic science in neural plasticity to applied domains that may benefit you!

P Zed (I love that) at Phyrangula writes a great “basics” essay on neurulation, and Chris at Ouroborus covers treatment of memory loss in the aging rat.

OK, let’s go astray now to the hint as to the author of the embedded quote. A popular conveyance for another of this author’s quotes is on a great record album circa 1981 (two albums, actually; an EP released in March of that year and an LP in August).

NYT on Neurolaw; No free will in panty hose selection

Jeffrey Rosen has a long article on neuroscientific findings relevant to law; the article runs the gamut from questions of culpability and ethics to forensic uses (such as lie detection).

Steven Morse from Penn is extensively cited in the middle section of the piece. I like this part a lot (which is different than saying I agree, of course)…

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