Posted by: Dan | October 22, 2006

Encephalon, issue 9

Welcome to the 9th edition of the fabulous festival of the brains, that we affectionately refer to as the Encephalon. Without further ado…


Learning and the brain

Sandeep from The Mouse Trap takes a look at the evolution and development of languages, dealing with the different developmental stages and pre-requisites that may be required for the evolution of human language.

In another post, Sandeep of The Mouse Trap discusses how beliefs about intelligence and performance, exploring how the different conceptualizations of intelligence are formed and how they lead to different performance outcomes.

SharpBrains discusses topics in cognitive neuroscience and education. Commenting on a paper in the American Educator, this post reviews some neuroscience research findings that are being useful it today’s schools. (selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Perception and the brain

Martin of BrainEthics has a guide on the emerging field of neuroaesthetics, which is an attempt to use neuroscience to understand art and aesthetic behavior. This is news to me, and pretty intriguing too! (selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Michael of Peripersonal Space looked at paranormal experiences and left-vs-right hemispheric dominance. The cognitive basis for perceptions of alien presence and out-of-body experiences is a pretty cool concept. (selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Simon of Alpha Psy discusses the “Ultimatum” game, and perceptions of fairness and the dorso-lateral part of the pre-frontal cortex. Simon examines related hypotheses, but isn’t quite convinced. He still likes the game though! (selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Behavior and autism

The Neurophilosopher comments on a recent study from my own Cornell University that suggests a link between television and autism. Can TV viewing trigger autism in early childhood? The jury is still out according to the study’s authors.

Chris of Mixing Memory takes a look at the same study on the potential link between television and autism, and just doesn’t know what to make of it. He’s certainly skeptical however, and lays out a few reasons why others should be too.(selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Laura, on her Psychology blog, also takes a look this paper on television and autism. Laura takes a rather critical view, and suggests that not only is the evidence weak, but there’s several reasons why the basic tenets of the study are fundamentally flawed. (selected by the Neurophilosopher)

Neuroscience and brain function

The Neurophilosopher describes how astrocytes take center stage in brain function, focusing on a paper which suggests highly dynamic astroglial plasticity, and a greater role in modulating experience-dependent synaptic modifications than previously appreciated.

And finally, my own contribution on neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity, where I review a paper which addresses the question “Can regenerating axons recapitulate developmental guidance during recovery from spinal cord injury?”

Thanks for reading, and look for the 10th Encephalon in two weeks (November 6th) at A Blog Around the Clock. Send your entries to: Coturnix AT gmail DOT com


  1. Thank you Dan.

  2. […] Recent Comments Dan on Does television cause autism?Geon on Richard Dawkins on religionLittle Legends Blog on Does television cause autism?Steven J. Curry on A lecture on cognitive evolutionEric Irvine on Does television cause autism? […]

  3. Thank you, Dan and neurophilosopher, for selecting one of my posts. Happy that you enjoyed it.

    May I ask how many relevant “carnivals” are there around for applied cognitive neuroscience? I am just learning how to navigate in this world. Thanks!

  4. […] more great posts, visit Encephalon 9, a roundup of the best neuroscience posts over the last two weeks. Read the comments on thispost… […]

  5. […] Yardbirds and Migration drop-ins while I writeEncephalon, issue 9Neurogenesis and synaptic plasticityCarnivalia: Call for submissionsIntelligence and NaturalismA Defense DateSome changes ’round hereHouse finches and avian diseasesIntelligent Design in the journal GeneSave Sapsucker Woods […]

  6. Guess what was short-listed by the Royal Institution as the best science book EVER?,,1927916,00.html

  7. Wow. I hadn’t heard of that book. Will be nice plane reading.

    Wanted to let you know we have migrated our blog to the URL

    Kind regards,


  8. Indeed, that is an interesting book that I’m looking forward to reading before the year is out (I’m so behind on reading books already though!).

    Thanks for the FYI on SharpBrains, too. I’ve updated the links to SharpBrains above.

  9. “Can TV viewing trigger autism in early childhood?”

    Quick answer….no. The whole thing about autism points to environmental issues, rather than genetic. The increasing incidence autism is on average 1 in 100. I believe (as do many others), that it is terrible food additives, heavy metal poisoning (how many mums have loads of mercury fillings!) from amongst others thimerosol in vaccines, microwaves from mobile phones. The pollution in the water and air.
    A developing child is so susceptible to these problems.
    As for TV, I imagine it can have an affect on the behaviour of a child, but would not tip them over the edge into autism.

  10. Eric,
    I don’t know – I’m under the impression that as much of 60% of autism may be attributable to genetic causes. But, I’m not an expert on this, and am only basing this statistic on what I’ve heard spoken by others, such as here, for instance:

  11. […] Issue 9 […]

  12. […] Migrations, 23rd October, 2006 […]


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