Saturday, September 12, 2009

Brain Science Podcast 61: Allen Institute for Brain Research

Good stuff . . . .

Brain Science Podcast 61: Allen Institute for Brain Research

Allan Jones, PhD

Allan Jones, PhD

Episode 61 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Allan Jones, PhD, the Chief Science Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Research in Seattle, Washington. The Allen Institute is a non-profit research organization founded by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) and is best known for its Mouse Brain Map, which is being used by researchers around the world. The Institute has several other on-going projects including a project to create a map of the human cortex that shows which genes are active in each area.

In this interview we discuss both the mouse brain project and the human cortex project with an emphasis on the importance of these projects to neuroscience research. All the maps created by The Allen Institute are freely available on the internet. Dr. Jones also shares his own story and the challenges and rewards of pursuing a career in the non-profit biotech world.

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)



Previous Episodes mentioned in this podcast:


  • Next’s month’s episode will be an interview with Warren Brown, PhD, co-author of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? which was discussed in Episode 53.

New Scientist - Blueprint for a better world

Hmmmm . . . interesting approach. Seems more than a little short-sighted and materialistic to me. Maybe if human beings cultivated compassion rather than seeking wealth, most of these problems would be resolved.

(Image: 33RPM / Dutch Uncle)

We live in an imperfect world. Poverty, disease, lack of education, environmental destruction - the problems are all too obvious. Many people don't have clean water, let alone enough food, and the unsustainable lifestyle of the wealthy few is storing up catastrophic climate change.

Can we do anything about it? You bet we can. Technology is a double-edged sword, but science and reason have made our lives immeasurably better overall - and only through science and reason can we hope to make a real difference in the future. So here and over the next three weeks, New Scientist will explore diverse ideas for making the world a better place, and the evidence backing them.

This week, we look at some radical ideas for transforming society and changing the way countries are run. We also examine the state of the world as it is today, to see whether things are getting better or worse (see image).

Next week, we'll report on what you as an individual can do to make a difference. Then we'll explore what many see as the fundamental problem: overpopulation. And finally, we'll ponder the profound and long-lasting changes we are making to our home planet.

Beware of common sense

If governments are serious about achieving their aims, they must base their decisions on hard evidence and not received wisdom


Legalise drugs

Staff from the Central Bureau of Narcotics destroy the opium poppy crop, Kashmir, India (Image: Sipa Press / Rex)

Far from protecting us and our children, the war on drugs is making the world a much more dangerous place


Give police your DNA

A woman gives a blood sample for DNA matching (Image: Sipa Press / Rex)

The only fair, effective answer to the question of whose DNA profiles police should keep is: everybody's


"The best way to make the world a better place is to make it not the only place for us. We should establish a self-supporting colony on Mars."
J. Richard Gott

Read more


"I think that our best course of action is to spend at least as much effort adapting to global heating as in attempts to slow or stop it happening."
James Lovelock

Read more


Redefine the bottom line

Governments need to find better ways of measuring progress than simply looking at wealth


Find out if we can cool the planet

Can we use technology to halt climate change? (Image: Gaetan Charbonneau / Workbook Stock / Getty)

We need to do our homework rather than simply assume geoengineering can stave off disaster


Tax carbon and give the money to the people

Coal mines, like this one in China, could be taxed (Image: China Photos / Getty)

Goods should be taxed to reflect the damage they do to the planet, with revenues redistributed to society


Learn to love genetic engineering

It might not be "natural", but GM could help us overcome a host of problems (Image: Brand New Images / Stone / Getty)

The technology environmentalists love to hate really could play a big role in saving the planet


"One of the biggest problems we face today is a feeling of helplessness. It is desperately important for us to understand that each one of us does make a difference."
Jane Goodall

Read more


"On a global scale, the best and most effective insurance policy for mankind would have to be legislative and economic protection of our surviving rainforests."
Richard Branson

Read more


End the pillaging of the high seas

We must put a stop to the free-for-all out on the oceans to have any chance of saving their riches from the ravages of climate change


Generate a feed-in frenzy

Paying people who generate green energy and feed it back to the grid is the best way to boost uptake of renewable energy


Take Friday off… forever

The four-day week could boost employment, save energy and make us happier

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week - Genuine Human Relation

25th Anniversary Edition

by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso,
edited and translated by Jeffrey Hopkins,
co-edited by Elizabeth Napper

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

...the world is becoming smaller and smaller, providing the peoples of the world with good opportunities to meet and talk with each other. Such contact provides a valuable chance to increase our understanding of each other's way of living, philosophy, and beliefs, and increased understanding will lead naturally to mutual respect. Because of the world's having become smaller, I have been able to come here today.

As we meet, I always keep in mind that we are the same in being human beings. If we emphasize the superficial differences, I am an Easterner and furthermore a Tibetan from beyond the Himalayas, with a different environment and a different culture. However, if we look deep down, I have a valid feeling of "I," and with that feeling, I want happiness and do not want suffering. Everyone, no matter where they are from, has this valid feeling of "I" on the conventional level, and in this sense we are all the same.

With this understanding as a basis, when I meet new people in new places, in my mind here is no barrier, no curtain. I can talk with you as I would to old friends even though this is the first time we meet. In my mind, as human beings you are my brothers and sisters; there is no difference in substance. I can express whatever I feel, without hesitation, just as to an old friend. With this feeling we can communicate without any difficulty and can contact heart to heart, not with just a few nice words, but really heart to heart.

Based on such genuine human relation--real feeling for each other, understanding each other--we can develop mutual trust and respect. From that, we can share other peoples' suffering and build harmony in human society. We can create a friendly human family.

--from Kindness, Clarity, and Insight 25th Anniversary Edition by The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, edited and translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, co-edited by Elizabeth Napper, published by Snow Lion Publications

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bookforum Collects Recent Articles on Religion

Interesting assortment - thought I would just pass along the whole collection.

Imagine no religion

From The National Interest, Alan Wolfe reviews books on God. Joshua Leach on Judith Shklar and materialist mercy: If appeasing God is what matters most, then our relations with one another seem insignificant at best. From Philosophy Bites, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that God isn't necessary for morality (and more and more on Morality Without God). Imagine no religion: An article on sustaining morality without God. The language of morality has been hijacked by the Right and the religious — it’s about time those who value reason took it back. An interview with Scotty McLennan, author of Jesus Was a Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All. A review of William Donohue's Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America. Jay Michaelson writes in defense of spiritual vulgarity. Do shamans have more sex?: New Age spirituality is no more pure than old-time religion. An interview with Linda Harvey, author of Not My Child: Contemporary Paganism and New Spirituality. An interview with cult survivor Timothy Wyllie on The Process Church, and a review of Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment. What are the criteria for a cult and can they be meaningfully applied? Gregory Paul on the chronic dependence of popular religiosity upon dysfunctional psychosociological conditions.

MIT for Free (Brain and Cognitive Sciences)

MIT's opencourseware project has made 1900 classes available for free online. Here are the ones that interest me, cognitive sciences.

Course #Course TitleTerm

Lecture notesMultimedia contentAssignments (no solutions)
9.00Introduction to PsychologyFall 2004

9.00PIntroduction to PsychologyFall 2001

Multimedia content
9.01Neuroscience and BehaviorFall 2003

9.01Introduction to NeuroscienceFall 2007

9.011The Brain and Cognitive Sciences IFall 2002

9.012The Brain and Cognitive Sciences IISpring 2002

9.012The Brain and Cognitive Sciences IISpring 2006

9.013JCell and Molecular NeurobiologySpring 2008

9.02Brain LaboratorySpring 2002

Selected lecture notes
9.03Neural Basis of Learning and MemoryFall 2007

9.036The Visual SystemSpring 2005

Selected lecture notes
9.04Neural Basis of Vision and AuditionFall 2006

Selected lecture notes
9.044JBrain Mechanisms for Hearing and SpeechFall 2005

9.05Neural Basis of MovementSpring 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.07Statistical Methods in Brain and Cognitive ScienceSpring 2004

Selected lecture notes
9.081Human Memory and LearningFall 2002

Lecture notesAssignments and solutionsExams and solutions
9.09JCellular NeurobiologySpring 2005

9.10Cognitive NeuroscienceSpring 2006

9.110JNeurology, Neuropsychology, and Neurobiology of AgingSpring 2005

9.12Experimental Molecular NeurobiologyFall 2006

Selected lecture notesMultimedia contentAssignments (no solutions)
9.14Brain Structure and its OriginsSpring 2005

9.15Biochemistry and Pharmacology of Synaptic TransmissionFall 2007

9.150Biochemistry and Pharmacology of Synaptic TransmissionFall 2007

9.16Cellular NeurophysiologySpring 2002

9.173JNoninvasive Imaging in Biology and MedicineFall 2005

Assignments (no solutions)
9.18Developmental NeurobiologySpring 2005

Assignments (no solutions)
9.181JDevelopmental NeurobiologySpring 2005

9.19JCognitive & Behavioral GeneticsSpring 2001

Selected lecture notesMultimedia content
9.20Animal BehaviorFall 2005

9.201Advanced Animal BehaviorSpring 2000

9.22JA Clinical Approach to the Human BrainFall 2006

9.250Evolutionary PsychologySpring 1999

Selected lecture notes
9.285JNeural Coding and Perception of SoundSpring 2005

Selected lecture notes
9.29JIntroduction to Computational NeuroscienceSpring 2004

Selected lecture notesAssignments (no solutions)
9.301JNeural Plasticity in Learning and DevelopmentSpring 2002

9.322JGenetic NeurobiologyFall 2005

Selected lecture notesMultimedia content
9.35Sensation and PerceptionSpring 2004

9.357Special Topics in Vision ScienceFall 2001

9.373Somatosensory and Motor SystemsSpring 2002

9.402Language and ThoughtFall 2002

Lecture notes
9.458Parkinson's Disease WorkshopSummer 2006

Selected lecture notes
9.459Scene Understanding SymposiumSpring 2006

9.51Affective Priming at Short and Extremely Short ExposuresSpring 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.520Statistical Learning Theory and ApplicationsSpring 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.520Statistical Learning Theory and ApplicationsSpring 2006

9.520-ANetworks for Learning: Regression and ClassificationSpring 2001

9.52-AInvestigating the Neural Substrates of Remote Memory using fMRISpring 2003

9.52-BTopics in Brain and Cognitive Sciences Human EthologySpring 2001

9.52-CComputational Cognitive ScienceSpring 2003

9.530Cellular and Molecular ComputationSpring 2000

Selected lecture notes
9.531JSystems BiologyFall 2004

9.56JAbnormal LanguageFall 2004

9.57JLanguage AcquisitionFall 2001

Selected lecture notesProjects (no examples)
9.587JThe Lexicon and Its FeaturesSpring 2007

Selected lecture notes
9.591JLanguage ProcessingFall 2004

Selected lecture notes
9.59JPsycholinguisticsSpring 2005

Selected lecture notes
9.601JLanguage Acquisition ISpring 2002

Selected lecture notes
9.611JNatural Language and the Computer Representation of KnowledgeSpring 2003

9.63Laboratory in Cognitive ScienceFall 2002

Selected lecture notes
9.63Laboratory in Cognitive ScienceFall 2005

Selected lecture notes
9.641JIntroduction to Neural NetworksSpring 2005

Selected lecture notes
9.65Cognitive ProcessesSpring 2004

Lecture notes
9.660JComputational Cognitive ScienceFall 2004

Lecture notes
9.66JComputational Cognitive ScienceFall 2004

9.67Object and Face RecognitionSpring 2001

9.675The Development of Object and Face RecognitionSpring 2006

Selected lecture notes
9.68Affect: Biological, Psychological, and Social Aspects of FeelingsSpring 2005

9.69Foundations of CognitionSpring 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.70Social PsychologySpring 2005

9.71Functional MRI of High-Level VisionFall 2007

9.74Foundations of Human Memory and LearningSpring 2002

9.75JPsychology of GenderSpring 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.85Infant and Early Childhood CognitionFall 2005

9.911Reasonable Conduct in ScienceJanuary (IAP) 2002

9.912Special Topics in Brain and Cognitive SciencesFall 2001

Selected lecture notes
9.912JIntroduction to Computational NeuroscienceSpring 2004

Selected lecture notesMultimedia content
9.913Pattern Recognition for Machine VisionFall 2004

9.913-AIntensive NeuroanatomyJanuary (IAP) 2002

9.916Modularity, Domain-specificity, and the Organization of KnowledgeFall 2001

9.916The Neural Basis of Visual Object Recognition in Monkeys and HumansSpring 2005

9.916-AProbability and Causality in Human CognitionSpring 2003

9.93Cognitive Neuroscience of Remembering: Creating and Controlling MemoryJanuary (IAP) 2002

9.93Marathon Moral Reasoning LaboratoryJanuary (IAP) 2007

9.95-AResearch Topics in NeuroscienceJanuary (IAP) 2003

Projects and examplesSelected lecture notes
9.96Experimental Methods of Adjustable Tetrode Array NeurophysiologyJanuary (IAP) 2001

9.97Introduction to NeuroanatomyJanuary (IAP) 2003

Selected lecture notes
9.98Language and MindJanuary (IAP) 2003
Lecture notes
9.98NeuropharmacologyJanuary (IAP) 2009

See the whole catalog.