Welcome any new readers that may be coming here from the Ravencon science fiction convention in Richmond, VA this past weekend. Thanks for coming, and I invite you to browse the archives to look over the content for "The Lab Rats' Guide to the Brain" and other miscellaneous posts inspired by "nerdy science" (neuroscience). There are two good starting points in the archives: Thursday, Feb. 3 titled "Brain and Brain, what is Brain" begins the discussion of the essential building blocks of the brain. Sunday, Feb. 20 titled "Back to Basics" introduces the section we are currently completing on parts of the brain.
There are three entries left in the brain structure for us to cover: hypothalamus, basal ganglia and the spinal cord. We will be resuming that discussion in the next post. If you are new to the blog, *please* go back and browse through the archives for information on areas and regions of the brain, their essential functions, and *some* detail of diseases and disorders.
After completing the discussion of brain structure, we will move on to brain function as revealed by diseases and disorders. We have discussed a few cases, and I will probably reiterate a few in the appropriate context. Section 4 of the guide, to commence later this Spring will examine "Brain Cliches", those examples of "Stupid Movie Science" (and TV and print) that drive viewers crazy and spread misinformation and confusion about brain science.
A key discussion from this past weekend was the importance of content tags and labels. I will be relabeling some of the older posts to facilitate search engines. Thus some of you may come to this blog via search engines - I will try to develop an introductory section and table of contents for future use and organize the Guide into eventual print form.
Interspersed with Guide blogs are personal observation of science, science fiction and travel. After completion of the Guide, there will be some room to repeat and revise sections as I prepare it for eventual submission to a publisher, and I am considering a series which explores some aspects of science in established science fiction novels, TV and movies - often in a tongue-in-cheek manner. I am planning blogs essentially three days per week, although the current posting schedule of every even date - (i.e. 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc of each month) allows for one extra blog every two weeks. Content will typically be two Lab Rats' Guide to the Brain posts interspersed with one or two posts of related content. The occasional diversion will be clearly indicated (like today) and will still have an aspect of science, life and speculation (with bonus short fiction!).
To wrap up, I'd like to mention something I heard at Ravencon (credit to novelist John Ringo and journalist Kelly Lockhart): Back in the 60's, the U.S. space program managed to design build and fly a rocket to the moon despite the fact that many people - including the designers and builders - felt that the job was impossible. The effort took an increadible feat of science and engineering. It succeeded because people believed in it. There is a theory (by novelist and physicist Travis Taylor, Ph.D.) that human brains are connected at the quantum level, and that as such, belief can truly affect outcomes in the physical world. I am not entirely sure that I believe the theory, but then, I am a neurophysiologist/pharmacologist, and not a quantum physicist. In fact, I would love to discuss the issue with Dr. Taylor at some point in the future - perhaps in this space. Nevertheless, I do believe as a society that when we truly *believed* in science, we made science happen. I despair that our current society may no longer truly believe - but it is my goal to explain, and thereby bolster the belief and understand of brain science in a manner that the writers (and blog readers) of today can shape the minds of tomorrow and restore that belief.
Thanks for tuning in. Look around, stay awhile, and tell your friends.
aka The Speaker to Lab Animals