Tags: good reads, Hacker and Bennett, ideas, Julien Benda, Kraken Wakes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Midwich Cuckoos, Sade, Sandra Harding, science books, Three Laws of Robotics, Trouble With Lichen, Wittgenstein
‘Which books did you find helpful for thinking about science?’
Here’s my answer, off the top of my head: ten thought-provoking, intriguing, sometimes obstreperous works.
Note that they’re deliberately not science books, and some are only tangentially ‘about’ science. (Maybe I’ll try science books the next time I feel the need for a ‘top ten’ list.)
Note too that I don’t have images for all of them; this is because I borrowed some — a strategy I’d recommend if you’re not sure you’ll want to read and reread. If you do want to buy them, please consider either buying from an independent bookshop like Blackwells, or helping me out by going via my Amazon store. Thanks!
These books set readers a challenge: to think differently about science (and life), to see it from a new angle, and most of all to put it in a context. Even for professional scientists, it’s hard not to spend all your time and energy reading about research, doing it, teaching it, keeping up with the literature, coping with admin, etc. But that leaves no time for stretching and shaking up thought patterns.
“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?” the poet W.H. Davies asked. Each of these ten books can give you time, if you can make time for it, to stop and take a good clear look at science. Through the empathetic magic which only reading can offer, they also hold up different lenses with which to view a science-haunted world. All ten are fascinating reads, brim-full of ideas.
Two of them are, I must add, horrendous and gruelling, but this is a blog of suggestions, not instructions, and I trust my readers. You’re grown-ups, after all. You’ll know yourselves and act accordingly.
For some of these ten books, the connection with science is obvious (or blinding, since among them you’ll find several science-fiction classics). For others, the author’s targeting not science itself, but the assumptions which tend to accompany it. Science may seem a delight to people like me, but there are many who view it as harbouring some very nasty notions indeed, and some seriously old-fashioned prejudices too. To rebut the criticisms, you first have to acknowledge their existence, as some of the writers on this list certainly do.
Note that I’m not arguing for or against here, not recommending nor endorsing, just offering a list of books that challenged me with new ideas. Some I love; some were a real struggle. They aren’t books I necessarily agree with; where would be the fun in that? They’re books which made me think — one of the greatest services one mind can give to another.
May they do the same for you.
1) John Wyndham — The Midwich Cuckoos
John Wyndham seems very out-of-fashion these days. So much for fashion. His ‘logical fantasies’, as he called them, are thoughtful, well-constructed, humane explorations which reward even frequent re-reading (my copies are falling apart from years of use). Best-known is The Day of the Triffids (which has been filmed, badly, and done on TV, also badly), but any of his other work is well worth a look. I’d love to see a good film version of The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes, or Trouble With Lichen, or even a good updating of Triffids or The Midwich Cuckoos. Wyndham’s fully aware of the powers and perils of science, and you feel he’s longing for humanity to wake up and really get to grips with it, but he also likes people, and that warmth makes The Midwich Cuckoos a wonderful read.
2) Julien Benda — The Treason of the Intellectuals (La Trahison des Clercs)
From fiction to another kind of insight. This slight but hugely thought-provoking book rages against the control-freakery, utilitarianism, and techno-optimism that can accompany the gift of higher education.
PP. 151-2: “the man who loves science for its fruits commits the worst of blasphemies against that divinity.”
PP. 153-4: “Let me also point out their devotion to the doctrine (Bergson, Sorel) which says that science has a purely utilitarian origin — the necessity of man to dominate matter, “knowledge is adaptation”; and their scorn for the beautiful Greek conception which made science bloom from the desire to play, the perfect type of disinterested activity.”
Science as play may not sit well with today’s economaniac ‘impact’ agenda, but studies of creativity suggest Benda might have a point.
3) Ludwig Wittgenstein — Philosophical Investigations
I said in one of my books that Wittgenstein should be required reading for all neuroscientists, and I think there’s a good case for extending that to all the sciences. There are few better antidotes to the disturbingly closed-minded arrogance that can, alas, come with feeling you have privileged access to reality. Wittgenstein teaches us to question. He’s elliptical, sidelong, infuriatingly tentative: the very opposite of dogmatically secure. A brilliant philosopher, and an outsider at least twice over, he reminds scientific colleagues that doubt, uncertainty and awareness of one’s cognitive limitations are part of the human condition — and that includes science.
4) Robert Lifton — The Nazi Doctors
This mesmerising, profound and deeply humane work, by a highly influential psychiatrist, is the darkest book on my list: unsurprisingly, given its terrible subject matter. It makes a point no scientist should forget — that science, which can be used to do such good, can also lead people into doing appalling harm. Lifton makes clear that the scientific approach was neither an add-on nor a cover for Mengele and his ilk; instead, it was key to their intentions. Though Nazi science was undoubtedly ‘bad science’ in the moral sense, we cannot say it wasn’t science at all.
That means we can’t just say, ‘Oh, that was then, it could never happen nowadays!’ and assume that all scientists are rational, beneficent angels. Instead we should say, ‘OK, ‘doing science’ is one of many excuses used to maintain unjust systems and even justify atrocities, so how do we make sure that can’t happen again?’
When I come across an especially maddening techno-optimist, blithely convinced that science knows best, that history and human nature are irrelevant, and that the right research can fix any problem (and, worse, that this means we don’t really need to worry about the problems), Lifton’s is the book I wish I could make them read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.
5) Isaac Asimov — The Early Asimov
Asimov is best known for his ‘Robot’ stories and his Three Laws of Robotics, but I also like his early short-form work. It may be rougher, but it gives you a great sense of the fun in science, even though he’s not afraid to look at its moral implications. He’s one of the writers who did most to inspire my love of science — and I’m sure many other people’s too. I’m the lucky owner of a 3-volume edition of his early writings. A particular favourite is ‘The endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline’; a very academic joke, but great fun.
6) Sandra Harding — Science and Social Inequality
Sandra Harding is one of the most highly-regarded feminist critics of science, and her book asks some very awkward questions. Anyone who could find a way of making senior science men take her arguments on board would deserve a medal, especially as for ‘females’ one can easily substitute other minorities — in which most sciences are deplorably deficient. When was the last time you came across a publicly gay scientist, or one who was disabled and wasn’t Stephen Hawking? An argumentative book, this, and good to argue with. You don’t have to agree with everything Harding says in order to have your mind usefully stretched by her ideas. For example:
P. 10: “Conventionally, science has been thought of as fundamentally a set of statements or sentences — the laws of nature, observation sentences, and the like. Yet this way of conceptualizing it obscures how social and political values and interests seem to flow out of scientific work “behind the backs” of the scientists. The representation list account seems to absolve the scientific enterprise of any responsibility for the various politics that flow from its representations.”
P. 64: “Imagine if every science department contained the proportion of “science critics” to scientists that there are of literary critics to creative writers in English departments.”
7) Talking of mind-stretching, if you really want an intellectual workout, try M.R. Bennett and P.M.S. Hacker’s Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. If Wyndham’s a brief stroll and Benda a jogging mile, this is a marathon. The authors lay into the sloppy thinking found in far too many neuroscience articles, with the exemplary hope of persuading researchers to think better. Not much sign of it working, so far, but you can’t fault them for effort.
PP. 77-78: “The relationship between a (conscious) belief and an unconscious belief, for example, is not akin to the relationship between a visible chair and an occluded chair – it is not ‘just like a conscious belief only unconscious’, but more like the relationship between √1 and √-1.”
P. 209: “Emotions are neither brain states nor somatic reactions”.
And there’s plenty more where those two snippets came from.
8) A. E. van Vogt — The Weapon Shops of Isher
Alfred van Vogt, like Asimov a giant from US sci-fi’s golden age, fell out of the mainstream years ago. No one I’ve asked lately has even heard of him. Yet his books, such as Slan, The World of Null-A and The Pawns of Null-A, are fast-paced thrillers which also ask riveting questions about the relationships between technology and power. They brim with technological wonders: totipotency, similiarisation, mind control and much besides. His voice is distinctive, and his politics, for a British kid growing up in a soft-liberal household, were eye-opening; they’re especially clearly set out in The Weapon Shops.
9) Donatien de Sade — Justine
Yes, none other than the notorious Marquis de Sade, so be warned, if you attempt this monster of a book you’ll have to wade through a good deal of sexual and other violence, including rape, paedophilia and murder. The best that can be said about Justine‘s delight in human perversion is that 120 Days of Sodom is worse.
But … in among the tediously revolting depictions is one of the clearest, most honest, and most challenging presentations ever seen of the doctrine of nihilism. Sade takes modern secular arguments — including some which underpin such central scientific ideas as evolution — to their logical extreme, and says sardonically, ‘Is this really what you meant?’ He’s disgusting, sure, but he’s also smart. Unfortunately, the philosophy’s so embedded in the crud that you can’t easily skip the one to get to the other.
“One must never appraise values save in terms of our own interests. [...] there is no rational commensuration between what affects us and what affects others; the first we sense physically, the other only touches us morally, and moral feelings are made to deceive; none but physical sensations are authentic”.
“virtue is not some kind of mode whose value is incontestable, it is simply a scheme of conduct, a way of getting along, which varies according to accidents of geography and climate and which, consequently, has no reality”.
“man has not been accorded the power to destroy; he has at best the capacity to alter forms, but lacks that required to annihilate them: well, every form is of equal worth in Nature’s view; nothing is lost in the immense melting pot where variations are wrought [...] and whatsoever be our interventions in this process, not one of them, needless to say, outrages her, not one is capable of offending her. [...] Why! what difference does it make to her creative hand if this mass of flesh today wearing the conformation of a bipedal individual is reproduced tomorrow in the guise of a handful of centipedes? Dare one say that the construction of this two-legged animal costs her any more than that of an earthworm, and that she should take a greater interest in the one than in the other? If then the degree of attachment, or rather of indifference, is the same, what can it be. to her if, by one man’s sword, another man is transspeciated into a fly or a blade of grass? When they will have convinced me of the sublimity of our species, when they will have demonstrated to me that it is really so important to Nature, that her laws are necessarily violated by this transmutation, then I will be able to believe that murder is a crime”.
So, realism about feelings + moral relativism + realism about nature = it’s OK to murder someone. Oops. To defend science, we have to be able to answer Sade’s challenge.
(Meanwhile, ‘transspeciated’ is quite a word.)
10) Kurt Vonnegut — Galapagos
From Sade’s cold, ferocious humour to this short novel — also brilliant, but far more humane. It’s Vonnegut, so it has his unmistakeable riotous style. It’s about evolution, sort of, but it’s also about human folly (a favourite theme of this particular author). It’s weird and zany and teasing, making you ponder as well as making you laugh. Plus the narrator’s a decapitated ghost. Enjoy.
Finally, if you’ve any suggestions for other stimulating books, do let me know.
Tags: Cruelty, John Snow, Psychology, YouTube
‘April is the cruelest month’, the poet T S Eliot tells us. It seems an odd remark to make about spring, especially in this year here in Britain, with spring so late and longed-for. And yet mood disorders, hospital admissions, heart disease, even suicide statistics show a definite peak at this time of year.
Cruelty also fluctuates. Domestic violence charities, for instance, say Christmas is always a bad time. But there’s no time when someone, somewhere, isn’t suffering because of someone else’s cruelty.
The first thing most people say about cruelty — after their initial horrified/disgusted/angry/unwillingly fascinated reaction — is ‘Why?’ As a guide to possible answers, I’ve done a set of short introductory videos about cruelty, now available on YouTube.
By the way, it’s OK to feel the fascination as well as the horror, anger and disgust. It doesn’t mean you’re cruel yourself, deep down; it means you’re human. Cruelty, in evolutionary terms, is a significant threat. Evolution didn’t bargain for books and blogs and video games and movies. Our brains evolved to react to other people’s cruel behaviour — including the fictional kind — as if to a dire and imminent danger. We find it hard to tear our eyes and minds away, even as we’re repelled, because concentrating on a threat was better for our ancestors than ignoring it and hoping it would go away.
Ignoring it and hoping it’ll go away, incidentally, is one of the two most popular strategies for dealing with cruelty. The other is reacting with even more cruelty. Both have repeatedly failed. That’s why I wrote a book about cruelty: because the only other strategy we have is to try to understand why cruel behaviour happens.
It’s a good strategy. It’s worked for other kinds of human sickness. (We lucky Westerners forget how many diseases, from malnutrition to cholera, children used to die of who now don’t.)
Cruelty is much more about sickness, failure and inadequacy than it is about evil, glamour and excitement. That ice-cool psychopathic killer sexing-up a movie? In real life he started out as pathetic and miserable, and he stayed childish till the final shoot-out. To treat cruelty as evil is tempting, but unhelpful. Calling something evil won’t help us see what’s causing it, whereas delving into the backgrounds of serial killers might. Getting away from the idea that cruel people are unfathomable also reduces our fascination with them, converting it to pity (or contempt). Paradoxically, that helps focus attention on victims, who are often given much less thought than their attackers.
Breathing through a scented handkerchief fails to protect against cholera, but cleaning up the water supply saves lives. To decide to clean up the water, however, you first have to understand how cholera spreads. John Snow, the father of epidemiology, looked at disease patterns scientifically, and his understanding is still saving lives today.
Likewise, curing the malaise of cruelty requires us to understand what makes it spread and flourish, or decline. Science may or may not be able to convince politicians to act in ways which reduce cruelty, but without science, we’ll never know how best to stop it.
Here’s the playlist.
Tags: Age of Enlightenment, Alain de Botton, Atheism, Credo, Religion
I’ve just been listening to Alain de Botton on the radio, talking about his favourite music and his book Religion for Atheists. He argues — and he’s not the first to do so — that religion has some good ideas, if you strip out all that supernatural gunk. I paraphrase. Rather than dismissing it wholesale, atheists should therefore borrow the good bits.
(So it’s OK to love Bach, as de Botton does. Indeed, I never came across an atheist intellectual who doesn’t love Bach, though there may be some.)
Since statements of faith are an important part of religious practice, I’ve taken de Botton’s proposal one step further to come up with an atheist credo (an ‘I believe’ for non-believers). Since such apparent basics as prosody and rhythm have important effects on mood and atmosphere, and since it’s nearly Easter, I’ve modelled my attempt on the Christian equivalent. After all, they’ve had centuries to get it right.
The Atheist Credo
I believe in one method
of data, hypothesis, and experiment
which was conceived by ancient Greek thinkers,
born in the Age of Enlightenment,
suffered under superstition
is struggling under religion
is bound to make people’s lives better
and will one day bring about a perfect world.
Tags: BAM, big neuroscience, brain activity mapping project, brainwashing, Mind control, nanotechnology, neuroscience
The recent clutch of Big Neuroscience stories in the media (see my previous post) has raised an old concern in some of the media’s less — shall we say? — scientifically reputable outlets, like Esquire magazine. Could fearsome-sounding neuroscience technologies like nanoscience, optogenetics, deep brain stimulation and so on ever be used for mind control? The idea is frightening — and intriguing.
Some neuroscientists (not all) are instantly dismissive. Sample reaction on Twitter:
— Emilie Reas (@etreas) February 22, 2013
‘Mind control? I wish!’ is an understandable response, but is mocking humour the best response to anxiety? That’s a serious question, and the answer depends on the humourist’s goal. Is it to preserve status and protect neuroscience’s reputation, or is it to ease the concerns of people who take the prospect of imminent brainwashing seriously? The media do sensationalise, but they don’t do so at random; they generally know what works. People fear being manipulated.
Of course some researchers will react dismissively. Who wants their shiny new science tainted by association with the sordid cruelties of early brainwashing research? But before you dismiss the idea, bear in mind that the leading scientists behind the Brain Activity Mapping Project, which US President Obama hopes to back with $3 billion funding, raise the issue of mind control themselves as one of the difficult ethical problems which may arise in the course of their research (their article in Neuron is here).
The Frankenstein stereotype of scientists as seeking to dominate nature remains influential, and in brain research, of course, ‘nature’ means ‘us’. If you don’t know the gritty details which make neuroscience research so painstaking and difficult, it’s easy to imagine the worst.
And the pressure on scientists to hype up the ‘impact’ of their work, stretching steps to advances, advances to breakthroughs, and breakthroughs to exciting challenges, is not helpful either. If one neuroscientist’s press release says he’s used fMRI to decode what somebody’s thinking, is it quite fair for another’s blog to sneer at those poor fools who fear that the government may soon be reading their minds?
To be clear: the issue of mind control may arise. No way can we do it yet, and no researcher knows whether it will be possible or not in the future. The brain’s really hard, but science is littered with people who said ‘never’ and were proved wrong, so the opinions for and against are matters of personality and faith, not secret knowledge. Cynics will sneer, optimists hope, pessimists dread, psychopaths plot, and geeks plough on regardless — and entertaining though this all may be, it’s not science.
Meanwhile, there’s more danger of mind control from watching TV ads too long than from your local neuroscience lab. Even if precision brain control does become a real possibility, my own expression of faith is that you probably have more to fear from your (nonlocal) megacorporations, government and the military than your friendly neighbourhood brain researchers.
Having written books about both brainwashing and the future of neuroscience technologies, I herewith add my tuppenceworth on why we find the topic so enthralling, in the form of a short video about the ancient dream, and modern science, of mind control.
I hope you’ll find it useful.
Tags: big neuroscience, Brain, brain activity mapping, Human Connectome Project, Human Genome Project, New York Times
Like the Big Genetics of the Human Genome Project before it, Big Neuroscience has gone mainstream. In his recent State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama mentioned brain research, and it’s thought that his next budget will seek $3 billion funding for the Brain Activity Map Project, an ambitious attempt to use nanotechnology and genetics to investigate brain function. The way in which the excitement of many connected neurons gives rise to coordinated patterns of brain activity is not well understood, and the project hopes to start small and work up, one step at a time, to the human condition.
$3 billion! That should ease the physics envy somewhat.
The brain supremacy is on its way. Brain research has been moving up the science hierarchy for a while. The European Union has announced a large dollop of funding for another Big Neuro project, this time to build a computer model of a brain. While the President was setting his neurohare loose, ably assisted by the New York Times, the BBC confusingly chose to highlight another big brain mapping project, the Human Connectome Project. Big Neuro, big news.
Just to clarify, the Human Connectome Project has been going for a while, and its aim is to study the physical connections between brain areas (their structural connectivity). The new Brain Activity Map Project aims to study how brain areas interact (functional connectivity). Since you can in principle have a link between two neurons that is not used, or one that is created or that dies off, structural and functional connectivity aren’t the same.
Also, re terminology: the ‘connectome’ is the set of all the links between neurons in an organism, and was first used to refer to physical links. So you can have a connectome (i.e. a structural connectome, the wiring), and you can have a functional connectome, a list of which bits communicate.
Oh, and the Brain Activity Mapping Project ought to be abbreviated to BAMP, by analogy with the Human Genome Project (HGP) and the Human Connectome Project (HCP). But everyone’s calling it BAM, thereby proving that even scientists are susceptible to the irrational urge to prioritise sound over sense. Or maybe it’s all those happy memories of comic-book superheroes …
Human brains have around 86 billion neurons, roughly the same numbers of glia, and more neurotransmitters, hormones and receptors than you could shake a stick at. Human brains, therefore, are not where the new project will start. Instead, it will spend an immense amount of taxpayer cash on animal research. The brains to be mapped will be those of worms, flies, small mammals, possibly primates. Like I said, one step at a time.
Nonetheless, if you spot a neuroscientist with an unaccustomed swagger, chances are those 3 billion dollars will be why.
For more comment from the online community, try the following:
Tags: books, literary canon, Robert McCrum, Women, women writers
Dear Guardian newspaper,
We note that your books editor, Robert McCrum, has published a ‘partisan list’ of 50 turning points in literature, and that comments have remarked on the low numbers of women (7).
To begin redressing the gender balance, here is another list – even more partisan, in that it consists entirely of influential women writers. (McCrum’s original choices are in red.)
Here are those 50 great, pioneering women.
Kathleen Taylor (science writer) & Gillian Wright (senior lecturer in English literature)
1.Julian of Norwich: Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393; thought to be the first book written in English by a woman)
2.Christine de Pizan: The Book of the City of Ladies (1405; this courtly French poet wrote about women’s roles and emphasized their positive contributions to society)
3.Margery Kempe: The Book of Margery Kempe (1436; women can do autobiography)
4.Mary Sidney: Psalms (c. 1599; her paraphrases of the Psalms were as good as or better than her brother Philip’s)
5.Margaret Cavendish: The Blazing World (1666; women can do science-fiction, long before that term was invented)
6.Lucy Hutchinson: The Life of Colonel Hutchinson (c. 1673; women can do biography)
7.Anne Bradstreet: Severall Poems (1678; Bradstreet is often called ‘the first American poet’)
8.Aphra Behn: Orinooko (1688; pioneering playwright and poet who showed that women can make a living from writing)
9.Mary Astell: A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1694; Astell advocated a university for women)
10.Anne Finch: The Spleen (1701; a pioneer woman writer on mental illness)
11.Charlotte Lennox: The Female Quixote (1752; women can do satire)
12.Elizabeth Carter: All the Works of Epictetus (1758; women can translate the classics)
13.Mary Wortley-Montagu: The Turkish Embassy Letters (c. 1761; women can do travel writing)
14.Catherine Macaulay: The History of England (1763-1783; women can do history)
15.Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)
16.Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794; women can do Gothic fiction)
17.Maria Edgeworth: Castle Rackrent (1800; invents the regional novel in English)
18.Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1813)
19.Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818; women can do enduring horror stories)
20.Elizabeth Barrett Browning: The Cry of the Children (1842; this poem helped bring about reforms to child labour in England)
21.Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights (1847)
22.Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre (1847; set the pattern for many a romantic novel)
23.Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
24.Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South (1855)
25.Florence Nightingale: Notes on Nursing (1859; women can do medicine)
26.Mrs Beeton: The Book of Household Management (1861; women can do really popular cookery books)
27.Julia Ward Howe: The Battle Hymn of the Republic (1861; women can do political propaganda)
28.George Eliot: Middlemarch (1871)
29.Edith Sitwell: Façade (1922-3; women can do surrealism)
30.Emily Dickinson: Complete Poems (1924; women can do poetry)
31.Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own (1929; women can be revolutionaries)
32.Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth (1933; women can do war memoirs)
33.Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (1934; women can do detective fiction, and how)
34.Rebecca West: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941; women can do travel writing)
35.Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex (1949; women can do philosophy)
36.Iris Murdoch: Under the Net (1954; this prolific philosopher-novelist showed how varied a woman’s writing can be)
37.Rachel Carson: Silent Spring (1962; pioneering and vastly influential work of environmentalism)
38.Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook (1962; women can chronicle political and social change)
39.Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar (1963; women can write starkly about mental illness)
40.Germaine Greer: The Female Eunuch (1970; feminist bestseller)
41.Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber (1979; women can do dark things with fairy tales)
42.Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale (1985; women can do dystopian fiction)
43.Jeanette Winterson: Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (1985; lesbian fiction goes mainstream)
44.Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987; women can reshape American fiction)
45.Pat Barker: Regeneration (1991; women can do war fiction)
46.Kay Redfield Jamison: An Unquiet Mind (1995; women can do psychiatry)
47.JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
48.Catherine Millet: The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (2002; women can write explicitly about sex)
49.EL James: 50 Shades of Grey (2012; women can do soft as well as hard porn)
50.Hilary Mantel: Bring up the Bodies (2012; women can win prizes. Even the Booker. Twice.)
Kathleen Taylor, author of Brainwashing, Cruelty, and The Brain Supremacy
Website: http://www.neurotaylor.com, Twitter: @neurotaylor
Gillian Wright, author of Producing Women’s Poetry
Website: http://earlymoderngillian.blogspot.co.uk, Twitter: @gwrightbham
Tags: fMRI, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, introductory guide, magnetoencephalography, MEG, Neuroimaging, neuroscience, PET, YouTube
My latest videos (also available on YouTube) are three short, simple introductions to the remarkable neuroscientific techniques of neuroimaging, dealing with fMRI, PET, and MEG.
fMRI: functional magnetic resonance imaging.
PET: positron emission tomography.
MEG: magnetoencephalography. (This one also discusses EEG, electroencephalography.)
(Apologies for the fit of the giggles that overtook my interviewer, and then me, in the MEG video, requiring some urgent, but rather amateur, editing.)
My hope is that these guides will be useful to students starting out, and to anyone who wants a quick briefing on what happens in brain scans. I’ve tried to keep the talks short, clear, and as fluent as possible. I’ve put slides in at intervals to help summarise the material, and there are some questions at the end for those who’d like pointers to further study.
Tags: DNA, epigenetic, epigenetics, genes, Genetic code, genetics, introductory guide, YouTube
My latest video (also available on YouTube) is a short, simple introduction to the new and exciting science of epigenetics.
My hope is that it will be useful to students starting out, and to anyone who wants a quick briefing on what epigenetics is about. There’s a free guide to genetics included, necessarily!
I’ve tried to keep these talks short, clear, and as fluent as possible. I’ve put slides in at intervals to help summarise the material, and there are some questions at the end for those who’d like pointers to further study.