Scientific American on Boosting Your Intelligence in Five Steps

Originally spied on Lifehacker, Scientific American has a guest blog entry by Andrea Kuszewski on how, “You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential.” Kuszewski brings together things that I have heard in different places into this one post. The main idea is that intelligence, like the brain itself, is plastic, and there are five ways to boost your intelligence over time through continual work:

1. Seek Novelty

2. Challenge Yourself

3. Think Creatively

4. Do Things The Hard Way

5. Network

For her complete explanation on how to achieve your own intelligence boost, read her original article here.

Check Out Mind Hacks Blog for Your Regular Fix of Neuroscience and Brain Stuff

Mind Hacks is one of my favorite brain and neuroscience blogs. Here are some recent links to things that I found interesting on their site.

The cool thing for me about reading blogs like Mind Hacks is that, as you see in second and third summaries below, they helped me generate new connections related to your research or teaching.

Burying your head in the sand
In this post, they link to a video of anatomically correct sand carvings on a beach. The event was organized by a neuroscientist.

Why the truth will out but doesn’t sink in
Vaughan Bell discusses a recent study that demonstrates how initial reports often cloud any subsequent corrections in the news media. For example, the reports of Bin Laden using his wife as a human shield while brandishing a pistol–two things initially reported by the White House, but later retracted. According to the research, even those people aware of the changing narrative may not remember or believe the updating information. It is possible that this effect is used on purpose by governments (I would say corporations might do this too–consider the recent PSN/Sony case and the changing stories).

The death of the mind
In this post, Bell discusses a Business Week article about corporations using large data sets of human behavior to model and influence outcomes in favor of their business models. Technology to anonymize or combat what I see as an eventual abuse of human behavior might be one solution. I am also envisioning a future course that raises student awareness of how their behavior is used, studied, and exploited by big corporations. It would be a theory course with several modules on application.

Good Discussion in College Writing Today

My students and I discussed Capgras Syndrome and Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances today, and we had a wonderful conversation following my lecture on the importance of the amygdala and the fusiform gyrus. It was also a great day to bring in my anatomical skull and brain model to use as a visual aid in class. I was also happily surprised that my students like Atmospheric Disturbances.

Workshop CFP: Neurohistory, 6-7 June 2011, Munich, Germany

I saw this fascinating workshop call for papers on better understanding history through neuroscience. I have included the full call for papers below:

How can neuroscience help us understand the past? This question is the focus of a workshop to be held 6-7 June 2011 at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, Germany.

Disciplines can make major advances when they synthesize their ideas and methods with those of other disciplines. This workshop focuses on the ways in which neuroscience might help us understand history (and, ideally, vice versa). Following the lead of Daniel Smail (Deep History and the Brain, 2008), we refer to this synthesis as neurohistory.

We will focus on four major questions.

1. What ideas and methods have neuroscientists developed that historians can use to shed a new light on the past (and vice versa)?

2. What new research questions can neuroscience suggest for historians (and vice versa)?

3. What are the biggest challenges in developing neurohistory as a field, and how can they be overcome?

4. How might neurohistory shed light on the interaction between people and their environment, in both the past and the present?

Eight to ten participants will write pre-circulated papers of about one thousand words that focus on major conceptual issues in neurohistory. We will discuss papers in the workshop, and afterwards, participants will revise them for publication in Rachel Carson Center Perspectives.

The Rachel Carson Center will pay for participants’ airfare, lodging, and meals during the workshop. The workshop’s co-conveners are Edmund Russell ( and Arielle Helmick (

We seek proposals from scholars from any discipline with expertise in history, neuroscience, or environmental studies. Experience working at the intersection of neuroscience with history or environmental studies is welcome, but not required. One of our goals is to stimulate interest among scholars who may not have thought about these intersections before. While we expect to focus on the four questions above, we will also consider proposals that pose creative new questions.

The deadline for the receipt of proposals is 28 February 2011. The proposal consists of a cover letter and a CV. The cover letter should, in no more than two pages, describe the contributor’s background, research interests, and paper idea. We ask contributors to both pose the question his/her paper addresses, and to propose a way to answer it.

Send the cover letter and CV to Andrea Jungbauer as email attachments (andrea.jungbauer at or by mail to the Rachel Carson Center. (Leopoldstrasse 11a, 80802 Munich, Germany).

You may find the original post on h-net here:  Workshop: Neurohistory.