Tuesday, December 09, 2008

HM died!

HM was the patient that had part of his hippocampus removed and ended up with amnesia. Like Phineas Gage promoting the study of the frontal lobes before him, HM's amnesia helped start an entire generation of scientific study into memory.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


On why being a liberal is not a bad thing:
"Troglodytes on the right are no respecters of reality."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh noes!

"The more beer scientists drink, the less likely they are to have a paper published or cited..."


Friday, April 11, 2008

Blanton Art Museum Photo

Some travel guide, Schmap (?), used a picture I took a while back in Austin on their photo guide.

Here's the original picture:

I was tickled.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ghost Tree

This is what I came up with playing around with the image below that I took after the fires in West Texas in January, 2006.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Aphasia in the Comics!

It would be amazingly wonderful if our aphasia patients had word bubbles over their heads. I mean really.

I always try not to be condescending towards patients, but it's bound to feel that way sometimes anyway...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

When the Research is Lying (Who Knew??)

I did! And, it makes me sad. Well, really more annoyed than sad.

The article linked in the title is pretty old (May 2007), but something happened recently that made me think of it.

While the topic of the article linked in the title is really about plagiarism in publishing and direct falsification of data, I've experienced more insidious ethical issues, as I'm sure many people have. Direct lying in a paper or about data is ridiculous, but it apparently happens fairly often:

"About 1 per cent of clinical trials are thought to be suspect."

And, that's just clinical trials. I wonder if they count different kinds of 'playing with the data'. One lab I know of, for example, falsified or 'fixed' (in their words) reliability data. I reported it to the department, but I doubt anything ever actually happened.

The reason I was thinking of it was because I was googling my name looking for an old website, and a conference presentation came up where I was listed as 3rd author. I was listed as an author for research that I didn't really participate in for a presentation that happened over 1.5 years after I left that lab. The 2nd author on it had never heard of it either. We were just stuck on there for mysterious reasons for research that I left because of what I considered to be unethical data collection practices. Now, my name pops up in connection with that lab whenever you run an article search in a database. And, it makes me mad. The 1st author probably thought she was doing me a favor. Bah. Where does one go to report that??

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cat cat cat cat catc atc a tca tcat catc at

If you've ever wondered what research I do, this is it.

No, really. I study semantic satiation. I wish all my volunteers were this amused...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Double Positive!

A linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn't a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative."

A voice from the back of the room retorted, "Yeah, right."

--Seen quoted on several websites...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Though currently disconnected from the real world, I can talk all day and night about various brain structures!

To avoid this, here are some pretty pictures.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


"The president cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen by proclaiming a civilian, even a criminal civilian, an enemy combatant subject to indefinite military detention."
- JUDGE DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ, writing for the majority in a ruling by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va.

(From the NY Times)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Crazy Bus Ride

The bus ride home today was crazy (not because I was daydreaming either).

I was taking a bus home in the middle of the day so it was pretty full. The driver was pretty quiet for a while except he kept honking at people we passed and waving. He seemed pretty cheerful. I figured he was being nice to see whether they wanted to catch that bus. Well, as we got onto the main roads, he made an announcement asking if anybody was wanting a certain stop (no) so he said we were gonna pass it to make up some time. He's still honking at people... If people don't look right away at the honk, he KEEPS honking. Nothing that unusual except he keeps the PA system on and is talking a lot while waving at everybody we pass.

At one red light, he makes the whippoorwill noise with his hands for a while. Then, he asks if anybody has a March birthday (I don't speak up), then April-someone does. He gets her name-Crystal.

Into the PA system, he says, "Hey Crystal, it's your birthday. Hey hey. Well, this bus ride is officially for Crystal. It's alllll for her. Now, everybody giver a hand. Yaaaay! Make some noise!!"

People are laughing at this point and clap.

"Now, we're going to sing happy birthday to her. If you don't sing, I don't stop when you ring the bell. I mean, I just won't hear the bell if you ring it. So watch yourselves. Now, sing."

People sing happy birthday to Crystal.

"Now, Crystal, do you have a boyfriend? Yes? Damn. Well, is he here? No? Ok, now any single guys on the bus?"

Nobody answers.

"I know you're lying-look at this pretty girl. You know you want to stalk her. I know how it is-you're dating someone, then she leaves or you kick her out... I can hook you up with a date for this Saturday with Crystal and I can pick you both up as long as you have your BusPass card."

More laughter. He keeps going. It was hilarious. I'd seen him before and he didn't seem crazy. He kept commenting about idiot drivers cutting him off, and said when people got off "Don't trip when you step down. Or I'll laugh." Crazy dude. I got off the bus as quickly as I could. Though, it was better than my usual bus ride daydreams.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book banning

The word “scrotum” is on the first page of “The Higher Power of Lucky,” a book that won a prestigious award.

First, I am reminded of a story from my childhood. My mom was pregnant with my little brother, and had explained to me about how he was in her uterus, etc. I was 3-years-old. My grandmother visited at some point while Mom was pregnant, and asked what I thought about a new little brother in my mommy's belly. Well, being the precocious (read:smart ass) child that I was, I haughtily informed Grandma that he was Not in her belly, he was in her U-ter-us.

Well, Grandma was shocked. What sort of 3-year-old was I to know such a naughty word? (Uterus... Yikes!) I'm not exactly sure what Mom's reaction was-probably something between laughter and a grimace. In any case, rather than being banned from my vocabulary, we referred to that particular piece of the female anatomy as 'the U-word' around Grandma thereafter.

In the article above about the children's book, I noted several quotes that may or may not be representative of all the people against this book. In each case, they were pretty annoying. First of all, 'scrotum' is a body part. Kids need to learn anatomy... they'll find out sometime. It's not even slang!

Second of all, one quote is of a librarian saying how "They" are trying to push the envelope. ... "They" did not write this book, "Susan Patron" did. Maybe she's simply "Their" tool...

Third, another quote mentions how quality literature does not mention words from male anatomy. Maybe they've missed Shakespeare-granted not for 10-year-olds. (That particular librarian does include the 'at least not for kids' qualification.) But, I'd bet that they have Barbie books in their library espousing such noble concepts as, 'you can still be pretty with freckles.' Must be quality literature. No mention of actual anatomy there.

It might shock Grandma, and I do love Grandma, but that's no good excuse for censorship.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Not just Al Gore

Is talking about the climate change being caused by us. (Not that I ever thought so, but he makes people squeemish I guess...)


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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Music and the Brain

There is a new center for looking at music in the brain! This would be an interesting line of research to follow... and participate in.


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Friday, February 09, 2007

Reversing Symptoms in Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder and one of the most common types of mental retardation in females. It is an X-linked genetic mutation (MECP2) with symptoms beginning somewhere between 6 months and 18 months of age. Children appear to develop normally until then. The symptoms closely resemble those of autism spectrum disorders. Children with Rett begin to lose interest in social interaction, they lose verbal skills, motor skills, etc.

A new article in Sciences describes how there does not actually appear to be neuronal death in the syndrome. In their rat model, they were able to reverse the phenotype (fix the expression of the genes) in both immature and mature animals. This means that it was reversible in animals who had _already_ degenerated!

Click here for the abstract to the Science article.
And, here's a Science News article about the research

This is probably a long way off from being modeled in humans, of course, but it would be a wonderful wonderful step. Rett Syndrome is devastating to parents, not to mention to the lives of the children with the mutation.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Thought bubbles...

Yet another aphasia cartoon. Thought bubbles would be nice, no?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For reading on the bus

I really like reading research articles on the computer, and my laptop is great for me to be able to read wherever I am. But, it kills my eyes. My powerbook screen is pretty good, though small, and pretty bright, though not quite bright enough for reading pdf's that show up in two columns. Plus, there's just something about being able to hold something flexible when you're reading. The Nature article linked from the title of this entry talks about a new display that's flexible and lightweight for reading while travelling...

It also says it will create a 'new market' for such devices. I sure hope they make it past the research stage... Hey! I'm a market!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cambodian "jungle girl" struggles to adapt

Too bad she wasn't "discovered" here-she'd have highly trained linguists and psychologists crawling all over her... She might yet anyway. (click on the title for the link)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Escape From the Nursing Home

A good NY Times opinion article (click on the title to go there). There's a lot to be said for this method, and it would make the lives of overworked nursing home employees that much better too!