Archive for the ‘ Psychophysiology ’ Category

The Limits of Democratizing Data Collection

There is an interesting article by Gary Wolfe at NYTimes (link) about people’s self-tracking behavior and the data that is accumulated. People count calories, document fitness regimens, keep calendars, and on and on and on. People have long tracked their behavior but now, rather than using pencil and paper, it is digital, often widely available (e.g. through Facebook, Twitter, 4square, MyFitnessPal), and it’s in a form that can be analyzed. This last piece is crucial, while the accumulated data is in a form that can be analyzed, some people might not have the knowledge to do so — a point made in the piece and the focus of this post.

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Understanding the Brain

TIME magazine has a nice interactive feature about the various and oft parallel attempts to understand the brain. Ancient beliefs (e.g. trephination), to Anatomy (Phineas Gage), to Psychology’s contributions, to Disorders and Neuroscience are all included.


-Posted by Tyler

Photic Sneezers

I am a photic sneezer and so is my mother, 1 in 4 people are like us because they sneeze when exposed to bright light. Langer, Beeli, and Jancke (2010) published what they say is the first scientific examination of photic sneezers in the open-access peer-reviewed journal, Public Library of Science (PLoS).

The authors used electroencephalogram (EEG) to compare photic sneezers’ brain activity to a control group. They found

“enhanced excitability of the visual cortex (mainly in the cuneus) to visual stimuli in ‘photic sneezers’ compared with control subjects,” and “a stronger prickling sensation in the nose of photic sneezers was found to be associated with activation in the insula and stronger activation in the secondary somatosensory cortex.”

A photic sneeze has been assumed to be a reflex, however with this new evidence showing cortical activation, this type of sneezing cannot be categorized as a ‘classical reflex,’ or one that originates in the brain stem or spinal cord.

-Posted by Tyler