Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Neurophilosophy and Nanospheres

On Monday, October 19 2009, DJ Prefect dropped some science on the Brood of the Mau Mau, starting with 10 minutes of glibly reported science news followed by the expert commentary of Mo Costandi, noted writer of the Neurophilosophy blog on

Pick up the neatly edited podcast here. (1 hour, 50MB)

On the Subversive Science show about Muralizer this past Friday, we briefly reported on the recent research demonstrating a method of encoding a bad memory in fly brains.

Mo Costandi, "neuroscientist by training, writer by inclination", was generous enough to give us an hour of his evening over in London to chat with us. First we talked more on the subject of the fly brain experiment [link to Mo's blog post on the topic], explaining the use of tiny light-sensitive molecular cages (we refer to them as "nanospheres") containing ATP burst open by lasers at the right time to encode a "avoid" notion attached to whatever sensory event the scientists felt like making the flies have a bad memory of.

(Ok, so how soon before we can laser-encode bad memories of human smells "in the field"? Peaceful coexistence with mosquitoes and bedbugs through implantation of human smell aversions? Come on, science, make yourself useful!)

After a quick music break (highly abbreviated in the above non-Pirate Cat podcast -- you can pick up the original 2-hour PCR version of this show here), conversation flowed over synthaesthesia, neuroplasticity, voluntary amputation, post-traumatic neuroplastic events, and lots of recent research on how circumstances affect perception in individuals in fascinating ways.

We also heard Mo might have a book in the works! Given his precise, well-considered, and engaging writing style, a voice desperately needed in communicating neuroscience, we'll definitely be rooting for that one. (Keep us updated, Mo!)

You can and should follow Mo Costandi on Twitter (@mocost) and check out his ever-fascinating Neurophilosophy blog on

The Science News from Science Daily
(with background music by Stereolab)

Exercise Prevents Decline in Memory after Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy
Implanting Bad Memories in Bugs
Chili Peppers (capsaicin) May Reduce Pain
How the Moon's Surface Generates Water

Special thanks to new Pirate Cat intern, Heidi. Go say hello to her on Twitter (I made her sign up): @LadyAmalthia

Super extra thanks to DJ VoodooIdol for letting Subversive Science do some time-slot-sitting for Brood of the Mau Mau! We kept Monday at 2-4pm warm and cozy and played some Babyland. Mmm, LA junk punk.


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