I Read Neurocomic and I Liked It

April 28th, 2014

Neurocomic by Dr Hana Ros and Dr Matteo Farinella

This afternoon I was finally able to sit-down with Neurocomic. Here are some of my thoughts.

They had me at Neurocomic and kept me by releasing the giant squid kraken. This book was super fun. Wish I could’ve had it during my Human Brain class. It certainly would have helped to sink in some of the beginner concepts by visualizing facts in a different way. Coming at a topic from different angles really makes the connections stronger for me. Sometimes I need concepts drilled into my thick skull from a few different drills, and I’m ok with that. I dunno. Maybe I just like pretty pictures.

Speaking of pretty, the cover is beautiful. It is sturdy, intelligent, textured… feels classy and silly at the same time. I really couldn’t wait to open it. The art is clear enough to get facts across but also kind of trashy and bulbous. It puts me in a headspace of seeing Crumb or Gilliam. Like, something is a little off and I’m totally into it. I loved all the monsters and trippy creatures. Some visual wordplay was very satisfying to see in pictures. The hippocampus archivist Seahorse was one of my faves. Possible tattoo material.

The read was like a short trip with a river otter. My mind was doing flips and swimming along with the book. Gurgling along with facts and the layers of POV. The whole story felt like tumbling folds, continually morphing sulcri and gyri. This allowed me to feel ungrounded and I appreciated that. Lots of room for open questions yet, all was explained in a way that didn’t ruin those questions. The book itself was a reflection of what I was thinking and also making those thinks happen. WOAH. Perspective was playfully and cleverly layered, better so than I might be explaining. Just read it.

When I thought I had a complaint there seemed to be a great reason as to why the thing causing argument was there. Like some part of my brain was saying “that’s the whole point, man.” For example, I wanted the woman to be the main character you follow, but in the end it is savvier that she isn’t. Although, the traveller could’ve been a lady, that is some severe nitpicking though.  The statement “I’m afraid you won’t find many girls around here, boy” was hard to swallow. But again, an honest interpretation of the facts she presents and science histories in general. Maybe it was even a call for women to get into it. It being neuroscience.

Overall hooray for the art science hybrid! Brain and eye candy. But also like, healthy science snack. Delicious and satisfying with tons of layers to chew on. I would like more please. A series with The Neurotransmitters seems so doable!

Go here for more info: http://www.neurocomic.org
Or here to just go ahead and buy it: http://www.amazon.com/Neurocomic-Hana-Ros/dp/1907704701



Is it really “Smarter”?

March 21st, 2014

Ok I’m going to bring this up again but I just read the NYT review for “Smarter”. All this brain training merchandising feels too surface, like a trick around deep thinking. Maybe brain training quick-fixes work? Maybe even as a simple kickstart for your brain, to get you prepared to think deeply? I don’t want to be a naysayer of progress but the games feel part and parcel to a “bigger, better, keep-up-with-the-joneses” approach than with truly richer thinking. It feels like tricks on how to train yourself to be a really fast typist or a great executive assistant. My brain changes with whatever I do repetitively. For example, I started closing my eyes and seeing candy after playing candy crush for the first few days (by the way, this side-effect was hilariously mentioned in Brooklyn Nine Nine not this clip but this episode). The app/game maybe made me faster at certain things, like crushing fake candy, but did it make me a better thinker? I don’t know. I had to take it off my phone because it was ruining my focus for anything BUT candy crush. I’m sure the games that “Smarter” mentions and that “Lumosity” uses are highly vetted and different than candy crush but my question remains the same. Are these games leading to deep cognitive thought or just some sort of built-in, knee jerk, surface change that optimizes game brain? I guess I should read the book and do the exercises. But they seem so boring. Can’t I take, like, a physics class instead?

Here’s an additional link about the related topic of Candy Crush addiction. You can stop. I believe in you. http://candycrush-cheats.com/candy-crush-addiction-science/


Inspired by Oliver Sack’s Love of Cephalopods

March 6th, 2014

Inspired by Oliver Sack’s love of cephalopods I have decided to doodle them until I fill up a notebook. Some might say, why waste all that time? But, I say, I’m trying to be a better visual artist. So this will get me thinking visually and hopefully lead me on a new path to explaining myself. Also, it is really great for reseting my brain when I have crossed a bunch of wires with emails, to-do lists, etc. Plus they’re kinda cute and fun… they make me smile. Whatever, shut up. Here are the first three. Spots. Spider. Petunia.

Kyle Abraham Dance at MCA

March 5th, 2014

Photo: Steven Schreiber

About a week ago I was able to catch Kyle Abraham’s, The Radio Show at the MCA stage. I had heard about him through another artist that I adore and admire, Amy O’Neal. The reason I’m writing about it on PopNeurology is because well, here it is best described from his website:

Kyle Abraham delves into identity and personal history in The Radio Show. Creating an abstract narrative around the loss of communication, he investigates the effects of the abrupt discontinuation of a radio station on a community and the lingering effects of Alzheimer’s and aphasia on a family. Abraham mixes recordings of classic soul and hip-hop with contemporary classical compositions to create an eclectic score that evokes fond memories and a passion for what is lost.

There are perfectly placed moments in this tight, intense, fluid and controlled show highlighting the disintegration of communication spoken and physical. The character choice/movement theme that he chooses to represent his aphasic family member is not emotionally manipulative, but meaningful.  It feels like the character is telling the story not just being seen. And thus hits harder and in other places than just the heart and tear ducts. For myself, I hope in future works to remember how much this light handed approach intensified a point. The show offered so much to see and think about with alternate narratives yet it all came together so beautifully. So satisfying. It was one of those moments when you are lost in and completely engaged with a piece of art.

His company’s website: http://abrahaminmotion.org

Additionally, if you live in or around NYC there is a performance of The Radio Show coming up in March, http://www.92y.org/Event/Kyle-Abraham.aspx

Dreaming Up the Answers

December 16th, 2013

I was just in Seattle for a three month gig working with Cafe Nordo. One thing I noticed was that almost every morning I would wake up with a solution to a problem. The solution usually had to do with creative writing or how to answer an email. Things I’d been having trouble wording correctly became clear. I would literally dream the answer right as I was about to wake up and be able to write it down after I awoke.  I’d heard the phenomenon talked about and even experienced it before, but the experience was so clear this time that I had to mention it. And when I saw the following post today by Annie Murphy Paul, I thought it was a good time to share. I absolutely love this feeling, it’s like my mind thanking me for just letting it work instead of spin. A few reasons I think it worked for me personally in this particular situation were:

I didn’t have a day job or much of anything to rush off to in the mornings.
I was sleeping by myself.
The room was quiet until I woke up (no alarm, pet noises, noisy neighbors)
I was able to sleep for long periods of time (around 8hrs)

Ok now it just sort of sounds like I’m bragging… but really, I just want to keep a record to remember how it happened!  Additionally, the fact that I was in a city that I love and see as a sort of escape and refuge probably had a lot to do with feeling free enough to relax and listen to “the mornings”. Something seemed to pop out of the muckedy muck. I’d been stewing on some of the questions for a long time but others were just from the day before. I’m noting this experience as somewhat of a tool for myself to try and reinforce in my regular non-touring/visiting life. I want to be able to bring it in to my everyday sleeping. Although, vocabulary like this (taken from the aforementioned post) makes me nervous,

“But some scientists are pushing the notion of enhancing learning through dreaming even further, asking sleepers to mentally practice skills while they slumber.”

To me there is a sense of “Good god! Just sleep and frickin’ RELAX! Thats why it’s working!” I get a bit riled up when it sounds like this process is going to be taught and packaged as just another get smart fast or “train your brain! buy our $300 software!” performance enhancement trick. I want to give my brain space for congealing, not force it. Because who knows what you are inhibiting by trying to control your dreams.

Real! Live! Brain?

July 1st, 2012












The winner for the Wellcome Image Image Awards 2012, is a picture of a real nude living brain. It is beautiful and grotesque and makes me wonder/understand the fascination we have with gore in media. This image is different then gore for me because it is separate from violence, while most “inside of you” media is about violence. What’s the word for gore without violence? Anyway, beautiful. And I would suggest reading the “Why”… well here it is quoted from the Wellcome Image site…

Alice Roberts (anatomist, author and TV presenter) explains: “This is a stunning image. Taken during an operation, which allows surgeons access to inside the skull, for recording electrical impulses, we are looking at the surface of a living brain. It’s just extraordinary: the ‘grey’ matter (which is grey in death) is blushing pink. Small arteries are glowing with the scarlet blood pulsing through them, while purple veins lie thickly in the sulci, the crevices of the brain. And underneath that is somebody’s mind. For me, the context, the composition and the clarity of this image made it a winner.”

A lot of those words are supposed to be gross, right? I just really like this exultation of the beauty of life as opposed to images of … I don’t know, Dexter is the first thing that comes to mind. The most I see of brains on TV or popular media is when they are being blown against a wall. So, thanks Wellcome Images for saluting innard beauty!

An LKS Association!

May 18th, 2012

ok i’ve been focusing on some comedy and puppetry shows right now, but this came across my googles … AN LKS ASSOCIATION! i plan on researching harder and i believe they are in Spain, but i am totally fine collaborating with Spain. check out their site www.landaukleffner.org

On My Boyfriend’s Nerves – Session Recording

May 8th, 2012

The Conductor's Tools

I wanted to follow up the roach leg post with a little bit of home recordings. Well, hospital recordings if you will. A couple of months ago, my boyfriend went in to have some nerve conduction tests done (hockey is a tough sport y’all). I got to tag along and snag some audio! He is so good to me!!! One day this clip will be a fabulous experimental song with lots of looping mutated musical saw but for now here it is RAW… my boyfriend’s nerves, conducting.

Nerve Conduction

When he is resting it sounds like constant blips and when the beat goes faster they are giving him small electric shocks. Pretty cool. Oh and Happy Birthday Baz!

slow medicine, is what i need woahOHoh!

May 7th, 2012

Bon Jovi meant to say “slow” instead of “bad” I’m pretty sure. I know I’m on board. At least for checking out this book, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine. Look at this gorgeous paragraph from just an interview with the author on The Huffington Post

But Hildegard had a completely different idea than our mechanical model of the body. The idea was that the body is like a plant and that the doctor is a gardener of the plant — this, as opposed to the idea of the body as a machine and the doctor as a mechanic. The fundamental difference is that someone has to fix the broken machine, but a plant can heal itself. And that healing power of the plant is what Hildegard called it its ‘greening power.’ She thought that human beings had the same kind of innate healing power and that, therefore, the doctor was more of a gardener whose purpose is to cultivate that healing power — to nurture it, remove obstructions to it and fortify it.

I was brought back to the story from The Brain That Changes Itself and how Paul Bach-y-Rita stayed with his father after his father’s stroke. He helped him to rehabilitate and learn well, basically everything again. How to walk from crawling. Have you ever met a doctor who seemed like they had that time? Let alone to follow up on that weird thing on your back? I believe that they exist and this interview (and sounds like, book!) supports that theory.

Anyway, that paragraph echoed the beauty I felt when I first read about Neuroplasticity. Bodies knowing how to heal themselves, but needing time, space, and help to do it. We are awesome! Brains are awesome!!! Onward!

Dirty Nerdy T-shirt – a going away present

May 3rd, 2012

I worked at the Pike Place Market in Seattle for 2 yrs. I worked at All Things Lavender across from the At Random – Shirts for Perverts shirt shop. I joked with the owner about a design that my boyfriend and I had talked about. Lo and behold as a going away present, I received this dirty nerdy joke shirt! I loved working at the market!!!