Gleanings: Illusions, genomics, Freud, lighting the brain, and eating alone

Traveling. But here's what I'm reading during train, plane, and bus rides -- and over meals:


Gravity-defying ramps take illusion prize. This contest always produces fascinating stuff. This time, the ball rolls up. Video here.


Vaughan Bell ponders cortisol, dopamine, neuroplasticity, and other things that set off his bullshit detector. Riff launched from a post from Neuroskeptic on cortisol and childcare scare stories, equally read-worthy.

Dan Vorhaus does a wonderful round-up of reactions and implications stemming from the news that genetic testing is coming to Walgreens. Best blog-post title cited there: "Chapter 38 of the Sky is Falling," a fine post by genomeboy Misha Angrist.

From Mark Bittman's blog, Suzanne Lenzer On Eating Alone. Particularly appropriate while traveling. And while I wish I were sharing these meals with my better half, I'm with Lenzer and Stephen B. Johnson in taking a real pleasure in eating good food while reading a good book:

The truth is eating alone is a treat. Now, when I'm in my chair or on my stool, menu in hand, I get to think about what I'm going to enjoy eating and drinking all by myself, ponder what I'm going to think about or read that I haven't had time for.

Last night it was gnochhi and The Selfish Gene. (On which more another time.)

In Illuminating the brain, Lizzie Buchen reports on the growing use of light to turn different brain areas on and off. This carries significant potential as a cleaner, safer, easier, even more flexible replacement for the sort of deep brain stimulation (DBS) modulators used to treat Parkinson's and in Mayberg et alia's experimental depression treatment discussed in yesterday's post.

Paul Broks on 150 years of Sigmund Freud Some useful reminders.

And via Vaughan Bell's most recent weekly round-up,

Although autism is usually thought of as a disability, a New Scientist article discusses the fact that the condition can be associated with various cognitive advantages.


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I love eating alone, too. MFK Fisher, the 1940s food writer, has some wonderful passages about eating alone with pride and pleasure in her memoir, 'The Gastronomical Me'...most notably, aboard a ship making a transatlantic crossing. I think about her every time I go to a cafe with a book or magazine.