Interview with Nick Spitzer of, BRAIN initiative, and all-around awesome neuroscientist #Economist


The Economist has a great interview with Nick Spitzer, who is an awesome scientist, and certainly has one of the best moustaches in science. In addition to his own research on neuronal signaling in the brain, Spitzer is also editor-in-chief for (Check out this very cool and informative website!) and is involved in the White House BRAIN initiative. Below is Spitzer’s answer to one of many questions from The Economist about the brain, and how we might improve our own cognitive function.

What about playing an instrument? Don’t you have to use right and left brain for a stringed instrument?

Yes. That has clear cognitive functions that do crossover. Especially learning to play and read the music at the same time. But exercise is number one, diet number two and then social interaction. These are the important things for brain function.

Check out the interview for some great Q and A, and also great links to explain some of what Spitzer explains. Nick Spitzer is definitely one of the coolest and most awesome people in neuroscience and science in general! 

Unorthodox peer-review catches 2 instances of bad science #STAPstemcells


The Economist has a short editorial on two recent science flubs that ended up being ‘reviewed’ publicly on social media (including STAP stem cell papers from Dr Obokata published in Nature and Nature). This type of ‘peer-review’ is somewhat unorthodox, but in both cases it got the job done. Will this change the way academia handles review of scientific findings?

The public, however, pay for most of this stuff (science). That open peer review gives them a glimpse into the reality of life inside the ivory tower is probably a good thing. Despite the activities of people like Dr Obokata, science is one of the most trustworthy human activities. But as Ronald Reagan put it in a different context, “Trust, but verify.