Friday, June 09, 2006

Moving to ScienceBlogs

So, the move to ScienceBlogs is now complete. That means there will be no more posts here on the Blogger site. Sure, I'll miss all of the downtime, the lost posts (all of my really good posts were lost by blogger; you'll just have to take my word for that), and the fact that Blogger took away the bullets in the template I've used since I started the blog. But after a brief mourning period, I will be able to move on.

Here is the new URL: If you don't want to type that out, you can just click here. I'm going to try to post more often there, for various reasons (if you reach a certain traffic level, you get paid!). But I'm not going to change the way I post, so hopefully those of you who find the blog interesting will continue to do so.

There are three different banners at the new site, one by Todd Hartman (on the Archives page), and two by Anton Oettl (Main page, About, and Contact -- I'll provide a link to his page when he gives me with one). I am very grateful to them for the time they put into making such great banners.

When you get over there, feel free to email me with your suggestions or advice about the look or anything else. Also, as I've always said, I'm always taking suggestions. I know, I know, I still owe you posts on two previous requests, theory-theory (vs. simulation) and memes. The first post on theory-theory should be the first substantive post at the new site, and the post (probably a series) is still coming, but I've actually been doing some new reading on memes, and I want to incorporate all of that into the post, so it will be a little while before it's finished. However, new requests are always welcome, and I may very well get to them before I get to memes, so send them my way either in contacts or in email.

Finally, let me just say thank you to everyone who's read this blog over the last year and a half. If ScienceBlogs brings me new readers, that's great, but there'll always be a special place in my blogging heart for the people who've read and contributed to Mixing Memory from day 1. In the introductory post at ScienceBlogs, I talk about viewing Mixing Memory as a collaborative effort with the readers, and I really feel that way. The suggestions, advice, and requests that you've all given me have shaped the blog, and I'm very grateful for them.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mixing Memory Banner

So, the move to ScienceBlogs is almost complete. They set up the site and everything, though I don't think I'm supposed to give out the link yet. They haven't made the new blogs public, and until then, they're being all cloak and dagger. Anyway, I tried to come up with a title banner for the site, but failed miserably. Here's what my best effort produced:

It's a bit small, but those are brain images (actually the same image) on the right and the left. Sucks, huh? Trust me, you do not want to see the other one I came up with.

Anyway, I write this in the hopes that someone out there not only thinks that he or she could do better, but is willing to show me that he or she can by making a Mixing Memory banner that actually looks, you know, good. I'd offer to compensate you for your efforts, but blog expenses simply aren't in the budget. However, I will link you prominently on the front page of the website, so you'll get free advertising (for your blog, your business, or whatever).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Linkable Links

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I've been really busy lately. I've got a few posts brewing, but for now, how 'bout some links?

To start, a couple from John Hawks. First, there's this post on a paper by Daniel Oppenheimer from Applied Cognitive Psychology titled "Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly."

Then there's this post discussing a paper on the distinction between short-term and long-term memory, and the distinction between memory for features (objects and attributes, in my language) and memory for relations between features. Omni Brain also posted on the paper, here (with a link to a pdf of the paper, too). Here's a bit from the press release:
For over 40 years, the chief paradigm has been that the hippocampus was important for creating long-term memory but not short-term or working memory," said Ingrid Olson, a member of Penn's Department of Psychology and researcher at Penn's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. "However, our data show that one type of working memory, working memory for the relationship between bits of information, is dependent on the hippocampus.
Which leads Olson to claim:
While 'long-term' memory and 'short-term' memory have been useful distinctions for us, they may not exist in the same way for the brain.
I'll have more to say about this article in a full post, but for now let me say this: the reason I think this finding is so interesting is not that it undermines the short-term/working memory vs. long-term memory distinction, because I don't think it does. Instead, I think it's interesting because it actually confirms some things that some people have been saying about working memory for a while, now, namely that relations are processed differently, that relations take up more processing capacity, etc.

Next up, a great post at Cognitive Daily on research purporting to show that sex and violence don't sell.

Then this post at Neurocritic (a great blog, by the way!) on neurogenesis and depression is a must read. The connection between neurogenesis and depression has been all the rage for the last few years, and the Neurocritic does a nice job of summarizing what we actually know. He concludes:
SUMMARY FROM THE NEUROCRITIC: Although it's all very trendy to consider neurogenesis as "The Reinvention of the Self" (see article in SEED), at this stage of the game, it's all very hyberbolic.

Finally, this post by Adam Roberts at The Valve titled "Why are the greatest composers all German?" While Roberts claims:
I’ve also little time for the Dawkins school of ‘memes’, ideas, concepts and beliefs that ‘infect’ human minds, such that ‘religion’ is thought of existing in a quasi-living manner like a virus, and subject to Darwinian constraints. I don’t think I’m talking about memes.
Anytime someone writes something like this:
Think instead of texts as animals, he says, living in an environment of readers, viewers and listeners. These texts compete with one another not for food and sexual partners, but for our attention. In this environment, the most successful pieces of music (for example) will win many listeners, and those listeners will ‘keep the music alive’ by playing it, buying copies of it, re-recording and replicating it. It is as simple as that. Mozart’s music has prospered because it is best ‘fitted’ to its particular environment (us, or more specifically our taste in music). Salieri’s music failed because it was less well fitted. It is not that Salieri’s music is in any sense intrinsically ‘worse’ than Mozart’s, any more than a dodo was intrinsically worse than a seagull. It is simply that one was adapted to its environment better than the other.
I can't help but feel they're talking like a memeticist. In fact, because he doesn't really mention an analogy to genes, it sounds an awful lot like the "meme as virus" metaphor that he explicitly rejects. And it suffers from many of the problems that plague memetics. As such, it's a nice lead up to my post on memes (which, to those of you who requested it, is coming... I promise).