Skip to main content

David Linden – Four Way Interview

David J. Linden is professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland, USA. The author of more than ninety scientific papers and the acclaimed book The Accidental Mind, he also serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurophysiology. His latest book is Pleasure.
Why Science?
It was either that or crime and science seemed slightly less risky.
Why this book?
This book is about how the pleasure centers of the brain are activated by food, sex, meditation, exercise, drugs, gambling, paying taxes and goofing around on the Internet. It required a lot of fieldwork but I was prepared to make that sacrifice for my readers. Pleasure is the first book to explain the biology of reward in a way that will make you feel smarter and give you a laugh at the same time. Plus, it will provide you with clever anecdotes about topics from lesbian bonobo sex to the neuroscience of weight loss to hallucinogenic reindeer urine that will make you the toast of your social circle.
What’s next?
More fieldwork, I think.
What’s exciting you at the moment?
My lab has several new efforts that have me very enthused. These rely upon implanting cranial windows in the skulls of mice and then placing the mice under a special microscope (called a 2-photon confocal microscope) that allows us to see into the middle of otherwise opaque living brain tissue. This technique is allowing us to make time-lapse movies showing how neurons, glial cells and blood vessels in the brain respond to exercise and motor learning and how recovery of function proceeds following brain damage from amphetamine drugs.


Popular posts from this blog

Artifact Space (SF) - Miles Cameron *****

This is a cracking (and, frankly, wrist-cracking at 568 pages) piece of space opera. That's a term that is sometimes used as a put-down to suggest pulp rubbish, but I use it affectionately. It's not trying to be great literature, but it's a great read, which is all I want from a book.  The author mentions Alistair Reynolds as an inspiration - and it's certainly true that there's something of Reynolds' (or Banks') sweeping imagination of a space-based civilisation. But for me, there's more here of a modern equivalent of Robert Heinlein at his best. Not the soppy stuff he produced towards the end of his career, but the period that peaked with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress . In fact, the basic storyline has a distinct resemblance to that of Heinlein's Starman Jones . In that 1950s novel, the main character is from a spacegoing family who manages to get a place on a ship despite not having the qualifications, and with his skill manages in the end to save

A Dominant Character - Samanth Subramanian ****

When a science book does well in the mainstream press, the science content is often weak. In this biography of geneticist J. B. S. Haldane, Samanth Subramanian manages to get enough science in to make it worthwhile as popular science, but also piles on the biographical details, particularly on Haldane's political side, which unusually for a scientist dominated his life. Haldane, it seems, was a classic posh boy who thinks he knows what's good for working folk - a communist who quoted the classics - and along with his irascible, blunt (well, rude really) personality, delight in shocking others and apparent enthusiasm for the dangers of warfare, comes across as a fascinating, if sometimes repulsive study (on the whole, Subramanian takes a more forgiving view, though without holding back on Haldane's faults). Apart from his decades-long enthusiasm for the Soviet Union and ruthless (and fearless) approach to military life, we see how Haldane's science brought huge strides i

This is Your Mind on Plants - Michael Pollan ***

There is a powerfully American cultural flavour to this book that even comes through in the title. I'll be honest, that title baffled me initially. The first thing it made me think of was the TV show 'This is Your Life', then I wondered if it was about having ideas while lying on a straw mattress. In reality it's a complete misnomer - it's entirely about Michael Pollan's life on plants (and the psychoactive chemicals derived from them) - it's a very me-oriented book. I was sold this as a science book, but it really isn't. Pollan describes his interactions with three plant-derived chemical substances: opium, caffeine and mescaline - but there's hardly anything about the science of what's involved, just a brief, dictionary-like reference to how these chemicals act. It's all about Pollan, what he experiences, how he feels. That Americanness also comes across in his casual acceptance that someone he deals with keeps an assault rifle by his desk,