Episode 65

[transcript]

Jesse speaks to Trevor Robbins, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and co-inventor of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB for short) – a computer-based cognitive assessment system. Professor Robbins gives us an overview of the CANTAB battery, explaining its use for both neurodegenerative disease detection and cognitive enhancement efficacy and safety.

We’ll also hear how mindfulness practice could help keep us attentive (it worked for the military!), and what various levels of dehydration can do to our brains and bodies.

Episode Highlights

0:31Introduction to Professor Trevor Robbins and CANTAB
1:44This Week in Neuroscience: Minds At Attention – Mindfulness Training Curbs Attentional Lapses in Military Cohorts
3:44A listener email regarding Episode 64: Male Vs. Female Brains and a related lecture by Dr Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University
4:17A Dictionary of Surgical Terms
5:03Professor Robbins' extensive neuroscience background and an overview of CANTAB
7:24CANTAB's use with animals
8:10Three main components of cognition
9:24The difference between humans and animals with regards to future-planning, and CANTAB's effectiveness across species
10:40Early Alzheimer's detection using the Paired Associate Learning test, and the possibility to arrest the disease before it takes hold
13:42Modafinil's effects on executive functions – working memory, planning, and cognitive flexibility
15:19A study testing effects of modafinil as a caffeine substitute for surgeons, and the drug's use for shift-workers
16:51The results of a study with Ritalin and grad students using the CANTAB battery
18:16Drugs that act on the cholinergic system and their effects on attention
20:21L-DOPA's effects on working memory and risk-taking behaviour in Parkinson's patients
21:49Ampakines and their use in regulating glutamate and GABA
24:10Why some drugs fail
25:06Professor Robbins' new research project on Obsessive Compulsive disorder and Addiction (just funded by the Wellcome Trust!) and his ultimate dream project
26:59Are forms of mental illness culture-dependant?
28:27Re-consolidating memories to aid post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction therapy
32:51Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: The Importance of Hydration
Written by Rhiannan Roe
Rhiannan Roe is a writer, editor and unapologetic champion of self-improvement. Combining her passions has led to her helping several start-ups across three continents. In her spare time she travels, collects stories from inspiring people, and fruitlessly endeavors to read every book ever written.
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