Félix Vicq D'Azyr (1786) Brain Images

Under the heading "Brains" (20120902) the blog, BibliOdysssey, has posted an amazing set of 15 neuroanatomical atlas illustration plates from the 1786 'Traité d'Anatomie et de Physiologie' by Félix Vicq D'Azyr (1748-1794, Wikipedia entry). The blog's author (peacay) cites the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library Virtual Book Museum's (Stockholm, Sweden) description of the book's creator: "Vicq d-Azur, permanent secretary to the Paris Academy of Medicine and personal physician to Marie Antoinette, found that his dissections of the brain were facilitated by first hardening the brain in alcohol. He identified accurately for the first time many of the cerebral convolutions, along with various internal structures of the brain. He rediscovered the white line in calarine cortex and described the mammillothalmic tract which still bears his name, as well as the central sulcus with the pre- and postcentral convolutions and insula twenty years before Reil and Rolando."

BTW, while he died during The Terror period of the French Revolution (1794), his passing was due to pneumonia rather than the guillotine.

I was struck both by how beautiful the engravings are as well as their accuracy/informative quality. A
link is provided to the set on Flickr® with varying sizes available of each plate for download and use.

At the bottom of the entry, there is a very helpful list of online sources regarding Vicq D'Azyr and this volume.

Chomsky and Developmental Language

Prof. Dorothy Bishop, the eminent UK/Oxford professor of developmental neuropsychology, researcher on children's language disorders, and one of the most astute social media authors in science that I know of, has posted a great set of comments on the difficulty that Noam Chomsky seems to have with understanding (or even knowing the current research regarding) the development of language by children. It can be found on her weblog at http://deevybee.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/what-chomsky-didnt-get-about-child.html. l found it terrific.

Her weblog:
Her Twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/deevybee (@deevybee)

RIP George A. Miller

George Miller APA 2003
Online sources are announcing that Prof. George A. Miller, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, died yesterday, July 22, 2012, at the age of 92. Previously on the faculty of Harvard University from which he received his doctorate in 1946, Miller co-founded the seminal Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard with Jerome Bruner in 1960. Undergraduate students have almost always been introduced to Miller's work via his famous 1956 lecture, "The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information," published in the Psychological Review. In Toronto in 2003, he received the APA's highest honor, the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Psychology Award. I took the photo on the right at the ceremony bestowing the award on Miller. At the time of his award, the American Psychological Association noted that Miller was a pioneer in psycholinguistics as an independent research area, had contributed fundamental ideas to the study of language and cognition, and had established the Princeton Cognitive Science Laboratory in 1986 as well as served as the principal investigator in developing WordNet, an online lexical database of English at Princeton (APA Monitor in Psychology, February, 2003, p. 65). Miller himself served as the president of APA in 1969.

Determining Scientific Truth Online

There is a wonderful posting on Lifehacker with the title "How To Determine If A Controversial Statement is Scientifically True". I sure wish that more people would develop their critical thinking skills by following this sort of advice. The entry has been put together by consulting with Phil Plait, Ph.D. (author of The Bad Astronomer blog) and David McRaney (author of the blog You Are Not So Smart). They offer a multi-step approach including
  • Learning to avoid confirmation bias
  • Using Google, Snopes and other sites as a first line of defense
  • Searching public journals and contacting science advocates
  • And, finally, visiting your local library and consulting both librarians and reference materials there.
All of these steps, they emphasize, have to be carried out with a sharpened sense of critical thinking.


"BrainFacts.org is an authoritative source of information about the brain and nervous system for the public.

The brain is the most complex biological structure in the known universe. It is a topic rich with exciting new discoveries, continuing profound unknowns, and critical implications for individuals, families, and societies.

The site is a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience, all leading global nonprofit organizations working to advance brain research. Leading neuroscientists from around the world form the BrainFacts.org editorial board." (site blurb)

The site has sections dedicated to
  • Neuroscience in General
  • Brain Basics
  • Sensing, Thinking, and Behaving
  • Diseases & Disorders
  • Across the Lifespan
  • In Society