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Four Way Interview - David Linden - May 2011

Our four-way interviews give a quick insight into the current thinking of a popular science author.

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.

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Last update 16 April 2011