308 posts · 227,876 views
Comments on neurobiology, neuroimaging, and psychiatry from a skeptical neuroscientist.
Can food be addictive? Is obesity sometimes a form of substance abuse? In a new paper, neuroscientist and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, muses on ‘The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity’ Volkow and her coauthors start out with a disclaimer – “we do not claim that obesity is the result [...]... Read more »
A paper just published in the journal Cortex discusses the nature of human erogenous zones: Reports of intimate touch The results cast doubt on a number of popular theories about this topic – including one from a leading neuroscientist. Oliver Turnbull and colleagues of Bangor University in the UK had 793 volunteers anonymously complete an [...]The post The Erogenous Zones of The Brain appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Turnbull OH, Lovett VE, Chaldecott J, & Lucas MD. (2013) Reports of intimate touch: Erogenous zones and somatosensory cortical organization. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior. PMID: 23993282
The philosophical zombie, or p-zombie, is a hypothetical creature which is indistinguishable from a normal human, except that it has no conscious experience. Whether a p-zombie could exist, and whether it even makes sense to ask that question, are popular dinner-table topics of conversation amongst philosophers of mind. A new case report from Swiss neurologists […]The post The Colorful Case of the Philosophical Zombie? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Carota A, & Calabrese P. (2013) The achromatic 'philosophical zombie', a syndrome of cerebral achromatopsia with color anopsognosia. Case reports in neurology, 5(1), 98-103. PMID: 23687498
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is popular tool in neuroscience. A TMS kit is essentially a portable, powerful electromagnet, called a ‘coil’. Switching on the coil causes it to emit a magnetic pulse, and this magnetic field is strong enough to evoke electrical activity in the brain. So, by placing the TMS coil next to someone’s [...]... Read more »
Duecker F, & Sack AT. (2013) Pre-stimulus sham TMS facilitates target detection. PloS one, 8(3). PMID: 23469232
Could quantum mechanics save the soul? In the light of 20th century physics, is free will plausible? Such as been the hope of some philosophers, scientists (and pretenders to those titles) – but neuroscientist Peter Clarke argues that it’s just not happening, in an interesting new paper: Neuroscience, quantum indeterminism and the Cartesian soul Clarke […]The post Quantum Theory Won’t Save The Soul appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Clarke PG. (2013) Neuroscience, quantum indeterminism and the Cartesian soul. Brain and cognition, 84(1), 109-117. PMID: 24355546
Can quantum physics help to diagnose schizophrenia and depression? A paper just published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease claims that a technique called ‘quantum resonance spectroscopy’ (QRS) can accurately diagnose various mental health problems. But is it quantum wizardry or magic quackery? According to the authors of the new paper, Zhang et […]The post The Mystery of “Quantum Resonance Spectroscopy” appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Zhang Y, Liu F, Shi J, Yue X, Zhang H, Du X, Sun L, & Yuan J. (2014) Exploratory quantum resonance spectrometer as a discriminator for psychiatric affective disorders. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 202(4), 287-91. PMID: 24647211
There was nothing special about Albert Einstein’s brain. Nothing that modern neuroscience can detect, anyway. This is the message of a provocative article by Pace University psychologist Terence Hines, just published in Brain and Cognition: Neuromythology of Einstein’s brain As Hines notes, the story of how Einstein’s brain was preserved is well known. When the […]The post The Myth of Einstein’s Brain? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
So say Colorado-based researchers Sandy K. Wurtele and collegues in a new paper in the journal Sexual Abuse: Nearly 10% of males and 4% of females reported some likelihood of having sex with children or viewing child pornography. The study is an interesting attempt to probe the darkest depths of human nature, and raises questions […]The post Are One In Ten Men Sexually Attracted To Children? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Wurtele SK, Simons D, & Moreno T. (2013) Sexual Interest in Children Among an Online Sample of Men and Women: Prevalence and Correlates. Sexual abuse : a journal of research and treatment. PMID: 24215791
“Layered Voice Analysis” (LVA) is a controversial technology promoted as a tool for helping detect stress and other emotions by analysis of the human voice. According to the company behind the method, Nemesysco: LVA technology enables better understanding of your suspect’s mental state and emotional makeup at a given moment by detecting the emotional cues [...]... Read more »
Horvath F, McCloughan J, Weatherman D, & Slowik S. (2013) The Accuracy of Auditors' and Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) Operators' Judgments of Truth and Deception During Police Questioning*. Journal of forensic sciences. PMID: 23406506
Glossolalia – ‘speaking in tongues‘ – is a practice best known in association with ‘Charismatic’ branches of Christianity. Practitioners, often as part of religious services, produce streams of speech which correspond to no known language. But could glossolalia sometimes be associated with a brain abnormality? Here’s an interesting case report: Temporal lobe discharges and glossolalia [...]... Read more »
The view that the Mafia is an organization of especially ruthless psychopaths is wrong – in fact, members of ‘Cosa Nostra’ have lower psychopathic traits than other criminals. That’s according to a new study from Italian researchers Schimmenti and colleagues, who, appropriately enough, are based in Sicily, the Mafia’s birthplace. Schimmenti et al went to […]The post Are The Mafia Psychopaths? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Einstein’s brain. Less well-known, but equally fascinating, is the case of Lenin‘s cerebrum – for just like Albert, the founder of the Soviet Union was fated to end up as a series of preserved slices. Lenin died of a series of strokes at the young age of [...]... Read more »
Vinters, H., Lurie, L., & Mackowiak, P. (2013) Vessels of Stone: Lenin's "Circulatory Disturbance of the Brain". Human Pathology. DOI: 10.1016/j.humpath.2012.11.017
Are men who inject testosterone and other anabolic steroids at risk of entering a violent “roid rage“? Many people think so. Whenever a professional athlete commits a violent crime, it’s not long before someone suggests that steroids may have been involved. The most recent example of this is the case of Jonathan “War Machine” Koppenhaver. […]The post The Myth Of “Roid Rage”? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Lundholm L, Frisell T, Lichtenstein P, & Långström N. (2014) Anabolic androgenic steroids and violent offending: Confounding by polysubstance abuse among 10,365 general population men. Addiction (Abingdon, England). PMID: 25170826
A paper just out in Nature Neuroscience proposes a new tool for neuroscientists who want to stimulate the brain – ultrasound. There are already a number of established ways of modulating human brain activity. As neuronal firing is essentially electrical, most of these methods rely on electricity – such as TDCS – or on magnetic […]The post Is Ultrasonic Brain Stimulation The Future? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Legon W, Sato TF, Opitz A, Mueller J, Barbour A, Williams A, & Tyler WJ. (2014) Transcranial focused ultrasound modulates the activity of primary somatosensory cortex in humans. Nature neuroscience, 17(2), 322-9. PMID: 24413698
No-one likes waiting their turn, but according to a new study, just knowing that you’re ‘on a waiting list’ could change your behaviour: Exploratory randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of a waiting list control design The research was conducted by an Canadian team led by John A. Cunningham, and it made use of a […]The post Why Waiting Lists Could Be Bad For Your Health appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Cunningham JA, Kypri K, & McCambridge J. (2013) Exploratory randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of a waiting list control design. BMC medical research methodology, 13(1), 150. PMID: 24314204
Are you smarter than a rabbit? You probably feel that you are. But in what way, exactly? Neuroscientists Laurel Carney and colleagues report that the rabbit brain is curiously inefficient – and hypothesize that the human brain is better: Suboptimal Use of Neural Information in a Mammalian Auditory System Carney et al found that rabbits […]The post The Inefficient Brains of Rabbits appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Laurel H. Carney, & et al. (2014) Suboptimal Use of Neural Information in a Mammalian Auditory System. J Neurosci. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3031-13.2014
This morning, the world woke up to the news that Scientists discover the difference between male and female brains Britain’s Independent today actually made that their front page. They went on to discuss “the hardwired difference that could explain why men are ‘better at map reading’”. The rest of the world’s media were no less […]The post Men, Women, and Big PNAS Papers appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Ingalhalikar, M., & et al. (2013) Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain. PNAS. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1316909110
A neuroscience paper published before Christmas draw my eye with the expansive title: “How Thoughts Give Rise to Action“ Subtitled “Conscious Motor Intention Increases the Excitability of Target-Specific Motor Circuits”, the article’s abstract was no less bold, concluding that: These results indicate that conscious intentions govern motor function… until today, it was unclear whether conscious […]The post The Power of Conscious Intention Proven At Last? ........ Read more »
Zschorlich VR, & Köhling R. (2013) How thoughts give rise to action - conscious motor intention increases the excitability of target-specific motor circuits. PloS one, 8(12). PMID: 24386291
An intriguing new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience introduces a new optical illusion – and, potentially, a new way to see ones own brain activity. The article is called The Flickering Wheel Illusion: When Alpha Rhythms Make a Static Wheel Flicker by Sokoliuk and VanRullen. Here’s the illusion: It’s a simple black and white [...]The post Can You See Your Own Brain Waves? appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
Sokoliuk R, & Vanrullen R. (2013) The Flickering Wheel Illusion: When Alpha Rhythms Make a Static Wheel Flicker. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(33), 13498-504. PMID: 23946408
A report in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour describes an unusual field trip made by Canadian researcher Debra W. Soh – to a furry convention, expecting to witness some kind of sexual free-for-all (or free-fur-all). Soh opens by saying that I couldn’t wait to meet a furry, someone who adopts the identity or persona […]The post A Sex Researcher At A Furry Convention appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »
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