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Born in West Virginia in 1980, The Neurocritic embarked upon a roadtrip across America at the age of thirteen with his mother. She abandoned him when they reached San Francisco and The Neurocritic descended into a spiral of drug abuse and prostitution. At fifteen, The Neurocritic's psychiatrist encouraged him to start writing as a form of therapy.
Fig 1 (Roskams-Edriset al., 2017). The number of patents implicating specific brain regions has risen from 1976 to the mid 2010s. Results were obtained by searching The Lens patent database (http://lens.org/).
“What is the ethical value of awarding patent rights that implicate regions of the brain?”
Do the applicants intend to patent the function of specific brain areas? This absurd
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Roskams-Edris, D., Anderson-Redick, S., Kiss, Z., & Illes, J. (2017) Situating brain regions among patent rights and moral risks. Nature Biotechnology, 35(2), 119-121. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3782
Neurofeedback training (NFT) is a procedure that tries to shape a participant's pattern of brain activity by providing real-time feedback, often in the form of a video game combined with other sensory stimuli that provide rewards when the “correct” state is achieved. The most common form of NFT uses EEG (brainwave) activity recorded non-invasively from the scalp. The EEG is a complex mixture
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Manuel Schabus, Hermann Griessenberger, Maria-Teresa Gnjezda, Dominik P.J. Heib, Malgorzata Wislowska, Kerstin Hoedlmoser. (2017) Better than sham? A double-blind placebo-controlled neurofeedback study in primary insomnia. Brain. info:/10.1093/brain/awx011
Sitaram, R., Ros, T., Stoeckel, L., Haller, S., Scharnowski, F., Lewis-Peacock, J., Weiskopf, N., Blefari, M., Rana, M., Oblak, E.... (2016) Closed-loop brain training: the science of neurofeedback. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18(2), 86-100. DOI: 10.1038/nrn.2016.164
Figure from Gauthier et al. (2005).
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and other dementias are progressive neurodegenerative conditions that unfold over time. Subtle symptoms such as forgetfulness and word finding problems may progress to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and then escalate to full-blown dementia. Recent efforts to classify prodromal states have included automated analysis of spontaneous... Read more »
Berisha V, Wang S, LaCross A, & Liss J. (2015) Tracking discourse complexity preceding Alzheimer's disease diagnosis: a case study comparing the press conferences of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 45(3), 959-63. PMID: 25633673
Fraser, K., Meltzer, J., & Rudzicz, F. (2015) Linguistic Features Identify Alzheimer’s Disease in Narrative Speech. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 49(2), 407-422. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-150520
Thomas, C., Keselj, V., Cercone, N., Rockwood, K., . (2005) Automatic detection and rating of dementia of Alzheimer type through lexical analysis of spontaneous speech. IEEE International Conference, 1569-1574. info:/10.1109/ICMA.2005.1626789
President Trump this week repeated an assertion he made shortly after his election: that millions of ballots cast illegally by undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote. If true, this would suggest the wholesale corruption of American democracy.
Not to worry: As far as anyone knows, the president’s assertion is akin to saying that millions of unicorns also voted illegally.
- In a
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Preller, K., Herdener, M., Pokorny, T., Planzer, A., Kraehenmann, R., Stämpfli, P., Liechti, M., Seifritz, E., & Vollenweider, F. (2017) The Fabric of Meaning and Subjective Effects in LSD-Induced States Depend on Serotonin 2A Receptor Activation. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.030
Wacker, D., Wang, S., McCorvy, J., Betz, R., Venkatakrishnan, A., Levit, A., Lansu, K., Schools, Z., Che, T., Nichols, D.... (2017) Crystal Structure of an LSD-Bound Human Serotonin Receptor. Cell, 168(3), 377-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.12.033
Are They Pathological Liars? Narcissists? Psychopaths? “Masterful Manipulators”?
Trump Spokesman’s Lecture on Media Accuracy Is Peppered With Lies
Nearly all American politicians lie, but few as blatantly as those affiliated with the present administration. How do they do it? Are they lacking a conscience? Do they believe their own lies? Do they start with small falsehoods, stretch the
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Brain activation during challenges to political vs. non-political beliefs (Figure modified from Kaplan et al., 2016).
Lately I've been despairing about the state of America.
I'm not sure how denying access to affordable health care, opposing scientific facts like global warming and the benefits of vaccines, alienating our allies, banning Muslims, building a wall, endorsing torture, and
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Feinberg, M., & Willer, R. (2015) From Gulf to Bridge: When Do Moral Arguments Facilitate Political Influence?. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(12), 1665-1681. DOI: 10.1177/0146167215607842
Kaplan, J., Gimbel, S., & Harris, S. (2016) Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence. Scientific Reports, 39589. DOI: 10.1038/srep39589
The neural machinery that forms new memories is fragile and vulnerable to insults arising from brain injuries, cerebral anoxia, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Unlike language, which shows a great deal of plasticity after strokes and other injuries, episodic memory – memory for autobiographical events and contextual details of past experiences – doesn't recover after
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Jacobs, J., Miller, J., Lee, S., Coffey, T., Watrous, A., Sperling, M., Sharan, A., Worrell, G., Berry, B., Lega, B.... (2016) Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Human Entorhinal Region and Hippocampus Impairs Memory. Neuron, 92(5), 983-990. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.10.062
Kim, K., Ekstrom, A., & Tandon, N. (2016) A network approach for modulating memory processes via direct and indirect brain stimulation: Toward a causal approach for the neural basis of memory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 162-177. DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2016.04.001
Suthana, N., Haneef, Z., Stern, J., Mukamel, R., Behnke, E., Knowlton, B., & Fried, I. (2012) Memory Enhancement and Deep-Brain Stimulation of the Entorhinal Area. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(6), 502-510. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1107212
Fig. 4 (Wexler, 2016). Lindstrom's Electro-Medical Apparatus (ca. 1895), courtesy of the Bakken.
Think the do-it-yourself transcranial direct current stimulation movement (DIY tDCS) is a technologically savvy and hip creation of 21st century neural engineering? MIT graduate student Anna Wexler has an excellent and fun review of late 19th and early 20th century electrical stimulation
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Airline travel during the holidays is one big headache. But for some people, “airplane headache” is a truly painful experience. The headache occurs during take-off and landing, is unique to plane travel, and is not associated with other conditions. The pain is severe, with a jabbing or stabbing quality, and located on one side of the head (usually around the eye sockets or forehead).
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Bui, S., Petersen, T., Poulsen, J., & Gazerani, P. (2016) Headaches attributed to airplane travel: a Danish survey. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 17(1). DOI: 10.1186/s10194-016-0628-7
Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS). (2013) The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia, 33(9), 629-808. DOI: 10.1177/0333102413485658
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a founding father of phrenology
Phrenology was the pseudoscience of identifying a person's character and mental abilities on the basis of skull morphology (“bumps on the head”). The enterprise was based on four assumptions (Gross, 2009):
intellectual abilities and personality traits are differentially developed in each individual
these abilities and traits
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Eling, P., Finger, S., & Whitaker, H. (2016) On the Origins of Organology: Franz Joseph Gall and a Girl Named Bianchi. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.11.010
Bugs Bunny in Hyde and Hare (1955)Delusional misidentification syndromes have fascinated filmmakers and psychiatrists alike. Afflicted individuals suffer under the false belief that persons or things around them have changed their identities or appearance. Classification schemes have varied, but a general outline includes:Capgras delusion Fregoli delusion Intermetamorphosis Subjective doublesfrom Table 1 (Ellis et al., 1994). Classification and description of the four principal delusional miside........ Read more »
Malliaras DE, Kossovitsa YT, Christodoulou GN. (1978) Organic contributors to the intermetamorphosis syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 135(8), 985-987. DOI: 10.1176/ajp.135.8.985
The journal Brain has a new review on the history of converting the electroencephalogram (EEG) into sound (Lutters & Koehler, 2016). The translation of data into sound, known as sonification, has been applied to brain waves since the 1930s. In addition to early scientific and medical applications, sonification of the EEG has been used in the field of experimental music.In 1965, physicist Edmond Dewan and composer Alvin Lucier collaborated on Music for the Solo Performer:Sitting on a cha........ Read more »
Lutters, B., & Koehler, P. (2016) Brainwaves in concert: the 20th century sonification of the electroencephalogram. Brain. DOI: 10.1093/brain/aww207
Activity of the medial prefrontal cortex after psycho-spiritual healing (Baldwin et al., 2016).Everything we do and feel and experience changes the brain. Psychotherapy, juggling, taxi driving, poverty, reading, drugs, art, music, anger, love. If it didn't we'd be dead. Why should prayer be any different? The trick is to accurately determine the structural or physiological changes that are unique to a specific activity. And when assessing the effectiveness of clinical interventions, how the chan........ Read more »
Baldwin, P., Velasquez, K., Koenig, H., Salas, R., & Boelens, P. (2016) Neural correlates of healing prayers, depression and traumatic memories: A preliminary study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 123-129. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.07.002
Not a very good showing, eh?Here's our latest study on mediumship: "Prediction of Mortality Based on Facial Characteristics". Available here: https://t.co/jVMHmF07Dj— Dean Radin (@DeanRadin) May 21, 2016In the study,“Participants were asked to press a button if they thought the person in a photo was living or deceased. Overall mean accuracy on this task was 53.8%, where 50% was expected by chance (p < 0.004, two-tail). Statistically significant accuracy was independently obtained in 5 of ........ Read more »
Delorme, A., Pierce, A., Michel, L., & Radin, D. (2016) Prediction of Mortality Based on Facial Characteristics. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00173
Headache, Guillaume DELEBARRE (Guigui-Lille)A recent neuroessay in the New York Times asked, Can Tylenol Help Heal a Broken Heart?What’s crazy about the pain of a broken heart is that your body perceives it as physical pain.No it does not. Do you feel heartbroken every time you stub your toe?Well... I guess the social pain = physical pain isomorphism is a one way street. Anyway, the author continued:In research published in 2010, scientists found that acetaminophen can reduce physical and neur........ Read more »
Butcher, B., & Carmody, J. (2012) Sex differences in analgesic response to ibuprofen are influenced by expectancy: A randomized, crossover, balanced placebo-designed study. European Journal of Pain, 16(7), 1005-1013. DOI: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00104.x
VANGELISTI, A., PENNEBAKER, J., BRODY, N., & GUINN, T. (2014) Reducing social pain: Sex differences in the impact of physical pain relievers. Personal Relationships, 21(2), 349-363. DOI: 10.1111/pere.12036
You may have seen headlines such as: Florida Man Woke Up In A Motel Room Speaking Only Swedish. Or: Englishman wakes up speaking Welsh after stroke (“Rare brain disorder left English-speaking Alun Morgan only able to communicate in Welsh”). The first case was likely due to a fugue state, a type of dissociative disorder involving loss of personal identity and aimless wandering (Stengel, 1941). The second seems like an unusual example of bilingual aphasia involving loss of the ability to spea........ Read more »
Beschin, N., de Bruin, A., & Della Sala, S. (2016) Compulsive foreign language syndrome: A clinical observation not a mystery. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.04.020
Left: Belgian physician Dr. Wim Distelmans, a cancer specialist, professor in palliative care and the president of the Belgian federal euthanasia commission. Right: Generic acetaminophen.What (or who) is an “Empathy Killer“? An Angel of Death Kevorkian-type who helps terminal patients with ALS or cancer put an end their excruciating pain? This is a very selfless act that shows extreme empathy for the suffering of others.Or is an “Empathy Killer” a medication that dulls your numerical rat........ Read more »
Mischkowski, D., Crocker, J., & Way, B. (2016) From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsw057
When you hear the word “apple”, do you picture a Red Delicious apple or a green Granny Smith? Or neither, because you can't conjure up a visual image of an apple (or of anything else, for that matter)? Aphantasia is the inability to generate visual images, which can be a congenital condition or acquired after brain injury (Farah, 1984). The most striking aspect of this variation in mental life is that those of us with imagery assume that everyone else has it, while those without are flabberg........ Read more »
NINETY-TWO percent of retired National Football League players have decreased cognitive function, according to a new study:“In the NFL group, baseline neuropsychological assessments showed 92% of players had decreased general cognitive proficiency, 86% had decreased information processing speed, 83% had memory loss, 83% had attentional deficits, and 85% had executive function impairment.”The Truth?The study reported on a self-selected sample of 161 current and retired NFL players recruite........ Read more »
Daniel G. Amen, Kristen Willeumier, Bennet Omalu, Andrew Newberg, Cauligi Raghavendra, & Cyrus A. Raji. (2016) Perfusion Neuroimaging Abnormalities Alone Distinguish National Football League Players from a Healthy Population. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. info:/10.3233/JAD-160207
image: Mihály Vöröslakos / University of Szeged “Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS,” I warned last time. Now the infamous cadaver study has reared its ugly hot-wired head in Science News (Underwood, 2016).The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) had been called into question by Dr. György Buzsáki during his presentation at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting....Or had it?To recap, my understanding was that an unpublished study of transcranial e........ Read more »
Ozen, S., Sirota, A., Belluscio, M., Anastassiou, C., Stark, E., Koch, C., & Buzsaki, G. (2010) Transcranial Electric Stimulation Entrains Cortical Neuronal Populations in Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11476-11485. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5252-09.2010
Underwood, E. (2016) Cadaver study challenges brain stimulation methods. Science, 352(6284), 397-397. DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.397
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