In 1860, when John Hughlings Jackson was just beginning his career as a physician, neurology did not yet exist as a medical specialty. In fact, at that time there had been little attention paid to developing a standard approach to treating patients with neurological disease. Such an approach was one of Jackson's greatest contributions to neuroscience. He advocated for examining each patient individually in an attempt to iden........ Read more »
York GK, Steinberg DA. (2007) An Introduction to the Life and Work of John Hughlings Jackson. Med Hist Suppl., 3-34. info:/
By Matthew Whitley Imagine you are walking alone in parking lot, when suddenly somebody grabs you by the arm and flashes a knife, demanding your money. Do you A) scream for help, B) try to wrestle the knife away, or C) remove your arm from your shoulder and make a break for it? Disarming your assailant may seem preferable to dis-arming yourself, but for a lizard option C is a likely response. A lizard tail left behind. Image by Metatron at Wikimedia Commons.You likely have heard before that many........ Read more »
Bateman, P., & Fleming, P. (2009) To cut a long tail short: a review of lizard caudal autotomy studies carried out over the last 20 years. Journal of Zoology, 277(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00484.x
Gilbert, E., Payne, S., & Vickaryous, M. (2013) The Anatomy and Histology of Caudal Autotomy and Regeneration in Lizards. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 86(6), 631-644. DOI: 10.1086/673889
It is always frustrating when you hear about a financial scam that has target a vulnerable population like the elderly population.Elderly individuals may be targeted for a variety of reasons. First, they often have financial resources. Second, they may be a generally more trustworthy group increasing risk for falling for a scam. Third, elderly may suffer from some age-related brain changes that impair cognition and judgment.A recent research study suggests specific brain deficits may increase vu........ Read more »
Spreng, R., Cassidy, B., Darboh, B., DuPre, E., Lockrow, A., Setton, R., & Turner, G. (2017) Financial Exploitation Is Associated With Structural and Functional Brain Differences in Healthy Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glx051
As a neuroscientist, when I think of the retina I am trained to think of a precise set of neurons that functions like a machine, grinding out the visual basis of the world and sending it on to the brain. It … Continue reading →... Read more »
Repérant J, Médina M, Ward R, Miceli D, Kenigfest NB, Rio JP, & Vesselkin NP. (2007) The evolution of the centrifugal visual system of vertebrates. A cladistic analysis and new hypotheses. Brain research reviews, 53(1), 161-97. PMID: 17059846
Theory of Mind (ToM) is a concept describing the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling.Today in my neuroscience medicine news review I ran across a novel, interesting and important research study targeting brain development in ToM.Normally developing children develop ToM around 4 years of age. In the study published in Nature Communications, a research team at the Max Planck Institute in Germany studied white matter development in 3 to 4 year old children.Using a serie........ Read more »
Grosse Wiesmann C, Schreiber J, Singer T, Steinbeis N, & Friederici AD. (2017) White matter maturation is associated with the emergence of Theory of Mind in early childhood. Nature communications, 14692. PMID: 28322222
There was a time when the neuroscience world was consumed by the question of how individual neurons were coding information about the world. Was it in the average firing rate? Or did every precise spike matter, down to the millisecond? Was … Continue reading →... Read more »
Srivastava KH, Holmes CM, Vellema M, Pack AR, Elemans CP, Nemenman I, & Sober SJ. (2017) Motor control by precisely timed spike patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(5), 1171-1176. PMID: 28100491
Nemenman I, Lewen GD, Bialek W, & de Ruyter van Steveninck RR. (2008) Neural coding of natural stimuli: information at sub-millisecond resolution. PLoS computational biology, 4(3). PMID: 18369423
What IS that? A photo by Stefan Kraft at Wikimedia Commons.1. Platypuses are so strange, that when British scientists first encountered one, they thought it was a joke: A Governor of New South Wales, Australia, sent a platypus pelt and sketch to British scientists in 1798. Even in their first published scientific description of the species, biologists thought that this duck-beaked, beaver-bodied, web-footed specimen may be some Frankenstein-like creation stitched together as a hoax. But this is ........ Read more »
Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grützner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A.... (2008) Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453(7192), 175-183. DOI: 10.1038/nature06936
The evolving epidemic of opioid overdose and overdose deaths is receiving increased public and research attention.Opioids overdoses and overdose deaths are often unintentional or accidental. It has been known that concurrent use of opioids with alcohol or benzodiazepines (i.e. Valium or Xanax) increases risk for overdose toxicity.A recent study published in the British Medical Journal confirmed the association of concurrent benzodiazepine prescription with opioid overdose.This research team exam........ Read more »
Sun EC, Dixit A, Humphreys K, Darnall BD, Baker LC, & Mackey S. (2017) Association between concurrent use of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines and overdose: retrospective analysis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 28292769
I just read a concerning paper about an experimental stem cell treatment for children with autism.
The authors are Himanshu Bansal and colleagues of India. The senior author, Prasad S Koka, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Stem Cells where the paper appeared, which raises questions about whether the manuscript received a thorough peer review. Koka is actually an author on all five of the research papers published in that issue of the journal. But that's a minor issue compared ... Read more »
Bansal H, Verma P, Agrawal A, Leon J, Sundell IB, Koka PS. (2016) A Short Study Report on Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate Cell Therapy in Ten South Asian Indian Patients with Autism. Journal of Stem Cells, 11(1). info:/
Emotional intelligence (EI) is characterized by the ability to recognize emotional states in self and in others.This emotional recognition may be helpful in guiding behavior and in improving interpersonal relationships.It seems logical on a face validity level to assume that higher levels of EI would be good in the selection of students for medical school.However, there are few studies assessing EI in physicians. There are fewer studies that examine whether EI influences physician behavior, pati........ Read more »
Shahid, R., Stirling, J., & Adams, W. (2016) Assessment of Emotional Intelligence in Pediatric and Med-Peds Residents. Journal of Contemporary Medical Education, 4(4), 153. DOI: 10.5455/jcme.20170116015415
How much damage can the brain take and still function normally? In a new paper, A Lesion-Proof Brain?, Argentinian researchers Adolfo M. García et al. describe the striking case of a woman who shows no apparent deficits despite widespread brain damage.
The patient, "CG", is 44 years old and was previously healthy until a series of strokes lesioned large parts of her brain, as shown below.
García et al. say that the damage included "extensive compromise of the right fronto-temporo-parie... Read more »
García, A., Sedeño, L., Herrera Murcia, E., Couto, B., & Ibáñez, A. (2017) A Lesion-Proof Brain? Multidimensional Sensorimotor, Cognitive, and Socio-Affective Preservation Despite Extensive Damage in a Stroke Patient. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00335
Amyloid brain plaques are well-known pathological changes associated with Alzheimer's disease. Changes preceding amyloid plaque build up are less well studied and understood. Some of this relates to limitations to current imaging technology.Klementieva and colleagues from Sweden and Spain recently published an important reserach topic in this area.Their studied used a rat model of Alzheimer's disease and imaging techniques that included infrared microspectroscopy and gel electrophoresis.The........ Read more »
Klementieva, O., Willén, K., Martinsson, I., Israelsson, B., Engdahl, A., Cladera, J., Uvdal, P., & Gouras, G. (2017) Pre-plaque conformational changes in Alzheimer’s disease-linked Aβ and APP. Nature Communications, 14726. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14726
Older drivers are over-represented in motor-vehicle driving accidents.The lowest rate of fatal vehicle crashes per 100 million miles driven is found in drivers between the ages of 30-69 years of age.Fatal vehicle driving rates per miles driven is 4 to 5 times higher in drivers over 80 years of age. (IIHS.org data)So can older drivers be trained or educated to improve their safety (and the safety o those around them)?A recent randomized controlled trial examined an educational intervention in dri........ Read more »
Coxon K, Chevalier A, Brown J, Clarke E, Billot L, Boufous S, Ivers R, & Keay L. (2016) Effects of a Safe Transportation Educational Program for Older Drivers on Driving Exposure and Community Participation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. PMID: 27943260
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
... Read more »
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
Imagine there is a cookie sitting in front of you. You are hungry. You have been on a diet for months. If you have to look at one more raw, paleo, gluten free snack you are going to scream.... Read more »
Lehne, M., & Koelsch, S. (2015) Toward a general psychological model of tension and suspense. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00079
Naqvi, N., Gaznick, N., Tranel, D., & Bechara, A. (2014) The insula: A critical neural substrate for craving and drug seeking under conflict and risk. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 53-70. PMID: 24690001
Saarikallio, S., Nieminen, S., & Brattico, E. (2012) Affective reactions to musical stimuli reflect emotional use of music in everyday life. Musicae Scientiae, 17(1), 27-39. DOI: 10.1177/1029864912462381
What happens in the brain when we die?
Canadian researchers Loretta Norton and colleagues of the University of Western Ontario examine this grave question in a new paper: Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death
Norton et al. examined frontal EEG recordings from four critically ill patients at the point where their life support was withdrawn. Here are some details on the four:
Here's the EEG recor... Read more »
Norton L, Gibson RM, Gofton T, Benson C, Dhanani S, Shemie SD, Hornby L, Ward R, & Young GB. (2017) Electroencephalographic Recordings During Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Therapy Until 30 Minutes After Declaration of Death. The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 44(2), 139-145. PMID: 28231862
There are significant barriers to widespread use of hearing-aids in older adults with age-related hearing loss.Sensitivity to the stigma of wearing a hearing-aid is one barrier.Cost is another significant barrier. In the U.S., bilateral hearing-aid purchase amounts to a cost of $2400 to $5800. This cost is typically not covered by Medicare or other health insurance plans.I ran into a interesting manuscript on looking at an alternative less costlier approach to hearing-aid selection and purchase......... Read more »
Humes, L., Rogers, S., Quigley, T., Main, A., Kinney, D., & Herring, C. (2017) The Effects of Service-Delivery Model and Purchase Price on Hearing-Aid Outcomes in Older Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. American Journal of Audiology, 1. DOI: 10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0111
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
... Read more »
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
Despite centuries of experience in education, the best time to start formal education is still under debate. Is five years of age too old? Is three years of age too early?One issue with early education interventions is the potential for catch-up in children starting school later. In other words, early gains with younger children may evaporate overtime.One recent research study examines effectiveness of a child development intervention known as Educare. Educare seeks to reduce the achievement gap........ Read more »
Yazejian, N., Bryant, D., Hans, S., Horm, D., St. Clair, L., File, N., & Burchinal, M. (2017) Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12688
Where are the mammillary bodies?
The mammillary bodies are part of the diencephalon, which is a collection of structures found between the brainstem and cerebrum. The diencephalon includes the hypothalamus, and the mammillary bodies are found on the inferior surface of the hypothalamus (the side of the hypothalamus that is closer to the brainstem). The mam........ Read more »
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