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 »
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
A peculiar new paper proposes the idea of "connecting two spinal cords as a way of sharing information between two brains". The author is Portuguese psychiatrist Amílcar Silva-dos-Santos and the paper appears in Frontiers in Psychology.
Frontiers are a publisher with a troubled history of publishing dubious science. But this paper is unusual, even by Frontiers' standards, because it contains virtually no science at all.
In a nutshell, Silva-Dos-Santos suggests that it would be interest... Read more »
Silva-Dos-Santos A. (2017) The Hypothesis of Connecting Two Spinal Cords as a Way of Sharing Information between Two Brains and Nervous Systems. Frontiers in psychology, 105. PMID: 28197119
New York street art. Photo inWikimedia Commons posted by Pedroalmovar.Oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone”, is a small chemical that is produced in the brain of mammals, but can both act as a neurotransmitter and enter the blood stream and act as a hormone. It has long been heralded for its role in both maternal and romantic love, but more recent research is showing us just how complicated the physiology of love can be.Oxytocin is released in mammalian mothers after birth. It promo........ Read more »
Zik JB, & Roberts DL. (2015) The many faces of oxytocin: implications for psychiatry. Psychiatry research, 226(1), 31-7. PMID: 25619431
Personality has often been conceptualized a a human feature shaped largely by nurture and environment.Unlike major neuroscience medicine disorders, personality features have been considered less influenced by brain structure and genetic influences.A recent brain structure (morphology) study puts these assumptions at risk.Roberta Riccelli along with colleagues in Italy and Florida State University studied brain structural features across 507 participants in the Human Connectome Project.All subjec........ Read more »
Riccelli R, Toschi N, Nigro S, Terracciano A, & Passamonti L. (2017) Surface-based morphometry reveals the neuroanatomical basis of the five-factor model of personality. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience. PMID: 28122961
A new paper challenges a decades-old theory in neuroscience: Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness
According to the famous work of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, "split brain" patients seem to experience a split in consciousness: the left and the right side of their brain can independently become aware of, and respond, to stimuli. Split brain patients are those who underwent surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve tract connecting the two hemispheres of ... Read more »
Pinto Y, Neville DA, Otten M, Corballis PM, Lamme VA, de Haan EH, Foschi N, & Fabri M. (2017) Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness. Brain : a journal of neurology. PMID: 28122878
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
... Read more »
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
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.