The Neurocritic

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Deconstructing the most sensationalistic recent findings in Human Brain Imaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychopharmacology

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  • September 1, 2016
  • 04:22 AM
  • 227 views

Music from Your Brain

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • August 28, 2016
  • 06:29 PM
  • 228 views

Healing Prayer and the Brain: Not a Match Made in Heaven

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • August 8, 2016
  • 06:40 AM
  • 313 views

Scientific Study Shows Mediums Are Wrong 46.2% of the Time

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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  

  • June 7, 2016
  • 01:06 AM
  • 403 views

Advil Increases Social Pain (if you're male)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • May 30, 2016
  • 05:36 AM
  • 386 views

Compulsive Foreign Language Syndrome: Man Becomes Obsessed With Speaking Fake French

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • May 18, 2016
  • 06:02 AM
  • 473 views

Acetaminophen Probably Isn't an "Empathy Killer"

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • May 4, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 471 views

Imagine These Experiments in Aphantasia

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

  • May 1, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 442 views

The Truth About Cognitive Impairment in Retired NFL Players

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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

  • April 22, 2016
  • 06:22 AM
  • 450 views

What We Think We Know and Don't Know About tDCS

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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  

  • April 14, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 528 views

Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recent studies of transcranial electrical stimulation in human cadaver heads showed a 90% loss of current when delivered through the skin (Buzsáki, 2016 CNS meeting).Siren SongBy Margaret AtwoodThis is the one song everyone would like to learn: the songthat is irresistible:the song that forces mento leap overboard in squadronseven though they see the beached skullsthe song nobody knowsbecause anyone who has heard itis dead, and the others can't remember.Better living through electricity. The l........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2016
  • 04:46 AM
  • 420 views

Sleep Doctoring: Fatigue Amnesia in Physicians

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

New in the journal journal Cortex: four shocking cases of practicing medicine while exhausted  (Dharia & Zeman, 2016). The authors called this newly discovered syndrome “fatigue amnesia.” Why this is is any different from countless other examples of not remembering things you did while exhausted — I do not know. Except amnesia for performing a complex medical procedure is a lot more disturbing than forgetting you did the dishes the night before.Here are the cases in brief:Case 1:&........ Read more »

Dharia, S., & Zeman, A. (2016) Fatigue amnesia. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.03.001  

  • March 27, 2016
  • 09:03 PM
  • 520 views

Everybody Loves Dopamine

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Dopamine is love. Dopamine is reward. Dopamine is addiction.Neuroscientists have a love/hate relationship with how this monoamine neurotransmitter is portrayed in the popular press.wwlp.comthestranger.com[The claim of vagus nerve-stimulating headphones is worth a post in its own right.]observer.com“You can fold your laundry, but you can’t fold your dopamine.”- James Cole Abrams, M.A. (in Contemplative Psychotherapy)The word dopamine has become a shorthand for positive reinforcement, whethe........ Read more »

  • March 20, 2016
  • 08:06 AM
  • 605 views

A Detached Sense of Self Associated with Altered Neural Responses to Mirror Touch

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Our bodily sense of self contributes to our personal feelings of awareness as a conscious being. How we see our bodies and move through space and feel touched by loved ones are integral parts of our identity. What happens when this sense of self breaks down? One form of dissolution is Depersonalization Disorder (DPD).1 Individuals with DPD feel estranged or disconnected from themselves, as if their bodies belong to someone else, and “they” are merely a detached observer. Or the self feel........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2016
  • 06:26 AM
  • 553 views

Writing-Induced Fugue State

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Who is this, wandering around the crowded street, afraid of everything, trusting no one? “There must be something wrong, somewhere.”But maybe I’m safer since I look disheveled. Who are these people? Where is this place?Did I write that? When did that happen? I don’t remember. I can’t stop writing. I can’t stop walking, either, which is a problem because it’s hard to write and walk at the same time.In the early 1940s, Austrian Psychiatrist Dr. Erwin Stengel wrote a pair of papers........ Read more »

  • January 22, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 624 views

This Neuroimaging Method Has 100% Diagnostic Accuracy (or your money back)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129659.g003Did you know that SPECT imaging can diagnose PTSD with 100% accuracy (Amen et al., 2015)? Not only that, out of a sample of 397 patients from the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, SPECT was able to distinguish between four different groups with 100% accuracy! That's right, the scans of (1) healthy participants, and patients with (2) classic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (3) classic traumatic brain injury (TBI), and (4) both disorders..... were all classi........ Read more »

  • January 8, 2016
  • 07:47 AM
  • 770 views

Opioid Drugs for Mental Anguish: Basic Research and Clinical Trials

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The prescription opioid crisis of overdosing and overprescribing has reached epic proportions, according to the North American media. Just last week, we learned that 91% of patients who survive opioid overdose are prescribed more opioids! The CDC calls it an epidemic, and notes there's been “a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers and heroin.” A recent paper in the Annual Review of Public Health labels it a “public health crisis” and proposes “int........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 07:04 AM
  • 920 views

Social Pain Revisited: Opioids for Severe Suicidal Ideation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Does the pain of mental anguish rely on the same neural machinery as physical pain? Can we treat these dreaded ailments with the same medications? These issues have come to the fore in the field of social/cognitive/affective neuroscience.As many readers know, Lieberman and Eisenberger (2015) recently published a controversial paper claiming that a brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC, shown above) is “selective” for pain.1 This finding fits with their long-time narr........ Read more »

  • December 12, 2015
  • 05:47 PM
  • 749 views

This Week in Neuroblunders: Optogenetics Edition

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recent technological developments in neuroscience have enabled rapid advances in our knowledge of how neural circuits function in awake behaving animals. Highly targeted and reversible manipulations using light (optogenetics) or drugs have allowed scientists to demonstrate that activating a tiny population of neurons can evoke specific memories or induce insatiable feeding.But this week we learned these popular and precise brain stimulation and inactivation methods may produce spurious links to ........ Read more »

  • November 30, 2015
  • 01:34 AM
  • 745 views

Carving Up Brain Disorders

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Neurology and Psychiatry are two distinct specialties within medicine, both of which treat disorders of the brain. It's completely uncontroversial to say that neurologists treat patients with brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These two diseases produce distinct patterns of neurodegeneration that are visible on brain scans. For example, Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder caused by the loss of dopamine neurons in the midbrain.Fig. 3 (modified from Golds........ Read more »

Crossley, N., Scott, J., Ellison-Wright, I., & Mechelli, A. (2015) Neuroimaging distinction between neurological and psychiatric disorders. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 429-434. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.154393  

David, A., & Nicholson, T. (2015) Are neurological and psychiatric disorders different?. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 373-374. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.158550  

  • November 23, 2015
  • 12:58 AM
  • 954 views

Happiness Is a Large Precuneus

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What is happiness, and how do we find it? There are 93,290 books on happiness at Amazon.com. Happiness is Life's Most Important Skill, an Advantage and a Project and a Hypothesis that we can Stumble On and Hard-Wire in 21 Days.The Pursuit of Happiness is an Unalienable Right granted to all human beings, but it also generates billions of dollars for the self-help industry.And now the search for happiness is over! Scientists have determined that happiness is located in a small region of your righ........ Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

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