The Neurocritic

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

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  • November 28, 2016
  • 04:51 AM
  • 114 views

Airplane Headache II: The Sequel

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic




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).



... Read more »

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  

  • November 21, 2016
  • 11:55 AM
  • 162 views

How did Gall Identify his 27 Faculties?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic





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

... Read more »

  • October 30, 2016
  • 08:54 PM
  • 188 views

Haunting Delusions of Identity

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

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 »

Courbon, P., & Tusques, J. (1994) Illusions d'intermetamorphose et de charme. History of Psychiatry, 5(17), 139-146. DOI: 10.1177/0957154X9400501711  

Ellis, H., Luauté, J., & Retterstøl, N. (1994) Delusional Misidentification Syndromes. Psychopathology, 27(3-5), 117-120. DOI: 10.1159/000284856  

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  

Silva, A., Leong, G., & Shaner, A. (1991) The Syndrome of Intermetamorphosis. Psychopathology, 24(3), 158-165. DOI: 10.1159/000284709  

Silva, A., & Leong, G. (1994) Delusions of Psychological Change of the Self. Psychopathology, 27(6), 285-290. DOI: 10.1159/000284885  

  • September 1, 2016
  • 04:22 AM
  • 377 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
  • 328 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
  • 418 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
  • 507 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
  • 506 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
  • 569 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
  • 578 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
  • 531 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
  • 539 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
  • 610 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
  • 518 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
  • 629 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
  • 734 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
  • 668 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
  • 696 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
  • 867 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
  • 1,021 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 »

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