The Neurocritic

291 posts · 279,337 views

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.

The Neurocritic
291 posts

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  • August 1, 2015
  • 08:42 PM
  • 32 views

The Idiosyncratic Side of Diagnosis by Brain Scan and Machine Learning

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

R2D3R2D3 recently had a fantastic Visual Introduction to Machine Learning, using the classification of homes in San Francisco vs. New York as their example. As they explain quite simply: In machine learning, computers apply statistical learning techniques to automatically identify patterns in data. These techniques can be used to make highly accurate predictions. You should really head over there right now to view it, because it's very impressive.Computational neuroscience types are using machin........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2015
  • 04:09 AM
  • 101 views

Can Tetris Reduce Intrusive Memories of a Trauma Film?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

For some inexplicable reason, you watched the torture gore horror film Hostel over the weekend. On Monday, you're having trouble concentrating at work. Images of severed limbs and bludgeoned heads keep intruding on your attempts to code or write a paper. So you decide to read about the making of Hostel.You end up seeing pictures of the most horrifying scenes from the movie. It's all way too way much to simply shake off so then you decide to play Tetris. But a funny thing happens. The unwelcome i........ Read more »

  • June 28, 2015
  • 03:05 AM
  • 128 views

Who Will Pay for All the New DBS Implants?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recently, Science and Nature had news features on big BRAIN funding for the development of deep brain stimulation technologies. The ultimate aim of this research is to treat and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Both pieces raised ethical issues, focused on device manufacturers and potential military applications, respectively.A different ethical concern, not mentioned in either article, is who will have access to these new devices, and who is goin........ Read more »

  • June 21, 2015
  • 06:28 AM
  • 212 views

The Future of Depression Treatment

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

2014Jessica is depressed again. After six straight weeks of overtime, her boss blandly praised her teamwork at the product launch party. And the following week she was passed over for a promotion in favor of Jason, her junior co-worker. "It's always that way, I'll never get ahead..." She arrives at her therapist's office late, looking stressed, disheveled, and dejected. The same old feelings of worthlessness and despair prompted her to resume her medication and CBT routine."You deserve to be rec........ Read more »

Liu, X., Ramirez, S., Redondo, R., & Tonegawa, S. (2014) Identification and Manipulation of Memory Engram Cells. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 59-65. DOI: 10.1101/sqb.2014.79.024901  

Ramirez, S., Liu, X., MacDonald, C., Moffa, A., Zhou, J., Redondo, R., & Tonegawa, S. (2015) Activating positive memory engrams suppresses depression-like behaviour. Nature, 522(7556), 335-339. DOI: 10.1038/nature14514  

Timmins, L., & Lombard, M. (2005) When “Real” Seems Mediated: Inverse Presence. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 14(4), 492-500. DOI: 10.1162/105474605774785307  

  • June 7, 2015
  • 01:12 PM
  • 213 views

Use of Anti-Inflammatories Associated with Threefold Increase in Homicides

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Scene from Elephant, a fictional film by Gus Van SantRegular use of over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen was associated with three times the risk of committing a homicide in a new Finnish study (Tiihonen et al., 2015). The association between NSAID use and murderous acts was far greater than the risk posed by antidepressants.Clearly, drug companies are pushing dangerous, toxic chemicals and we should ban the substances that are causing school massa........ Read more »

Tiihonen, J., Lehti, M., Aaltonen, M., Kivivuori, J., Kautiainen, H., J. Virta, L., Hoti, F., Tanskanen, A., & Korhonen, P. (2015) Psychotropic drugs and homicide: A prospective cohort study from Finland. World Psychiatry, 14(2), 245-247. DOI: 10.1002/wps.20220  

  • May 31, 2015
  • 09:33 PM
  • 212 views

Capgras for Cats and Canaries

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Capgras syndrome is the delusion that a familiar person has been replaced by a nearly identical duplicate. The imposter is usually a loved one or a person otherwise close to the patient.Originally thought to be a manifestation of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses, the syndrome is most often seen in individuals with dementia (Josephs, 2007). It can also result from acquired damage to a secondary (dorsal) face recognition system important for connecting the received images with an affe........ Read more »

Ellis, H., & Young, A. (1990) Accounting for delusional misidentifications. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 157(2), 239-248. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.157.2.239  

Rösler, A., Holder, G., & Seifritz, E. (2001) Canary Capgras. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 13(3), 429-429. DOI: 10.1176/jnp.13.3.429  

  • May 16, 2015
  • 02:00 PM
  • 223 views

Shooting the Phantom Head (perceptual delusional bicephaly)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

I have two headsWhere's the man, he's late--Throwing Muses, Devil's Roof Medical journals are enlivened by case reports of bizarre and unusual syndromes. Although somatic delusions are relatively common in schizophrenia, reports of hallucinations and delusions of bicephaly are rare. For a patient to attempt to remove a perceived second head by shooting and to survive the experience for more than two years may well be unique, and merits presentation. --David Ames, British Journal of Psychiatry (1........ Read more »

Ames, D. (1984) Self shooting of a phantom head. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 145(2), 193-194. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.145.2.193  

  • May 5, 2015
  • 06:14 AM
  • 205 views

Tylenol Doesn't Really Blunt Your Emotions

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

A new study has found that the pain reliever TYLENOL® (acetaminophen) not only dampens negative emotions, it blunts positive emotions too. Or does it?Durso and colleagues (2015) reckoned that if acetaminophen can lessen the sting of psychological pain (Dewall et al., 2010; Randles et al., 2013) – which is doubtful in my view – then it might also lessen reactivity to positive stimuli. Evidence in favor of their hypothesis would support differential susceptibility, the notion that the same ........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2015
  • 11:53 PM
  • 208 views

FDA says no to marketing FDDNP for CTE

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently admonished TauMark™, a brain diagnostics company, for advertising brain scans that can diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Alzheimer's disease, and other types of dementia. The Los Angeles Times reported that the FDA ordered UCLA researcher Dr. Gary Small and his colleague/business partner Dr. Jorge Barrio to remove misleading information from their company website (example shown below).CTE has been in the news because the neurodegene........ Read more »

Barrio, J., Small, G., Wong, K., Huang, S., Liu, J., Merrill, D., Giza, C., Fitzsimmons, R., Omalu, B., Bailes, J.... (2015) In vivo characterization of chronic traumatic encephalopathy using [F-18]FDDNP PET brain imaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201409952. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409952112  

Zimmer, E., Leuzy, A., Gauthier, S., & Rosa-Neto, P. (2014) Developments in Tau PET Imaging. The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 41(05), 547-553. DOI: 10.1017/cjn.2014.15  

  • March 16, 2015
  • 05:47 AM
  • 243 views

Update on the BROADEN Trial of DBS for Treatment-Resistant Depression

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Website for the BROADEN™ study, which was terminatedIn these days of irrational exuberance about neural circuit models, it's wise to remember the limitations of current deep brain stimulation (DBS) methods to treat psychiatric disorders. If you recall (from late 2013), Neurotech Business Report revealed that "St. Jude Medical failed a futility analysis of its BROADEN trial of DBS for treatment of depression..."A recent comment on my old post about the BROADEN Trial1 had an even more pessimist........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2015
  • 12:26 AM
  • 195 views

Daylight Savings Time and "The Dress"

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

もう何番煎じかも分からないけど例のドレス問題をまとめてみました。青黒/白金に見える人の色覚やモニタを疑ってる人はぜひご覧ください。 pic.twitter.com/6euNYw9xUa— ぶどう茶 (@budoucha) February 27, 2015Could one's chronotype (degree of "morningness" vs. "eveningness") be related to your membership on Team white/gold vs. Team blue/black?Dreaded by night owls everywhere, Daylight Savings Time forces us to get up an hour earlier. Yes, ........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2015
  • 02:48 AM
  • 302 views

One Brain Network for All Mental Illness

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What do schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety have in common? A loss of gray matter in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and bilateral anterior insula, according to a recent review of the structural neuroimaging literature (Goodkind et al., 2015). These two brain regions are important for executive functions, the top-down cognitive processes that allow us to maintain goals and flexibly alter our behavior in response to ........ Read more »

Goodkind, M., Eickhoff, S., Oathes, D., Jiang, Y., Chang, A., Jones-Hagata, L., Ortega, B., Zaiko, Y., Roach, E., Korgaonkar, M.... (2015) Identification of a Common Neurobiological Substrate for Mental Illness. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2206  

  • January 26, 2015
  • 06:23 AM
  • 317 views

Is it necessary to use brain imaging to understand teen girls' sexual decision making?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

“It is feasible to recruit and retain a cohort of female participants to perform a functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] task focused on making decisions about sex, on the basis of varying levels of hypothetical sexual risk, and to complete longitudinal prospective diaries following this task. Preliminary evidence suggests that risk level differentially impacts brain activity related to sexual decision making in these women [i.e., girls aged 14-15 yrs], which may be related to pas........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2015
  • 05:32 AM
  • 266 views

Interfering With Traumatic Memories of the Boston Marathon Bombings

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013 killed three people and injured hundreds of others near the finish line of the iconic footrace. The oldest and most prominent marathon in the world, Boston attracts over 20,000 runners and 500,000 spectators. The terrorist act shocked and traumatized and unified the city.What should the survivors do with their traumatic memories of the event? Many with disabling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive therapy to lessen the impact of the trauma........ Read more »

  • January 2, 2015
  • 08:38 PM
  • 328 views

The Futility of Progesterone for Traumatic Brain Injury (but hope for the future)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem that affects about 1.5 million people per year in the US, with direct and indirect medical costs of over $50 billion. Rapid intervention to reduce the risk of death and disability is crucial. The diagnosis and treatment of TBI is an area of active preclinical and clinical research funded by NIH and other federal agencies. But during the White House BRAIN Conference, a leading neurosurgeon painted a pessimistic picture of current tre........ Read more »

Skolnick, B., Maas, A., Narayan, R., van der Hoop, R., MacAllister, T., Ward, J., Nelson, N., & Stocchetti, N. (2014) A Clinical Trial of Progesterone for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(26), 2467-2476. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411090  

Wright, D., Yeatts, S., Silbergleit, R., Palesch, Y., Hertzberg, V., Frankel, M., Goldstein, F., Caveney, A., Howlett-Smith, H., Bengelink, E.... (2014) Very Early Administration of Progesterone for Acute Traumatic Brain Injury. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(26), 2457-2466. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1404304  

  • December 25, 2014
  • 05:00 PM
  • 386 views

Eliciting Mirth and Laughter via Cortical Stimulation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Ho ho ho!“Laughter consists of both motor and emotional aspects. The emotional component, known as mirth, is usually associated with the motor component, namely, bilateral facial movements.”-Yamao et al. (2014)The subject of laughter has been under an increasing amount of scientific scrutiny.  A recent review by Dr. Sophie Scott and colleagues (Scott et al., 2014) emphasized that laughter is a social emotion. During conversations, voluntary laughter by the speaker is a communicative a........ Read more »

LÜDERS, H., LESSER, R., HAHN, J., DINNER, D., MORRIS, H., WYLLIE, E., & GODOY, J. (1991) BASAL TEMPORAL LANGUAGE AREA. Brain, 114(2), 743-754. DOI: 10.1093/brain/114.2.743  

Scott, S., Lavan, N., Chen, S., & McGettigan, C. (2014) The social life of laughter. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(12), 618-620. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.09.002  

Wild, B., & et al. (2003) Neural correlates of laughter and humour. Brain, 126(10), 2121-2138. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awg226  

Yamao, Y., Matsumoto, R., Kunieda, T., Shibata, S., Shimotake, A., Kikuchi, T., Satow, T., Mikuni, N., Fukuyama, H., Ikeda, A.... (2014) Neural correlates of mirth and laughter: A direct electrical cortical stimulation study. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.11.008  

  • December 22, 2014
  • 12:32 AM
  • 377 views

Go to Bed Early and Cure Your Negative Ruminations!

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Source: Alyssa L. Miller, Flickr.For nearly 9 years, this blog has been harping on the blight of overblown press releases, with posts like:Irresponsible Press Release Gives False Hope to People With Tourette's, OCD, and SchizophreniaPress Release: Press Releases Are PrestidigitationNew research provides fresh evidence that bogus press releases may depend largely on our biological make-upSave Us From Misleading Press Releasesetc.So it was heartening to see a team of UK researchers formally evalua........ Read more »

  • October 30, 2014
  • 07:59 AM
  • 412 views

Fright Week: The Stranger in the Mirror

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In the mirror we see our physical selves as we truly are, even though the image might not live up to what we want, or what we once were. But we recognize the image as “self”. In rare instances, however, this reality breaks down.In Black Swan, Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a ballerina who auditions for the lead in Swan Lake. The role requires her to dance the part of the innocent White Swan (for which she is well-suited), as well as her evil twin the Black Swan — which is initially out........ Read more »

Barnier AJ, Cox RE, Connors M, Langdon R, & Coltheart M. (2011) A stranger in the looking glass: developing and challenging a hypnotic mirrored-self misidentification delusion. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 59(1), 1-26. PMID: 21104482  

Chandra SR, & Issac TG. (2014) Mirror image agnosia. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 36(4), 400-3. PMID: 25336773  

Mendez MF, Martin RJ, Smyth KA, & Whitehouse PJ. (1992) Disturbances of person identification in Alzheimer's disease. A retrospective study. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 180(2), 94-6. PMID: 1737981  

  • October 25, 2014
  • 09:58 PM
  • 399 views

Fright Week: The Waking Nightmare of Lord Voldemort

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Nightmares can seem very real at times, but then we wake up and realize it was all a bad dream. Now imagine having a vivid nightmare with all the reality of waking life and then... it turns out you're actually awake through it all!This happened to an 11 year old Italian boy who reported frightening auditory and visual hallucinations of Voldemort, the archenemy of Harry Potter, for three straight days. These hallucinations began after a bout of sore throat and fever (38°C).  As Vita et........ Read more »

Vita MG, Batocchi AP, Dittoni S, Losurdo A, Cianfoni A, Stefanini MC, Vollono C, Della Marca G, & Mariotti P. (2008) Visual hallucinations and pontine demyelination in a child: possible REM dissociation?. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 4(6), 588-90. PMID: 19110890  

  • October 15, 2014
  • 04:36 AM
  • 416 views

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Mid-Cingulate Cortex

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What happens in the brain during a highly immersive reading experience? According to the fiction feeling hypothesis (Jacobs, 2014), narratives with highly emotional content cause a deeper sense of immersion by engaging the affective empathy network to a greater extent than neutral narratives. Emotional empathy – in this case, the ability to identify with a fictional character via grounded metarepresentations of ‘global emotional moments’ (Hsu et al., 2014) – relies on  a number of b........ Read more »

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