Shelly Fan , Shelly Fan

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  • March 2, 2014
  • 04:00 PM

How do we perceive musical beats?

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Have you ever found yourself subconsciously nodding your head, tapping a finger or matching your footsteps to the beat of a tune? You’re not alone....... Read more »

  • February 19, 2014
  • 01:45 PM

Custom Targeting Beacons Harness Cellular Executioners to Fight Disease

by Shelly in Neurorexia

I'm over at the Canadian Science Writers' Association today, talking about a new way to wipe out undesirable proteins with custom-designed molecules. "Undesirable" can mean many things, from mutated proteins in neurodegenerative diseases to proteins that cause cell death after a stroke or trauma to the brain. This post is a bit different than usual as it talks about my own recently published research. Hat tip to Colin Schultz for his excellent edits to my original draft, whic........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 04:28 PM

What happens in the brain when you learn a mnemonic?

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

This is part of a series exploring the brains behind exceptional memory: to what extent is it natural and learnt? How fast can a complete...... Read more »

Nyberg L, Sandblom J, Jones S, Neely AS, Petersson KM, Ingvar M, & Bäckman L. (2003) Neural correlates of training-related memory improvement in adulthood and aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100(23), 13728-33. PMID: 14597711  

  • February 4, 2014
  • 07:34 PM

Don't remember your baby days? Blame new neurons!

by Shelly in Neurorexia

Think back to when you were two years old. Think HARD. Anything? If you’re like most people, you’re probably drawing a blank. Across cultures, adults can’t seem to recall any events that occurred in the first 2-3 years of their lives; memories between 3-7 years of age are often filled with gaping gaps and a healthy mix of reality and fantasy. This phenomenon, first dubbed by Sigmund Freud in 1900 as “infantile amnesia,” has left scientists scratching their heads for decades.... Read more »

Josselyn SA, & Frankland PW. (2012) Infantile amnesia: a neurogenic hypothesis. Learning , 19(9), 423-33. PMID: 22904373  

  • January 30, 2014
  • 02:53 AM

Fighting depression with a memory palace

by Shelly in Neurorexia

Thinking back on happy experiences is a proven way to help deal with the lows of life. But for those suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, accessing such memories is incredibly difficult; instead, they tend to ruminate over negative and self-devaluating incidents. Even worse, when they do recall happier times, they are unable to retrieve a positive moment in life to re-experience in their minds. Instead, they focus on the abstract, contemplating the causes, meanings and consequences of memor........ Read more »

  • January 24, 2014
  • 04:39 PM

Tweaking the epigenome may erase a haunting fear

by Shelly in Neurorexia

Old fear memories are hard to erase because of a protein called HDAC2 that shuts down the expression of neuroplasticity genes required for memory updating. Inhibiting HDAC2 before recall and extinction training persistently erased a remote fear memory in rats. HDAC2 inhibitors are in clinical trials for cancer, but currently lack the specificity needed to treat PTSD.... Read more »

Gräff J, Joseph NF, Horn ME, Samiei A, Meng J, Seo J, Rei D, Bero AW, Phan TX, Wagner F.... (2014) Epigenetic Priming of Memory Updating during Reconsolidation to Attenuate Remote Fear Memories. Cell, 156(1-2), 261-76. PMID: 24439381  

  • January 15, 2014
  • 08:24 PM

Two cups of coffee after learning may cure your forgetful streak

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Like most junkies, I struggle to come up with excuses to justify my addiction. Lucky for me, increasing evidence is supporting my semi-hourly coffee habit: caffeine, the world’s favourite drug, not only keeps you awake and alert, but may also boost your memory. Perhaps in an effort to excuse their own coffee addiction, many research […]... Read more »

Borota D, Murray E, Keceli G, Chang A, Watabe JM, Ly M, Toscano JP, & Yassa MA. (2014) Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans. Nature neuroscience. PMID: 24413697  

  • December 23, 2013
  • 03:32 PM

Christmas food for thought: Feed me, all 100 trillion of me

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

The morning before Christmas eve, I’m sitting here in the dining room munching happily on the bits and pieces of what’s left of our gingerbread house that was only erected to its full glory the night before. I have not consumed this amount of carbohydrates in over a year. Inside, a few species of my […]... Read more »

David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, Gootenberg DB, Button JE, Wolfe BE, Ling AV, Devlin AS, Varma Y, Fischbach MA.... (2013) Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. PMID: 24336217  

  • December 19, 2013
  • 06:16 PM

Christmas food for thought: which booze causes the worst hangover?

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

What’s Christmas without a bottle of good wine, a snifter (or two) of peaty Ardburg and a few raunchy family tales that, upon awakening the next morning with a pulsing head and stone-cold sober realization, constitute as Too Much Information that you wish had never graced your ears? If you’re like me, however, you’re probably […]... Read more »

Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Arnedt JT, Almeida AB, Greece J, Minsky S, Kempler CS, & Sales S. (2010) Intoxication with bourbon versus vodka: effects on hangover, sleep, and next-day neurocognitive performance in young adults. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 34(3), 509-18. PMID: 20028364  

  • December 14, 2013
  • 05:15 PM

Christmas food for thought: the gains and pains of laughter

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

As Christmas approaches like a freight train I, like many, scramble to buy last minute gifts and prepare myself to gorge on feasts and booze and laughter(?) – all part of a joyous(??) family gathering. In last effort to procrastinate until the very end, I present to you this short series of posts on various […]... Read more »

  • November 27, 2013
  • 06:55 PM

OTC painkiller may blunt memory loss from puffing pot

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Pot’s not the best thing for your memory. Yes, I know there are functional potheads who enjoy their greens and get also their work done. Still, it’s hard to ignore the legions of studies that show Δ9-THC consumption impairs spatial learning and working memory – that is, the ability to hold several pieces of information […]... Read more »

Rongqing Chen et al. (2013) Δ9-THC-Caused Synaptic and Memory Impairments Are Mediated through COX-2 Signaling. Cell, 155(5), 1154-1165. info:/

  • November 23, 2013
  • 03:07 PM

People with superhuman memories still mistake fantasy for reality

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

When I was young, the one superpower I craved above all was perfect memory. I’d picture my eyes as camcorder lenses, recording everything I read, saw and experienced into the Kodak film that was my brain. Anytime I wanted to re-experience something, I’d simply hit a mental “play” button and BAM! The video of my […]... Read more »

Patihis L, Frenda SJ, Leport AK, Petersen N, Nichols RM, Stark CE, McGaugh JL, & Loftus EF. (2013) False memories in highly superior autobiographical memory individuals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 24248358  

  • October 30, 2013
  • 03:20 PM

The forgotten case of the sleepy virus

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

I spent last night rewatching the Steven Soderbergh classic “Contagion“. Halfway through I realized that a story of an unidentified, mind-bending infectious brain disease would make the perfect neuroscience halloween tale. This is not “based” on a true story. It IS a true story. The year is 1917. Dr. Constantin Economo sat deep in thought, staring […]... Read more »

Vilensky JA, Foley P, & Gilman S. (2007) Children and encephalitis lethargica: a historical review. Pediatric neurology, 37(2), 79-84. PMID: 17675021  

Dourmashkin RR, Dunn G, Castano V, & McCall SA. (2012) Evidence for an enterovirus as the cause of encephalitis lethargica. BMC infectious diseases, 136. PMID: 22715890  

Dale RC, Church AJ, Surtees RA, Lees AJ, Adcock JE, Harding B, Neville BG, & Giovannoni G. (2004) Encephalitis lethargica syndrome: 20 new cases and evidence of basal ganglia autoimmunity. Brain : a journal of neurology, 127(Pt 1), 21-33. PMID: 14570817  

  • October 14, 2013
  • 08:22 PM

Exercise in a pill…again?

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

When life gets rough, I go out for a run. A sweet tune, a steady pace, a great view and all the anxiety and stress that plague me melt away. Though tough to get into, exercise is not only beneficial for your cardiovascular health, but also improves cognition and mood. For those who’ve suffered strokes, […]... Read more »

Christiane D. Wrann, James P. White, John Salogiannnis, Dina Laznik-Bogoslavsk, Jun Wu, Di Ma, Jiandie D. Lin, Michael E. Greenberg, & Bruce M. Spiegelman. (2013) Exercise Induces Hippocampal BDNF through a PGC-1a/FNDC5 Pathway. Cell Metabolism. info:/met.2013.09.008

  • October 5, 2013
  • 12:41 PM

How a pheromone wards of acts of pedophilia in mice

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Adult male mice tend to be a pretty randy bunch – unchained by humanistic social norms, they freely express their sexuality, often mounting multiple newly introduced females in a day when given the chance. Nevertheless, most adult males seem to have a “legal-or-not” radar, and stay far, far away from prepubescent females. Why? Unlike humans […]... Read more »

Ferrero DM, Moeller LM, Osakada T, Horio N, Li Q, Roy DS, Cichy A, Spehr M, Touhara K, & Liberles SD. (2013) A juvenile mouse pheromone inhibits sexual behaviour through the vomeronasal system. Nature. PMID: 24089208  

  • September 23, 2013
  • 09:26 PM

Feline Fever, Forever

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Toxoplasma gondii is arguably one of the most interesting parasites known to nature. Packed in the single cell of this unassuming protozoan is the power to manipulate the most complex organ in the body – the brain- and remarkably, change the thoughts and behaviours of its unsuspecting host… …by bringing on a case of the […]... Read more »

  • September 20, 2013
  • 12:29 AM

The straight dope on rational drug addicts

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

Crack, dope, ice…One hit, and you’re hooked for life. That’s what the war on drugs has been telling us for years. And for a while neuroscience seemed to back it up. Drugs of abuse stimulate our dopaminergic reward centers, causing a surge of dopamine efflux that changes synaptic transmission, “rewiring” the brain to create intense […]... Read more »

  • September 13, 2013
  • 12:45 AM

The skinny on gutbug-transplanted obesity

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

For centuries, mankind has looked into the vast skies and wondered “are we alone?” We still don’t know. But if we turn our gaze inwards, towards our own bodies, then the answer is a definitive “NO!” 100 trillion microbugs thrive in our intestines, forming complex communities – called “microbiota”- that live with us in symbiosis. […]... Read more »

Ridaura VK, Faith JJ, Rey FE, Cheng J, Duncan AE, Kau AL, Griffin NW, Lombard V, Henrissat B, Bain JR.... (2013) Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice. Science, 341(6150), 1241214. PMID: 24009397  

  • August 30, 2013
  • 08:08 PM

Dopamine crescendo marks the path to reward

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

You’re navigating the convoluted aisles of an ethnic market, heart pounding, hoping that it’s there. Suddenly, you see it – that beautiful bag of rare, powerful, soul-shakingly delicious coffee beans that you’ve been craving for years. While you grab the bag weeping in joy, your brain is busy learning. Striatal dopamine-secreting neurons fire in unison, […]... Read more »

  • August 24, 2013
  • 04:43 PM

How a high-fat diet makes that stick of celery seem less rewarding

by Shelly Fan in Neurorexia

By shooting the gut fatty messenger, apparently. A longstanding debate in obesity research is whether compulsory eating is an “addiction”. The A word certainly brings baggage to the table – by calling overeating an addiction we’re essentially labelling the obese as mentally ill. Negative connotations aside, there certainly are strong parallels: just like drugs of […]... Read more »

Tellez LA, Medina S, Han W, Ferreira JG, Licona-Limón P, Ren X, Lam TT, Schwartz GJ, & de Araujo IE. (2013) A gut lipid messenger links excess dietary fat to dopamine deficiency. Science, 341(6147), 800-2. PMID: 23950538  

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