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Neuroskeptic
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  • March 26, 2013
  • 03:36 PM
  • 664 views

Brain Activation: Does 2 2 = 4?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

An interesting Journal of Neuroscience paper just out argues that Spontaneous and Task-Evoked Brain Activity Negatively Interact. If true, this could be explosive, because a lot of neuroscience is built on the assumption that those two things don’t interact. So what’s going on? We know that the brain is active all of the time. Even [...]... Read more »

He BJ. (2013) Spontaneous and task-evoked brain activity negatively interact. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(11), 4672-82. PMID: 23486941  

  • March 25, 2013
  • 04:00 PM
  • 706 views

Tea Party Brain Surgeon Wants To Shave You

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

I’m currently researching a piece on politics and neurosurgery, and I just came across this amusing snippet. David McKalip MD is a brain surgeon from Florida. He attained 15 minutes of infamy in 2009 when he deemed a virulently racially insensitive of Barack Obama to be “funny stuff” and emailed it to some Tea Party [...]... Read more »

McKalip D. (2013) Letter to the editor: shaving. Journal of neurosurgery, 118(3), 701-2. PMID: 23259824  

  • March 18, 2013
  • 06:07 AM
  • 1,110 views

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A Loud Warning

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is popular tool in neuroscience. A TMS kit is essentially a portable, powerful electromagnet, called a ‘coil’. Switching on the coil causes it to emit a magnetic pulse, and this magnetic field is strong enough to evoke electrical activity in the brain. So, by placing the TMS coil next to someone’s [...]... Read more »

  • March 15, 2013
  • 10:30 AM
  • 655 views

When Does Depression Become A Disease?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When does sadness cease to be a normal emotional response, and become a mental disorder? Can psychiatrists ‘draw the line’ between healthy and sick moods, and if so, where? An important new study offers an answer: When does depression become a disorder? Using recurrence rates to evaluate the validity of proposed changes in major depression [...]... Read more »

  • March 11, 2013
  • 01:20 PM
  • 1,377 views

Is Food Addictive?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Can food be addictive? Is obesity sometimes a form of substance abuse?   In a new paper, neuroscientist and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, muses on ‘The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity’ Volkow and her coauthors start out with a disclaimer – “we do not claim that obesity is the result [...]... Read more »

Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Tomasi D, & Baler RD. (2013) The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity. Biological psychiatry. PMID: 23374642  

  • March 9, 2013
  • 12:06 PM
  • 1,010 views

More Bad News For Voice “Lie Detection”

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

“Layered Voice Analysis” (LVA) is a controversial technology promoted as a tool for helping detect stress and other emotions by analysis of the human voice. According to the company behind the method, Nemesysco: LVA technology enables better understanding of your suspect’s mental state and emotional makeup at a given moment by detecting the emotional cues [...]... Read more »

  • March 3, 2013
  • 05:48 AM
  • 739 views

Windfarms, Wifi and Self-Fulfilling Myths

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Modern life is toxic. …allegedly. It’s not. But a lot of people think so. Driven by media and online coverage of the idea, many believe that things like wifi and cell-phone signals are making them ill. There’s no good evidence that such ‘electrosmog‘ causes health problems. From what we know of physics, it’s most unlikely [...]... Read more »

  • February 25, 2013
  • 04:17 PM
  • 845 views

Vladimir Lenin’s Stoney Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Einstein’s brain. Less well-known, but equally fascinating, is the case of Lenin‘s cerebrum – for just like Albert, the founder of the Soviet Union was fated to end up as a series of preserved slices. Lenin died of a series of strokes at the young age of [...]... Read more »

  • February 24, 2013
  • 08:21 AM
  • 663 views

“Know Thyself” Is A Lot To Ask

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

I’ve written before about the limitations of self-report measures in psychiatry. It’s an issue that’s been recognized for decades but, unfortunately, self-report seems to be more popular than ever. I suspect that this is because it’s far and away the easiest and cheapest way of getting data, and hence publications, in a great many fields [...]... Read more »

Miller RM, Haws NA, Murphy-Tafiti JL, Hubner CD, Curtis TD, Rupp ZW, Smart TA, & Thompson LM. (2013) Are Self-Ratings of Functional Difficulties Objective or Subjective?. Applied neuropsychology. Adult. PMID: 23383984  

  • February 20, 2013
  • 01:40 PM
  • 664 views

The World’s Most Problematic Videogames

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Is ‘video game addiction’ a useful concept? Some people certainly play an awful lot of games, and therefore have little of a life outside of them; but that doesn’t in itself mean that games are harming them. Maybe that’s just how they prefer to live. Maybe games are just filling a void that would otherwise [...]... Read more »

  • February 19, 2013
  • 03:06 PM
  • 752 views

Better Journals… Worse Statistics?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Some of the world’s leading scientific journals are worryingly lax in ensuring that their papers contain adequate statistical details. So say Italian researchers Tressoldi and colleagues in a provocative paper just out: High Impact = High Statistical Standards? Not Necessarily So They considered all articles published in 2011, that concerned any kind of psychological or [...]... Read more »

Tressoldi PE, Giofré D, Sella F, & Cumming G. (2013) High Impact . PLoS ONE, 8(2). PMID: 23418533  

  • February 6, 2013
  • 04:36 PM
  • 819 views

Still 'Profiteering From Anxiety'

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Late last year, the excellent Neurobonkers blog covered a case of 'Profiteering from anxiety'.It seems one Nader Amir has applied for a patent on the psychological technique of 'Attentional Retraining', a method designed to treat anxiety and other emotional problems by conditioning the mind to unconsciously pay more attention to positive things and ignore unpleasant stuff.For just $139.99, you can have a crack at modifying your unconscious with the help of Amir's Cognitive Retraining Technologie........ Read more »

Amir, N., & Taylor, C. (2013) Correction to Amir and Taylor (2012). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(1), 74-74. DOI: 10.1037/a0031156  

Amir, N., Taylor, C., & Donohue, M. (2013) Correction to Amir et al. (2011). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(1), 112-112. DOI: 10.1037/a0031157  

  • February 6, 2013
  • 04:23 PM
  • 489 views

Still ‘Profiteering From Anxiety’

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Late last year, the excellent Neurobonkers blog covered a case of ‘Profiteering from anxiety’. It seems one Nader Amir has applied for a patent on the psychological technique of ‘Attentional Retraining’, a method designed to treat anxiety and other emotional problems by conditioning the mind to unconsciously pay more attention to positive things and ignore [...]... Read more »

Amir, N., & Taylor, C. (2013) Correction to Amir and Taylor (2012). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(1), 74-74. DOI: 10.1037/a0031156  

Amir, N., Taylor, C., & Donohue, M. (2013) Correction to Amir et al. (2011). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(1), 112-112. DOI: 10.1037/a0031157  

  • January 28, 2013
  • 02:22 PM
  • 860 views

Another Scuffle In The Coma Ward

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

It's not been a good few weeks for Adrian Owen and his team of Canadian neurologists.Over the past few years, Owen's made numerous waves, thanks to his claim that some patients thought to be in a vegetative state may, in fact, be at least somewhat conscious, and able to respond to commands. Remarkable if true, but not everyone's convinced.A few weeks ago, Owen et al were criticized over their appearance in a British TV program about their use of fMRI to measure brain activity in coma patients. N........ Read more »

  • January 28, 2013
  • 02:22 PM
  • 780 views

Another Scuffle In The Coma Ward

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

It’s not been a good few weeks for Adrian Owen and his team of Canadian neurologists. Over the past few years, Owen’s made numerous waves, thanks to his claim that some patients thought to be in a vegetative state may, in fact, be at least somewhat conscious, and able to respond to commands. Remarkable if [...]... Read more »

  • January 27, 2013
  • 04:46 AM
  • 739 views

Is This How Memory Works?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

We know quite a bit about how long-term memory is formed in the brain - it's all about strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons. But what about remembering something over the course of just a few seconds? Like how you (hopefully) still recall what that last sentence as about?Short-term memory is formed and lost far too quickly for it to be explained by any (known) kind of synaptic plasticity. So how does it work? British mathematicians Samuel Johnson and colleagues say they have the........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2013
  • 04:46 AM
  • 508 views

Is This How Memory Works?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

We know quite a bit about how long-term memory is formed in the brain – it’s all about strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons. But what about remembering something over the course of just a few seconds? Like how you (hopefully) still recall what that last sentence as about? Short-term memory is formed and lost [...]... Read more »

  • January 17, 2013
  • 01:12 PM
  • 835 views

A Scuffle In The Coma Ward

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A couple of months ago, the BBC TV show Panorama covered the work of a team of neurologists (led by Prof. Adrian Owen) who are pioneering the use of fMRI scanning to measure brain activity in coma patients.The startling claim is that some people who have been considered entirely unconscious for years, are actually able to understand speech and respond to requests - not by body movements, but purely on the level of brain activation.However, not everyone was impressed. A group of doctors swiftly w........ Read more »

Turner-Stokes L, Kitzinger J, Gill-Thwaites H, Playford ED, Wade D, Allanson J, Pickard J, & Royal College of Physicians' Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness Guidelines Development Group. (2012) fMRI for vegetative and minimally conscious states. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 23190911  

  • January 14, 2013
  • 05:41 PM
  • 742 views

Drunk Rats Could Overturn Neurological Orthodoxy

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A form of brain abnormality long regarded as permanent is, in fact, sometimes reversible, according to an unassuming little paper with big implications.Here's the key data: some rats were given a lot of alcohol for four days (the "binge"), and then allowed to sober up for a week. Before, during and after their rodent Spring Break, they had brain scans. And these revealed something remarkable - the size of the rats' lateral ventricles increased during the binge, but later returned to normal.Contr........ Read more »

Zahr NM, Mayer D, Rohlfing T, Orduna J, Luong R, Sullivan EV, & Pfefferbaum A. (2013) A mechanism of rapidly reversible cerebral ventricular enlargement independent of tissue atrophy. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 23306181  

  • January 13, 2013
  • 04:45 AM
  • 761 views

DSM-5: A Ruse By Any Other Name...

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

In psychiatry, "a rose is a rose is a rose" as Gertrude Stein put it. That's according to an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry called: The Initial Field Trials of DSM-5: New Blooms and Old Thorns.Like the authors, I was searching for some petal-based puns to start this piece off, but then I found this "flower with an uncanny resemblance to a MONKEY" which I think does the job quite nicely:Anyway, the editorial is about the upcoming, controversial fifth revision to the Diagnostic an........ Read more »

Freedman R, Lewis DA, Michels R, Pine DS, Schultz SK, Tamminga CA, Gabbard GO, Gau SS, Javitt DC, Oquendo MA.... (2013) The Initial Field Trials of DSM-5: New Blooms and Old Thorns. The American journal of psychiatry, 170(1), 1-5. PMID: 23288382  

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