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Neuroskeptic
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  • March 3, 2013
  • 05:48 AM
  • 707 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
  • 805 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
  • 649 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
  • 628 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
  • 719 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
  • 785 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
  • 458 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
  • 828 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
  • 744 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
  • 712 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
  • 475 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
  • 810 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
  • 720 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
  • 721 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  

  • January 12, 2013
  • 04:26 AM
  • 759 views

Smart People Say They're Less Depressed

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

The questionable validity of self-report measures in psychiatry has been the topic of a few recent  posts here at Neuroskeptic.Now an interesting new study looks at the question in issue from a new angle, asking: what kind of people report feeling more or less depressed? Korean researchers Kim and colleagues found that intelligence and personality variables were both linked to the tendency to self-rate depression more severely.The study involved 100 patients who'd previously suffered from a........ Read more »

  • January 6, 2013
  • 05:37 AM
  • 696 views

Artwork During Recovery From Encephalitis

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

I recently wrote about anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a neurological disorder that often manifests with psychiatric symptoms, such as depression and hallucinations.The latest American Journal of Psychiatry features a strange series of four drawings made by a 15 year old girl during an episode of the disease, which presented as psychotic symptoms but later progressed to severe insomnia and epilepsy before it was diagnosed and treated."As she gradually recovered we asked her to draw something. S........ Read more »

Esseveld MM, van de Riet EH, Cuypers L, & Schieveld JN. (2013) Drawings During Neuropsychiatric Recovery From Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. The American journal of psychiatry, 170(1), 21-2. PMID: 23288386  

  • January 3, 2013
  • 02:41 PM
  • 645 views

Flawed Statistics Make Almost Everyone's Brain "Abnormal"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A popular method for detecting abnormalities in the shape and size of individual brains is seriously flawed, and is almost guaranteed to find 'differences' even in normal people.So say Italian neuroscientists Scarpazza and colleagues in an important new report: Very high false positive rates in single case Voxel Based Morphometry.Voxel Based Morphometry (VBM) is a way of analyzing brain scans to detect structural differences. It's most commonly used to compare groups of brains to find average di........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2012
  • 07:56 AM
  • 734 views

Finally, Hard Evidence Against The "Autism Epidemic"?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

The idea of an 'autism epidemic' has a lot of people very worried.No-one disputes that diagnosed rates of autism have increased enormously over the past 15 years or so, around the world. However, other people write it off as essentially a cultural phenomenon: we're getting better at detecting the disorder and more willing to label kids as having it.I subscribe to the latter view, but there's very little hard evidence for it. To prove that diagnostic changes have occurred, rather than a true incr........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2012
  • 05:32 AM
  • 715 views

Mental Illness and Crime, Yet Again

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

As if on cue, a major study about the relationship (if any) between mental disorder and crime has appeared just when everyone's talking about that.Although having said that, people seem to be interested in that issue most of the time nowadays, in the UK at any rate, with schizophrenia topping the list of supposedly scary syndromes.So - should we be worried?The new research, from Australian team Morgan et al, surveyed everyone born in the state of Western Australia between 1955 and 1969. About 1......... Read more »

  • December 26, 2012
  • 08:37 AM
  • 771 views

Religion Rises After Disaster Strikes

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

People turn to religion after natural disasters - but it doesn't actually provide much solace.So say researchers Sibley and Bulbulia, who examined the population of Christchurch, New Zealand, before and after the 2011 earthquake. 185 died and many city landmarks were damaged in the disaster.The paper, Faith after an Earthquake, opens with a Biblical quote.Sibley and Bulbulia took advantage of the fact that a longitudinal study of the 'health and values' of the New Zealanders was already underway........ Read more »

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