The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

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Psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, spirituality, quantum physics, and anything else worth writing about

William Lu
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  • September 19, 2014
  • 12:13 AM

The neuroscience behind scratching an itch

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

The beautiful experience of alleviating an itch, the vigorous scratching of skin cells, and the white flakes that float away slowly and gently like a whimsical dream.If only those with chronic itching problems could describe their conditions in such a serene way. In the latest edition of Nature Neuroscience, Diana Bautista and colleagues (2014) review the literature on the underlying mechanism of the itch at the molecular and cellular level within the peripheral and central nervous systems. They........ Read more »

  • August 21, 2014
  • 01:30 AM

How to prevent a possible concussion from the ALS ice bucket challenge

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

The ice bucket challenge has swept the nation in an effort to raise awareness for ALS. However, there seems to have been a number of concussions (or mild traumatic brain injuries) sustained from performing a seemingly altruistic act. Although some people may find the below video funny, concussions are a serious issue and can lead to serious consequences including executive dysfunction. Symptoms can include short loss of consciousness, feeling dazed and confused, loss of immediate memory, headach........ Read more »

  • July 12, 2014
  • 02:29 AM

Night-to-night variability of sleep in traumatic brain injury

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

It's been a while since I've posted something substantial. My apologies to all 20 followers of TQLC. Academia and clinical cases have been taking up most of my time. However, some exciting news! My paper on variability of respiration during sleep in traumatic brain injury (TBI) has recently been accepted into Neurorehabilitation. In the paper my colleagues and I examined the sleep processes of individuals with TBI using polysomnography. Polysomnography is a tool used to measure biophysical ch........ Read more »

Lu W, Cantor J, Aurora RN, Nguyen M, Ashman T, Spielman L, Ambrose A, Krellman J, & Gordon W. (2014) Variability of respiration and sleep during polysomnography in individuals with TBI. NeuroRehabilitation. PMID: 24990025  

  • March 9, 2014
  • 11:52 PM

Lack of sleep impairs emotion recognition

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

This is a re-post of an entry I had written exactly 4 years ago. I liked it so much I decided to share it again. The ability to read emotions is an important part of the human experience; the only way to successfully navigate through complex social environments. It comes in handy especially if you don the title of psychotherapist or professional poker player. Without it, you are rendered socially inept. You enter the world of the autistic individual.Thanks to Charles Darwin we now know that it........ Read more »

van der Helm E; Gujar N; Walker MP. (2010) Sleep Deprivation Impairs the Accurate Recognition of Human Emotions. SLEEP, 33(3), 335-342. info:/

Ekman P, & Friesen WV. (1971) Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of personality and social psychology, 17(2), 124-9. PMID: 5542557  

  • February 15, 2014
  • 04:44 PM

Blasting long-term potentiation with a Mega Buster

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Mega Man (1987) was one of the most entertaining games that I remember ever playing on Nintendo. You were Dr. Light's boy android (think Astro Boy or Pinocchio) and your mission was to defeat the multitude of robot bosses threatening to destroy the world. However, the only way to defeat them was to 1) consider how to counteract their special abilities with your own abilities and 2) memorize their attack patterns, often taking hours of learning (and frustration) before you got it right. Once succ........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2014
  • 11:25 PM

Forever alone disorder

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Valentines Day is soon upon us. However, quite a few individuals, also known as otakus, could care less. During college I met a some people who you might consider otakus or dorks. They never left their dorm rooms because they were just THAT into their video games. They would play for hours/days, completely disinterested in socializing with real people, partying, attending classes, and sometimes even eating. Although I did not know it at the time, there was a name for this kind of strange "loner"........ Read more »

Ovejero S, Caro-Cañizares I, de León-Martínez V, & Baca-Garcia E. (2013) Prolonged social withdrawal disorder: A hikikomori case in Spain. The International journal of social psychiatry. PMID: 24101742  

  • September 1, 2013
  • 11:28 PM

Just a mild electric current through the brain to increase memory gain

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Have you ever watched that compelling infomerical selling the incredible electrical muscle stimulator, the Tone-A-Matic, promising beautiful rippling abs to couch potatotes all around the world? Ever hope something similar would work for the brain? Well folks, you're in luck!There has been mounting evidence that transcranial direct current stimulation can improve cognitive functioning (Boggio et al., 2006; Brasil-Neto et al., 2012; Javadi et al., 2012, 2013). However, many of the studies used s........ Read more »

Boggio PS, Ferrucci R, Rigonatti SP, Covre P, Nitsche M, Pascual-Leone A, & Fregni F. (2006) Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on working memory in patients with Parkinson's disease. Journal of the neurological sciences, 249(1), 31-8. PMID: 16843494  

Meinzer M, Jähnigen S, Copland DA, Darkow R, Grittner U, Avirame K, Rodriguez AD, Lindenberg R, & Flöel A. (2013) Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days improves learning and maintenance of a novel vocabulary. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior. PMID: 23988131  

  • August 30, 2013
  • 11:34 AM

Cognitive phenotypes in TBI

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

There are many different ways to categorize individuals with TBI in terms of clinical severity, mechanism of injury, and pathophysiology; each of which may impact prognosis and treatment (Hempill, 2013). The initial evaluation of individuals with TBI typically includes GCS, CT scan, and a neurologic exam (Saatman et al., 2008). However, the primary concern with these current diagnostic methods is that they lack specificity in terms of functional impairment and treatment selection. A po........ Read more »

Hermann B, Seidenberg M, Lee EJ, Chan F, & Rutecki P. (2007) Cognitive phenotypes in temporal lobe epilepsy. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 13(1), 12-20. PMID: 17166299  

Saatman KE, Duhaime AC, Bullock R, Maas AI, Valadka A, Manley GT, & Workshop Scientific Team and Advisory Panel Members. (2008) Classification of traumatic brain injury for targeted therapies. Journal of neurotrauma, 25(7), 719-38. PMID: 18627252  

Tager-Flusberg H, & Joseph RM. (2003) Identifying neurocognitive phenotypes in autism. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 358(1430), 303-14. PMID: 12639328  

  • December 11, 2012
  • 12:52 AM

Maple syrup urine disease. Who knew?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

I've been tasked with sorting through thousands of articles in order to contribute to a systematic review on the treatment of psychiatric disorders in traumatic brain injury patients. Through this process I've stumbled upon a few fascinating and sometimes "out there" articles. For the next couple of weeks I'll be posting up abstracts that really caught my eye. We begin with Mescka and colleagues 2011 study on maple syrup urine disease; it's not what you think.Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD........ Read more »

Mescka, C., Moraes, T., Rosa, A., Mazzola, P., Piccoli, B., Jacques, C., Dalazen, G., Coelho, J., Cortes, M., Terra, M.... (2011) In vivo neuroprotective effect of L-carnitine against oxidative stress in maple syrup urine disease. Metabolic Brain Disease, 26(1), 21-28. DOI: 10.1007/s11011-011-9238-x  

  • April 20, 2012
  • 02:18 PM

Does abnormal NREM sleep impair declarative memory consolidation?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Finally got to uploading the review paper Robert Goder and I had written recently on sleep and memory. You can download it HERE. Essentially, we describe a possible mechanism by which abnormal NREM sleep processes (i.e. reduced slow-wave sleep and sleep spindles) contribute to declarative memory impairment and concomittant sleep disruption in certain neuropsychiatric disorders including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and fibromyalgia. Underneath, I posted what the tentative model looks like (click ........ Read more »

  • November 17, 2011
  • 03:14 AM

Not all hippocampal hemispheres are created equal

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

I got a chance to sit down and read Kohl et al.'s recently published Nature Neuroscience paper titled "Hemisphere-specific optogenetic stimulation reveals left-right asymmetry of hippocampal plasticity". This paper contributes to our advancing knowledge of the asymmetrical brain and further elucidates the true complexity of the hippocampus, a sea horse shaped brain structure important for learning and memory.More specifically, the team found that an area important for encoding and retrieving ass........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2011
  • 10:50 PM

Can alcoholic parents put their kids at risk for memory problems?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

The alcoholic beverage has existed as early as the Neolithic period (cir. 10,000 BC), its use once mandated by The Lord on High in 1,116 BC China (Patrick, 1952). Oh thou holy ethanol, absorbed by the bloodstream, traveling to the brain, and binding to glutamate and GABA receptors, blessing us with the desired effects of slow reaction time, slurred speech, gregariousness, and the ability to sing and dance like a rockstar. However, too much of the bottle and you can find yourself in some serious........ Read more »

  • August 7, 2011
  • 09:19 AM

Why Non-rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep is important for memory

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

So...after 4 months of being MIA I've finally emerged from the deep, dark, and lonely cave of academia to give a brief update on what I've been doing all this time. When I wasn't furiously working on my dissertation related to working memory and aging, I was making final revisions to a theoretical review paper on sleep and memory. I'm happy to announce that after countless hours of lost sleep (irony?) it's finally been accepted for publication! I'll link the article abstract once it's up. For no........ Read more »

Diekelmann, S., & Born, J. (2010) The memory function of sleep. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nrn2762  

Rasch B, Büchel C, Gais S, & Born J. (2007) Odor cues during slow-wave sleep prompt declarative memory consolidation. Science (New York, N.Y.), 315(5817), 1426-9. PMID: 17347444  

Marshall, L., Helgadóttir, H., Mölle, M., & Born, J. (2006) Boosting slow oscillations during sleep potentiates memory. Nature, 444(7119), 610-613. DOI: 10.1038/nature05278  

  • April 17, 2011
  • 12:38 AM

How a stinky chemical offers neuroprotection for a seizing brain

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

What did Socrates, Plato, Hercules, and Ajax have in common? Other than greatness, they were also epileptics according to the 17th century French physician, Jean Taxil.An epileptic seizure consists of abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain which can lead to convulsions, loss of awareness, full body slump, or even the experience of deja vu. Unprovoked seizures are typically related to epilepsy and other seizure related disorders while unprovoked seizures have multiple co........ Read more »

  • April 9, 2011
  • 12:11 PM

Disorder promotes stereotyping

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Xenophobic exclusion has been ubiquitous throughout history. However, the explanation of such a phenomenon has been little understood. Interesting research conducted by Stapel and Lindenberg published in the latest Science has brought us closer to some answers. They found that people who are in a disordered environment (e.g. unclean subway station) exhibit greater discriminatory behavior (e.g. decision to sit further away from a black person compared to a white person). The author........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2010
  • 05:31 PM

Cross-cultural personality change throughout the lifespan: a result of brain development?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

It's not difficult to readily imagine the rebellious angst ridden teenager or the wise old man of very few words. McCrae, et al.’s 1999 research findings seem to have validated these prototypical depictions. They found that across various cultures (Germany, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, and South Korea) there were higher levels of neuroticism in young adults and decreases in extraversion and openness in older adults. Older adults also showed increase rates of agreeableness and conscientiousness. B........ Read more »

Cohen MX, Young J, Baek JM, Kessler C, & Ranganath C. (2005) Individual differences in extraversion and dopamine genetics predict neural reward responses. Brain research. Cognitive brain research, 25(3), 851-61. PMID: 16289773  

Golimbet, V., Alfimova, M., Gritsenko, I., & Ebstein, R. (2007) Relationship between dopamine system genes and extraversion and novelty seeking. Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology, 37(6), 601-606. DOI: 10.1007/s11055-007-0058-8  

Reeves SJ, Mehta MA, Montgomery AJ, Amiras D, Egerton A, Howard RJ, & Grasby PM. (2007) Striatal dopamine (D2) receptor availability predicts socially desirable responding. NeuroImage, 34(4), 1782-9. PMID: 17188897  

Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Logan J, Gatley SJ, MacGregor RR, Schlyer DJ, Hitzemann R, & Wolf AP. (1996) Measuring age-related changes in dopamine D2 receptors with 11C-raclopride and 18F-N-methylspiroperidol. Psychiatry research, 67(1), 11-6. PMID: 8797238  

Roppongi T, Nakamura M, Asami T, Hayano F, Otsuka T, Uehara K, Fujiwara A, Saeki T, Hayasaka S, Yoshida T.... (2010) Posterior orbitofrontal sulcogyral pattern associated with orbitofrontal cortex volume reduction and anxiety trait in panic disorder. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 64(3), 318-26. PMID: 20602731  

Rankin KP, Rosen HJ, Kramer JH, Schauer GF, Weiner MW, Schuff N, & Miller BL. (2004) Right and left medial orbitofrontal volumes show an opposite relationship to agreeableness in FTD. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 17(4), 328-32. PMID: 15178947  

  • September 10, 2010
  • 04:09 AM

The neuroscience of creativity and insight

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Have you ever wondered what was going on in your noggin when on that rare occasion you had an "aha!" moment or found yourself in a creative flow state, where even your screaming girlfriend couldn't snap you out of? Well Dietrich and Kanso over at the American University of Beirut seem to have mapped out the phenomena for us nicely. However, it's not quite as simple as you think. In their review paper published in this months Psychological Bulletin, they cover three broad categories relate........ Read more »

  • September 7, 2010
  • 02:33 AM

Is recognition without awareness possible?

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

It seems common knowledge in the world of neuroscience that episodic memories are formed through conscious awareness. However, a couple of years ago Voss and Paller found that this may not necessarily be the case. They had subjects perform a forced choice recognition task using kaleidoscope images (for novelty's sake). Interestingly, accuracy was highest when subjects reported guessing, thus indicating little awareness that the studied images had been seen before. "This indicates that episodic m........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 09:56 AM

Aggression spectrum disorders: The distinction between borderline personality disorder and psychopathy

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

I recently read a fascinating book chapter written by William Arsenio titled Happy Victimization: Emotion Dysregulation in The Context of Instrumental, Proactive Aggression. Early in the chapter, the author discussed how according to a study, 4-year-old children tended to predict that a bully would feel happy after pushing around some poor chump on the playground, aka happy victimization (Arsenio & Kramer, 1992). However, at age 6, children who were probed further not only predicted that the bul........ Read more »

Fertuck EA, Jekal A, Song I, Wyman B, Morris MC, Wilson ST, Brodsky BS, & Stanley B. (2009) Enhanced 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' in borderline personality disorder compared to healthy controls. Psychological medicine, 39(12), 1979-88. PMID: 19460187  

  • April 3, 2010
  • 04:16 AM

The difference between softcore and hardcore insomnia

by William Lu in The Quantum Lobe Chronicles

Self-proclaimed insomniacs should be asking themselves right now if they've got either a "softcore" or a "hardcore" sleep problem on their hands. What's the difference between softcore and hardcore insomnia and why is it important you ask? First, let's define the terms. Softcore insomnia = complaint of insomnia with normal sleep duration greater than or equal to 6 hours of sleepHardcore insomnia = complaint of insomnia with less than or equal to 6 hours of sleepFernandez-Mendoza and colleagues f........ Read more »

ulio Fernandez-Mendoza, MSc1,2,3; Susan Calhoun, PhD1; Edward O. Bixler, PhD1; Slobodanka Pejovic, MD1; Maria Karataraki, PsyD1; Duanping Liao, PhD4; Antonio Vela-Bueno, MD2; Maria J. Ramos-Platon, PhD3; Katherine A. Sauder, BA1; Alexandros N. Vgontzas, M. (2010) Insomnia with Objective Short Sleep Duration is Associated with Deficits in Neuropsychological Performance: A General Population Study. SLEEP, 33(4), 459-465. info:/

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