The Neurocritic

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Deconstructing the most sensationalistic recent findings in Human Brain Imaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychopharmacology

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  • July 10, 2014
  • 07:17 AM
  • 113 views

Can a Failed Schizophrenia Drug Prevent PTSD?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In the 2000s, enthusiasm was high that a novel class of drugs would reach the market as blockbuster treatments for psychiatric disorders. These drugs act on receptors for a group of neuropeptides known as tachykinins (or neurokinins). These peptides — substance P (SP), neurokinin A (NkA), and neurokinin B (NkB) — function as neurotransmitters or neuromodulators in the central nervous system, but are quite different from the usual monoamines targeted by current psychotropic medications prescr........ Read more »

  • June 1, 2014
  • 07:59 AM
  • 171 views

Feeling Mighty Unreal: Derealization in Kleine-Levin Syndrome

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

I went on this trip once, back to my hometown after a long absence. Have you ever felt that your surroundings seem odd and distant, and that you're completely detached from them? That the things and places around you aren't real? This can happen to me, on occasion.It did on this trip, perhaps because I've dreamed about those places so many times that the real places and the dream places are blurred in memory.Of course time marches on. The stores in the strip mall have changed, and you go to Star........ Read more »

  • May 26, 2014
  • 04:41 PM
  • 144 views

Let's Face It: Publishing Weak Data on Face Processing in Pedophiles Is Pointless

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Modified from Fig. 2 (Ponseti et al., 2014). Brain areas that selectively respond to faces of the sexually preferred age. Just when we thought it was safe to bury the dead salmon of uncorrected statistical thresholds in neuroimaging studies, a new and incendiary study on face processing in pedophiles emerges (Ponseti et al., 2014). Even if it were surprising and informative that “Human face processing is tuned to sexual age preferences” (Ponseti et al., 2014), the fMRI data analyses failed ........ Read more »

Ponseti, J., Granert, O., van Eimeren, T., Jansen, O., Wolff, S., Beier, K., Deuschl, G., Bosinski, H., & Siebner, H. (2014) Human face processing is tuned to sexual age preferences. Biology Letters, 10(5), 20140200-20140200. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0200  

  • May 18, 2014
  • 10:44 PM
  • 177 views

Does Gamma tACS Really Induce Lucid Dreaming?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Dream scene from InceptionDIY brain stimulation geeks were supercharged last week by the finding that dream awareness could be enhanced by transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS)1 at frequencies of 25 and 40 Hz (Voss et al., 2014). Headlines were abuzz with zingers like Brain Zaps Can Trigger Lucid Dreams and A Jolt to the Brain Triggers Lucid Dreams and Brain Zap Could Help You Control Your Dreams. Visualize all the incipient Kickstarter campaigns ready to capitalize on the lucid d........ Read more »

Voss, U., Holzmann, R., Hobson, A., Paulus, W., Koppehele-Gossel, J., Klimke, A., & Nitsche, M. (2014) Induction of self awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation of gamma activity. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3719  

Voss, U., Schermelleh-Engel, K., Windt, J., Frenzel, C., & Hobson, A. (2013) Measuring consciousness in dreams: The lucidity and consciousness in dreams scale. Consciousness and Cognition, 22(1), 8-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.11.001  

  • May 12, 2014
  • 12:59 AM
  • 173 views

The Seductive Allure of Spintronics™ Neuroimaging mock mind reading scanner

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Spintronics™ Neuroimaging mock scanner used in experiment by Ali, Lifshitz & Raz (2014)A new study has tricked undergraduates into believing that “Spintronics,” a whimsical new “mind reading” technology constructed using an old hair dryer, was able to accurately read their thoughts  (Ali et al., 2014). This held even for students enrolled in a class on the pros and cons of neuroimaging methods taught by the senior author (McGill Professor Amir Raz). The paper coined the phrase........ Read more »

Sabrina Ali, Michael Lifshitz, and Amir Raz. (2014) Empirical Neuroenchantment: From Reading Minds to Thinking Critically. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. info:/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00357

  • May 4, 2014
  • 11:31 PM
  • 194 views

Not tonight dear, I had zymosan A injected into my hind paw

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

We now have definitive proof that the propensity of womankind to postpone sex due to a headache is of evolutionary origin! This annoying habit has been traced back directly to a strain of ovariectomized CD-1® IGS mice supplied by Charles River.In a naturalistic design that precisely mimics the mating habits of humans, sexual receptivity was induced in the female mice with subcutaneous injections of estradiol. Then the female mice and their preferred male partners were injected in various body ........ Read more »

Ambler N, Williams AC, Hill P, Gunary R, & Cratchley G. (2001) Sexual difficulties of chronic pain patients. Clinical Journal of Pain, 17(2), 138-45. PMID: 11444715  

Farmer, M., Leja, A., Foxen-Craft, E., Chan, L., MacIntyre, L., Niaki, T., Chen, M., Mapplebeck, J., Tabry, V., Topham, L.... (2014) Pain Reduces Sexual Motivation in Female But Not Male Mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(17), 5747-5753. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5337-13.2014  

  • April 21, 2014
  • 04:08 AM
  • 125 views

The Life and Brain of H.M.

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Dr. Suzanne Corkin on H.M.One of the highlights of this year's Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting was Dr. Corkin's keynote address about Henry Molaison the person and his lasting contribution to the neurobiology of memory. In her more timely recap of the meeting, Daisy Yuhas included this moving quote from H.M., who could not remember meeting Corkin even after decades of testing:Corkin also discussed the man behind the initials, describing his gentle and remarkably upbeat disposition, giv........ Read more »

Annese, J., Schenker-Ahmed, N., Bartsch, H., Maechler, P., Sheh, C., Thomas, N., Kayano, J., Ghatan, A., Bresler, N., Frosch, M.... (2014) Postmortem examination of patient H.M.’s brain based on histological sectioning and digital 3D reconstruction. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4122  

  • March 30, 2014
  • 07:05 PM
  • 236 views

Contest to Reduce Implicit Racial Bias Shows Empathy and Perspective-Taking Don't Work

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

NCAA college basketball isn't the only hot competition involving a team at the University of Virginia.  UVa Psychology Professor Brian Nosek is one of three founders of Project Implicit, a collaborative nonprofit dedicated to the study of implicit social cognition — how unconscious thoughts and feelings can influence attitudes and behavior.Prof Nosek is also heavily involved in the Open Science and Replication movements. Along with graduate student Calvin Lai, he led a mult........ Read more »

Lai CK, Marini M, Lehr SA, Cerruti C, Shin JE, Joy-Gaba JA, Ho AK, Teachman BA, Wojcik SP, Koleva SP.... (2014) Reducing Implicit Racial Preferences: I. A Comparative Investigation of 17 Interventions. Journal of experimental psychology. General. PMID: 24661055  

  • March 24, 2014
  • 12:21 AM
  • 254 views

Hippocampal Pathology in California Sea Lions with Domoic Acid-Induced Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In 1987, over 100 Canadians became ill after eating cultivated mussels from Prince Edward Island. Symptoms included the typical gastrointestinal issues, but serious neurological findings such as disorientation, confusion, and memory loss were also observed (Perl et al., 1990). In the worst cases, the patients developed seizures or went into coma. Three elderly people died. The cognitive changes were persistent, and had not resolved with........ Read more »

Buckmaster, P., Wen, X., Toyoda, I., Gulland, F., & Van Bonn, W. (2014) Hippocampal neuropathology of domoic acid-induced epilepsy in California sea lions. . Journal of Comparative Neurology, 522(7), 1691-1706. DOI: 10.1002/cne.23509  

Perl, T., Bédard, L., Kosatsky, T., Hockin, J., Todd, E., & Remis, R. (1990) An Outbreak of Toxic Encephalopathy Caused by Eating Mussels Contaminated with Domoic Acid. New England Journal of Medicine, 322(25), 1775-1780. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199006213222504  

Teitelbaum, J., Zatorre, R., Carpenter, S., Gendron, D., Evans, A., Gjedde, A., & Cashman, N. (1990) Neurologic Sequelae of Domoic Acid Intoxication Due to the Ingestion of Contaminated Mussels. New England Journal of Medicine, 322(25), 1781-1787. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199006213222505  

  • March 5, 2014
  • 06:15 AM
  • 243 views

Warning about Ketamine in the American Journal of Psychiatry

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The dissociative anesthetic and ravey club drug ketamine has been hailed as a possible “miracle” cure for depression. In contrast to the delayed action of standard antidepressants such as SSRIs, the uplifting effects of Special K are noticeable within an hour. “Experimental Medication Kicks Depression in Hours Instead of Weeks,” says the National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH has been bullish on ketamine for years now. Prominent researchers Duman and Aghajanian called it the “the mo........ Read more »

Schatzberg AF. (2014) A word to the wise about ketamine. The American journal of psychiatry, 171(3), 262-4. PMID: 24585328  

  • February 23, 2014
  • 12:25 AM
  • 295 views

"Love at first sight is a myth," say Chicago researchers

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Social Neuroscience power couple, John T. Cacciopo and Stephanie CacciopoThis, my friends, is a belated Valentine's Day tale that went oh so wrong...On Feb 14, Scientific American ran a piece about When Scientists Are Mad about Each Other. The cutesy narrative on the Cacciopos described a wonderful story of love at first sight:He was studying loneliness and isolation. She was studying love and desire. When they found themselves together, they gravitated toward her end of the ........ Read more »

S Cacioppo, B Couto, M Bolmont. (2013) Selective decision-making deficit in love following damage to the anterior insula. Current Trends in Neurology, 15-19. info:other/

  • February 9, 2014
  • 08:21 PM
  • 251 views

I Wanna Hold Your Hand (after 23 sessions of Emotionally Focused Therapy)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Can neuroscience illuminate the nature of human relationships? Or does it primarily serve as a prop to sell self-help books? The neurorelationship cottage industry touts the importance of brain research for understanding romance and commitment. But any knowledge of the brain is completely unnecessary for issuing take-home messages like tips on maintaining a successful marriage.In an analogous fashion, we can ask whether successful psychotherapy depends on having detailed knowledge of the mechan........ Read more »

Coan JA, Schaefer HS, & Davidson RJ. (2006) Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological science, 17(12), 1032-9. PMID: 17201784  

Johnson SM, Moser MB, Beckes L, Smith A, Dalgleish T, Halchuk R, Hasselmo K, Greenman PS, Merali Z, & Coan JA. (2013) Soothing the threatened brain: leveraging contact comfort with emotionally focused therapy. PloS one, 8(11). PMID: 24278126  

  • December 30, 2013
  • 10:36 PM
  • 302 views

How Can We Forget?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

** This post is meant to be read in tandem with its more complimentary cousin, Electroconvulsive Therapy Impairs Memory Reconsolidation, at The Neurocomplimenter. **spECTrum 5000Q® ECT device (MECTA)Bad memories haunt a significant number of people with serious mental illnesses, such as chronic major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If it were possible to undergo an experimental procedure that selectively impairs your memory for an extremely unpleasant event, would you do i........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2013
  • 10:24 PM
  • 323 views

Electroconvulsive Therapy Impairs Memory Reconsolidation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

** This post is meant to be read in tandem with its more critical cousin, How Can We Forget? at The Neurocritic. **Thymatron® System IV (Somatics, LLC)“Memories are constantly changing, each time we recall them they're physically different.”- me, July 7, 2006The precision of memory over time is a quaint idea. A large body of research shows us that memories are not fixed entities (Alberini & Ledoux, 2013). Every time a specific memory “trace” is reactivated, it enters a transiently u........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2013
  • 11:58 PM
  • 336 views

When Waking Up Becomes the Nightmare: Hypnopompic Hallucinatory Pain

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Most of us have had frightening nightmares – someone is chasing after us trying to kill us, or the world is coming to an end. Other disturbing dreams are based on real life anxieties – our partner leaves us, we lose our job, we become homeless. One specific psychiatric condition includes nightmares as part of the diagnosis. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have terrible nightmares that relive the traumatic event (Pigeon et al., 2013)We're always glad to wake up fr........ Read more »

Ohayon MM, Priest RG, Caulet M, & Guilleminault C. (1996) Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations: pathological phenomena?. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science, 169(4), 459-67. PMID: 8894197  

  • December 14, 2013
  • 04:26 PM
  • 272 views

The Manifestation of Migraine in Wagner's Ring Cycle

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

German Composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) wasn't the healthiest guy. He suffered from heart disease, skin disorders, acute infections, minor ailments, and most prominently, recurring headaches – the “main plague” of his life (Göbel et al., 2013). He complained of “Headache, ‘sick headache,’ ‘dyspepsia,’ ‘nervousness,’ melancholy, insomnia, indescribable suffering... Wagner had all of them all of the time.” (Gould, 1903). Wagner wrote many letters to his doctor, D........ Read more »

  • November 29, 2013
  • 03:29 AM
  • 552 views

The Phases of Shopping Addiction

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The blight of Black Friday is upon us. What better time to look at a recent paper on compulsive shopping? Sohn and Choi (2013) adopted a qualitative approach and recruited a small group of Korean housewives with problematic shopping habits via consumer news websites. These nine women ranged in age from 22 to 40. The authors identified their target group as individuals with compulsive buying disorder, who reported a "preoccupation with shopping, pre-purchase tension or anxiety, and sense of reli........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2013
  • 05:13 AM
  • 390 views

New Deep Brain Stimulation System Measures Neurotransmitter Release

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Wireless Instantaneous Neurotransmitter Concentration Sensing System (WINCS) Patient Module printed circuit board & sterilizable case. (Fig. 1, Kimble et al. 2009). Last month, the New York Times reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will spend $70 million to further the development of technologies that use deep brain stimulation (DBS), which has been highly successful in treating Parkinson's Disease (PD). The SUBNETS program (Systems-Based Neurotechnology........ Read more »

Kimble CJ, Johnson DM, Winter BA, Whitlock SV, Kressin KR, Horne AE, Robinson JC, Bledsoe JM, Tye SJ, Chang SY.... (2009) Wireless Instantaneous Neurotransmitter Concentration Sensing System (WINCS) for intraoperative neurochemical monitoring. Conference proceedings: Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society., 4856-9. PMID: 19963865  

  • November 9, 2013
  • 09:15 PM
  • 367 views

Now Is That Gratitude?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Now is that Gratitude,Or is it really love?Some kind of reality That fits just like a glove--Danny Elfman, GratitudePraise and condemnation serve a powerful purpose in our social and internal lives. They prop us up and tear us down. We reward ourselves (and others) when we perform good deeds, give a pat on the back for a job well done. Conversely, we punish bad behavior. Some people are more vengeful than others when they're wronged; other individuals might be more inclined to blame themselves........ Read more »

  • October 29, 2013
  • 06:12 AM
  • 357 views

A Tale of Two BRAINS: #BRAINI and DARPA's SUBNETS

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Image credits. Left: SUBNETS program (DARPA). Right: BRAIN interim report presentation (NIH).In April, the White House announced the $100 million Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The goals of this bold new research effort are to "revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury." A series of high-profile........ Read more »

Alivisatos AP, Chun M, Church GM, Greenspan RJ, Roukes ML, & Yuste R. (2012) The brain activity map project and the challenge of functional connectomics. Neuron, 74(6), 970-4. PMID: 22726828  

Insel TR, Landis SC, & Collins FS. (2013) Research priorities. The NIH BRAIN Initiative. Science, 340(6133), 687-8. PMID: 23661744  

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