The Neurocritic

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

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  • October 30, 2014
  • 07:59 AM
  • 130 views

Fright Week: The Stranger in the Mirror

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In the mirror we see our physical selves as we truly are, even though the image might not live up to what we want, or what we once were. But we recognize the image as “self”. In rare instances, however, this reality breaks down.In Black Swan, Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a ballerina who auditions for the lead in Swan Lake. The role requires her to dance the part of the innocent White Swan (for which she is well-suited), as well as her evil twin the Black Swan — which is initially out........ Read more »

Barnier AJ, Cox RE, Connors M, Langdon R, & Coltheart M. (2011) A stranger in the looking glass: developing and challenging a hypnotic mirrored-self misidentification delusion. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 59(1), 1-26. PMID: 21104482  

Chandra SR, & Issac TG. (2014) Mirror image agnosia. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 36(4), 400-3. PMID: 25336773  

Mendez MF, Martin RJ, Smyth KA, & Whitehouse PJ. (1992) Disturbances of person identification in Alzheimer's disease. A retrospective study. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 180(2), 94-6. PMID: 1737981  

  • October 25, 2014
  • 09:58 PM
  • 134 views

Fright Week: The Waking Nightmare of Lord Voldemort

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Nightmares can seem very real at times, but then we wake up and realize it was all a bad dream. Now imagine having a vivid nightmare with all the reality of waking life and then... it turns out you're actually awake through it all!This happened to an 11 year old Italian boy who reported frightening auditory and visual hallucinations of Voldemort, the archenemy of Harry Potter, for three straight days. These hallucinations began after a bout of sore throat and fever (38°C).  As Vita et........ Read more »

Vita MG, Batocchi AP, Dittoni S, Losurdo A, Cianfoni A, Stefanini MC, Vollono C, Della Marca G, & Mariotti P. (2008) Visual hallucinations and pontine demyelination in a child: possible REM dissociation?. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 4(6), 588-90. PMID: 19110890  

  • October 15, 2014
  • 04:36 AM
  • 152 views

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Mid-Cingulate Cortex

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What happens in the brain during a highly immersive reading experience? According to the fiction feeling hypothesis (Jacobs, 2014), narratives with highly emotional content cause a deeper sense of immersion by engaging the affective empathy network to a greater extent than neutral narratives. Emotional empathy – in this case, the ability to identify with a fictional character via grounded metarepresentations of ‘global emotional moments’ (Hsu et al., 2014) – relies on  a number of b........ Read more »

  • September 26, 2014
  • 08:14 AM
  • 222 views

Anthropomorphic Neuroscience Driven by Researchers with Large TPJs

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

For immediate release — SEPTEMBER 26, 2014Research from the UCL lab of Professor Geraint Rees has proven that the recent craze for suggesting that rats have “regrets” or show “disappointment” is solely due to the size of the left temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) in the human authors of those papers (Cullen et al., 2014). This startling breakthrough was part of a larger effort to associate every known personality trait, political attitude, and individual difference with the size of a un........ Read more »

  • September 16, 2014
  • 06:36 AM
  • 159 views

Should Policy Makers and Financial Institutions Have Access to Billions of Brain Scans?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

"Individual risk attitudes are correlated with the grey matter volume in the posterior parietal cortex suggesting existence of an anatomical biomarker for financial risk-attitude," said Dr Tymula.This means tolerance of risk "could potentially be measured in billions of existing medical brain scans." 1 -Gray matter matters when measuring risk toleranceLet's pretend that scientists have discovered a neural biomarker that could accurately predict a person's propensity to take financial risks in ........ Read more »

Gilaie-Dotan, S., Tymula, A., Cooper, N., Kable, J., Glimcher, P., & Levy, I. (2014) Neuroanatomy Predicts Individual Risk Attitudes. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(37), 12394-12401. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1600-14.2014  

  • September 8, 2014
  • 02:41 AM
  • 200 views

A Dangerous New Dish

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Bibimbop Brugmansia ** Do NOT try this at home.Edible flowers can make for a beautiful garnish on salads and trendy Brooklyn cocktails, but those decorative flourishes can be a disaster for the oblivious amateur. An unusual case report in BMC Research Notes summarizes what happens when you sprinkle toxic flower petals on your bibimbop (Kim et al., 2014).A 64 year old Koren woman came to the emergency room with incoherent speech and fluctuations in attention, orientation and comprehension. She ha........ Read more »

Evans Schultes, R., & Plowman, T. (1979) The ethnobotany of Brugmansia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1(2), 147-164. DOI: 10.1016/0378-8741(79)90004-7  

  • August 31, 2014
  • 06:36 PM
  • 259 views

Whitman Was Not a Neuroscientist

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Do I contradict myself?Very well then I contradict myself,(I am large, I contain multitudes.)-Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" (from Leaves of Grass)Science is the search for objective truth based on physical laws of the universe. Scientific theories try to explain the consistent and predictable behavior of natural systems. They are generally reductionist, meaning that complex systems are reduced to simpler and more fundamental elements. The principles of physics, for instance, are expressed in th........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2014
  • 02:39 AM
  • 236 views

Autobiographical Memory for a Life-Threatening Airline Disaster

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

“My attention shifts to the fact that the comforting engine hum is eerily gone. Where has the comforting hum of the engines gone. Something has gone very, very wrong, the plane continued to shake.” -Daniel Goncalves, recalling the terror of Air Transat Flight 236I'm sitting here in an airport, reading a harrowing first person account of Air Transat Flight 236, which fell out of the sky when it lost all power on Aug. 24, 2001.The plane was bound from Toronto, Ontario to Lisbon, Portugal........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2014
  • 07:10 PM
  • 315 views

Twitter Psychosis as a Cultural Artifact

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The creation of the category “Twitter Psychosis" tells us more about the culture of contemporary psychiatry than it does about the purported dangers of social media overuse. Can Twitter really “cause” psychotic symptoms in predisposed individuals? Or is Twitter merely the latest technical innovation that influences “the form, origin and content of delusional beliefs” (Bell et al., 2005)? Twitter as the new telephone tower, radio waves, microchip implant or personal TV show, if you wil........ Read more »

Kalbitzer J, Mell T, Bermpohl F, Rapp MA, & Heinz A. (2014) Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 202(8), 623. PMID: 25075647  

  • July 10, 2014
  • 07:17 AM
  • 317 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
  • 331 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
  • 272 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
  • 344 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
  • 324 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
  • 361 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
  • 251 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
  • 371 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
  • 387 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
  • 371 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
  • 443 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/

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