The Neurocritic

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

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  • November 28, 2010
  • 03:08 AM
  • 673 views

Seizures Triggered by Strawberry Syrup

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Fig 1A (modified from Blauwblomme et al., 2010). Top: coronal and lateral representation of the stereotaxic implantation scheme. Bottom: reflex seizure showing ictal onset in the right insula and secondary spreading in the hippocampus.Reflex epilepsy is a rare neurological condition in which seizures are triggered by a specific type of sensory input (Xue & Ritaccio, 2006). The most common reflex seizures are induced by light, but other reported triggers have included reading, Mah-Jong, mus........ Read more »

Blauwblomme, T., Kahane, P., Minotti, L., Grouiller, F., Krainik, A., Vercueil, L., Chabardes, S., Hoffmann, D., & David, O. (2010) Multimodal imaging reveals the role of   activity in eating-reflex seizures. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery . DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2010.212696  

  • November 23, 2010
  • 05:13 AM
  • 759 views

Mirror Neuron Dance Party for Autism Spectrum Disorders

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

With your hosts, V.S. Ramachandran and and E.L. Seckel (2010) of VH1's The Surreal Life: Medical Hypotheses....We proposed and provided the first experimental evidence for a dysfunctional MNS [mirror neuron system] in ASD [autism spectrum disorders] (Altschuler et al., 1997). ... Nonetheless evidence at this point is “compelling but not conclusive”.On the assumption that the MNS is not completely missing but “dormant”, could they be revived? We propose having the children look into a r........ Read more »

  • November 12, 2010
  • 06:23 PM
  • 909 views

Tetris Helps Prevent Unpleasant Memories of Gory Film in Happy People

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Most everything you've read about the Doctors Prescribing 'Tetris Therapy' study is wrong. That ridiculous headline, courtesy of "fair and balanced" Fox News, is the most egregious lie I could find [if you have other favorites, please leave links in the comments]. Press stories frequently distort research findings, but sometimes the authors themselves shoulder the most blame (Holmes et al., 2010). Misuse of the words "trauma" "flashback" "cognitive vaccine" and "PTSD" are at fault here.The exper........ Read more »

  • November 5, 2010
  • 07:05 AM
  • 782 views

Research Domain Criteria for Classifying Mental Disorders

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

"The more a delusion is investigated, the more understandable and less bizarre it becomes, often interwoven with the very individual patterns of experiencing relationships, adversities and suffering, and finally, for every delusional content, as bizarre and remote as it may appear, there may be a cultural niche, in which the same content may be considered legitimate and reasonable."-Pfeifer (1999), Demonic Attributions in Nondelusional Disorders.What is psychopathology? According to Wikipedi........ Read more »

Sanislow CA, Pine DS, Quinn KJ, Kozak MJ, Garvey MA, Heinssen RK, Wang PS, & Cuthbert BN. (2010) Developing constructs for psychopathology research: Research domain criteria. Journal of abnormal psychology. PMID: 20939653  

  • October 23, 2010
  • 08:29 PM
  • 2,362 views

Celebrity Neurostigma

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Celebrity SPECT scan from rehab patientCelebrity Rehab is an American TV reality show on VH1 that exploits the addictions of the rich and C- or D-List famous.“I thought REAL doctors talked to patients in offices behind closed doors.”-Lindsay Lohan [who reportedly turned down six figures to appear 0n the show]Privacy? Confidentiality? Those rights don't apply to the alcoholic and drug-addicted characters who appear on television and other public media outlets as a form of entertainment. How m........ Read more »

  • October 17, 2010
  • 02:51 AM
  • 670 views

Dr. Charles Hamilton Hughes, Alienist and Neurologist

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Charles Hamilton Hughes (1839-1916) was the founder and editor of The Alienist and Neurologist. The journal was published from 1880 until his death in 1916, making him the sole editor for all 37 volumes. Remittances for subscriptions ($5 for four issues per year) and "articles or photographs from subscribers or friends and material acceptable for publication" were sent to his address in St. Louis.What is an alienist?An "alienist" is "one who treats mental diseases; a mental pathologist; a 'mad ........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2010
  • 05:26 AM
  • 852 views

The Tragedy of Othello Syndrome

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Benjamin Evett, John Douglas Thompson, and Mirjana Jokovic in the American Repertory Theatre's production of Othello.O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mockThe meat it feeds on. Iago, Act III scene iii of Shakespeare's OthelloOthello syndrome is a rare psychiatric condition marked by morbid, pathological, or delusional jealousy (Miller et al., 2010). It can occur in the context of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or epilepsy, but sometimes it's ob........ Read more »

Miller, M., Kummerow, A., & Mgutshini, T. (2010) Othello Syndrome. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 48(8), 20-27. DOI: 10.3928/02793695-20100701-05  

TODD J, & DEWHURST K. (1955) The Othello syndrome; a study in the psychopathology of sexual jealousy. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 122(4), 367-74. PMID: 13307271  

  • September 19, 2010
  • 05:25 PM
  • 760 views

Mania and Artistic 'Surprise' Induced by Deep Brain Stimulation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Fig. 2 (Haq et al., 2010). A painting made following initial ALIC-NA [anterior limb of the internal capsule/nucleus accumbens] DBS activation. It was produced after a night-long effort and was described as a ‘surprise’ for the staff. The religious tone is typical of the patient.Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is being tested as an experimental treatment for intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as for major depression. A recent review by Mian et al. (2010) discusses the three........ Read more »

Haq, I., Foote, K., Goodman, W., Ricciuti, N., Ward, H., Sudhyadhom, A., Jacobson, C., Siddiqui, M., & Okun, M. (2010) A Case of Mania following Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, 88(5), 322-328. DOI: 10.1159/000319960  

  • September 15, 2010
  • 06:51 AM
  • 750 views

Modern Tract-Tracing for Historical Psychosurgery

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Figure 3 (Schoene-Bake et al., 2010). Intersection of connectivity maps of Anterior Capsulotomy (red), Anterior Cingulotomy (blue), and Subcaudate Tractotomy (green) tracking results. Overlap of AC and ACT shown with magenta, AC and SCT in yellow, and ACT and SCT in cyan. The white area shows overlapping of AC, ACT, and SCT mean probability-tracking maps in axial (a), coronal (b), and sagittal (c) slices. Acg, anterior cingulate gyrus; ATR, anterior thalamic radiation; CST, corticospinal tract; ........ Read more »

Schoene-Bake, J., Parpaley, Y., Weber, B., Panksepp, J., Hurwitz, T., & Coenen, V. (2010) Tractographic Analysis of Historical Lesion Surgery for Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2010.132  

  • September 6, 2010
  • 04:23 AM
  • 617 views

Limbaugh/Palin "death panels" extend the lives of terminally ill patients

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What is palliative care? Until quite recently, it's something I haven't given much thought. Although there was a highly regarded article on hospice and palliative care by Atul Gawande in last month's New Yorker, I didn't read it or think it applied to my life. All that changed less than two weeks ago, when my father was hospitalized in critical condition after collapsing. First he went to the ER, then the transitional ICU, and finally he was placed in the palliative care unit by the time I arriv........ Read more »

J.S. Temel et al. (2010) Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer. N Engl J Med, 733-742. info:/10.1056/NEJMoa1000678

  • August 30, 2010
  • 12:58 PM
  • 1,001 views

Ketamine for Depression: Yay or Neigh?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Venn diagram of psychoactive drugs [click for larger image]This post is part of a Nature Blog Focus on hallucinogenic drugs in medicine and mental health, inspired by a recent Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper, The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders, by Franz Vollenweider & Michael Kometer. This article will be available, open-access, until September 23. For more information on this Blog Focus, including a Table of Contents, please visit Th........ Read more »

  • August 15, 2010
  • 06:47 PM
  • 1,215 views

Airplane Headache

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Cartoon Reenactment of JetBlue Flight Attendant’s Dramatic ExitNo, the term "airplane headache" does not refer to disgruntled JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater (or to being a passenger on that flight). Instead, it refers to a recently characterized type of headache that occurs during take-off and landing (Atkonson & Lee, 2004). The pain appears to be unique to plane travel and not associated with other conditions. Neurological exam and brain imaging results in all published cases (n=........ Read more »

  • August 7, 2010
  • 11:14 PM
  • 2,960 views

Bad News for the Genetics of Personality

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

CREDIT: RYAN SNOOK (from Holden, 2008).The latest search for genetic variants that underlie differences in personality traits has drawn a blank (Verweij et al., 2010). The researchers conducted a genome-wide association study using personality ratings from Cloninger's temperament scales in a population of 5,117 Australian individuals:Participants' scores on Harm Avoidance, Novelty Seeking, Reward Dependence, and Persistence were tested for association with 1,252,387 genetic markers. We also perf........ Read more »

  • July 25, 2010
  • 07:25 PM
  • 677 views

What Color Is Your Cuneus?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Career counseling via voxel-based morphometry? With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.5% as of June 2010, job seekers might be willing to try anything to gain an edge. As part of the Trends in Phrenology craze sweeping the field, the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation appears to be capitalizing on the new cultural neurophilia:The Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation is a nonprofit scientific research and educational organization with two primary commitments: to study human abilities and to p........ Read more »

  • July 19, 2010
  • 07:57 AM
  • 2,912 views

Tales of Passion and Disgust

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Robert Mapplethorpe - St. SebastianThe previous post (Pleasure or Pain?) described the visual stimuli and behavioral results (subjective emotional ratings) from an experiment examining brain activity in response to pictures from four categories: neutral, disgust-inducing, erotic, and sadomasochistic (Stark et al., 2005). The participants were 24 adults, 12 of whom identified as having sadomasochistic sexual preferences (SM) and 12 without (non-SM).Some of the results were of no surprise to an........ Read more »

STARK, R., SCHIENLE, A., GIROD, C., WALTER, B., KIRSCH, P., BLECKER, C., OTT, U., SCHAFER, A., SAMMER, G., & ZIMMERMANN, M. (2005) Erotic and disgust-inducing pictures—Differences in the hemodynamic responses of the brain. Biological Psychology, 70(1), 19-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.014  

  • July 17, 2010
  • 04:46 AM
  • 697 views

Pleasure or Pain?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Robert Mapplethorpe - Untitled (Self Portrait)The previous post (Erotic or Disgusting?) covered a functional MRI experiment on the neural responses to erotic films in heterosexual and homosexual males (Zhang et al., 2010). Specifically, the study examined sexual arousal and disgust while the participants viewed various types of porn. Neuroimaging results were reported only for the stimuli deemed distasteful by each group, wherein the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex was more active for gay ........ Read more »

STARK, R., SCHIENLE, A., GIROD, C., WALTER, B., KIRSCH, P., BLECKER, C., OTT, U., SCHAFER, A., SAMMER, G., & ZIMMERMANN, M. (2005) Erotic and disgust-inducing pictures—Differences in the hemodynamic responses of the brain. Biological Psychology, 70(1), 19-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.014  

  • July 8, 2010
  • 07:11 AM
  • 730 views

Erotic or Disgusting?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What's hot? What's not? What do you consider unappealing?A greater understanding of people different from ourselves makes for a more accepting and tolerant populace. Are attempts to deliberately evoke disgust by the sexual practices of "others" an important and worthy step towards achieving this goal? Or does it further stigmatize the minority "outgroup"? What if the "outgroup" is disgusted by the practices of the majority?Different strokes for different folksAnd so on and so on and scooby dooby........ Read more »

  • July 2, 2010
  • 08:43 PM
  • 2,917 views

Living and Forgetting

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

And I'll be easyLike living and forgettingAnd if I pick you upI'll be sure to let you down-Living and Forgetting, Glasstown (mp3)Forgetting Emotional Information Is HardOur memory for emotional events is generally better than our memory of neutral events. This is a key issue in developing treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. How do we rid ourselves of unpleasant memories? In structured laboratory environments, the best way to forget is intentional inhibition during the encoding phase,........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2010
  • 05:03 AM
  • 3,162 views

Suffering from the pain of social rejection? Feel better with TYLENOL®

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

It's not just for headaches anymore! The active ingredient in TYLENOL® (acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol) has been shown to ease the pain of social rejection. Wouldn't it be great if you could pop an over-the-counter medication to lessen the hurt of being excluded from that grad student party? Of being ostracized by all your old friends? Even disowned by your family? The journal article, which was promoted by press release six months ago, has finally appeared online (Dewall et al., 2010........ Read more »

Dewall CN, Macdonald G, Webster GD, Masten CL, Baumeister RF, Powell C, Combs D, Schurtz DR, Stillman TF, Tice DM.... (2010) Acetaminophen Reduces Social Pain: Behavioral and Neural Evidence. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20548058  

Edward Vul, Christine Harris, Piotr Winkielman, . (2009) Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

  • June 13, 2010
  • 11:21 PM
  • 1,345 views

The Unique Case of “50 First Dates” Amnesia

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Scene from 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.50 First Dates maintains a venerable movie tradition of portraying an amnesiac syndrome that bears no relation to any known neurological or psychiatric condition (Baxendale, 2004).That isn't true anymore...Smith et al. (2010) have recently reported an unusual case of functional, or psychogenic amnesia in which FL, a 51 year old woman with 15 years of education and average intelligence, cannot remember what happened to her from one da........ Read more »

Smith, C., Frascino, J., Kripke, D., McHugh, P., Treisman, G., & Squire, L. (2010) Losing memories overnight: A unique form of human amnesia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.05.025  

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