The Neurocritic

311 posts · 344,395 views

Born in West Virginia in 1980, The Neurocritic embarked upon a roadtrip across America at the age of thirteen with his mother. She abandoned him when they reached San Francisco and The Neurocritic descended into a spiral of drug abuse and prostitution. At fifteen, The Neurocritic's psychiatrist encouraged him to start writing as a form of therapy.

The Neurocritic
311 posts

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  • May 1, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 52 views

The Truth About Cognitive Impairment in Retired NFL Players

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

NINETY-TWO percent of retired National Football League players have decreased cognitive function, according to a new study:“In the NFL group, baseline neuropsychological assessments showed 92% of players had decreased general cognitive proficiency, 86% had decreased information processing speed, 83% had memory loss, 83% had attentional deficits, and 85% had executive function impairment.”The Truth?The study reported on a self-selected sample of 161 current and retired NFL players recruite........ Read more »

Daniel G. Amen, Kristen Willeumier, Bennet Omalu, Andrew Newberg, Cauligi Raghavendra, & Cyrus A. Raji. (2016) Perfusion Neuroimaging Abnormalities Alone Distinguish National Football League Players from a Healthy Population. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. info:/10.3233/JAD-160207

  • April 22, 2016
  • 06:22 AM
  • 148 views

What We Think We Know and Don't Know About tDCS

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

image: Mihály Vöröslakos / University of Szeged “Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS,” I warned last time. Now the infamous cadaver study has reared its ugly hot-wired head in Science News (Underwood, 2016).The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) had been called into question by Dr. György Buzsáki during his presentation at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting....Or had it?To recap, my understanding was that an unpublished study of transcranial e........ Read more »

Ozen, S., Sirota, A., Belluscio, M., Anastassiou, C., Stark, E., Koch, C., & Buzsaki, G. (2010) Transcranial Electric Stimulation Entrains Cortical Neuronal Populations in Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11476-11485. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5252-09.2010  

  • April 14, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 182 views

Don't Lose Your Head Over tDCS

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recent studies of transcranial electrical stimulation in human cadaver heads showed a 90% loss of current when delivered through the skin (Buzsáki, 2016 CNS meeting).Siren SongBy Margaret AtwoodThis is the one song everyone would like to learn: the songthat is irresistible:the song that forces mento leap overboard in squadronseven though they see the beached skullsthe song nobody knowsbecause anyone who has heard itis dead, and the others can't remember.Better living through electricity. The l........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2016
  • 04:46 AM
  • 180 views

Sleep Doctoring: Fatigue Amnesia in Physicians

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

New in the journal journal Cortex: four shocking cases of practicing medicine while exhausted  (Dharia & Zeman, 2016). The authors called this newly discovered syndrome “fatigue amnesia.” Why this is is any different from countless other examples of not remembering things you did while exhausted — I do not know. Except amnesia for performing a complex medical procedure is a lot more disturbing than forgetting you did the dishes the night before.Here are the cases in brief:Case 1:&........ Read more »

Dharia, S., & Zeman, A. (2016) Fatigue amnesia. Cortex. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.03.001  

  • March 27, 2016
  • 09:03 PM
  • 222 views

Everybody Loves Dopamine

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Dopamine is love. Dopamine is reward. Dopamine is addiction.Neuroscientists have a love/hate relationship with how this monoamine neurotransmitter is portrayed in the popular press.wwlp.comthestranger.com[The claim of vagus nerve-stimulating headphones is worth a post in its own right.]observer.com“You can fold your laundry, but you can’t fold your dopamine.”- James Cole Abrams, M.A. (in Contemplative Psychotherapy)The word dopamine has become a shorthand for positive reinforcement, whethe........ Read more »

  • March 20, 2016
  • 08:06 AM
  • 263 views

A Detached Sense of Self Associated with Altered Neural Responses to Mirror Touch

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Our bodily sense of self contributes to our personal feelings of awareness as a conscious being. How we see our bodies and move through space and feel touched by loved ones are integral parts of our identity. What happens when this sense of self breaks down? One form of dissolution is Depersonalization Disorder (DPD).1 Individuals with DPD feel estranged or disconnected from themselves, as if their bodies belong to someone else, and “they” are merely a detached observer. Or the self feel........ Read more »

  • March 7, 2016
  • 06:26 AM
  • 224 views

Writing-Induced Fugue State

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Who is this, wandering around the crowded street, afraid of everything, trusting no one? “There must be something wrong, somewhere.”But maybe I’m safer since I look disheveled. Who are these people? Where is this place?Did I write that? When did that happen? I don’t remember. I can’t stop writing. I can’t stop walking, either, which is a problem because it’s hard to write and walk at the same time.In the early 1940s, Austrian Psychiatrist Dr. Erwin Stengel wrote a pair of papers........ Read more »

  • January 22, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 343 views

This Neuroimaging Method Has 100% Diagnostic Accuracy (or your money back)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129659.g003Did you know that SPECT imaging can diagnose PTSD with 100% accuracy (Amen et al., 2015)? Not only that, out of a sample of 397 patients from the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, SPECT was able to distinguish between four different groups with 100% accuracy! That's right, the scans of (1) healthy participants, and patients with (2) classic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (3) classic traumatic brain injury (TBI), and (4) both disorders..... were all classi........ Read more »

  • January 8, 2016
  • 07:47 AM
  • 406 views

Opioid Drugs for Mental Anguish: Basic Research and Clinical Trials

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The prescription opioid crisis of overdosing and overprescribing has reached epic proportions, according to the North American media. Just last week, we learned that 91% of patients who survive opioid overdose are prescribed more opioids! The CDC calls it an epidemic, and notes there's been “a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers and heroin.” A recent paper in the Annual Review of Public Health labels it a “public health crisis” and proposes “int........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 07:04 AM
  • 548 views

Social Pain Revisited: Opioids for Severe Suicidal Ideation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Does the pain of mental anguish rely on the same neural machinery as physical pain? Can we treat these dreaded ailments with the same medications? These issues have come to the fore in the field of social/cognitive/affective neuroscience.As many readers know, Lieberman and Eisenberger (2015) recently published a controversial paper claiming that a brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC, shown above) is “selective” for pain.1 This finding fits with their long-time narr........ Read more »

  • December 12, 2015
  • 05:47 PM
  • 412 views

This Week in Neuroblunders: Optogenetics Edition

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recent technological developments in neuroscience have enabled rapid advances in our knowledge of how neural circuits function in awake behaving animals. Highly targeted and reversible manipulations using light (optogenetics) or drugs have allowed scientists to demonstrate that activating a tiny population of neurons can evoke specific memories or induce insatiable feeding.But this week we learned these popular and precise brain stimulation and inactivation methods may produce spurious links to ........ Read more »

  • November 30, 2015
  • 01:34 AM
  • 461 views

Carving Up Brain Disorders

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Neurology and Psychiatry are two distinct specialties within medicine, both of which treat disorders of the brain. It's completely uncontroversial to say that neurologists treat patients with brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These two diseases produce distinct patterns of neurodegeneration that are visible on brain scans. For example, Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder caused by the loss of dopamine neurons in the midbrain.Fig. 3 (modified from Golds........ Read more »

Crossley, N., Scott, J., Ellison-Wright, I., & Mechelli, A. (2015) Neuroimaging distinction between neurological and psychiatric disorders. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 429-434. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.154393  

David, A., & Nicholson, T. (2015) Are neurological and psychiatric disorders different?. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(5), 373-374. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.158550  

  • November 23, 2015
  • 12:58 AM
  • 569 views

Happiness Is a Large Precuneus

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

What is happiness, and how do we find it? There are 93,290 books on happiness at Amazon.com. Happiness is Life's Most Important Skill, an Advantage and a Project and a Hypothesis that we can Stumble On and Hard-Wire in 21 Days.The Pursuit of Happiness is an Unalienable Right granted to all human beings, but it also generates billions of dollars for the self-help industry.And now the search for happiness is over! Scientists have determined that happiness is located in a small region of your righ........ Read more »

Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Uono, S., Kubota, Y., Sawada, R., Yoshimura, S., & Toichi, M. (2015) The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness. Scientific Reports, 16891. DOI: 10.1038/srep16891  

  • November 16, 2015
  • 05:50 AM
  • 551 views

The Neuroscience of Social Media: An Unofficial History

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

There's a new article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences about how neuroscientists can incorporate social media into their research on the neural correlates of social cognition (Meshi et al., 2015). The authors outlined the sorts of social behaviors that can be studied via participants' use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.: (1) broadcasting information; (2) receiving feedback; (3) observing others' broadcasts; (4) providing feedback; (5) comparing self to others.Meshi, Tamir, and Heekeren / Tr........ Read more »

Meshi D, Tamir TI, Heekeren HR. (2015) The Emerging Neuroscience of Social Media. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. info:/10.1016/j.tics.2015.09.004

  • November 11, 2015
  • 03:29 AM
  • 594 views

Obesity Is Not Like Being "Addicted to Food"

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Credit: Image courtesy of Aalto UniversityIs it possible to be “addicted” to food, much like an addiction to substances (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, opiates) or behaviors (gambling, shopping, Facebook)? An extensive and growing literature uses this terminology in the context of the “obesity epidemic”, and looks for the root genetic and neurobiological causes (Carlier et al., 2015; Volkow & Bailer, 2015).Fig. 1 (Meule, 2015). Number of scientific publications on food addiction (1990-2014........ Read more »

  • October 29, 2015
  • 06:54 AM
  • 574 views

Ophidianthropy: The Delusion of Being Transformed into a Snake

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Scene from Sssssss (1973).“When Dr. Stoner needs a new research assistant for his herpetological research, he recruits David Blake from the local college.  Oh, and he turns him into a snake for sh*ts and giggles.”Movie Review by Jason Grey Horror movies where people turn into snakes are relatively common (30 by one count), but clinical reports of delusional transmogrification into snakes are quite rare. This is in contrast to clinical lycanthropy, the delusion of turning into a wolf.W........ Read more »

  • October 26, 2015
  • 01:47 AM
  • 470 views

On the Long Way Down: The Neurophenomenology of Ketamine

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Is ketamine a destructive club drug that damages the brain and bladder? With psychosis-like effects widely used as a model of schizophrenia? Or is ketamine an exciting new antidepressant, the “most important discovery in half a century”?For years, I've been utterly fascinated by these separate strands of research that rarely (if ever) intersect. Why is that? Because there's no such thing as “one receptor, one behavior.” And because like most scientific endeavors, neuro-pharmacology/psyc........ Read more »

  • September 27, 2015
  • 01:02 AM
  • 477 views

Neurohackers Gone Wild!

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Scene from Listening, a new neuro science fiction film by writer-director Khalil Sullins. What are some of the goals of research in human neuroscience?To explain how the mind works.To unravel the mysteries of consciousness and free will.To develop better treatments for mental and neurological illnesses.To allow paralyzed individuals to walk again.Brain decoding experiments that use fMRI or ECoG (direct recordings of the brain in epilepsy patients) to deduce what a person is looking at or sa........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2015
  • 04:31 AM
  • 564 views

Cats on Treadmills (and the plasticity of biological motion perception)

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Cats on a treadmill. From Treadmill Kittens.It's been an eventful week. The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The 10th Anniversary of Optogenetics (with commentary from the neuroscience community and from the inventors). The Reproducibility Project's efforts to replicate 100 studies in cognitive and social psychology (published in Science). And the passing of the great writer and neurologist, Oliver Sacks. Oh, and Wes Craven just died too...I'm not blogging about any of these events. Many ........ Read more »

  • August 10, 2015
  • 07:35 AM
  • 694 views

Will machine learning create new diagnostic categories, or just refine the ones we already have?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

How do we classify and diagnose mental disorders?In the coming era of Precision Medicine, we'll all want customized treatments that “take into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles.” To do this, we'll need precise diagnostic tools to identify the specific disease process in each individual. Although focused on cancer in the near-term, the longer-term goal of the White House initiative is to apply Precision Medicine to all areas of health. This ........ Read more »

Insel, T., & Cuthbert, B. (2015) Brain disorders? Precisely. Science, 348(6234), 499-500. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2358  

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