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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.
Hypergraphia is a compulsive or overwhelming urge to write, often associated with temporal lobe epilepsy. Influential behavioral neurologist Norman Geschwind included hypergraphia as one of the personality changes that can be observed in persons with temporal lobe epilepsy.An unusual example of hypergraphia was observed by Dr. Mario F. Mendez, who reported the unique case of a 58 year old man who felt utterly compelled to write poetry (Mendez, 2005). The patient reported no previous history of b........ Read more »
Fig. 3 (Goldstein et al., 2012). Single-blast exposure induces CTE-like neuropathology in wild-type C57BL/6 mice.In a tour de force, a group of 35 Boston-area scientists1 (Goldstein et al., 2012) developed a mouse model of blast-related neurotrauma that resulted in pathological changes similar to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive neurodegenerative disease seen most often in athletes with repeated concussions. They also reported post-mortem neuropathological findings from th........ Read more »
Goldstein, L., Fisher, A., Tagge, C., Zhang, X., Velisek, L., Sullivan, J., Upreti, C., Kracht, J., Ericsson, M., Wojnarowicz, M.... (2012) Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Blast-Exposed Military Veterans and a Blast Neurotrauma Mouse Model. Science Translational Medicine, 4(134), 134-134. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003716
...may follow from a new PLoS ONE paper on bloggers whose posts are aggregated at ResearchBlogging.org (Shema et al., 2012):The average RB blogger in our sample is male, either a graduate student or has been awarded a PhD and blogs under his own name.The Neurocritic has never been one for meta-blogging.1 I don't like to draw attention to my existence as an actual person, and I don't have time to discuss things like the pros/cons of blogging, scientific outreach, gender imbalances, scientist blo........ Read more »
Shema, H., Bar-Ilan, J., & Thelwall, M. (2012) Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information. PLoS ONE, 7(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035869
Spindle neurons, or Von Economo neurons (VENs), are a unique type of large, bipolar neuron found primarily in layer Vb in the anterior cingulate cortex and the frontoinsular cortex of humans.1 In 1999, Nimchinsky and colleagues discovered that among the 28 nonhuman primate species they examined, only great apes had VENs [see Spindle Neurons: The Next New Thing?].Spindle neurons are also seen in humpback, fin, sperm, and killer whales (Hof & Van der Gucht, 2007), elephants (Hakeem et al., 2........ Read more »
Butti, C., Sherwood, C., Hakeem, A., Allman, J., & Hof, P. (2009) Total number and volume of Von Economo neurons in the cerebral cortex of cetaceans. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 515(2), 243-259. DOI: 10.1002/cne.22055
Evrard, H., Forro, T., & Logothetis, N. (2012) Von Economo Neurons in the Anterior Insula of the Macaque Monkey. Neuron, 74(3), 482-489. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.03.003
Poltergeist (1982) - IMDb 1 Poltergeists are defined as paranormal, mischievous ghostly presences that appear to a select group of people. As paranormal entities, they are beyond investigation by rational scientific means. Or are they? Odd sensations, visions, felt presences, out-of-body experiences, etc. have all been explained by unusual brain activity. Hence, neuroscientists should consider that poltergeists exist in the mind of the perceiver, not as a physical reality in the external world.A........ Read more »
Roll, W., Saroka, K., Mulligan, B., Hunter, M., Dotta, B., Gang, N., Scott, M., St-Pierre, L., & Persinger, M. (2012) Case report: A prototypical experience of ‘poltergeist’ activity, conspicuous quantitative electroencephalographic patterns, and sLORETA profiles – suggestions for intervention. Neurocase, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/13554794.2011.633532
Fig. 2 (Omalu et al., 2011). Photomicrographs of tau-immunostained section of the frontal cortex.Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times the other day about an Iraq War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use problems who ultimately took his own life.Veterans and Brain DiseaseBy NICHOLAS D. KRISTOFPublished: April 25, 2012He was a 27-year-old former Marine, struggling to adjust to civilian life after two tours in Iraq. Once an A student, he now fou........ Read more »
Omalu B, Hammers JL, Bailes J, Hamilton RL, Kamboh MI, Webster G, & Fitzsimmons RP. (2011) Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in an Iraqi war veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder who committed suicide. Neurosurgical focus, 31(5). PMID: 22044102
The Subjective Ups and Downs of Mood DisordersThe last post, Suffering for art is still suffering, took a critical look at studies claiming that individuals with bipolar disorder are more creative.1 And instead of romanticizing the tortured bipolar artist, it considered the toll the disorder can take on those who live with it (and the people around them).Some readers might have objected to the overly pessimistic tone of that post, prompting them to say things like, "It was a very negative post ........ Read more »
Jamison KR, Gerner RH, Hammen C, & Padesky C. (1980) Clouds and silver linings: positive experiences associated with primary affective disorders. The American journal of psychiatry, 137(2), 198-202. PMID: 7352574
Lobban, F., Taylor, K., Murray, C., & Jones, S. (2012) Bipolar Disorder is a two-edged sword: a qualitative study to understand the positive edge. Journal of Affective Disorders. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.001
Parker, G., Paterson, A., Fletcher, K., Blanch, B., & Graham, R. (2012) The ‘magic button question’ for those with a mood disorder — Would they wish to re-live their condition?. Journal of Affective Disorders, 136(3), 419-424. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.11.008
Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait in Hell (1903)"I inherited two of mankind's most frightful enemies — the inheritance of consumption and insanity — disease and madness and death were the black angels that stood at my cradle." 1 -Edvard MunchMany contemporary observers believe that Edvard Munch, the brilliant Norwegian artist best known for The Scream, had bipolar disorder. According to Rothenberg (2001):A diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychosis is based on his own diary descriptions of visu........ Read more »
The 2012 Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting was held in Chicago from March 31 to April 3. The schedule was packed with three and a half days of symposia, slide sessions, and posters. One well-attended event was Symposium Session 2, on non-invasive brain stimulation.Using Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Enhance Cognitive and Motor Abilities in the Typical, Atypical, and Aging Brain Chair: Roi Cohen Kadosh, University of OxfordSpeakers: Roi Cohen Kadosh, Jenny Crinion, Paulo S. Boggio, Leon........ Read more »
George, M., & Aston-Jones, G. (2009) Noninvasive techniques for probing neurocircuitry and treating illness: vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 301-316. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2009.87
Holland, R., & Crinion, J. (2011) Can tDCS enhance treatment of aphasia after stroke?. Aphasiology, 1-23. DOI: 10.1080/02687038.2011.616925
Holland, R., Leff, A., Josephs, O., Galea, J., Desikan, M., Price, C., Rothwell, J., & Crinion, J. (2011) Speech Facilitation by Left Inferior Frontal Cortex Stimulation. Current Biology, 21(16), 1403-1407. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.07.021
Cinematic enfant terrible Gaspar Noé has been shocking audiences with his artistic films of graphic violence for over 20 years. In IMDb he is quoted as saying:"There is no line between art and pornography. You can make art of anything. You can make an experimental movie with that candle or with this tape recorder. You can make a piece of art with a cat drinking milk. You can make a piece of art with people having sex. There is no line. Anything that is shot or reproduced in an unusual way i........ Read more »
Hermans, E., van Marle, H., Ossewaarde, L., Henckens, M., Qin, S., van Kesteren, M., Schoots, V., Cousijn, H., Rijpkema, M., Oostenveld, R.... (2011) Stress-Related Noradrenergic Activity Prompts Large-Scale Neural Network Reconfiguration. Science, 334(6059), 1151-1153. DOI: 10.1126/science.1209603
Dennis Rader - the BTK KillerCourt Transcript of BTK's Confession. . .The Court: -- you were engaged in some kind of fantasy during this period of time?The Defendant: Yes, sir.The Court: All right. Now, where you use the term “fantasy,” is this something you were doing for your personal pleasure? The Defendant: Sexual fantasy, sir.The Archives of General Psychiatry has published a neuroimaging study of nonconsensual sexual sadism in a forensic setting (Harenski et al., 2012), sure to be cont........ Read more »
Harenski, C., Thornton, D., Harenski, K., Decety, J., & Kiehl, K. (2012) Increased Frontotemporal Activation During Pain Observation in Sexual Sadism: Preliminary Findings. Archives of General Psychiatry, 69(3), 283-292. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1566
What do zucchini and hammers have in common? Both might be processed by the dorsal stream.The primate visual system is divided into ventral ("what") and dorsal ("where") visual streams that are specialized for object recognition and spatial localization, respectively (Mishkin et al., 1983; Haxby et al., 1991).Goodale and Milner (1992) conceptualized the two pathways as "vision for perception" and "vision for action":We propose that the ventral stream of projections from the striate cortex to t........ Read more »
Sakuraba S, Sakai S, Yamanaka M, Yokosawa K, & Hirayama K. (2012) Does the human dorsal stream really process a category for tools?. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(11), 3949-53. PMID: 22423115
Relativity, by M.C. Escher.The artwork of M.C. Escher is famous for its visual trickery. The human visual system tries to project the two dimensional image onto a three dimensional scene, but the perspective is contradictory: it cannot exist in the real world. These impossible constructions violate the laws of geometry and fascinate consumers of t-shirts, posters, and Apple products.How does the brain represent these illusory staircases and towers? While a fascinating topic of study in the field........ Read more »
Wu, X., Li, W., Zhang, M., & Qiu, J. (2012) The neural basis of impossible figures: Evidence from an fMRI study of the two-pronged trident. Neuroscience Letters, 508(1), 17-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.11.064
Are you having trouble sleeping? But you're not feeling that 19th century retro hipster insomniac vibe? Try some of these behavioral remedies recommended by the finest scientific and medical journals of today.What a Difference a Day MakesIs Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR) a new overnight treatment for chronic insomnia (Harris et al., 2012)? ISR is conducted in one 25 hr session at a sleep lab, where the insomniac sleeps a maximum of 3 min every 30 min for a period of 25 hrs. Instant cure! (supp........ Read more »
Harris, J., Lack, L., Kemp, K., Wright, H., & Bootzin, R. (2012) A Randomized Controlled Trial of Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR): A Brief Conditioning Treatment for Chronic Insomnia. SLEEP. DOI: 10.5665/sleep.1584
Today was the sixth anniversary of this blog. I'm not much for meta-blogging or general chattiness, but I thought I would highlight the nine posts (out of 700) with the most comments. Thank you for your support over the years, and keep the comments coming.9. Friston Is Freudian - Friday, March 12, 2010Neuropsychoanalysis is in the news again because of the recent publication of Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. In 2010, first author Carha........ Read more »
Edward Vul, Christine Harris, Piotr Winkielman, . (2009) Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
The Melancholia of Kirsten Dunst and Lars von Trier“Gray wool, clinging to my legs, it's heavy to carry along” The disastrous wedding reception of the severely depressed Justine precedes the end of the world, depicted as a highly stylized and artistic event feared by some but welcomed by others. Kirsten Dunst plays the role of von Trier's own melancholia, which was the inspiration for his film. The image above occurred out of context, at the very beginning, during the bombastic Wagner........ Read more »
Holtzheimer, P., Kelley, M., Gross, R., Filkowski, M., Garlow, S., Barrocas, A., Wint, D., Craighead, M., Kozarsky, J., Chismar, R.... (2012) Subcallosal Cingulate Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Unipolar and Bipolar Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1456
Lipsman, N., McIntyre, R., Giacobbe, P., Torres, C., Kennedy, S., & Lozano, A. (2010) Neurosurgical treatment of bipolar depression: defining treatment resistance and identifying surgical targets. Bipolar Disorders, 12(7), 691-701. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2010.00868.x
Gulu, Uganda (vis photography)Most of us have memories from the past that we'd rather forget. When those memories are of a traumatic nature, they can more difficult to expel from our minds. Unwanted memories can be rejected by means of active inhibitory processes (Anderson & Levy, 2009), but these mechanisms are impaired in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD (Zwissler et al., 2011): Essentially, PTSD patients have trouble remembering what they are supposed to remember........ Read more »
Zwissler, B., Hauswald, A., Koessler, S., Ertl, V., Pfeiffer, A., Wöhrmann, C., Winkler, N., & Kissler, J. (2011) Memory control in post-traumatic stress disorder: evidence from item method directed forgetting in civil war victims in Northern Uganda. Psychological Medicine, 1-9. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291711002273
Our fun New Year's Eve post reviewed the suspected brain mechanisms of an alcohol blackout, or an episode of amnesia after a bout of heavy drinking (Rose & Grant, 2010). Alcohol-induced alterations of hippocampal circuits are thought to disrupt memory encoding, which can lead to two different types of blackout: en bloc, a complete loss of memory for the affected time period; and fragmentary, where bits and pieces of memories remain. The en bloc blackout is more likely to occur when a large q........ Read more »
GOODWIN, D., OTHMER, E., HALIKAS, J., & FREEMON, F. (1970) Loss of Short Term Memory as a Predictor of the Alcoholic “Blackout”. Nature, 227(5254), 201-202. DOI: 10.1038/227201a0
This post is for all you New Year's Eve party goers who don't remember where you were or what you did. If that's the case, then you experienced an alcohol-induced blackout. Haven't you always wondered about the clinical manifestations and neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol-induced blackouts? Maybe you have, but you can't remember.A definitive review of the phenomenon by Rose and Grant (2010) explains that there are two different types of blackout: en bloc, a complete loss of memory for the a........ Read more »
from Subramanian et al. 2011 [Image: Clive Featherstone]Every year, BMJ [British Medical Journal] has a special Christmas issue with spoof articles and silly studies. Favorites from the past include:Sword Swallowing And Its Side EffectsSex, aggression, and humour: responses to unicyclingRage Against the Machine Syncope and the Texting SignWhy are the letters "z" and "x" so popular in drug names?The clear winner this year is a revenge piece by a group of orthopaedic surgeons and trainees (Subrama........ Read more »
Subramanian, P., Kantharuban, S., Subramanian, V., Willis-Owen, S., & Willis-Owen, C. (2011) Orthopaedic surgeons: as strong as an ox and almost twice as clever? Multicentre prospective comparative study. BMJ, 343(dec15 1). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d7506
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