The Neurocritic

258 posts · 210,781 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
258 posts

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  • September 15, 2010
  • 06:51 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  

  • June 1, 2010
  • 07:28 AM

Amygdala Vegetariana

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

In Short Cuts, the "vegetarians and vegans are more empathetic" neuroimaging article was mentioned in passing, but I didn't actually blog about it. However, there has been one thing [OK, more than one thing] bothering me about this paper... But first, a quick summary of the Methods which were rather straightforward.Filippi and colleagues (2010) recruited 20 omnivores, 19 vegetarians, and 20 vegans to participate in a study that examined their brain responses to images of human and animal suffer........ Read more »

  • May 27, 2010
  • 02:08 AM

Short Cuts

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

There is way too much to blog about these days. I can't decide among these 3 new papers:Sometimes, Categorical Statements about Prefrontal Neurons Are Just Wrong(1) Earl K. Miller (2007) in The Prefrontal Cortex: Categories, Concepts, and Cognitive Control (PDF):There was virtually no category effect across the ITC [inferior temporal cortex] population and no examples of neurons whose activity showed the sharp across-distinction/within-category generalization that is the behavioral signature of ........ Read more »

Minamimoto T, Saunders RC, Richmond BJ. (2010) Monkeys Quickly Learn and Generalize Visual Categories without Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron, 66(4), 501-507. info:/10.1016/j.neuron.2010.04.010

  • May 21, 2010
  • 06:27 AM

Attentional bias and "gaydar"

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Global or Local? Gay or Eurotrash? Navon figure flanked by two game pieces from Gay or EUROtrash? the ultimate gaydar game!Believe it or not, there's an article in the new journal Frontiers in Cognition1 entitled "Sexual orientation biases attentional control: a possible gaydar mechanism" (Colzato et al., 2010). What is "gaydar"? And why on earth would one think of studying the allocation of attention to global and local visual perceptual features in relation to gaydar? Here's why:Individuals ........ Read more »

Colzato, L., van Hooidonk, L., van den Wildenberg, W., Harinck, F., & Hommel, B. (2010) Sexual orientation biases attentional control: a possible gaydar mechanism. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00013  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:35 AM

Towards a Focal Consensus in Cognitive Neuroscience: Databases and Meta-Analyses

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Moving right along with our timely, fast-paced, cutting edge blog coverage from the CNS 2010 Annual Meeting [held last month], the first symposium urged the field to advance beyond the current piecemeal single-study approach to neuroimaging by moving Towards a cumulative science of human brain function.1 Building comprehensive, structured, and searchable databases (Van Essen, 2009) and using meta-analytic tools (Wager et al., 2009) were proposed to be key methods aimed at achieving this goal......... Read more »

  • May 12, 2010
  • 08:10 AM


by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

"Head-wound Hank", from Geek Orthodox.The 19th century archive of The Lancet1 is filled with simply delightful case reports. Who can resist the allure of early plastic surgery failures, such as RHINOPLASTIC OPERATION, PERFORMED BY M. LISFRANC, FOLLOWED BY DEATH? Or how about a Case of Local Tubercular Deposit on the Surface of the Brain, presented by Robert Dunn, Esq.? Finally, the tragic History of a Case of Hydrophobia, treated at the Hotel Dieu at Paris, by an injection of water into the ve........ Read more »

  • May 8, 2010
  • 06:53 PM

Motivating a Cumulative Cognitive Neuroscience

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Why are large-scale structured databases and meta-analyses important to advance the field of human brain mapping? One reason is that individual functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies can be notoriously unreliable and underpowered (Bennett & Miller, 2010; Fliessbach et al., 2010; Kriegeskorte et al., 2009; Vul et al., 2009). At the recent CNS 2010 Annual Meeting, symposium organizer Dr. Tal Yarkoni gave the first talk in a session on the value of a cumulative cognitive neurosc........ Read more »

  • May 5, 2010
  • 05:36 AM

Mindscape explains life, mind, consciousness and happiness

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Conflict of interest: ABN, NJS and DRS are scientific co-founders of Mindscape Diagnostics, Inc.Special review article!AbstractWhat are mind, consciousness and happiness, in the fundamental context of life? We propose a convergent perspective (coupling evolutionary biology, genomics, neurobiology and clinical medicine) that could help us better understand what life, mind, consciousness and happiness are, as well as provides empirically testable practical implications.Well. So a speculative,........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2010
  • 02:55 PM

Training of Executive Control Functions: Negative Transfer and Far Transfer

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

The Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2010 Annual Meeting was held last week in Montreal, Québec. Unfortunately, many European registrants were unable to attend because of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The meeting website has links to the PDFs for 67 of these "Volcano Posters".One of those unable to attend was Dr. Jonas Persson of Stockholm University. He was scheduled to speak in the final symposium of the conference, which was on control of executive control, or who controls the "controller" in........ Read more »

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