11 posts · 5,660 views
Andrew Watt is a PhD candidate investigating neuropathology, with a background in genetics, psychology and documentary film-making. A Hippo on Campus is his attempt to discuss the quirky and at times whimsical world of scientific enquiry into the human brain and the world at large.
At the end of a long day at work there's nothing quite like the salve of a glass of red to ease the troubles from your mind. Or perhaps a scotch is more your thing (neat or on the rocks I'm not here to judge). Then again maybe yours is a gin and tonic, an old fashioned or even just a cup of chamomile. The point is whatever your poison there are few among us who don't turn to a little liquid helper as the day draws to a close. Whether to dull those frayed nerves, to placate our wor........ Read more »
Bellapart J, & Boots R. (2012) Potential use of melatonin in sleep and delirium in the critically ill. British journal of anaesthesia, 108(4), 572-80. PMID: 22419624
Mills MH, & Faunce TA. (1991) Melatonin supplementation from early morning auto-urine drinking. Medical hypotheses, 36(3), 195-9. PMID: 1787809
The progressive deterioration of one’s social and cognitive functioning is often thought of as being synonymous with the normal aging process. After all we all forget names, misplace our keys and stumble over our words from time to time. Hell, sometimes it even happens in the absence of that second glass of wine. Yet you only need to look at Christopher Plummer's recent Oscar acceptance speech to realise that a deteriorating mind is not an inherent part of growing old. After all Plumm........ Read more »
Gräff, J., Rei, D., Guan, J., Wang, W., Seo, J., Hennig, K., Nieland, T., Fass, D., Kao, P., Kahn, M.... (2012) An epigenetic blockade of cognitive functions in the neurodegenerating brain. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature10849
Karran E, Mercken M, & De Strooper B. (2011) The amyloid cascade hypothesis for Alzheimer's disease: an appraisal for the development of therapeutics. Nature reviews. Drug discovery, 10(9), 698-712. PMID: 21852788
Back in the '80s the name Michael J. Fox was more or less interchangeable with that of Marty McFly, the effortlessly cool protagonist from the Back to the Future trilogy who introduced an entire generation of kids to hoverboards, self-lacing shoes and flux capacitors. Not to mention 'Johnny B Goode'. These days however Fox's name is more likely to have us thinking of his fight with Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with back in 1991, or the advocacy work he does for his ........ Read more »
Obeso JA, Rodríguez-Oroz MC, Benitez-Temino B, Blesa FJ, Guridi J, Marin C, & Rodriguez M. (2008) Functional organization of the basal ganglia: therapeutic implications for Parkinson's disease. Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society. PMID: 18781672
They say that when in polite company one should never discuss religion or politics. An old adage which is perhaps even more pertinent when you find yourself dining with boors. After all there are few topics of conversation with the innate ability to turn a soiree into a shouting match as those we hold sacred. Whether it be our views on life or what follows afterwards, there's just something about those consecrated concepts that doesn't allow any room for compromise. But what is about these funda........ Read more »
Berns, G., Bell, E., Capra, C., Prietula, M., Moore, S., Anderson, B., Ginges, J., & Atran, S. (2011) The Price of Your Soul: Neural Evidence for the Non-Utilitarian Representation of Sacred Values. SSRN Electronic Journal. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.1817982
It's fairly easy to spot someone who hasn't had a great night's sleep. The bleary eyes. The birds-nest hair. Not to mention the constant growled demands to be left alone unless you come bearing coffee. When we find ourselves in this position it's fairly clear that those eight hours a night are important for our sanity. Very important indeed. So why is it that a lack of sleep can leave us feeling so lacklustre?
The wrong side of bed
You're probably well aware of the fact that sleep is one........ Read more »
Benedict, C., Brooks, S., O'Daly, O., Almen, M., Morell, A., Aberg, K., Gingnell, M., Schultes, B., Hallschmid, M., Broman, J.... (2012) Acute Sleep Deprivation Enhances the Brain's Response to Hedonic Food Stimuli: An fMRI Study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology . DOI: 10.1210/jc.2011-2759
Yoo SS, Gujar N, Hu P, Jolesz FA, & Walker MP. (2007) The human emotional brain without sleep--a prefrontal amygdala disconnect. Current biology : CB, 17(20). PMID: 17956744
There's nothing quite like a stiff drink at the end of a long day to calm those shattered nerves. Whether it's a wine or a scotch, a gin and tonic or a vodka and orange, there's just something about the cortical balm that is alcohol that makes all our worries fade away. But what is it about this fermented solution that has us all at merlot? That leads us all to imbibe over 10 litres each year? Well according to a new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, it's the release of........ Read more »
Mitchell, J., O'Neil, J., Janabi, M., Marks, S., Jagust, W., & Fields, H. (2012) Alcohol Consumption Induces Endogenous Opioid Release in the Human Orbitofrontal Cortex and Nucleus Accumbens. Science Translational Medicine, 4(116), 116-116. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002902
"You've got a face, I've got a face. It's all gonna be alright." But is it Noel Fielding? Is it really? And how do you know it's a real face anyway? After all you might simply be looking at that rocky outcrop in the picture which bears resemblance to a face. Or maybe you're looking at a piece of toast branded with the face of Jesus or Erik Estrada. Alright so we can probably give Noel the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his ability to visually descriminate human faces from rocky ........ Read more »
Meng M, Cherian T, Singal G, & Sinha P. (2012) Lateralization of face processing in the human brain. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. PMID: 22217726
Sheehan, M., & Tibbetts, E. (2011) Specialized Face Learning Is Associated with Individual Recognition in Paper Wasps. Science, 334(6060), 1272-1275. DOI: 10.1126/science.1211334
"It's alive. ALIVE!" The mad scientist howls as his creation, well, comes to life. That potent mixture of neuronal connections and lightning are all it takes for the monster to arise once more. If you're anything like me, and since you're here I'll assume that you are, this iconic scene from Frankenstein will be the first thing your brain primes when somebody mentions electrodes in the brain. Or perhaps your more hardwired to conjure up a more Hitchcock-esque scene involving electroshock therapy........ Read more »
Borchers S, Himmelbach M, Logothetis N, & Karnath HO. (2011) Direct electrical stimulation of human cortex - the gold standard for mapping brain functions?. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 13(1), 63-70. PMID: 22127300
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
We've all had those moments in life when the mirror has been less than kind. When for whatever reason it's decided to add those few extra pounds when just weeks earlier we could have graced the cover of almost any magazine on offer. Or at the very least still fit into our jeans. And so the dieting begins. Caloric intake is restricted and a strict exercise regime is followed. Well maybe not strict, but walking is now done at a brisk pace rather than the meander of old. And then it happens. Like t........ Read more »
Thaler JP, Yi CX, Schur EA, Guyenet SJ, Hwang BH, Dietrich MO, Zhao X, Sarruf DA, Izgur V, Maravilla KR.... (2011) Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans. The Journal of clinical investigation. PMID: 22201683
Ask the average person on the street if men and women are wired differently and you'll more often than not get an affirmatory response. Not overly suprising given the knowledge that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Am I right? But dive a little deeper and chances are you'll find that the vast majority of people would be relying heavily on deeply ingrained stereotypes, such as the "mythically superior 'multitasking’ abilities" of women or men who just don't listen, rather than any s........ Read more »
It's fair to say that for most of us the day doesn't truly begin until we can feel the warm lick of caffeine coursing through our veins. Be it an espresso, flat white, latte or low-fat, soy, double-shot, moccacino. Whatever your poison very little in our lives is ever achieved before that first cup of black magic has passed our lips. However despite our love affair with this bitter alkaloid, the exact manner in which caffeine interacts with our brains has been largely misunderstood. That is unt........ Read more »
Simons, S., Caruana, D., Zhao, M., & Dudek, S. (2011) Caffeine-induced synaptic potentiation in hippocampal CA2 neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 15(1), 23-25. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2962
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