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  • May 21, 2017
  • 10:50 AM
  • 41 views

Predictive Processing: the role of confidence and precision

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

This is the second post in a series inspired by Andy Clark’s book “Surfing Uncertainty“. In the previous post I’ve mentioned that an important concept in the Predictive Processing (PP) framework is the role of confidence. Confidence (in a prediction)…Read more ›... Read more »

Kanai R, Komura Y, Shipp S, & Friston K. (2015) Cerebral hierarchies: predictive processing, precision and the pulvinar. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1668). PMID: 25823866  

  • May 17, 2017
  • 11:24 AM
  • 85 views

Dad's Impact in Infant Development

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Mother's interaction with their infants play a key role in infant development.The independent role of fathers in infant development is less well known and studied.A recent study from the United Kingdom supports a important role for father-child interactions in infant development.Here are the main elements of the design of this study:Subjects: Families of infants with typical deliveries were recruited from maternity wards in two hospitals in the United Kingdom.Design: Home assessments were comple........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2017
  • 06:16 AM
  • 179 views

Know your brain: Preoptic area

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the preoptic area?















the preoptic area is highlighted in blue.











Functionally, the preoptic area is considered to be a region of the hypothalamus even though its embryological origins are as part of the telencephalon (rather than the diencephalon like the rest of the hypothalamus). It consists of the area o........ Read more »

  • May 8, 2017
  • 01:08 PM
  • 151 views

Neuropeptides and Peer Review Failure

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in the prestigious journal PNAS contains a rather glaring blooper.

The paper, from Oxford University researchers Eiluned Pearce et al., is about the relationship between genes and social behaviour. The blooper is right there in the abstract, which states that "three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles" in human sociality. But dopamine is not a neuropeptide.



Neither are serotonin or testosterone, but throughout the paper, Pea... Read more »

  • May 8, 2017
  • 12:56 AM
  • 120 views

Finding real rewards in a virtual world

by adam phillips in It Ain't Magic

A new study shows that mice who learn to find goals in virtual reality use their hippocampus the same was as in the real world.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2017
  • 01:04 PM
  • 164 views

Partisan Review: “Surfing Uncertainty”, by Andy Clark.

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

Sometimes it happens that reading a book ignites a seemingly unstoppable whirlpool of ideas. The book in question is “Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind” by Andy Clark. Why is this a partisan review? Because Clark himself had…Read more ›... Read more »

  • May 5, 2017
  • 02:53 PM
  • 102 views

Is "Allostasis" The Brain's Essential Function?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A paper just published in Nature Human Behaviour makes some big claims about the brain. It's called Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans, but how much is evidence and how much is speculation?



The authors, Ian R. Kleckner and colleagues of Northeastern University, argue that a core function of the brain is allostasis, which they define as the process by which the brain "efficiently maintains energy regulation in the body". Allostasis ent... Read more »

Kleckner, I., Zhang, J., Touroutoglou, A., Chanes, L., Xia, C., Simmons, W., Quigley, K., Dickerson, B., & Feldman Barrett, L. (2017) Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans. Nature Human Behaviour, 69. DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0069  

  • May 3, 2017
  • 02:42 PM
  • 132 views

How Can We Measure Human Oxytocin Levels?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Is oxytocin really the love and trust chemical? Or is it just the hype hormone? A new paper suggests that many studies of the relationship between oxytocin and behaviors such as trust have been flawed.





The paper is a meta-analysis just published by Norwegian researchers Mathias Valstad and colleagues. Valstad et al. found that the level of oxytocin in human blood, often used as a proxy measure of brain oxytocin, has no relation to central nervous system oxytocin levels under normal co... Read more »

Valstad M, Alvares GA, Egknud M, Matziorinis AM, Andreassen OA, Westlye LT, & Quintana DS. (2017) The correlation between central and peripheral oxytocin concentrations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. PMID: 28442403  

  • April 29, 2017
  • 07:55 AM
  • 128 views

New Human Rights for the Age of Neuroscience?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Do we have a human right to the privacy of our brain activity? Is "cognitive liberty" the foundation of all freedom?



An interesting new paper by Swiss researchers Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno explores such questions: Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology

Ienca and Andorno begin by noting that it has long been held that the mind is "a kind of last refuge of personal freedom and self-determination". In other words, no matter what restrictions might... Read more »

  • April 21, 2017
  • 06:26 AM
  • 228 views

History of neuroscience: John Hughlings Jackson

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged















In 1860, when John Hughlings Jackson was just beginning his career as a physician, neurology did not yet exist as a medical specialty. In fact, at that time there had been little attention paid to developing a standard approach to treating patients with neurological disease. Such an approach was one of Jackson's greatest contributions to neuroscience. He advocated for examining each patient individually in an attempt to iden........ Read more »

York GK, Steinberg DA. (2007) An Introduction to the Life and Work of John Hughlings Jackson. Med Hist Suppl., 3-34. info:/

  • April 11, 2017
  • 10:22 AM
  • 346 views

Risking Limb for Life? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Matthew Whitley Imagine you are walking alone in parking lot, when suddenly somebody grabs you by the arm and flashes a knife, demanding your money. Do you A) scream for help, B) try to wrestle the knife away, or C) remove your arm from your shoulder and make a break for it? Disarming your assailant may seem preferable to dis-arming yourself, but for a lizard option C is a likely response. A lizard tail left behind. Image by Metatron at Wikimedia Commons.You likely have heard before that many........ Read more »

Clause, A., & Capaldi, E. (2006) Caudal autotomy and regeneration in lizards. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology, 305A(12), 965-973. DOI: 10.1002/jez.a.346  

Gilbert, E., Payne, S., & Vickaryous, M. (2013) The Anatomy and Histology of Caudal Autotomy and Regeneration in Lizards. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 86(6), 631-644. DOI: 10.1086/673889  

  • April 11, 2017
  • 08:08 AM
  • 59 views

The Landscape of Neuroscience 2006 - 2015

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

How has neuroscience changed over the past decade? In a new paper, Hong Kong researchers Andy Wai Kan Yeung and colleagues take a look at brain science using the tools of citation analysis.



Yeung et al. extracted data from 2006-2015 from Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which track publications and citations. All journals that the JCR classifies in the "Neurosciences" category were included.

The first change Yeung et al. noticed was that the number of published neuros... Read more »

  • April 3, 2017
  • 10:23 AM
  • 277 views

Financial Scam Vulnerability: Brain Risk Factors

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

It is always frustrating when you hear about a financial scam that has target a vulnerable population like the elderly population.Elderly individuals may be targeted for a variety of reasons. First, they often have financial resources. Second, they may be a generally more trustworthy group increasing risk for falling for a scam. Third, elderly may suffer from some age-related brain changes that impair cognition and judgment.A recent research study suggests specific brain deficits may increase vu........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2017
  • 10:56 AM
  • 277 views

The retina receives signals from all over the brain, and that is kind of weird

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

As a neuroscientist, when I think of the retina I am trained to think of a precise set of neurons that functions like a machine, grinding out the visual basis of the world and sending it on to the brain. It … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 27, 2017
  • 01:05 PM
  • 60 views

Cosmic Dopamine: On "Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Back in 2015, I ran a three part post (1,2,3) on Dr Kenneth Blum and his claim to be able to treat what he calls "Reward Deficiency Syndrome" (RDS) with nutritional supplements.

Today my interest was drawn to a 2015 paper from Blum and colleagues, called Neuroquantum Theories of Psychiatric Genetics: Can Physical Forces Induce Epigenetic Influence on Future Genomes?.



In this paper, Blum et al. put forward some novel proposals about possible links between physics, epigenetics, and neuro... Read more »

  • March 27, 2017
  • 12:07 PM
  • 296 views

Theory of Mind in Brain Development

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Theory of Mind (ToM) is a concept describing the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling.Today in my neuroscience medicine news review I ran across a novel, interesting and important research study targeting brain development in ToM.Normally developing children develop ToM around 4 years of age. In the study published in Nature Communications, a research team at the Max Planck Institute in Germany studied white matter development in 3 to 4 year old children.Using a serie........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2017
  • 10:59 AM
  • 133 views

Every spike matters, down to the (sub)millisecond

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

There was a time when the neuroscience world was consumed by the question of how individual neurons were coding information about the world. Was it in the average firing rate? Or did every precise spike matter, down to the millisecond? Was … Continue reading →... Read more »

Srivastava KH, Holmes CM, Vellema M, Pack AR, Elemans CP, Nemenman I, & Sober SJ. (2017) Motor control by precisely timed spike patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(5), 1171-1176. PMID: 28100491  

Nemenman I, Lewen GD, Bialek W, & de Ruyter van Steveninck RR. (2008) Neural coding of natural stimuli: information at sub-millisecond resolution. PLoS computational biology, 4(3). PMID: 18369423  

  • March 21, 2017
  • 10:04 AM
  • 346 views

The Weirdest Animals on Earth: 12 Amazing Facts About Platypuses

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

What IS that? A photo by Stefan Kraft at Wikimedia Commons.1. Platypuses are so strange, that when British scientists first encountered one, they thought it was a joke: A Governor of New South Wales, Australia, sent a platypus pelt and sketch to British scientists in 1798. Even in their first published scientific description of the species, biologists thought that this duck-beaked, beaver-bodied, web-footed specimen may be some Frankenstein-like creation stitched together as a hoax. But this is ........ Read more »

Scheich, H., Langner, G., Tidemann, C., Coles, R., & Guppy, A. (1986) Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus. Nature, 319(6052), 401-402. DOI: 10.1038/319401a0  

Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grützner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A.... (2008) Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453(7192), 175-183. DOI: 10.1038/nature06936  

  • March 20, 2017
  • 11:25 AM
  • 295 views

Opioids, Benzos and Risk for Overdose

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The evolving epidemic of opioid overdose and overdose deaths is receiving increased public and research attention.Opioids overdoses and overdose deaths are often unintentional or accidental. It has been known that concurrent use of opioids with alcohol or benzodiazepines (i.e. Valium or Xanax) increases risk for overdose toxicity.A recent study published in the British Medical Journal confirmed the association of concurrent benzodiazepine prescription with opioid overdose.This research team exam........ Read more »

  • March 17, 2017
  • 05:29 PM
  • 316 views

Unethical "Stem Cell" Therapy for Autism In India?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

I just read a concerning paper about an experimental stem cell treatment for children with autism.





The authors are Himanshu Bansal and colleagues of India. The senior author, Prasad S Koka, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Stem Cells where the paper appeared, which raises questions about whether the manuscript received a thorough peer review. Koka is actually an author on all five of the research papers published in that issue of the journal. But that's a minor issue compared ... Read more »

Bansal H, Verma P, Agrawal A, Leon J, Sundell IB, Koka PS. (2016) A Short Study Report on Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate Cell Therapy in Ten South Asian Indian Patients with Autism. Journal of Stem Cells, 11(1). info:/

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