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  • January 23, 2017
  • 10:59 AM
  • 394 views

Processing Speed Cognition in Elderly: Clinical Trial

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Processing speed declines significantly with age and contributes to impairment and disability in old age.There is little known about whether age-related processing speed decline can be slowed with interventionA recent clinical trial by a Japanese group targeted processing speed training in a group of 72 elderly.This study found significant effects for a daily 15 minute processing speed training game over 4 weeks.In contrast to a control group, the intervention group found specific improvement in........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2017
  • 02:26 AM
  • 374 views

Why Do Political Figures Lie So Blatantly?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Are They Pathological Liars? Narcissists? Psychopaths? “Masterful Manipulators”? 





Trump Spokesman’s Lecture on Media Accuracy Is Peppered With Lies


Nearly all American politicians lie, but few as blatantly as those affiliated with the present administration. How do they do it? Are they lacking a conscience? Do they believe their own lies? Do they start with small falsehoods, stretch the

... Read more »

Garrett, N., Lazzaro, S., Ariely, D., & Sharot, T. (2016) The brain adapts to dishonesty. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4426  

  • January 22, 2017
  • 04:58 PM
  • 218 views

Nature Shapes Faithful and Unfaithful Brains

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Among monogamous animals, some individuals are more faithful than others. Could these differences in fidelity be, in part, because of differences in our brains? And if so, why does this diversity in brain and behavior exist?A snuggly prairie vole family. Photo from theNerdPatrol at Wikimedia Commons.Prairie voles are small North American rodents that form monogamous pair bonds, share parental duties, and defend their homes. Although prairie voles form monogamous pairs, that does not mean they ar........ Read more »

  • January 16, 2017
  • 04:29 PM
  • 552 views

Op, Op, Op. The Neuroscience of Gangnam Style?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

"Our results revealed characteristic patterns of brain activity associated with Gangnam Style". So say the authors of a new paper called Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon.



The authors, Qiaozhen Chen et al. from Zhejiang in China, used fMRI to record brain activity while 15 volunteers listened to two musical pieces: Psy's 'Gangnam Style' and a "light music" control, Richard Clayderman's piano piece 'A Comme Amour'.

Chen et al. say that Gangnam Style was associated with "... Read more »

Chen Q, Zhang Y, Hou H, Du F, Wu S, Chen L, Shen Y, Chao F, Chung JK, Zhang H.... (2017) Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon: evidence from functional MRI and PET imaging. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. PMID: 28083689  

  • January 15, 2017
  • 03:47 AM
  • 461 views

Neuroscience Can't Heal a Divided Nation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic




Brain activation during challenges to political vs. non-political beliefs (Figure modified from Kaplan et al., 2016).


Lately I've been despairing about the state of America.




I'm not sure how denying access to affordable health care, opposing scientific facts like global warming and the benefits of vaccines, alienating our allies, banning Muslims, building a wall, endorsing torture, and

... Read more »

  • January 14, 2017
  • 11:53 AM
  • 584 views

What Can fMRI Tell Us About Mental Illness?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable and troubling new paper: Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders



Icahn School of Medicine researchers Emma Sprooten and colleagues carried out an ambitious task: to pull together the results of every fMRI study which has compared task-related brain activation in people with a mental illness and healthy controls.

Sprooten et al.'s analysis included 537 studies with a total of 21,427 ... Read more »

  • January 11, 2017
  • 05:46 AM
  • 582 views

Two Manifestos for Better Science

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover



Two new papers outline urge scientists to make research more reproducible.



First off, Russ Poldrack and colleagues writing in Nature Reviews Neuroscience discuss how to achieve transparent and reproducible neuroimaging research. Neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI, are enormously powerful tools for neuroscientists but, Poldrack et al. say, they are at risk of "a ‘perfect storm’ of irreproducible results". because the "high dimensionality of fMRI data, the relatively low power of mos... Read more »

Poldrack RA, Baker CI, Durnez J, Gorgolewski KJ, Matthews PM, Munafò MR, Nichols TE, Poline JB, Vul E, & Yarkoni T. (2017) Scanning the horizon: towards transparent and reproducible neuroimaging research. Nature reviews. Neuroscience. PMID: 28053326  

Marcus R. Munafò, Brian A. Nosek, Dorothy V. M. Bishop, Katherine S. Button,, Christopher D. Chambers, Nathalie Percie du Sert, Uri Simonsohn, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers,, & Jennifer J. Ware and John P. A. Ioannidis. (2017) A manifesto for reproducible science. Nat Hum Behav. info:/

  • December 31, 2016
  • 10:52 AM
  • 691 views

No Need To Worry About False Positives in fMRI?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Earlier this year, neuroscience was shaken by the publication in PNAS of Cluster failure: Why fMRI inferences for spatial extent have inflated false-positive rates. In this paper, Anders Eklund, Thomas E. Nichols and Hans Knutsson reported that commonly used software for analysing fMRI data produces many false-positives.



But now, Boston College neuroscientist Scott D. Slotnick has criticized Eklund et al.'s alarming conclusions in a new piece in Cognitive Neuroscience.



In my view, ... Read more »

  • December 23, 2016
  • 05:13 AM
  • 482 views

Bad news for DARPA's RAM program: Electrical Stimulation of Entorhinal Region Impairs Memory

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic





The neural machinery that forms new memories is fragile and vulnerable to insults arising from brain injuries, cerebral anoxia, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Unlike language, which shows a great deal of plasticity after strokes and other injuries, episodic memory – memory for autobiographical events and contextual details of past experiences – doesn't recover after

... Read more »

  • December 18, 2016
  • 12:41 AM
  • 415 views

On the Interpretation of Neuroscientific Findings

by Justin A. Sattin in The Ghost of Charcot

A review of classic "split brain" research and critique of a new paper regarding "functional" splits in brain function.... Read more »

Sasai, S., Boly, M., Mensen, A., & Tononi, G. (2016) Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(50), 14444-14449. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613200113  

  • December 8, 2016
  • 05:12 PM
  • 674 views

Do We All Have Split Brains?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

When you're doing two things at once - like listening to the radio while driving - your brain organizes itself into two, functionally independent networks, almost as if you temporarily have two brains. That's according to a fascinating new study from University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists Shuntaro Sasai and colleagues. It's called Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm



In referring to 'split brains' in their title, Sasai et al. are linking their work to the litera... Read more »

Sasai, S., Boly, M., Mensen, A., & Tononi, G. (2016) Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201613200. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613200113  

  • December 8, 2016
  • 05:59 AM
  • 553 views

Know your brain: Septum

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

Where is the septum?























The term septum, when used in reference to the brain (it is a common anatomical term used to refer to a partition), indicates a subcortical structure in the forebrain that is found near the midline of the brain. The septum in humans can be separated into two structures: the septum pellucidum and septum verum. Each of these is sometimes........ Read more »

  • December 6, 2016
  • 12:07 PM
  • 518 views

Online Insomnia Therapy Effective in Clinical Trial

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Insomnia of sufficient severity to meet clinical significance is estimated to affect up to 20% of the general population.This makes insomnia an important public health challenge.Effective, inexpensive and accessible programs to treat insomnia are needed.One recent controlled clinical trial supports the promise of an online intervention that incorporates key elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Lee Ritterband and colleagues at the University of Virginia recently published a controlled c........ Read more »

  • December 4, 2016
  • 03:34 PM
  • 587 views

Do Synapses Really Store Memories?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Most neuroscientists will tell you that long-term memories are stored in the brain in the form of synapses, the connections between neurons. On this view, memory formation occurs when synaptic connections are strengthened, or entirely new synapses are formed.



However, in a new piece in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Austrian researcher Patrick C. Trettenbrein critiques the synapse-memory theory: The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory.



Trettenbrein acknowledges that "t... Read more »

  • December 3, 2016
  • 06:25 AM
  • 535 views

19th Century DIY Brain Stimulation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic





Fig. 4 (Wexler, 2016). Lindstrom's Electro-Medical Apparatus (ca. 1895), courtesy of the Bakken.



Think the do-it-yourself transcranial direct current stimulation movement (DIY tDCS) is a technologically savvy and hip creation of 21st century neural engineering? MIT graduate student Anna Wexler has an excellent and fun review of late 19th and early 20th century electrical stimulation

... Read more »

  • November 29, 2016
  • 11:24 AM
  • 550 views

Your Brain On God: Reward and Motivation

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

William James authored a seminal book titled The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature that was published in 1902.In this work, James reviewed the nature of religious experiences and noted a lack of scientific inquiry into this human phenomenon.James would have been extremely interested in a recent scientific inquiry into the religious experience from brain researchers at the University of Utah and Harvard University.In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI........ Read more »

Ferguson MA, Nielsen JA, King JB, Dai L, Giangrasso DM, Holman R, Korenberg JR, & Anderson JS. (2016) Reward, Salience, and Attentional Networks are Activated by Religious Experience in Devout Mormons. Social neuroscience. PMID: 27834117  

  • November 21, 2016
  • 11:55 AM
  • 492 views

How did Gall Identify his 27 Faculties?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic





Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a founding father of phrenology


Phrenology was the pseudoscience of identifying a person's character and mental abilities on the basis of skull morphology (“bumps on the head”). The enterprise was based on four assumptions (Gross, 2009):

intellectual abilities and personality traits are differentially developed in each individual
these abilities and traits

... Read more »

  • November 21, 2016
  • 11:10 AM
  • 525 views

Benefits of Physical Activity in Parkison's Disease

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegerative disorder estimated to affect 7 to 10 million individual worldwide.The primary mechanism for Parkinson's disease is a reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the midbrain region of the substantia nigra highlighted in red in the figure.PD impairs motor and cognitive functions and leads to significant decline in psychosocial functioning.Drugs for PD can be effective in reversing and slowing the progression of the illness. However, resp........ Read more »

Lauzé M, Daneault JF, & Duval C. (2016) The Effects of Physical Activity in Parkinson's Disease: A Review. Journal of Parkinson's disease, 6(4), 685-698. PMID: 27567884  

  • November 17, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • 555 views

Missed Opportunities in Stroke Prevention

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Rates of myocardial infarction and stroke have been declining over the last decade in the U.S. and Europe. However, a recent manuscript suggests there are still significant missed opportunities to prevent stroke.This manuscript presents results of review of electronic primary care records in the United Kingdom.The authors examines a group of over 29,000 subjects with a diagnosis of stroke or transient ischemic attack over a 10 year period.Records were reviewed to assess for compliance with guide........ Read more »

  • November 15, 2016
  • 11:38 AM
  • 522 views

Celebrex Boosts Antidepressant Response

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I ran into an interesting article at ScienceDaily providing data on a small sample size study of the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex) in depression.Access the ScienceDaily report on this study by clicking HERE.This study focused on subjects with bipolar depression. All subjects were in a depressed phase and received the antidepressant drug escitalopram (Lexapro).Although only 55 subjects participated in this study, the results were significant and large. Adding Celebrex to escitalopra........ Read more »

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