EVERY year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer from paralyzed limbs as a result of peripheral nerve injury. Recently, implantation of artificial nerve grafts has become the method of choice for repairing damaged peripheral nerves. Grafts can lead to some degree of functional recovery when a short segment of nerve is damaged. But they are of little use when it comes to regenerating nerves over distances greater than a few millimeters, and such injuries therefore often lead to permanent paraly........ Read more »
Radtke, C., Allmeling, C., Waldmann, K., Reimers, K., Thies, K., Schenk, H., Hillmer, A., Guggenheim, M., Brandes, G., & Vogt, P. (2011) Spider Silk Constructs Enhance Axonal Regeneration and Remyelination in Long Nerve Defects in Sheep. PLoS ONE, 6(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016990
Look all the way down to your toes and you’ll appreciate the feat (pun absolutely intended!) that your neurons accomplish in relaying signals over long distances to your brain. A recent paper discusses the interactions between the first sets of motor and sensory axons that find their way into limbs during development. During development, motor and sensory axons align together as they project into a developing limb. A group recently showed how motor and sensory axons are mutually dependent o........ Read more »
Huettl, R., Soellner, H., Bianchi, E., Novitch, B., & Huber, A. (2011) Npn-1 Contributes to Axon-Axon Interactions That Differentially Control Sensory and Motor Innervation of the Limb. PLoS Biology, 9(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001020
I thought that I had wavy hair Until I shaved. Instead, I find that I have STRAIGHT hair And a very wavy head. -Shel Silverstein The poem above is something I think of whenever I think of phrenology (also it’s just awesome, because Shel Silverstein is always awesome). Phrenology was (and is!) a pseudoscientific practice [...]... Read more »
unknown. (1885) COMPARISON OF THE SKULLS OF ASSASSINS AND MEN OF NOTE. Science, ns-6(129), 72-73. DOI: 10.1126/science.ns-6.129.72-a
Paroxetine, aka Paxil aka Seroxat, is an SSRI antidepressant.Like other SSRIs, its reputation has see-sawed over time. Hailed as miracle drugs in the 1990s and promoted for everything from depression to "separation anxiety" in dogs, they fell from grace over the past decade.First, concerns emerged over withdrawal symptoms and suicidality especially in young people. Then more recently their antidepressant efficacy came into serious question. Paroxetine has arguably the worst image of all SSRIs, a........ Read more »
Carpenter DJ, Fong R, Kraus JE, Davies JT, Moore C, & Thase ME. (2011) Meta-analysis of efficacy and treatment-emergent suicidality in adults by psychiatric indication and age subgroup following initiation of paroxetine therapy: a complete set of randomized placebo-controlled trials. The Journal of clinical psychiatry. PMID: 21367354
Of most people that claim things like ‘Oh, but I’m not musical at all’, ‘I’m hopeless at keeping a tune’ or ‘I have no sense of rhythm’, only a small percentage turn out to be unmusical. The condition is known as amusia, and those who suffer from it are literally music-deficient. It is a rather exceptional, mostly inherited condition that comprises a range of handicaps in recognising or reproducing melodies and rhythms. It has been estimated that about 4 per cent of the people in........ Read more »
Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., Piché, O., Nozaradan, S., Palmer, C., & Peretz, I. (2011) Born to dance but beat deaf: A new form of congenital amusia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.002
Peretz, I. (2003) What is specific to music processing? Insights from congenital amusia. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(8), 362-367. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-6613(03)00150-5
Want to build an artificial brain? – try building an embodied robot. It makes sense that to embody an AI system implies giving it a body to embody in. A guide to the advantages, challenges and problems of artificial embodied cognition are examined in a recent Frontiers in Psychology article (citation below).
We are given useful [...]... Read more »
Pezzulo, G., Barsalou, L., Cangelosi, A., Fischer, M., McRae, K., & Spivey, M. (2011) The Mechanics of Embodiment: A Dialog on Embodiment and Computational Modeling. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00005
Pity poor Hans Berger.
The man changed our understanding of human experience and human consciousness, but didn’t know how he did it, was largely ignored in his life, and committed suicide.
In the mid 1920s, Berger invented the electroencephalagraph (EEG), a technique for measuring the electrical activity of brains. Unfortunately, Berger didn’t understand electricity very well, so didn’t have a clear understanding of what his recordings might mean. But he revolutionized the study of human........ Read more »
McKinney S, Dang-Vu T, Buxton O, Solet J, & Ellenbogen J. (2011) Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth. PLoS ONE, 6(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017351
Antidepressant drugs are being used for multiple non-depression indications including chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy, migraine prophylaxis, irritable bowel syndrome, hot flashes, premature ejaculation and insomnia (list not inclusive). I had previously posted results of research looking at the effect of antidepressants after stroke on cognitive recovery. This study from the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry found that escitalopram was linked ........ Read more »
Chollet F, Tardy J, Albucher JF, Thalamas C, Berard E, Lamy C, Bejot Y, Deltour S, Jaillard A, Niclot P.... (2011) Fluoxetine for motor recovery after acute ischaemic stroke (FLAME): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet neurology, 10(2), 123-30. PMID: 21216670
We have a burning need to explain what big brains do, because humans have such large brains. “Big brains smart!” is a common idea for why species vary in brain size. But testing this is a fiendish problem. How do you compare widely different species with different ecologies?
Is an osprey smarter than a hummingbird, for example? The osprey is smarter at catching fish than a hummingbird could ever be... but a hummingbird would kick the osprey’s tailfeathers at analyzing flower patches.
On........ Read more »
Eberhard W. (2011) Are smaller animals behaviourally limited? Lack of clear constraints in miniature spiders. Animal Behaviour. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.01.016
In a new study, researchers from Johns Hopkins examine the meticulous surgical notes kept by Harvey Cushing’s, looking, in particular, for his documentation of medical errors. ... Read more »
Latimer, K., Pendleton, C., Olivi, A., Cohen-Gadol, A., Brem, H., & Quinones-Hinojosa, A. (2011) Harvey Cushing's Open and Thorough Documentation of Surgical Mishaps at the Dawn of Neurologic Surgery. Archives of Surgery, 146(2), 226-232. DOI: 10.1001/archsurg.2010.319
A dead ant infected with a parasitic Cordyceps fungus (David P. Hughes).A team of entomologists working in the Brazilian rain forest has discovered four new species of parasitic Cordyceps fungi, which infect insects and manipulate the behaviour of their hosts in order to disperse their spores as widely as possible.The modus operandi of the Cordyceps fungi is reminiscent of the famous chest-bursting scene in Ridley Scott's movie Alien. Microscopic spores infiltrate the host via the spiracles - t........ Read more »
Evans, H., Elliot, S., & Hughes, D. (2011) Hidden Diversity Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: Four New Species Described from Carpenter Ants in Minas Gerais, Brazil. PLoS ONE, 6(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017024
To understand this paper one needs some context. There was already a wealth of information suggesting the lateral habenula (LHb) had altered activity in depressed patients and that inhibition of the LHb could modulate depressive-like behavior in animals. A few years back, Hauptman et al. (2008) reviewed the neuroanatomical literature and proposed several potential targets, including the LHb, for therapeutic deep brain stimulation (DBS) in patients with treatment resistance depression. Sartorius ........ Read more »
Li B, Piriz J, Mirrione M, Chung C, Proulx CD, Schulz D, Henn F, & Malinow R. (2011) Synaptic potentiation onto habenula neurons in the learned helplessness model of depression. Nature, 470(7335), 535-9. PMID: 21350486
Diego Pizzagalli presented the March 2011 Warren Frontiers in Neuroscience Series lecture in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 1, 2011. Dr. Pizzagalli works at the Harvard Medical School affiliated Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research & Neuroimaging Center at McLean Hospital in Boston. He has been involved in research related to brain abnormalities in major depression as well as predictors of treatment response. I will highlight some of the key points from his lecture ........ Read more »
Pizzagalli DA. (2011) Frontocingulate dysfunction in depression: toward biomarkers of treatment response. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(1), 183-206. PMID: 20861828
Pizzagalli DA, Holmes AJ, Dillon DG, Goetz EL, Birk JL, Bogdan R, Dougherty DD, Iosifescu DV, Rauch SL, & Fava M. (2009) Reduced caudate and nucleus accumbens response to rewards in unmedicated individuals with major depressive disorder. The American journal of psychiatry, 166(6), 702-10. PMID: 19411368
Wacker J, Dillon DG, & Pizzagalli DA. (2009) The role of the nucleus accumbens and rostral anterior cingulate cortex in anhedonia: integration of resting EEG, fMRI, and volumetric techniques. NeuroImage, 46(1), 327-37. PMID: 19457367
LOOK at the photograph on the right. Does it show the face of a man or a woman? There's no right answer - the photo has been manipulated to look sexually ambiguous and can be perceived as either. But according to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, the sense of touch can influence how you perceive and categorize the face.Last year a team of European psychologists found that bodily movements alter the recollection of emotional memories, and an American group showed that........ Read more »
Slepian, M., et al. (2011) Tough and Tender: Embodied Categorization of Gender. Psychological Science, 22(1), 26-28. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610390388
I want to start this post off with a video: This is Mrs. Ida Keeling, a woman who has been breaking running records since she first started training at at 67. She’s now 95 and America’s oldest sprinter. And she is INSPIRING. I hope I’m just like her when I’m old, working out and strong [...]... Read more »
Erickson, K., Voss, M., Prakash, R., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., Kim, J., Heo, S., Alves, H., White, S.... (2011) Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015950108
According to a disturbing BBC news story, South African drug addicts are stealing medication from HIV+ people and using it to get high:'Whoonga' threat to South African HIV patients"Whoonga" is the street name for efavirenz (aka Stocrin), one of the most popular antiretroviral drugs. The pills are apparantly crushed, mixed with marijuana, and smoked for its hallucinogenic effects.This is not, in fact, a new story; Scientific American covered it 18 months ago and the BBC themselves did in 2008 (a........ Read more »
Cavalcante GI, Capistrano VL, Cavalcante FS, Vasconcelos SM, Macêdo DS, Sousa FC, Woods DJ, & Fonteles MM. (2010) Implications of efavirenz for neuropsychiatry: a review. The International journal of neuroscience, 120(12), 739-45. PMID: 20964556
Is my profile picture the fairest of them all? As a phenomena Facebook is still fairly new and its impact sociologically and psychologically remains to be completely understood. However, a new study has shone a little bit of light into this still cloudy area, claiming that looking at your Facebook profile page boosts your self-esteem. … Read more... Read more »
Gonzales AL, & Hancock JT. (2011) Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 14(1-2), 79-83. PMID: 21329447
I have previous posted on some of the research related to beneficial effects of a Mediterranean style diet on health. In one post I summarized some of the quantities of food types in those judged to have a high rating for the diet.A recent study by Tangney and colleagues looked at the rate of cognitive decline in a prospective study of elderly adults in Chicago, Illinois. The study retrospectively judged the diet of participants for characteristics consistent with a Mediterranean die........ Read more »
Tangney CC, Kwasny MJ, Li H, Wilson RS, Evans DA, & Morris MC. (2011) Adherence to a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern and cognitive decline in a community population. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(3), 601-7. PMID: 21177796
Previously, on NeuroDojo...
Most of the signals running along the neurons in your brain and spinal cord and in the tips of your fingers and the bottom of your bum are started because sodium rushes inside those neurons. The sodium gets in through voltage gated sodium channels. If your voltage gated sodium channels can’t open, neurons can’t fire, and you are done for.
Last week, I talked about a new paper that showed how a little worm, C. elegans, gets along without the sodium channels that ........ Read more »
Gao S, & Zhen M. (2011) Action potentials drive body wall muscle contractions in Caenorhabditis elegans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(6), 2557-2562. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1012346108
Liu, Q., Hollopeter, G., & Jorgensen, E. (2009) Graded synaptic transmission at the Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(26), 10823-10828. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0903570106
A fly may not need to know the temperature in order to decide whether or not to bring a light jacket to dinner, but sensing temperature is important for its survival. A recent paper looks at how fruit flies process temperature.The antenna of the fruit fly Drosophila is a crucial organ. The antenna can sense many environmental cues, such as sound, wind, and pheromones, that are important for a fly’s survival, and a recent paper adds temperature to this list. Gallio and colleagues map out how........ Read more »
Manor, U., Disanza, A., Grati, M., Andrade, L., Lin, H., Di Fiore, P., Scita, G., & Kachar, B. (2011) Regulation of Stereocilia Length by Myosin XVa and Whirlin Depends on the Actin-Regulatory Protein Eps8. Current Biology, 21(2), 167-172. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.12.046
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