In a previous post, I suggested that writers were brain manipulators. Now I'm refining the description. It's more like a Vulcan mind meld.
A recent experiment by scientists at Princeton University shows neural coupling (coordinated brain activity) between a storyteller and a listener. The researchers used fMRI to scan a speaker’s brain as she told an unrehearsed story about an experience from high school. They then scanned 10 volunteers as they listened to a recording of the story.
The ba........ Read more »
Stephens GJ, Silbert LJ, & Hasson U. (2010) Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20660768
Sci had a chance to blog an interesting paper on the value of cocaine in rats (as compared to nice stuff like sugar), and someone pointed out to her that she authors had done a follow up! I think what they found in this followup is really rather exciting and has some very interesting implications [...]... Read more »
Cantin L, Lenoir M, Augier E, Vanhille N, Dubreucq S, Serre F, Vouillac C, & Ahmed SH. (2010) Cocaine is low on the value ladder of rats: possible evidence for resilience to addiction. PloS one, 5(7). PMID: 20676364
Most neurons in the brain are not born in their final position – they are generated by cell division in one part of the brain and have to migrate, sometimes over long distances, along complicated routes, to finally arrive at their pre-specified destination. This process entails an incredibly complex and dynamic set of genetic instructions and interactions between different cell types. A prime example is the migration of interneurons to the cerebral cortex – these inhibitory neurons make........ Read more »
Kaneko N, Marín O, Koike M, Hirota Y, Uchiyama Y, Wu JY, Lu Q, Tessier-Lavigne M, Alvarez-Buylla A, Okano H.... (2010) New Neurons Clear the Path of Astrocytic Processes for Their Rapid Migration in the Adult Brain. Neuron, 67(2), 213-223. PMID: 20670830
Parkinson's disease (PD) commonly includes a variety of behavioral disturbances related to impulsivity. Impulse control problems noted in (PD) ncludes hypersexuality, compulsive shopping, compulsive eating and pathological gambling.These behavioral problems may be related to the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. However, drugs commonly used in Parkinson's disease appear to increase the risk for impulsive behavioral problems. Clinicians face a dilemma in drug-induced behavioral ........ Read more »
Thomas A, Bonanni L, Gambi F, Di Iorio A, & Onofrj M. (2010) Pathological gambling in Parkinson disease is reduced by amantadine. Annals of neurology. PMID: 20687121
Sci may have mentioned before just how much she loves Mary Roach’s writing (warning, the webpage has a roach on the front. I’m warning you because if you’re like Sci and have a roach phobia, it can be…unpleasant. Just scroll down to the bottom of the screen and avoid it). Mary Roach, author of Stiff: [...]... Read more »
WARD JE, HAWKINS WR, & STALLINGS HD. (1959) Physiologic response to subgravity. II. Initiation of micturition. Aerospace medicine, 572-5. PMID: 13842868
Is it possible that if you have schizophrenia, smoking marijuana will actually improve your cognitive performance?
Since this blog is often concerned with the relationship between science and its communication, something which has come up once or twice here is the way drug and alcohol research is reported in the media.
Very often, it is reported that [...]... Read more »
Yücel M, Bora E, Lubman DI, Solowij N, Brewer WJ, Cotton SM, Conus P, Takagi MJ, Fornito A, Wood SJ.... (2010) The Impact of Cannabis Use on Cognitive Functioning in Patients With Schizophrenia: A Meta-analysis of Existing Findings and New Data in a First-Episode Sample. Schizophrenia bulletin. PMID: 20660494
Frisher, M., Crome, I., Martino, O., & Croft, P. (2009) Assessing the impact of cannabis use on trends in diagnosed schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Schizophrenia Research, 113(2-3), 123-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.05.031
A while back, I wrote a post about short and long term memory processes in cephalopods. I wrote then that there is good evidence for a dissociation of short and long term memory process in cephalopods, but that this isn't a good basis (alone) for inferring the presence of consciousness, or in the case of arguments about animal's rights, the capacity to suffer (which, I guess, usually comes along with being conscious.) I stand by ........ Read more »
Fiorito G, & Chichery R. (1995) Lesions of the vertical lobe impair visual discrimination learning by observation in Octopus vulgaris. Neuroscience letters, 192(2), 117-20. PMID: 7675317
SANDERS, G. (1970) Long-term memory of a tactile discrimination in Octopus vulgaris and the effect of vertical lobe removal. Brain Research, 20(1), 59-73. DOI: 10.1016/0006-8993(70)90154-X
These little sharpshooters are famous for being able to spit water at an insect, not on the surface of the water, but a good ways above it. And these insects are often camouflaged to boot. Then, they have to catch the insect when it hits the water before other fish get it, or it gets swept away by any water currents.
In other words, archerfish have to calculate, perform precision maneuvers, and anticipate the outcomes of their actions.
This paper, though, looks mainly at the ........ Read more »
Temple, S., Hart, N., Marshall, N., & Collin, S. (2010) A spitting image: specializations in archerfish eyes for vision at the interface between air and water. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1694), 2607-2615. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0345
The genetics of dystonia in CRPS - genes don't seem to predispose or cause dystonia in CRPS. This doesn’t mean that there is no genetic contribution, but it does mean that the genes that underpin familial dystonia are not important in CRPS-dystonia.... Read more »
 van Rijn MA, Marinus J, Putter H, & van Hilten JJ. (2007) Onset and progression of dystonia in complex regional pain syndrome. Pain, 130(3), 287-93. PMID: 17499924
Wouldn't it be cool if you could measure brain activation with fMRI... right as it happens?You could lie there in the scanner and watch your brain light up. Then you could watch your brain light up some more in response to seeing your brain light up, and watch it light up even more upon seeing your brain light up in response to seeing itself light up... like putting your brain between two mirrors and getting an infinite tunnel of activations.Ok, that would probably get boring, eventually. But th........ Read more »
Hinds, O., Ghosh, S., Thompson, T., Yoo, J., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Triantafyllou, C., & Gabrieli, J. (2010) Computing moment to moment BOLD activation for real-time neurofeedback. NeuroImage. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.07.060
Research addressing genetic factors in obesity grows each year. However, there has been limited attention to the other side of the coin, the genetics of thinness and a related body composition variable lean body mass. Some might say, why bother, isn't being thin a good thing?Thinness does confer some advantages with reduced risk of hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis and some types of cancer. However, there are some disorders (i.e. osteoporosis) increased in those underweigh........ Read more »
Liu XG, Tan LJ, Lei SF, Liu YJ, Shen H, Wang L, Yan H, Guo YF, Xiong DH, Chen XD.... (2009) Genome-wide association and replication studies identified TRHR as an important gene for lean body mass. American journal of human genetics, 84(3), 418-23. PMID: 19268274
Early research on the role of the occipitotemporal region in reading often focused on characterizing a single region in the mid fusiform, commonly called the visual word form area. Since then, focus has gradually...
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van der Mark S, Bucher K, Maurer U, Schulz E, Brem S, Buckelmüller J, Kronbichler M, Loenneker T, Klaver P, Martin E.... (2009) Children with dyslexia lack multiple specializations along the visual word-form (VWF) system. NeuroImage, 47(4), 1940-9. PMID: 19446640
Good communication is a matter of getting "in sync" with others, as you've probably noticed when you've seen people match their steps perfectly as they walk, and imitate each other's gestures as they talk, and use each other's phrases and grammar. Last week, this paper reported this kind of coordination in the most important place of all: When people converse, it reports, regions of their brains synchronize their activity. "Neural coupling," they argue, is a key part of communica........ Read more »
Stephens, G., Silbert, L., & Hasson, U. (2010) Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008662107
It’s been a while since Sci covered a good post on stimulants, and I’ve begun to feel the lack. I start to get the shakes, as it were. And this post covers something particularly interesting about cocaine, something VERY interesting about refined sugars, and even more interesting, this paper looks at some of the bugs [...]... Read more »
In 2001, an article was published in the journal Nature that a mutation in the forkhead-domain gene FOXP2 is involved in a hereditary speech and language disorder in a family in Great Britain. Today, many refer to FOXP2 colloquially as a 'language' gene and accumulating evidence suggests that FOXP2 is involved in language-like behavior in other animals, most prominently in song-learning in birds. Language as well as song learning in birds is an operant learning process, i.e., the birds........ Read more »
Santos, M., Athanasiadis, A., Leitao, A., DuPasquier, L., & Sucena, E. (2010) Alternative splicing and gene duplication in the evolution of the FoxP gene sub-family. Molecular Biology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msq182
Fisher, S., & Scharff, C. (2009) FOXP2 as a molecular window into speech and language. Trends in Genetics, 25(4), 166-177. DOI: 10.1016/j.tig.2009.03.002
Intravenous Immunoglobulin in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Andreas Goebel on the results of his latest clinical trial .Just imagine the causes of some chronic pains are completely different from what you had thought. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a severe pain which persists after limb trauma. You are unlucky if you develop this nasty condition, [...]... Read more »
 Goebel A, Baranowski A, Maurer K, Ghiai A, McCabe C, & Ambler G. (2010) Intravenous immunoglobulin treatment of the complex regional pain syndrome: a randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 152(3), 152-8. PMID: 20124231
The Alzheimer's Association sponsors a journal titled Alzheimer's & Dementia. In the March 2010 issue, they provide a report on facts and figures related to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The manuscript is free and can be accessed by clicking on the citation at the end of this article. It is long and detailed with 36 pages of information. I'm a sucker for data so I spent some time going through the manuscript and here are some of the things that stood out to me:Ninety (90)........ Read more »
It is no surprise to many people that men and women are sometimes more susceptible to certain diseases than the other. By virtue of having differing anatomy, physiology, and gender expectations, we are going to be prone to different types of diseases, injuries, syndromes, and whatever-you-call-its. That being said, the majority of pathologies affect both men and women relatively equally. Despite that fact, rarely do clinical trials explore the difference in response to treatments based on sex. I........ Read more »
Gartlehner, G., Chapman, A., Strobelberger, M., & Thaler, K. (2010) Differences in Efficacy and Safety of Pharmaceutical Treatments between Men and Women: An Umbrella Review. PLoS ONE, 5(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011895
I don't read many economic blogs but one I do follow is Barry Rithholtz's The Big Picture. Barry acknowledges the limitations of human decision making and knowledge. His economic approach is a refreshing humbleness. He has stated that we need to remember that man is not far removed from our primate ancestors---we are basically "monkeys wearing pants". Understanding this, his investment approach is to know that all decisions may be influenced by bias of our monkey-based b........ Read more »
Santos LR, & Hughes KD. (2009) Economic cognition in humans and animals: the search for core mechanisms. Current opinion in neurobiology, 19(1), 63-6. PMID: 19541475
(Note: I apologize if this post seems jargon-ey. I've tried to explain or reference any hard to get terms, but I do assume that readers know the very basics of neural functioning. If you need a primer on this, check out wikipedia's page on neurons or this great tutorial. Feel free to post in the comments if there's anything you want explained more thoroughly, and I'll give it a crack.) &........ Read more »
Shomrat T, Feinstein N, Klein M, & Hochner B. (2010) Serotonin is a facilitatory neuromodulator of synaptic transmission and "reinforces" long-term potentiation induction in the vertical lobe of Octopus vulgaris. Neuroscience, 169(1), 52-64. PMID: 20433903
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