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  • March 7, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Artificial nerve grafts made from spider silk

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

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  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

March 7, 2011

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

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 »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 01:33 AM

Assassins vs Men of Note: the old pseudoscience of phrenology

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

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 »

  • March 6, 2011
  • 06:27 AM

Paxil: The Whole Truth?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

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 »

  • March 5, 2011
  • 10:30 AM

A case of congenital beat deafness?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

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  

Honing, H., Ladinig, O., Háden, G., & Winkler, I. (2009) Is Beat Induction Innate or Learned?. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), 93-96. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04761.x  

  • March 5, 2011
  • 03:39 AM

Embodied robots

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

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  

  • March 4, 2011
  • 04:11 PM

“Honey? Are you awake?” and alpha waves

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

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 »

  • March 4, 2011
  • 09:37 AM

Fluoxetine (Prozac) Boosts Motor Recovery After Stroke

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

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  

  • March 4, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave”... because of small brains?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

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 »

  • March 3, 2011
  • 10:58 AM

Mistakes Were Made (Inside Your Brain)

by Emily Anthes in Wonderland

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 »

  • March 3, 2011
  • 09:25 AM

Return of the brain-controlling zombie-ant parasitic fungi

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

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 »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 12:15 PM

Habenular DBS as a treatment for depression

by Tantalus Prime in Tantalus Prime

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 »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 10:19 AM

Decoding the Faces of Depression: Anhedonia and Dopamine

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

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 »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 07:35 AM

Tough and tender: How touch affects sex categorization

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

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 »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 02:02 AM

Train your Muscles, Embiggen your Hippocampus

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

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  

  • March 1, 2011
  • 09:08 AM

The Mystery of "Whoonga"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

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  

  • February 28, 2011
  • 10:17 AM

Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Facebook Shown to Boost Self-Esteem

by Ben Good in B Good Science

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 »

  • February 28, 2011
  • 09:24 AM

Cognitive Decline and the Mediterranean Diet

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

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  

  • February 28, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Spikes without sodium, part 2

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

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 »

  • February 28, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

February 28, 2011

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

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 »

Gallio, M., Ofstad, T., Macpherson, L., Wang, J., & Zuker, C. (2011) The Coding of Temperature in the Drosophila Brain. Cell, 144(4), 614-624. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.01.028  

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