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  • April 2, 2012
  • 08:00 AM

Brainbrawl! The Connectome review

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Recently, I wrote a post discussing connectomes. (Recap: Connectomes are descriptions of every synaptic connection between neurons in a brain.) In it, I referred to a paper by Cornelia Bargmann and argued that the amount of enlightenment we will gain about ourselves through connectomes is being oversold. I used several quotes from Sebastian Seung as examples, and mentioned his book on the subject.

Sebastian Seung noted that I had not read his book. Fair enough. I was not trying to single out Se........ Read more »

Seung S. (2012) Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1-384. info:other/978-0-547-50818-4

  • April 2, 2012
  • 01:54 AM

Feeling of agency

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

Why is it so difficult for neuroscience to identify where our self-experience comes from? It seems to involve a number of processes: memory, emotion, perception, action. Knoblich and Sebanz review some work on self. (see citation)
Action has recently become a central topic in research addressing the sense of self because there is converging evidence that [...]... Read more »

  • April 1, 2012
  • 03:38 PM

Coffee: a caffeinated chronicle

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Because I like to understand what I'm putting in my body, I decided to explore coffee: its history, its neurological mechanism, and—what I'm sure everyone's dying to know—why it is so easy to become addicted and dependent on it.
... Read more »

Cocker PJ, Hosking JG, Benoit J, & Winstanley CA. (2012) Sensitivity to Cognitive Effort Mediates Psychostimulant Effects on a Novel Rodent Cost/Benefit Decision-Making Task. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 22453140  

  • April 1, 2012
  • 03:12 PM

The generation of a memory trace?

by Johannes Felsenberg in neuro JC

Have you seen the movie Inception? If not you should. It is all about a group of people high jacking the dreams of company bosses to steal useful information from their memory to sell them to their rivals. Anyway the Holy Grail of these “being in other peoples head and manipulating things” – trips is [...]... Read more »

Garner AR, Rowland DC, Hwang SY, Baumgaertel K, Roth BL, Kentros C, & Mayford M. (2012) Generation of a synthetic memory trace. Science (New York, N.Y.), 335(6075), 1513-6. PMID: 22442487  

  • April 1, 2012
  • 09:59 AM

Critical Theory in Neurocinematics: Gaspar Noe's 'Irreversible' as Neural Network Reconfiguration

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Cinematic enfant terrible Gaspar Noé has been shocking audiences with his artistic films of graphic violence for over 20 years. In IMDb he is quoted as saying:"There is no line between art and pornography. You can make art of anything. You can make an experimental movie with that candle or with this tape recorder. You can make a piece of art with a cat drinking milk. You can make a piece of art with people having sex. There is no line. Anything that is shot or reproduced in an unusual way i........ Read more »

Hermans, E., van Marle, H., Ossewaarde, L., Henckens, M., Qin, S., van Kesteren, M., Schoots, V., Cousijn, H., Rijpkema, M., Oostenveld, R.... (2011) Stress-Related Noradrenergic Activity Prompts Large-Scale Neural Network Reconfiguration. Science, 334(6059), 1151-1153. DOI: 10.1126/science.1209603  

  • April 1, 2012
  • 03:30 AM

Did language emerge from the neural systems supporting aimed throwing?

by Andrew Wilson in Notes from Two Scientific Psychologists

Aimed throwing is surprisingly uncommon in the animal kingdom. Humans do it par excellence, and otherwise it only shows up occasionally, even in our closest relatives. Chimpanzees will throw things (often faeces) but unlike humans don't throw things when hunting or trying to get food; when non-human animals throw things, it's usually part of a social encounter.Throwing is a fascinating task for many reasons; I hope to blog some about the perception-action aspects of this task in the future as I ........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2012
  • 11:51 PM

Big ideas: Focus on computation

by Patrick Mineault in xcorr

Matteo Carandini has an editorial in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience arguing that we should focus energy on studying neural computation. In this context, neural computation is understood as an intermediate level of complexity between low-level neural circuits and high-level behavior. He argues that trying to go from physical descriptions of circuits to large-scale [...]... Read more »

  • March 31, 2012
  • 01:10 PM

Automated Science, Deep Data, and the Paradox of Information

by Bradley Voytek in Oscillatory Thoughts

Note: this is was originally published by me over on the O'Reilly Radar.A lot of great pieces have been written about the (relatively) recent surge in interest in “big data” and "data science", but in this piece I want to address the importance of deep data analysis: what we can learn from the statistical outliers by drilling down and asking, “What’s different here? What’s special about these outliers and what do they tell us about our models and assumptions?”The reason that big data........ Read more »

Yarkoni, T., Poldrack, R., Nichols, T., Van Essen, D., & Wager, T. (2011) Large-scale automated synthesis of human functional neuroimaging data. Nature Methods, 8(8), 665-670. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1635  

Ahn, Y., Ahnert, S., Bagrow, J., & Barabási, A. (2011) Flavor network and the principles of food pairing. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep00196  

Michel, J., Shen, Y., Aiden, A., Veres, A., Gray, M., , ., Pickett, J., Hoiberg, D., Clancy, D., Norvig, P.... (2010) Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books. Science, 331(6014), 176-182. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199644  

  • March 31, 2012
  • 11:57 AM

DSM-V: A Little Mix Up

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Proposals in the upcoming DSM-V psychiatric manual for diagnosing "mixed" mood states may be muddled, according to a new paper.The mixed state - the name alluding to a mix between depression and mania - has traditionally been viewed (more or less) as combining the dysphoria of depression with the energy of mania. Anger, agitation, restlessness and so forth. I've been depressed and I know only too well the difference between that "active" depression and the "inactive" kind; if I had to choose, I'........ Read more »

  • March 30, 2012
  • 01:56 PM

The Plus Side of Eating Placenta

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

He's not suggesting new parents pause in the delivery room to whip up a placenta sandwich. But neuroscientist Mark Kristal says human mothers might be missing out on the benefits other mammals receive from gobbling up their afterbirth. With luck, there might be a way for us to take advantage of placenta power that's not totally disgusting.

Mark Kristal is a professor at the University of Buffalo who's been studying the practice of placenta eating--or placentophagia, if you want to bring it ........ Read more »

Mark B. Kristal, Jean M. DiPirro, & Alexis C. Thompson. (2012) Placentophagia in Humans and Nonhuman Mammals: Causes and Consequences. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. info:/

  • March 29, 2012
  • 02:45 PM

3D fMRI Promises Deeper Neuroscience

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A new approach to fMRI scanning offers a three-dimensional look at brain activation.fMRI is already a 3D technique, of course, but in the case of the cerebral cortex - which is what the great majority of neuroscientists are most interested in - the 3D data are effectively just 2D images folded up in space. The cortex can be thought of a big sheet crumpled up into the shape of a brain, and it's possible to use software to 'unfold' the cortex into a 2D map for the purposes of fMRI data visualizati........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2012
  • 09:34 AM

Autism and intellectual disability in DSM-5

by Jon Brock in Cracking the Enigma

Earlier this week, I wrote about the recently published study by McPartland, Reichow and Volkmar, looking at the potential impact of the proposed DSM 5 criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. There were caveats-a-plenty but the data suggested that autism rates may go down considerably as a result of the renegotiation of diagnostic borders. In fact, a new diagnosis, Social Communication Disorder, has been created to capture all the people who won't now make the ASD cut-off.In the comments, an........ Read more »

  • March 29, 2012
  • 09:22 AM

Are Social and Physical Pain Linked?

by United Academics in United Academics

“She broke my heart.” “He hurt me.” These are things we often say to help explain how emotionally severe a situation is. But is there a neurological connection between the pathways through which feelings of physical pain and social pain go through? New research suggests that in fact – these two kinds of pain are experienced in the same part of the brain.... Read more »

  • March 28, 2012
  • 11:02 AM

The Mephedrone Conundrum

by mtaffe in TLneuro

Recent reports from the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (Iversen et al. 2010) and the Europol-European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Sedefov et al. 2010) emphasize that very little scientific information on substituted cathinones is available. Understanding of the effects of these compounds is at present by reference to the parent compound cathinone (found in khat, a plant material chewed for similant properties in the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula) and methc........ Read more »

Baumann, M., Ayestas, M., Partilla, J., Sink, J., Shulgin, A., Daley, P., Brandt, S., Rothman, R., Ruoho, A., & Cozzi, N. (2011) The Designer Methcathinone Analogs, Mephedrone and Methylone, are Substrates for Monoamine Transporters in Brain Tissue. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(5), 1192-1203. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2011.304  

Hadlock GC, Webb KM, McFadden LM, Chu PW, Ellis JD, Allen SC, Andrenyak DM, Vieira-Brock PL, German CL, Conrad KM.... (2011) 4-Methylmethcathinone (mephedrone): neuropharmacological effects of a designer stimulant of abuse. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, 339(2), 530-6. PMID: 21810934  

Winder, G., Stern, N., & Hosanagar, A. (2012) Are “Bath Salts” the next generation of stimulant abuse?. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsat.2012.02.003  

  • March 28, 2012
  • 12:04 AM

Rehabilitation of Concussion and Post-concussion Syndrome

by Jane McDevitt in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

This systematic review found 564 studies that fulfilled their search criteria and utilized 119 articles that focused on pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment/rehabilitation of concussions and post-concussion syndrome.... Read more »

Leddy, J., Sandhu, H., Sodhi, V., Baker, J., & Willer, B. (2012) Rehabilitation of Concussion and Post-concussion Syndrome. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 4(2), 147-154. DOI: 10.1177/1941738111433673  

  • March 27, 2012
  • 10:29 PM

Seeing Cells: Nissl and Golgi together at last

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Seeing through a glass darkly (source)The quest to visualize cells is a long and continuously evolving one.  We have previously discussed how neuroscientists use calcium to watch cells in action, but a surprising amount of information can be gleaned from simply staining fixed (inactive) cells. There are so many ways to stain fixed cells that I have to write this in parts.  First we'll discuss two of the oldest techniques still commonly used, the Nissl stain and........ Read more »

Pilati N, Barker M, Panteleimonitis S, Donga R, & Hamann M. (2008) A rapid method combining Golgi and Nissl staining to study neuronal morphology and cytoarchitecture. The journal of histochemistry and cytochemistry : official journal of the Histochemistry Society, 56(6), 539-50. PMID: 18285350  

  • March 27, 2012
  • 01:52 PM

Cognitive impairment in Khat users

by mtaffe in TLneuro

A recent paper described cognitive deficits in a group of chronic Khat users.... Read more »

  • March 26, 2012
  • 02:29 PM

These pink elephants are caused by what part of the absinthe, exactly?

by aewills in A Bouquet From Mendel

Back in 2002 I went to Prague, where I was able to legally sample that storied vice of brooding 19th-century artists, absinthe.  The preferred method of preparation was to pour some of the liquor into a large spoon, add a … Continue reading →... Read more »

Padosch SA, Lachenmeier DW, & Kröner LU. (2006) Absinthism: a fictitious 19th century syndrome with present impact. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 14. PMID: 16722551  

  • March 26, 2012
  • 12:42 PM

How will DSM 5 affect autism rates? The Yale study

by Jon Brock in Cracking the Enigma

In January, at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, Yale researcher, Dr Fred Volkmar gave a presentation of data from a study looking at the implications of changes to autism diagnostic criteria in DSM 5. His conclusion was that many people who are currently diagnosed with autism, Asperger's, or PDD-NOS would not meet the new proposed criteria for autism spectrum disorder in DSM 5.Volkmar's remarks were picked up by the New York Times, who ran with the lede:"Proposed changes in the de........ Read more »

  • March 24, 2012
  • 01:59 AM

Separation of memory and belief

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

When we watch a show on stage, TV or movie, we do the little trick of suspending disbelief. We do not believe what we are experiencing but we treat the content ‘as if we believed it’ for the duration of the show. We can re-enter that disbelieved experience if we choose, as if it were [...]... Read more »

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