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  • August 5, 2011
  • 06:51 PM

A New Sexual Femunculus?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Figure 3A (adapted from Komisaruk et al., 2011). Group-based composite view of the clitoral, vaginal, and cervical activation sites, all in the medial paracentral lobule, but regionally differentiated. We interpret this as due to the differential sensory innervation of these genital structures, i.e., clitoris: pudendal nerve, vagina: pelvic nerve,1 and cervix: hypogastric and vagus nerves."Femunulus" is a neologism for "female homuculus" The neuroanatomical definition of homunculus is a "di........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2011
  • 12:56 PM

Cigarette Sadness

by Dirk Hanson in Addiction Inbox

The chemistry of sorrow during nicotine withdrawal.

When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine pops into acetylcholine receptors in the brain, the adrenal glands, and the skeletal muscles, and you get a nicotine rush. Just like alcohol, a cigarette alters the transmission of several important chemical messengers in the brain. “These are not trivial responses,” said Professor Ovide Pomerleau of the University of Michigan Medical School. “It’s like lighting a match in a gasoline factory.”

E........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2011
  • 01:39 AM

The LIDA model

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

Madl, Baars and Franklin have proposed a model of cognition they call LIDA (Learning Intelligent Distribution Agent). It is a series of cycles, each cycle preforming an ‘atom’ of cognition. (see citation below) A series of these ‘atoms’ would make up the performance of a cognitive task (problem solving, deliberation, volitional decision making for example). [...]... Read more »

Madl, T., Baars, B., & Franklin, S. (2011) The Timing of the Cognitive Cycle. PLoS ONE, 6(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014803  

  • August 4, 2011
  • 11:49 AM

Depression: A Case of the Non-Growing Neurons?

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

A mouse that's uninterested in new foods and tasty drinks and easily despairs in a challenging situation has more than a case of the blues. This is a strain of mouse created by Jason Snyder and his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health to model human depression. To bring on the mouse's symptoms, all that was necessary was to stop one part of its brain from creating new cells.The researchers wanted to investigate the link between depression and the brain's ability to grow new neur........ Read more »

  • August 4, 2011
  • 09:27 AM

Brain Response to Eating the Same Foods

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

One potential contributing factor to increasing rates of overweight and obesity is the availability and affordability of a wide range of food choices.  A variety of inexpensive fast food options provides consumers the ability to rotate restaurant selection and reduce the risk of monotony in food selection.Animal studies demonstrate that animals provided the same types of food (or other types of rewards) tend to reduce the level of consumption.  This is a behavioral trait known as habit........ Read more »

Epstein LH, Carr KA, Cavanaugh MD, Paluch RA, & Bouton ME. (2011) Long-term habituation to food in obese and nonobese women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 94(2), 371-6. PMID: 21593492  

  • August 4, 2011
  • 04:27 AM

Brain-Modifying Drugs

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

What if there was a drug that didn't just affect the levels of chemicals in your brain, it turned off genes in your brain? That possibility - either exciting or sinister depending on how you look at it - could be remarkably close, according to a report just out from a Spanish group.The authors took an antidepressant, sertraline, and chemically welded it to a small interfering RNA (siRNA). A siRNA is kind of like a pair of genetic handcuffs. It selectively blocks the expression of a particular ge........ Read more »

Bortolozzi, A., Castañé, A., Semakova, J., Santana, N., Alvarado, G., Cortés, R., Ferrés-Coy, A., Fernández, G., Carmona, M., Toth, M.... (2011) Selective siRNA-mediated suppression of 5-HT1A autoreceptors evokes strong anti-depressant-like effects. Molecular Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2011.92  

  • August 3, 2011
  • 03:48 PM

Antipsychotics - The New Valium?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Antipsychotics, originally designed to control the hallucinations and delusions seen in schizophrenia, have been expanding their domain in recent years. Nowadays, they're widely used in bipolar disorder, depression, and as a new paper reveals, increasingly in anxiety disorders as well.The authors, Comer et al, looked at the NAMCS survey, which provides yearly data on the use of medications in visits to office-based doctors across the USA.Back in 1996, just 10% of visits in which an anxiety diso........ Read more »

  • August 3, 2011
  • 05:14 AM

Welcome to your genome

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

There is a common view that the human genome has two different parts – a “constant” part and a “variable” part. According to this view, the bases of DNA in the constant part are the same across all individuals. They are said to be “fixed” in the population. They are what make us all human – they differentiate us from other species. The variable part, in contrast, is made of positions in the DNA sequence that are “polymorphic” – they come in two or more different versio........ Read more »

Gravel S, Henn BM, Gutenkunst RN, Indap AR, Marth GT, Clark AG, Yu F, Gibbs RA, The 1000 Genomes Project, & Bustamante CD. (2011) Demographic history and rare allele sharing among human populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(29), 11983-11988. PMID: 21730125  

McClellan, J., & King, M. (2010) Genetic Heterogeneity in Human Disease. Cell, 141(2), 210-217. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.03.032  

  • August 2, 2011
  • 05:00 AM

The Man Who Mistook a Harmonica for a Cash Register

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

One of the most famous books written by Oliver Sacks, popular author and beloved behavioral neurologist, is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. One of the chapters describes the case of a patient with visual agnosia, or the inability to recognize objects.Below is a conversation between Sacks and Dr. P, the patient with visual agnosia.I showed him the cover [of a National Geographic Magazine], an unbroken expanse of Sahara dunes.'What do you see here?' I asked.'I see a river,' he said. 'And a........ Read more »

  • August 2, 2011
  • 04:21 AM

The 30something Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Brain maturation continues for longer than previously thought - well up until age 30. That's according to two papers just out, which may be comforting for those lamenting the fact that they're nearing the big Three Oh.This challenges the widespread view that maturation is essentially complete by the end of adolescence, in the early to mid 20s.Petanjek et al show that the number of dendritic spines in the prefrontal cortex increases during childhood and then rapidly falls during puberty - which p........ Read more »

Lebel C, & Beaulieu C. (2011) Longitudinal development of human brain wiring continues from childhood into adulthood. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 31(30), 10937-47. PMID: 21795544  

Petanjek, Z., Judas, M., Simic, G., Rasin, M., Uylings, H., Rakic, P., & Kostovic, I. (2011) Extraordinary neoteny of synaptic spines in the human prefrontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105108108  

  • August 1, 2011
  • 11:33 PM

Why to worry about the optics of the eye in the peripheral retina?

by Pablo Artal in Optics confidential

Why is important the optics of the eye in the peripheral retina? How this can be measured fast and with accuracy? Yes, this can be really quite important for the future of how to control myopia development... ... Read more »

  • August 1, 2011
  • 07:45 PM

Don't put down the Fritos: Salt cravings and your crack habit.

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

One of the interesting things about being a scientist is reading how science is interpreted in the mainstream media, and then comparing the headlines back to the science that was, you know, actually done. When I was a young, and highly naive little scientist, I would read the headlines and go "oh, wow, they found [...]... Read more »

Liedtke WB, McKinley MJ, Walker LL, Zhang H, Pfenning AR, Drago J, Hochendoner SJ, Hilton DL, Lawrence AJ, & Denton DA. (2011) Relation of addiction genes to hypothalamic gene changes subserving genesis and gratification of a classic instinct, sodium appetite. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(30), 12509-14. PMID: 21746918  

  • August 1, 2011
  • 02:51 PM

Superheroes Who Share a Power with Dolphins

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If only for reasons of terrestrial mobility, you probably shouldn't populate your whole superhero squad with cetaceans. Evil lairs on land would be difficult for you to infiltrate, to say the least. But you'd do well to consider including a dolphin or two in your next hero league. Dolphins were all over science journals last week, displaying powers that could put certain superheroes out of business.WolverineA letter published in Nature's Journal of Investigative Dermatology pointed out that bott........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2011
  • 08:59 AM

Why do we make odd faces when we orgasm? A romance in three parts

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, Guillaume's Mailbag has continued on its mission to provide an adaptive explanation for every existing trait. The most recent trait Guillaume has been tackling was submitted by John Wilkins, who asked, "Why do we make odd faces when we orgasm?"

In case you missed when I've plugged him before, JoHn Wilkins (no recent relation) is a philosopher of science in Australia. His most recent book is Species: A History of the Idea, and he runs an excellent blog called Evolving Thoughts. He recently c........ Read more »

Krüger TH, Haake P, Chereath D, Knapp W, Janssen OE, Exton MS, Schedlowski M, & Hartmann U. (2003) Specificity of the neuroendocrine response to orgasm during sexual arousal in men. The Journal of endocrinology, 177(1), 57-64. PMID: 12697037  

  • August 1, 2011
  • 08:54 AM

Novel Use of a Diabetes Drug in Depression

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The search for better treatment options in major depression is important because current antidepressant drugs fail to produce remission in a majority of patients.  Current research efforts are exploring novel antidepressant mechanisms. Some of the compounds being studied include pharmacologic agents with the following mechanisms:Neurotrophic and neuroplasticity agentsGlutamine neurotransmitter agentsExtracellular receptor coupled kinase agentsInhibitors of glycogen synthetase kinase-3Modula........ Read more »

  • August 1, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Cheating the hangman: How worms escape a fungal noose

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Classic rivalries of summer 2011: Harry verus Voldemort. Cap versus the Red Skull. Optimus versus Megatron. And now, worms versus fungus.

Normally, we think of fungi as decomposers that sit around and wait for something to die. Some fungi might infect the living. But there are are few have decided to screw all that and will kill for their sustenance.

Fungi are not mobile, so their technique is to create snares. They form a loop of cells that can inflate when their inner surface is touch, trapp........ Read more »

Maguire SM, Clark CM, Nunnari J, Pirri JK, & Alkema MJ. (2011) The C. elegans touch response facilitates escape from predacious fungi. Current Biology. info:/10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.063

  • August 1, 2011
  • 05:50 AM

The hypnotised brain

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Forget swinging pocket watches and unedifying stage antics, hypnosis is a genuinely useful tool for studying psychogenic symptoms - that is, neurological symptoms with no identifiable organic cause (known in psychiatry as "conversion disorder", the idea being that emotional problems are "converted" into physical ailments).

Consider hand paralysis, which some patients complain of in the absence of any neurological injury or disease. In a new study led by Martin Pyka at the University of Marburg,........ Read more »

Pyka, M., Burgmer, M., Lenzen, T., Pioch, R., Dannlowski, U., Pfleiderer, B., Ewert, A., Heuft, G., Arolt, V., & Konrad, C. (2011) Brain correlates of hypnotic paralysis—a resting-state fMRI study. NeuroImage, 56(4), 2173-2182. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.03.078  

  • July 31, 2011
  • 03:00 PM

Brain-based evidence for multiple intelligences?

by davejhayes in neurosphere

Is there any brain-based evidence for the theory of multiple intelligences? From my viewpoint, the answer seems clear: Yes….and no. (Germans have a nice colloquialism for this in ‘jein’, pronounced yine.)... Read more »

Collins JW. (2007) The neuroscience of learning. The Journal of neuroscience nursing : journal of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, 39(5), 305-10. PMID: 17966298  

Koelsch S. (2010) Towards a neural basis of music-evoked emotions. Trends in cognitive sciences, 14(3), 131-7. PMID: 20153242  

  • July 31, 2011
  • 11:50 AM

What makes us musical animals?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

This week a plug for my new book that just came out: Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening (Read fragments of it online at Google Books; currently available with more than 30% discount on the hardcover at Amazon and Barnes & Noble).From the cover:"Musical Cognition suggests that music is a game (or, in other words, 'benificial play'). In music, our cognitive functions such as perception, memory, attention, and expectation are challenged; yet as listeners we often do not realize that the ........ Read more »

Winkler, I., Haden, G., Ladinig, O., Sziller, I., & Honing, H. (2009) Newborn infants detect the beat in music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(7), 2468-2471. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809035106  

  • July 29, 2011
  • 03:48 AM

What Big Eyes You Have

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to the BBC, a new study has found that northern peoples have bigger eyes - and bigger brains.Actually, the paper in question talked about eyes but didn't make much of the brain finding, which is confined to the Supplement. Nonetheless, they did find an effect on brain size too. Peoples living further from the equator have larger eye sockets and also larger total cranial capacity (brain volume), apparantly. The authors include Robin Dunbar of "Dunbar's Number" fame.Their idea is that hu........ Read more »

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