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  • December 29, 2010
  • 03:22 AM

Improving scan results

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

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Yarkoni and others make a plea for collaboration and cumulative science in the mapping of brain functions, and in doing this they give much needed cautions to those of us that follow the images without any first-hand experience of a fMRI technology. I list here what they say are the short [...]... Read more »

  • December 28, 2010
  • 01:00 AM

How a change of gaze affects the eye optics?

by Pablo Artal in Optics confidential

Discover how your change in the direction of gaze can affect the optical properties of the eye... and more.... Read more »

Prado, P., Arines, J., Bará, S., Manzanera, S., Mira-Agudelo, A., & Artal, P. (2009) Changes of ocular aberrations with gaze. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 29(3), 264-271. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2009.00652.x  

  • December 27, 2010
  • 10:51 PM

Meme Theory Today (NSFW)

by Neurobonkers in Neurobonkers

A look at how meme theory can explain the wide spread misquotation of it's own "inventor" Richard Dawkins.... Read more »

  • December 27, 2010
  • 12:39 AM

Don’t like angry faces? We have oxytocin for that.

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

I’m sure anyone who reads this blog is by now well aware of the many roles of oxytocin: In men, women, in sex, and especially in emotionally related things like pair bonding, trust, and facial recognition related to emotional states. People who just call oxytocin the “love molecule” don’t get the HALF of it. Oxytocin [...]... Read more »

Evans S, Shergill SS, & Averbeck BB. (2010) Oxytocin decreases aversion to angry faces in an associative learning task. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(13), 2502-9. PMID: 20844475  

  • December 26, 2010
  • 12:57 PM

My picks for the top studies of 2010

by Michelle Greene in NeurRealism

Presented in no particular order, here are the ten studies of 2010 that I found the most interesting. Enjoy!1. A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy MindI wrote about this study here. Authors used an iPhone app to obtain "what are you doing?", "what are you thinking about?" and "how happy are you right now?" data. It turns out that we are thinking about something other than what we are doing about half of the time, and these are the times we are least happy.2. Electrical Enhancement of Mathematical Abi........ Read more »

Killingsworth MA, & Gilbert DT. (2010) A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science (New York, N.Y.), 330(6006), 932. PMID: 21071660  

Job V, Dweck CS, & Walton GM. (2010) Ego depletion--is it all in your head?: implicit theories about willpower affect self-regulation. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 21(11), 1686-93. PMID: 20876879  

Loetscher, T., Bockisch, C., Nicholls, M., & Brugger, P. (2010) Eye position predicts what number you have in mind. Current Biology, 20(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.01.015  

Monti, M., Vanhaudenhuyse, A., Coleman, M., Boly, M., Pickard, J., Tshibanda, L., Owen, A., & Laureys, S. (2010) Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(7), 579-589. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0905370  

Owen, A., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., Burns, A., Howard, R., & Ballard, C. (2010) Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465(7299), 775-778. DOI: 10.1038/nature09042  

Bourgeois FT, Murthy S, & Mandl KD. (2010) Outcome reporting among drug trials registered in Annals of internal medicine, 153(3), 158-66. PMID: 20679560  

Dosenbach NU, Nardos B, Cohen AL, Fair DA, Power JD, Church JA, Nelson SM, Wig GS, Vogel AC, Lessov-Schlaggar CN.... (2010) Prediction of individual brain maturity using fMRI. Science (New York, N.Y.), 329(5997), 1358-61. PMID: 20829489  

  • December 24, 2010
  • 11:39 AM

in which more evidence accumulates for utility of calcium channel blockers in treating Parkinson's disease

by Ragamuffin in How We Are Hungry

Neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease is known to be specific to a group of dopamine neurons originating in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). In nearby region, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), dopamine neurons are all but unaffected by disease progression. This selectivity has generated great interest from the PD research community. In a study out of Dr. D. James Surmeier's lab at Northwestern University, this selectivity was suggested to be related to calcium channel........ Read more »

Guzman JN, Sanchez-Padilla J, Wokosin D, Kondapalli J, Ilijic E, Schumacker PT, & Surmeier DJ. (2010) Oxidant stress evoked by pacemaking in dopaminergic neurons is attenuated by DJ-1. Nature, 468(7324), 696-700. PMID: 21068725  

  • December 23, 2010
  • 10:59 AM

Depression Treatment Increased From 1998 to 2007

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A paper just out reports on the changing patterns of treatment for depression in the USA, over the period from 1998 to 2007.The headline news is that increased: the overall rate of people treated for some form of "depression" went from 2.37% to 2.88% per year. That's an increase of 21%, which is not trivial, but it's much less than the increase in the previous decade: it was just 0.73% in 1987.But the increase was concentrated in some groups of people.Americans over 50 accounted for the bulk of ........ Read more »

Marcus SC, & Olfson M. (2010) National trends in the treatment for depression from 1998 to 2007. Archives of general psychiatry, 67(12), 1265-73. PMID: 21135326  

  • December 23, 2010
  • 09:43 AM

Top-down vs bottom-up approaches to cognition: Griffiths vs McClelland

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Two articles to be published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences debate the merits of approaching cognition from different ends of the microscope. The central issue is which approach is the most productive for explaining phenomena in cognition. Structured probabilistic takes a 'top-down' approach while Emergentism takes a 'bottom-up' approach.... Read more »

Griffiths, T., Chater, N., Kemp, C., Perfors, A., & Tenenbaum, J. (2010) Probabilistic models of cognition: exploring representations and inductive biases. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(8), 357-364. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.05.004  

McClelland, J., Botvinick, M., Noelle, D., Plaut, D., Rogers, T., Seidenberg, M., & Smith, L. (2010) Letting structure emerge: connectionist and dynamical systems approaches to cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(8), 348-356. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.06.002  

Zeil J, Hofmann MI, & Chahl JS. (2003) Catchment areas of panoramic snapshots in outdoor scenes. Journal of the Optical Society of America. A, Optics, image science, and vision, 20(3), 450-69. PMID: 12630831  

  • December 23, 2010
  • 01:26 AM

The noisy brain

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

It is generally assumed, currently, that neural synchronization is the method of communication in networks of neurons involved in perception, cognition and action. In a recent paper Ward and others (citation below) have investigated the importance of stochastic resonance in this synchrony. So what is this thing called stochastic resonance?
You will eventually run into stochastic [...]... Read more »

  • December 22, 2010
  • 01:19 PM

Fat rats and cocaine

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Every so often, Sci comes across a study that at first looks incredibly exciting…and then kind of becomes a bit of a let down. Not because it was a BAD study, mind, but because I want MORE. Thus was this study. So let’s talk about high fat diets, and let’s talk about coke. But mostly [...]... Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 11:14 PM

How Strong Are Your Relationships? Drop a Few Mails Into This Analyzer, and Get an Estimate

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

"Most people are other people," Oscar Wilde wrote. "Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." You get the feeling, somehow, that he thought this was a bad thing. Seems likelier that it's just an inevitable fact about a species whose members ...Read More
... Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 01:39 PM

What Mirror Images and Foreign Scripts Tell Us About the Reading Brain

by Livia Blackburne in A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing

Here’s a simple exercise. Count the number of times the letter ‘A’ appears in the sentences below. Easy enough, but, there's a catch. You have to do it without reading the words.


One day, after Little Red Riding hood woke up, mother called her into the kitchen and handed her a basket of cakes and pastries. “Take these to grandmother. She's sick, and perhaps these cakes will make her feel better.”

If you have been reading for years, you probably found it difficult, if not imp........ Read more »

Baker CI, Liu J, Wald LL, Kwong KK, Benner T, & Kanwisher N. (2007) Visual word processing and experiential origins of functional selectivity in human extrastriate cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(21), 9087-92. PMID: 17502592  

  • December 21, 2010
  • 07:06 AM

Paralysis deniers have subconscious insight into their disability

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Anosognosia is an intriguing neuropsychological syndrome in which a patient with one or more paralysed limbs denies they have anything wrong with them. In a new investigation, Aikaterini Fotopoulou and her colleagues have shown that some patients fitting this description have a residual, sub-conscious awareness of their disability.

The researchers recruited 14 brain-damaged patients with a completely paralysed left arm, half of whom denied their paralysis (ie they had anosognosia). Next, a........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 04:13 AM

Self-organising principles in the nervous system

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

The circuitry of the brain is too complex to be completely specified by genetic information – at least not down to the level of each connection. There are hundreds of billions of neurons in your brain, each making an average of 1,000 connections to other cells. There are simply not enough genes in the genome to specify all of these connections. What the genetic program can achieve is a very good wiring diagram of initial projections between neurons in different brain areas (or layers or bet........ Read more »

Kaschube M, Schnabel M, Löwel S, Coppola DM, White LE, & Wolf F. (2010) Universality in the evolution of orientation columns in the visual cortex. Science (New York, N.Y.), 330(6007), 1113-6. PMID: 21051599  

  • December 20, 2010
  • 02:56 PM

XMRV - Innocent on All Counts?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A bombshell has just gone off in the continuing debate over XMRV, the virus that may or may not cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Actually, 4 bombshells. A set of papers out today in Retrovirology (1,2,3,4) claim that many previous studies claiming to have found the virus haven't actually been detecting XMRV at all.Here's the rub. XMRV is a retrovirus, a class of bugs that includes HIV. Retroviruses are composed of RNA, but they can insert themselves into the genetic material of host cells as DNA......... Read more »

Robert A Smith. (2010) Contamination of clinical specimens with MLV-encoding nucleic acids: implications for XMRV and other candidate human retroviruses. Retrovirology. info:/10.1186/1742-4690-7-112

  • December 20, 2010
  • 11:39 AM

Epidemiology of Childhood Adversity

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

A variety of adverse childhood experiences are linked to higher rates of childhood, adolescent and adult clinical neuroscience disorders.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a summary of the epidemiology of adverse childhood experiences from a survey of five states.  Their survey queried adults on their childhood experience with eight adverse experiences.Verbal AbusePhysical AbuseSexual AbuseMentally Ill Household MemberHousehold Member in PrisonSubst........ Read more »

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2010) Adverse childhood experiences reported by adults --- five States, 2009. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 59(49), 1609-13. PMID: 21160456  

  • December 20, 2010
  • 05:24 AM

The Almond of Horror

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Remember the 90s, when No Fear stuff was cool, and when people still said "cool"?Well, a new paper has brought No Fear back, by reporting on a woman who has no fear - due to brain damage. The article, The Human Amygdala and the Induction and Experience of Fear, is brought to you by a list of neuroscientists including big names such as Antonio Damasio (of Phineas Gage fame).The basic story is nice and simple. There's a woman, SM, who lacks a part of the brain called the amygdala. They found that ........ Read more »

Justin S. Feinstein, Ralph Adolphs, Antonio Damasio,, & and Daniel Tranel1. (2010) The Human Amygdala and the Induction and Experience of Fear. Current Biology. info:/

  • December 17, 2010
  • 02:21 PM

Use Youtube to be Creative at work…

by Kandarp Mehta in Creatologue - Exploring Creativity

New research has shown that watching funny video at work may likely make you more creative. So all those bosses who catch their subordinates snooping in some comic videos on Youtube, be happy! The same subordinate might come up with … Continue reading →... Read more »

Nadler RT, Rabi R, & Minda JP. (2010) Better mood and better performance: learning rule-described categories is enhanced by positive mood. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 21(12), 1770-6. PMID: 20974709  

  • December 17, 2010
  • 12:14 PM

Getting Off Xanax or Klonopin

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Benzodiazepine drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin and other compounds presents a significant challenge.  The benzodiazepines quickly reduce anxiety in a variety of anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.  They can also be effective adjuncts to other agents in providing symptom relief.However, these agents to have the potential to produce significant withdrawal symptoms.  The withdrawal symptoms appear to be most severe for patients who have........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2010
  • 04:53 PM

What Diseases Get Researched?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Dorothy Bishop (of BishopBlog) has a nice PLoS paper looking at: Which neurodevelopmental disorders get researched and why?.She took 35 "neurodevelopmental" disorders, ranging from rare genetic syndromes like Rett's, up to autism, ADHD and specific language impairment (SLI), and compared their prevalence stated in a textbook, to the number of scientific papers published about them over the past 15 years.Note that with something like Rett's, there's no question that they're problems with brain de........ Read more »

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