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  • January 13, 2012
  • 07:51 AM

Do kids with autism have big brains?

by Jon Brock in Cracking the Enigma

Like most things in autism research, the idea that people with autism have big brains goes back to an observation in Leo Kanner’s original autism paper, where he noted that some of the kids in his group had larger than normal heads. Over the years, there have been dozens of studies looking directly or indirectly at the issue of brain size in autism. In 2005, Martha Herbert provided a comprehensive review [pdf] of 25 such studies, describing the tendency towards large brains as "the most re........ Read more »

Nordahl, C., Lange, N., Li, D., Barnett, L., Lee, A., Buonocore, M., Simon, T., Rogers, S., Ozonoff, S., & Amaral, D. (2011) Brain enlargement is associated with regression in preschool-age boys with autism spectrum disorders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(50), 20195-20200. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107560108  

  • January 12, 2012
  • 05:55 AM

A look at the dogma

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

The authors of a new paper (citation below) have doubts about some well known ‘facts’ in neuroscience. I have to admit I assumed that the numbers were backed by evidence. I may have used these numbers in posts and so I feel bound to share the doubts with readers. Here is the abstract:
Owing to methodological [...]... Read more »

  • January 12, 2012
  • 05:34 AM

Elements of episodic memory

by Jon Simons in Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think

Keen students of memorywill recognise that the title of this post is an homage to the seminal book ofthe same title by the great memory researcher, Endel Tulving.  To my mind, Tulving’s Elements is one of thefinest books that has been written about memory, along with William James’s Principles of Psychology and Dan Schacter’s Searching for Memory. (It’s quite possiblethat Charles Fernyhough’s forthcoming Pieces of Light may soon join thatlist).In Tulving’s book, he describeshow ........ Read more »

Gunter, B., Berry, C., & Clifford, B. (1981) Proactive interference effects with television news items: Further evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning , 7(6), 480-487. DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.7.6.480  

WICKENS, D., BORN, D., & ALLEN, C. (1963) Proactive inhibition and item similarity in short-term memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 2(5-6), 440-445. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-5371(63)80045-6  

  • January 11, 2012
  • 03:40 PM

Do Brain Scans Sway Juries?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Does seeing a criminal's brain affect jury decisions?Edith Greene and Brian Cahill ask this question in a new study which put volunteers in the position of jurors in a murder trial. The 'defendant' was guilty, but the question was: should they get life in prison, or death?It turned out that seeing brain scans didn't have much of an effect - but it's not clear how far the results would generalize.208 mock-jurors were randomly assigned to get different kinds of mitigationinformation about the accu........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2012
  • 01:30 PM

A Time article that literally makes my brain lobes explode

by Bradley Voytek in Oscillatory Thoughts

Time has just published the most frustratingly annoying piece of neurobabble I've come across (thanks for pointing me to it Avgusta!).What I'm about to say is hard for me, because I love Time; they've twice named their person of the year, and I hate to bite the hand that feeds me.But forget it... that New York Times piece that I was annoyed about from this weekend has got nothing on this one.It's a "very timely piece" about John Edwards. Is Time confused? They do know the American media is only ........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2012
  • 12:03 AM

Does Brain Blood Flow Change After Concussions?

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

The purpose of this study was to evaluate cerebrovascular reactivity after a sport-induced concussion by monitoring the middle cerebral artery blood velocity, based on transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, and end tidal carbon dioxide (PETCO2) measurements, based on an expired gas analyzing system. ... Read more »

Len TK, Neary JP, Asmundson GJ, Goodman DG, Bjornson B, & Bhambhani YN. (2011) Cerebrovascular reactivity impairment after sport-induced concussion. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(12), 2241-8. PMID: 21606867  

  • January 10, 2012
  • 09:00 AM

Separating face from fiction with the fusiform gyrus

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

"You've got a face, I've got a face. It's all gonna be alright." But is it Noel Fielding? Is it really? And how do you know it's a real face anyway? After all you might simply be looking at that rocky outcrop in the picture which bears resemblance to a face. Or maybe you're looking at a piece of toast branded with the face of Jesus or Erik Estrada. Alright so we can probably give Noel the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his ability to visually descriminate human faces from rocky ........ Read more »

  • January 9, 2012
  • 04:00 AM

Molecular computer models enhance learning and memory

by Björn Brembs in neuro JC

Posted on behalf of Benjamin Paffhausen:
The authors  studied long term sensitization of the withdrawal reflex in Aplysia, which is an example of
long term memory (LTM). Previous findings suggested that activation of protein kinase A (PKA) and extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) lead to long term facilitation (LTF), a form of LTM. PKA and ERK are [...]... Read more »

Zhang, Y., Liu, R., Heberton, G., Smolen, P., Baxter, D., Cleary, L., & Byrne, J. (2011) Computational design of enhanced learning protocols. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2990  

  • January 8, 2012
  • 10:51 AM

Jump-starting regeneration of injured nerves

by Kevin Mitchell in Wiring the Brain

Normal.dotm 0 0 1 1072 6113 Trinity College Dublin 50 12 7507 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow........ Read more »

Sun F, Park KK, Belin S, Wang D, Lu T, Chen G, Zhang K, Yeung C, Feng G, Yankner BA.... (2011) Sustained axon regeneration induced by co-deletion of PTEN and SOCS3. Nature, 480(7377), 372-5. PMID: 22056987  

  • January 6, 2012
  • 07:43 PM

The neuroscience of optimism: why we resolve (and believe) we'll be better

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

If you're within the 32% of Americans that made a resolution for 2012, chances are you're still going strong. Nearly a week in, you've been faced with the temptation, the test of willpower, and likely some teasing from loved ones. And you've only got 360 days left to call your resolution a success? Easy as pie...... Read more »

Sharot T, Riccardi AM, Raio CM, & Phelps EA. (2007) Neural mechanisms mediating optimism bias. Nature, 450(7166), 102-5. PMID: 17960136  

  • January 6, 2012
  • 11:26 AM

Brain decline comes earlier than previously thought: at age 45

by United Academics in United Academics

A new research brings some bleak information regarding this: brain decline starts much earlier than commonly thought, at 45 years old. But not everything is bad, though; with this new data scientists and doctors may be able to develop a better treatment to avoid brain comedown.... Read more »

Singh-Manoux, A., Kivimaki, M., Glymour, M., Elbaz, A., Berr, C., Ebmeier, K., Ferrie, J., & Dugravot, A. (2012) Timing of onset of cognitive decline: results from Whitehall II prospective cohort study. BMJ, 344(jan04 4). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d7622  

  • January 6, 2012
  • 01:27 AM

Shocking discoveries at depress of a button

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

"It's alive. ALIVE!" The mad scientist howls as his creation, well, comes to life. That potent mixture of neuronal connections and lightning are all it takes for the monster to arise once more. If you're anything like me, and since you're here I'll assume that you are, this iconic scene from Frankenstein will be the first thing your brain primes when somebody mentions electrodes in the brain. Or perhaps your more hardwired to conjure up a more Hitchcock-esque scene involving electroshock therapy........ Read more »

Holtzheimer, P., Kelley, M., Gross, R., Filkowski, M., Garlow, S., Barrocas, A., Wint, D., Craighead, M., Kozarsky, J., Chismar, R.... (2012) Subcallosal Cingulate Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Unipolar and Bipolar Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1456  

  • January 5, 2012
  • 01:29 PM

Pathways to Prescription Opioid Overdose

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The majority of initial prescriptions for opioid analgesics in acute pain management occur without development of a pattern of misuse or abuse.However, in some individuals, opioid prescriptions produce a pathway for misuse, abuse and risk of opioid overdose death.  In two previous posts, I have outlined the epidemiology of opioid overdose death and the toxicology of these compounds.Risk factors for the development of prescription opioid drugs have not been extensively studied.  However........ Read more »

Paulozzi, L., Kilbourne, E., Shah, N., Nolte, K., Desai, H., Landen, M., Harvey, W., & Loring, L. (2011) A History of Being Prescribed Controlled Substances and Risk of Drug Overdose Death. Pain Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01260.x  

  • January 5, 2012
  • 01:50 AM

Does this hypothalamus make me look fat?

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

We've all had those moments in life when the mirror has been less than kind. When for whatever reason it's decided to add those few extra pounds when just weeks earlier we could have graced the cover of almost any magazine on offer. Or at the very least still fit into our jeans. And so the dieting begins. Caloric intake is restricted and a strict exercise regime is followed. Well maybe not strict, but walking is now done at a brisk pace rather than the meander of old. And then it happens. Like t........ Read more »

Thaler JP, Yi CX, Schur EA, Guyenet SJ, Hwang BH, Dietrich MO, Zhao X, Sarruf DA, Izgur V, Maravilla KR.... (2011) Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans. The Journal of clinical investigation. PMID: 22201683  

  • January 4, 2012
  • 01:32 PM

Prescription Opioid Overdose Toxicology

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

My previous post examined the epidemiology of rise in opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths in the U.S.  The number of these deaths has increased fourfold in the last decade and appears to be higher in states with higher rates of prescriptions for the opioid drug class.Members of the prescribed opioid compounds includes the following generic (Trade name) drugs in the U.S.:MethadoneOxycodone (Oxycontin/Percodan)Hydromorphone (Vicodin/Lortab)Meperidine (Demerol)Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)Codei........ Read more »

  • January 4, 2012
  • 12:34 AM

Why men don't listen and women are great at maths

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

Ask the average person on the street if men and women are wired differently and you'll more often than not get an affirmatory response. Not overly suprising given the knowledge that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Am I right? But dive a little deeper and chances are you'll find that the vast majority of people would be relying heavily on deeply ingrained stereotypes, such as the "mythically superior 'multitasking’ abilities" of women or men who just don't listen, rather than any s........ Read more »

  • January 3, 2012
  • 12:25 PM

Epidemiology of Prescription Opiate Abuse in U.S.

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Prescription opiate abuse and accidental deaths are on the rise in the U.S.  The Center for Disease Controls (CDC) estimates that opiate pain reliever drugs were responsible for approximately 74% of all prescription drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2008.The CDC recently published a study of the epidemiology of opiate pain reliever deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2008 the last year full statistics are available.  The trends in this area are a public health concern driving efforts........ Read more »

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2011) Vital signs: overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers---United States, 1999--2008. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 1487-92. PMID: 22048730  

  • January 3, 2012
  • 09:06 AM

A lot happens in the blink of an eye!

by EE Giorgi in CHIMERAS

Do you have recurrent nightmares? I do, especially when I'm under a lot of stress. I often dream of missing a train. The setting, location, company and place I need to reach change every time, but the common factor is always the frightening sense of having missed the train and not being able to make it. Another recurrent nightmare I have is that the light is so bright I can't keep my eyes open. So I start blinking faster and faster but I can't see a thing and end up missing something very import........ Read more »

Bristow, D., Haynes, J., Sylvester, R., Frith, C., & Rees, G. (2005) Blinking Suppresses the Neural Response to Unchanging Retinal Stimulation. Current Biology, 15(14), 1296-1300. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.06.025  

Bonfiglio L, Sello S, Carboncini MC, Arrighi P, Andre P, & Rossi B. (2011) Reciprocal dynamics of EEG alpha and delta oscillations during spontaneous blinking at rest: a survey on a default mode-based visuo-spatial awareness. International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, 80(1), 44-53. PMID: 21238505  

  • January 3, 2012
  • 06:22 AM

Possible functions of conciousness 10 - being oneself

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

Now we come to the most confusing part of possibilities of how consciousness may be useful – self. Of course consciousness does not give us our unique existence. The continuity of the organization of our physical bodies from conception to death is what defines our existence as organisms. Our awareness of our existence is just [...]... Read more »

V.S. Ramachandran and W. Hirstein. (1997) Three Laws of Qualia: What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4(5-6), 429-458. info:/

  • January 3, 2012
  • 02:53 AM

A coffee a day keeps the adenosine at bay

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

It's fair to say that for most of us the day doesn't truly begin until we can feel the warm lick of caffeine coursing through our veins. Be it an espresso, flat white, latte or low-fat, soy, double-shot, moccacino. Whatever your poison very little in our lives is ever achieved before that first cup of black magic has passed our lips. However despite our love affair with this bitter alkaloid, the exact manner in which caffeine interacts with our brains has been largely misunderstood. That is unt........ Read more »

Simons, S., Caruana, D., Zhao, M., & Dudek, S. (2011) Caffeine-induced synaptic potentiation in hippocampal CA2 neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 15(1), 23-25. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2962  

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