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  • February 21, 2011
  • 10:19 AM

Never knowingly understated

by Richard Grant in Naturally Selected

It’s no big secret that we’re not fans of the journal impact factor. So it’s possibly justified to feel a little smug that overstating conclusions of research is positively correlated with impact factor. F1000 Member Noam Ziv evaluates a paper … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 21, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

We haven’t seen this in a mammal! Rewrite the textbooks!

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Textbooks have a lot to answer for.

Textbooks are not the compilation of all knowledge in a field. They are simplified summaries created to teach students new to a field the general lay of the land.

People forget this. Cranks get obsessed with advancing their pet theories by attacking “textbook examples,” because they think the textbook example is all the evidence we have. “If I can show there’s something wrong with the peppered moth example of natural selection, I’ll prove evolution........ Read more »

  • February 21, 2011
  • 05:55 AM

How to cheat a brain-scan-based lie detector

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Cheating the scanner is relatively easy
Sure, it's possible to differentiate patterns of truth-telling brain activity from patterns of lying-related activity. But contrary to media hype, experts have been quick to point out that the accuracy of brain-scan based lie detection is often no better than with traditional approaches, such as the polygraph. Furthermore, these experts warn, brain-scan methods could, in theory, be easily thwarted by liars with even modest levels of guile. That........ Read more »

  • February 21, 2011
  • 02:04 AM

The cerebellum and premenstrual dysphoric disorder

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Today’s post is actually a TANDEM post. I’m sharing posting on this piece today with the brilliant and totally cool Kate Clancy of Context and Variation. So once you’ve finished here, head over THERE for her half of the take on this paper. Kate showed me this paper, and I was immediately interested by the [...]... Read more »

Parsey RV, Arango V, Olvet DM, Oquendo MA, Van Heertum RL, & John Mann J. (2005) Regional heterogeneity of 5-HT1A receptors in human cerebellum as assessed by positron emission tomography. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 25(7), 785-93. PMID: 15716853  

Protopopescu X, Tuescher O, Pan H, Epstein J, Root J, Chang L, Altemus M, Polanecsky M, McEwen B, Stern E.... (2008) Toward a functional neuroanatomy of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 108(1-2), 87-94. PMID: 18031826  

Rapkin, A., Berman, S., Mandelkern, M., Silverman, D., Morgan, M., & London, E. (2011) Neuroimaging Evidence of Cerebellar Involvement in Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 69(4), 374-380. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.09.029  

  • February 21, 2011
  • 12:50 AM

different aspects of the default mode network

by Janet Kwasniak in Thoughts on thoughts

The default mode network is not as simple as it seemed. There are probably several configurations. A recent paper (by D Stawarczyk and others) has looked at the difference between the default network when the subject is not attending to a task and when the subject is ignoring sensory stimulating from the outside world.
Here is [...]... Read more »

  • February 20, 2011
  • 11:46 PM

Did the Red Fox Predate the Dog as Man's Best Friend?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Pets have longed played a role in human companionship.  Wild animals were primarily a source of food (and danger) in early human development.  Later in evolution,  animals began to serve a more complex role.  Domestication of a variety of animals served a more utilitarian role.  For example, domestication of horses allowed for extended travel, improved efficiency of hunting and provided a strategic advantage in battle.The domestications of wild wolves has been felt to be........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2011
  • 10:30 PM

Is Romantic Love a Western, Heterosexual Construct?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

ROMANTIC LOVE WAS INVENTED TO MANIPULATE WOMEN-Jenny Holzer, TruismsDoes romantic love manipulate women into providing free domestic labor and sexual favors for men? Some feminist views of romantic love [and the institution of marriage] portray it as controlling and oppressive (Burns, 2000):‘STOP HUMAN SACRIFICE. END MARRIAGE NOW.’ ‘IT STARTS WHEN YOU SINK IN HIS ARMS AND ENDS WITH YOUR ARMS IN HIS SINK.’ From a feminist perspective, romantic love was, and is, seen to obscure or disguis........ Read more »

  • February 19, 2011
  • 02:43 PM

Is our self nothing but reward?

by davejhayes in neurosphere

In a new article entitled “Is our self nothing but reward?“, Georg Northoff and I discuss the potential relationship between reward and self.... Read more »

Northoff G, & Hayes DJ. (2011) Is Our Self Nothing but Reward?. Biological psychiatry. PMID: 21276963  

  • February 19, 2011
  • 12:54 PM

“What a tuuune!” – A Scientifically Good Song

by Ben Good in B Good Science

It’s a Saturday night, you are about to hit the town. There are many things that can affect how good the impending night out is going to be, the quality of the company, amount of alcohol consumed, making it home with all your possessions. The music also obviously plays a key part in the night and scientists have … Read more... Read more »

  • February 18, 2011
  • 09:29 AM

why we rule the land of the blind robots

by Greg Fish in weird things

We might not be able to beat a natural language search engine or a supercomputer able to crunch every last possible move in a game of chess, but there’s one area where we easily leave just about any machine in the dust. That area? Visual recognition of course. As we saw once before, no computer [...]... Read more »

Carlson, E., Rasquinha, R., Zhang, K., & Connor, C. (2011) A Sparse Object Coding Scheme in Area V4. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.013  

  • February 17, 2011
  • 03:01 PM

Autism: Social Lives of Young Adults

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

One of the problems with understanding the natural history of autism is the lack of well-designed outcome studies in the disorder.  Outcome studies tend to be expensive and grant agencies commonly do not fund studies longer than a few years. However, given the increased interest and funding in autism, I suspect there will be more research in this area.An example of how outcome studies help in understanding the natural history of autism is a study published ahead of print by the Journal........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

February 17, 2011

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

It may not be intuitive to outsiders, but in order to understand and cure disease, it is crucial to understand development and how an early embryo is built and organized. Today’s image is from a paper clarifying the role of the Alzheimer’s disease-linked gene presenilin in development.The development of a nervous system is a complex process that requires an extraordinary amount of regulation. In order for neurons and dendrites grow their processes to their final homes and set up the synapt........ Read more »

Bai, G., Chivatakarn, O., Bonanomi, D., Lettieri, K., Franco, L., Xia, C., Stein, E., Ma, L., Lewcock, J., & Pfaff, S. (2011) Presenilin-Dependent Receptor Processing Is Required for Axon Guidance. Cell, 144(1), 106-118. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.11.053  

  • February 16, 2011
  • 07:55 PM

Do Doctors Really Have Bad Handwriting?

by Maria P. in noustuff

Trying to kill time and not my neighbour who enjoys listening to loud music after midnight, I found myself wondering why do most GPs have bad handwriting! Or is it a myth? Naturally, Google came up with some very interesting results including some actual studies! It seems like there are peer reviewed papers on almost [...]... Read more »

Sokol DK, & Hettige S. (2006) Poor handwriting remains a significant problem in medicine. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 99(12), 645-6. PMID: 17139073  

Rodriguez-Vera, F., Marin, Y., Sanchez, A., Borrachero, C., & Pujol, E. (2002) Illegible handwriting in medical records. JRSM, 95(11), 545-546. DOI: 10.1258/jrsm.95.11.545  

Berwick DM, & Winickoff DE. (1996) The truth about doctors' handwriting: a prospective study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 313(7072), 1657-8. PMID: 8991021  

  • February 16, 2011
  • 05:35 PM

Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease: Expert Opinion

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Parkinson disease is a chronic progressive disease with significant impairment and distress.  A host of pharmacological options are available. Unfortunately, drug treatment often is only partially successful in reducing symptoms and can produce problematic adverse events.  Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has emerged as a potential therapeutic option for those with severe Parkinson disease.  DBS involves a neurosurgical procedure that places an electrode or electrodes into the brain w........ Read more »

Bronstein, J., Tagliati, M., Alterman, R., Lozano, A., Volkmann, J., Stefani, A., Horak, F., Okun, M., Foote, K., Krack, P.... (2010) Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease: An Expert Consensus and Review of Key Issues. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 165-165. DOI: 10.1001/archneurol.2010.260  

  • February 16, 2011
  • 03:38 PM

Are cows magnetic sensors? Re-examining northern alignment

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

A couple of years ago, a paper by Begall and colleagues made a big splash by claiming that cows could detect, and align to, earth’s magnetic field. This report took on a life of its own. I heard it within the last week on one of the science podcasts I listen (though I can’t remember which one).

This paper got attention not only because this was an unusual claim, but for the way that they determined this. Instead of generating their own data, they looked at pictures of cows in Google Earth.
........ Read more »

Begall S, Cerveny J, Neef J, Vojtech O, & Burda H. (2008) Magnetic alignment in grazing and resting cattle and deer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(36), 13451-13455. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803650105  

Hert J, Jelinek L, Pekarek L, & Pavlicek A. (2011) No alignment of cattle along geomagnetic field lines found. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-011-0628-7  

  • February 16, 2011
  • 01:00 PM

An ode to Mike, the headless chicken

by Bradley Voytek in Oscillatory Thoughts

(This post amuses me. This is the strangest juxtaposition of research papers and topics I've written about. You'll see.)An ode to Mike, by Bradley VoytekThere once was a farmer from FruitaWhose chicken caused quite a hoopla.     For what happened next,     Made farmer Olsen quite perplexed!And as for the chicken, no "clucks", just some "ooh-aahs".For that farmer had wanted a snack.So he went and grabbed his old axe.     H........ Read more »

  • February 16, 2011
  • 11:37 AM

The most powerful substance known to rat.

by B.F. Hebb in ionpsych

For rats, the most alluring substance isn’t alcohol, heroin, or cocaine: it’s not a drug at all, in fact, it’s an artificial sweetener called saccharin. What’s saccharin? Saccharin is a non-caloric sugar substitute that has been used in many low-calorie … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 16, 2011
  • 11:31 AM

How does the brain pick which neurons to use?

by Jason Snyder in Functional Neurogenesis

Wiring. That’s one answer to this question. We know this from topographic maps in the thalamus and neocortex, where the basic units of sensory information are neatly represented in spatially-arranged populations of neurons – the various body parts are represented in specific locations, as are the different frequencies of sound, the different parts of the retina, and [...]... Read more »

  • February 16, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Are magicians master mimes?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Research on magic has been getting a lot of attention recently, but most of the focus has been on the psychology of the audience.

But what can we learn by studying the performer?

One of the things you need to be a magician, particularly a close-up magician who works with cards or coins, is dexterity. I tried to learn some basic card tricks once, and failed. It requires some very fine motor control, and I didn’t put in enough work to master it.

Many illusions rely on the magician imitating ........ Read more »

Cavina-Pratesi C., Kuhn G., Ietswaart M., & Milner A. (2011) The magic grasp: motor expertise in deception. PLoS ONE, 6(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016568  

  • February 16, 2011
  • 01:50 AM

The power of learning a second language: look to the caudate

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

Sci’s terrible at languages. TERRIBLE. In my time, I’ve successfully mastered English, and attempted to master four other languages (five if you count a brief foray into Elvish when I was 15, but that doesn’t really count) in my time. I have failed at ALL of them. Every once in a while I would achieve [...]... Read more »

Tan LH, Chen L, Yip V, Chan AH, Yang J, Gao JH, & Siok WT. (2011) Activity levels in the left hemisphere caudate-fusiform circuit predict how well a second language will be learned. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(6), 2540-4. PMID: 21262807  

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