Personality has often been conceptualized a a human feature shaped largely by nurture and environment.Unlike major neuroscience medicine disorders, personality features have been considered less influenced by brain structure and genetic influences.A recent brain structure (morphology) study puts these assumptions at risk.Roberta Riccelli along with colleagues in Italy and Florida State University studied brain structural features across 507 participants in the Human Connectome Project.All subjec........ Read more »
Riccelli R, Toschi N, Nigro S, Terracciano A, & Passamonti L. (2017) Surface-based morphometry reveals the neuroanatomical basis of the five-factor model of personality. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience. PMID: 28122961
A new paper challenges a decades-old theory in neuroscience: Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness
According to the famous work of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, "split brain" patients seem to experience a split in consciousness: the left and the right side of their brain can independently become aware of, and respond, to stimuli. Split brain patients are those who underwent surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve tract connecting the two hemispheres of ... Read more »
Pinto Y, Neville DA, Otten M, Corballis PM, Lamme VA, de Haan EH, Foschi N, & Fabri M. (2017) Split brain: divided perception but undivided consciousness. Brain : a journal of neurology. PMID: 28122878
President Trump this week repeated an assertion he made shortly after his election: that millions of ballots cast illegally by undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote. If true, this would suggest the wholesale corruption of American democracy.
Not to worry: As far as anyone knows, the president’s assertion is akin to saying that millions of unicorns also voted illegally.
- In a
... Read more »
Preller, K., Herdener, M., Pokorny, T., Planzer, A., Kraehenmann, R., Stämpfli, P., Liechti, M., Seifritz, E., & Vollenweider, F. (2017) The Fabric of Meaning and Subjective Effects in LSD-Induced States Depend on Serotonin 2A Receptor Activation. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.030
Wacker, D., Wang, S., McCorvy, J., Betz, R., Venkatakrishnan, A., Levit, A., Lansu, K., Schools, Z., Che, T., Nichols, D.... (2017) Crystal Structure of an LSD-Bound Human Serotonin Receptor. Cell, 168(3), 377-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.12.033
When we're feeling very tired, we sometimes remark that we're "half-asleep". But is this more than just a figure of speech? A new paper suggests that parts of our brain may actually 'fall asleep' even while we're still awake.
According to researchers Jeremy D. Slater and colleagues of the University of Texas, "local sleep" occurs throughout the human brain, with each brain region passing into and out of a sleep-like state over time. What's more, local sleep becomes more and more common in... Read more »
Slater JD, Chelaru MI, Hansen BJ, Beaman C, Kalamangalam G, Tandon N, & Dragoi V. (2017) Focal Changes to Human Electrocorticography With Drowsiness: A Novel Measure of Local Sleep. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. PMID: 28121257
Abrupt changes in the biological clock or circadian rhythm are noted to contribute to significant cognitive and psychomotor impairments.One practical area for this effect to potentially be important is in the area of sports performance.Alex Song and colleagues recently completed an interesting study of major league baseball (MLB) performance related to team travel patterns.The major leagues are divided into regional divisions (western, central and eastern) to minimize length of travel to and fro........ Read more »
Song A, Severini T, & Allada R. (2017) How jet lag impairs Major League Baseball performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 28115724
Processing speed declines significantly with age and contributes to impairment and disability in old age.There is little known about whether age-related processing speed decline can be slowed with interventionA recent clinical trial by a Japanese group targeted processing speed training in a group of 72 elderly.This study found significant effects for a daily 15 minute processing speed training game over 4 weeks.In contrast to a control group, the intervention group found specific improvement in........ Read more »
Nouchi R, Saito T, Nouchi H, & Kawashima R. (2016) Small Acute Benefits of 4 Weeks Processing Speed Training Games on Processing Speed and Inhibition Performance and Depressive Mood in the Healthy Elderly People: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 302. PMID: 28066229
Are They Pathological Liars? Narcissists? Psychopaths? “Masterful Manipulators”?
Trump Spokesman’s Lecture on Media Accuracy Is Peppered With Lies
Nearly all American politicians lie, but few as blatantly as those affiliated with the present administration. How do they do it? Are they lacking a conscience? Do they believe their own lies? Do they start with small falsehoods, stretch the
... Read more »
Among monogamous animals, some individuals are more faithful than others. Could these differences in fidelity be, in part, because of differences in our brains? And if so, why does this diversity in brain and behavior exist?A snuggly prairie vole family. Photo from theNerdPatrol at Wikimedia Commons.Prairie voles are small North American rodents that form monogamous pair bonds, share parental duties, and defend their homes. Although prairie voles form monogamous pairs, that does not mean they ar........ Read more »
Okhovat, M., Berrio, A., Wallace, G., Ophir, A., & Phelps, S. (2015) Sexual fidelity trade-offs promote regulatory variation in the prairie vole brain. Science, 350(6266), 1371-1374. DOI: 10.1126/science.aac5791
"Our results revealed characteristic patterns of brain activity associated with Gangnam Style". So say the authors of a new paper called Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon.
The authors, Qiaozhen Chen et al. from Zhejiang in China, used fMRI to record brain activity while 15 volunteers listened to two musical pieces: Psy's 'Gangnam Style' and a "light music" control, Richard Clayderman's piano piece 'A Comme Amour'.
Chen et al. say that Gangnam Style was associated with "... Read more »
Chen Q, Zhang Y, Hou H, Du F, Wu S, Chen L, Shen Y, Chao F, Chung JK, Zhang H.... (2017) Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon: evidence from functional MRI and PET imaging. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. PMID: 28083689
Brain activation during challenges to political vs. non-political beliefs (Figure modified from Kaplan et al., 2016).
Lately I've been despairing about the state of America.
I'm not sure how denying access to affordable health care, opposing scientific facts like global warming and the benefits of vaccines, alienating our allies, banning Muslims, building a wall, endorsing torture, and
... Read more »
Feinberg, M., & Willer, R. (2015) From Gulf to Bridge: When Do Moral Arguments Facilitate Political Influence?. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(12), 1665-1681. DOI: 10.1177/0146167215607842
Kaplan, J., Gimbel, S., & Harris, S. (2016) Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence. Scientific Reports, 39589. DOI: 10.1038/srep39589
A remarkable and troubling new paper: Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders
Icahn School of Medicine researchers Emma Sprooten and colleagues carried out an ambitious task: to pull together the results of every fMRI study which has compared task-related brain activation in people with a mental illness and healthy controls.
Sprooten et al.'s analysis included 537 studies with a total of 21,427 ... Read more »
Sprooten E, Rasgon A, Goodman M, Carlin A, Leibu E, Lee WH, & Frangou S. (2017) Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders. Human Brain Mapping. PMID: 28067006
Two new papers outline urge scientists to make research more reproducible.
First off, Russ Poldrack and colleagues writing in Nature Reviews Neuroscience discuss how to achieve transparent and reproducible neuroimaging research. Neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI, are enormously powerful tools for neuroscientists but, Poldrack et al. say, they are at risk of "a ‘perfect storm’ of irreproducible results". because the "high dimensionality of fMRI data, the relatively low power of mos... Read more »
Poldrack RA, Baker CI, Durnez J, Gorgolewski KJ, Matthews PM, Munafò MR, Nichols TE, Poline JB, Vul E, & Yarkoni T. (2017) Scanning the horizon: towards transparent and reproducible neuroimaging research. Nature reviews. Neuroscience. PMID: 28053326
Marcus R. Munafò, Brian A. Nosek, Dorothy V. M. Bishop, Katherine S. Button,, Christopher D. Chambers, Nathalie Percie du Sert, Uri Simonsohn, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers,, & Jennifer J. Ware and John P. A. Ioannidis. (2017) A manifesto for reproducible science. Nat Hum Behav. info:/
Earlier this year, neuroscience was shaken by the publication in PNAS of Cluster failure: Why fMRI inferences for spatial extent have inflated false-positive rates. In this paper, Anders Eklund, Thomas E. Nichols and Hans Knutsson reported that commonly used software for analysing fMRI data produces many false-positives.
But now, Boston College neuroscientist Scott D. Slotnick has criticized Eklund et al.'s alarming conclusions in a new piece in Cognitive Neuroscience.
In my view, ... Read more »
Slotnick SD. (2016) Resting-state fMRI data reflects default network activity rather than null data: A defense of commonly employed methods to correct for multiple comparisons. Cognitive neuroscience. PMID: 28002981
The neural machinery that forms new memories is fragile and vulnerable to insults arising from brain injuries, cerebral anoxia, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Unlike language, which shows a great deal of plasticity after strokes and other injuries, episodic memory – memory for autobiographical events and contextual details of past experiences – doesn't recover after
... Read more »
Jacobs, J., Miller, J., Lee, S., Coffey, T., Watrous, A., Sperling, M., Sharan, A., Worrell, G., Berry, B., Lega, B.... (2016) Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Human Entorhinal Region and Hippocampus Impairs Memory. Neuron, 92(5), 983-990. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.10.062
Kim, K., Ekstrom, A., & Tandon, N. (2016) A network approach for modulating memory processes via direct and indirect brain stimulation: Toward a causal approach for the neural basis of memory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 162-177. DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2016.04.001
Suthana, N., Haneef, Z., Stern, J., Mukamel, R., Behnke, E., Knowlton, B., & Fried, I. (2012) Memory Enhancement and Deep-Brain Stimulation of the Entorhinal Area. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(6), 502-510. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1107212
A review of classic "split brain" research and critique of a new paper regarding "functional" splits in brain function.... Read more »
Sasai, S., Boly, M., Mensen, A., & Tononi, G. (2016) Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(50), 14444-14449. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613200113
When you're doing two things at once - like listening to the radio while driving - your brain organizes itself into two, functionally independent networks, almost as if you temporarily have two brains. That's according to a fascinating new study from University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists Shuntaro Sasai and colleagues. It's called Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm
In referring to 'split brains' in their title, Sasai et al. are linking their work to the litera... Read more »
Sasai, S., Boly, M., Mensen, A., & Tononi, G. (2016) Functional split brain in a driving/listening paradigm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201613200. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1613200113
Where is the septum?
The term septum, when used in reference to the brain (it is a common anatomical term used to refer to a partition), indicates a subcortical structure in the forebrain that is found near the midline of the brain. The septum in humans can be separated into two structures: the septum pellucidum and septum verum. Each of these is sometimes........ Read more »
Sheehan, T., Chambers, R., & Russell, D. (2004) Regulation of affect by the lateral septum: implications for neuropsychiatry. Brain Research Reviews, 46(1), 71-117. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2004.04.009
Insomnia of sufficient severity to meet clinical significance is estimated to affect up to 20% of the general population.This makes insomnia an important public health challenge.Effective, inexpensive and accessible programs to treat insomnia are needed.One recent controlled clinical trial supports the promise of an online intervention that incorporates key elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Lee Ritterband and colleagues at the University of Virginia recently published a controlled c........ Read more »
Ritterband LM, Thorndike FP, Ingersoll KS, Lord HR, Gonder-Frederick L, Frederick C, Quigg MS, Cohn WF, & Morin CM. (2016) Effect of a Web-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia Intervention With 1-Year Follow-up: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA psychiatry. PMID: 27902836
Most neuroscientists will tell you that long-term memories are stored in the brain in the form of synapses, the connections between neurons. On this view, memory formation occurs when synaptic connections are strengthened, or entirely new synapses are formed.
However, in a new piece in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Austrian researcher Patrick C. Trettenbrein critiques the synapse-memory theory: The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory.
Trettenbrein acknowledges that "t... Read more »
Trettenbrein, P. (2016) The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory: A Looming Paradigm Shift?. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2016.00088
Fig. 4 (Wexler, 2016). Lindstrom's Electro-Medical Apparatus (ca. 1895), courtesy of the Bakken.
Think the do-it-yourself transcranial direct current stimulation movement (DIY tDCS) is a technologically savvy and hip creation of 21st century neural engineering? MIT graduate student Anna Wexler has an excellent and fun review of late 19th and early 20th century electrical stimulation
... Read more »
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