I've always been fascinated with the way the eye moves around a piece of art. Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" (or as I looked up "that painting of a girl in a field looking at a house")This piece by Andrew Wyeth is an obvious example of an artist completely controlling your gaze. There are pretty much no options here. You look at the girl and then you follow her gaze to the house. You probably then take a quick glance at that other house/barn to the left, and then maybe follow the edge of the light circle around the houses. (It's my opinion that that is how the eye should go on this painting, but I have no eye tracking data to support it.)A paper last year in PLoS One really tries to "scientize' this process by testing what factors determine the eye movements, and the 'clusters' where the eye tended to fall. Massaro et al., (2012) compare dynamic and static images and images that contain human subjects or nature subjects. Their cluster analysis overlaying classic paintings makes for quite interesting images: The next installment at MoMAThis one is a dynamic human image. Each patch of color shows where the parts of the painting where the eye lingers (face, hands, ....crotch...). The authors do all sorts of interesting analysis on this and other paintings, having participants rate the painting for 'movement' or for 'aesthetic value' and since the paper is open access, it is free to people who may not have university access to journal publications. Anyone can read the whole thing here. One interesting thing that the authors find is that pictures containing humans have fewer clusters than pictures of nature. I expect this is because certain aspects of humans (faces, hands ...crotches...) are so salient and the brain focuses directly on them, while all the branches of a tree for example have about equal 'meaning' for a person.science creates modern art Another great image from this paper. The authors show how much gazing was done at different parts of a painting through a heat map. This one is a human static image. The end result is actually quite haunting because the place that you want to look is blanked out (sort of like a Magritte painting). So here are my questions: If someone looks at a blank page, where does their eye naturally go? Is there some sort of common pattern that most people use just to scan an area? Do chimpanzees use a similar pattern to scan a blank page? Does everyone have their own unique scanning pattern? Or is it just pretty much random? And here's an idea for artists: Buy yourself an eye tracker and have customers come use it and stare at a blank page. Trace their eye movements and then create a dynamic painting (or T-shirt, or napkin drawing) that follows the person's natural scanning patterns. This would be the ultimate in commissioned custom art! (Then give me one for free, because I think this sounds like fun.)© TheCellularScale Massaro D, Savazzi F, Di Dio C, Freedberg D, Gallese V, Gilli G, & Marchetti A (2012). When art moves the eyes: a behavioral and eye-tracking study. PloS one, 7 (5) PMID: 22624007... Read more »
Massaro D, Savazzi F, Di Dio C, Freedberg D, Gallese V, Gilli G, & Marchetti A. (2012) When art moves the eyes: a behavioral and eye-tracking study. PloS one, 7(5). PMID: 22624007
Since the vague reference to it in the State of the Union and the subsequent report by the New York Times, the neuro-sphere has been abuzz with debate recently over the proposed Brain Activity Map (BAM) project put forth by the Obama administration. While the details have not been formally announced yet, it is generally [...]... Read more »
A. Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, George M. Church, Ralph J. Greenspan, Michael L. Roukes, Rafael Yuste. (2012) The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics. Neuron. info:/
I’ve written before about the limitations of self-report measures in psychiatry. It’s an issue that’s been recognized for decades but, unfortunately, self-report seems to be more popular than ever. I suspect that this is because it’s far and away the easiest and cheapest way of getting data, and hence publications, in a great many fields [...]... Read more »
Miller RM, Haws NA, Murphy-Tafiti JL, Hubner CD, Curtis TD, Rupp ZW, Smart TA, & Thompson LM. (2013) Are Self-Ratings of Functional Difficulties Objective or Subjective?. Applied neuropsychology. Adult. PMID: 23383984
The fact the Blue Brain project has not produced any significant breakthroughs in recent years does not seem to have worried the European funding agencies. Apparently they like the idea of Markram building a monster computer to lead Europe into the future of brain research.... Read more »
Charles Watson. (2013) The brain race: can giant computers map the mind?. The Conversation. info:/
Karen K. Ryan and Randy J. Seeley. Food as a Hormone. Science 22 February 2013: 918-919. In an opinion piece in the February 22 issue of Science, KK Ryan and RJ Seeley argue for an alternative approach to look at diet and food – not in terms of nutritional epidemiology (“this is what healthy people [...]... Read more »
Prozac and alcohol are generally not considered to be a good mix, but relatively few patients take this warning seriously. A large-scale study published by the Research Institute of Addictions in Buffalo, NY, demonstrated that regular drinkers are almost completely unlikely to decrease their alcohol intake after going on Prozac or other psychiatric medications. Although [...]The post Prozac and Alcohol: Linked to Violence, Mom Decapitates Two Year-Old appeared first on Life Mental Health.
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Teles JS, Fukuda EY, & Feder D. (2012) Warfarin: pharmacological profile and drug interactions with antidepressants. Einstein (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 10(1), 110-5. PMID: 23045839
In a recent study, a collaborative team of scientists has successfully used induced pluripotent stem cells derived from Alzheimer's patients to model the disease. The team was comprised by researchers from the Nagasaki University, led by Nobuhisa Iwata, and researchers from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), led by Haruhisa Inoue.Full Story... Read more »
Kondo, T., Asai, M., Tsukita, K., Kutoku, Y., Ohsawa, Y., Sunada, Y., Imamura, K., Egawa, N., Yahata, N., Okita, K.... (2013) Modeling Alzheimer’s Disease with iPSCs Reveals Stress Phenotypes Associated with Intracellular Aβ and Differential Drug Responsiveness. Cell Stem Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2013.01.009
By now it's well established that adults can grow new neurons.Growing Neurons (source)But how, when and why these neurons grow is currently under investigation. A 2008 paper attempts to answer the 'when' of neurogenesis. They labeled (PH3) cells in the mouse hippocampus (dentate gyrus to be specific), and counted how many cells were currently going through mitosis at different times of day. They found that during the dark phase, more cells were PH3-positive, indicating that more cells were growing at night.They also tested whether neurogenesis was modulated by exercise. And it was. Mice who had access to a running wheel in their cage grew about the same number of cells during the night, but grew more cells during the day. So much so that the difference between night and day disappeared. Tamai et al.,, 2008 Figs 1B and 2DThis figure shows the light-dark cycle (Zeitgeber time) and the number of 'growing' cells. B shows the pattern for control mice, and D shows the pattern for the running mice. Notice that the y axes are scaled differently.So exercise helped new cells grow, but without exercise more cells grew during the night time. Now all this use of the phrase 'night time' might make you think that this neural growth is happening during sleep.After a long night of wheel running, Jasper succumbs to a restful days sleep. (source)But it's not. Mice are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are wide awake at night. The paper shows that almost all the running that occurs on the running wheel happens at night. So the enhanced cell growth is happening when the mice are active. Why exercising at night causes cells to grow during the day is interesting, but the authors offer no mechanism for why that might be happening.© TheCellularScaleTamai S, Sanada K, & Fukada Y (2008). Time-of-day-dependent enhancement of adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus. PloS one, 3 (12) PMID: 19048107... Read more »
Tamai S, Sanada K, & Fukada Y. (2008) Time-of-day-dependent enhancement of adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus. PloS one, 3(12). PMID: 19048107
Prozac withdrawal symptoms, and withdrawal from any antidepressant of the same class – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – by far the most prescribed group of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of depression today, are unpleasant. A name – SSRI Discontinuation (or withdrawal) Syndrome – has been designated by physicians to describe the symptoms experienced by those [...]The post Prozac Withdrawal Symptoms – “Withdrawing From SSRI Antidepressants Kill People”? appeared first on Life Mental Health.
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Goeldner C, Lutz PE, Darcq E, Halter T, Clesse D, Ouagazzal AM, & Kieffer BL. (2011) Impaired emotional-like behavior and serotonergic function during protracted abstinence from chronic morphine. Biological psychiatry, 69(3), 236-44. PMID: 20947067
Long post warning! This post covers some basics of epigenetics. For those that just want the gist, here’s the TLDR: Male rats that shoot up cocaine for 60days sire male (but not female) pups that are more resistant to cocaine addiction. This trait is probably passed through chemical changes to sperm DNA. I argue why [...]... Read more »
Vassoler, F., White, S., Schmidt, H., Sadri-Vakili, G., & Pierce, R. (2012) Epigenetic inheritance of a cocaine-resistance phenotype. Nature Neuroscience, 16(1), 42-47. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3280
By Sam Brunner and Ian Straus Cephalopods, like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, are well known for their ability to alter the color and patterns on their bodies for better camouflage, mimicry, and even communication. By developing a unique set of camouflage tools, cephalopods excel at not being seen or being seen but not detected as a cephalopod. There are videos all over the internet showcasing how squid can terrify divers with their flashing red displays, or how some octopuses avoid their predators by mimicking the local venomous snakes. This video provides the perfect example of an octopus using its incredible camouflage to become invisible while convincing you it is merely a clump of algae. You see, where many animals have lowly organelles in their skin cells responsible for pigments, cephalopods are unique in having a whole organ dedicated to this task. They’re called chromatophores. Each chromatophore is made up of colored pigment granules held in the ever so eloquently named cytoelastic sacculus, which is surrounded by 15 to 25 radially arranged muscle cells (like spokes on a wheel). Each muscle cell is also associated with a neural axon and its supportive glial cells, which puts it under the control of the nervous system. Image created by Ian Straus.So, when an octopus wants to change color, a signal travels from the brain and down the neural axon to the chromatophore, telling the muscles to contract. The muscle contraction pulls on the pigment-filled sac, stretching it to change its translucence and thereby changing the amount of color showing through. The chromatophores can produce yellow, orange, red, brown, and occasionally black pigments. The intensity of the color depends on how many muscle fibers are contracted, and therefore how much the sac expands and the pigment is spread out. Once a chromatophore develops, it will stay put for the rest of the animal’s life. As the animal grows, new, smaller chromatophores develop in the spaces between the old ones. These new organs are only able to produce yellow pigment at first, but darken as they get older. Dieter Froesch of the Zoological Station of Naples conducted an experiment using the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) to determine which of their nerves control the chromatophore organs in each part of the body. Each octopus examined was anaesthetized, had a nerve cut and was then checked a few days later for the results. Froesch found that of the thirty nerves leaving the brain of O. vulgaris, ten have control over chromatophores, with each nerve controlling a different region of the body. These regions have well defined borders with no overlap. The head region alone is controlled by five different nerves, especially around the eyes. This suggests that fine control over color patterns around the eye may play an important role in effective camouflage. Furthermore, the coloration and chromatophores in one area of the body, the funnel, didn’t appear to be controlled by any of the nerves cut in this experiment. This image shows the different chromatophore regions that each nerve controls. The funnel, which does not have nerve-controlled chromatophores, is the tube near the eye. Image is from Froesch’s Marine Biology paper (1973).In most cephalopods, vision is the most important sense. Information about their surroundings is processed in vision regions of the brain, which then send along information to chromatophore regions of the brain. The chromatophore brain regions, which contain motor neurons, send signals to the chromatophores throughout the body telling them to contract. So, if an octopus sees a bright orange coral structure, the chromatophores will contract in a way that results in bright orange skin being displayed. The vision-chromatophore pathway may be the most important part of cephalopod camouflage, but it isn’t the only set of structures that play a role. Leucophores allow for white pigment and reflective iridophores are responsible for blues and greens. Cuttlefish and many octopuses also have muscles throughout the skin arranged into papillae, which can form bumps or spikes that transform the texture of the animal into that of seaweed or an inconspicuous rock. In Octopus vulgaris, all these components are arranged into 1 mm wide units distributed across the skin, with the leucophores and iridophores in the central region, papillae at the exact center, and chromatophores distributed throughout. This complex physiological system grants cephalopods the greatest array of possible camouflages and firmly positions them as the coolest of the invertebrates.Want to know more? Check these out: 1. Froesch, D. (1973). Projection of chromatophore nerves on the body surface of Octopus vulgaris Marine Biology, 19 (2), 153-155 DOI: 10.1007/BF003535862. Messenger JB (2001). Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 76 (4), 473-528 PMID: 11762491... Read more »
Froesch, D. (1973) Projection of chromatophore nerves on the body surface of Octopus vulgaris. Marine Biology, 19(2), 153-155. DOI: 10.1007/BF00353586
Messenger JB. (2001) Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 76(4), 473-528. PMID: 11762491
Because of a new computer prescription tracking system, addicts who abuse sedatives like Xanax have found it harder to acquire their drug of choice, often leading to short-term benzodiazepine withdrawal, yet better control of the addiction. Xanax belongs to a class of medicines called ‘benzodiazepines’, which physicians often prescribe for anxiety caused by stressful life [...]The post Long-Term Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Lessens with New Real-Time Prescription Software Tracker appeared first on Life Mental Health.
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LOPEZ, A., & REBOLLO, J. (1990) Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome after a benzodiazepine antagonist. Critical Care Medicine, 18(12), 1480. DOI: 10.1097/00003246-199012000-00032
How does spinal cord injury affect your sense of self?
Does the absence of sensory and motor feedback from the limbs as a result of spinal cord injury (SCI) affects the body scheme. As well as measuring disruption of the body scheme and a sense of body ownership using the rubber hand illusion (RHI), Lenggenhager et al. also looked at whether SCI produces a sense of disembodiment and depersonalisation using the Cambridge Depersonalisation Scale (CDS), as the authors suggest there is increasing evidence that the foundations of the sense of self lie in the systems that represent the body.... Read more »
Lenggenhager B, Pazzaglia M, Scivoletto G, Molinari M, & Aglioti SM. (2012) The sense of the body in individuals with spinal cord injury. PloS one, 7(11). PMID: 23209824
By now, many have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like most, “weight loss” may have topped your list. Some enlist medications to shed pounds, and many wonder about Prozac and weight loss. We’ve witnessed Punxsutawney Phil escape seeing his shadow, and we’ve wined and dined on Valentine’s Day. Six weeks into the New Year, [...]The post Prozac and Weight Loss: Prescription Drugs Added to Supplements and Weight Loss Regimes to Help You Ditch Those Extra Pounds May Pose Danger appeared first on Life Mental Health.
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Dunn JD, Gryniewicz-Ruzicka CM, Mans DJ, Mecker-Pogue LC, Kauffman JF, Westenberger BJ, & Buhse LF. (2012) Qualitative screening for adulterants in weight-loss supplements by ion mobility spectrometry. Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis, 18-26. PMID: 22902504
Memoquin is a quinone-bearing polyamine compound that has been found to be effective against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – a degenerative disorder affecting the brain and causing dementia especially in later life – due to its muti-target approach. Not only, it acts as an anti-AD compound but it can also work as anti-amyloid and anti-oxidant.
Mechanism of action:
Memoquin works as an acetylcholinesterase and β-secretase-1 inhibitor. It is found to be 10 times more potent than donepazil, most potent anti-acetylcholinesterase.
Memoquin is also able to inhibit in a concentration-dependent manner BACE-1, one of the two enzymes involved in the amyloidogenic cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein.
Memoquin is thought to be an effective therapeutic compound for the treatment of a number of neurodegenerative disorders. It has been found to be effective against AD due to its multi-target approach as AD is caused by a number of biological changes in the brain.
Researchers have found in a mouse model that 15 mg/kg of memoquin could help to treat cognitive impairment including spatial, episodic, aversive, short and long-term memory. Episodic memory refers to the memory that depends on the ability to remember in a determined temporal and spatial context. It is usually affected by normal aging and dementia. Spatial memory is a form of episodic memory having space-time dimensions.
Memoquin is able to inhibit the beta-amyloid peptide- (Aβ-) induced neurotoxicity mediated by oxidative stress. However, “the cellular mechanism through which MQ reverses Aβ-induced neurotoxicity and amnesia is not clear at present.”
It is also effective in decreasing plaque number and functioning. The compound also exhibits anti-aggregation properties.
Capurro, V., Busquet, P., Lopes, J., Bertorelli, R., Tarozzo, G., Bolognesi, M., Piomelli, D., Reggiani, A., & Cavalli, A. (2013). Pharmacological Characterization of Memoquin, a Multi-Target Compound for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease PLoS ONE, 8 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056870... Read more »
Capurro, V., Busquet, P., Lopes, J., Bertorelli, R., Tarozzo, G., Bolognesi, M., Piomelli, D., Reggiani, A., & Cavalli, A. (2013) Pharmacological Characterization of Memoquin, a Multi-Target Compound for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. PLoS ONE, 8(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056870
The question, “Is alcohol addictive??” is not taken very seriously in our society: drinking is part of our culture, and it is assumed by not only young people, but adults of all ages, that since alcohol is legal it is not as addictive or harmful to the body as illegal drugs are. This could not [...]The post Is Alcohol Addictive? : Television and Celebrity Culture Skewing “Reality” appeared first on Life Mental Health.
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Carpenter, K., & Hasin, D. (1998) Reasons for drinking alcohol: Relationships with DSM-IV alcohol diagnoses and alcohol consumption in a community sample. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 12(3), 168-184. DOI: 10.1037/0893-164X.12.3.168
Do you get woozy when you see blood? It seems like an oddly dramatic physiological response for just seeing a little red liquid, right? As it turns out, fainting at the sight of blood may be a primitive reflex buried deep in our brain.... Read more »
Zervou EK, Ziciadis K, Karabini F, Xanthi E, Chrisostomou E, & Tzolou A. (2005) Vasovagal reactions in blood donors during or immediately after blood donation. Transfusion medicine (Oxford, England), 15(5), 389-94. PMID: 16202053
Scientists have made the rats to sense (or you can say “touch”) the light that they can’t even see i.e. infrared light.
This research has been published online in the journal Nature Communications.
In this research, scientists fitted the infrared detector wired to electrodes in the part of the brain, i.e. cortical region, of the rats that usually processes the sense of touch from the skin. The rats were then placed in a chamber fitted with three infrared light sources, located above three small port. The scientists already taught the rats about the reward of water, when they stuck their nose in the port, near the light source, after the light came on. Initially the rats only rubbed their faces with the light. After a month of work, rats were able to determine the light source by sweeping their heads back and forth, and proceed to get water from the port of the lighted source among the three sources of light. As a further confirmation, scientists found that the rats were not able to detect the infrared lights, when the infrared detectors in the brain were temporarily disabled and thereby, were not able to get water from the port of the lighted source.
According to Miguel Nicolelis, Neurobiologist from Duke University, sensing might be built into an exoskeleton so that the patients would be able to get the sensory information after wearing the suit. This sensory information would give the patients an ability to know the position of the limbs and the sense of feeling the objects.
The basic aim behind this work is to enable the people, who use brain-controlled prosthetic devices, to sense the texture of the objects through their hands or feet. Moreover, researchers are of the opinion that the people could be enabled to use a disabled sense through another part of the brain as for example people with damaged visual cortex might be able to see again, if the retinal impulses are allowed to pass to another cortical region that would be able to do normal function along with the additional function.
According to scientists, this research could be used to enable the rats or even humans to actually see the infrared light. “We could create devices sensitive to any physical energy,” Nicolelis said. “It could be magnetic fields, radio waves, or ultrasound. We chose infrared initially because it didn't interfere with our electrophysiological recordings.”
Thomson, E., Carra, R., & Nicolelis, M. (2013). Perceiving invisible light through a somatosensory cortical prosthesis Nature Communications, 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2497... Read more »
Thomson, E., Carra, R., & Nicolelis, M. (2013) Perceiving invisible light through a somatosensory cortical prosthesis. Nature Communications, 1482. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2497
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston and the University of Houston (UH) has found a new way to influence the vital serotonin signaling system — possibly leading to more effective medications with fewer side effects.... Read more »
Lisa Merkl. (2013) UTMB, UH Team Up To Study Brain Chemistry. The University of Houston. info:/
In a study that came out today, a research team from the Johns Hopkins University and the Mossakowski Medical Research Centre in Warsaw has discovered that allogeneic neural stem cell transplants have a better chance to properly engraft if injected into the brain striatum instead of the forceps minor (FM) region. Specifically, all striatum grafts managed to graft and survive,unlike the FM ones that were all rejected.Full Story... Read more »
Janowski, M., Engels, C., Gorelik, M., Lyczek, A., Bernard, S., Bulte, J., & Walczak, P. (2012) Survival of Neural Progenitors Allografted into the CNS of Immunocompetent Recipients is Highly Dependent on Transplantation Site. Cell Transplantation. DOI: 10.3727/096368912X661328
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