Monday, February 28, 2005

Diane Ackerman's Narrative About Her Concussion

From tomorrow's New York Times:
A Journey Through Concussion's Foggy Terrain
The New York Times
Published: March 1, 2005

On a sparkling hot Florida day, I walked from an elevator into a small dark lobby and strode out the open door at speed. Except that the door wasn't open. It was an unmarked sheet of clean clear glass that clobbered me on the forehead two inches above my right eye.

I didn't pass out, see double, grow confused or feel nauseated. I did feel shaken, though, drove straight home, iced the area and rested.

For several days, I felt subdued, with low-level headaches. The world shone brighter than usual, which I attributed to the howling Florida sun. I tired easily and wasn't up to higher thought. My mind didn't feel it could do stairs.

It took three days before I admitted that I had a concussion. I went to the hospital for a CT scan, which showed no bleeding in the brain, thank heavens, and afterward I asked if I might have a look at the digital images of my brain and skull. How strange it was using my mobile, pink, three-dimensional brain to see itself frozen in time, starkly black and white, out of its box, on a two-dimensional screen that humans designed to provide the illusion of depth.
[ ... Read the full article ... ] (free registration required.)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Embryonic Stem Cell Neurological Research

Moving Stem Cells Front and Center
The New York Times
Published: February 23, 2005

IRVINE, Calif. - Hans S. Keirstead might be the Pied Piper of stem cells - and not just because he makes rats walk. He also helped lure Californians to the polls last fall to approve spending $3 billion of the state's money on embryonic stem cell research over the next decade. But he has critics who worry that he may be leading their new field too far, too soon into uncharted territory.

[ ... Read the full article ... ] (free registration required.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Transactive Memory

Been thinking over the past few days about the possible relevance of transactive memory in understanding the impact of certain neuropsychological deficits and, also, how one might assess the influence of such an impact on understanding caregiver issues. This social or interpersonal aspect is more commonly considered in personality and in industrial-organizational psychology, but curious nonetheless.

Wegner DM, Erber R, Raymond P. Transactive memory in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1991 Dec; 61(6): 923-9.

Memory performance of 118 individuals who had been in close dating relationships for at least 3 months was studied. For a memory task ostensibly to be performed by pairs, some Ss were paired with their partners and some were paired with an opposite-sex partner from another couple. For some pairs a memory structure was assigned (e.g., 1 partner should remember food items, another should remember history items, etc.), whereas for others no structure was mentioned. Pairs studied together without communication, and recall was tested in individuals. Memory performance of the natural pairs was better than that of impromptu pairs without assigned structure, whereas the performance of natural pairs was inferior to that of impromptu pairs when structure was assigned.

PMID: 1774630 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Friday, February 11, 2005

Health Canada Decision on Adderall

From today's Globe and Mail:
Yanking ADHD drug angers clinicians
Health Canada's interpretation of safety data behind its abrupt decision to halt the sale of Adderall is being questioned
Friday, February 11, 2005 Updated at 7:50 AM EST
The Globe and Mail

Health Canada has stripped a pharmaceutical company of the right to sell a popular drug used for the treatment of hyperactive children in Canada after talks about withdrawing the medication voluntarily broke down.

The highly unusual move -- market authorization has not been withdrawn from any of the 5,000 prescription drugs on the Canadian market since 1999 -- came after Shire Biochem Inc. revealed that at least 20 people taking Adderall XR had died suddenly, and 12 others suffered debilitating strokes. All the deaths and strokes were in the United States. Most involved children who died of stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or bursts, cutting off oxygen to the brain.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Click here for the English text of the Health Canada Advisory. (Also available in French.)
Click here for Shire Biochem press release about the Health Canada decision.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sodium Pump

Looking for a nice and simple animation of the sodium-potassium transporter?

Here's a good one: Ion Pump Animation.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia

This week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association includes a clinical review of drug treatment for neuropsychiatric symptoms that may be present over the course of neurodegenerative diseases:

Kaycee M. Sink, Karen F. Holden, & Kristine Yaffe. Pharmacological Treatment of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia: A Review of the Evidence. Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293: 596-608.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Stroke and Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) Treatment

From The Globe and Mail:

Stroke drug grossly underused, experts say

The Globe and Mail
07 February 2005

TPA remains the sole drug approved for strokes. Yet only about 3 per cent of victims get it.

Usually that's because they don't seek help until it's too late for the drug to do any good — three hours after symptoms start.

However, fresh research documents disturbing problems that keep this lifesaving treatment from reaching the roughly one in five stroke victims who do seek help in time. Studies presented at an American Stroke Association conference last week found that:

— Operators answering phones at hospitals often don't recognize stroke symptoms and discourage callers from coming in for help.

— Ambulances routinely take people to the nearest hospital instead of one with the necessary equipment and expertise to give TPA.

— Emergency room doctors are afraid of the drug's potentially serious side effects, and are unwilling to use it even when test results clearly show they should.

— Even specialized stroke centres designed to speed the drug to patients are missing many chances to get it right.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Friday, February 04, 2005

Vagal Nerve Stimulator and Depression

From The New York Times:

F.D.A. May Approve an Implant as a Treatment for Depression
The New York Times
Published: February 4, 2005

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it might permit an implantable electrical device for the treatment of epilepsy made by Cyberonics to also be marketed as a therapy for chronic depression that is resistant to other treatments.

The agency set a number of conditions on the tentative approval, and Cyberonics said it hoped to meet them before the end of May.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Abstract of the Day: Speech and Language

Faraneh Vargha-Khadem, David G. Gadian, Andrew Copp & Mortimer Mishkin (2005). FOXP2 AND THE NEUROANATOMY OF SPEECH AND LANGUAGE. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6, 131-138. [doi:10.1038/nrn1605]

That speech and language are innate capacities of the human brain has long been widely accepted, but only recently has an entry point into the genetic basis of these remarkable faculties been found. The discovery of a mutation in FOXP2 in a family with a speech and language disorder has enabled neuroscientists to trace the neural expression of this gene during embryological development, track the effects of this gene mutation on brain structure and function, and so begin to decipher that part of our neural inheritance that culminates in articulate speech.