Monday, May 30, 2005

The Passionate Caudate

From tomorrow's New York Times:

Watching New Love as It Sears the Brain
The New York Times
Published: May 31, 2005


In the study, Dr. [Helen] Fisher, Dr. Lucy Brown of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and Dr. Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, led a team that analyzed about 2,500 brain images from 17 college students who were in the first weeks or months of new love. The students looked at a picture of their beloved while an M.R.I. machine scanned their brains. The researchers then compared the images with others taken while the students looked at picture of an acquaintance.


[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Neural Mapping of Olfactory Functioning

A press release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) concerning some new research findings from Nobel Winner Dr. Linda Buck [Bio] and her colleagues:

May 23, 2005
Researchers Closer to Learning the Underlying Logic of the Olfactory System

Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have succeeded in mapping the unique patterns of neural activity produced by a wide range of odors, including vanilla, skunk, fish, urine, musk, and chocolate. Revealing these distinct - but often overlapping - patterns of neural activity represents a significant step in understanding how the brain translates complex signals from odorant receptors in the nose into odor perception in the brain, the researchers said.

The research team, which was led by HHMI investigator Linda B. Buck at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published its findings May 23, 2005, in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Buck's co-authors included postdoctoral fellows Zhihua Zou and Fusheng Li. Buck shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with HHMI investigator Richard Axel of Columbia University for their discovery of the huge family of odorant receptors and their previous work on the organization of the olfactory system.

[ ... Read the full press release ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Business World: Protein Misfolding and FoldRx, Satori, & Zyentia

From The Boston Globe:
Crumpled proteins a new frontier
By Scott Kirsner
The Boston Globe
May 30, 2005

Inside your body, at this very moment, a class in intracellular origami is taking place.

Long strands of protein are being twisted into intricate shapes within your cells. To work, they've got to be in exactly the right formation -- imagine a piece of paper folded in the shape of a perfect giraffe. When something goes awry, and the protein winds up in a crumpled ball, it doesn't act the way it's supposed to. It tends to cluster with other malformed proteins over in the corner of the classroom.

In large numbers, these crumpled proteins can lead to more than two dozen nasty diseases, from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's to diabetes. Scientists call it ''protein misfolding."

So little is known about what proteins do in the human body, what causes them to fold correctly, and what causes them to misfold, that trying to develop drugs to deal with protein misfolding is a bit like trying to teach origami to a goat. You might not want to brand it impossible; you'd just be surprised if anything came of it.

But in the biotechnology field, venture capital money sometimes pours into start-ups trying to commercialize promising research in fields like protein misfolding and RNA interference, both of which attempt to rip up the root causes of disease, rather than just hack away at symptoms. This funding process, which has a lot in common with betting the long shot at the track, discovers lots of scientific dead ends, but it occasionally results in important new drugs. In the case of protein misfolding, many of these will be what the industry calls ''first-in-class drugs," as opposed to ''me too" drugs, like the fourth pill on the market to treat erectile dysfunction or reduce cholesterol.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | | |

FDA Offers RSS Feed

From the FDA:

May 18, 2005
Media Inquiries: Kathleen Quinn 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Sets Up RSS Feed

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a new RSS feed to its Web site that provides links to agency news releases and other press announcements.

RSS – or Really Simple Syndication – is a burgeoning Internet technology that enables easy distribution of news and other Web content. Users can access the material through a news reader or “aggregator,” which downloads and displays the feeds. Users are able to get automatic updates on news items on topics of choice.

The feed is available at

FDA also offers an RSS feed for information about recalls of products the agency regulates. It’s found at
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Rehab During Wartime

War's worst wound
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Posted on Sun, May. 29, 2005


Fort Snelling's VA Medical Center is one of seven U.S. hospitals rehabilitating vets who suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Read the full article.
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Saturday, May 28, 2005

In The Weeklies

In the weeklies:

The New England Journal of Medicine
26 May 2005
Includes a series of brain-related book reviews:
Neuroprotection: Models, Mechanisms and Therapies , Brain and Spinal Tumors of Childhood , Brain Tumors , and From Neuroscience to Neurology: Neuroscience, Molecular Medicine, and the Therapeutic Transformation of Neurology .

British Medical Journal
28 May 2005
Includes two brain-related book reviews: The Lobotomist and The 21st Century Brain.

26 May 2005
Jeremy M. Wolfe, Todd S. Horowitz, and Naomi M. Kenner. Cognitive psychology:  Rare items often missed in visual searches. Nature; 2005, 435: 439-440. [doi : 10.1038/435439a]
Our society relies on accurate performance in visual screening tasks — for example, to detect knives in luggage or tumours in mammograms. These are visual searches for rare targets. We show here that target rarity leads to disturbingly inaccurate performance in target detection: if observers do not find what they are looking for fairly frequently, they often fail to notice it when it does appear.
Article page
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Friday, May 27, 2005

Meningococcal Disease and Menactra Vaccine

From The New York Times:
Wider Student Use Is Urged for New Meningitis Vaccine
The New York Times
Published: May 27, 2005

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended yesterday wider use of a new meningitis vaccine for adolescents and college freshmen.

The vaccine, sold as Menactra by Sanofi Pasteur, protects against infections caused by meningococcal bacteria. Such infections include a form of meningitis that can be rapidly fatal.

For the first time, the diseases center, a federal agency in Atlanta, recommended that all 11- and 12-year-olds be routinely immunized against meningococcal disease.

The agency also recommended using Menactra to protect high school freshmen or children younger than 15, whichever comes earlier.

In a third recommendation, the agency recommended that all college freshmen living in dormitories be immunized against meningococcal disease. The new recommendation strengthened an earlier one that said freshmen should consider such protection.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | | | |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rodnitzky Interim Replacement for Damasio

From the University of Iowa:

Rodnitzky Named Interim Head Of Neurology

Robert Rodnitzky, M.D., professor and vice chair of neurology in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, will serve as interim head of the Department of Neurology. Rodnitzky will oversee the academic and the clinical programs in both the UI Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics. The appointment will be effective July 1.

i-Newswire, 2005-05-24 - Rodnitzky will serve as interim department head while a nationwide search is conducted to fill the position vacated by Antonio Damasio, M.D., Ph.D., the Maurice Van Allen Professor of Neurology, who is leaving to direct the University of Southern California Institute for the Study of the Brain and Creativity.

Rodnitzky is an expert on movement disorders. He has been instrumental in the study and development of experimental therapies for patients with movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease, and has published numerous scientific articles, book chapters and reviews on this area of research. He has been a UI faculty member for over three decades and during his tenure has served in several leadership positions, including vice chair of neurology since 1986, director of the neurology residency program since 1982 and director of the Division of Movement Disorders since 1988. He served as chief of staff at UI Hospitals and Clinics from 1992 to 1998.

Both Jean Robillard, M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, and Donna Katen-Bahensky, director and CEO of UI Hospitals and Clinics, welcomed Rodnitzky's acceptance of the position of interim head of neurology.

"Dr. Rodnitzky is an outstanding researcher and gifted teacher. We can be confident that the department will continue its tradition of excellence in scholarship and education under his leadership," Robillard said.

"In addition to being a talented and compassionate physician, Dr. Rodnitzky also is an exceptional administrator," Katen-Bahensky added. "His many years of service at the UI demonstrate a deep commitment to his patients and to the institution."

[ ... Read the full press release ... ]
Anthony H. Risser | | | |

FDA Says 'No' to Risperdal (Risperidone) as a Treatment for Psychotic Symptoms in Alzheimer Disease

Johnson & Johnson released information earlier today that the Food and Drug Administration did not approve its antipsychotic medication Risperdal (risperidone) for use as a treatment for psychotic symptoms in Alzheimer disease.

Full U.S. prescribing information for Risperdal can be found at a number of locations on the Web, including, if you click here, this webpage.
Anthony H. Risser | | | | |

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Books About the Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes have been in the news the past few days, with a number of media resports about a research study examining the neuropsychology of sarcasm. Here is a small collection of recent books about the frontal lobes:

Fuster, J. (1997). The prefrontal cortex: Anatomy, physiology, and neuropsychology of the frontal lobes. Raven Press.

Stuss, D. & Knight, R. (2002). Principles of frontal lobe function.
Oxford University Press.

Miller, B. & Cummings, J. (1998). The human frontal lobes: Functions and disorders. Guilford Press.

Lichter, D. & Cummings, J. (2000). Frontal-subcortical cortical circuits in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Guilford Press.

Goldberg, E. (2001). The executive brain: Frontal lobes and the civilized mind. Oxford University Press.
Anthony H. Risser | | | |

Abstract of the Day: Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)

Clark DG, Charuvastra A, Miller BL, Shapira JS, Mendez MF. Fluent versus nonfluent primary progressive aphasia: A comparison of clinical and functional neuroimaging features. Brain and Language 2005 Jul; 94(1): 54-60.

David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, University of California-Los Angeles, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., 3-South Neurobehavior Unit (116AF), Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA.

To better characterize fluent and nonfluent variants of primary progressive aphasia (PPA). Although investigators have recognized both fluent and nonfluent patients with PPA, the clinical and neuroimaging features of these variants have not been fully defined. We present clinical and neuropsychological data on 47 PPA patients comparing the fluent (n=21) and nonfluent (n=26) subjects. We further compared language features with PET/SPECT data available on 39 of these patients. Compared to the nonfluent PPA patients, those with fluent PPA had greater impairment of confrontational naming and loss of single word comprehension. They also exhibited semantic paraphasic errors and loss of single word comprehension. Patients with nonfluent PPA were more likely to be female, were more often dysarthric, and exhibited phonological speech errors in the absence of semantic errors. No significant differences were seen with regard to left hemisphere abnormalities, suggesting that both variants result from mechanisms that overlap frontal, temporal, and parietal regions. Of the language measures, only semantic paraphasias were strongly localized, in this case to the left temporal lobe. Fluent and nonfluent forms of PPA are clinically distinguishable by letter fluency, single word comprehension, object naming, and types of paraphasic errors. Nevertheless, there is a large amount of overlap between dysfunctional anatomic regions associated with these syndromes.

PMID: 15896383 [PubMed - in process]
Anthony H. Risser
| | | |

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

U.S. Neurology Organizations State Position on Stem Cell Research

The full text of the position statement released by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Neurological Association (ANA) can be found in the new, 24 May 2005 issue of the journal Neurology:

American Academy of Neurology and American Neurological Association. Position statement regarding the use of embryonic and adult human stem cells in biomedical research. Neurology 2005; 64: 1679-1680.

Read the full article.

The issue also contains two editorial comments on the topic.
Anthony H. Risser | | | |

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sarcasm and the Brain: Look at the Right Prefrontal Cortex (continued)

Following up on an earlier post of mine from the 2nd of May --- Sarcasm and the Brain: Look at the Right Prefrontal Cortex --- I note that the publisher of the journal that this research appeared in is offering online its full-text content:

S.G. Shamay-Tsoory, PhD, and R. Tomer, PhD, Rambam Medical Center and University of Haifa, and J. Aharon-Peretz, MD, Rambam Medical Center; The Neuroanatomical Basis of Understanding Sarcasm and Its Relationship to Social Cognition. Neuropsychology, Vol. 19, No. 3.

Full text of the article is available from the American Psychological Association's Public Affairs Office or at
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Brains on Parade

Viewers of C-SPAN's BookTV were treated this weekend to a re-airing of a Brian Lamb interview from 2000 with Michael Paterniti, the author of the book Driving Mr. Albert, about his cross-country adventure with the doctor who retained portions of Albert Einstein's brain and with a Tupperware container of said portions.

Tomorrow's New York Times has an article about Cornell University's Wilder Brain Collection:

In Search of Answers From the Great Brains of Cornell
The New York Times
Published: May 24, 2005

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

Anthony H. Risser | | |

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Abstract of the Day: Basic Sensory Issues in Good Diagnostic Approaches

Valentijn SA, van Boxtel MP, van Hooren SA, Bosma H, Beckers HJ, Ponds RW, Jolles J. Change in sensory functioning predicts change in cognitive functioning: Results from a 6-year follow-up in the Maastricht aging study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2005 Mar; 53(3): 374-380.

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, European Graduate School of Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the longitudinal relationship between sensory functioning and a broad range of cognitive functions after 6 years follow-up and whether cataract surgery or first-time hearing aid use affected cognition. DESIGN: Hierarchical regression procedures were employed to determine whether sensory functioning was predictive of cognitive performance. SETTING: Maastricht University and the University Hospital Maastricht, the Netherlands. PARTICIPANTS: Older Dutch adults (>/=55) enrolled in the Maastricht Aging Study (N=418). MEASUREMENTS: Visual and auditory acuity, the Visual Verbal Learning Test (VVLT), the Stroop Color Word Test (SCWT), the Concept Shifting Task (CST), the Verbal Fluency Test, and the Letter-Digit Substitution Test (LDST). RESULTS: A change in visual acuity was associated with change in most cognitive measures, including the total and recall scores of the VVLT, the mean score of the first two SCWT cards, the mean score of the first two CST cards and the LDST. In addition, a change in auditory acuity predicted change in memory performance (VVLT total and recall scores), and auditory acuity measured at baseline predicted change in the mean score of the first two SCWT cards and the LDST. CONCLUSION: The findings support the notion of a strong connection between sensory acuity in auditory and visual domains and cognitive performance measures, both from a cross-sectional and a longitudinal perspective. They also suggest that it is essential to screen older individuals in a clinical context for sensory functioning so that changes in visual or auditory acuity are not interpreted as changes in cognitive performance.

PMID: 15743277 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Anthony H. Risser
| | |

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Upcoming Event: Ottawa, 14-18 June 2005

The 40th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences will be held in Ottawa from the 14th through the 18th of June 2005 at the Ottawa Congress Centre.

Information about the meeting can be found on the conference's webpage.
Anthony H. Risser | | | |

Business World: Cyberonics and Neurostimulators (Vagal Nerve Stimulator [VNS])

Tomorrow's New York Times includes an article about the current state of FDA consideration of the Cyberonics VNS device for the treatment of depression. The article is notable for the number of interviews across the spectrum of opinion on this pending decision.

F.D.A. Considers Implant Device for Depression
The New York Times
Published: May 21, 2005

[snipped from the article]

The drug agency has given mixed signals about the stimulator. In August 2004, it told Cyberonics in a letter that the treatment was not approvable, saying more information was needed. But in February, after the company provided more data, the agency changed that position, informing the company that the stimulator could now be approved. The company's stock price has fluctuated as investors try to anticipate the agency's decision, which the company is hopeful will come by the end of the month.

The Senate Finance Committee recently began looking into the F.D.A.'s potential reversal, but Cyberonics officials say they have been assured by the agency that this will have no bearing on its final decision.

In a conference call with reporters and analysts on Thursday, Robert Cummins, the company's chief executive, said no other treatment had been deemed approvable by the drug agency for stubbornly depressed patients. Clearly, he said, "the status quo for millions of Americans, their families, psychiatrists and payers is neither safe nor effective."

Still, some patient advocates and other experts are now questioning how the device has come so close to approval with such limited evidence for its effectiveness.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Earlier BrainBlog posts on this topic:
19 May 2005
07 April 2005
04 February 2005
Anthony H. Risser | | |

Friday, May 20, 2005

Current Reading: Connecting the Dots

I began reading this evening a report by the RAND Corporation called Out of the Ordinary. It looks to be an interesting application of knowledge about cognitive decision-making to create assistive software that can handle massive amounts of data in the same manner that an effective decision maker would make when tasked with the problems and issues described in the application in single-human-sized amounts. Don't know about the degree to which neuropsychological and neuroscientific knowledge are examined (relative to the evident coverage of more basic cognitive psychology), but looking forward to finding out.

John Hollywood, Diane Snyder, Kenneth McKay, & John Boon (2004). Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by
Analyzing Unusual Behavior
(MG-126). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Snipped from the preface:

"This monograph presents a unique approach to “connecting the dots” in intelligence—selecting and assembling disparate pieces of information to produce a general understanding of a threat. Modeled after key thought processes used by successful and proactive problem solvers to identify potential threats, the schema described in this document identifies out-of-the-ordinary, atypical behavior that is potentially related to terror activity; seeks to understand the behavior by putting it into context; generates and tests hypotheses about what the atypical behavior might mean; and prioritizes the results, focusing analysts’ attention on the most significant atypical findings. In addition to discussing the schema, this document describes a supporting conceptual architecture that dynamically tailors the analysis in response to discoveries about the observed behavior and presents specific techniques for identifying and analyzing out-of-the-ordinary information."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Business World: Cyberonics and Neurostimulators (Vagal Nerve Stimulator [VNS])

From Reuters:

Cyberonics falls as Senate probes FDA turnaround
Thu May 19, 2005 10:07 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Shares of Cyberonics Inc. fell almost 13 percent on Thursday after the Senate Finance Committee began examining the FDA's handling of the company's application to use an implantable device for epilepsy to also treat chronic depression.

[ ... Read the full report ... ]
Earlier BrainBlog posts on this topic:
07 April 2005
04 February 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

War-related Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

This week's New England Journal of Medicine offers the full-text contents of a Perspectives piece about brain injuries related to warfare:

Susan Okie. Traumatic Brain Injury in the War Zone. New England Journal of Medicine 2005, 352: 2043-2047.

Read the full article.

Anthony H. Risser | | |

Monday, May 16, 2005

Upcoming Event: Toronto, 12-16 June 2005

The 11th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 12-16 June 2005.

For more information, please see the organization's conference website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dr. Michael Gazzaniga

Today's New York Times included an interview with Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, an eminent neuroscientist who is currently the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth.

The article - A Career Spent Learning How the Mind Emerges From the Brain - was written by Carl Zimmer, the author of last year's biography of Thomas Willis. Zimmer maintains an excellent blog, too: The Loom.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

So-called "Lizard Brains" and the Stock Market

This evening's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS incuded a segment entitled Using Your Brain: "A report on what is really going on inside our heads when we make economic decisions. Researchers are beginning to understand how the pre-frontal cortex and our "lizard brain" is driving our decisions in the stock market."

The segment included an interview with neuropsychologist Jordan Grafman.

By the way, "lizard brain" refers to the evoluntarily older parts of the brain, such as the limbic system. The contrast, as it relates to economics and decision-making, is the classic dichotomy of rational vs. impulsive, deliberate vs. emotional, with the "lizard brain" representing the impulsive and emotional and the prefrontal cortex representing the rational and deliberate aspects of decision making.

A transcript of the segment (along with a link to an audio stream) can be found on the show's website.

Upcoming Event: NYC, 03 June 2005

The 8th annual day conference on the topic of Cognitive Remediation in Psychiatry will be held on the 3rd of June in New York City. The location of the event is the Jewish Community Center at 334 Amsterdam Ave at West 76th Street in Manhattan.

Various applications from knowledge areas in neuropsychology, social cognition, and neuroscience are listed in the program.

Information about registration, attendance, and participation can be obtained at the event website.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Business World: Avanir, Neurodex (AVP 923), and Marketing - The Tension 'tween Hype and Help

Today's New York Times offers a good read about a fascinating aspect of contemporary pharmacology and medical marketing: the tension between hype and help - or - in the words of the journalist, "Is it a drug in search of a disease, or simply an affliction in need of better publicity?"

Marketing a Disease, and Also a Drug to Treat It
The New York Times
Published: May 9, 2005

Is it a drug in search of a disease, or simply an affliction in need of better publicity?

One of the afflicted is Peter Pagan. After suffering a severe brain injury in a fall, he would burst into tears at the slightest provocation, even when he was not feeling sad.

"The physical therapist would say, 'You're doing well' and he would just start crying," said his wife, Julie. "He cried, I would say, 40 or 50 times a day. It was awful. I just didn't know what to do."

But Mr. Pagan, 73, a retired engineer from La Palma, Calif., who still has trouble speaking, has been keeping his tears in check, his wife said, since he started taking an experimental drug developed by Avanir Pharmaceuticals of San Diego.

Avanir hopes that the drug, Neurodex, will win federal approval by the end of this year as a treatment for the uncontrollable laughing or crying that can be caused by various neurological diseases or injuries. As one doctor described the odd syndrome in a 1989 article, "Pathologic laughter is devoid of any inner sense of joy and pathologic weeping of any feeling of inner sorrow."

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

Pathological laughter or crying is a fascinating manifestation of certain types of brain damage or disease. It is a reflection more of a disorder in emotional expression than in any way reflective of feelings per se and, by extension, mood.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Privacy in the Time of fMRI

From tomorrow's New York Times Sunday Magazine:
Of Two Minds
The New York Times
Published: May 8, 2005

The human brain is mysterious -- and, in a way, that is a good thing. The less that is known about how the brain works, the more secure the zone of privacy that surrounds the self. But that zone seems to be shrinking. A couple of weeks ago, two scientists revealed that they had found a way to peer directly into your brain and tell what you are looking at, even when you yourself are not yet aware of what you have seen. So much for the comforting notion that each of us has privileged access to his own mind.

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

Friday, May 06, 2005

Epilepsy Surgery

The 26 April 2005 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal includes the free full-text contents of a teaching case report on the topic of surgery in epilepsy:

Jorge G. Burneo and Richard S. McLachlan (2005). When should surgery be considered for the treatment of epilepsy? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 172, 1175-1178.

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

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Business World: AstraZeneca, Renovis - Cerovive (NXY-059) in Stroke Treatment

AstraZeneca's Results Boost Tiny Renovis
By Robert Steyer Staff Reporter
5/4/2005 1:03 PM EDT

AstraZeneca (AZN :NYSE - commentary -research ) reported mixed results for a late-stage clinical trial of an experimental drug for treating stroke but said it hopes to submit the product for regulatory review during the second half of 2006.

At the same time, the shares of another company involved in the product's development were nearly doubling in heavy trading Wednesday.

The clinical trial involved Cerovive, one of the few AstraZeneca drugs in late-stage clinical development. According to preliminary results, patients taking Cerovive demonstrated statistically significant improvements compared with patients taking a placebo, according to one measurement. But when applying another standard for testing stroke patients, researchers found no significant difference between the two groups.

[ ... Read the full report ... ]

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Anthropology and Understanding Age-Related Cognitive Impairment

This interesting perspective is available in free full-text format at the journal's website; here is the link.

Peter J. Whitehouse,  Atwood D. Gaines, Heather Lindstrom, and Janice E. Graham. Anthropological contributions to the understanding of age-related cognitive impairment. Lancet Neurology  2005;  4: 320-326. DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(05)70075-2


Medical anthropology has not only helped us to understand the social, political, and ethical foundations of modern biomedicine, but also improved the identification and treatment of patients in various geographic, sociological, and medical contexts. In this article, we present an anthropological perspective on the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related cognitive impairment. The ubiquity of cognitive changes in the growing number of elderly people around the world, and the many diverse responses that human communities have taken to such challenges, require biocultural approaches. Anthropology can serve as an ally in accomplishing the goal of improving the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment by highlighting the role of sociocultural processes that influence the development, meaning, and experience of dementia. So too can it serve as a framework for criticism of biomedical research, theory, and practice.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Sarcasm and the Brain: Look at the Right Prefrontal Cortex

From The APA Monitor:
It's no joke: Study identifies brain circuitry involved in our grasp of sarcasm
The APA Monitor
May 2005
Print version: page 13

A study in May's Neuropsychology (Vol. 19, No. 2) finds the right prefrontal cortex--a brain region associated with social cognition and identifying emotions--helps us understand sarcasm.

Authors Simone Shamay-Tsoory, PhD, and Rachel Tomer, PhD, of the University of Haifa, and Judith Aharon-Peretz, PhD, of Israel's Rambam Medical Center, hypothesized that the right frontal cortex regulates understanding sarcasm since the right hemisphere concerns emotional processing and the prefrontal cortex deals with social cognition.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]