Thursday, July 30, 2009

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Schizophrenia and Cognition

Palmer BW, Dawes SE, & Heaton RK. (2009). What Do We Know About Neuropsychological Aspects Of Schizophrenia?
Neuropsychology Review. Jul 30 [e-pub ahead of print].

Application of a neuropsychological perspective to the study of schizophrenia has established a number of important facts about this disorder. Some of the key findings from the existing literature are that, while neurocognitive impairment is present in most, if not all, persons with schizophrenia, there is both substantial interpatient heterogeneity and remarkable within-patient stability of cognitive function over the long-term course of the illness. Such findings have contributed to the firm establishment of neurobiologic models of schizophrenia, and thereby help to reduce the social stigma that was sometimes associated with purely psychogenic models popular during parts of the 20th century. Neuropsychological studies in recent decades have established the primacy of cognitive functions over psychopathologic symptoms as determinants of functional capacity and independence in everyday functioning. Although the cognitive benefits of both conventional and even second generation antipsychotic medications appear marginal at best, recognition of the primacy of cognitive deficits as determinants of functional disability in schizophrenia has catalyzed recent efforts to develop targeted treatments for the cognitive deficits of this disorder. Despite these accomplishments, however, some issues remain to be resolved. Efforts to firmly establish the specific neurocognitive/neuropathologic systems responsible for schizophrenia remain elusive, as do efforts to definitively demonstrate the specific cognitive deficits underlying specific forms of functional impairment. Further progress may be fostered by recent initiatives to integrate neuropsychological studies with experimental neuroscience, perhaps leading to measures of deficits in cognitive processes more clearly associated with specific, identifiable brain systems.

PMID: 19639412 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Upcoming Industry Conference: Social Media/Networks (Philadelphia, October 2009)

e-patient Connections 2009
Health marketing
Meeting website

In The Wide World: Argentine Alzheimer's Association

Asociación Lucha contra el Mal de Alzheimer y alteraciones semejantes de la República Argentina

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Data Collection via iPhone

Bits: If You’re Happy and You Know It, Tell Your Phone
By Jenna Wortham
Published: July 29, 2009
A Harvard graduate student is surveying iPhone users to help answer an age-old question: What makes people happy?

click here to read

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: fMRI Study of Digit Symbol Task

Usui N, Haji T, Maruyama M, Katsuyama N, Uchida S, Hozawa A, Omori K, Tsuji I, Kawashima R, & Taira M. (2009). Cortical areas related to performance of WAIS Digit Symbol Test: a functional imaging study. Neurosci Lett. Jul 21.

Many neuropsychological studies have shown that the Digit Symbol Test (DST) of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is useful for screening for dysfunctions of the brain. However, it remains unclear which brain areas are actually involved in the performance of DST and what brain functions are used for executing this test. In this study, we examined the cortical areas related to cognitive aspects of DST using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and determined executive brain functions involved in this test on the basis of fMRI results. Eleven healthy young adults (mean=21.6 years) performed a modified DST (mDST) task and its control task, which required a simple graphomotor response during fMRI data acquisition. The direct comparison of brain activations between the mDST task and the control task revealed greater activations in a fronto-parietal cortical network, including the bilateral inferior frontal sulci, left middle frontal gyrus (close to the frontal eye field) and left posterior parietal cortex. These activations are interpreted as reflecting the visual search process and/or the updating process of working memory during the mDST task execution. Furthermore, we found a positive correlation between the number of correct responses and activations in the bilateral inferior frontal regions, suggesting that these prefrontal areas have a crucial role in the performance of DST in a healthy young adult population.

PMID: 19631255 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cognition: Blink, Military Style

In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable Assets
The New York Times
28 July 2009

U.S. soldiers are at the center of an effort to understand how it is that some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it before others’ do.

Read article

Dementia and Adult Lifestyle

Work longer, stay sharper
Working beyond normal retirement age appears to keep dementia at bay
The Boston Globe
27 July 2009

Read article

Saturday, July 25, 2009

From medGadget: fMRI and 'Mind-Reading'

medGadget presents and links to a new fMRI report on 'mind-reading':
Can Neuroscientists Read Your Mind with fMRI?
Read post here

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Alzheimer Drug Regimens & Delivery Systems

Bassil, N & Grossberg, GT. (2009). Novel regimens and delivery systems in the pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer's disease. CNS Drugs, 23(4), 293-307.

The mainstay of current management of patients with Alzheimer's disease involves drugs that provide symptomatic therapy. Research approaches for future therapy of Alzheimer's disease are focusing on disease modifying and/or preventive approaches. Two classes of medications have been approved by the US FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: the cholinesterase inhibitors (tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine), mostly for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, and the noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist memantine for the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer's disease. Management of comorbid medical problems can be more complex in patients with dementia than in those without dementia. Unfortunately, medication adherence in Alzheimer's disease is low and good adherence is essential for attempting to slow disease progression and improve or stabilize quality of life. Simplifying treatment regimens and providing more caregiver- and patient-friendly modes of administration that fit in better with daily routines can ease caregiver stress which, in turn, may have a favourable impact on the patient's condition. To overcome problems of medication adherence in the elderly, simple, user-friendly dosage regimens should be prescribed for all medications; thus the need for novel regimens and delivery systems in the pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer's disease, such as once-daily donepezil, memantine and galantamine, and transdermal rivastigmine.

PMID: 19374459 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Thursday, July 23, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu: Seizures in Infected Children

From The New York Times, accounting of pediatric neurological complications from Texas:

Read article


“The usefulness of this case report is that many doctors who deal with outpatient flu only may never have seen a case with neurological complications,” Dr. Pavia said. “It’s an important reminder that flu can present as seizures or as encephalitis.”


Update on The Blue Brain Project

Swiss scientists aim to build a synthetic brain within a decade
The brain would provide insights into how our perceptions of the world are interpreted and stored, and how consciousness arises
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Thursday 23 July 2009 15.16 BST


The world's first synthetic brain could be built within 10 years, giving us an unprecedented insight into the nature of consciousness and our perception of reality.

Scientists working on the Blue Brain Project in Switzerland are the first to attempt to "reverse-engineer" the mammalian brain by recreating the behaviour of billions of neurons in a computer.

Professor Henry Markham, director of the project at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, has already simulated parts of the neocortex, the most 'modern' region of the brain, which evolved rapidly in mammals to cope with the demands of parenthood and social situations.

Markham's team created a 3D simulation of around 10,000 brain cells to mimic the behaviour of the rat neocortex. The way all the cells connect and send signals to each other is just as important as how many there are.

"You need one laptop to do all the calculations for one neuron, so you need ten thousand laptops," Markham told the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford yesterday. Instead, he uses an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer.


Read article here

From medGadget: Brain Rewiring to Accomodate Prosthetics?

Commentary and link to original article at medGadget:
Read posting

Media: V.S. Ramachandran on Charlie Rose

A conversation with neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, on the 14th of July:
Watch the interview.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In The Wide World: King's Lynn (England)

Regional branch of the Alzheimer's Society at King's Lynn: webpage

Alzheimer's Disease: Amyloid Jitteriness

A Bloomberg News report about the state of clinical trials of those Alzheimer's disease candidates in the processes/stages in amyloid levels and amyloid deposition: read article here

Technology and Pharmacology: Boosting Smartiness in the 21st Century

"Getting Smarter"
The Atlantic
August 2009
Read essay here

H1N1 (Swine Flu) Vaccine Product: Alphavax and GSK

Alphavax, of Research Triangle Park, reported completing preclinical work and is developing product for clinical trials of its H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine, per company press release (click here).

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) tasks order for 195 million doses of vaccine
The Times (UK) click here

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obit: Dr. Esther H. Strauss

The neuropsychological community was saddened last month by the death of Dr. Esther Strauss of Victoria, Canada.

Here is her obituary, which appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist on 19 June 2009:

Victoria Times-Colonist
19 June 2009

Esther Strauss

STRAUSS, Esther Helen It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Esther Strauss of Victoria, British Columbia, the beloved wife of Dr. Josef Cherniawsky, mother of Ze'ev, Avital and Tamar, sister of Howard Strauss (Donna) and aunt of Jessica, Nathan, Cathy and Dana. Esther passed away on June 17, 2009 at the Palliative Care Unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital after a 3 and a half year battle with ovarian cancer. Esther never gave up fighting, always saying that she wanted to be with us forever. The love of her life was her family, which always came first. Esther excelled both in family life and in her chosen profession. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at McGill University in 1969 where she majored in psychology and sociology. She then earned Masters degrees in sociology from Northeastern University (1971) and in special education from Boston University (1972). Between 1973 and 1976 she worked at the Aphasia Research Center in the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital where she developed her longstanding commitment to neuropsychological research. She completed her doctorate in psychology under Professor Morris Moscovitch in 1980 at the University of Toronto. Esther then took up a position as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Victoria. She attained the rank of full professor in 1991. Among her numerous accomplishments, Esther is responsible with Professor Otfried Spreen and Dr. Elizabeth Sherman for producing the standard reference text on neuropsychological tests widely used for clinical diagnosis and evaluation. Very shortly after arriving at the University of Victoria, she entered into a long-standing and very productive collaboration with Professor Juhn Wada of the University of British Columbia medical school. Together, they published important articles on brain organization based on neurological evidence. More recently, Esther forged a highly successful collaboration (Project MIND) with Professors David Hultsch and Michael Hunter in which they investigated how short-term fluctuations in a person's reaction time predicts later mental decline. This research has crucial implications for our understanding of age-related changes in cognitive ability and has laid the foundation for important future work on the neuropsychology of aging. Even with all these accomplishments, Esther always said her greatest achievement was her kids. Esther will be dearly missed by her family, co-workers and many friends. The funeral will be held on Friday, June 19 at 2:30 pm at the Jewish Cemetery, located on Cedar Hill Road at Fernwood. In lieu of gifts, donations may be made to the Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation or to the charity of your choice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spend a Little Time Celebrating Tomorrow

Anyone with an interest in science of any type should spend a little time tomorrow to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's lunar landing and subsequent moonwalk.

President Obama will have the three Apollo 11 astronauts at the White House tomorrow.

Watch some of the video or listen to some of the audio available online of mission communications.

Swine Flu, H1N1

John Barry, author of the must-read "The Great Influenza," recently authored a white paper on H1N1, available here

From the Folks at Mind Hacks

Brain-shaped salt and pepper shakers; the perfect gift for the neuroscientist who thinks he or she is Gordon Ramsey!

Upcoming Event: International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Conference


29 July - 01 August 2009
Marina Congress Centre Helsinki, Finland
Hotel Viru, Tallinn, Estonia

The 2009 Mid-Year meeting is organized by the International Neuropsychological Society and the Finnish Neuropsychological Society in collaboration with the Neuropsychological societies from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Estonia. The theme of the meeting is

Bridging Research and Practice in Clinical Neuropsychology

For up-to-date meeting information visit

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In The Wide World: Neuropsychology Group in Ireland

Here's a link to a Neuropsychology Special Interest Group, part of the Psychological Society of Ireland: click here

Remembering Not to Remember

The new issue of Wired magazine has an article about a book to be published later this year about remembering and forgetting in the digital age, which sounds like it could be an excellent read.

How would we manage unlimited memory?

HBO's The Alzheimer's Project

The HBO series The Alzheimer's Project can be viewed online at the HBO website: Click here

BBC Radio 4 All In The Mind

Available on BBC Radio's iPlayer, this edition of All in The Mind looks at Dementia in the UK: click here

Dyslexia - History of a Concept

Are you interested in reading disorders or, generally, in learning disorders. If so, the new issue of JINS (Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society) has an excellent article by Dr. Jack Fletcher on this topic.

Unless you subscribe or have a Cambridge University Press account, you would likely need to track it down at your nearest academic library, but it is a worthwhile read on the topic

Recent Event: International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) 2009, Vienna

Last week, the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) took place in Vienna.

If you'd like the most recent news on research and clinical findings about Alzheimer's disease, press releases and related online resources at the ICAD website provide an excellent online resource.

ICAD website

Apologies to Comment Writers

I have been unable to update my blog for many months now, so I apologize to the many kind people who submitted comments and feedback about the blog and its contents.

Thank you,


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Please disregard this message. AFter months of confusing communications about the login information, I may finally have the correct data to get my blog rolling again!