Friday, September 30, 2011

Upcoming Event: "Celluloid Science" (NYC, 20 Oct 2011)

On the 20th of October, the New York Academy of Sciences is hosting the following event:

Celluloid Science: Humanizing Life in the Lab

From the website:

"Science & the City teams with the Imagine Science Film Festival (ISFF) to present a panel discussion about telling the stories of science through film. Moderating this panel will be A Planet of Viruses author Carl Zimmer. On the panel will be Sean Carroll, PhD (evolutionary biologist and founder of the Howard Hughes Medical institute's Documentary Institute); David J. Heeger, PhD (neuroscientist who studies the brains under the influence of cinematic stimuli); Darcy Kelley, PhD (biologist at Columbia University); and Valerie Weiss, PhD (scientist and award-winning writer and director, Losing Control)."

Full description here


Microsoft's research project: SenseCam

SenseCam and memory functioning

Here is a recently published research study:

SenseCam improves memory for recent events and quality of life in a patient with memory retrieval difficulties.
Memory. 2011 Sep 26;
Browne G, Berry E, Kapur N, Hodges S, Smyth G, Watson P, Wood K


A wearable camera that takes pictures automatically, SenseCam, was used to generate images for rehearsal, promoting consolidation and retrieval of memories for significant events in a patient with memory retrieval deficits. SenseCam images of recent events were systematically reviewed over a 2-week period. Memory for these events was assessed throughout and longer-term recall was tested up to 6 months later. A written diary control condition followed the same procedure. The SenseCam review procedure resulted in significantly more details of an event being recalled, with twice as many details recalled at 6 months follow up compared to the written diary method. Self-report measures suggested autobiographical recollection was triggered by the SenseCam condition but not by reviewing the written diary. Emotional and social wellbeing questionnaires indicated improved confidence and decreased anxiety as a result of memory rehearsal using SenseCam images. We propose that SenseCam images provide a powerful boost to autobiographical recall, with secondary benefits for quality of life.

PMID: 21942784 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: When Participants Abort a Test Performance

Correlates of quitting the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test in cognitively normal older adults participating in a study of normal cognitive aging
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.
2011 Oct;33(8):937-43. Epub 2011 Jun 27.
Locke DE, Stonnington CM, Thomas ML, Caselli RJ.


Our study of cognitive aging involves a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological measures. The Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) is the only test that some of our participants will refuse to complete. We explored variables related to quitting versus completing the PASAT in this sample of normal older adults. We hypothesized that quitting would be related to personality features, subclinical anxiety symptoms, demographics, and/or Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R) Arithmetic performance. A logistical regression model including NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO-PI-R) depression and excitement seeking, age, and WAIS-R Arithmetic classified participants with moderate accuracy. We encourage investigators involved in longitudinal studies to consider causes for missing data, especially when secondary to participant refusal.

PMID: 21950515 [PubMed - in process]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Cognitive Correlates of Impulsive Behavior in Mlld Alzheimer's Disease

A multidimensional approach to impulsivity changes in mild Alzheimer's disease and control participants: Cognitive correlates
. 2011 Sep 2;
Rochat L, Billieux J, Juillerat Van der Linden AC, Annoni JM, Zekry D, Gold G, Van der Linden M


INTRODUCTION: Impulsive behaviors are frequently described in brain-damaged patients, including patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, few studies have examined impulsivity changes and associated cognitive impairments in AD and healthy controls. Consequently, the first aim of this study was to compare patients with mild AD and matched controls on four dimensions of impulsivity (urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and sensation seeking) recently highlighted in the literature. The second objective was to examine the association between impulsivity changes and cognitive performances on executive/attentional tasks in mild AD and healthy controls. METHODS: Thirty patients with mild AD and 30 matched controls were administered a battery of tests that assessed executive and attention processes. In addition, informants of each patient and control completed a short questionnaire designed to assess the changes on the four dimensions of impulsivity (Rochat et al., 2008). RESULTS: Patients with mild AD had higher scores than controls on lack of premeditation and lack of perseverance dimensions of impulsivity, whereas the two groups did not differ on urgency and sensation seeking. Furthermore, patients showed significant decreased performances on measures of inhibition of prepotent responses, set-shifting, and working memory, as well as higher variability of reaction times (RTs) than matched controls. Regression analyses computed on the whole sample emphasized that difficulties in inhibition of prepotent responses significantly predicted higher lack of premeditation, and larger variability of RTs and set-shifting difficulties significantly predicted higher lack of perseverance, even when global cognitive functioning, general processing speed, working memory, and age were controlled for. Urgency and sensation seeking were not associated with any variables. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide valuable insight into the nature of brain systems and cognitive processes underlying impulsive behaviors. In addition, they open up interesting prospects for better comprehension of behavioral and psychological symptoms of AD.

PMID: 21943808 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prescribed Stimulant Use for ADHD Continues to Rise Steadily

A press release from the NIH:

Prescribed stimulant use for ADHD continues to rise steadily
NIH and AHRQ study finds pace of the rise has slowed in recent years

"The prescribed use of stimulant medications to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rose slowly but steadily from 1996 to 2008, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The study was published online ahead of print Sept. 28, 2011, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders, and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). The condition is frequently treated with stimulants such as methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin), amphetamines (e.g., Adderall) or other types of medications. Behavioral therapies can also be effective.

"During the 1990s, stimulant prescription use increased significantly, going from a prevalence rate among youth of 0.6 percent in 1987 to 2.7 percent in 1997, with the rate stabilizing around 2.9 percent in 2002. Recent reports, however, suggest that the prescribed use of these medications and the diagnosis of ADHD have continued to rise. Based on the Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Survey of Children's Health, the percentage of children age 4-17 years diagnosed with ADHD increased from 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007.

"Stimulant medications work well to control ADHD symptoms, but they are only one method of treatment for the condition. Experts estimate that about 60 percent of children with ADHD are treated with medication," said co-author Benedetto Vitiello, M.D., of NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)."

Read the full press release

Monday, September 26, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Aphasia Screening for Stroke Patients

Validation of the language component of the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination - Revised (ACE-R) as a screening tool for aphasia in stroke patients.
Australas J Ageing
. 2011 Sep;30(3):156-8
Authors: Gaber TA, Parsons F, Gautam V


Aim:  Several tests are available for aphasia screening following stroke. However, some of them have shortcomings such as need of specialist knowledge, low sensitivity and/or specificity and lengthy administration time. Our study aims to evaluate the language component of the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination - Revised (ACE-R) as a screening tool for aphasia in stroke patients. Methods:  The language component of ACE-R was administered to consecutive patients admitted to a post-acute stroke unit. Patients who were medically unstable or had a significant history of sensory impairment or mental health issues were excluded. The test was administered by two junior doctors with basic training in ACE-R administration. Patients recruited were also assessed by an experienced speech and language therapist (SLT). The results of the two assessments were documented by a different member of the team and the SLT results were used as the benchmark to calculate the ACE-R language component sensitivity and specificity. Results:  Fifty-nine participants were recruited and 27 of them were women. The mean age was 72 (SD 11.9). Thirty-four participants had left and 11 right hemisphere stroke. Fourteen had bilateral affection. Six participants were left handed. A cut-off value of 22/26 of ACE-R language component showed 100% specificity and 83.1% sensitivity, while a cut-off value of 16/26 had 88.2% specificity and 100% sensitivity. Conclusion:  Our results suggest that the language component of ACE-R has a satisfactory sensitivity and specificity compared with other screening tests used in strokes. It is easy to administer and free to use.

PMID: 21923710 [PubMed - in process]

Upcoming Event: American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Conference (Atlanta, 11-15 Oct 2011)

Conference Website

From the homepage:

"Plan now to attend the ACRM-ASNR 2011 Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. This annual conference draws rehabilitation researchers and clinicians from 20+ countries with a welcoming ambiance suited to seasoned and early career professionals alike. Attendees enjoy exceptional continuing education programs with productive networking opportunities.

"Choose from internationally recognized plenary speakers, and symposia covering methodology and technology; practice, policy and reimbursement; neuroscience and neurorehabilitation; and musculoskeletal, aging, and development.

"In addition, there are six pre-conference symposia and an Early Career Course on Wednesday. Paper presentations and poster displays, and an exhibition featuring state-of-the-art equipment and services for the rehabilitation professional. As always, there is the opportunity to meet new friends and greet old ones."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Greg Dunn and Neuroscience Art

"Gold Cortex" - the image of the week from Scope, the Stanford School of Medicine blog:

Image of the Week

"Gold Cortex" was created by Greg Dunn. Here is is website: Greg Dunn Visual Art

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Assessment of Social Cognition in TBI

An active area of test development and research in contemporary clinical neuropsychology:

Social Cognition Impairments in Relation to General Cognitive Deficits, Injury Severity and Prefrontal Lesions in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients.
Journal of Neurotrauma
. 2011 Sep 20;
Authors: Spikman JM, Van der Naalt J, Timmerman ME, Milders MV, Veenstra WS


Impairments in social behavior are frequently found in moderate to severe TBI patients and are associated with an unfavorable outcome with regard to return to work and social reintegration. Neuropsychological tests measuring aspects of social cognition are thought to be sensitive to these problems. However, little is known about the effect of general cognitive problems on these tests, nor about their sensitivity to injury severity and frontal lesions. In the present study 28 chronic TBI patients with a moderate to severe TBI were assessed with tests for social cognition (emotion recognition, Theory of Mind and empathy) and for general, non-social cognition (memory, mental speed, attention and executive function). The patients performed significantly worse than healthy controls on all measures, with the highest effect size for the emotion recognition test, the FEEST. Correlation analyses yielded no significant (partial) correlations between social and non-social cognition tests. Consequently, poor performance on social cognition tests was not due to general cognitive deficits. In addition, the emotion recognition test was the only measure that was significantly related to PTA duration, GCS score and presence of prefrontal lesions. Hence, we conclude that social cognition tests are a valuable supplement to a standard neuropsychological examination and we strongly recommend to incorporate measurement of social cognition in clinical practice. Preferably, a broader range of social cognition tests is applied since our study demonstrated that each of the measures represents a unique aspect of social cognition, but if capacity is limited, at least a test for emotion recognition should be included.

PMID: 21933011 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Art and Neuroscience

Today's recommended paper reflects one of my research interests when I was an undergraduate:

Experiencing Art: The Influence of Expertise and Painting Abstraction Level.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Authors: Pihko E, Virtanen A, Saarinen VM, Pannasch S, Hirvenkari L, Tossavainen T, Haapala A, Hari R


How does expertise influence the perception of representational and abstract paintings? We asked 20 experts on art history and 20 laypersons to explore and evaluate a series of paintings ranging in style from representational to abstract in five categories. We compared subjective esthetic judgments and emotional evaluations, gaze patterns, and electrodermal reactivity between the two groups of participants. The level of abstraction affected esthetic judgments and emotional valence ratings of the laypersons but had no effect on the opinions of the experts: the laypersons' esthetic and emotional ratings were highest for representational paintings and lowest for abstract paintings, whereas the opinions of the experts were independent of the abstraction level. The gaze patterns of both groups changed as the level of abstraction increased: the number of fixations and the length of the scanpaths increased while the duration of the fixations decreased. The viewing strategies - reflected in the target, location, and path of the fixations - however indicated that experts and laypersons paid attention to different aspects of the paintings. The electrodermal reactivity did not vary according to the level of abstraction in either group but expertise was reflected in weaker responses, compared with laypersons, to information received about the paintings.

PMID: 21941475 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI)

Outcome of Mild Cognitive Impairment Comparing Early Memory Profiles.
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
. 2011 Sep 19;
Authors: Gómez-Tortosa E, Mahillo-Fernández I, Guerrero R, Montoya J, Alonso A, Sainz MJ


BACKGROUND:: Finding variables that predict decline or stability in persons with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is an important step in identifying subjects in prodromal stages of dementia. This study tests a clinical observation suggesting that aMCI cases with better-preserved recognition skills, despite similar delayed recall deficits, are more likely to remain functionally stable. METHODS:: A cohort of 210 cases with aMCI, diagnosed with standardized criteria that had been followed up for 48 ± 12 months (range: 36-100), were divided into two groups according to their initial recognition memory discrimination index (DI) on the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (DI ≥ or <8). We compared the two groups according to demographic and neuropsychological variables, cerebral small vessel disease, and outcome (progression to dementia versus stability as aMCI). RESULTS:: Thirty-seven percent progressed to dementia. In the group with the higher DI scores (n = 107), only 21.5% of the cases converted, compared with 52.4% of lower scorers (n = 103; Fisher's test: p < 0.0001). Progression to dementia occurred significantly later in cases with higher DI (50 ± 17 versus 26 ± 11 months in cases with impaired DI, Mann-Whitney test, U statistic = 1092.5, p < 0.0001). The group with lower DI showed a threefold-increased rate of progression to dementia. A multivariate regression model revealed DI, delayed recall, age, and family history of dementia as the strongest predictors of dementia, in this order. CONCLUSIONS:: The aMCI patients with better-preserved recognition at baseline have a more benign prognosis. Detection of these cases may aid in isolating other aMCI cases that are already in prodromal stages of AD and in selecting more homogeneous groups for clinical trials.

PMID: 21934475 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penn Neuroscience & Society Public Talk Series (Philadelphia)

The webpage for the public-talk series: Click here.

The link provides the scheduled talks for 2011-12 and the location where the talks will take place.

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Alzheimer's Disease

A phase 2 randomized trial of ELND005, scyllo-inositol, in mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.
Neurology. 2011 Sep 14;
Authors: Salloway S, Sperling R, Keren R, Porsteinsson AP, van Dyck CH, Tariot PN, Gilman S, Arnold D, Abushakra S, Hernandez C, Crans G, Liang E, Quinn G, Bairu M, Pastrak A, Cedarbaum JM.


OBJECTIVE:This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging phase 2 study explored safety, efficacy, and biomarker effects of ELND005 (an oral amyloid anti-aggregation agent) in mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD). METHODS:A total of 353 patients were randomized to ELND005 (250, 1,000, or 2,000 mg) or placebo twice daily for 78 weeks. Coprimary endpoints were the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB) and Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) scale. The primary analysis compared 250 mg (n = 84) to placebo (n = 82) after an imbalance of infections and deaths led to early discontinuation of the 2 higher dose groups. RESULTS:The 250 mg dose demonstrated acceptable safety. The primary efficacy analysis at 78 weeks revealed no significant differences between the treatment groups on the NTB or ADCS-ADL. Brain ventricular volume showed a small but significant increase in the overall 250 mg group (p = 0.049). At the 250 mg dose, scyllo-inositol concentrations increased in CSF and brain and CSF Aβx-42 was decreased significantly compared to placebo (p = 0.009). CONCLUSIONS:Primary clinical efficacy outcomes were not significant. The safety and CSF biomarker results will guide selection of the optimal dose for future studies, which will target earlier stages of AD.Classification of evidence:Due to the small sample sizes, this Class II trial provides insufficient evidence to support or refute a benefit of ELND005.

PMID: 21917766 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Disability Scale for DM1

Development of a disability scale for myotonic dystrophy type 1.
Acta Neurol Scand.
2011 Sep 8;
Authors: Contardi S, Pizza F, Falzone F, D'Alessandro R, Avoni P, Di Stasi V, Montagna P, Liguori R


Objectives -  Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystem disorder. Many tests in the literature have evaluated single aspects of DM1 patients, mainly focusing on muscular impairment, without an overall quantification of the different disease-specific neurological features. We developed and validated a new functional scale for DM1 patients based on neuromuscular impairment (NI) and disability. Materials and methods -  Thirty-three patients were tested in basal condition, 18 were re-evaluated after therapeutic intervention with mexiletine, and 13 at one year follow-up without treatment. The scale includes 21 ordinal items in four areas: neuropsychology, motricity, myotonia and daily life activities. We evaluated inter- and intra-observer reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient, ICC and Spearman correlations, respectively), internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha), external validity (Spearman correlations between each area and other clinical and objective measurements and scales), and sensitivity to clinical changes after treatment or at follow-up. Results -  Our analysis provided good results for inter-observer agreement (ICC = 0.72-0.97), intra-observer reliability, and internal consistency for all areas (Cronbach's α > 0.73). Total score and single area subscores were significantly correlated to objective measurements, disease duration and multisystem involvement. Finally, the scale was sensitive to clinical changes disclosing a significant improvement after treatment in the items assessing myotonia, and also to disease progression showing a significant worsening in all areas but myotonia in untreated patients. Discussion -  Our scale provides a new practical measure to evaluate NI and disability of DM1 patients. Further longitudinal studies are warranted to confirm its reliability in tracking disease progression and severity over a longer period of time.

PMID: 21902674 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

2011 MacArthur Fellows

The 2011 MacArthur Fellows have been announced.

Here they are: Click here.

The group includes a neurologist and a clinical psychologist. More on them in an addendum to follow. Until then, enjoy looking at the bios!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Upcoming Event: The Resilient Brain (London, 22nd September, 2011)

“The Resilient Brain: Cognition and Ageing”, this year’s British Academy/British Psychological Society Lecture, will be given by Professor Lorraine Tyler FBA at the Royal Society, London, on Thursday 22 September 2011.

More details at the website: click here

Friday, September 16, 2011

Michael Petrides and the Royal Society of Canada

Royal Society of Canada honours nine McGill researchers from Medicine, Law and Arts
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011
McGill Reporter
By Tamarah Feder

"The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) announced 78 new Fellows this week, including nine McGill researchers and scholars from the faculties of Medicine, Law and Arts. They join the over 100 current McGill-affiliated Fellows."

Read full article

Among the 78 is:

"Michael Petrides (Neuropsychology/Cognitive Neuroscience Unit) has provided us with new ways to conceptualize the role of the prefrontal cortex in cognitive processing and one of the most influential models of the anatomo-fuctional organization of the lateral frontal cortex. His discovery of the cytoarchitectonic homologue of Broca’s language are in the monkey is having a major impact on conceptions of the evolution of language circuitry in the primate brain."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Artistic Creativity and the Brain

The Charlie Rose Show's series on neuroscience is replaying right now the creativity episode - airing on Bloomberg.

The discussion between Richard Serra and Chuck Close is compelling.

Check it out, if not now then by streaming from the show's website.

Addendum: Show link: Charlie Rose Brain Series Episode Twelve: Creative Brain (originally aired in late October 2010).

Upcoming Event: TBI Conference (Bristol, 21-22 Sept 2011)

From the conference webpage:

Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) Brain Injury Conference 2011
Inspiring learning and innovation in brain injury rehabilitation
21-22 September 2011, The Bristol Marriott Hotel, Old Market, Bristol

"The 2011 conference from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust will look at the latest developments and strategies for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injury. This is the fourth in BIRT's series of biennial brain injury conferences.

"The first day's plenary sessions provide an opportunity to hear international speakers present their latest research and theories.

"Day two is devoted to symposia and practical 'hands on' workshops, enabling delegates to participate in debate, discussion, learn new techniques and share good practice."

Conference webpage: Click here

Human Functional Brain Imaging

The Wellcome Trust has just made available an overview of the work it has supported in the area of functional brain imaging.

Portfollo Review: Human Functional Brain Imaging 1990-2009
06 September 2011
(A review of research supported by The Wellcome Trust)

Report in .pdf
Press release

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Upcoming Event: Allen Institute (04-05 Oct 2011, Seattle)

2011 Annual Symposium:
Open Questions in Neuroscience

October 4-5, 2011

Seattle, WA

"The second annual symposium, Open Questions in Neuroscience, offers a thought-provoking program that addresses key areas of neuroscience and looks to the future of the field. Bringing together a diverse group of leading scientists, the meeting will feature a mixture of talks and discussion to inspire innovative thinking and engage participants in exploring compelling avenues for advancing brain research." - from the webpage

Visit the conference webpage

Friday, September 02, 2011

Frontal Lobes and Executive Function

The new ( September ) issue of JINS has a short review by Don Stuss on the topic of some of his recent research findings about the functions of the frontal lobes.

"Autobiographer": Theatre Production on Alzheimer's Theme

New show, ‘Autobiographer’, to tour the UK and Ireland this autumn
02 September 2011

From the website:

"A new production from award-winning theatre artist Melanie Wilson begins a tour of the UK and Ireland this autumn. Part sound installation, part theatre performance, ‘Autobiographer’ reveals a curious and evocative portrait of a life refracted through the lens of dementia.

"Autobiographer is about memory: the memory of a 76-year-old woman, Flora. Flora has a dementia, but the piece is not about dementia itself - rather, it is about how she recalls her full and long life as her memories unravel and become unreliable. Voiced by multiple performers, four actors play the role of Flora at different ages, creating a multilayered portrayal of her life.

"With a lyrical text, immersive staging and an enigmatic and compelling performance style, Wilson uses space and sound to create a warm but disorientating experience that grips the audience in Flora's fractured memory."

Full Autobiographer announcement

"2401 Objects": - Patient H.M. Play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

2401 Objects

Social Media and Conferences

Once again, the Society for Neuroscience is preparing to lead the field in the use of tweets, blog entries, YouTube, and related social media at their annual conference.

Go to the SfN Conference website for more information.

Watch for the hashtag #sfn11.