Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


From the BBC:

Understanding the brain on dance
27 February 2012 Last updated at 23:29 ET

"How does the brain perceive and interpret beautiful movement?

"This is one of the key questions being asked by scientists at Bangor University who have enlisted the help of a professional dancer in their quest to better understand how our brains process movement and how we learn by observation.

"Dr Emily Cross' research focuses on the relatively new field of science called neuroaesthetics which looks at how the brain perceives artistic endeavours."

Read the full article

Upcoming Event: Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar (Cambridge, 20 March 2012)

The 24th Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar:

Translational Neuroscience
For full information, click here.

New Nature Neuropod

The February edition of Neuropod presented by Kerri Smith is up and is a great listen today. Listen to or download the edition and enjoy features about the connectome, thoughts on just how many neurons are present in the average human brain, and "The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey."

Just where did that number of 100 billion come from?

One number is sure: it is the 50th episode of this popular podcast. Congrats!


Homepage and link to podcast

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can Science Ever Explain Consciousness?

The Guardian's Science Weekly podcast for this week examines consciousness.
"On 7 March at the Royal Institution in London, Science Weekly presenter Alok Jha will host a debate entitled Consciousness: The Hard Problem?

"To discuss this slippery subject ahead of the debate Alok brought the three leading researchers and thinkers who will be participating into the Science Weekly studio: Professor Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at Sussex University; Professor Chris Frith, professor emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; and Dr Barry Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study at Birkbeck, University of London."
Read the full article and listen to the podcast

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Obit: Dr. Ulric Neisser

Ulric Neisser Is Dead at 83; Reshaped Study of the Mind
The New York Times
Published: February 25, 2012

"Mr. Neisser helped lead a postwar revolution in the study of the human mind by advancing the understanding of mental processes like perception and memory."

Read the full obituary

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Charlie Rose: The Brain Series (Series 2)

The Charlie Rose show is airing episodes from Series 2 of its "Brain Series."

Series 2 is a series of episodes that deal with brain disorders.

Home page

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Assessment

Effects of Practice on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV Across 3- and 6-Month Intervals
Clinical Neuropsychologist. 2012 Feb 21;
Estevis E, Basso MR, Combs D


A total of 54 participants (age M = 20.9; education M = 14.9; initial Full Scale IQ M = 111.6) were administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) at baseline and again either 3 or 6 months later. Scores on the Full Scale IQ, Verbal Comprehension, Working Memory, Perceptual Reasoning, Processing Speed, and General Ability Indices improved approximately 7, 5, 4, 5, 9, and 6 points, respectively, and increases were similar regardless of whether the re-examination occurred over 3- or 6-month intervals. Reliable change indices (RCI) were computed using the simple difference and bivariate regression methods, providing estimated base rates of change across time. The regression method provided more accurate estimates of reliable change than did the simple difference between baseline and follow-up scores. These findings suggest that prior exposure to the WAIS-IV results in significant score increments. These gains reflect practice effects instead of genuine intellectual changes, which may lead to errors in clinical judgment.

PMID: 22353021 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Monday, February 20, 2012


From Business Wire:

neuGRID, the European Online Diagnosis Tool for Alzheimer’s, Goes Global with outGRID and the ITU
20 February 2012

"neuGRID, a cloud-computing infrastructure funded by the European Commission that stores and analyses a vast database of 3D brain scans, is now expanding globally to help find treatments for Alzheimer’s. This ground-breaking initiative will help develop a global online system to centralise and boost Alzheimer’s research initiatives."

Read full article

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: "Chemo-Brain"

Impaired Cognitive Function and Hippocampal Neurogenesis Following Cancer Chemotherapy
Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Feb 14;
Christie LA, Acharya MM, Parihar VK, Nguyen A, Martirosian V, Limoli CL


PURPOSE: A substantial proportion of breast cancer survivors report significant, long-lasting impairments in cognitive function, often referred to as "chemobrain." Advances in detection and treatment mean that many more patients are surviving long-term following diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. Thus, it is important to define the types, extent and persistence of cognitive impairments following treatment with cytotoxic cancer drugs. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We examined the effects of chronic treatment with two agents commonly used in breast cancer patients, cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin (Adriamycin). Athymic nude rats were given 50mg/kg cyclophosphamide, 2mg/kg doxorubicin or saline injections once per week for 4 weeks. A novel place recognition task and contextual and cued fear conditioning were employed to characterize learning and memory ability. Immunofluorescence staining for immature and mature neurons and activated microglia was used to assess changes in neurogenesis and neuroinflammation.RESULTS: Cyclophosphamide- and doxorubicin-treated rats showed significantly impaired performance on the novel place recognition task and the contextual fear conditioning task compared to untreated controls, suggesting disrupted hippocampal-based memory function. Chemotherapy-treated animals showed a significant decline in neurogenesis (80 to 90% drop in BrdU labeled cells expressing NeuN). Activated microglia (ED1 positive) were found after cyclophosphamide, but not doxorubicin treatment.CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that chronic treatment with either of two commonly-used chemotherapeutic agents impairs cognitive ability, and suggest that strategies to prevent or repair disrupted hippocampal neurogenesis may be effective in ameliorating this serious side effect in cancer survivors.

PMID: 22338017 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Amyloid Beta

Intraneuronally Injected Amyloid Beta Inhibits Long-Term Potentiation In Rat Hippocampal Slices
J Neurophysiol. 2012 Feb 15;
Nomura I, Takechi H, Kato N


Extracellular accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has been reported that extracellular perfusion of Aβ inhibits long-term potentiation (LTP), which is strongly related to memory in animal models. However, it has recently been proposed that intracellular Aβ may be the first pathological change to occur in AD. Here, we have investigated the effect on LTP of intracellular injection of Aβ (Aβ(1-40), Aβ(1-42)) into hippocampal pyramidal cells using patch clamp technique. We found that injection of 1 nM Aβ(1-42) completely blocked LTP and extracellular perfusion of a p38 MAPK inhibitor or a metabotropic glutamate receptor blocker reversed these blocking effects on LTP. Furthermore, we have examined the effects of different concentrations of Aβ(1-40) and Aβ(1-42) on LTP and showed that Aβ(1-40) required a 1000-fold higher concentration to attenuate LTP than 1 nM Aβ(1-42). These results indicate that LTP is impaired by Aβ injected into genetically wild-type neurons in the sliced hippocampus, suggesting an acute action of intracellular Aβ on the intracellular LTP-inducing machinery.

PMID: 22338026 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Social Media as Science Facilitator

A good read from the Dana Foundation Blog:

Social Media as Science Facilitator
Dana Foundation Blog
17 February 2012

Social media creates a new culture surrounding science.

Read the blog post

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dr. Kerry Hamsher

Congratulations to Dr. Kerry Hamsher for Distinguished Career Award from International Neuropsychological Society (INS)!

Ceremony takes place tomorrow evening, during the first day of this year's Annual Meeting.


Novelty Seeking

From today's New York Times:

What’s New? Exuberance for Novelty Has Benefits
Published: February 13, 2012

"Novelty-seeking, a personality trait long associated with trouble, turns out to be one of the crucial predictors of emotional and physical well-being."

Read the full article

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alzheimer Disease: Discussions about Bexarotene

Discussions about Targretin (bexarotene):

From The Wall Street Journal:
Alzheimer's Families Clamor for Drug
By Shirley S. Wang
11 February 2012
Read the article

From the In The Pipeline blog:
Bexarotene for Alzheimer's
13 February 2012
Read the blog posting

Amnesia and Cinema

From The Guardian's website, with a podcast to follow:

Memory and amnesia in the movies
by Mo Castandi
13 February 2012
Read the full article

Pain Research

From the NIH:

Members of new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee announced
13 February 2012


"The committee will work to identify critical gaps in basic and clinical research on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of pain and will recommend federal research programs in these areas. The focus will be to coordinate pain research activities across the federal government with the goals of stimulating pain research collaboration, fully leveraging the government resources dedicated to supporting pain research, and providing an important avenue for public involvement. The committee will explore public-private partnerships to broaden collaborative, cross-cutting research and consider best practices in disseminating information about pain to public and professional audiences."


Read the full press release

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Memory Formation

Visualizing long-term memory formation in two neurons of the Drosophila brain
Science. 2012 Feb 10;335(6069):678-85
Chen CC, Wu JK, Lin HW, Pai TP, Fu TF, Wu CL, Tully T, Chiang AS


Long-term memory (LTM) depends on the synthesis of new proteins. Using a temperature-sensitive ribosome-inactivating toxin to acutely inhibit protein synthesis, we screened individual neurons making new proteins after olfactory associative conditioning in Drosophila. Surprisingly, LTM was impaired after inhibiting protein synthesis in two dorsal-anterior-lateral (DAL) neurons but not in the mushroom body (MB), which is considered the adult learning and memory center. Using a photoconvertible fluorescent protein KAEDE to report de novo protein synthesis, we have directly visualized cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) response element-binding protein (CREB)-dependent transcriptional activation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II and period genes in the DAL neurons after spaced but not massed training. Memory retention was impaired by blocking neural output in DAL during retrieval but not during acquisition or consolidation. These findings suggest an extra-MB memory circuit in Drosophila: LTM consolidation (MB to DAL), storage (DAL), and retrieval (DAL to MB).

PMID: 22323813 [PubMed - in process]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Suicide Assessment

The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale: initial validity and internal consistency findings from three multisite studies with adolescents and adults.
American Journal of Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;168(12):1266-77.
Posner K, Brown GK, Stanley B, Brent DA, Yershova KV, Oquendo MA, Currier GW, Melvin GA, Greenhill L, Shen S, Mann JJ.


Research on suicide prevention and interventions requires a standard method for assessing both suicidal ideation and behavior to identify those at risk and to track treatment response. The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) was designed to quantify the severity of suicidal ideation and behavior. The authors examined the psychometric properties of the scale.

The C-SSRS's validity relative to other measures of suicidal ideation and behavior and the internal consistency of its intensity of ideation subscale were analyzed in three multisite studies: a treatment study of adolescent suicide attempters (N=124); a medication efficacy trial with depressed adolescents (N=312); and a study of adults presenting to an emergency department for psychiatric reasons (N=237).

The C-SSRS demonstrated good convergent and divergent validity with other multi-informant suicidal ideation and behavior scales and had high sensitivity and specificity for suicidal behavior classifications compared with another behavior scale and an independent suicide evaluation board. Both the ideation and behavior subscales were sensitive to change over time. The intensity of ideation subscale demonstrated moderate to strong internal consistency. In the adolescent suicide attempters study, worst-point lifetime suicidal ideation on the C-SSRS predicted suicide attempts during the study, whereas the Scale for Suicide Ideation did not. Participants with the two highest levels of ideation severity (intent or intent with plan) at baseline had higher odds for attempting suicide during the study.

These findings suggest that the C-SSRS is suitable for assessment of suicidal ideation and behavior in clinical and research settings.

Comment in
Am J Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;168(12):1233-4.

PMID: 22193671 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Friday, February 10, 2012


A curious website task:

Delirium (Acute Confusional State)

New nursing guidelines have been announced for dealing with Acute Confusional States by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

New AACN Practice Alert Outlines Protocols to Assess and Manage Delirium in Critically Ill Patients
Feb. 10, 2012, 8:30 a.m. EST
PR NewsWire press release

More information available at the AACN website: Here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Dr. Stanley Prusiner Joins Cleveland Clinic Scientific Advisory Board

Nobel winner joins Lou Ruvo Center
By Paul Harasim
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Feb. 3, 2012 | 6:42 p.m.
"Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Stanley Prusiner, who discovered a revolutionary new class of proteins that cause devastating brain diseases in both animals and humans, has become chairman of the scientific advisory board of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health."

Read the full article

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: MS and Cognitive Rehabilitation

A randomized controlled trial of a cognitive rehabilitation intervention for persons with multiple sclerosis
Clin Rehabil. 2012 Feb 2;
Stuifbergen AK, Becker H, Perez F, Morison J, Kullberg V, Todd A


Objective: To explore the feasibility and effects of a computer-assisted cognitive rehabilitation intervention - Memory, Attention, and Problem Solving Skills for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis (MAPSS-MS) - for persons with multiple sclerosis on cognitive performance, memory strategy use, self-efficacy for control of symptoms and neuropsychological competence in activities of daily living (ADL).Design: A randomized controlled single-blinded trial with treatment and wait list control groups.Setting: Southwestern United States.Subjects: Convenience sample of 61 persons (34 treatment, 27 wait list control) with multiple sclerosis (mean age 47.9 years, SD 8.8).Intervention: The eight-week MAPSS-MS intervention program included two components: (a) eight weekly group sessions focused on building efficacy for use of cognitive compensatory strategies and (b) a computer-assisted cognitive rehabilitation program with home-based training.Outcome measures: A neuropsychological battery of performance tests comprising the Minimal Assessment of Cognitive Function in Multiple Sclerosis (MACFIMS) and self-report instruments (use of memory strategies, self-efficacy for control of multiple sclerosis and neuropsychological competence in ADL) were completed at baseline, two months (after classes), and at five months.Results: Both groups improved significantly (P < 0.05) over time on most measures in the MACFIMS battery as well as the measures of strategy use and neuropsychological competence in ADL. There was a significant group-by-time interaction for scores on the measures of verbal memory and the use of compensatory strategies.Conclusions: The MAPSS-MS intervention was feasible and well-accepted by participants. Given the large relative increase in use of compensatory strategies by the intervention group, it holds promise for enhancing cognitive function in persons with multiple sclerosis.

PMID: 22301679 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]