BrainBlog

BrainBlog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Zika Virus Infection: Basic Online Resources

Pan-American Health Organisation
Webpage

PubMed Search Results for "Zika Virus"
Search Results

ECDC
Webpage

WHO 21 October 2015
Article

Microcephaly -

NINDS Microcephaly Information Page
Basic Information Webpage

ECDC "Rapid Risk Assessment" on risk of microcephaly in Zika virus infection (24 Nov 2015)
pdf Paper

Monday, December 21, 2015

""Concussion' Lies" - From Slate

A good read from Slate about the movie, "Concussion":

Concussion Lies
by Daniel Engber
Slate
21 December 2015

Concussion Lies (link)

Don't mistake drama for truth, fiction for fact, excellent acting for documentary accuracy.

And, in the bigger picture, the loudness of an argument for the sound scientific basis of that argument.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

FDA Public Meeting on Computerized Cognitive Assessment

Public Workshop - Neurodiagnostics and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Medical Devices Workshop, November 19-20, 2015

Meeting homepage with links to agenda, background papers, and webcast streams from the meeting.

[snip]

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the following two-day public workshop entitled, “Neurodiagnostics and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Medical Devices Workshop.” The focus of the first day of the workshop will be cognitive assessment medical devices, which are intended to provide healthcare professionals with an evaluation of cognitive function through non-invasive measurements. The focus of the second day of the workshop will be non-invasive brain stimulation medical devices, which are medical devices that are intended to improve, affect, or otherwise modify the cognitive function of a normal individual (i.e., without a treatment objective) by means of non-invasive electrical or electromagnetic stimulation to the head. The purpose of this workshop is to obtain public input and feedback on scientific, clinical, and regulatory considerations associated with medical devices for assessing and influencing cognitive function."

[snip]

Friday, December 04, 2015

Dr. Otfried Spreen

Dr. Otfried Spreen died, aged 89, on the 29th of November.

A colleague, a mentor, a professor for so many of us in neuropsychology.

A true gentleman.

A true academic.

Our profession will miss him and his contributions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kerry deS. Hamsher, Ph.D., ABPP

Dr. Kerry Hamsher died on 23rd October, 2015.

Dr. Hamsher's commitment to neuropsychology as a science and as a profession was an ever-present one. His was an encyclopedic and sharp mind that could wrap itself around any clinical topic related to the central nervous system and behavior.

He was indefatiguable in his pursuit of best practices for the education and post-graduate training of neuropsychologists. He was an essential participant in the work of the Houston Conference and within the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN). His two-year fellowship program at the Neurology Department of the University of Wisconsin Medical School – Milwaukee Clinical Campus during the decade of the 1980s was to become a model of post-graduate training in neuropsychology.

A student of Dr. Arthur L. Benton, he was instrumental in the development of the Multilingual Aphasia Examination (MAE), the Facial Recognition Test (FRT), the Judgment of Line Orientation test (JLO), and the Presidents Test (PT). He was a co-author of the influential “Contributions to Neuropsychological Assessment: A Clinical Manual” with Dr. Benton and with several other neuropsychologists with whom he was colleagues during his time at the University of Iowa and afterwards.

Among the recognitions and awards he received over the years, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Career Award from International Neuropsychological Society (INS) in 2012. The announcement text for this award opened with this memorable introduction, “Convenimus ut homo liberalis et litterato summo cum ordine!" (We come to pay tribute to a gentleman and scholar of the highest caliber!)

Indeed.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

fMRI Course Coming to Coursera in October

The first part of a two-part course on the topic, Principles of fMRI, opens at Coursera in October.


Addendum: Opening day is Monday, the 12th of October.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Modern and Contemporary American Poetry" (ModPo) Opening Day - Join Us!

The Brain, within its Groove
Runs evenly--and true--
But let a Splinter swerve--
'Twere easier for You--

To put a Current back--
When Floods have slit the Hills--
And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves--
And trodden out the Mills--

-Emily Dickinson

In the world of MOOCs, few courses have shown the creativity of purpose and the dedicated following as has the course "Modern and Contemporary American Poetry" by Dr. Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of its wonderful Kelly Writers House. It opens today for its fourth offering

Few courses, in real life or online, have such a dedicated teacher as Al.

The course, part of Al's regular teaching at Penn in its English Department, has been presented in MOOC form at this time of year in 2012, 2013, and 2014 at Coursera. The ten-week course is back, opening today to thousands of students, myself included (fourth timer). Week after week, this likely remains the largest single collection of dedicated students reading and discussing the same poets and poems at any one time on the planet. And it remains intimate, lively, and interactive.

It is a wonderful experience. Neuroscientists need poetry! Join us

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

World Alzheimer Report 2015

Earlier today, the Alzheimer's Disease International group released its "World Alzheimer Report 2015" document.

It can be found at: Report.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The "Dissidents" Win The Ban, Psychologists Cause American Psychological Association (APA) to Ban its Support of Torture and Interrogation Participation

Friday, the 7th of August 2015, was the day the anti-torture reformers (The "Dissidents") won a victory that was a decade-long in the making.

Here is the approved resolution: document here.

Now, the devil will be in the details as the ban needs to be encoded and formalized. Stay vigilant. Regardless of whether or not you are a member of the APA (I am not), stay vigilant. But, enjoy and long remember the day when the membership won an important victory.

Psychologists Approve Ban on Role in National Security Interrogations
James Risen
The New York Times
07 August 2015

Read the article here.

Other media reports include Democracy Now! coverage and interviews and another excellent BuzzFeed piece.

[Photo by Anthony Risser, 15 June 2008, Philadelphia]

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA) - #APA2015

This is a "turning point" week for American psychology, with implications that are generational, rather than short-term. These are implications that directly impact the profession and science of psychology and the degree of trust that the public can have in psychology.

Will the APA as an entity say "no" to torture, say "no" to its increased militarization, and say "no" to this Obedience-To-Our-Authority approach to membership, especially members who disagree with the entity's 'party line'? Or will it say "yes" to a return to ethics, say "yes" to an embrace of "First, Do No Harm" approach to its services, and say "yes" to an end of its bullying of people who do not agree with them? We still do not know.

You can find the "Hoffman Report" here: click here

Wednesday was a pre-conference day of workshops and meetings for the APA, including a meeting of its Council of Representatives. The most detailed media coverage of that meeting was provided on BuzzFeed, written by journalist Peter Aldhous. It is essential reading. Here is the link: After Damning Torture Report, Psychology Fights For Its Soul.

Another essential read of the day comes from Todd Essig, writing for Forbes. Here is the link: Can You Still Trust Psychology After The Torture Scandal?

Still other essential reads come from Steven Reisner, S. Shaw, and Physicians for Human Rights:

Steven Reisner:

From Dr. Reisner

S. Shaw:

How Not to Suck: APA and Torture

Physicians for Human Rights:

PHR Urges Ban on Psychologists’ Participation in Interrogations: Toronto Meeting Provides Opportunity for Key Ethics Reforms

[Photo by Anthony Risser, 15 June 2008, Philadelphia]

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Tell The APA That Torture is Wrong And That They Need to Become Ethical Representatives of Psychology

Tell the American Psychological Association that torture is wrong, that they need to find a way to become ethical representatives of psychology and psychologists --- or they should just remove themselves from being a body that purports to represent American psychologists and psychology.


[Photo by Anthony Risser, 15 June 2008, Philadelphia]

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Alzheimer: Clinical Trials Day at the AAIC2015 Conference


Alzheimer's Association Press Release at 0700 hrs EDT on 22 July 2015.

- Longer-Term Analysis of Phase 3 Solanezumab (Lilly) Up to 3.5 Years
- Biomarker Results from Phase 3 Gantenerumab (Roche) Trial
- New Data from Aducanumab (Biogen) Phase 1b Study

Video released by the Alzheimer's Association:
Video from press briefing

Article in The Guardian:

Scientists find first drug that appears to slow Alzheimer's disease
Solanezumab blocks memory loss in patients with mild version of the disease, making it the first medicine ever to slow pace of damage to patients’ brains

Read the article here

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA): The View of the British Psychological Society


Here is a link to the statement: British Psychological Society statement on APA Hoffman Review

"We condemn and repudiate such practices and repeat our longstanding and principled stance that there is an overriding ethical responsibility on all psychologists and other healthcare professionals to protect and defend fundamental human rights."

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Hero Gets Her Due Public Acknowledgements: Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo, Torture Psychology, and the American Psychological Association (APA)

Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian has written a fine piece about a psychologist who tried and tried hard to defeat Torture Psychology and the complicity of the American Psychological Association (APA). In doing so, she had to experience a smear campaign by the powers of the American Psychological Association who were hell-bent on their path of complicity.

'A national hero': psychologist who warned of torture collusion gets her due
by Spencer Ackerman
The Guardian
13 July 2015

Read this fine article here

Dr. Arrigo was also interviewed earlier today on Democracy Now!

Here is additional information about Dr. Arrigo from her Coalition for Ethical Psychology website: Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo

MOOC: "Introduction to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"

Today is opening day for a new Coursera MOOC on the topics of systematic reviews and meta-analysis. The course is from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Here is an overview to the course:

Read Course Overview Here

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA): #TorturePsychology

I've been curating tweets about this using a hashtag I started using back in April: #TorturePsychology

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA): An Excellent Overview

An excellent overview written by Tom Bartlett in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Torture Psychology and the APA.

What a Bombshell Report Tells Us About the APA’s Abetting of Torture
by Tom Bartlett (@tebartl)
Chronicle of Higher Education
13 July 2015

Read the article here

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA)

Dr. John Grohol at his "PsychCentral" blog
11th July, 2015
Read the full blog entry

[snip]

"My Membership in the APA"

"While I’ve enjoyed the collegiality of having other like-minded psychologists to turn to over the years of maintaining my APA membership, this report has made it clear that the APA in its current form is an organization that has lost the plot.

"I feel that it is shameful that I’m a member of an organization that has stifled and dismissed dissent, while covering up its own unethical practices. If the APA were a professional of its own organization, it would have kicked itself out years ago for its unethical behavior and lies.

"In short, my APA membership is actually a liability now. I refuse to be a member in any organization that has spent so much time, effort and focus on defending its unethical practices than in doing much of anything to help my profession. I can no longer trust it to act responsibly and ethically, nor can I any longer trust anything the APA tells me (or the public).

"That’s why I’m resigning my APA membership."

[snip]

Thank you for these fine words, Dr. Grohol.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA)

One of the day's essential reads:

"Opening Comments of Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner to the American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors"
02 July 2015
Washington, DC

Read document here

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA)

An excellent Comment is free by Dr. Steven Miles, writing in The Guardian:

Psychologists' collusion with US torture limited our ability to decry it anywhere
Dr. Steven Miles
The Guardian
11 Jul 2015

Read article here

Torture Psychology and the American Psychological Association (APA)

Today's New York Times editorial:
Psychologists Who Greenlighted Torture
The New York Times

New York Times editorial

Friday, July 10, 2015

Torture Psychology: Another Disgusting Day in American Psychology

"Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds"
By James Risen
The New York Times
article

The public and all psychologists who opposed such work and who felt that the APA was not being forthcoming with truth and reality owe a huge thank you to brave journalist James Risen for the persistence and quality of his work in and of itself, but also in the face of APA's Nixonesque dismissal of his reporting.

Here is a .pdf of the report by the APA about America's Torture Psychology and the complicity and involvement of the American Psychological Association:

Report text (.pdf)

In addition to the NYT link, here is a link to The Guardian's article:

"US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 'collusion'"
by Spencer Ackerman
The Guardian

article

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

IBRO2015 in Rio is Underway

The 9th IBRO World Congress on Neuroscience is underway.

Here is the conference website, which is rich with information about the conference.

Twitter hashtag is #IBRO2015.

News from the World of Snake Oil

$150 million slap: Laguna Beach firms, parent company fined for false advertising of Procera AVH dietary supplement
The Orange County Register
6th July, 2015

Read full article here

[snip]

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a judgment of more than $150 million against distributors of dietary supplement Procera AVH for falsely advertising the product’s ability to restore memory loss and improve brain function, according to documents filed in Santa Ana’s federal courthouse.

The settlement, filed last Wednesday, acknowledges distributors violated sections of FTC rules that prohibit “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce.

Brain Research Labs (BRL) and its collaborators, 20/20 Brain Power Partners, 20/20 Brain Power Founders, and MedHealth Direct, all of which are based in Laguna Beach, were fined $91 million. Key View Labs, the Florida-based company that bought BRL in 2012, was fined $61 million.

A majority of each judgment will be suspended in lieu of $2.8 million escrow fund, according to the court documents. The commission will use some of money to repay consumers who bought the supplement, the documents stated.

Advertisements for Procera AVH, which included infomercials and direct mail ads, falsely claimed the pills could reverse 10 to 15 years of age-related mental decline and memory loss as well as improve concentration, focus, mental clarity and mood.

“If you have ever dreamed of travelling back in time, this drug-free compound may be the next best thing,” read a print ad for the supplement, one of seven advertisements submitted as evidence in court. “Just like a good pair of glasses can make blurry vision sharp and crystal clear, Procera AVH can do the same thing for your brain!”

These and other claims are false and unfounded, the FTC stated in its complaint.

[snip]

Enjoy a little thematic music:

"Snake Oil" by Steve Earle

https://youtu.be/cqk5of8LgLE

Monday, July 06, 2015

Alzheimer's: California Lawsuit Involving UCSD, USC, and the ADCS


"UC San Diego sues USC and scientist, alleging conspiracy to take funding, data"
Los Angeles Times
06 July 2015

article


The complaint filing:

pdf of the complaint

Friday, July 03, 2015

The 5th INS/ASSBI Pacific Rim Conference Underway

The 5th INS/ASSBI Pacific Rim Neuropsychology Conference is underway.

Here is the conference homepage.

Follow the action on Twitter at the hashtag #insassbi2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: The Wernicke Conundrum and Primary Progressive Aphasia

M-Marsel Mesulam, Cynthia K. Thompson, Sandra Weintraub, and Emily J. Rogalski (2015). The Wernicke conundrum and the anatomy of language comprehension in primary progressive aphasia. Brain. [Published online June 25 2015 doi:10.1093/brain/awv154]

Wernicke’s aphasia is characterized by severe word and sentence comprehension impairments. The location of the underlying lesion site, known as Wernicke’s area, remains controversial. Questions related to this controversy were addressed in 72 patients with primary progressive aphasia who collectively displayed a wide spectrum of cortical atrophy sites and language impairment patterns. Clinico-anatomical correlations were explored at the individual and group levels. These analyses showed that neuronal loss in temporoparietal areas, traditionally included within Wernicke’s area, leave single word comprehension intact and cause inconsistent impairments of sentence comprehension. The most severe sentence comprehension impairments were associated with a heterogeneous set of cortical atrophy sites variably encompassing temporoparietal components of Wernicke’s area, Broca’s area, and dorsal premotor cortex. Severe comprehension impairments for single words, on the other hand, were invariably associated with peak atrophy sites in the left temporal pole and adjacent anterior temporal cortex, a pattern of atrophy that left sentence comprehension intact. These results show that the neural substrates of word and sentence comprehension are dissociable and that a circumscribed cortical area equally critical for word and sentence comprehension is unlikely to exist anywhere in the cerebral cortex. Reports of combined word and sentence comprehension impairments in Wernicke’s aphasia come almost exclusively from patients with cerebrovascular accidents where brain damage extends into subcortical white matter. The syndrome of Wernicke’s aphasia is thus likely to reflect damage not only to the cerebral cortex but also to underlying axonal pathways, leading to strategic cortico-cortical disconnections within the language network. The results of this investigation further reinforce the conclusion that the left anterior temporal lobe, a region ignored by classic aphasiology, needs to be inserted into the language network with a critical role in the multisynaptic hierarchy underlying word comprehension and object naming.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sadly, Torture Psychology, Pt. 2

The day ends with the American Psychological Association (APA) appearing content to issue a press release which bears commonality with any Richard Nixon statement during the depths of the Watergate crime and cover-up --- more so than anything relating to a statement by an organization that currently represents tens of thousands of psychologists.

Another shameful day for psychology in the eyes of the world.

Sadly, Torture Psychology

Report Says American Psychological Association Collaborated on Torture Justification
by James Risen
The New York Times
30 April 2015

Link to article

The text of the report

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Edition of Kolb and Whishaw

For those interested in Kolb and Whishaw's textbook, there is a new (Seventh) edition available, with a 2015 publication date:

Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology by Kolb and Whishaw

Cantab Bursary Award

A FYI link for undergraduate and graduate students seeking to do a small neuroscience/neuropsychology relevant research project:

Cantab Bursary Award

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Real and Fictive Outcomes

Fischer, A.G. & Ullsperger, M. (2013). Real and fictive outcomes are processed differently but converge on a common adaptive mechanism. Neuron, 79, 1243-1255. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.006.

The ability to learn not only from experienced but also from merely fictive outcomes without direct rewarding or punishing consequences should improve learning and resulting value-guided choice. Using an instrumental learning task in combination with multiple single-trial regression of predictions derived from a computational reinforcement-learning model on human EEG, we found an early temporospatial double dissociation in the processing of fictive and real feedback. Thereafter, real and fictive feedback processing converged at a common final path, reflected in parietal EEG activity that was predictive of future choices. In the choice phase, similar parietal EEG activity related to certainty of the impending response was predictive for the decision on the next trial as well. These parietal EEG effects may reflect a common adaptive cortical mechanism of updating or strengthening of stimulus values by integrating outcomes, learning rate, and certainty, which is active during both decision making and evaluation. Neuronal processing of real (rewarding, punishing) and fictive action outcomes (which would have happened had one acted differently) differs for 400 ms and then converges on a common adaptive mechanism driving future decision making and learning.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 24050408 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Shell Shock"

From the British Psychological Society:

A lecture from October 2014 by Prof. Edgar Jones on the topic, "Shell Shock: The First World War and the Origins of Psychological Medicine"

Watch the lecture here.

This is a very informative historical presentation about the topic.

Alzheimer's Disease: Julianne Moore on Preparing for Her Role in "Still Alice"

BBC Front Row's interview with Julianne Moore included a description of how she prepared for her role as Alice:

Listen here

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Language: Redefining the Role of Broca's Area?

This reference (with free-access .pdf) has been getting some media attention this week and is a good read:

Flinker, A. et al. (2015). Redefining the role of Broca's area in speech. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1414491112

article pdf

The authors report one of their findings that when the motor cortex is activated during spoken responses, Broca’s area is "surprisingly silent". They provide additional information about activity of Broca's area - relative to motor cortex - depending upon the novelty of what is spoken.

The study used electrical recording from the cortical surface in a sample of seven participants who were to undergo neurosurgical treatment for refractory epilepsy.

The authors note that results were consistent to the presentation of patients with cortical lesions that are limited to Broca’s - it is typical for this presentation not to cause a Broca’s aphasia but to result in an acute, transient mutism.

The authors conclude that Broca's area might not be the historically defined 'seat of articulation' but may be "a key node" in the transformation of neural information as it is processed within comprehensive networks essential for speech production.

Please read the paper itself to get a full understanding of the methodology, results, and implications of this study.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Teaching Social Psychology

I am teaching a course in Social Psychology this term for the MSc online program where I have an affiliation. Although social neuroscience has had quite the growth over the past decade and we all get experience in the neurobehavioral syndromes resulting from certain types of brain disease and damage, the course has been a good reminder to me that just about any graduate student in psychology and in neuropsychology would benefit by a good course in core social psychological principles as it relates to normal behavior by mentally and neurologically healthy adults.

OBIT: Dr. Karl Pribram

Here is the obituary for Dr. Pribram, which appeared on his website recently: Dr. Karl Pribram