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Nurturing The Brain – Part 9, Blueberries

Astronauts on space missions can be exposed to radiation for long periods of time, which can pose significant dangers to their health. The fact that the administration of blueberry extract has been proposed as a preventive therapy to protect them from harmful radiation is a great indication of just how powerful these fruits might be. […]

Postdictive Illusion of Choice

Do we truly have free will? This is a vexing question, and as with the question of consciousness, there are complementary philosophical and neuroscientific approaches. Philosophy gives thoughtful possible answers given what we know, but neuroscience advances what we know. As I have discussed many times before, the totality of neuroscientific evidence strongly supports the […]

Underwhelming Cell Phone Rat Study

Mother Jones headline declares: “Game-Changing” Study Links Cellphone Radiation to Cancer.” NBCNews was similar: A Possible Cellphone Link to Cancer? A Rat Study Launches New Debate. Any evidence that might link cell phone use to cancer is of legitimate concern, but this is a classic situation in which such evidence needs to put into proper context. […]

A Tale of Two Science News Reports

One of the recurring themes of this blog, and of the skeptical movement itself, is that science news reporting is generally poor. It is highly variable – there are some excellent science news reporters out there, but most are mediocre and some are terrible. The problem is that the average quality is simply too low. […]

Compulsive Foreign Language Syndrome: Man Becomes Obsessed With Speaking Fake French

You may have seen headlines such as: Florida Man Woke Up In A Motel Room Speaking Only Swedish. Or: Englishman wakes up speaking Welsh after stroke (“Rare brain disorder left English-speaking Alun Morgan only able to communicate in Welsh”). Show More Summary

Foreign language syndrome: the Italian who became "French"

A curious case report from Italian neuropsychologists Nicoletta Beschin and colleagues: Compulsive foreign language syndrome: a clinical observation not a mystery The authors describe a 50 year old Italian man, JC, who turned into a 'caricature' of a Frenchman after a brain injury caused by a vascular anomaly. Show More Summary

Hans Eysenck’s contribution to cognitive behavioral therapy for physical health problems: fraudulent data

The centenary of the birth of Hans Eysenck is being marked by honoring his role in bringing clinical psychology to the UK and pioneering cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). There is largely silence about his publishing

A Resident’s Reflections from within the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology (ABPN)

Most residents have a very limited understanding of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), and understandably so. I myself thought of the ABPN as a large, bureaucratic, governmental organization that spent most of its time siphoning money from hapless residents in order to administer board certification examinations. I was therefore surprised, and a […]

Neurofeedback Therapy for The Management of Pain

Pain is a subjective feeling that can be influenced by sensory, affective, and cognitive factors. Chronic pain can have a widespread impact on overall brain function, and both cognitive and psychological factors play key roles in the development and management of pain. Patients with long-term pain often present structural and emotional impairments associated with cortical […]

OBIT: Dr. Suzanne Corkin

"Suzanne Corkin, Who Helped Pinpoint Nature of Memory, Dies at 79" The New York Times By Benedict Carey 27 May 2016 Obituary

A Recurring Sickness: Pathological Déjà Vu

Have you read this sentence before? Perhaps it feels strangely familiar? The experience of déjà vu is a common one, but in rare cases, it can become a disorder. In a fascinating new Cortex paper, French psychologists Julie Bertrand and colleagues discuss the phenomenon of pathological déjà vu. Bertrand et al. Show More Summary

What’s Killing the Bees

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that stated, “Save the Bees, Buy Organic.” Of course, a bumper sticker is not the place for a nuanced or thorough treatment of a complex topic. It is a venue suitable for simplistic slogans. People like simple narratives, but reality rarely conforms to our desires. This has lead to […]

Brainwaves – A New Type of Fingerprint?

Studying the electrical activity of the brain has revealed one amazing thing: our brainwaves are individualized and unique. Changes in brain activity under different mental states can be studied with a number of methods, and the information obtained can then be used to identify features of users. More specifically, recording of brain activity can be […]

Naturopaths Are Not Doctors

This is the title of a change.org petition started by former naturopath, Britt Hermes. Please take some time to read and hopefully sign it. Hermes has a significant insight into the state of naturopathic practice and education, since she was trained as a naturopath. She came to the conclusion that she was duped into a […]

How LSD Changes The Way Our Brains Work

In 1938, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann synthesized a derivative of alkaloid ergotamine, a natural compound found in a parasitic fungus called ergot. He had no way of knowing that as little as 20 micrograms of this substance would cause a psychedelic effect! Back in the first half of the 20th century, there were not many […]

Who Owns Your Genetic information?

A genetic testing company, Myriad, is embroiled in a controversy over who owns genetic information. The company performs genetic testing, such as for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes with variants that are associated with higher risk of breast cancer. It has been the company’s policy to release information to their clients on any pathological gene variants, […]

Grants in Fluxx

In my endless search for apt analogies to the grantsmanship game, I have a new one. Have you ever played the card game Fluxx? Its an incredibly awesome game in which the rules keep changing as you play. You think you have a winning strategy, are ready to win the next turn, and then someone […]

Pinpointing the Origins of Migraine in the Brain

Migraines are a very unpleasant variety of headaches, often associated with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia (aversion to light) and visual disturbances. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer regular...Show More Summary

Mindfulness May Be the Secret to Staying Healthy

Mindfulness is the act of paying attention – in an intentional and nonjudgmental way – to your own thoughts and feelings. Being more aware of your own self leads to reduced stress and increased positive emotions. But, it can also lead to better health. Not just emotional health and mental well-being, but physical health (measured […]

Skepticism and the Fallacy of Relative Privation

There has been a lively exchange surrounding John Horgan’s article about skeptics, which I responded to previously. (See also Orac’s and Daniel Loxton’s responses.) At the core of Horgan’s piece is a logical fallacy so common, I feel it deserves special attention. In fact, PZ Myers wrote approvingly of Horgan’s fallacy, showing that it is […]

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