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Spike activity 24-10-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A Victorian lunatic asylum begins to reveal its secrets. The Wellcome Library now has the first of many digitised asylum records online. Narratively has an excellent piece on legendary San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. The marketers latest fad – make it seem it’s a […]

A Rush of Blood to the Brain

An article from Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry that discusses the concept of ‘moral disability’ and brain trauma in Victorian times includes a fascinating section on what was presumably thought to be the science of ‘knocking some sense into the brain’. The piece is by medical historian Brandy Shillace who researches Victorian scientific ideas and how […]

The Many Interacting Worlds Hypothesis

Howard Wiseman, a theoretical quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and his colleagues have come up with an entirely new theory to explain the weird behavior of particles at the quantum level. The idea is that quantum effects result from classical universes interacting with each other. Classical physics is essentially the physics of [...]

Lockheed Martin’s Fusion Reactor

Since I recently covered the new claims being made for the E-cat cold fusion device (which, in my opinion, is almost certainly bogus), I found it interesting that Lockheed Martin recently produced details for their research into a hot fusion reactor. Their research team, called the Skunk Works, have been working on a new design [...]

Exercise Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Physical activity is a holistic strategy for increasing overall health and lowering disease risk among a wide range of individuals, and people with neurological conditions can benefit from them too. The benefits of physical activity for individuals with, or at risk of, dementia are not particularly well known to the general public. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) […]

Can Brain Imaging Detect Risk Takers?

Risk-taking seems to come naturally for some people – from those who don’t hesitate asking for a new promotion, to those who don’t flinch before artfully diving off a cliff into the ocean below. Others play it safer. While upbringing may have some role in our risk-taking probabilities, there are plenty of cases where siblings […]

Antifeminism – An Online Trend

Feminism isn’t necessary anymore. At least that’s the claim made by many proponents of a growing antifeminism movement. No longer is this movement the prerogative, as it has been historically, of backwards-looking males who have no wish to see the status quo reconstructed. In fact a recent trend rocking the Internet has seen many women […]

A Brain-Training Update

Can playing video games or specifically designed computer games improve your cognitive function? There are many companies who claim that they can and who would like to sell you such games that they claim are “scientifically designed.” So-called brain-training is a burgeoning business, with perhaps the best known product being Lumosity. Show More Summary

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Mid-Cingulate Cortex

What happens in the brain during a highly immersive reading experience? According to the fiction feeling hypothesis (Jacobs, 2014), narratives with highly emotional content cause a deeper sense of immersion by engaging the affective empathy network to a greater extent than neutral narratives. Show More Summary

Graphene Neuro-electrode

This news item combines two technologies that I have been eagerly following, graphene and brain-machine interface. Researchers have developed a 1-molecule thick graphene electrode that is transparent and can be used for high-resolution electrophysiological recordings of brain cell activity. Show More Summary

Comparing the 5 Theories of Emotion

Emotions seem to dominate many aspects of our lives. But what exactly are emotions? The word first appears in our language in the mid-16th century, adapted from the French word émouvoir, which literally means, “to stir up”. However, one can find precursors to the word emotion dating back to the earliest known recordings of language. When […]

Defending Sick Children

One of the most difficult issues that skeptical physicians face is dealing with children sick with cancer whose parents refuse standard therapy. These cases are always highly charged, because the stakes are extremely high. Obviously the stakes are highest for the child as their life is literally on the line. The stakes are also high [...]

The Science of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. In the Western world, acupuncture has been a highly controversial therapy, mostly due to the lack of scientific explanations for its mechanisms of action. Show More Summary

Life After Death – The Science of Near Death Experiences

For millennia, we have wondered what happens after death. This October 2014, scientists at Southampton University have published the largest ever study looking into what happens when patients return from death’s door. The outcomes seem to confirm the incredible – that consciousness continues on after you are considered clinically dead. Show More Summary

Brain Activity in Vegetative Patients

A vegetative state is a particular kind of coma in which patients appear to be awake but give no signs (by definition) of any awareness. They do not respond to their environment in any way or do anything purposeful. Some patients display a flicker of awareness, and they are categorized as minimally conscious. Neuroscientists have [...]

"Can Video Games Fend Off Mental Decline?"

An informative, good read: "Can Video Games Fend Off Mental Decline?" by Clive Thompson The New York Times Sunday Magazine 26 October 2014 read the full feature article here Website for Akili, mentioned in the piece: Akili

Dementia: Dosh for Docs to Diagnose Dementia - Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

Dumb, unethical, foolish, bad - NHS dementia plan to give GPs cash for diagnoses criticised as ‘ethical travesty’ NHS condemned as ‘odious’ after introducing scheme whereby GPs given £55 each time they identify the disease in a patient The Guardian 21 October 2014 Read the full article here

Brain Training: Scientific Commentary Statement

A Consensus on the Brain Training Industry from the Scientific Community Posted on the Stanford Center on Longevity website 20 October 2014 Read the statement here The authors and signatories may over-extend themselves in stating that they represent "the scientific community", but the points they raise are important to add to the conversation.

Ebola and Human Error

It has been fascinating, and a little scary, to watch the first ever Ebola epidemic from the comfort of my Connecticut environs – about as far from the epidemic as you can get. Two thoughts keep coming back to me. The first, as this epidemic progresses and the CDC and WHO keep advancing their predictions [...]

Lifting the Fog of Chemobrain

 Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating to get the word out about BrainHQ and how it can help people. Let’s take people experiencing “chemobrain” (cognitive losses resulting from chemotherapy) as an example. Clinical scientists have shown...Show More Summary

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