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What Is Artificial Intelligence

A recent article by Peter Yordanov claims that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is nothing but misleading clickbait. This is a provocative way to state it, but he has a point, although I don’t think he expressed it well. Yordanov spends most of the article describing his understanding of human intelligence, partly by walking through the evolution […]

Clean Eating Antiscience

Eating “clean” is the latest fad diet pseudoscience. A recent article in The Guardian goes over the many aspects of this movement in great detail, and is worth a read. My only complaint is that the author, Bee Wilson, buys into misinformation about the medical profession and nutrition. Wilson claims that the medical profession was […]

A Parade of Scientific Mice

Recently I was reading a neuroscience paper and was struck by the cuteness of the two mice that formed part of Figure 1: So I decided to look further and collect a montage of scientific mice. All of these drawings are taken from peer-reviewed scientific papers. Show More Summary

Is Parkinson's A Prion Disease?

The Journal of Neuroscience recently featured a debate over the hypothesis that Parkinson's disease is, at least in some cases, caused by prions - misfolded proteins that spread from neuron to neuron. A prion is a protein that has taken...Show More Summary

Detrimental Effects of Bright Screens on Sleep Patterns

We often complain about people around us constantly being glued to their phone. Mobile technology is everywhere these days. When not on the go, we still tend to stare at computer screens both in the office and back at home. For many, this addiction to high-tech devices represents a way to be connected to friends […]

A Poor Marker of Truth

As a recent Atlantic article recounts, in the early 1800s steamed powered printing presses were making the distribution of information cheaper and faster. It didn’t take long for someone to figure out that this was an opportunity. In 1833 Benjamin Day (who was just 23 – the Zuckerberg of his age) founded the New York Sun. […]

Toxoplasma Gondii: Common Brain Parasite Behind Brain Disorders?

Most people have never heard of the brain parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. We tend to think that creatures of such kind belong to the realm of exotic tropical diseases affecting people somewhere in miasmatic swamps of equatorial jungles. However, toxoplasma infection is remarkably common: it is believed that one in every three persons around the […]

Another Antivaccine Retraction

Science only works when it works. In other words – science itself does not lead to an understanding of the universe unless that science is done correctly, rigorously, and honestly. This is a lot harder than I think is generally appreciated. In order to really reach firm scientific conclusions about any complex question we need […]

BROADEN Trial of DBS for Treatment-Resistant Depression No Better than Sham

Website for the BROADEN™ study, which was terminated by the sponsor. A multi-site, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for treatment-resistant depression has failed, according to a new article in Lancet Psychiatry. Show More Summary

Half the Matter in the Universe Just Found

By now most people are familiar with dark matter – that mysterious substance which has gravity but otherwise does not seem to interact with the normal matter with which we are most familiar. About 27% of the stuff (matter and energy) in the known universe is dark matter, 68% is dark energy, and only about […]

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

This aphorism has been around since about 1600, originating with Voltaire in French. I have found it to be a useful concept – not an iron-clad rule, but an excellent guiding principle. The perfect is the enemy of the good (sometimes “good enough”). What this means is that we should not be paralyzed into inaction […]

Can Deadly Zika Virus Cure Brain Cancer?

Not long ago, Zika virus was dominating headlines. A new infection was hardly ever heard about before then, yet is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America, causing disfiguration and microcephalia in new-born babies. Microcephalia is caused by severe delayed and abnormal development of the brain, resulting in the range of intellectual […]

"Happy Chemical" Discovered In Beer?

A curious flurry of headlines in praise of beer appeared this week: Beer really DOES make you happier! Key molecule boosts brain’s reward centre Drinking Beer Makes You Really Happy, Confirms Awesome New Study Drinking beer can makeShow More Summary

Excessive Porn Consumption Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction – Myth or Truth?

There’s a growing trend of healthy young men using medications like Viagra and Cialis, drugs intended for older men and those with health-related erectile dysfunction (ED). Many of these young men (unknowingly?) use these drugs to treat a condition that is psychological rather than physiological: porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PEID). Show More Summary

Unnecessary Medical Interventions

A recent JAMA article is an update on a systematic review of overused interventions in medicine. They list the top ten overused tests and treatments, meant to highlight this problem in medicine. They conclude: The body of empirical work continues to expand related to medical services that are provided for inappropriate or uncertain indications. Engaging […]

The Gun Debate Revisited

After every mass shooting there is a renewed debate and call for better gun control, and pushback from gun owners who say, “Now is not the time to get political,” and “There’s nothing we can do to stop gun violence, it’s the price of freedom.” Then precisely nothing happens until we get distracted by something […]

In and Out of the Abyss: Depression After Brain Surgery

Once again I was on the phone to my friend, sobbing. She’d put up with my tears every day since I left the hospital. Two or three daily meltdowns were the norm. Many of my tears were over things that would have merely irritated me before: misplaced scissors, dirty socks in the middle of the […]

Is It Time To "Redefine Statistical Significance"?

A new paper in Nature Human Behaviour has generated lots of debate. In Redefine Statistical Significance, authors Daniel J. Benjamin and colleagues suggest changing the convention that p-values below 0.05 are called 'significant'. Instead,...Show More Summary

Nobel in Medicine for Circadian Rhythm

Remember that time Sarah Palin said: “[tax] dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good — things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.” OK, she was actually referring to the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae, not the staple of genetics research, Drosophila melanogaster. The […]

New Fibromyalgia Treatment: Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy

Psychotherapy that encourages addressing emotional experiences related to trauma, conflict, and relationship problems has been found helpful for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia.In the randomized clinical trial at Wayne State University in Detroit, 230 adults with fibromyalgia received one of three treatments. Show More Summary

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