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.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

AAIC15: Alzheimer's Association International Conference (18-23 July 2015, Washington, DC)

The homepage for the AAIC15 conference: http://www.alz.org/aaic/ (includes attendee information, program, abstracts and more).

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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Alzheimer's: "The Last Day of Her Life" from The New York Times Sunday Magazine

"The Last Day of Her Life"
by Robin Marantz Henig
The New York Times Sunday Magazine
17 May 2015

Read the article here

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

Friday, March 06, 2015

Cognition Testing Aboard the International Space Station (ISS)

A NASA interview posted today:

Watch interview here.

A description of the testing protocol:

Read a description of the tests here

Read a Task Report here.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Brain Research Wins Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded for locating brain’s GPS
John O’Keefe, May-Britt and Edvard Moser found how the brain creates a map to enable us to navigate our environment
The Guardian
06 October 2014

Read article here