Monday, October 31, 2005

Art Therapy in Dementia

From The New York Times:
The Pablo Picasso Alzheimer's Therapy
By RANDY KENNEDY
The New York Times
Published: October 30, 2005

SITTING the other day in front of Picasso's rapturous "Girl Before a Mirror" at the Museum of Modern Art, Rueben Rosen wore the dyspeptic look of a man with little love for modern art. But the reason he gave for disliking the painting was not one you might expect to hear from an 88-year-old former real estate broker.

Xanthe Alban-Davies discusses Picasso's "Girl Before a Mirror" with, from left, Rueben Rosen, Irene Brenton and Sheila Barnes at the Museum of Modern Art. "It's like he's trying to tell a story using words that don't exist," Mr. Rosen said.

"It's like he's trying to tell a story using words that don't exist," Mr. Rosen said finally of Picasso, fixing the painter's work with a critic's stare. "He knows what he means, but we don't."

This chasm of understanding is one that Mr. Rosen himself stares into every day. He has midstage Alzheimer's disease, as did the rest of the men and women who were sitting alongside him in a small semicircle at the museum, all of them staring up at the Picasso.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pandemic-Flu (H5N1, Avian Influenza, "Bird Flu") Educational References

Pandemic-Flu (H5N1, Avian Influenza, "Bird Flu") Educational References

Here is an updated version of the reference set that I will episodically post here:

Background and historical references:

Barry, John M. (2004). The great influenza. NY: Viking. [comment: A very readable account of what happened and why in the 1918 pandemic, with an emphasis on the political expediences and cronyism of the day and media complacency - along with accounts of the public-health leaders who needed to fight not only the virus, but politicians and newspaper editors in order to eke out ways of dealing with the virus. Also, a good description of how this type of influenza differs from the typical, yearly bouts of influenza that most all of us are aware of.]

Department of Health and Human Services (2004). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan [Executive Summary - Draft August 2004].

Garrett, L. (2005). The next pandemic? Foreign Affairs, July/August issue. Link

Gibbs, W.W. & Soares, C. (2005). Preparing for the pandemic. Scientific American, November issue. Link

National Intelligence Estimate (2000). The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States. (NIE 99-17D, January 2000). Link

Osterholm, M.T. (2005a). Preparing for the next pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 1839-1842. Link

Osterholm, M.T. (2005b). Preparing for the next pandemic. Foreign Affairs, July/August issue. Link

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Influenza 1918 (American Experience). Link [comment: Includes a transcript of the broadcast.]

Snacken, R., Kendal, A.P., Haaheim, L.R., & Wood, J.M. (1999). The next influenza pandemic: Lessons from Hong Kong, 1997. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 5(2). Link


Medical/clinical/public health references:

Australian Government Department of Health and Aging - Avian Influenza (also called Bird Flu): Link

CDC - Avian Influenza (Bird Flu): Link

CDC - Antiviral Agents for Influenza: Background Information for Clinicians (December 2003): Link

CIDRAP - Avian Influenza: Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Medical Surge Capacity and Capability Handbook (2004): Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Pandemic influenza: Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Pandemic Influenza Tabletop Exercise Package: Link

ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) Avian Influenza : Link

FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) - Animal Health: Avian Influenza: Link

Gani R, Hughes H, Fleming D, Griffin T, Medlock J, Leach S. (2005). Potential impact of antiviral drug use during influenza pandemic. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11, 1355-1361. Link

NIH NIAID DMID (National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases): Link

NIH NIAID DMID - Influenza page: Link

NIH NIAID DMID - Development of a Clinical Trial Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccines (22-23 September 2005): Link

OIE (Office International des Epizooties): Link

OIE: Preparation of the Joint WHO/OIE/FAO Conference to Mobilise Resources for Control of Avian Influenza in Animals and for Prevention of Pandemic Influenza in Humans Geneva (Switzerland), 7-9 November 2005 BASIC OIE DOCUMENTATION: Link

The Writing Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Human Influenza A/H5.
Avian Influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005; 353: 1374-1385.
Link

WHO - Avian Influenza: Assessing the pandemic risk (January 2005): Link

WHO - Avian Influenza Fact Sheet: Link

WHO - Responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat: Recommended strategic actions (02 September 2005): Link

WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan (2005). Link


Surveillance and tracking websites:

Avian Influenza Outbreak Maps: Link

European Union Documented Human Case Map [jpg updated on a regular basis]: Link

Eurosurveillance: Link

OIE Update on avian influenza in animals (Type H5): Link

ProMED-mail: Link

World Health Organization (WHO): Link


Medications:

FDA: Relenza: Link

FDA: Tamiflu: Link


Individual websites:

FluWiki: Link

H5N1 Blog: News and resources about Avian Flu: Link

A webpage from my own website: Infectious Disease Link [comment: I have not updated the page in over a year, but contains some educational and backgrounder general resources.]

The Coming Influenza Pandemic, a .pdf document written by a Georgia physician that you can download from the webpage cited below. Some of the self-care, home-care comments might be useful. Some of the contents might seem alarmist, unless taken with a "worst case" grain of salt -
Link

Wikipedia: Avian Influenza: Link

BBC: Bird Flu in Depth: Link

Flu Pandemic Preparedness Snowball by Peter M. Sandman (10 October 2005): Link

Pandemic Influenza Risk Communication: The Teachable Moment by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard (04 July 2005): Link

Wall Street Journal Avian Flu News Tracker: Link

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Anthony H. Risser | |
|

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Upcoming Event: NYC, 05 November 2005

From The City University of New York (CUNY) website:

Visual Art & the Brain: At the Interface of Art and Science
DATE - November 5, 2005

TIME - 10am-6pm

COLLEGE NAME - Graduate Center

ADDRESS - 365 Fifth Ave @ 34th St

PHONE - 212/817-8215

DESCRIPTION
"This conference will explore the nature of the science-art interface, the inspiration this interface provides to scientists and artists alike, and the impact of such interactions on areas of research and other human endeavors. The morning session will explore scientific perspectives: What is vision? How do we perceive art and why do we respond to it emotionally? The afternoon session will focus on the interface of art and science, and will feature discussions with artists and scientists on communicating the beauty and power of science as well as its social and ethical implications. This event is suitable for scientists interested in art, and artists interested in science. Please visit our website for further event details. "

ADMISSION - $60
~

The morning session is entitled, How Does the Brain See Art? and is chaired by Dr. Torsten Wiesel: President Emeritus, Rockefeller University and Nobel Laureate. Speakers include Drs. Margaret Livingstone, David Freedberg, and V. S. Ramachandran. One of the two afternoon sessions is entitled Cognitive and Practical Approaches to Creating Visual Expressions of Scientific Information and is chaired by Dr. Felice Frankel, director, Envisioning Science Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Neuropsychology Executive-Function Card Game?

Boing Boing posts today about a "geeky card game" that seems to call for a good dose of healthy frontal lobe functioning. The game is called "Set." Read the posting here.

(Another Boing Boing post today is about an online atlas of the monkey brain.)
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Monday, October 24, 2005

Predicting Alzheimer Disease: More Wish Than Reality

A core contemporary issue in the clinical neurology and neuropsychology of aging and dementia is discussed in an article in tomorrow's New York Times:

Predicting Alzheimer's Is More Wish Than Reality
By LAURIE TARKAN
The New York Times
Published: October 25, 2005

Read the article
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Business World: Synthetic Blood International, Inc. and Traumatic Brain Injury

From a company press release:
Synthetic Blood Announces Positive Results from Traumatic Brain Injury Preclinical Study

COSTA MESA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 24, 2005--Synthetic Blood International, Inc. (OTCBB:SYBD) today announced that study data suggest that its proprietary perfluorocarbon (PFC) blood substitute and therapeutic oxygen carrier Oxycyte(TM) improves cognitive recovery following traumatic brain injury in a fluid percussion injury model, a widely accepted rat model that simulates moderate head injury with prolonged cognitive deficits sustained in humans. Cognitive recovery was determined by performance in a standard water maze test. As announced previously, Synthetic Blood plans to initiate a Phase II proof-of-concept study to evaluate the safety and biological effects of Oxycyte in patients with traumatic brain injury.

In the study "Perfluorocarbon Emulsion Improves Cognitive Recovery Following Lateral Fluid Percussion Brain Injury in Rats," rats administered Oxycyte at 4.5ml/kg and 9.0ml/kg dose levels showed significantly better performance in the water maze test and had fewer dying neurons in the brain than control animals treated with a saline solution. Additionally, the group receiving Oxycyte at the higher dose maintained mean arterial blood pressure at a relatively higher level, which could indicate a further improvement in the cerebral blood flow after traumatic brain injury.
[ ... Read the full press release ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser
| |

Self-Awareness

The November 2005 issue of Scientific American includes an article by Carl Zimmer, The Neurobiology of the Self.

Update 26 October 2005 - Carl Zimmer has placed a link to a .pdf version of this article on his blog.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stem-Cell Research: Batten Disease

From sfgate.com:
Trials for stem-cell treatment of brain disease
Clinical testing set to begin on kids with fatal affliction
Cornelia Stolze, Carl T. Hall, Chronicle Staff Writers
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, October 21, 2005

Researchers in California are about to start the first FDA-sanctioned clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for a brain disease.

The trial will offer regulators one of their first opportunities to reveal what standards should apply for novel "regenerative medicine" experiments in human subjects. Special safety concerns include the long-term cancer-causing potential of stem cells and the risk that they may wire into the brain's circuitry improperly.

"A great deal of attention will be paid to the outcome of this trial," said Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, a neurologist and head of a stem cell program at UCSF, who is not involved in the new study. "It really represents the first trial of its kind. Regardless of the outcome, all of us interested in cell-based therapies will be watching what happens."

The study is sponsored by a small Palo Alto biotech company, Stem Cells Inc., to test the safety of injecting fetal-derived neural stem cells into the brains of children suffering from a rare and always fatal disorder known as Batten disease.

The condition afflicts about 2 to 4 of every 100,000 children born in the United States. Babies may appear normal at first, only to begin losing coordination and suffering seizures several months after birth. Eventually, children become blind, bedridden and unable to communicate before they die at an early age. No therapy is available to stop or even slow down the symptoms.

The problems are caused by a gene mutation, which leads to a lack of an enzyme needed for proper recycling of certain substances that otherwise can build up in the brain. The stem cells are intended to serve as delivery vehicles to get the missing enzyme where it's needed.

Two Stanford physicians -- Dr. Gregory Enns, an assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the biochemical genetics program at Stanford, and Dr. Stephen Huhn, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Packard Children's Hospital -- helped design the trial protocol. They intend to begin the first procedures sometime next year, if an internal review board at Stanford gives its consent.

Enns said families with Batten disease have little choice but to try a novel approach.

"This is an unremitting disease that is particularly tragic," he said. "Right now there is nothing we can do to stop the progression of this terrible disorder."
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Friday, October 21, 2005

Knowledge Management Software for Neuros

The Neurodudes have opened an interesting discussion on their blog about knowledge management software for neuroscientists: Neurodude post. Thanks for the good info!
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Parkinson Disease Update Live on C-SPAN Today

The Parkinson Disease event presented by the NIH, which I noted here earlier [BrainBlog post on 11 October 2005] was broadcast live today on C-SPAN: Advances in Parkinson's Disease.

Check the C-SPAN website for any reairing dates and times.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

In the Weeklies: Meeting of Minds

This week's issue of the British Medical Journal includes a news report about the Meeting of Minds project funded by the European Commission, "in which a group of 126 citizens from nine countries has been meeting over the last 18 months to consider the implications of developments in brain science."

Read the full article
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Game Brain: Memory and Dr. Aaron Nelson

From The Arizona Republic:
Fading memory
Forgetfulness and compensating for it are part of life
Mary Beth Faller
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Aaron P. Nelson and his family were driving on their vacation and were about 50 miles from their home in Massachusetts. They realized they had forgotten their child's beloved blanket, and drove back home to retrieve it. When they got home, they found that they had left a set of keys in the ignition of their other car - with the engine running.

That's a doozy of a memory lapse, and Nelson should know. He's the chief of neuropsychology in the division of cognitive and behavioral neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and also a professor at Harvard Medical School.

As a memory expert, he knows that even an embarrassing incident like that does not mean Alzheimer's disease is imminent. But many people worry about that when they start to forget things. Many of his patients, especially those in their 40s or 50s, were worried. So he wrote The Harvard Medical School Guide to Achieving Optimal Memory (McGraw-Hill, 2005, $14.95 paperback).

"This book is intended for those people in midlife and beyond who are looking for the answer to 'Is there something wrong?' " Nelson says. "So much of what people worry about turns out to be benign and quite manageable through different kinds of maneuvers."
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Monday, October 17, 2005

Imaging Technologies and Mental Disorders: Potential vs. Use?

From tomorrow's New York Times:
Can Brain Scans See Depression?
By BENEDICT CAREY
The New York Times
Published: October 18, 2005

They seem almost alive: snapshots of the living human brain.

Not long ago, scientists predicted that these images, produced by sophisticated brain-scanning techniques, would help cut through the mystery of mental illness , revealing clear brain abnormalities and allowing doctors to better diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders. And nearly every week, it seems, imaging researchers announce another finding, a potential key to understanding depression , attention deficit disorder, anxiety.

Yet for a variety of reasons, the hopes and claims for brain imaging in psychiatry have far outpaced the science, experts say.

After almost 30 years, researchers have not developed any standardized tool for diagnosing or treating psychiatric disorders based on imaging studies.
[ ... Read the full article. ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

"Map Shock"

Read an interview with Dr. Don Dansereau by Cliff Atkinson on the topic of what the cognitive psychologist terms "map shock."
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Anthony H. Risser | |

What's New in ...... Confabulation?

Sticking with the confabulation theme, here are some of the most recent publications on the topic:

Schnider A, Bonvallat J, Emond H, & Leemann B. Reality confusion in spontaneous confabulation. Neurology. 2005 Oct 11; 65(7): 1117-1119. PMID: 16217071 [PubMed - in process]

Fujii T, Suzuki M, Suzuki K, Ohtake H, Tsukiura T, & Miura R. Normal memory and no confabulation after extensive damage to the orbitofrontal cortex. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 2005 Sep; 76(9): 1309-1310. PMID: 16107380 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Moulin CJ, Conway MA, Thompson RG, James N, & Jones RW. Disordered memory awareness: recollective confabulation in two cases of persistent deja vecu. Neuropsychologia. 2005; 43(9): 1362-1378. PMID: 15949520 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Hecht-Nielsen R. Cogent confabulation. Neural Networks. 2005 Mar; 18(2): 111-115. Epub 2005 Jan 18. PMID: 15795109 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Nys GM, van Zandvoort MJ, Roks G, Kappelle LJ, de Kort PL, & de Haan EH. The role of executive functioning in spontaneous confabulation. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology. 2004 Dec; 17(4) :213-218. PMID: 15622017 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Nedjam Z, Devouche E, & Dalla Barba G. Confabulation, but not executive dysfunction discriminate AD from frontotemporal dementia. European Journal of Neurology. 2004 Nov; 11(11): 728-733. PMID: 15525293 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Turnbull OH, Berry H, & Evans CE. A positive emotional bias in confabulatory false beliefs about place. Brain and Cognition. 2004 Aug; 55(3): 490-494. PMID: 15223194 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Confabulation

Mind Hacks continues its good work of updating readers about its favorite radio show, Australia's All in the Mind.

This week, it blogs that the show was about the fascinating topic of confabulation. Their report includes links to the audiostream and the podcast for the show.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Saturday, October 15, 2005

In the Weeklies: Katrina and Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

The new, 13 October 2005 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine includes a series of free full-content-downloard perspective pieces on the health-care experience of Hurricane Katrina. It also includes a research article and an editorial commentary on a treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) in neonates. The research article is S. Shankaran et al. Whole-body hypothermia for neonates with hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy [Abstract].
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Webcast by Dr. Daniel Weinberger about COMT, Prefrontal Lobe, and Executive Function

According to an NIH press release, Dr. Daniel Weinberger will be speaking tomorrow on a live webcast on the topic, Complex Genetics in the Human Brain: Lessons from COMT, tomorrow from 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET at http://videocast.nih.gov.

The talk may be viewed live or at a later time. The NIH page streams via RealPlayer.

According to the press release:
"Weinberger will explain why such psychiatric genetics has proven to be a daunting challenge, using as an example the gene that codes for catecho-O-methyltransferase (COMT), the enzyme that breaks down the chemical messenger dopamine. A tiny variation in its sequence results in different versions of the gene. One leads to more efficient functioning of the prefrontal cortex, the other to less efficient prefrontal functioning and slightly increased risk for schizophrenia."
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Upcoming Event: Washington, D.C., 20 October 2005

A press release from the NIH:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
CONTACT: Margo Warren 301-496-5751

Science Reporters Briefing: New Advances in Parkinson’s Research and Treatment

What:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in partnership with the Parkinson’s community is bringing together a panel of leading physicians, scientists, and caregivers to provide an overview of the newest advances in Parkinson’s disease. Researchers will discuss genetic aspects of the disease, new approaches to therapeutics, and environmental and other factors that may impact onset of Parkinson’s. Panelists will discuss their work and respond to questions from the audience.

Why:
After Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s is the most common neurodegenerative disorder. There are an estimated 6.3 million people worldwide suffering from Parkinson's disease. Because of the aging world population, and given that the number of older Americans will more than double to 70 million by 2030, now is the time to begin gaining a better understanding of diseases, such as Parkinson’s, that have a significant impact on older adults.

Who:
Experts in Parkinson’s disease will make brief remarks. A session for questions and answers will follow each speaker.

- Story Landis, Ph.D., Director, NINDS
- J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Environmental Influences and Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
- Robert L. Nussbaum, M.D., National Human Genome Research Institute, Genetics of PD
- Peter T. Lansbury, Jr., Ph.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Drug Discovery for PD
- Clive Svendsen, M.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Future Therapeutic Approaches
- Monique Giroux, M.D., The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Caring for Patients with PD Across the Clinical Spectrum
- Morton Kondracke, Author of Saving Milly, Caregiver’s Perspective

When:
Thursday, October 20, 2005, 10:00 a.m. ET

Where:
The Dana Center 900 15th St, NW, Washington, DC

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Upcoming Event: Boston, 04 November 2005

On the 4th of November, the opening of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology takes place. A day-long celebration is scheduled.

According to the website:
"The McGovern Institute is conducting interdisciplinary research that combines and extends the results of recent breakthroughs in three major, interrelated areas: systems and computational neuroscience, imaging and cognitive neuroscience, and genetic and cellular neuroscience. Fundamental studies in genetics and cell biology, live measurement of brain physiology in humans and other animals performing cognitive tasks, and modeling of brain function using advanced tools in biocomputation and cognitive sciences -- such research will lay a foundation for a comprehensive description of the brain, including how it learns and communicates. "
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Pandemic-Flu (H5N1, Avian Influenza, "Bird Flu") Educational References

Here is an update of the references I posted last week during Pandemic Flu Awareness Week:

Background and historical references:

Barry, John M. (2004). The great influenza. NY: Viking. [comment: A very readable account of what happened and why in the 1918 pandemic, with an emphasis on the political expediences and cronyism of the day and media complacency - along with accounts of the public-health leaders who needed to fight not only the virus, but politicians and newspaper editors in order to eke out ways of dealing with the virus. Also, a good description of how this type of influenza differs from the typical, yearly bouts of influenza that most all of us are aware of.]

Department of Health and Human Services (2004). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan [Executive Summary - Draft August 2004].

Garrett, L. (2005). The next pandemic? Foreign Affairs, July/August issue. Link

National Intelligence Estimate (2000). The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States. (NIE 99-17D, January 2000). Link

Osterholm, M.T. (2005a). Preparing for the next pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 1839-1842. Link

Osterholm, M.T. (2005b). Preparing for the next pandemic. Foreign Affairs, July/August issue. Link

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Influenza 1918 (American Experience). Link [comment: Includes a transcript of the broadcast.]

Snacken, R., Kendal, A.P., Haaheim, L.R., & Wood, J.M. (1999). The next influenza pandemic: Lessons from Hong Kong, 1997. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 5(2). Link


Medical/clinical/public health references:

Australian Government Department of Health and Aging - Avian Influenza (also called Bird Flu): Link

CDC - Avian Influenza (Bird Flu): Link

CDC - Antiviral Agents for Influenza: Background Information for Clinicians (December 2003): Link

CIDRAP - Avian Influenza: Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Medical Surge Capacity and Capability Handbook (2004): Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Pandemic influenza: Link

Department of Health and Human Services - Pandemic Influenza Tabletop Exercise Package: Link

Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) - Animal Health: Avian Influenza: Link

Gani R, Hughes H, Fleming D, Griffin T, Medlock J, Leach S. (2005). Potential impact of antiviral drug use during influenza pandemic. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11, 1355-1361. Link

NIH NIAID DMID (National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases): Link

NIH NIAID DMID - Influenza page: Link

NIH NIAID DMID - Development of a Clinical Trial Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccines (22-23 September 2005): Link

The Writing Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Human Influenza A/H5.
Avian Influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005; 353: 1374-1385.
Link

WHO - Avian Influenza: Assessing the pandemic risk (January 2005): Link

WHO - Avian Influenza Fact Sheet: Link

WHO - Responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat: Recommended strategic actions (02 September 2005): Link

WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan (2005). Link


Surveillance and tracking websites:

Avian Influenza Outbreak Maps: Link

European Union Documented Human Case Map [jpg updated on a regular basis]: Link

ProMED-mail: Link

World Health Organization (WHO): Link


Individual websites:

FluWiki: Link

H5N1 Blog: News and resources about Avian Flu: Link

A webpage from my own website: Infectious Disease Link [comment: I have not updated the page in over a year, but contains some educational and backgrounder general resources.]

At the more "worst-case scenario" end of the spectrum is The Coming Influenza Pandemic, a .pdf document written by a Georgia physician that you can download from the webpage cited below. Some of the self-care, home-care comments might be useful. Some of the contents seem alarmist, unless taken with a "worst case" grain of salt -
Link

Flu Pandemic Preparedness Snowball by Peter M. Sandman (10 October 2005): Link

Pandemic Influenza Risk Communication: The Teachable Moment by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard (04 July 2005): Link
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Anthony H. Risser | |
|

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Cerebellum in the News

From the BBC:

Brain area 'more than just motor'
A brain area presumed to be involved only in co-ordinating movement also controls higher functions, such as vision, mounting evidence suggests.

[ ... Read the article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Sunday, October 09, 2005

In the Weeklies: Once Upon a Time ...

This week's British Medical Journal includes a short review of, definitely, the best recent book about mitochondria: Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane (published by Oxford University Press).
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Performance of Impermanence

An excellent piece in tomorrow's New York Times:
Memorizing Her Lines Is Out of the Question
By DAVID CARR
The New York Times
Published: October 9, 2005

THE first time I met Caris Corfman after her one-woman show at the Flea Theater, she looked - almost stared - into the very backs of my eyes as I told her how I enjoyed her performance. She was flattered and incredibly gracious.

The second time I met Ms. Corfman, she again stared and responded graciously. But she had no idea who I was. It was exactly five minutes later.

She can't remember. Ten years ago doctors detected a benign tumor in her brain. A series of four operations removed the tumor but damaged the part of the brain that regulates short-term memory. As a result, she not only forgets who she met five minutes ago, but she also can't remember if she took her medicine, if she ate, if she should go right or left or just stay put. The long-term memory remains, which is both a sad and a wonderful thing.

[snip]

She is direct about the loss: "No memory, no life; no memory, no career; no memory. No, it's not that tragic; I do have a life and at times it's quite a wondrous one, but damn it, it would be such a treat to remember it!"
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Friday, October 07, 2005

Clean Hands are Healthy Hands

Also from the CDC: Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.



Among other material, the page includes links to the "Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings - 2002". From the site: "The hand hygiene guidelines were developed by the CDC's Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), in collaboration with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). The hand hygiene guidelines are part of an overall CDC strategy to reduce infections in health care settings to promote patient safety."

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Concussion Took Kit for High School Coaches

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has put together a "tool kit" of material and resources for high school coaches called Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports, which is accessible at this link on the CDC website. The material includes content for students and their parents, too.

According to the CDC introductory webpage for the topic:
"Concussions can happen to any athlete—male or female—in any sport. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a blow or jolt to the head that can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. More than 300,000 people sustain sports- and recreation-related TBIs every year in this country. Coaches, athletic directors and trainers play a key role in helping to prevent concussion and in managing it properly if it occurs.

To reduce the number of this type of injury, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the support of partners and experts in the field, has developed a tool kit for coaches titled, Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports. This kit contains practical, easy-to-use information including a video and DVD featuring a young athlete disabled by concussion, a wallet card and clip board sticker for coaches, posters, fact sheets for parents and athletes in English and Spanish, and a CD-ROM with downloadable kit materials and additional concussion-related resources."

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Abstract of the Day: Neuropsychology Assessment & Executive Function

Busch RM, McBride A, Curtiss G, & Vanderploeg RD. The components of executive functioning in traumatic brain injury. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. 2005 Nov; 27(8): 1022-1032.

James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, Tampa, Florida, USA.

Theorists have proposed models of executive functioning, and functional neuroimaging and factor analytic studies have attempted to examine the components of executive functioning. These studies have arrived at different conclusions and many empirical studies are wrought with methodological confounds. The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the subcomponents of executive abilities while addressing some of the limitations common in previous studies. Neuropsychological test data were obtained from a sample of individuals with a history of TBI seen at one-year follow-up (n=104). Principal components factor analysis was conducted and yielded three factors that accounted for 52.7% of the variance. The first factor included higher-order executive functions with two components: self-generative behavior and cognitive flexibility/set shifting. The second factor appeared to represent mental control, particularly of ongoing working memory. The third factor consisted of memory errors, representing failure to inhibit reporting of inaccurate information. Although the results are not entirely consistent with any of the current theoretical models of executive function, they appear to be most consistent with the 1986 model of Stuss and Benson.

PMID: 16207623 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Jeff Hawkins & The Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience

A UC Berkeley Press Release:
Jeff Hawkins, computing pioneer, endows new center to develop model of brain
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations
06 October 2005

BERKELEY – Jeff Hawkins, creator of the first commercially successful handheld computer and author of the book "On Intelligence," has endowed a new research center at the University of California, Berkeley, to develop mathematical and computational models of how the brain works.

The founding of the new Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, which will operate within the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, is being celebrated this Friday, Oct. 7, with a day-long symposium at the campus's Faculty Club.
Read the full press release
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mirror Neurons

The cover story of the October 2005 issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor is one of several articles in the issue about mirror neurons: "The Mind's Mirror" by Lea Winerman.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Pandemic Flu Awareness Week

Here are some references that I would recommend for Pandemic Flu Awareness Week, which is promoted by the folks at FluWiki and which we are in the middle of right now:

Background and historical references:  

Barry, John M. (2004). The great influenza. NY: Viking. [comment: A very readable account of what happened and why in the 1918 pandemic, with an emphasis on the political expediencies and cronyism of the day and on the concurrent media complacency - along with accounts of the public-health leaders who needed to fight not only the virus, but politicians and newspaper editors, in order to eke out ways of dealing with the pandemic. Also, the book offeres a good description of how this type of influenza differs from the typical, yearly bouts of influenza that most all of us are aware of.]  

Department of Health and Human Services (2004). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan [Executive Summary - Draft August 2004].

Garrett, L. (2005). The next pandemic? Foreign Affairs,  July/August issue. link  

National Intelligence Estimate (2000). The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States. (NIE 99-17D, January 2000). Link

Osterholm, M.T. (2005a). Preparing for the next pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 1839-1842. Link  

Osterholm, M.T. (2005b). Preparing for the next pandemic. Foreign Affairs,  July/August issue. Link  

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Influenza 1918 (American Experience). Link [comment: Includes a transcript of the broadcast.]  

Snacken, R., Kendal, A.P., Haaheim, L.R., &  Wood, J.M. (1999). The next influenza pandemic: Lessons from Hong Kong, 1997. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 5(2).  Link  


Medical/clinical/public health references:  

Australian Government Department of Health and Aging Avian Influenza (also called Bird Flu) Link  

CDC Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Link  

Department of Health and Human Services. Medical Surge Capacity and Capability Handbook (2004): Link  

NIH NIAID DMID (National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) Link  

NIH NIAID DMID Influenza page: Link  

NIH NIAID DMID  Development of a Clinical Trial Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccines (22-23 September 2005). Link  

The Writing Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Human Influenza A/H5.
Avian Influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005; 353: 1374-1385.
Link  

WHO Avian Influenza: Assessing the pandemic risk (January 2005). Link 

WHO Avian Influenza Fact Sheet. Link

WHO Responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat: Recommended strategic actions (02 September 2005). Link

WHO global influenza preparedness plan (2005). Link  


Surveillance and tracking websites:  

Avian Influenza Outbreak Maps: Link  

European Union Documented Human Case Map [jpg updated on a regular basis]: Link  

ProMED: Link

World Health Organization (WHO): Link  


Individual websites:  

FluWiki: Link

H5N1 Blog: News and resources about Avian Flu: Link  

A webpage from my own website: Infectious Disease Link [comment: I have not updated the page in over a year and many links are dead ones, but does contains some educational and backgrounder general resources.]  

At the more "worst-case scenario" end of the spectrum is The Coming Influenza Pandemic, a .pdf booklet written by a Georgia physician that you can download from the webpage cited below. Some of the self-care, home-care comments might be useful. Some of the contents may seem alarmist, unless taken with the scenario's grain of salt and the physician's motivation to 'prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.'- Link  

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Anthony H. Risser | |
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Upcoming Event: Tampa, 19-22 October 2005

The 25th Annual Conference of the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) will be held in Tampa, Florida from the 19th of October through the 22th. The conference will take place at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. Information about the conference program and registration can be found at the NAN Conferences webpage.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Scientific American's Science & Technology Web Awards 2005

Congratulations to blogs The Loom by Carl Zimmer and Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford, Matt Webb, and Vaughan Bell and Harvard's website The Whole Brain Atlas for being three neuroscience-related sites among 25 scientific sites chosen for recognition by Scientific American.

Read the announcement

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Anthony H. Risser | |

Monday, October 03, 2005

O Password, O Password, Where Art Thou?

From The Scotsman:
Passwords add up to information overload for brain
FIONA MACGREGOR
The Scotsman
03 October 2005

INCREASING use of PIN numbers and passwords has left the average person struggling to remember at least 20 digits or characters on a daily basis.

With codes necessary to access e-mails and internet sites, pay for goods while shopping with chip and PIN cards, telephone banking, accessing voice mails and numerous other common activities, a new study by ICM found that one in five people has lost money, important data and even their job as a result of forgetting important pass details.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 adults, the average person now has to instantly recall 21 digits or characters from memory, but at least 40 per cent of people say they have forgotten codes at vital moments.

[snip]

Michael Saling, head of neuropsychology at Melbourne University, calls it "busy-line syndrome" and has reported that a growing number of those who can't keep up are seeking medical help.

He said: "It's a condition people develop when they have too much on their plate. They begin to forget details about their life.

"Passwords and PINs are prime candidates for being forgotten, when they are just arbitrary numbers and people can't relate them to anything."
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Obit: Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner

From The Cornell Daily Sun:
Father of Hum Ec Dies
September 27, 2005
By Melissa Korn
Sun Senior Editor

Urie Bronfenbrenner ’38, longtime Cornell professor, co-founder of Head Start and one of the world’s most renowned developmental psychologists, died in Ithaca Sunday of complications from diabetes. He was 88.

Bronfenbrenner was the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Human Development and Family Studies and of psychology. He retired in 1987.

A giant in the field of psychology, Bronfenbrenner is credited with creating the discipline of human ecology with his 1979 theory of “human bioecology.” This breakthrough forced sociologists, economists and psychologists to reconsider child development through a more holistic lens that considered community, race and other factors. The rise of human ecology led to the drastic revision of national and international child and family development programs.

Bronfenbrenner was described by long-time colleague Prof. Stephen Ceci, the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, as a “true master” and “someone peerless.”

Prof. Emeritus Henry Ricciuti, human development, a close friend of Bronfenbrenner, said, “His death is a major loss to his many friends and colleagues, as well as to the field of human development.”

In addition to his work on the role of community and other factors in child development, Bronfenbrenner published extensively on cross-cultural studies of family and child development. He was the author, co-author or editor of more than 300 articles and chapters and 14 books, including The State of Americans, The Ecology of Human Development and, most recently, Making Human Beings Human.

Bronfenbrenner was well regarded at Cornell not just for his research findings, but also because of his close connection to students and love of teaching.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
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Anthony H. Risser | |