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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in spocksbrain's LiveJournal:

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Monday, January 1st, 2007
2:46 pm
Neuro Nerds Anonymous
Welcome. As a 1st year psychiatric resident entering neuropsychiatry, I am fascinated by subjects related to the mind-brain connection. I am always searching for individuals who are similarly inclined. This journal serves as a repository for interesting things I discover during my journey.

My burgeoning list of neuropsych links *last updated 2/10/06Collapse )

That is all for now. Live long and prosper.

Brain, n.: An apparatus with which we think that we think.
Mind, n.: A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain.

Ambrose Bierce
Friday, September 15th, 2006
11:08 pm
Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
3:51 pm
Wednesday, August 16th, 2006
5:54 am
Neuropsych Conditions: Stiff Person's Syndrome
Moersch-Woltmann Syndrome, otherwise known as Stiff Man's Syndrome (and now, as Stiff Person's Syndrome) is a rare neurological condition which causes progressive painful muscle rigidity which tends to spread outward from torso to lower limbs. Like a hypersensitive startle response, additional rigidity can be triggered by touch. SPS is thought to have an autoimmune origin, especially since it can co-occur with other autoimmune diseases like diabetes, pernicious anemia, and thyroiditis. The three recognized types of SPS are autoimmune (with high levels of GAD antibodies in the serum and CSF), paraneoplastic (with increased autoantibodies to amphiphysin), and idiopathic (no antibodies found). There is no cure for the disorder, but the goal of therapy is to suppress the autoimmune reaction while enhancing spinal cord inhibition.

SPS support group in the UK

Here are two stories of people suffering from this disorder.

Woman Fights Rare Neurological Disorder 8/06
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Utah News, 5/1999
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Monday, July 31st, 2006
7:10 pm
How Psychotherapy Changes the Brain
Here's a fascinating article from Molecular Psychiatry about functional imaging studies of the neurological effects of psychotherapy.

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Thursday, July 20th, 2006
6:28 pm
Treating Anorexia
Eating disorders, serious diseases most prevalent among females, can prove difficult to manage. From Medscape, here are some excerpts from a short interview with psychologist Nancy Berkman, where she discusses her Management of Eating Disorders report.

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Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
5:40 am
Marijuana: Retrospective perspective
Where we were just 2 years ago: A Scientific American summary on marijuana by researchers Nicoll and Alger in December 2004.

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Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
6:09 pm
Cognitive Experiments from IU
The Percepts and Concepts Laboratory at Indiana University would like to invite you to participate in our interactive, on-line group experiments. The games are entertaining and should be intriguing to those interested in cognitive science, psychology, etc. Read more...Collapse )
Monday, July 17th, 2006
4:35 am
Better Living Through Lobotomy
Psychosurgery.org is a website relating stories of individuals who underwent lobotomies. From the site's archives, here is a wry 2003 article about the history behind psychosurgery as viewed by the famous neurophysiologist Elliot Valenstein, author of Blaming the Brain, and The War of the Soups and Sparks: The Discovery of Neurotransmitters and the Dispute over How Nerves Communicate.

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Friday, March 3rd, 2006
5:38 am
Neuropsych Conditions: Autism cont.
Diagnosis and TreatmentsCollapse )</ The characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorders may or may not be apparent in infancy (18 to 24 months), but usually become obvious during early childhood (24 months to 6 years). As part of a well-baby/well-child visit, your child's doctor should do a "developmental screening" asking specific questions about your baby's progress. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five behaviors that signal further evaluation is warranted: Does not babble or coo by 12 months Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months Does not say single words by 16 months Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age. Having any of these five "red flags" does not mean your child has autism. But because the characteristics of the disorder vary so much, a child showing these behaviors should have further evaluations by a multidisciplinary team. This team may include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant, or other professionals knowledgeable about autism. (See Consulting with Professionals.) While there is no one behavioral or communications test that can detect autism, several screening instruments have been developed that are now being used in diagnosing autism: CARS rating system (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), developed by Eric Schopler in the early 1970s, is based on observed behavior. Using a 15-point scale, professionals evaluate a child's relationship to people, body use, adaptation to change, listening response, and verbal communication. The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) is used to screen for autism at 18 months of age. It was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen in the early 1990s to see if autism could be detected in children as young as 18 months. The screening tool uses a short questionnaire with two sections, one prepared by the parents, the other by the child's family doctor or pediatrician. The Autism Screening Questionnaire is a 40 item screening scale that has been used with children four and older to help evaluate communication skills and social functioning. The Screening Test for Autism in Two-Year Olds is being developed by Wendy Stone at Vanderbilt and uses direct observations to study behavioral features in children under two. She has identified three skills areas that seem to indicate autism - play, motor imitation, and joint attention. Whether you or your child's pediatrician is the first to suspect autism, your child will need to be referred to someone who specializes in diagnosing autism spectrum disorders. This may be a developmental pediatrician, a psychiatrist or psychologist, and other professionals that are better able to observe and test your child in specific areas. This multidisciplinary assessment team may include some or all of the following professionals (they may also be involved in treatment programs): Developmental pediatrician - Treats health problems of children with developmental delays or handicaps. Child psychiatrist - A medical doctor who may be involved in the initial diagnosis. He/she can also prescribe medication and provide help in behavior, emotional adjustment and social relationships). Clinical psychologist - Specializes in understanding the nature and impact of developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders. May perform psychological and assessment test, as well as help with behavior modification and social skills training. Occupational therapist - Focuses on practical, self-help skills that will aid in daily living such as dressing and eating. May also work on sensory integration, coordination of movement, and fine motor skills. Physical therapist - Helps to improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves to develop muscle strength, coordination and motor skills. Speech/language therapist - Involved in the improvement of communication skills, including speech and language. Social Worker - May provide counseling services or act as case manager helping to arrange services and treatments. It is important that parents and professionals work together for the child's benefit. While professionals will use their experience and training to make recommendations about your child's treatment options, you have unique knowledge about his/her needs and abilities that should be taken into account for a more individualized course of action. <b>
Thursday, March 2nd, 2006
5:36 am
Wednesday, March 1st, 2006
6:07 am
Thursday, February 16th, 2006
1:45 am
International Brain Bee
common_duck's post in neuroscience inspired me to look up The International Brain Bee. In honor of the upcoming Brain Awareness Week in March, The Society for Neuroscience sponsors a high school competition about neuroscience knowledge. The winner of the international bee gets $3,000, a trophy for the high school, and a summer fellowship working with a neurologist. A list of regional bee sites is here; turns out there's one right nearby in Farmington, Connecticut. I love some of the questions here. I wish this had been around when I was a closet neuro nerd in high school...

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2006
4:06 am
Treating Schizophrenia
From Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health: An interview about the future of treatment for schizophrenia with the prominent psychopharmacologist Dr. Herbert Meltzer. Dr. Meltzer was involved in discovering the atypical antipsychotic Clozaril (clozapine), and was part of the IPAP (International Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project) team that created the schizophrenia algorithm. His last talk at his alma mater, Cornell University, was in 1993; I missed it by one year. Darn.

One of the side effects Dr. Meltzer obliquely alludes to is hyperglycemia, or an increased risk of developing diabetes. This issue has been receiving some attention recently.

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2006
1:22 am
Migraine Art
Yes, I've been reading Oliver Sacks again.

Migraines are a multifaceted form of vascular headache. The severe unilateral throbbing pain is usually accompanied by nausea, photophobia, and sound/smell sensitivity. Those of us who suffer from migraines on a regular basis are probably already familiar with the concept of an aura, the symptoms which occur just before the onset of the headache. Interestingly, the term aura is also used in epilepsy, to describe the sensations prior to the onset of a seizure. My own auras consist of nausea, pinpoint light flashes, blurred vision, and a sudden onset of inexplicable lethargy. The zig-zag fortification lines viewed by many with migraines are a form of scintillating scotomata.

Though one dreads the pain which they herald, one may find that visual auras themselves can be very beautiful and quite distracting. The following website displays aura artwork by people who have migraines. The site also relates some background information on the history of migraine art, beginning with the famous Scivias by St. Hildegard of Bingen.


Background on Migraine ArtCollapse )
Monday, January 30th, 2006
11:55 pm
Euthanasia: The Dutch Experience
Once a month, Medscape sends medical updates to its members for the physicians to earn CME (continuing medical education) credits. The following review is a summary from The European Society of Intensive Care Medicine 18th Annual Congress.

Euthanasia: The Dutch Experience Antonios Liolios, MD

The topic of euthanasia always elicits strong reactions among practitioners. Several discussions and presentations at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine 18th Annual Congress examined the topic. Presenters began with a discussion of the evolution and definition of euthanasia. Specifically, as the human society evolved from a survival-oriented accumulation of primates to a higher, more complex form of human interaction, the ideals of caring, altruism, and compassion have emerged. Humans are the only species that consistently takes care of their sick, the very young or very old, or those simply incapable of self-care. These ideals have never been easy to apply. The productive part of the population bearing the burden of social care are, at times, reluctant to carry the extra weight, when resources are scarce.

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Sunday, January 15th, 2006
11:15 pm
Patient vs.Staff Perceptions of Restraints in Hospitals
In this Medscape article taken from Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Eila A. Sailas and Kristian Wahlbeck explore the differences between patient and nursing staff opinions on the effectiveness of restraints in inpatient psychiatric hospitals.

A widely cited review from 1992 estimates the prevalence of use of restraints across institutional settings at 0% to 66% of admissions. Despite concerns about the potential harm of such restraints, ethical objections, and the lack of systematic evidence supporting the efficacy of seclusion and restraint, the practice continues. More rigorous trials are needed to examine the efficacy of prevention programs and innovative methods to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion.
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Friday, January 13th, 2006
3:46 pm
Dossey's Day
Paraskevidekatriaphobia runs rampant today!

Current Mood: mischievous
Wednesday, October 12th, 2005
4:57 am
Dancing Numbers
Students Learn Better when Numbers Don't Talk and Dance
Catchy title, and somewhat counter-intuitive results for those who grew up with Sesame Street. Vladimir Sloutsky's research at Ohio State University's Center for Cognitive Science suggests that children do better learning abstract concepts like mathematics abstractly, rather than with concrete learning enhancement tools:

A real-life example of how concrete materials may be used inappropriately is a common tactic for teaching children about numbers and letters. Books and educational television shows often present letters or numbers with human features such as faces, which dance and talk.

“This suggests that knowledge presented in the more generic, abstract format helped students better learn the more perceptually rich, concrete format,” Sloutsky said. “If they learned the science portion without the benefit of learning the more abstract math portion first, they did not do as well.”

While some believe this makes the concepts more approachable, the authors believe Sloutsky said it simply confuses young children.

“Instead of learning that letters and numbers are symbols that can be used in many different ways, children in this example see them as very concrete examples of humans.”

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Friday, September 2nd, 2005
4:14 am
The Mental Health of Animals
From Mind Hacks comes this tidbit: a textbook in veterinary psychiatry by Franklin McMillan. Includes a chapter by Temple Grandin.

ContentsCollapse )
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