A Recurring Sickness: Pathological Déjà Vu

By Neuroskeptic | May 28, 2016 8:34 am


Have you read this sentence before? Perhaps it feels strangely familiar? The experience of déjà vu is a common one, but in rare cases, it can become a disorder. In a fascinating new Cortex paper, French psychologists Julie Bertrand and colleagues discuss the phenomenon of pathological déjà vu.

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Pinpointing the Origins of Migraine in the Brain

By Neuroskeptic | May 22, 2016 4:51 am

Migraines are a very unpleasant variety of headaches, often associated with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, photophobia (aversion to light) and visual disturbances. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer regular migraines, but their brain basis remains largely unclear.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, papers, select, Top Posts

Does Memory Reconsolidation Exist?

By Neuroskeptic | May 19, 2016 6:29 am

A new PNAS paper casts doubt on an influential theory of memory.

The reconsolidation hypothesis holds that when a memory is recalled, its molecular trace in the brain becomes plastic, meaning that the memory has to be consolidated or ‘saved’ all over again in order for it to persist. In other words, remembering makes a memory vulnerable to being modified or erased. Reconsolidation has generated lots of research interest and even speculation that blocking reconsolidation could be used as a tool to ‘wipe’ memories.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: FixingScience, papers, select, Top Posts

Hyperthermia as an Antidepressant? (Updated)

By Neuroskeptic | May 15, 2016 7:07 am

Getting warm has a dramatic antidepressant effect, according to a new report published in the prestigious journal JAMA Psychiatry. But is it hot science or a hot mess?

The researchers, led by Clemens Janssen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied 29 people with depression who were not receiving any other treatments. Half were randomized to receive whole-body hyperthermia (WBH), using a setup which raised their core body temperature to 38.5 degrees (37 degrees is normal).

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The Neural Basis of Seeing God?

By Neuroskeptic | May 14, 2016 8:28 am

A remarkable case report describes the brain activity in a man at the moment that he underwent a revelatory experience.

According to the authors, Israeli researchers Arzy and Schurr, the man was 46 years old. He was Jewish, but he had never been especially religious. His supernatural experience occured in hospital where he was undergoing tests to help treat his right temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a condition which he had suffered from for forty years. As part of the testing procedure, the patient stopped taking his anticonvulsant medication. Here’s how the authors describe what happened:

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The Smell of the Cinema: Human Chemical Signals?

By Neuroskeptic | May 12, 2016 4:01 pm

The air in a cinema contains a chemical cocktail emitted by the audience – and the emotional tone of the movie influences the molecular composition of the cloud.

That’s according to a striking set of results from researchers Johnathan Williams and colleagues who took air samples from two 230-seater screens of a cinema in Germany over a period of two weeks.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: movies, papers, select, Top Posts

The Myth of the Brain

By Neuroskeptic | May 11, 2016 2:28 am

Can neuroscience really make us smarter, richer and sexier?

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Ketamine and Depression: A Breakthrough?

By Neuroskeptic | May 7, 2016 4:17 am

In recent years there has been great research interest in ketamine as an antidepressant. Ketamine, a drug better-known for its use as an anaesthetic (and a recreational drug in lower doses) is claimed to have powerful, rapid-acting antidepressant effects, even in depressed patients who have not responded to more conventional drugs. However, its mechanism of action remains unclear.

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fMRI and False Positives: A Basic Flaw?

By Neuroskeptic | May 5, 2016 1:11 pm

Over the past few years I’ve covered (1,2,3) the work of Anders Eklund, a Swedish researcher who has discovered a potentially serious flaw in software commonly used to analyse fMRI data.

Eklund has shown that popular parametric statistical analysis tools for fMRI are prone to false positives – they often ‘find’ brain activation even where it doesn’t exist. The issue affects the leading software packages such as FSL and SPM.

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“Neuroscience-Based Nomenclature” for Mental Health?

By Neuroskeptic | May 2, 2016 6:11 am

Psychiatric drugs come in many kinds: there are antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and more. But what all of these categories have in common is that they’re anti- something. This is how we classify these drugs – by what they treat.

Except there’s a problem – very few psychiatric drugs are only used to treat one thing. Take “antipsychotics”. They’re used in psychosis, but they’re also a key tool in the treatment of mania, a different disorder entirely. Many of these drugs are also used to help treat depression, aggression, and more. Plus, it’s not even clear that they treat psychosis per se – some people argue that they work by non-specifically suppressing or masking the symptoms.

So should we call them “antipsychotics” at all? If not, what are they?

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