Deep brain stimulation for dementia

18 Apr

Science Daily has the details:

“Their research has shown that new brain cells, or neurons, can be formed by stimulating the front part of the brain which is involved in memory retention using minute amounts of electricity.
The increase in brain cells reduces anxiety and depression, and promotes improved learning, and boosts overall memory formation and retention.
The research findings open new opportunities for developing novel treatment solutions for patients suffering from memory loss due to dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s disease.”

You can find the original paper here. From the paper:

“Overall, these findings suggest that chronic ventromedial prefrontal cortex high-frequency stimulation may serve as a novel effective therapeutic target for dementia-related disorders.”



Psychedelic cures, a case for skepticism

17 Apr

Recently, I’ve posted about research on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs.  Keith Humphreys, at The Reality Based Community, makes a case for skepticism:

“Being skeptical about miracle cures is simply playing the odds. As my colleague John Ioannidis pointed out in one of the most-read papers in medical history, most medical research findings are wrong. This is particularly true of small studies, which are usually followed by larger studies that disconfirm the original miracle finding (Fish oil pills are a good example).”

I think this is good advice. My intuition tells me that psychedelics might have value, but I am prepared to change my mind, based on the emerging evidence.

Toynbee Tiles

16 Apr

Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing coined the useful phrase “hyperbolic bronnerian” to describe “crazy mushed up text with LOTS OF ALL CAPS! BOLD! I-T-A-L-I-C ! Nnnnnooooo negative space!” Such as the labels found on Dr. Bronner‘s magic soap.

One of the many examples of this type of writing is the phenomena of Toynbee tiles, found in many big cities. These tiles are strange messages, somehow, embedded into street asphalt. Here is an example:



Here is an article on Toynbee tiles in Cleveland:

“The story behind the tile is as odd as the message: it’s one of more than 500 so-called Toynbee tiles with similar wording found in the middle of streets between Boston and Buenos Aires since the early 1980s. No one knows for sure who made the tiles”


Blackbird attacks his own mirror image, video

16 Apr

Orange glasses for sleep

15 Apr

A couple of years ago I read on Seth Robert’s blog about the possibility that orange glasses might improve sleep. This week an article on the subject appeared in The New York Times.

“Studies have shown that such light, especially from the blue part of the spectrum, inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps people fall asleep. Options are growing for blocking blue light, though experts caution that few have been adequately tested for effectiveness and the best solution remains avoiding brightly lit electronics at night.”

Unlike some media sources the Times provides links to the original research.



Might be worth trying.

Richard Lewontin: some perspectives on the sociology of ecology

14 Apr


Lewontin’s observations of Gould are eye-opening.

Originally posted on neuroecology:

There’s an interesting interview with Richard Lewontin over at the Evolution Institute.

First, he slags off Steven J Gould a bit:

RL: Now I should warn you about my prejudices. Steve and I taught evolution together for years and in a sense we struggled in class constantly because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist. So he would exaggerate and even caricature certain features, which are true but not the way you want to present them. For example, punctuated equilibrium, one of his favorites. He would go to the blackboard and show a trait rising gradually and then becoming completely flat for a while with no change at all, and then rising quickly and then completely flat, etc. which is a kind of caricature of the fact that there is variability in the evolution of traits, sometimes…

View original 406 more words

More evidence against fish oil

14 Apr

A good review in The New York Times:

“There’s a major disconnect,” Dr. Grey said. “The sales are going up despite the progressive accumulation of trials that show no effect.”

Here is Dr. Greger on the topic:

‘Put all the studies together, and there’s no justification for the use of omega 3s as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or for guidelines supporting more dietary omega-3’s. So what should doctors say when their patients follow the American Heart Association advice to ask them about fish oil supplements? Given this and other negative meta-analyses, “our job as doctors should be to stop highly marketed fish oil supplementation in all of our patients.”’



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