Discussion of Utility, Fairness, and Risk With Medical Ethicist Nir Eyal

Source: Harvard College of Effective Altruism | Melody Y. Guan, November 2014 Nir Eyal is Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine in the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School and at the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is a co-editor of the Oxford University Press series Population-Level Bioethics and …

“An Expert on Nothing” – The Work of an Investigator of False Memories

By Corynn Greene Source: Investigating False Memories: Memory is Unreliable and Malleable Meet Elizabeth Loftus: forensic psychologist, professor, and researcher of false memories? Yes, Loftus has conducted a plethora of studies affirming her stance that, “The human memory is unreliable at best, and malleable enough to wreck the lives of the unjustly accused.” To clear things up a bit, a ‘false memory’ …

Study Shows Blind Children Can Repurpose Their Brain’s Visual Center

By Corynn Greene Source: Blind children can repurpose brain’s visual center to process speech – study A recent study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has shown that parts of the brain once thought to be primarily devoted to processing vision can be recruited by blind children as young as five to process speech. In the world of neurology, this could …

New Findings Support Music as a Treatment for Epilepsy

By Corynn Greene Source: Could Music Help Treat Epilepsy? Epilepsy, also referred to as ‘seizure disorder,’ is a neurological disorder associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain in which nerve cell activity is disturbed causing sudden, recurrent episodes of sensory interference, loss of consciousness, or convulsions. It is strikingly common – with an estimated 1 in 26 developing epilepsy at …

On the Art of Dying

By Corynn Greene Oliver Wolf Sacks is many things – a neurologist, a writer, a professor, and as of earlier this year he’s a sufferer of terminal cancer. His reveal of being diagnosed with multiple metastases in the liver pulled at the heartstrings of everyone who read it, announcing that his, “luck has run out,” and that this cancer, “cannot be halted.” …

New Study Relates The Effect of Poverty on Kids’ Brains

By Corynn Greene Source: How Poverty Stunts Kids’ Brain Development We can all agree that one’s socioeconomic background is a definitive factor when it comes to things like their development and education, but according to a recent study conducted by researcher Seth Pollack of the University of Wisconsin–Madison this can be attributed to more than just access (or lack there …

Monkey ‘Brain-Net’ Raises Prospect of Human Brain-to-Brain Connection

By Corynn Greene Source: Monkey ‘Brain-Net’ Raises Prospect of Human Brain-to-Brain Connection “Essentially we created a super-brain – a collective brain created from three monkey brains. Nobody has ever done that before.” – Miguel Nicolelis, Duke University Recently, three monkeys have joined together to form a “brain-net” – meaning scientists have found a way to link together their brains in a …

New Study Brings Together Neuroscience and Psychology to Paint a More Complete Picture of Sleep and Memory

By Corynn Greene Source: New Study Brings Together Neuroscience and Psychology to Paint a More Complete Picture of Sleep and Memory A new study from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) integrates neuroscience and psychological research to show in animal models that sleep suppresses the activity of certain nerve cells that promote forgetting, insuring that at least some …

Large Gaps Found in Diagnostic Resources for Neurologic Conditions Between High and Low-Income Countries

From Neurology Today Diagnostic testing for neurologic conditions is least available in the lowest-income countries, according to the results of a survey sent to neurologists around the world presented here at the AAN Annual Meeting in April. And even if tests are available, they are often not very accessible or affordable, according to the findings from researchers at the University …

Brain circuitry of positive vs negative memories discovered in mice

Source: Brain circuitry of positive vs negative memories discovered in mice Neuroscientists have discovered brain circuitry for encoding positive and negative learned associations in mice. After finding that two circuits showed opposite activity following fear and reward learning, the researchers proved that this divergent activity causes either avoidance or reward-driven behaviors. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, they used ...

Increased physical activity improves sleep and mood outcomes in inactive people with insomnia: a randomized controlled trial

By Corynn Greene While high levels of activity and exercise training have been associated with improvements in sleep quality, minimum levels of activity likely to improve sleep outcomes have not been explored. A two-armed parallel randomized controlled trial (N=41; 30 females) was designed to assess whether increasing physical activity to the level recommended in public health guidelines can improve sleep …

Dementia and the Power of Music Therapy

Dementia is now a leading cause of both mortality and morbidity, particularly in western nations, and current projections for rates of dementia suggest this will worsen. More than ever, cost effective and creative non-pharmacological therapies are needed to ensure we have an adequate system of care and supervision. Music therapy is one such measure, yet to date statements of what …

Meditation as an anti-inflammatory!

Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators From Psychoneuroendocrinology Background A growing body of research shows that mindfulness meditation can alter neural, behavioral and biochemical processes. However, the mechanisms responsible for such clinically relevant effects remain elusive. Methods Here we explored the impact of a day of intensive practice of mindfulness meditation in experienced subjects ...

What’s a neuron?

This is the first in a series exploring Sleep Science. It is an exploration into the hormonal implications of sleep, but it also functions as a lay-person’s introduction to neuroscience. The first step in examining some of the physiological evidence to supplement the behavioral science we conduct every day is to review the behavior of the synapse, where one neuron meets …

Big journals are bad for science

How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science The incentives offered by top journals distort science, just as big bonuses distort banking These journals create a skewed incentive scheme to support flashy scientists and bogus science. This is the right business model for popular celebrity magazines, but those magazines don’t have the same consequence for medicine, policy and …

Treat sickest, most expensive patients? Is that ethical?

We are always interested in debates regarding the allocation of healthcare, and here’s a recent story that discusses one doc’s approach. Give it a listen. In 2004, Master founded Commonwealth Care Alliance. It’s an unusual group that focuses on Massachusetts residents who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. In other words, the neediest, most medically complicated, and most expensive …

The Rich Hiring Ambulance-Taxis: Is this ethical?

In Bangladesh those who can afford it hire ambulances to get around during political protests that can turn violent unexpectedly. Given the political situation, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Who would attack an ambulance after all? Hiring an ambulance only costs the equivalent of $3.00 to get across town.  Since last month over 20 people have died in …

Launch of the report “Dementia: a public health priority”

The World Health Organization reminds us that Neurological complaints are a global health priority and cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Yes, we are right on that. Launch of the report “Dementia: a public health priority”   The report “Dementia: a public health priority” has been jointly developed by WHO and Alzheimer’s Disease International. The purpose of this report is to …

Our brain can think without language – how is that possible?

A study at University of Pennsylvania suggests that the organization of a neural system is capable of representing meaning without language. This means that verbal representations are not essential to represent abstract semantics – and that there is a lot more about the brain that we do not know! We are looking forward to more work by Dr. Chatterjee and …

Genetic memory through multiple generations – Fact! (maybe)

This finding is so insane, that it upends an entire field. This paper reads like science fiction. The authors fear condition a mouse to neutral scent by pairing the scent with electrical shocks. They find that the mouse’s offspring (both for male and female mice) exhibit freezing to the scent GENERATIONS LATER! ~ the learning finds some way to transfer to …

Collaborations with the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed

 This is the hospital we are working with in Bangladesh - they have a very innovative approach to disabilities and we are excited to get involved. Occupational Therapy (OT) is a health care profession that provides services to people whose ability to function in daily life has been disrupted. Purposeful activity, therapeutic exercise, special equipment, skills training and environmental modifications ...

Brain Cells ‘Geotag’ Memories To Cache What Happened — And Where

[box style=”2″] Think back to an important event in your life: a graduation, a birth, a special Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are you’re remembering not only what happened, but also where it happened. And now scientists think they know why. As we form so-called episodic memories, the brain appears to be using special cells in the hippocampus to “geotag” each event, researchers …

Diabetes and Stroke: Towards a Model of Primary Prevention in Neurology

troke is a significant public health concern: it is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and is a leading cause of permanent disability.  A population that has a particularly high risk for stroke is diabetics: in fact, one in eight diabetics will eventually suffer from a stroke, and having diabetes doubles one’s risk for stroke. Diabetes is highly prevalent …

Medical Mapping

Imagine a world in which we could pinpoint exactly where on earth specific medical supplies are most needed. We could also correlate these medical supply needs with the availability of healthcare workers who have the knowledge to use these supplies. Imagine a world in which the medical innovators — the doctors and nurses all over the world who learn to …

Print our Diabetes Comics

The Dica De Diabetes project published one of these comics weekly for a year in O’Jornal, a free Portuguese newspaper in Fall River, MA. You can now print out the entire year of comics to use as daily reminders. [soliloquy id=”2094″]

Stroke Prevention

Diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke. Check out our diabetes awareness campaign, which has been translated into Portuguese and is currently appearing in a free newspaper in Fall River, MA. More info on the project here.  

Left lateralizing transcranial direct current stimulation improves reading efficiency

BACKGROUND: Poor reading efficiency is the most persistent problem for adults with developmental dyslexia. Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between left posterior temporal cortex (pTC) function and reading ability, regardless of dyslexia status. OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: In this study, we tested whether enhancing left lateralization of pTC using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) improves reading efficiency in adults without dyslexia. METHOD: …

Musical Creativity and the Brain

Musical Creativity and the Brain On the spot, as great jazz performers expertly improvise solo passages, they make immediate decisions about which musical phrases to invent and to play. Researchers, like   authors Mónica López-González and Dana Foundation grantee Charles J. Limb, are now using brain imaging to study the neural underpinnings of spontaneous artistic creativity, from jazz riffs to freestyle …

The Healing Power of Music

The Healing Power of Music An unconventional approach to recovery and coping, music therapy is a field of medicine capturing new attention due to its role in helping Gabrielle Giffords recover from a gunshot. Correspondent Spencer Michels reports on the versatility of music in a medical setting, but the difficulty of quantifying its effectiveness.