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Was Neuroscience's Most Famous Amnesiac, "HM", A Victim of Medical Error?
According to a new paper, one of neuroscience's most famous case-studies came about as a result of a serious medical blunder. Henry Molaison (1926 - 2008), better known as HM, was an American man who developed a dramatic form of amnesia after receiving surgery that removed part of the temporal lobes of his brain. The 1953 operation was intended to treat HM's epilepsy, but it had the side effect of leaving him unable to form new memories. The consequences of HM's surgery are well known

Mauguière F & Corkin S (2015). H.M. never again! An analysis of H.M.'s epilepsy and treatment., Revue neurologique, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25726355

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Not “just” crazy – Some psychoses caused by autoimmunity
Antibodies defend the body against bacterial, viral, and other invaders. But sometimes the body makes antibodies that attack healthy cells. In these cases, autoimmune disorders develop. Immune abnormalities in patients with psychosis have been recognized for over a century, but it has been only relatively recently that scientists have identified specific immune mechanisms that seem to […]
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Does Thinking About God Increase Our Willingness to Make Risky Decisions?
There are at least two ways of how the topic of trust in God is broached in Friday sermons that I have attended in the United States. Some imams lament the decrease of trust in God in the age of modernity. Instead of trusting God that He is looking out for the believers, modern day Muslims believe that they can control their destiny on their own without any Divine assistance. These imams see this lack of trust in God as a sign of weakening faith and an overall demise in piety. But in recent […]

Kupor DM, Laurin K & Levav J (2015). Anticipating Divine Protection? Reminders of God Can Increase Nonmoral Risk Taking., Psychological Science, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25717040

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Persistent hyperlactacidemia in cases of autism
The paper from José Guevara-Campos and colleagues [1] (open-access can be downloaded here) is fodder for today's short post, and a topic that has not been seen on this blog for quite a while: hyperlactacidemia (elevated plasma lactate levels) and autism.Previous mentions of lactate and autism on this blog (see here and see here) were potentially pretty important; specifically, how elevated plasma lactate levels might (a) not be an unfamiliar finding for quite a few people on […]

Guevara-Campos J, González-Guevara L & Cauli O (2015). Autism and Intellectual Disability Associated with Mitochondrial Disease and Hyperlactacidemia., International journal of molecular sciences, 16 (2) 3870-3884. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25679448

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Team accidentally finds key to DNA vaccination and genetic engineering
It might have been an accident, but like some lucky researchers accidents are a good thing. In this particular case, scientists have discovered a new way to manipulate how cells function, a finding that might help advance an experimental approach to improving public health: DNA vaccines, which could be more efficient, less expensive and easier […]

Gou, Y., Byun, H., Zook, A., B. Singh, G., Nash, A., Lozano, M. & Dudley, J. (2015). Retroviral vectors elevate coexpressed protein levels in trans through cap dependent translation through cap-dependent translation , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201420477. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1420477112

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A study of twins shows that autism is largely genetic
In the fight against misinformation about autism it seems science is starting to come out on top, finally. A new study hopes to add to the recent advancements made in the understanding of autism, which finds that a substantial genetic and moderate environmental influences were associated with risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and broader autism […]

Colvert, E., Tick, B., McEwen, F., Stewart, C., Curran, S., Woodhouse, E., Gillan, N., Hallett, V., Lietz, S., Garnett, T. & Ronald, A. (2015). Heritability of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a UK Population-Based Twin Sample, JAMA Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3028

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Ghost in the Machine: The Neuroscience of Consciousness
Some questions cannot be addressed by science.  Like parallel universes, the consciousness of others is not something that can be directly observed, measured, or experienced.  Rene Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.“ a declaration that only knowledge of one’s own consciousness is absolute.  You assume that friends and neighbors have subjective, internal experiences … Continue reading →

Tononi G. & G. M. Edelman (1994). A measure for brain complexity: relating functional segregation and integration in the nervous system., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91 (11) 5033-5037. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.91.11.5033

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Video Tip of the Week: Beacon, to locate genome variants of potential clinical significance
This week’s Video Tip of the Week follows on last week’s chatter about the Internet of DNA. As I mentioned then, the Beacon tool we touched on was going to get more coverage. So this week’s video is provided by the Beacon team, part of the larger Global Alliance for Genomics and Health project (GA4GH). […]

Nguyen N., Daniel R. Zerbino, Brian Raney, Dent Earl, Joel Armstrong, W. James Kent, David Haussler & Benedict Paten (2015). Building a Pan-Genome Reference for a Population, Journal of Computational Biology, 150107093755006. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cmb.2014.0146

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Lies, damned lies, and gluten sensitivity – a story of statistics
The recent study by Di Sabatino and colleagues DOES NOT demonstrate the existence of gluten sensitivity. Although the authors report that "the severity of overall symptoms increased significantly during 1 week of intake of small amounts of gluten, compared with placebo," it simply turns out that 3 of 59 participants reacted strongly enough during their gluten challenges to skew the group results in favor of gluten sensitivity. Taken on their own, however, we cannot diagnose these individuals […]

Di Sabatino A., Chiara Salvatore, Paolo Biancheri, Giacomo Caio, Roberto De Giorgio, Michele Di Stefano & Gino R. Corazza (2015). Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects with Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2015.01.029

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Editor's Pick
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Taking Care of your Pet Rabbit
Rabbits are the third most popular pet, but how should you look after them?A study by Nicola Rooney (University of Bristol) et al asked 1254 rabbit owners about how they housed, fed, played with and otherwise cared for their rabbit. The good news is that “many pet rabbits were found to be in good health, had compatible companions and were provided with enriched living areas.” But there were also many areas where things could be improved. The most common type of rabbit was a […]

Rooney NJ, Blackwell EJ, Mullan SM, Saunders R, Baker PE, Hill JM, Sealey CE, Turner MJ & Held SD (2014). The current state of welfare, housing and husbandry of the English pet rabbit population., BMC research notes, 7 942. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25532711

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