December 23, 2010

A Prescription for Abdominal Pain: Due Diligence

From: NYTimes.com: “For some reason people respect headaches,” said Dr. Carlo Di Lorenzo, a leading pediatric gastroenterologist and a professor of clinical pediatrics at Ohio State. “I’ve never seen a parent or a pediatrician tell a child complaining of a headache, ‘You don’t have a headache — it’s not real.’ Bellyache is just as real as headache.”

Indeed it is. And recurrent abdominal pain in children is common, frustrating and often hard to explain.

Consider a girl who came to the clinic for her 10-year physical exam. She gets these bellyaches, she told me. Had a bad one that week, but her stomach wasn’t hurting right at the moment.

She’d been treated for constipation; she’d been tested for celiac disease and other problems. Every blood and stool test over the two years since the pain began was completely normal. One night the bellyache was so bad she went to the emergency room — and her abdominal X-rays were normal as well.

The diagnostic term for this common and perplexing condition is “functional abdominal pain”: recurrent stomachaches, as the American Academy of Pediatrics put it in 2005, with no “anatomic, metabolic, infectious, inflammatory or neoplastic disorder” to explain them.

When I was a resident, we often smirked when we spoke of functional abdominal pain, treating it as a code for a troublesome patient, dubious symptoms or an anxious family. But recent research suggests we were too biomedically narrow in our thinking.

Scientists are coming to understand that abdominal pain is transmitted by a specialized nervous system that may be hypersensitive or hyperactive in some children. Studies in which researchers inflated balloons in children’s intestines suggested that those with functional abdominal pain might be unusually sensitive to any distension on the inside.

Click here for the entire article

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March 28, 2006

Inhibiting the executive brain

misc — thomasr @ 1:15 pm

A new study using Transcranial magnetic stimulation now identifies sub-components in executive functioning and their neural substrates.

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March 17, 2006

Deciding how to decide

misc — thomasr @ 6:23 am

What is the relationship between decision making and the frontal lobes? Lesley Fellows writes that “processes supported by ventral and medial prefrontal cortex need to be conceptualized more broadly, to account for changes in decision making under conditions of certainty, as well as uncertainty, following damage to these areas”.

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February 28, 2006

Instant replay may help to mould memories

misc — thomasr @ 1:12 pm

Idlers, loafers and layabouts, listen up. A new study suggests that the times when we sit around twiddling our thumbs could in fact be vital for learning.

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January 30, 2006

Religious belief

misc — thomasr @ 6:38 pm

Is religious belief a part of human nature? Why did it evolve? When did we start believing in gods? Why do so many people believe in the paranormal? In this 12-page special report, New Scientist examines the science of belief. While some hard-line atheists believe religion is the root of all evil, the very antithesis of science, and certainly not a proper subject for scientific inquiry, a growing number of researchers think otherwise, and the study of belief in all its forms has become a very hot topic.

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January 29, 2006

Most read articles in Cognitive Brain Research — Decision making

misc — thomasr @ 8:28 pm

Among the 25 hottest (i.e. most read) articles in the journal Cognitive Brain Research, many are about decision making. Here we bring the chart-toppers. For some of the articles we have also found full PDF links.

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January 19, 2006

Critical remarks about art in the brain

misc — thomasr @ 9:34 pm

An online published paper by John Hyman provides a thorough criticism of two major contributors to the emergent field of neuroaesthetics, V.S. Ramachandran and Semir Zeki.

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January 18, 2006

Serotonin and mood

misc — thomasr @ 6:00 am

A new study demonstrates the relationship between subjective reports of mood and the level of (5-HT) serotonin levels in the blood. While this serotonine marker predicts positive affect very well, it does not for negative mood.

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December 21, 2005

Your body gives away what you think

misc — thomasr @ 6:37 pm

Is it possible to predict what people think by looking at their body signals? In a new study Fairclough and colleagues used a range of psychophysiological measures (such as EEG, ECG, and skin conductance) while asking their subjects to perform a demanding task. The researchers were able to use the psychophysiological measures to predict how much people felt engaged in the task and how much they were stressed by it. On the other side, they were not able to predict other subjective states such as worry.

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December 11, 2005

Reminder: ASSC William James Prize

misc — thomasr @ 12:21 am

The deadline for the ASSC William James Prize for Contributions to the Study of Consciousness is 15. December.

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December 6, 2005

Remember this article to improve your memory

misc — thomasr @ 1:32 pm

If you drive yourself nuts trying to remember someone’s name, where you put your car keys or when the next meeting is scheduled at work you’re not alone.

This sort of stumbling is more common these days, and it’s not just the aging baby boomers that are feeling the impact. People in their mid-20s are complaining they are losing their grip on their brainpower. They feel overwhelmed, muddle-headed and exhausted in our 24-7 world.

“We are all in this ‘do’ mode, but we are not really focusing on any one thing and so we do not acquire things into our long-term (memory) mode. We’re bouncing from one thing to another, and a lot falls through the cracks,” says Corinne Gediman, an adult learning specialist.

Salt Lake Tribune

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November 25, 2005

Pain: From molecules to suffering

misc — thomasr @ 9:43 am

What is pain: a sensation, an experience, a symptom, or even a disease?

We are all familiar with this deceptively simple term, but when it comes to description simplicity ends. No single definition seems to be able to encapsulate all the nuances of pain, which range from simple sensations to complex emotional experiences such as grief and suffering.

by Troels Staehelin Jensen

Nature Reviews Neuroscience

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November 22, 2005

Emotion and consciousness: Ends of a continuum

misc — thomasr @ 8:49 am

Alexandrov et al.

Cognitive Brain Research

Volume 25, Issue 2 , October 2005, Pages 387-405

We suggest a united concept of consciousness and emotion, based on the systemic cognitive neuroscience perspective regarding organisms as active and goal-directed. We criticize the idea that consciousness and emotion are psychological phenomena having quite different neurophysiological mechanisms. We argue that both characterize a unified systemic organization of behavior, but at different levels. All systems act to achieve intended behavioral results in interaction with their environment. Differentiation of this interaction increases during individual development. Any behavioral act is a simultaneous realization of systems ranking from the least to the most differentiated. We argue that consciousness and emotion are dynamic systemic characteristics that are prominent at the most and least differentiated systemic levels, correspondingly. These levels are created during development. Our theory is based on both theoretical and empirical research and provides a solid framework for experimental work.

ScienceDirect

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September 7, 2005

Placebo effect is not all in the mind

misc — thomasr @ 1:03 pm

Scientists in the United States have shown that the brain makes a distinct chemical response when patients are given a treatment they expect to work, shedding light on how therapies that have no active ingredients can nonetheless have medical benefits.

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September 3, 2005

Erotic images can turn you blind

misc — thomasr @ 5:36 am

Researchers have finally found evidence for what good Catholic boys have known all along – erotic images make you go blind. The effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, but the research has added to road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban sexy billboard-advertising near busy roads, in the hope of preventing accidents.

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March 14, 2005

Pointing the quest in the proper direction

SCR Feature,misc — thomasr @ 12:35 am
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January 24, 2005

Change blindness: past, present, and future

misc — thomasr @ 10:27 am

Daniel Simons along with Ron Rensink have published a new article on Change blindness. Although there has been must discussion on the issue already, they provide a much needed analysis of its real and fictional implications.

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The truth about lies

misc — thomasr @ 10:17 am

Nature.com has an article on using fMRI as a new enhanced form of polygraph by Rachel Jones. Although interesting, is “More activity” in the brain an indication of lying? I don’t find that very good! Using fMRI, especially BOLD measures, we KNOW that each individual has a different BOLD response. So, although you can detect differences at a group level, including averaging etc., then how would you procede at the individual level. So, although it’s in the air, my view is that it is not possible to make a polygraph, at least using this method.Link

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September 13, 2003

Capturing Daydreams

SCR Feature,misc — thomasr @ 12:13 am
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July 13, 2003

Science Wins: A Televised Test of "Psychic Healing"

SCR Feature,misc — thomasr @ 12:02 am
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