Category: Neuroscience/Mental Health

Parkinson’s Disease: A Detective Story

I didn’t intend to review Jon Palfreman’s book Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease, but after reading it I decided it was too good not to share. Palfreman is an award-winning science journalist who has Parkinson’s himself. He has done a bang-up job of describing Parkinson’s disease, its impact on patients, and how science is working to...

/ September 20, 2016

Past Life Regression Therapy: Encouraging Fantasy

I recently got an e-mail from a PR firm about an “internationally certified regression therapist,” Ann Barham, who has written a book and who claims to help patients to “heal enduring challenges, release unhealthy patterns and beliefs, and find their way to more happiness and success.” They offered me the opportunity to review her book and/or interview her; I declined, but I...

/ July 26, 2016
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New Study Questions fMRI Validity

One way to describe our overall editorial stance at SBM is that we are criticizing medical science in a constructive way because we would like to see higher standards more generally applied. Science is complex, medical science especially so because it deals with people who are complex and unique. Getting it right is hard and so we need to take a very...

/ July 6, 2016
The Brain

MEND Protocol For Alzheimer’s Disease

The medical profession is currently engaged in a simmering debate about what is the best overall approach to take toward the relationship between science and health care. I would say that the current dominant model is Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). We, of course, advocate for a number of tweaks to EBM we call Science-Based Medicine (SBM). SBM essentially advocates for an ironic-sounding holistic...

/ June 22, 2016

PET Scans Predict Coma Outcome

A new study shows that 42 really is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. OK, not really, but it does show that 42% of healthy brain activity is the minimum threshold for consciousness. Disorders of consciousness, also referred to as coma when severe enough, can be a difficult situation to assess sufficiently to make reliable predictions about outcome. Part of...

/ June 1, 2016
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Zap Your Way to Learning?

The company Halo Neuroscience is now offering a device, the Halo-Sport, which they claim enhances sports performance through “neuropriming.” Their website claims: Neuropriming uses pulses of energy to increase the excitability of motor neurons, benefiting athletes in two ways: accelerated strength and skill acquisition. Regular readers of SBM can probably see where this is going. A proper threshold of evidence Before I...

/ March 23, 2016

Cargo Cult Psychology

Last year I reviewed Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski’s book Psychology Gone Wrong where they pointed out that many of psychology’s accepted beliefs and therapies were not based on good evidence. Now Witkowski has written a new book, to be published later this year, Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy, that is certain to ruffle a lot of feathers....

/ March 15, 2016
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Bad Reporting about Uploading Memories

The Mirror declares, ‘Scientists develop Matrix-style technique of ‘feeding’ information directly into your brain.’ Discovery News went with, “Novices ‘Download’ Pilots’ Brainwaves, Learn To Fly.” Most other outlets spoke of ‘uploading’ information to the brain, and learning in seconds. The one thing I was certain of from reading these headlines is that this was not what was happening. Brain-machine interface technology is...

/ March 2, 2016
The Brain

FTC Slaps Down “Brain Training” Claims

Lumosity is a company that provides online and mobile games that it claimed are scientifically designed to enhance memory, focus, mental flexibility, and even stave off dementia. In a recent decision, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded that Luminosity’s claims are not based on adequate scientific evidence. They imposed a $50 million judgement against Lumos Labs, the company who sells Lumosity, and...

/ January 6, 2016

Neurotribes: A Better Understanding of Autism

What is autism? What causes it? Is it genetic? Is it a consequence of something in our environment or lifestyle? What’s an “idiot savant” or an “autistic savant”? What happens when autistic children become adults? Why are so many of their parents scientists, academics, and engineers? If your grandfather’s Uncle Fred was a socially inept inventor with a lot of strange quirks,...

/ December 22, 2015