Category: Neuroscience/Mental Health

The Brain

Mind Over Matter: The Brain’s Way of Healing

In 2008 I wrote about neuroplasticity as presented in Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself. I urge you to click on the link and read what I wrote there before you continue. The science is fascinating. The brain is far more malleable than we once thought. Areas of the cortex devoted to a sensory input shrink when that input is...

/ March 10, 2015

How Not to Treat Migraine

Last week I gave a quick overview of standard treatment options for migraine, a severe form of recurrent headaches. As promised, this week I will address some common treatments for migraine that I don’t think are supported by the evidence. Acupuncture Acupuncture is the CAM modality that, it seems to me, has infiltrated the furthest into mainstream medicine, including for the treatment...

/ February 4, 2015

Treating Migraines

I am a headache specialist and so I receive many questions, through SBM, NeuroLogica or listeners of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, about how to best treat headaches, or about a specific, often unusual, treatment. Migraines and severe headaches are very common. According to the latest statistics: 14.2% of US adults 18 or older reported having migraine or severe headache in...

/ January 28, 2015

Low Dose Aspirin for Primary Prevention

A new study published in JAMA sheds further light on a controversial question – whether or not to prescribe low-dose aspirin (81-100mg) for the primary prevention of vascular disease (strokes and heart attacks). Primary prevention means preventing a negative medical outcome prior to the onset of disease, in this case preventing the first heart attack or stroke. Secondary prevention refers to treatments...

/ November 19, 2014

Stroke Death from Chiropractic Neck Manipulation

Case reports are perhaps the weakest form of medical evidence. They are essentially well-documented anecdotes. They do serve a useful purpose, however: they can illuminate possible correlations, the natural course of illness and treatment, and serve as cautionary tales regarding possible mistakes, risks and complications. I say “possible” because they are useful mainly for generating hypotheses and not testing or confirming hypotheses....

/ November 12, 2014

Blaming breast cancer on autism

Gayle DeLong has been diagnosed with what she refers to as “autism-induced breast cancer”. She’s even given it an abbreviation, AIBC. Unfortunately, as you might be able to tell by the name she’s given her breast cancer, she is also showing signs of falling into the same errors in thinking with respect to her breast cancer as she clearly has with respect...

/ November 9, 2014

False Memory Syndrome Alive and Well

It is disheartening that we have to return to pseudosciences that have been debunked decades ago, because they continue to linger despite being eviscerated by scientific scrutiny. Belief systems and myths have incredible cultural inertia, and they are difficult to eradicate completely. That is why belief in astrology, while in the minority, persists. Professions, however, should be different. A healing profession should...

/ November 5, 2014

Mirror Neurons and the Pitfalls of Brain Research

[Ed. Note: I realize that I normally post on Monday, but thanks to an R21 grant deadline tomorrow, I will not be able to post new material today (although you might have noticed some “familiar” material posted yesterday.) Harriet has graciously agreed to cover for me today, and we have a special guest post for you tomorrow. Fear not. I’ll soon be...

/ October 27, 2014

Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield accuse the CDC of scientific fraud. Irony meters everywhere explode.

The antivaccine movement and conspiracy theories go together like beer and Buffalo wings, except that neither are as good as, yes, beer and Buffalo wings. (Maybe it’s more like manure and compost.) In any case, the antivaccine movement is rife with conspiracy theories. I’ve heard and written about more than I can remember right now, and I’m under no illusion that I’ve...

/ October 26, 2014

Andrew Wakefield, the MMR, and a “mother warrior’s” fabricated vaccine injury story

As the time came to do my usual weekly post for this blog, I was torn over what to write about. Regular readers might have noticed that a certain dubious cancer doctor about whom I’ve written twice before has been agitating in the comments for me to pay attention to him, after having sent more e-mails to me and various deans at...

/ October 13, 2014