Category: Neuroscience/Mental Health

“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist

Hands On Learning Solutions, a business in Gig Harbor, Washington, evaluates and treats children for learning disabilities and claims to identify the underlying causes and help eliminate the symptoms. Much of what they do is questionable, and at least one of their methods is clearly bogus. Their program is reminiscent of the Brain Balance program that I wrote about in 2010. I’ll...

/ July 21, 2015

The PIED Piper of Nootropics

Nootropics are an emerging class of drugs that are designed to enhance cognitive function. They are part of a broader category of drugs known as performance and image enhancing drugs (PIED) which are used for enhancement of memory and cognition, sexual performance, athletic performance or musculature (also called “lifestyle” drugs). It will probably come as no surprise to regular readers of SBM...

/ May 20, 2015
Edward_Armitage_-_Julian_the_Apostate_presiding_at_a_conference_of_sectarian_-_1875 full

A journey to alternative and integrative medicine apostasy

WIRED posted a story about Jim Laidler recently discussing his movement away from autism biomed and back to science. It's a good story, that deserves sharing, and explores many of the motivations people have for embracing alternative medicine.

/ May 4, 2015
Gordie Howe in his Red Wing days.

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke, part 3

Here I am in Philadelphia attending the 2015 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting to imbibe the latest basic and translational science about oncology. So what am I doing in my non-conference time? I’m holed up in my hotel room near Rittenhouse Square writing a DoD Grant and this post. Fortunately, I am nearly done with the grant, with nothing I...

/ April 20, 2015

Psychology and Psychotherapy: How Much Is Evidence-Based?

Despite all those Polish jokes, Poland has its share of good scientists and critical thinkers. A superb new book illustrates that fact in spades: Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Side of Science and Therapy, by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski, Witkowski is a psychologist, science writer, and founder of the Polish Skeptics Club; Zatonski is a surgeon and researcher known for debunking...

/ March 31, 2015

What Is Brain Death?

Of course, any story illustrating the issues surrounding brain death is going to be a sad and tragic tale. In December of 2013, Jahi McMath suffered bleeding complications following a tonsillectomy and tissue removal for sleep apnea. This resulted in a cardiac arrest with an apparent prolonged period of lack of blood flow to the brain. While her heart function was brought...

/ March 25, 2015
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
Migraine

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