Monthly Archives: February 2012

Science 2.0. Transformational Documents in Education. A New Use for the Creative Commons License

Writing a letter with fountain pen‘, Peter Milosevic, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

As a Doctor i’m interested in preventing illness. My area of interest is Dementia and one of the really important ways to prevent Dementia is by raising awareness of the condition and letting people know how to change their lifestyle or to look out for early signs in others. So how does all of this relate to the title of this post? As usual its slightly tenuous but please bear with me. If you want to educate the public about Dementia and preventative lifestyle measures there’s a lot of work to do. A lot. To get the message out to all segments of society involves tailoring the message to those groups. With a small number of experts about dementia (relative to the size of the population) more resources are needed. New information comes out all the time. More importantly there is scope for improving the educational messages already in use. This brings me onto the subject of the title of the post. At school I remembered writing essays for most of the subjects. I learnt a lot in the process and am indebted to my teachers for the insights they gave me. However the essays themselves are now either lost or in an exercise book somewhere unlikely to be read again. The essays were a limited exercise in my own development but was there another possibility?

Purposeful Writing

 There is a great deal of research about having a purpose in life and it seems to be associated with significant health benefits (see Appendix). A common understanding in the literature is that purpose is about having a meaning in life which involves others. This seems to be good for all sorts of reasons. So returning to the question of students at school or university – is it possible that written assignment work can be linked into meeting some important needs in society? Consider how many essays are written around the world by students every day. Consider also how many of these will never be seen again after they have been marked. My proposal is to start with an important need in society. This might be improving on a leaflet for carers telling them about Frontotemporal Dementia for instance. This would have to start with an expert body whose members manage Frontotemporal Dementia. This body would need to provide a leaflet with a Creative Commons License (see the next section). The exercise given to students would be to improve upon the leaflet. The leaflet is a starting point and the students written language and technical skills can be assessed in the course of transforming a piece of work into something that is better. The students would be motivated by the possibility that the results of their work might be used to help people by preventing illness or detecting illness early.

The Creative Commons License

One of the core features of the Science 2.0 movement is that people are able to reuse material. While many people are familiar with copyright the Creative Commons License is perhaps less well known. The picture at the top of the page was taken by Peter Milosevic and he has very kindly given this picture a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported License. The key features of this license are that another person can use this picture for their own works provided that they attribute the work to the original author. Whenever this picture is used in another person’s work it must be clear that same license is used. So for instance if a person used the original picture on the basis of that license and then made it available to someone else they would not be able to change the terms of that license. Although it can get quite complicated, the Creative Commons License has transformed the internet as a medium for both providing and transforming information. Wikimedia Commons is a good example of this. In Wikimedia Commons, media files are available under various licenses and for instance are used throughout Wikipedia. These include sound files, pictures and videos. In writing this article, I have located the picture above on Wikimedia Commons, downloaded and then uploaded it and used it in accordance with the conditions of the license. This has been relatively simple and quick and has added value to the article. The ability of the Creative Commons License to enable this expediency has been one of the core features of the Web 2.0 and related movements.

Illustrating How This Might Work in More Detail

This whole process is about Science 2.0, an offshoot of Web 2.0 and something that is written about. However Science 2.0 is not an abstract concept but an act of doing and somebody has to do it. Answering that question of who is going to do it is absolutely critical. So the proposal here is that there is an opportunity to involve students at school and university in this process of doing Science 2.0. This doesn’t have to involve real world experiments involving costly apparatus and large datasets. This can be as simple as improving on a single document that is commonly used. So i’m now going to illustrate a hypothetical scenario where everything is up and running (which would involve a lot of work and infrastructures which may not yet be in existence).

Let us take forward the earlier example of an information leaflet on Frontotemporal Dementia, a condition which typically has an earlier onset than most other forms of Dementia. Suppose that a survey shows that Frontotemporal Dementia is not being detected early enough nationally as people are not aware of the signs. Let us also suppose that the relevant expert body/bodies have produced an information leaflet on the subject which can be printed off and placed in appropriate outlets. For some reason the leaflet isn’t quite clear enough but with a little improvement the message might be more easily understood with practical benefits. The expert body decides to submit the document to a mediating body. Let us create a fictitious body for the sake of convenience – ‘The Mediating Body for Transformational Documents’ (MBTD). The MBTD would receive a large number of documents for improvement and they would be directly related to Science (there is no reason why the arguments used in this article could not be used for other subject areas). Their role would be to manage the documents – to pass them to schools and universities which would be committed to this approach and where perhaps a department’s focus is related to the document.

The receiving organisation would be a school or university. In school and universities, teachers or lecturers as part of their role must evaluate their students. Rather than selecting exercises which will enable them to better understand the subject but which will be of limited value after their completion, the teacher will be able to choose from several exercises of direct practical benefit provided by the MBTD. There are numerous variations ranging from the student improving the document and writing a supplement explaining the technical and other aspects of why these changes were made. There are also opportunities for the students to work with a team approach with assigned roles if the task is sufficiently complicated. Even when the task is to improve an information leaflet, one of the students could be assigned the task of integrating the best aspects of the other students work and be marked according to their performance in this role. The students could identify the best documents submitted through a voting system supported by the teachers assessment of each piece of work. In this way, the teacher’s role in this process is transformed into both assessing each student’s performance as well as managing a complex evaluation system. Finally the teacher submits the best piece or pieces of work or the integrated work back either to the mediating body or directly to the expert body for consideration as an improvement on the original. In this way, the involvement of the expert body in the closure of the loop ensures that the appropriate expertise is brought into the process at the right point.

Transformational Documents, Justin Marley, Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Share-Alike License

 

Improving Efficiency in Society

Every day millions of students around the world are completing assignments. Whilst they need to complete these assignments in order to improve their understanding there is the possibility for connecting these exercises with the needs of society so that their efforts can contribute meaningfully to society in ways other than the direct effects on their education. In schools and universities there are already numerous projects which ensure that students contribute directly to society. However the above process is a proposal for how even the simplest of writing exercises can be used to the benefit of society long after the work has been marked and the student has finished the course or left the school or university.

Appendix

Purpose in Life

What is Purpose in Life

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 1

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 2. Scales

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 3. Depression

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 4. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Adolescence and Early Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 5. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature – Part 6. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan: Older Adulthood

Purpose in Life. An Overview of the Literature Part 7. Purpose in Life Across the Lifespan

Purpose in Life and Conditions of the Heart

Purpose in Life and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Having a Purpose in Life and the Risk of Cognitive Decline

Having a Purpose in Life Reduces the Risk of Death

Purpose in Life and Caregiving

Science 2.0

Doing Science 2.0. Deconstructing Web 2.0. Harnessing Collective Intelligence

Doing Science 2.0. Deconstructing the Web 2.0. The Web as Platform.

Doing Science 2.0. Part 1. What is Science 2.0?

Doing Science 2.0. Web 2.0

Science 2.0. Harnessing Collective Intelligence by Curating the Blogosphere

 

An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Brodmann Area 22:A Brief Review of the Literature – Part 5

Brodmann Area 22, Derived from Gray’s Anatomy 20th Edition 1918 Lithograph Reproduction, Public Domain

The brain is a complex structure and but can be organised according to several principles. One approach is to characterise the brain regions according to the microscopic properties of these regions.  More specifically the neurons are organised differently between regions. Some regions may contain unique types of neurons. This approach to understanding the organisation of the brain was proposed by the German Neuropathologist Korbinian Brodmann and resulted in the eponymously named Brodmann Area. There are 52 areas in all and I have covered other Brodmann Areas elsewhere in this Blog. This is the fifth in a series on one of these areas – Brodmann Area 22. A simple search strategy was adopted. The term ‘Brodmann Area 22′ was used to search in Medline using the PubMed interface. Relevant results were identified and included.

In this paper, the authors note that BA22 is one of the areas shown lateralisation in early infancy. In this study, researchers looked at brain activity during musical activities using 15 O Positron Emission Tomography. The researchers found tha BA22 was active when musicians sang novel melodies, harmonised melodies and also sang monotonically. This was contrasted with activity in BA38 which they correlated with higher order musical activities. In a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study, subjects were asked to play notes on the piano either sequentially or in double octaves. The researchers found that BA22 was activated most frequently on the right side. Negative correlates for stuttering rate in right-handed female stutterers (compared to a control group) were found bilaterally in BA22 in this PET study investigating cerebral blood flow correlates of stuttering rate (additional data were used from a previous study investigating male stutterers). BA22 formed part of a brain region referred to as the Temporo-peri-Sylvian Vestibular Cortex (TPSVC) where vestibular symptoms were elicited and particularly rotatory sensations in this cortical electrical stimulation study. When a series of sounds are presented to a person any sound that deviates from this pattern causes the brain to produce a specific response known as an automatic mismatch negativity event related potential (ERP). The researchers in this functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study investigated the fMRI correlates of the ERP signals. The technique was complicated by the sound that the MRI scanner makes which can result in brain activity. They solved this problem by analysing segments of the data and found that activity in the right BA22 was correlated with the MMN ERP.

In a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study investigating children with an average of 6.8 years of age, the researchers were interested in the brain activity correlates of auditory comprehension assessed during story reading. The researchers found that the group analysis showed significantly increased activity in the left Superior Temporal gyrus (BA22).  In another paper by the same group, the researchers report on a finding of increased activity in the left BA22 during a reading task in children with an average age of 7.2 years. In an fMRI study investigating language comprehension in older adults, researchers found that subjects who had more difficulty in comprehending spoken language were also less likely to exhibit activity in brain regions including BA22. In a Magnetoencephalography study, the researchers found that in the majority of cases the sensory speech area was located in the posterior aspect of the left BA22. In one fMRI study the researchers found activity in BA22 correlated with performance in a face-gender discrimination task and motion detection task suggesting an association with aspects of visual processing (paper freely available here). In an fMRI study the correlates of vestibular stimulation were investigated by separating the cutaneous and ocular motor stimuli that may have confounded the results (paper freely available here). The researchers correlated vestibular stimulation with activity in BA22.

The researchers in this study found histological evidence to support the hypothesis of lateralisation in BA22. BA22 was not activated during presentation of auditory clicks to 5 people who were in a persistent vegetative state in this H2O15 PET study (paper freely available here). Synaptophysin mRNA was reduced in BA22 in females who had received a diagnosis of Schizophrenia compared to a control group in this post-mortem study (paper freely available here). Subjects appeared to focus on the sound of their breathing when asked to voluntarily control respiratory rate in this fMRI study which found increased activity in BA22 amongst several other areas during the task (paper freely available here). Complex as compared to simple auditory stimuli were more likely to be correlated with activity in BA22 in this O15 water PET study. The left BA22 was active during three reasoning tasks in this [(15)O] H(2)O PET study. The researchers in this post-mortem study comparing people who had received a diagnosis of Schizophrenia with a control group found evidence of a change in the density of D2 receptors in the Superior Temporal Cortex which is significant in light of their previous findings of an increase in D2 receptors in a control sample in this region.

A reduction in human Corticotrophin-releasing factor was found in BA22 in people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease compared to a control group in this small post-mortem study. The authors of this paper provide evidence of an increased protease activity in BA22 in people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers in a study using (CTI 953B) and 15O-labelled water PET found evidence of increased activity in the left BA22 during a divided attention task in which subjects assessed melody and pitch (paper freely available here). In this post-mortem study researchers found significant correlations with cognition in BA22. In BA22 they found a reduction in Choline Acetyltransferase levels as well as an increase in senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles which were correlated with prior cognitive performance. In this positron emission tomography (PET) and [18F]2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) coregistration study, researchers found left BA22 activity during a word repetition task. Phospholipid levels in BA22 discriminated people who had received a diagnosis of early onset versus late onset Alzheimer’s Disease in this post-mortem study. Another post-mortem study showed elevation in peptidases in BA22 in people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease compared to a control group. ACE inhibitor recognition site density was higher by 70% compared to controls in people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in this post-mortem study. The authors of this paper argue that there is altered gene expression in BA22 in Alzheimer’s Disease as there is an altered mRNA pool size relative to controls. Neurofibrillary tangles were observed in BA22 in this postmortem study.

Neuropeptide Y-like immunoreactivity was increased in BA22 in people who had received a diagnosis of Huntingtons Disease in this post-mortem study. Creatinine Kinase levels in BA22 did not discriminate people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease from controls in this post-mortem study. Different levels of Choline Acetyltransferase were found between the left and right BA22 in this post-mortem study.

Appendix

Brodmann Area 22: A Brief Review of the Literature – Part 1

Brodmann Area 22: A Brief Review of the Literature – Part 2

Brodmann Area 22: A Brief Review of the Literature – Part 3

Brodmann Area 22: A Brief Review of the Literature – Part 4

An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

News Round-Up: February 2012 4th Edition

Can Smartphone Games Protect the Brain?

A study in the Archives of Neurology adds a new piece of evidence to the ongoing debate about whether computer games are harming or helping people’s health. One recent argument that has been developed is that the use of the internet or computers can be associated with deficits in attention and other cognitive problems. However on the other side of the argument there is the hypothesis that ‘Brain Training’ can enhance cognition. This was a study looking at a cohort of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and a control group. The study was moderately sized and what the researchers found was that a combination of activities which stimulated the brain including the smartphone app ‘Angry Birds’ were associated with a reduction in the build-up of an Amyloid plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. This was detected using Positron Emission Tomography in conjunction with radioactive compounds that bind to the plaque. So can smartphone games protect the brain? It’s probably too early to say as the smartphone games were just one of the approaches used to stimulate the brain. However this evidence is certainly promising and supports the notion that lifestyle can help to modify the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease but replication studies to investigate the question about specific games will be very helpful.

A Film About Freud and Jung

There’s a new film out ‘A Dangerous Method‘ which features both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (via @FrankSpencer) and is directed by David Cronenberg. The Official Trailer is below and highlights behaviours that today would have brought the psychotherapist quickly before the nearest regulatory body. The reader should be aware that these ethical issues also influenced the development of Psychoanalysis and Analytic Psychology which need to be considered in this context.

 Cognitive Psychology Pioneer Passes Away

Dr Ulric Neisser one of the pioneers and indeed giants in the field of Cognitive Psychology has passed away. Amongst many achievements Dr Neisser was responsible for a critical assessment of the controversial book ‘The Bell Curve’ as well as developing insights into the ‘False Memory Syndrome‘, selective attention and was also involved in the investigation of the Watergate scandal that took place during President Nixon’s term in office.

Tool for Assessing Depression

A simple and freely available tool for assessing remission in depression has been developed for use in Primary Care.

Tea and Talk

I received a tweet from Helen Hutchings about a new service ‘Tea and Talk’ that she has developed to combat mental health stigma. Helen is a registered mental health nurse and a service user giving her insights from both perspectives. The video below says a little bit more about this interesting service.

Draft National Plan to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease Released in the United States

A draft National plan to combat Alzheimer’s Disease has been released in the United States.

Relationship of Blood Pressure to Dementia Onset in Women Not So Straightforward

This is a decent sized study which follows up a cohort of women over a period of 37 years. The researchers found that having a lower systolic blood pressure at baseline was associated with a higher risk of dementia later on. The researchers also found that changes in blood pressure at different time periods in the study were associated either with a lowering or increase in the risk of incident dementia. They suggest that antihypertensive treatment may be a confounding factor in this evaluation and indeed some antihypertensives are being investigated further in this regards.

Study Compares Lewy Body Dementia with Alzheimer’s Disease

In one study, the researchers looked at people with Lewy Body Dementia and compared them with people with Alzheimer’s Disease at a similar stage in the illness (as measured by cognitive performance). The researchers found that Lewy Body Dementia progressed more quickly than Alzheimer’s Disease. The significance of this approach is that the point at which the disease process began can often be difficult to pinpoint and can be different from the time of diagnosis for many reasons. Having a measure of cognitive performance can provide researchers and clinicians with a useful tool for comparison.

The Clock Drawing Test and the Brain

The Clock Drawing Test is a commonly used test as part of the assessment of cognition. The researchers in one study have found that impairments in this test are associated with structural changes in both the Hippocampus and the Right Globus Pallidus.

Dementia Champions in Australia

The Fight Dementia campaign in Australia is recruiting Dementia Champions and has already enlisted nearly 3000. They are aiming for 100,000!

Overcoming Barriers to Open Science

There is an interesting albeit quite technical article by Robert Reddick (via @Boraz) looking at some of the barriers to the progress of the Open Science movement and how these might be overcome.

An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.