Monthly Archives: May 2012

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 5

The following is an attempt to interpret Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ using the framework of a discipline which is eclectic, pragmatic and empirical in approach. The starting point of this interpretation is a review of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ which the reader will find via the link in the Appendix. This fifth part is a response to Chapter 4 of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. My understanding of this Chapter in Kuhn’s work is that there is a central paradigm which consists of a central model or set of statements. The model or statements exist within a larger more informal set of rules or assumptions. Thus any successful revolution is not simply a matter of improving upon the central model but also needs to address the surrounding infrastructure which is not just theoretical but also permeates the scientific community. The paradigm also determines which puzzles are considered solvable by the scientific community. This means that scientists may consider questions in light of the paradigm which they are working in and will discount potentially important questions on the basis that they are not thought to be solvable within the paradigm.

There are a number of factors which will lead to scientists considering puzzles solvable. These include the human and financial resources needed, the technical limitations of scientific equipment that is readily available as well as the prevailing values within the scientific community. For all of these factors there are variations within the scientists or departments which enable variation in the puzzles that are selected. We might expect that for each of the factors, the main qualities can be graphed and would form a normalised distribution. For instance, the funding in a department for solving a particular puzzle might show such a distribution. If these factors are normally distributed then the puzzles that can be solved might be those that require resources that fall within the peak of the distribution. Framing this in concrete terms, it may be that the community is more likely to select a puzzle that requires an average of two scientists working over a 2 year period with specific readily available equipment and a budget within a defined range. This would increase the likelihood of reproducibility. When any of these factors lie outside of the 95% confidence interval for these factors it would reduce the likelihood of reliability and perhaps even acceptance of the results within the community.

Appendix

Review of Chapter 4

Chapter 4 in Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is a fairly brief chapter or essay as he also refers to it. In this chapter, Kuhn suggests that a scientific community solves puzzles. These puzzles are problems that need to be solved within a framework of rules. Kuhn suggest that the scientific community chooses puzzles that they think are solvable. Thus there are the explicit clearly articulated central problems lying within the informal framework of rules. As a result seemingly straightforward amendments of solutions to problems do not work in the scientific community if they do not also address the surrounding framework of rules. Kuhn gives the example of a suggested amendment to Newton’s inverse square law of gravitation which would have enabled researchers to derive the orbit of the moon from Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation. The amendment was ignored by the research community and other findings eventually enabled the derivation to occur without this move away from the central paradigm. Kuhns ideas here form a profound basis for consideration of scientific activities. Such questions can be turned to specific branches of science. We can begin to ask about the rules that govern research in certain areas of psychiatry for instance or reflect on the meaning of the open science movement. We can also ask use these concepts to differentiate science from other social activities.

Related Resources on the TAWOP Site

A Review of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 1

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 2

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 3

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 4

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here 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.

The Dementia Challenge

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron launched a Dementia Challenge on March 26th 2012. The Dementia Challenge builds upon the National Dementia Strategy. The essence of the Dementia Challenge is outlined on this Department of Health webpage

- Focusing on research on Dementia

- Focusing on quality of care for people with Dementia

- Increasing public awareness of Dementia

- Developing Dementia friendly communities

For each area of focus there are champions. The research champion group have recently published this post on their work to date. The group are aiming to produce a detailed report of their progress and submit this to the Prime Minister by September 2012. Part of their strategy involves work with the established Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases network DeNDRoN.

The Dementia Challenge is very encouraging and coincides with a strategy to address Alzheimer’s Disease in America.

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here 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.

Does Blood Vessel Damage Lead to Alzheimer’s Disease? News Roundup May 2012 4th Edition

Researchers have published a paper in Neurology looking at how the APOE4 gene might play a role in Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers looked at a Murine model and found evidence that the enzyme Cyclophilin A may be playing a role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease mediated through APOE4. They found that in APOE4 carriers there was a five-fold increase in the levels of Cyclophilin A in the Pericytes, there was a reduction of blood flow in the brain and an increase in the passage into the brain of substances including Thrombin. The Pericytes are cells that form an integral part of the Blood-Brain Barrier. They found that when Cyclophilin A was blocked in APOE4 carriers there was a reduction in the passage of a number of the previously identified substances in the brain as well as an improvement in blood flow. The researchers have thus formulated an interesting and testable hypothesis about the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease in relation to one gene variant – APOE4.

Cyclophilin A in a complex with Cyclosporin (shown in yellow), Fvasconcellos, Public Domain

From 2014, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) will no longer decide whether drugs can or cannot be prescribed. This responsibility will pass to the Department of Health although NICE will continue to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of drugs.

Researchers publishing results from the Rush Memory and Aging Study in the Archives of General Psychiatry have found further evidence that having a strong sense of purpose in life can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (paper available here). There were 246 people with Alzheimer’s Disease who had passed away at the time of the study (there were 1400 subjects in the Rush Memory and Aging study at baseline). Global cognition was assessed using 21 tests of cognition and a Z-statistic was used to represent the outcomes. The researchers used a model which incorporated pathological changes at post-mortem as well as global cognitive scores and other variables. They compared subjects with the 90th percentile of scores on Ryff’s Scale of Psychological Well-Being (one of two main rating scales for purpose in life) and those with the 10th percentile score and graphed these (see Fig 1 in the paper). The researchers identified a significant contribution of well-being scores to the global cognitive scores. A higher score of purpose in life was  significantly associated with a higher score on global cognition in the model. Curiously though there was no corresponding relationship of well-being scores to neuropathology findings.

A trial is underway involving an antibody to Amyloid, which according to the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis plays a central role in Alzheimer’s Disease (APOE4 discussed above is also related to Amyloid). The study is a preventative trial to reduce the future prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease in a cohort who have not yet developed the disease.

There is a brief discussion of the future of drug development in this article which includes a look at some of the barriers as well as current trends.

Professor Alistair Burns talks to Professor Rosser about Dementia research in this video

There is an interesting piece on Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ here.

Researchers have announced the discovery of the world’s oldest flutes (estimated at 42000 years before present) in the Geissenkloesterle Cave in Germany. Excavations in caves in this region have produced a number of interesting findings and are attributed to the Aurignacian culture. However the controversial Divje Babe flute in Slovenia is dated to 43100 years before present and would predate the above flute although the validity of this specimen has been disputed.

A 3D reconstruction of Ichthyostega suggests that it would not have been able to walk on land. Icthyostega is an example of a Tetrapod (having four legs). Tetrapods are were thought to have been the first animals to walk on land (an important evolutionary event) and are a distant human ancestor.

Appendix

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here 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.

YouTubing the Retrosplenial Region (AKA Brodmann Areas 26, 29 and 30)

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 Areas. There are 52 areas in all and I have covered other Brodmann Areas elsewhere (see Appendix). In his work ‘Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex’, Brodmann assigned the Retrosplenial Cortex to Brodmann Areas 26, 29 and 30. Brodmann Area 26 has been covered in this post previously. Brodmann identifies the Retrosplenial region as overlapping with the Corpus Callosum but is essentially the Isthmus of the Cingulate gyrus. Rather than include the Corpus Callosum in this section, I will focus on the Cingulate gyrus. There were a number of videos on the Anterior Cingulate Cortex covered elsewhere and again I will avoid repeating those covered again here (e.g if the video includes generic coverage of the Cingulate Cortex). The search terms Brodmann Area 26, Brodmann Area 29 and Brodmann Area 30 as expected from previous searches didn’t produce many results although the ‘Cingulate gyrus’ did. The most salient results are included below.

There is a neuroanatomy demonstration by Dr Gunied in this video

This is a neuroanatomy demonstration by Dr Banerjee

EEG activity in brain regions including the Cingulate Gyrus is shown in this video

Dr Ercoli gives a talk on PET imaging of Alzheimer’s Disease related Amyloid plaques in Down Syndrome in this video

The following is an excerpt from a surgical operation on the Cingulate Gyrus

Appendix

Neuroanatomy Resources

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here 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.

Looking Inside the Brain with A Microscope (in 5 minutes)

If you have five minutes to spare, Carl Schoonover, author of ‘Portraits of the Mind’ gives a very interesting overview of how scientists can view the brain using different staining methods. Golgi staining and seeing ‘the wood for the trees’ is a particularly useful insight.

An index of the TAWOP site can be found here and 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.

The UK Government Announces an Information Strategy

The UK Government has announced a new Information Strategy. The press release is here. In the press release, it is mentioned that patients will be able to access information which will help them to make decisions about their healthcare. The Department of Health website has a brief overview of the Information Strategy on this page. Nine features of the Information Strategy are shown in this infographic. There is also a dedicated website for the Information Strategy.

The Information Strategy can be read in full here. The full document is 119 pages but there is also an easy read version here. There are also links to what people are writing about the Information Strategy here. There are a number of interesting links on this page. The King’s Fund suggests that take-up will be dependent on local factors. In the Guardian there is a piece about the South London and Maudsley’s new patient electronic health record – MyHealthBox – which patients are able to access. MyHealthBox is discussed in the Information Strategy. There are other innovations from London and the Information Strategy gives details of an innovative system which integrates health and social care records in Tower Hamlets and a 2013 target for a paperless King’s College Hospital.

There is a lot of material in the Information Strategy and many of the aims lay the ground for exciting developments in the way that healthcare is delivered. On a related note, Tim-Berners Lee the founder of the World Wide Web has been commissioned by the government to help start-up companies make use of public data. All of this bring’s the opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in health informatics and can lead to an improvement in the quality of healthcare delivered.

An index of the TAWOP site can be found here and 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.

Dementia Awareness Week (TM) 2012 (20th May-26th May). ‘Remember the Person’

This week is Dementia Awareness Week (TM) 2012. This was established by the Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness of Dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society have produced a special video (above) to help raise awareness which is accompanied by a downloadable PDF booklet. The theme of Dementia Awareness Week (TM) 2012 is ‘Remember the Person’. The Alzheimer’s Society has also produced several other videos to mark this week.

Clarice’s story tells the story of Clarice who has dementia. Clarice worked as a nurse in the prison service and has six children.

Caroline’ story tells the story of Caroline who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Caroline worked with the BBC as a musician.

Actress Carey Mulligan talks about her grandmother who was diagnosed with Dementia

There is a very nice page here which shows you how to get involved if you have 30 seconds of time, 1 minute of time, 2 minutes of time or 5 minutes of time to support Dementia Awareness Week (TM).

In the online media there are articles in the Huffington Post, The Guardian, the BBC  as well as the Saga website (sponsors),  the Royal College of NursingYouGov, the Same Difference site, We Are Camden, the Parkinson’s UK website. There are numerous other sites which are raising awareness:-

Age UK

Alzheimer Scotland

Back Pain Blog

Beamish Museum

Bury Council

Cambridgeshire Net

Care Industry News

Chelmsford Weekly News

Cleethorpes People

Cumbria Crack

Dementia Adventure

Dementia Somerset

Derbyshire Council

Devon Life

Edu Buzz

Essex Dementia Care

Fieldings Porter Solicitor

Get Reading

Help Direct

Here For the City

Home Instead

The Kirbymoorside Town Blog

The Liverpool Echo

Lyons Davidson Solicitors

Mature Times

The Metro

Minster FM

Mix 96

Mosaic Media Training

Network Yarmouth

NCC Home Learning

Norfolk County Council

Patient.co.uk

Peak FM

Postcode Gazette

Radio Jackie

Reading Borough Council

Retirement Directory

Ridings

Right at Home

Rochdale Online

Shetlands Arts

Signature Care Homes

Suffolk Libraries

Surrey County Council

The Best of Bolton

The Partnership in Care

The Road to Skye

The Star

The University of Bradford

TLC Homecare

Warren Care

The Watford Observer

Wave 96.5 FM

WRVS

The sites above show that there has been a remarkable response to the Alzheimers Society Dementia Awareness Week 2012 campaign which has also spread internationally.

An index of the TAWOP site can be found here and 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.