Monthly Archives: September 2012

Is A Historical Narrative Central to the Development of Neuroscience? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 14

Neuroscience is a relatively young branch of science which is being recognised as increasingly important. Discoveries in Neuroscience are informing clinical practice in Psychiatry, Neurology, Neurosurgery as well as in the wider mental health movement. Neuroscience research is varied and ranges from basic cellular and genetic research through to psychological and social studies. A central problem in Neuroscience has been to present a coherent and understandable narrative about what Neuroscience is and how it came about.

In his classic work ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, Thomas Kuhn wrote extensively about scientific communities. Kuhn saw the most popular scientific discoveries as resulting from anomalies in the central paradigms owned by these same communities. For Kuhn the scientific community was inseparable from the scientific theories worked on by that community. In one sense the scientific theory was a  manifestation of the culture of the scientific community. There was one caveat however. For Kuhn, scientific communities behaved differently to other types of community. They were characterised by standardisation, central paradigms and ‘progress’ of sorts. Kuhn disagreed that there was actual progress. Instead he described the illusion of progress but essentially thought that the ‘gestalt’ paradigm described by the community may have been just as valid as the preceding paradigm.

Kuhn noticed another feature of the scientific community that distinguished scientists from members of other disciplines. Scientists could distill their knowledge in the form of textbooks, standardise their methodology and train scientists efficiently and effectively to undertake specialised scientific research. For Kuhn, science had a quality that led quite naturally to an efficient organisation of the findings from research studies. Although many of these qualities could equally describe other disciplines, the process of science also led quite naturally to the ‘progress’ of normal science. In other words normal science is an activity which must lead to a refinement of the body of scientific knowledge which in turn can reasonably be called progress. In contrast, a new painting in the style of the early 20th century impressionists does not lead inexorably to a refinement of the body of knowledge about impressionism.

For Kuhn, scientists had a strong sense of identity. They knew where they were coming from. They knew the landmark studies. They knew where their research fitted into the greater scheme of things. For Kuhn, historic revisionism produced a seamless historical narrative which obfuscated the complexity of the historical events appreciated by the historiographical connoisseur. There was a kind of practicality about it all. Scientific research led to refinement of the knowledge and historic revisionism pruned the complexity. This practicality was built into the fabric of science. Science was self-contained.

So what might we say about Neuroscience. Neuroscience is very different from other branches of science and shares some of the challenges of Psychiatry. Basic Neuroscience research spans many research communities. Those same communities can reasonably describe themselves as part of the Neuroscience community. The Neuroscience community however is an umbrella community containing a collection of smaller communities. The challenge for Neuroscience is to integrate those communities. This challenge occurs at all levels from the research infrastructure through to the historical narrative and the central paradigms owned by those communities. Indeed for certain communities, there are communities within communities as research becomes ever more specialised.

If as Kuhn asserts, Neuroscientists must establish a historical narrative what would it look like? Perhaps it would consist of a collection of narratives from within those communities. Here the critical question is whether or not Neuroscience needs an overarching historical narrative or a collection of historical narratives. The separate communities continue their research and generate their historical narratives both inside and outside of the wider neuroscience community.  However with increasing interdisciplinary research the findings from separate communities become increasingly important and the communities become more interconnected.

Perhaps this is the lesson for Neuroscience – the historical narrative needed for the formation of a core Neuroscience ‘identity’ will be complex and increasingly so as the body of neuroscience knowledge continues to grow. The neuroscience community must address the issue of identity through historical narrative and meet the significant challenges this poses. If Kuhn is correct, the rewards will be significant in helping Neuroscience to progress at an even greater pace and other related disciplines will benefit from the lessons learnt.

Appendix 1 – Review of Chapter 13 of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ on this Site

Chapter 13 in Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is ‘Progress through Revolutions’. Here Kuhn questions what it is that makes a science. He comments in an interesting way on what differentiates the branches of science. Thus he suggests that a strong sense of identity within a scientific discipline occurs when there is agreement within the community on past and present accomplishments. He also writes about the progress that occurred in the arts as representations became more realistic with refinements in the instruments and techniques of the artist.  The relationship between the scientific community and the paradigm is emphasised as well as the debate that occurs between schools. Kuhn also suggests that although science progresses it does not necessarily progress towards any specific goal. He also reiterates the effectiveness of scientific revolutions followed by periods of normal science in developing a body of scientific knowledge. However he leaves the reader to answer the question ‘what must the world be like for us to know it?’

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

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 5

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 6

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 7 – A Discussion of the Anomaly and Beyond

Do We Need A Crisis in Science For A Revolution to Occur? – An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 8

What is the Effect of a Scientific Crisis in Neuroscience? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 9

Has Neuroscience Been Undergoing a Limited Political Revolution Rather Than A Scientific Revolution? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 10

Is Neuroscience a Collection of Neuroscience Memes?: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 11

What Would An Accurate Historical Narrative of Neuroscience Look Like? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 12

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.

Review of Radiopaedia – A Wiki for Radiology

There is a very good site called Radiopaedia which is provided for educational use by medical professionals. In the tradition of ‘Open Science’ the Wikipedia reference on Radiopaedia describes it as a

non-profit-making wiki-based international collaborative radiology educational web resource containing reference articles, radiology images, and patient cases

while the home page of Radiopaedia describes it as

one of the web’s largest collection of radiology cases and reference articles

The site operates under the law of the state of Victoria, Australia and the ‘Terms of Use‘ are extensive including a warranty that all contributors uploading content have the right to upload that content. As a default, the content is assigned a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. At the time of writing there are 9863 cases and 5114 articles. In the About section we learn that the mission of the site is

To develop the most comprehensive online resource where information is up to date and relevant to the needs of the radiology community, and to provide that information for free

In the Encyclopedia section there are useful mnemonics as well as sections on the Central Nervous System and Anatomy. The images load quickly and the site has an effective design. There is a lot of very good educational material on this site which continues to grow in popularity.

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 Anatomy of the Hippocampal Region: The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 10

Figure 1 -Dr Korbinian Brodmann, German Neurologist, Frontpiece of ‘Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex’, 1909, Public Domain*

Dr Korbinian Brodmann was a German Neurologist who undertook landmark research into the anatomy of the brains of many species including humans. The cornerstone of his work was a detailed microscopic study of the Cerebral Cortex which he related to the gross anatomical structures within the brain. His work has become extremely popular and stood the test of time with his Brodmann Areas remaining essentially unchanged since his 1909 landmark text ‘Brodmann’s Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex’. In the English translation, 21 pages are devoted to the study of the human Cerebral Cortex and these pages form the basis for the current localisation of the Brodmann Areas in humans. Brodmann’s coverage of other regions is covered elsewhere on this site (see Appendix). The last of the regions Brodmann described in humans is the Hippocampal Region. He described the following Brodmann Areas within the Hippocampal Region

Brodmann Area 27: The Presubicular Area.

Brodmann Area 28: The Entorhinal Area.

Brodmann Area 34: The Dorsal Entorhinal Area.

Brodmann Area 35: The Perirhinal Area.

Brodmann Area 48: The Retrosubicular Area.

These will now be covered in turn.

 Figure 1 – Cytoarchitectonics of human brain according to Brodmann (1909), Public Domain*, The Top Diagram is the Lateral Surface of the Cortex, The Bottom Diagram is the Medial Surface

Figure 2 – Three drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, taken from the book “Comparative study of the sensory areas of the human cortex”, pages 314, 361, and 363, Public Domain*

Left: Nissl-stained visual cortex Middle: Nissl-stained motor cortex Right: Golgi-stained cortex 

Stylised Diagram of the Hippocampus - Frank Gaillard

Figure 3 – Stylised Diagram of the Hippocampus, Frank Gaillard, GNU Free Documentation License

Brodmann described the Hippocampal region as extending from the Hippocampal Sulcus (see Figure 3) to the Rhinal Sulcus.

Brodmann Area 27: The Presubicular Area. Brodmann describes the Presubicular Area as continuing directly on from the Subiculum (see Figure 3). He notes that there is a sharp demarcation in moving from the Subiculum to the Presubiculum (and references the change in cytoarchitecture seen in histological slides from the Kangaroo and Wallaby in a different section of the book). However he does not describe the nature of this demarcation in humans.

Brodmann Area 28: The Entorhinal Area. Brodmann describes this as lying adjacent to the Rhinal Sulcus. The anterior border is described as the ‘Temporal Incisura’. The term Incisura means notch and the Temporal Incisura is anatomically related to the Oculomotor Nerve. According to this surgical reference the Temporal Incisura is contained within a region described by the following

transversal line made in front of the cerebral peduncles and another line through the posterior border of the quadrigeminal plate into the anterior, middle and posterior parts

Brodmann suggests this is a vestigial remnant of the Posterior Rhinal Sulcus of other mammals. Brodmann describes the laminar pattern in the cytoarchitecture as characteristic throughout the species he examined. In the ventrolateral part he describes a change in the cytoarchitecture sufficient to enable him to describe the Dorsal Entorhinal Area of Brodmann Area 34.

Brodmann Area 34: The Dorsal Entorhinal Area. Brodmann describes this area simply as above and also as being medial to the Inferior Rhinencephalic Sulcus.

Brodmann Area 35: The Perirhinal Area. Brodmann describes this area as being limited to the Rhinal Sulcus. He also notes the absence of an inner granular layer and that this is the border between the Archipallium and Neopallium. Brodmann suggested that this area could be allocated to either although he seemed to favour the Archicortex in his 1909 work.

Caudal to the Perirhinal Area and lateral to the Presubiculum, Brodmann very briefly mentions the Retrosubicular Area (Brodmann Area 48).

Many of the Brodmann Areas can be seen in the schematic diagrams in Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4 – Brodmann Areas 27, 28, 34, and 35 (visible on the medial view) Derived from Gray’s Anatomy 20th Edition 1918 Lithograph Reproduction, Public Domain

Figure 5 – Hagmann et al,  (2008), Extract from Figure 1 from Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex, PLoS Biol 6(7): e159, Creative Commons 2.5 License

 

 

 

References

Brodmann’s Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex. 1909. Translated and Edited by Laurence J Garey. Springer. 2006.

*Public Domain in those countries where the Copyright term of the life of the author (Korbinian Brodmann 1868-1918) plus the additional country specific term has lapsed from Copyright at the time of writing

Appendix

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 1

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 2 – The Postcentral Region

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 3 – The Precentral Region

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 4 – The Frontal Region

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 5 – The Parietal Region

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 6 – The Occipital Region

The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 7 – The Temporal Region

A 103 Year Old Neuroanatomical Mistake? The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 8 – The Insular Region

The Anatomy of the Cingulate Region: The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 9

The Anatomy of the Retrosplenial Region: The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 10

Is it Time for Neuroscientists to Revisit the Brodmann Areas?

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.

Imaging Reveals Changes in Alzheimer’s Disease and New Insights into the Origins of Humanity News Roundup: September 2012 4th Edition

Clinical Psychiatry News have an interesting and balanced piece on the fast approaching new edition of the diagnostic manual – DSM-V.

Scientific American has a brief article by Gary Stix on drug development for the treatment of Schizophrenia in light of recent findings on gene activation in the brain.

Researchers in one study used a 7-Tesla MRI scanner to investigate Alzheimer’s Disease. MRI scanners or Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners use powerful magnets to image the brain. 7-Tesla scanners are state-of-the-art scanners which allow a very high resolution of the brain. The team based at Stanford have previously published research in which they imaged a very small area within the Hippocampus – the CA1 layer and specifically within this area – the Stratum Radiatum/Stratum Lacunosum-Moleculare (SRLM). The researchers in this study wanted to connect the brain changes with changes seen on psychological testing. They took a battery of psychological tests including episodic recall, delayed recall and recognition memory and looked to see if there was a link with the changes in this part of the Hippocampus. Previous research has shown less detailed links between brain changes and performance on specific psychological tests. However in this study the researchers had some very interesting results. They found a very strong connection between performance on the delayed recall task and the width of CA1-SRLM in the left hemisphere. When they looked at CA3, another area in the Hippocampus they found no significant relationship. This study suggests that with sufficient resolution, there may be a clear relationship between performance on specific memory tests and neuroanatomy

Explanation of MRI

MRI of Brain

The Hippocampus

The Parahippocampal Gyrus Which Surrounds the Hippocampus

Researchers have found differences in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease between people living in the urban and rural areas with the latter group showing a significantly higher prevalence in their international study.

A successful model of Alzheimer’s Disease needs to explain a broad range of research findings. The authors of this paper suggest two main strands to such a model (based on CSF ABeta(42) and CSF tau) and propose a need for a third strand to a successful model.

Researchers in one study were looking to find out how Parkinson’s Disease differed from a Parkinson’s like disease resulting from vascular damage (Vascular Parkinsonism). They found that people developing Vascular Parkinsonism were older and didn’t experience visual hallucinations compared to people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved in memory. Disturbances of Acetylcholine can be associated with memory problems. In hospitals, older adults can frequently develop episodes of confusion. These episodes are referred to as Delirium and can either involve agitation or withdrawal. The researchers in one study wanted to see if they could replicate previous findings showing an association between delirium and anticholinergic activity in the bloodstream (Serum Anticholinergic Activity = SAA). The suggestion was that this could be used as a blood marker of Delirium. They looked at SAA in people undergoing surgery for hip fractures and did find changes that were associated with Delirium. However when they looked at other factors that could have changed SAA and caused Delirium they found that SAA by itself was no longer significant. In other words their study suggested this wasn’t a useful blood marker of Delirium.

The ENCODE project has involved 442 scientists internationally collaborating on understanding the human genome. Their efforts have amongst other developments resulted in a reevaluation of the so-called junk DNA which up till now has been thought to play no useful role in the human genome. The researchers have found that this DNA influences a number of cellular processes. Furthermore changes in this DNA have been associated with mental illnesses.

Researchers in one study looked at a test which could characterise the cognitive profile of people with Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. They compared twenty people with Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus with 20 people with Alzheimer’s Disease and administered a specially developed test which examined executive function. They compared their test with a neuropsychological test battery and found that their test correlated well with some of the tests on the Neuropsychological test battery and helped to characterise the performance of people with idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus in their sample. It will be interesting to see the results of further replication studies.

Researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to investigate the functional connection between brain regions in people with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment compared to a control group without memory impairment. They compared 30 people with Amnestic MCI with 26 controls and found that the connections between the Insular Cortex and other parts of the brain were reduced in people with Amnestic MCI. Furthermore this reduction was correlated with Episodic Memory impairment. These are interesting findings although they occur in the context of other robust findings showing a significant contribution by other brain regions.

The researchers in this case-control study were interested in predicting who might go on to develop acute confusional episodes (Delirium). They looked at people in long term care over a 6-month period. Delirium was assessed on a weekly basis using a confusion assessment tool. The researchers found that inattention, disorganised thinking and new-onset perceptual disturbances were associated with subsequent onset of Delirium. The finding of inattention fits with previous findings by Meagher and colleagues in which inattention was one of the main findings characterising Delirium.

One group of researchers suggest a new hypothesis about cognitive impairment based on their post-mortem findings in people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers found evidence of increased Sodium in the Frontal and Parietal cortex compared to the control group. Although there is redistribution of fluid post-mortem, the researchers provided supporting evidence from other research and suggest this may be related to the Amyloid Beta Peptide. It will be interesting to see if further evidence supports this hypothesis.

Membrane Potential

An Italian group have reported their findings in which they found a subset of amyloid-beta 1-42-specific T-cells which were found only in people with Alzheimer’s Disease and not in a control group or in people with Lewy Body Dementia. The significance of these findings is that ABeta Peptide plays an important role in Alzheimer’s Disease pathology according to the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis there is a central role for the immune system and so having a peripheral marker of this process would be useful. However the researchers caution that these are early findings with unclear significance.

A group of researchers in France present a case series highlighting Portosystemic shunts (shunts between the brain and the liver) as important although rare and reversible causes of cognitive impairment.

Researchers have found a variant of the gene C9ORF72 associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Dementia. However the gene variant is also frequently found in the general population and so the significance of this finding is still being investigated.

Researchers have looked at the development of symptoms in Huntington’s Disease in 111 people in a longitudinal study. They found in their sample that apathy increases with age whilst irritability increases only in the early stages.

One treatment for Parkinson’s Disease involves a technique known as Deep Brain Stimulation. This is a neurosurgical procedure in which a neurostimulating device is inserted into the brain in carefully selected people with Parkinson’s Disease as well as a number of other conditions as a treatment approach particularly for movement disorders. The authors of this paper suggest that some people may develop Mania after Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation (STN DBS). Furthermore in their review they note that Mania is more likely after ventromedial versus dorsolateral placement of the electrodes and identify a number of other factors associated with Mania. In another paper they note that left STN DBS is more likely to be associated with improvement in mood compared to right STN DBS. Deep Brain Stimulation has also been successfully trialled in the treatment of carefully selected cases of Treatment Resistant Depression.

Deep Brain Stimulation Effects on the Finger Tapping Test

The researchers in this study (n=72) identified an interaction between Depression and Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment which was associated with grey matter volume reduction in specific brain regions. The severity of the depressive symptoms and the impairment in Episodic Memory were associated with grey matter volume reduction in the Left Medial Frontal Gyrus, the Right Inferior Frontal Gyrus and the Anterior Insular Cortex.

The Inferior Frontal Gyrus

Neuroscience News

Craig Bennett has received an Ig Nobel Prize for his work on the neuroimaging of a dead salmon. The Ig Nobel awards for ‘improbable research’ highlight research that make people ‘laugh and think’. Bennett’s study showed activity in the brain of a dead Salmon facilitating a discussion about MRI methodology.

A new brain atlas has been created from 2 whole male brains and one hemisphere from another brain. The researchers from the Allen Institute divided the brains into 900 subdivisions and utilised 60,000 gene expression probes.

Evidence linking overeating of chocolate to an opiate-like substance in the neostriatum has been identified in this study.

There is an NIMH video on the promise of neuroscience here.

MRI researchers have found evidence in a multidisciplinary study that reading novels activates a number of areas in the brain involved in higher cognitive functions. They also found that changing from reading for pleasure to reading for study altered the areas involved.

Professor Eric Kandel looks at the neuroscience of interpreting the art of Gustav Klimt in this piece by Columbia Magazine.

Dr Roy Baumeister has an interesting presentation on self-control here.

Open Science

There is an interesting piece (via @VaughanBell) on the success of crowdsourcing volunteers for cognition studies online.

The American organisation ProPublica have launched a Facebook patient safety website.

Via @VaughanBell there is an organisation ‘Psychology Tools’ that provides freely available online tools for therapists.

The HHMI UCI Professor Program have a YouTube Channel which is a great resource for biology education.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Researchers have looked at the genomes of the Khoe-San people in Africa and identified evidence of early diversity in the human genome approximately 100,000 years ago. They are making the genome data available. An important set of changes that appeared before humans migrated out of Africa were gene changes associated with the processing of fatty acids which may have contributed to successful adaptation.

Recent research has suggested that mutations in human DNA do not occur as rapidly as previously thought. The revised findings have helped to explain the divergence of hominids in recent times (by evolutionary standards) including the relationship between Homo Heidelbergensis and the Neandertals. However this new calibration throws up new problems further back in time in the divergence of our human lineage with Old World Monkeys for example.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence that Neandertals were actively hunting birds and using their feathers. These inferences were drawn from an observation of the markings on raptor bones located at Neandertals sites and suggests that they may have been used for social purposes. Neandertals are extinct as a distinct species but have passed on their DNA to modern humans through one or more hybridisation events.

A dental filling dating back 6500 years ago made from Beeswax has been located in Slovenia. It would be interesting if that knowledge had been transmitted in culture and has implications for the history of the treatment of illness.

One theory about human evolution suggests that human ancestors have passed through phases of isolation and integration and this may help to explain the rapid evolution of human culture and biology.

Were early Europeans animating cave art? This is an interesting question asked by researchers recently. The idea is that the illusion of movement in cave art can be created by changing the lighting. If this is valid it means that the artists intended for the art to illustrate movement and had an intricate understanding of lighting in artwork. The video below demonstrates this.

Humans were recycling flint tools as long ago as 13,000 years ago, new research suggests.

Finally while not directly related to Psychiatry, this video fly-through of the Universe based on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III is inspiring!

Appendix

News Round-Up 2008-2011

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.

Optical House Illusion Seen in Transit

Peter Duimelaar has filmed a very interesting structure in Sydney, Australia. The structure consists of painted walls which when viewed in a passing car appear as a 3D house. Towards the end of the video the house ‘flips’!

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.

World Alzheimer’s Day – September 21st 2012 and World Alzheimer’s Month – September

September 21st 2012 is World Alzheimer’s Day. Here are some of the links in the media

There is a press release here detailing several events taking place to mark World Alzheimer’s Day

Donate your Facebook timeline to World Alzheimer’s Day – Find out more here

Singer/Songwriter Joseph Portelli has donated proceeds from his song How the Times Have Changed to support Alzheimer’s Disease International

 

General Information About World Alzheimer’s Day

Alzheimer’s Society Page

Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Page on World Alzheimer’s Day

Alzinfo.org Page

Articles About World Alzheimer’s Month

On this page Alzheimer’s Org refers to September 21st as Alzheimer’s Action Day and September as World Alzheimer’s Month

Alzheimer’s Disease International is also supporting September as World Alzheimer’s Month

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.

Is Criticism Within Neuroscience Sufficient for a Revolution? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 13

In Chapter 12 of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ Thomas Kuhn looks at the process of scientific revolutions as well as the characteristics of the players. The revolutionary scientists can be outside of the research community looking in and are in a position to challenge the paradigm. In a sense they are better suited at playing the role of critics of the paradigm which Kuhn asserts is necessary for a scientific revolution.

He also suggests to us three ways in which a scientific paradigm is established as the successor

1. The paradigm survives criticism (Popper’s falsifiability)

2. The paradigm is supported by most of the evidence (Probabilistic)

3. The paradigm is supported by all of the evidence (Categorical) which is less realistic

Does Neuroscience, a complex branch of science with an emerging identity fit in the above model. In other words if we take the above ingredients will we arrive at a new paradigm? I would argue that the answer is no. The reason is that Neuroscience has a central philosophical problem which is one of integration.

At present there are many theorems within the domain of Neuroscience contained within various scientific communities allied to Neuroscience. However although revolutions can occur within these communities (consistent with Kuhn’s model) the question of what this means to Neuroscience is still not solved. Suppose for example that a new mechanism for the storage of memory in the brain at the cellular level is identified. Suppose also that this challenges the central paradigm of long term potentiation (LTP). What does this mean for our understanding of the social brain? What does it mean for our understanding of the mind? Will it impact on these things at all?

At present Neuroscience is so complex that not only are there pressing philosophical problems but there are also problems associated with the social infrastructure. Solving these challenges will be both interesting and fruitful as it has the potential to benefit many areas of human endeavour and to impact on health and the treatment of illness.

Appendix 1 – Review of Chapter 12 of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ on this Site

Chapter 12 in Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is titled ‘The Resolution of Revolutions’. Kuhn suggests that those involved in scientific revolutions have characteristics which are different from those of scientists involved in ‘normal science’. Thus he suggests that such scientists are usually new to the field and for various reasons are not under an obligation to operate within the boundaries of the paradigm but instead are able to challenge the paradigm itself. He then goes onto talk about the validations of theories and this gets quite interesting. Kuhn categorises the validation approaches as follows

1. Categorical

2. Probabilistic

So the first question to ask about the validation process is whether or not a theory completely accounts for the experimental data. In a categorical model of theories, the theory would be expected to account for all of the data. However this would be unrealistic and Kuhn suggests instead that most scientists consider a probabilistic model of theory validation in which the theory accounts for most of the experimental findings. Another approach to validation of theories is also considered by Kuhn contrasting

1. Identification of evidence for the theory

2. Falsification

A theory can thus be validated by the identification of supporting evidence or by surviving attempts to falsify the theory with experimental observations which do not fit with the theory’s predictions. The suggestion of a principle of falsification in science was developed by Karl Popper. Kuhn then refers back to anomalies in the experimental data which are sufficient to generate a challenge to the dominant paradigm. This allows the beginning of an appraisal of the paradigm itself but it is only when the conflicting paradigm is developed that the necessary debate can begin. Kuhn then gives some of the characteristics of the subsequent debate which results in the resolution of revolutions. This is an elegant chapter with Kuhn drawing together the threads from previous chapters into a narrative with powerful explanatory properties.

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

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 5

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 6

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 7 – A Discussion of the Anomaly and Beyond

Do We Need A Crisis in Science For A Revolution to Occur? – An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 8

What is the Effect of a Scientific Crisis in Neuroscience? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 9

Has Neuroscience Been Undergoing a Limited Political Revolution Rather Than A Scientific Revolution? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 10

Is Neuroscience a Collection of Neuroscience Memes?: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 11

What Would An Accurate Historical Narrative of Neuroscience Look Like? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 12

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