Scientists Predict Dream Content and Neandertals Recyced Tools in Norfolk 60,000 Years Ago News Roundup: October 2012 3rd Edition

There is a piece on psychiatry in Sierra Leone which features an interview with Dr Nahim who is reported to be the only Psychiatrist in the country. The country has a population of just under 5.5 million and the article describes how mental illness is treated with relatively few resources and what happens in the absence of resources.

October is Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month.

 

Neuroscience

In remarkable research, scientists in Japan have predicted the content of dreams based on their analysis of functional Magnetic Resonance imaging data and EEG data. The researchers examined 3 volunteers. They woke the volunteers shortly after they entered the dream stage of sleep and asked them what they had been dreaming. They then classified the dream content and correlated this with the fMRI and EEG findings. On this basis they were able to predict dream content on the basis of the fMRI and EEG findings alone. They were able to predict qualitative content within dreams but not in the same way as a previous remarkable study by Gallant and colleagues. Indeed Gallant comments on the present study in the article above.

The creation of a detailed Brain Atlas has been announced. This has been derived from the structural Magnetic Resonance Images of 100 volunteers as part of the CONNECT project.

There is an interesting post on open publishing in Neuroscience here.

The researchers in one study looked at the neuroanatomical correlates how people actively forget information. They looked at people who were actively trying to forget material using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The researchers found evidence that there was an increase in activity in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex with reduced activity in the Hippocampus with the suggestion of a causal relationship between these two findings. They also found evidence of a possible second mechanism involving other parts of the Prefrontal Cortex.

In a paper published in Neuron researchers found further evidence to support the organisation of memory in the brain within networks of neurons. The researchers investigated a murine model of auditory memory. They looked at which groups of neurons fired when a specific sound was produced. When they mixed sounds, rather than seeing a gradual shift in activity between groups of neurons they saw a sudden shift suggesting that the sound would activate one or other of the groups. This is consistent with neural network models of brain function.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

There is a fascinating document on a Neandertal site in Norfolk, England published by English Heritage. The archaeological team identified multiple animal remains including woolly mammoth that have evidence of Neandertal processing. Although there were no Neandertal remains they inferred this from both the tools that were used and the date of the site circa 60,000 years before present. There were many interesting findings. For instance some of the tools showed evidence of recycling. Indeed they identified 100 kg of flint tools. They also identified sandstone material that contained red and black pigmentation in the smoothed surface. This pigmentation showed traces of Sulphur and Iron. The researchers could not discriminate between a natural (geological) origin for this material or Neandertal origins. In other Neandertal sites there is evidence of Iron Pyrrites and the researchers suggest that the Neandertals may have been using Iron Pyrrites as fire starters. If so the researchers say that the Norfolk site is the earliest evidence of fire starter materials at Neandertal sites.

John Hawks covers ongoing work at a Neandertal site in Madrid which has uncovered what may be a funeral pyre. A Neandertal child was buried with evidence of ceremonial funeral rites. The specimens at this site date to between 60,000 and 90,000 years ago.

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.

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