Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 4

A young adult American – usually male – has committed a crime. He stands in the dock. As we sit as courtroom observers, what, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, do we see before us? As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs: 1. We see a young man who has failed at school. There is…

A little more neuroplasticity help is on the way!

I’ve spent the past 2 days participating in a workshop at the National Institutes of Health titled “Harnessing Neuroplasticity for Human Applications”. You would probably have enjoyed – and learned from — listening in on these discussions. The participants at this meeting (including many top American gurus and practitioners in neuroplasticity) outlined the state or…

Brain plasticity origins of PTSD

John Woo, a fellow University of California professor and self-identified neurological expert on methods of interrogating prisoners argued that recommended methods of interviewing prisoners (like ‘water-boarding’, sustaining a detainee in an agonizing posture for extended periods of time, or long bouts of sleep deprivation) were acceptable, because experience with former prisoners of war have shown…

Genetics explanations for neurological & psychiatric illness

There is an interesting set of commentaries in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine in which scientists reflect on why genetic screening strategies have had such limited value, for explaining the risks of onset of the great human diseases and disorders. There has been a longstanding presumption (most strongly held by…

The IMPACT study; a gold-standard trial that shows that Posit Science’s ‘Brain Fitness Program’ works as advertised.

A controlled scientific study (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training; the IMPACT Study) conducted in 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 has recorded substantial improvements in cognitive abilities resulting from training with Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program. The study, now published online and appearing in print in the April issue of…

PTSD and the Purple Heart

Several weeks ago, the Army formally responded to a recommendation from a military psychologist that soldiers suffering from PTSD be awarded a Purple Heart. “No”, they said. “It is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy”, explained an Army spokesperson. On lots of blogs and in commentaries written about this suggestion, many soldiers weighed…

Helping the troops

It was distressing to read last week about a careful scientific meta-analysis of more than 1800 studies of the nature of, and the origins of “Gulf War Syndrome”.  That study showed, with statistical surety, that the cause of this affliction that has substantially, permanently degraded the lives of about 175,000 former men and women who…

Keeping those troops on alert

I usually don’t read Time , but my wife has a subscription and I happened to notice and read a cover story in a recent issue discussing the profligate prescription of drugs (especially, anti-depressants) to active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was not surprised by the story, for two reasons. First, as you probably…

Gory neuroscience

I was surprised to read about neuroscience and the brain considered from a particularly intelligent general perspective in the politician Al Gore’s recently published The Assault on Reason (now a Penguin soft-cover). I recommend this book for its perspective about the relationship between “reason” and “marketing” — as “truth” hangs in the balance — in…