Monday, October 31, 2011

The need for collaborative definitions in neurodegenerative disease research

As the population ages, public concern regarding neurodegenerative diseases is rapidly accelerating. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is estimated to effect 5.3 million individuals in the United States alone [1], and treatment options for these patients remain limited. The cause of pathogenesis in AD has remained elusive, severely limiting therapeutic developments.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Neuroethics journal club: Right-brained, wrongly reasoned

Who’d believe there’s a liberal professor (he freely acknowledges he belongs to this group) that’s willing to admit that conservatives might be right about something? Don't get too excited; he also thinks the reasoning that many conservatives use to decide what’s right is all wrong. What’s more, he thinks that neuroscience proves the way that many conservatives reason is wrong. The professor, Dr. John Banja, led a discussion of one of his articles last Wednesday at the second meeting of the Neuroethics Journal Club hosted by the Neuroethics Program at the Emory Center for Ethics.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Neuroethics Recommended Awesome Reading (RAWR)!: Neuroethics, Gender and the Response to Difference

The Neuroethics Blog first installment of RAWR (Recommended AWesome Reading) features an article by Emory's own Dr. Deboleena Roy.
Deboleena Roy

Dr. Deboleena Roy is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology. Dr. Roy's academic interests and background are exquisitely interdisciplinary. Trained as a neuroendocrinologist and molecular biologist, Dr. Roy uses her perspective as a neuroscientist to explore dimensions of feminist theory and feminist ethics.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Prodrome: The Evaluation of Risk for Schizophrenia

How has research on schizophrenia recently changed?
In the past twenty years, schizophrenia research has turned its attention to the symptomatic period preceding a transition to the first episode of psychosis1. In an attempt to prevent or at least dampen the cognitive, social, and psychological deterioration associated with the development of schizophrenia, research has identified a host of symptoms now described as “prodromal symptoms” to schizophrenia2. The prodrome is the period of subclinical symptoms that develop prior to the onset of an illness, such as visual aura leading up to the onset of a migraine. With schizophrenia, these symptoms have a diverse range of manifestations from depression to grandiosity (an unrealistic sense of superiority), have no definite linear progression, and can only be retrospectively identified as prodromal schizophrenia once a transition has occurred. Until the patient develops full onset schizophrenia, symptoms can only be accurately described as putatively prodromal3

"Kaleidoscope Cats": Paintings of cats by artist Louis Wain reflecting the development of his schizophrenia over a period of time. Images from the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archive and

Can clinicians predict a future onset of schizophrenia?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oxytocin: Liquid Trust and Artificial Love

The website for the company Vero Labs sells a product called Liquid Trust. It is a hormone-based spray that, when applied like a cologne, is supposed to help win the trust of those around you. According to the website, the spray contains “pure human Oxytocin”, a hormone and neuropeptide that is involved in emotions such as trust, social bonding, and even love.  The idea of a commercially available product that can secretly control the behavior of those nearby seems too far-fetched to be possible, and, in fact, it is. But surprisingly, the problem with Liquid Trust is not the ingredients but the dosing.  In a 2005 Boston Globe Article neuroeconomist Paul Zak explained that the amount of oxytocin that would be inhaled by standing next to someone wearing Liquid Trust is not enough to have any behavioral effect and called the product “totally bogus”.

A bottle of Liquid Trust

So then, what can oxytocin do if taken in a high enough dose?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Neuro-rehabilitation: A vision for a new justice system

In the wake of Troy Davis’ execution, we’re reminded to revisit conversations about the efficacy of our current legal system and notions of justice. Often the arguments for or against capital punishment are weighted with broader moral conversations and convictions than conversations about more specific aspects of our legal system and mechanisms of social justice.

Others, like Will Campbell, say it more plainly, “Capital punishment. I just think it’s tacky.”
When we ask ourselves, “Do you believe in capital punishment?” Two simple answers might come to mind: