Neurological shorts

By Grant Jacobs 08/09/2010

Recently I joined in those looking at who blogs what, with ruminations as to why. A thought raised was the ‘human’ connection. Neuroscience and psychology writing has as human a connection you can get. I’m a sucker for it too!

I’m too busy for anything original, certainly nothing that involves tracking down sources and cross-checking. In it’s place here are a series of short introductions (with a few thoughts) on others’ writing about different case histories, and a critique of a survey. They’re great stuff.

(Source: significantsci blog.)
(Source: significantsci blog.)

Dogs can have half a perception too. In patients with hemispatial neglect their brain does not perceive half of the visual input. This is not the same as seeing in one eye, but rather one half of what is seen is not perceived, and can occur as a consequence of a stroke. It’s not just in us humans, but our best friends too. (I have to say that my best animal friend is cat, Aimee, but never mind that…) Anyway, blogger Olana Tansley-Hancock introduces the different forms of hemispheric neglect and writes how her dog, Barley, appears to be suffering from hemispheric neglect after a stroke through how Barley appears to only perceive one half of her food bowl. It’s a lovely blog post, read it. (Hat tip to Emily Anthes of Small Wonders.)

There is a more recent update to this story (that I haven’t yet had time to read!).

Half of us are nuts, or perhaps not. Neuroskeptic reviews a recent British Journal of Psychiatry paper that reports

[…] No less than 48% of the population have “personality difficulties”, and on top of that 21% have a full blown “personality disorder”, and another 7% have it even worse with “complex” or “severe” personality disorders.

That’s quite a lot of people. Indeed it only leaves an elite 22.5% with no personality disturbances whatsoever. […]

Hazel nuts, if you're wondering (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)
Hazel nuts, if you're wondering (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

I’ve always thought mental health issues to be more common that general acknowledged, but that’s lot more than I’d have thought.

Neuroskeptic goes on to poo-poo – I’m using very scientifically language here – the researchers’ ’Personality Difficulties’ category, arguing it may be simply a matter of where you choose to place the boundaries of the categories. If you’ve got an opinion you can join the extensive discussion. (Either way it raises a good point about appropriate ‘binning’ of data.)

Foul sign language in Tourette’s and processing of language. A recent blog post looks at a deaf native signer whose Tourette’s-associated foul mouth is manual, rather than verbal. The article looks at what this means for Tourette’s, but my own first thoughts were that it reminded me of the plasticity of the source of language input and the means to convey it.

Language areas of the brain (Source: WIkimedia Commons.)
Language areas of the brain (Source: WIkimedia Commons.)

This article reminds me of research* using fMRI scans that suggest that native sign language (SL) users process SL in the ‘language’ areas of the brain (e.g. Broca’s area) despite that for these people their linguist input was not aural but visual. Different classes of signers were studied. ‘Native’ signers’ brains showed similar activity as those with spoken language as their primary language, those for who SL was a second language (e.g. interpreters) first processed the language in the visual areas. [I’m writing this from recollection rather than revisiting the papers.]


* E.g. this paper.

Other articles on Code for life:

Earthquake, South Island, New Zealand (updated news is being posted as comments)

Science-y reading and open book thread (join in and share what you’re reading, don’t be shy!)

I remember because my DNA was methylated (DNA methylation and memories)

Book sales, frumpy readers, and mental rotation of book titles (thoughts from scanning books at the annual 24-hour book sale)