Neurophilosophy

Archives for February, 2008

Cold fibres: neurochemistry & anatomy

[Introduction|Part 2] Takashima et al (2007) carried out one of the first investigations of the distribution of TRPM8-positive sensory nerve terminals in various peripheral structures, using transgenic mice which express enhanced green fluorescent protein under the control of the TRPM8 transcriptional promoter.

The neuroscience of jazz improvisation

One shouldn’t really need an excuse to embed this fantastic performance by Thelonious Monk, but now there is one: NIDCD researchers believe that they have identified the cognitive neural substrate of jazz improvisation. For the study, which is published in the open access journal PLoS One, Charles Lamb and Allen Braun recruited six professional jazz…

TRPM8: The cold receptor

[Introduction] McKemy et al (2002) used whole-cell patch clamping and calcium imaging to record the responses of cultured rat trigeminal ganglion neurons to cold temperatures and various cooling compounds. They found that the cells respond to menthol and cold with an increase in intracellular calcium ion concentration, and that these stimuli activate non-selective cation channels…

Oliver Sacks blogging at the NY Times

A few days ago, I briefly discussed the article by Oliver Sacks about geometric hallucinations in migraine aura. I thought that it was published in the print edition of the New York Times, but it turns out that this is in fact Sacks’s first post on a new NY Times blog called Migraine: Perspectives on…

Cold thermosensation

Below is the introduction to my third and final piece of coursework, an essay entitled Multiple roles for Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin 8 (TRPM8) in cold thermosensation. This time, I discuss three recent studies which have contributed significantly to the understanding of the mechanisms by which nerve endings in the skin detect cold stimuli. I’ll…

Science blogging event in London

If you’re in London, you might be interested in this event, which has been organised by the Royal Institution in collaboration with Nature Network: Blogging science Dr Ben Goldacre, Dr Jennifer Rohn, Ed Yong Thursday 28 February 2008 7.00pm-8.30pm What is it like to work in a lab? What’s the latest science news? How can…

The Lobotomist is online

The Lobotomist, a PBS documentary about Walter Freeman which I mentioned recently, is now available online as a series of short clips that require either QuickTime or Windows Media Player for viewing. The program charts how the lobotomy came to be regarded as a cure for most types of mental illness, how Freeman “refined” the…

The man who never forgets

(Cartoon by Greg Williams, from Wikipedia) The term hyperthymestic syndrome was proposed by James L. McGaugh, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues, following their case study of the woman known as A.J. (The study was published in the journal Neurocase, and is available as a PDF; there’s also this story…

Question time with Oliver Sacks

In an article called Patterns, published in the NY Times earlier this month, neurologist and author Oliver Sacks discusses the geometric visual hallucinations which occur during the migraine auras that he has experienced since early childhood. Sacks explains that the hallucinations occur as a result of waves abnormal electrical activity sweeping across the visual cortex,…

In an article from last Saturday’s Guardian, Rick Hemsley describes his experience of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, the neurological condition in which the perception of one’s body is distorted: Floors either curved or dipped, and when I tried walking on them, it felt as though I was staggering on sponges. When I lay in bed…