Double congrats go to Mo the Neurophilosopher. Not only has the Encephalon neuroscience blogging carnival seen it’s first year anniversary, Encephalon masterbrain Mo has been welcomed aboard the scienceblogs.com network! His scienceblog can be found here.
It’s been nearly 3 months since I last wrote anything here and I should probably give a few updates. I was recently in Chicago for every brain imager’s annual favorite, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping conference. All in all, I really enjoyed the conference and the city. A few highlights:
– Marcus Gray from University College London had an interesting poster entitled ‘A cortical potential for cardiac function’ (now in PNAS). From the abstract:
Emotional trauma and psychological stress can precipitate cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death through arrhythmogenic effects of efferent sympathetic drive. Patients with preexisting heart disease are particularly at risk. Moreover, generation of proarrhythmic activity patterns within cerebral autonomic centers may be amplified by afferent feedback from a dysfunctional myocardium. An electrocortical potential reflecting afferent cardiac information has been described, reflecting individual differences in interoceptive sensitivity (awareness of one’s own heartbeats). To inform our understanding of mechanisms underlying arrhythmogenesis, we extended this approach, identifying electrocortical potentials corresponding to the cortical expression of afferent information about the integrity of myocardial function during stress. We measured changes in cardiac response simultaneously with electroencephalography in patients with established ventricular dysfunction.
– Gray’s work is somewhat representative of a general emphasis on biomarkers and predictive imaging at this year’s conference.
– This year, diffusion tensor imaging, (DTI), dynamic causal modelling (DCM), multi-modal imaging, as well as lie-detection were in vogue. I remember resting-state fMRI being the cat’s meow at the 2005 conference in Toronto. Oh the times, they are a changin’…
– I think everyone’s favorite memory from the conference program was that of a video involving monkeys and robots. Enough said.
– On other studies, Dr. Nicholas Schiff had a very interesting talk on limited states of consciousness in the clinic. You may remember Dr. Schiff’s name splashed in the headlines last summer on a very interesting case of a man who ‘woke up’ after being in a minimally conscious state. Yes, DTI pops up here too. Dr. Schiff recently talked at a workshop on neuroethics and limited states of consciousness as part of ongoing work at Stanford’s Neuroethics unit.
There are many more highlights but I should leave off now. What I will leave off with is a note that the 27th edition of Encephalon will be hosted right here in two weeks time. That’s Monday, July 16th. If you’d like to contribute, don’t be shy, send in any post you may have that’s neuro-related!
Send an email to: encephalon[dot]host[at]gmail[dot]com.
Things that I would be particularly interested in reading relate to blogging and funding. If you have an opinion as to how science blogging could be a tool (or not) for raising awareness about the need for funding, or have some interesting statistics, please send it in! The debate over stem cell research is certainly important, but I’d be interested in something that looks at the issue more broadly (many of you out there can sympathize with the penny pinching scientists are forced to endure, or end up finding financial pressures destructive). Another issue that caught my attention at the OHBM town hall meeting involved a debate about whether or not the conference should consider holding a future meeting in Cuba. Posts related to conferences and political pressures would also be well received. i.e. Should scientists be concerned about conferences being held in countries with conflicting political ideals? Could scientific conferences be held in more developing countries to bring attention to overlooked research programs?
And now for some brainial stimulation of the broab: