Archive for 2013

The neuroscience of memory, and how it matters in court

When I was 6 years old, I ran into a door frame and had to have stitches on my forehead. I remember that I was running to answer the phone. I remember thinking “oh no, I’m going to hit that door frame!” And, of course, I remember that after the stitches were put in, the doctors put a bandage on my teddy bear’s forehead to cheer me up. But … do I really “remember” all … Read More

All pain is in your brain

Where is your pain? The short answer is simple: in your brain. It may seem as if it’s in your broken finger, or the toe you just stubbed on the door, or in your aching tooth. But it’s not. Pain is a sensory experience, and resides in your brain. To consider why I say that, ask yourself: does an anesthetized patient feel pain during a surgical procedure?  The answer (assuming the patient is properly anesthetized … Read More

Tremors and dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease

Tremor is the most common movement seen in persons with Parkinson’s disease. But other movements can also be seen. A resting tremor, which is found in about 80 percent of persons with Parkinson’s disease, is a rhythmic movement that most often starts in one hand. It generally is most prominent when the hand is resting and relaxed. Over time it often travels to the opposite hand or to the leg on the same side of … Read More

‘The mysteries of the mind’ — Brain Awareness Season lectures begin Feb. 25

Oregonians becoming “brain aware” — that is the goal of the OHSU Brain Institute’s Brain Awareness Season Lecture Series. Everyone wonders or worries about their brain. There is so much to learn and understand. And brain science — neuroscience — transforms society, from parenting to prisons, from autism discoveries to Alzheimer’s prevention and from creating new policies to improving current medical practices. The 2013 Brain Awareness Lecture series — which begins Feb. 25 and runs … Read More

How scientists collaborate, and how that can lead to cures

Report from Milan, Italy, Feb. 8, 2013: I am sitting in an auditorium in Milan, Italy, with about 100 other neurologists and scientists. This is the second day that I have sat here. We have come from many countries — including Germany, France, Austria, England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, Italy and the United States — for the First Scientific Conference of the International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative. This meeting illustrates how scientists from around the world … Read More

Valentine’s Day and love — more about your brain than your heart

As Valentine’s Day nears, and we think about love and attraction, it’s tempting to think it’s all about longing stares and fluttering hearts and fate. But beneath all of that, it’s really about … dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. Because when we talk about “chemistry” between two people, we are also talking a lot about “brain chemistry.” A couple of years ago, I was part of a special multimedia presentation, with Grammy nominated vocalist … Read More

What is a concussion?

Perhaps you have grown up hearing that a concussion is a bruise to the brain. Or, maybe after a hit to the head, you have been told: “You’ll be fine — you just got your bell rung.” While these are common beliefs, they are inaccurate. First, bruising suggests bleeding, and a concussed brain does not bleed. In fact, images of a concussed brain may look normal as concussions generally do not show up on MRI … Read More

Is ‘tau’ the new front line in the Alzheimer’s fight?

Patients and their family members have been bringing me clippings from that famous medical journal, “The Wall Street Journal,” asking me if it’s true that Alzheimer’s research is now focused on something called “tau.” As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the leading hypothesis until very recently was that “amyloid,” the stuff in the brain plaques in Alzheimer’s, was the cause of the disease due to toxic effects on brain cells. I also noted … Read More

A broken heart and a broken leg — much the same to our brains

The recent shootings at the Clackamas Town Center mall and then at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., made me think about emotional distress, and the ways in which it mirrors physical pain. When we talk about emotional suffering, it is almost impossible to avoid pain-related words. We say: “She hurt my feelings.” Or: “He broke her heart.” This is not just an idiosyncrasy of the English language; a similar pattern has been documented in … Read More

New test that predicts Alzheimer’s?

What if we could predict who would one day go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease? There is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurologists and others who specialize in treating dementia are very accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease once symptoms have begun. Memory or other thinking problems and performance on different kinds of cognitive tests give a good indication of whether someone has dementia or another condition that can cause memory problems. Once a diagnosis … Read More

OHSU Brain Institute Profile image

OHSU Brain Institute

We are a national leader in brain disease treatment and research.

Read more

Participation Guidelines

Remember: information you share here is public; it isn't medical advice. Need advice or treatment? Contact your healthcare provider directly. Read our Terms of Use and this disclaimer for details.