Neuroscience

They’re not just in your head — functional neurological disorders

Functional or psychogenic neurological disorders are conditions with neurological symptoms that are thought to be due to psychological dysfunction rather than an underlying neurological disorder. They can be classified as malingering if the person is intentionally having the symptoms. Perhaps someone is pretending an arm or leg is weak after a car accident in hopes of getting compensation from the other driver. However, in most cases, the symptoms are not conscious or voluntary. Common symptoms … Read More

Brain News Roundup: ‘Seeing’ emotions, concussions and ‘multi-tasking’

Scientists can now see “sad” and “happy” in our brains. More news on the impact of concussions, including long-term impacts. And a roundup of more brain news, including fatherhood and our (mistaken) belief about how well we multi-task. • Scientists have discovered a way to “see” emotions with brain imaging technology, according to a recent study. Beyond being just plain fascinating, scientists hope the findings could bring a new way to analyze emotions beyond people’s … Read More

Pioneering scientist speaks about brain mapping

Those of us who work within the OHSU Brain Institute are honored to have Dr. Marcus Raichle visit us May 13 to present an evening seminar in the Brain Awareness Lecture Series, entitled “How Do We Peer Deeply into the Brain.” Raichle has been at the forefront in the development and application of advanced brain imaging techniques to advance neuroscience for four decades. He is a pioneer in the use of innovative positron emission tomography, or … Read More

Violence in the brain? And beer …

Physicians and researchers have some pretty amazing ways of peering inside the human brain. And some of those methods — and what they might show us — have been in the news a lot lately. A couple of neurosurgeons at Boston University, who have studied former NFL football players and others who have received repeated hits to the head, say that the brain of alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev should be studied in a special … Read More

Smarter brain ‘glue’ — glia cells take the spotlight

Many neuroscientists will tell you that nerve cells in the brain (called neurons) are the most important part of the nervous system. They are, after all, the primary cells of the nervous system, responsible for conducting electrical currents to encode and process our senses, thoughts, memories and emotions. But there is a growing contingent of neuroscientists who study other brain cells called glia, named for the Greek word for glue. For much of the last … 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

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

OHSU Brain Institute ranked fifth in nation in neuroscience research

The OHSU Brain Institute has been a national leader in brain and neurology research for years. And that leadership role has been confirmed once again by a new analysis of federal research funding to U.S. medical schools for 2012. The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit group based in North Carolina, ranked OHSU fifth in the nation in total research grants in the neurosciences awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2012. OHSU … Read More

Balancing the risks and benefits of prescription drugs

The depiction of Judgment Day on the façade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris shows an angel weighing the good and evil of souls to determine where they should go. Hanging on one side are devils tilting the scale in the wrong direction. In making decisions about treating neurologic illnesses, physicians and their patients weigh risks and benefits of any treatment. For us, the devil is in the details of those risks and … Read More

Do you remember New Year’s Eve?

Hazy memories are a common post-party scenario on New Year’s Day, where the night before the crowd was alive with noise makers, silly hats and, for some, many different types of alcoholic beverages. Indeed, New Year’s Eve parties are nearly synonymous with alcohol consumption. And while many partygoers recognize that they will be drinking more than their normal amount of alcohol and make plans to get to and from a party safely, there also is … Read More

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