Dr. Kent Kiehl Dabbles in Psychopathology

March 8th, 2011 in Article 0 comments

Crime is a trillion-dollar-a-year problem with the average psychopath convicted of four violent crimes by the age of forty. Although psychopathy is one of the least-funded areas of psychology, Dr. Kent Kiehl, one of the leading investigators in this field, hopes to defy this standard.

In January 2007, he requested to have a portable fMRI brought into the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility; the first fMRI  ever brought into a prison. Kiehl hopes to test his theory that psychopathology is caused by a defect in the paralimbic system, which is involved in processing emotion, inhibition, and attention control.
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The Cost of Dementia

March 7th, 2011 in News 0 comments

When a neuroscientist is asked about Alzheimer’s research, some of the first things that may come to mind are genetic predispositions, amyloid plaques, and tau proteins. One may think of researchers in labs running experiments on cultures of cells, or slice studies from brains of those affected with the disease. However, there is a whole other world of research being conducted on Alzheimer’s that I’m sure escapes many scientists’ minds. More

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Discussion Preview: Culture-Bound Syndromes with BU Mind and Brain Society

March 4th, 2011 in Uncategorized 1 comment

Today, the concept of a ‘culture-bound syndrome’ seems almost mundane. Surely we already know that particular genes and environmental influences can predispose a population to certain diseases. For example, Ashkenazi Jews are at a much higher risk for developing the genetic defect associated with Tay-Sachs disease than other populations, and one is much more likely to contract malaria in tropical and subtropical regions than in, say, Massachusetts. However, these types of disease have biological causes. What is interesting about the phenomena of culture-bound syndromes is that they have no physical mechanism and arise only from the emerging characteristics of one’s culture. More

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Tumors on the Brain

March 3rd, 2011 in Article, News 13 comments


August 25, 2009 marked the day that America, and most importantly Massachusetts, lost one of its greatest senators, Ted Kennedy. Kennedy was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in May 2008 after suffering from a seizure. GBM is a tumor formed in the glial, or supportive, brain cells; there is no current evidence for a genetic predisposition to this type of cancer. The American Cancer Society believes that 21,000 Americans are diagnosed with brain tumors, and about 10,000 are GBMs. They are the most aggressive and common type of brain tumor, which are resistant to many types of treatments. Only 3% of patients diagnosed with these tumors generally survive five years after diagnosis.

Almost two years after Kennedy’s death, doctors are using the drug Avastin to treat GMBs. Avastin blocks the growth of new blood vessels, a necessary component for the survival of tumors. More

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The Hand That Never Was: Supernumerary Phantom Limbs

March 2nd, 2011 in Article, News 2 comments

In early 2007, a 64-year-old Swiss woman was admitted to the emergency room of a local hospital after having suffered a moderate right hemispheric stroke. Several days following her hospitalization, the woman began to experience what she described to her physicians as a “pale,” “transparent” arm that began at her elbow, which she could move and utilize to complete actions. The phenomenon the Swiss woman experienced was a Supernumerary Phantom Limb (SPL), which is characterized by the sensation of possessing an extra limb that did not exist previously. Though uncommon, conditions such as SPL and phantom limb (the sensation that a missing limb is still attached to the body) typically arise due to some form of insult to the somatosensory region of the brain or from the removal or lack of body parts.

The third arm illusion at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

In the healthy brain, multisensory circuits organize visual, tactile, and proprioceptive inputs to the brain in order to compose a somatotopic map of which body parts are inherently our own. However, even the normal brain can be manipulated into believing in the existence of an extra limb. More

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This Is Your Brain on RF-EMF

March 1st, 2011 in News 1 comment

Can you hear me now? For years, it has been popular doctrine that cell phone use is bad for our brains, but we glue our phones to our ears anyway. Cell phones emit radio frequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) that are questioned for their potential danger when the brain is exposed to them. The oscillatory frequencies of RF-EMFs correspond to those measured in neural tissue, and thus could interfere with neural activity. The amount of electromagnetic radiation given off by our communication devices is small, but is radiation all the same. Radiation exposure is dangerous for any kind of cell in our body, and can penetrate cells and damage DNA either by crashing into the molecule directly or causing damage indirectly by forming free radicals from water that can have cancer-causing effects.

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“Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”

March 1st, 2011 in Article 2 comments

Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

For those of you who’ve forgotten or perhaps even repressed your memories of high school English class, the line in the title is the cry of the power-hungry and all-around homicidal maniac Lady Macbeth, the female lead in Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Macbeth. After having committed regicide so that her husband may become king, she becomes convinced that she cannot wash King Duncan’s blood from her hands.  Thoughts are soliloquized, guilt is manifested in madness, and archetypes are born.

Curtain. More

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