Monday, June 29, 2015

An update on ABC Active Memory

I wrote a while back on Active Memory, a new brain training program  developed in the Florey Institute in Melbourne. I have since received an email from Mary Castellani, a post-graduate student at LaTrobe. She points out that there is no published research on this product as yet, and no substantial information about it on the Florey or Uni of Melbourne websites.  The website indicates that users “Contribute to Research”, with University of Melbourne and Florey Institute logos embedded within the website. .

Mary has also included some links to interviews with Prof Wood, who created the program, and I thought they may be worth re-posting for those who are interested in what is happening in Melbourne's neuroscience:

All in the Mind

The Health Report

Thank you, Mary,

An update on a finger-tapping app

My apologies for the long silence. Life and family issues are taking my time at the moment.

We have been talking about finger tapping tests, such as  DigiTap app a while ago, and I asked if anybody is using them. I have since had email from a colleague who says he uses it regularly, particularly when wanting to examine motor slowing or needing an indicator of a subtle weakness on one side. He uses norms from Spreen and Strauss, which he finds not to be ideal, but better than nothing. He feels that when using an iPad app people tends to get somewhat inflated scores, and tends to take notice only when both fingers are well below expectation (e.g. >1.5 SD), or if there is a big difference between fingers. Sounds to me like a good clinical rule of thumb.



Saturday, April 11, 2015


Have you heard of a Dr Stan Rodski's neuroscientific colouring book?

Mary Castellani (thank you!) heard about it today on the radio.

Check out information about the book on:


more information about Dr Rodski on:


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Virtual clinic: see your doctor on the phone

With thanks to Les Posen who forwarded this article from the Pulse magazine.

The article describes an about-to-launch Australian tele-health app, which you can use to store your medical history to and access your GP remotely, including full video-conference visits. A very elegant app, which enables forwarding of data such as blood sugar, blood pressure, prescriptions, etc. The platform will be free to use, with only the 'GP visits' being charged. We probably don't need most of its features, but I wonder if we could adapt it for the purposes of remote counseling and consulting.


Monday, April 6, 2015

An interesting blog

I found a good blog on neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation from a British neuropsychologist:

The last post has been written some time ago, and I wonder if the blog is still current and being updated. However, it is still worth a look, especially that last post on capacity to make decisions.


The more unusual apps for Parkinson's Disease clients

As with everything these days, there are quite a few apps out there for those with Parkinson's Disease. Some of them are more interesting than others.

For example, Parkinson's Speech Aid helps the client to reduce the rate of speaking and makes talking easier. It uses the 'choral speech effect' that enables those with Parkinson's Disease (or stuttering - for a good video have a look here) to speak fluently. A good website discussing choral speech effect in PD can be found here.
If you followed the links, you gathered that the speech is improved by providing the client with a delayed 'echo' of their own speech. Clients usually carry a tiny device in their ear to provide them with the auditory trace. The app on the phone is designed to let those with Parkinson's Disease experiment with the effect and ultimately decide if they want to invest in the in-ear gizmo. A similar app, with the capacity to adjust a few parameters is DAF Assistant.

LiftPulse app is an app that records longitudinal data on hand tremor using the phone's accelerometer. Another one of these apps is TR_Meter.

Yet another interesting new app is the Parkinson mPower app, which is designed to let clients track their disease and contribute data to a longitudinal study on disease progression. Only available in the US for now. According to Apple:
The app will measure dexterity, balance and gait, voice, and memory at multiple times each day.   For example, patients will use the app to record their voice. Subtle changes to the voice, including tremor and reduced amplitude have been shown to be an accurate way to measure the severity of symptoms. The app will can also measure dexterity by tracking how fast a person can tap the screen on their iPhone. The device’s GPS and accelerometer can measure mobility and balance. '
 more information here.

The last app is  DigiTap, which is a finger-tapping test translated into the electronic format. There are a few useful features, such as a timer that only starts with the fist tap and prevents recording new taps after the time elapses. Alas, neither the app nor the website carries any suggestion that normative data is available. Is there any neuropsychologists in Australia that still use the finger tapping? If so, could you let us know in the comments what you think about the electronic alternatives?

These apps have an important thing in common - they fully use the capacity of their electronic platform. This is one thing that is lacking in most-computer-based neuropsychological tests. Most of them may as well be paper and pencil. Can we do better?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Advanced brain arts and crafts

I have also got a few suggestions for the more dedicated brain crafters:

Watermelon brain (instructions here):

Brain cake (ten examples gathered here for your convenience; good instructions here)

Knitted brain by Dr Karen Norberg (article here):

Crocheted brain beanie (instruction video here, or you can buy a pattern here)

And if you need more inspiration, you can visit The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Art here, and Gallery of Wooden Brain Art here.