Saturday, April 11, 2015

Neurosell

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:


and

more information about Dr Rodski on:


cheers,
Izabela

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.

Cheers,
Izabela

Monday, April 6, 2015

An interesting blog

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

http://clinicalneuropsych.blogspot.com.au/

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.

Cheers,
Izabela

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?

Cheers,
Izabela

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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brain arts and crafts for the holidays

There is a new paper model of the brain on the internet, with cross-sections interlacing to produce a lovely, 3D outcome.
 


The website here is unfortunately, non-English, but if you click on the links on the bottom (the ones with blinking blue >>) you will see the pdf files you can use to construct your own paper brain.

Another 3D paper brain can be made using pdf files that can be found here.



Let's also not forget the famous brain hat by Ellen McHenry here.


For the younger set, five messy ways to play brain surgery here.

The brains are made using a brain jelly mold (plenty of places this can be bought on the internet). 
This one is a kitchen utensil no neuropsychologist should be without. Particularly good with off-white jellies, such as almond pudding. You could also consider putting some frozen strawberries inside to simulate a tasty bleed.

Cheers,
Izabela

Monday, March 23, 2015

Remediating developmental prosopagnosia

What do Oliver Sacks and Carl Kruszelnicki have in common? Developmental prosopagnosia - both of them admit to marked difficulty in recognizing faces.

I've recently had a look into the issue of remediation of  prosopagnosia and while it appears that acquired prosopagnosia is difficult to treat, developmental prosopagnosia is much easier to remedy. There is interesting article in on-line Brain:

DeGutis, J., Cohan S., Ken Nakayama, Ken (2014).  Holistic face training enhances face processing in developmental prosopagnosia. Brain.
Prosopagnosia has largely been regarded as an untreatable disorder. However, recent case studies using cognitive training have shown that it is possible to enhance face recognition abilities in individuals with developmental prosopagnosia. Our goal was to determine if this approach could be effective in a larger population of developmental prosopagnosics. We trained 24 developmental prosopagnosics using a 3-week online face-training program targeting holistic face processing. Twelve subjects with developmental prosopagnosia were assessed before and after training, and the other 12 were assessed before and after a waiting period, they then performed the training, and were then assessed again. The assessments included measures of front-view face discrimination, face discrimination with view-point changes, measures of holistic face processing, and a 5-day diary to quantify potential real-world improvements. Compared with the waiting period, developmental prosopagnosics showed moderate but significant overall training-related improvements on measures of front-view face discrimination. Those who reached the more difficult levels of training (‘better’ trainees) showed the strongest improvements in front-view face discrimination and showed significantly increased holistic face processing to the point of being similar to that of unimpaired control subjects. Despite challenges in characterizing developmental prosopagnosics’ everyday face recognition and potential biases in self-report, results also showed modest but consistent self-reported diary improvements. In summary, we demonstrate that by using cognitive training that targets holistic processing, it is possible to enhance face perception across a group of developmental prosopagnosics and further suggest that those who improved the most on the training task received the greatest benefits.

Full text: http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/29/brain.awu062

The following links were also interesting:

http://www.faceblind.org/links/FacetoFaceNewsletter-Winter2014.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4122168/

In practice, I know of two commercial programs that could be used:

1. FaceSay - which retrains face recognition, emotion recognition and following gaze - aimed at helping  autistic kids (has some research proving that it improves behaviour in the playground)
2. A subtest of BrainHQ called Recognition that could be used for training for adults and potentially non-autistic children.

cheers,
Izabela