Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Haloween!

Simple haloween plan for geeks and neuroscientists - check here.

How to make a red velvet brain cake here

Now for the sophisticated - panna cotta brains with raspberry blood sauce here.

Some savories: maggot infested brain shrimp cocktail here

Not as convincingly gory, but delicious: baked brie brains here.

Cauliflower brain dip here.

Now - something to drink. This one is very easy to make. Baileys in vodka curl up in just the right way. Full recipe here.

For the truly dedicated - exposed brain makeup tutorial here.

Have a great evening,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The brain hat again

I have checked my blog statistics and the most popular post of all time, with almost 2.5 thousand views is about the brain hat.

The printouts and instructions on making an this pretty cool brain hat can be found here.

I' like to add that the website belongs to Ellen Johnston McHenry, who is a home-school curriculum author.  Among others, she published The Brain: An introduction to neurology for ages 8-14 - a very nice, comprehensive book that starts from zero and ends somewhere at the early undergraduate level while explaining everything gently. I've bought it and had a quick look and so far it looks excellent.

Worth having a look if you have a kiddie that is interested in what you do (here)!


PARiConnect - further thoughts

I have checked PARiConnect privacy provisions and they appear adequate for my purposes. It is  is HIPAA compliant (not that it matters for us in Australia) and states that it never accesses, mines or analyzes client data. There is encryption and no third party providers. However, I'd recommend that you check this for yourself so that you are in compliance with your ethical requirements.

I have now used PARiConnect to administer BRIEF to clients: both self assessment and parent assessment form. The assessment was very easy to use and had some validity screening built in (apart from the BRIEF-native validity scales, it also checked that all the questions were answered, provided the time the client took to fill in the form and how it compared to a typical administration time, and showed the clinician raw results to check for any unusual patterns).

I have also checked the pricing:
- TOGRA administrations are $2.50 each, with additional $2.50 for a report (sold with a minimum of 5)
- BRIEF administrations are $3.50 with $2.00 for scoring report or $6.00 fort interpretative report (also sold with a minimum of 5).

The prices are quite good: in comparison PAA's packet of 25 parent BRIEF questionnaires costs $121.00, which gives it a price of $4.84 per form, even before the shipping costs. I remember checking this a while ago and thinking that the electronic administration was very expensive - so either it has changed or I'm seeing US prices. However, the prices listed on the website ( are the same prices I'm seeing when I go to buy tests, so the worst I'd expect is that I'd be paying these in US dollars.

Some tests that we may find interesting are:
- various child behaviour inventories and scales
- depression and anxiety scales
- Frontal Systems Behavior Scale
- Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) - child and adult (version 2 coming but not there yet)
- Academic Achievement Battery (reports only)
- Feifer Assessment of Reading (reports only)
- Reynolds Adaptable Intelligence TEst (RAIT)
- Test of General REasoning Ability (TOGRA)
- Vocabulary Assessment Scales - expressive and receptive (reports only)
- Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP) (reports only)

Considering that getting a PARiConnect account costs nothing, and that there are 3 free administrations and 3 free reports to try these out, this is a tool that is worth exploring.


Monday, October 12, 2015

TOGRA - Test of General Reasoning Ability

I have used one of my free administrations on PARiConnect to check out TOGRA.

TOGRA is a screen of reasoning and problem solving skills for ages 10 - 75, meant to minimize racial, gender and religious (?) bias. The website says that it was standardized on a 2010-Census-matched sample of 3,013 individuals, so the normative sample is very nice, as is the age range. There are two equivalent forms.

It is a timed, 16-minute multiple choice test. It is meant to measure verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative reasoning and the problems consist of: matrices, vocabulary (e.g.: which word does not belong, which word is the opposite of), and numerical patterns and equations (with relatively little working memory loading, as the client is allowed pen and paper). It is supposed to be supervised, so that the client does not use a calculator or internet.

I did a quick search for psychometric data:
internal consistency = .92
test-retest = 0.87

Not bad.

This is very much an assessment of reasoning, without speed of processing or working memory components. However, it looks like a very solid IQ screen, an excellent component of any computerised battery, or a way of quickly establishing GAI when focusing on a specific assessment issue.

Now, I better get back to writing reports.


PARiConnect is lovely

I have finally investigated PARiConnect. This is another online platform for test administration, with some interesting neuropsychological tools (for example TOGRA looks really good for some clinical uses).

I needed a child version of BRIEF it for tomorrow, so I called PAR (Australian number 1800 101 607 - finding that out was the hardest part of the job) and asked to get onto PARiConnect to use their electronic administration.

I'm very impressed with the ease and speed of organising the whole thing - the customer support walked me through a very short and sweet set-up, and I was told that I have three free tests and reports to use. Yey!

The administration is online and one can use a computer or tablet to do it.

I still need to read their privacy policy in excruciating detail, considering that client data will be kept online, but otherwise I am good to go. By the way, my current policy is to only record clients initials with any online administrations. Any other systems out there?