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News and innovations

Author: Antonio Pardo
Published in: Cerebrum 2009. Emerging Ideas in Brain
Publication date: 2009

The Dana Foundation has selected recent articles from its journal Cerebrum for this book. Most of the articles are written by scientists, and some are contributed by journalists specialised in scientific knowledge dissemination , in some cases as sole authors. It is coordinated by a specialist in neurological disorders associated with mental disorders and, although it is more clinically oriented, it contains theoretical and ethical issues, as well as reviews of books published in 2008.

Clinical articles deal with the relationship between some personality dissociation disorders and post-traumatic syndromes, cognitive problems secondary to cardiac surgery, the possibilities of deep brain stimulation to treat some depressions, the application of cognitive therapy in depression, neuropsychological problems resulting from seemingly innocuous head injuries, and the connection between the work of older people and their neurological health.

Among the more theoretical ones, two deal with the correlation of functional neuroimaging with voting intentions (this one includes very sensible and even amusing reflections), and with economic decisions (this one, although it is right in the implication of feelings and ethics, suffers from very toxic economic approaches). One Professor Emeritus reflects on the grey area between psychological normality and abnormality, and its relation to the demands of modern life. And another suggests that after genomics (and mapping the human genome), and proteomics (something similar with proteins), we will have to start connectomics (a map of neuronal connections) to get to know the brain; when the total scanner we saw in an Alien submission is ready, we can start in this direction.

There are three articles on ethical issues: should the employment of naltrexone to treat addicts in therapeutic communities, which has been shown to be effective in that context, be mandatory, free but rewarded or purely optional? How should the publication of articles be managed to avoid bias and conflicts of interest? Is diagnostic screening of paediatric diseases, with a view to early treatment, always the most advisable? Within the brevity of your text, you point out interesting ideas core topic in all cases.

The three reviews deal with a history of modern-day ideas for achieving longevity, a view of the brain from the atomic to the global level - connected to clinical aspects - and another on two works (one on hypemnesia and the other on the loss of report), which points out the inaccuracies observed in works written by journalists, even specialised ones.

The overall tone is that of knowledge dissemination at a high level. It provides an overview of clinical and theoretical ideas that are new or have recently come to the fore in the scientific literature on neurology and psychiatry.