A Very Taste-Ful Video

Taste buds on the tongue in action (Intravital Microscopic Interrogation of Peripheral Taste Sensation. Myunghwan Choi et al (2015), Scientific Reports http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep08661) : Youtube video (live mouse tongue two-photon microscopy).

In recent years, we seem to be getting closer and closer to reproducing the exact conditions of Leibniz's mill argument (see this prior post).

Concussions and Subsequent Brain Disease: Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

The two studies below, both published in Neurology in March 2015, show that the earlier the boy starts tackle football play, the more likely the same football player as a grown man is to get late-life cognitive problems (including dementia).

On the other hand, even though Parkinsonism with dementia has been well described in boxers as dementia pugilistica, a study of prior head trauma and Parkinson disease did not show an association of head injury and risk of standard Parkinson's disease.


Age of first exposure to football and later-life cognitive impairment in former NFL players

Julie M. Stamm, BS, Alexandra P. Bourlas, MA, Christine M. Baugh, MPH, Nathan G. Fritts, BA, Daniel H. Daneshvar, MA, Brett M. Martin, MS, Michael D. McClean, ScD, Yorghos Tripodis, PhD and Robert A. Stern, PhD

doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001358

Neurology March 17, 2015 vol. 84 no. 11 1114-1120


Objective: To determine the relationship between exposure to repeated head impacts through tackle football prior to age 12, during a key period of brain development, and later-life executive function, memory, and estimated verbal IQ.

Methods: Forty-two former National Football League (NFL) players ages 40–69 from the Diagnosing and Evaluating Traumatic Encephalopathy using Clinical Tests (DETECT) study were matched by age and divided into 2 groups based on their age of first exposure (AFE) to tackle football: AFE <12 and AFE ≥12. Participants completed the Wisconsin Card Sort Test (WCST), Neuropsychological Assessment Battery List Learning test (NAB-LL), and Wide Range Achievement Test, 4th edition (WRAT-4) Reading subtest as part of a larger neuropsychological testing battery.

Results: Former NFL players in the AFE <12 group performed significantly worse than the AFE ≥12 group on all measures of the WCST, NAB-LL, and WRAT-4 Reading tests after controlling for total number of years of football played and age at the time of evaluation, indicating executive dysfunction, memory impairment, and lower estimated verbal IQ.

Conclusions: There is an association between participation in tackle football prior to age 12 and greater later-life cognitive impairment measured using objective neuropsychological tests. These findings suggest that incurring repeated head impacts during a critical neurodevelopmental period may increase the risk of later-life cognitive impairment. If replicated with larger samples and longitudinal designs, these findings may have implications for safety recommendations for youth sports.


Head injury and risk for Parkinson disease

Results from a Danish case-control study

Line Kenborg, MSc, PhD, Kathrine Rugbjerg, MSc, PhD, Pei-Chen Lee, PhD, Line Ravnskjær, BSc, Jane Christensen, MSc, Beate Ritz, MD, PhD and Christina F. Lassen, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001362

Neurology March 17, 2015 vol. 84 no. 11 1098-1103


Objective: To examine the association between head injuries throughout life and the risk for Parkinson disease (PD) in an interview-based case-control study.

Methods: We identified 1,705 patients diagnosed with PD at 10 neurologic centers in Denmark in 1996–2009 and verified their diagnoses in medical records. Patients were matched to 1,785 controls randomly selected from the Danish Central Population Register on sex and year of birth. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression.

Results: We observed no association between any head injury before first cardinal symptom and PD (OR 1.02; 95% CI 0.88, 1.19). Examination of number of head injuries (1: OR 1.02; 95% CI 0.87, 1.20; ≥2: OR 1.03; 95% CI 0.72, 1.47) or hospitalization for a head injury (OR 0.89; 95% CI 0.70, 1.12) did not show an association with PD. For 954 study subjects with at least one head injury, there was no evidence of an association between loss of consciousness (OR 0.89; 95% CI 0.67, 1.17), duration of loss of consciousness (≤1 minute: OR 0.93; 95% CI 0.58, 1.49; 1–5 minutes: OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.51, 1.08; ≥5 minutes: OR 0.81; 95% CI 0.53, 1.24), or amnesia (OR 1.31; 95% CI 0.88, 1.95) and risk for PD. Application of a lag time of 10 years between head injury and first cardinal symptom resulted in similar risk estimates.

Conclusions: The results do not support the hypothesis that head injury increases the risk for PD.

Acetaminophen May Blunt Emotional Responses to Images

According to the study below, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may blunt both unpleasant and pleasant emotional feelings associated with stimuli (in the study, the stimuli were images known to elicit affective responses). As far as I know, this effect has not been reported before. It needs replication with an NSAID like ibuprofen in a third arm, I believe.

If it can be replicated: the power was only barely sufficient (at n of about 80) for the effect to be seen, which is a common feature of such studies.



Psychological Science, via online publication, April 10, 2015

Over-the-Counter Relief From Pains and Pleasures Alike: Acetaminophen Blunts Evaluation Sensitivity to Both Negative and Positive Stimuli

Geoffrey R. O. Durso, Andrew Luttrell, and Baldwin M. Way

Acetaminophen, an effective and popular over-the-counter pain reliever (e.g., the active ingredient in Tylenol), has recently been shown to blunt individuals’ reactivity to a range of negative stimuli in addition to physical pain. Because accumulating research has shown that individuals’ reactivity to both negative and positive stimuli can be influenced by a single factor (an idea known as differential susceptibility), we conducted two experiments testing whether acetaminophen blunted individuals’ evaluations of and emotional reactions to both negative and positive images from the International Affective Picture System. Participants who took acetaminophen evaluated unpleasant stimuli less negatively and pleasant stimuli less positively, compared with participants who took a placebo. Participants in the acetaminophen condition also rated both negative and positive stimuli as less emotionally arousing than did participants in the placebo condition (Studies 1 and 2), whereas nonevaluative ratings (extent of color saturation in each image; Study 2) were not affected by drug condition. These findings suggest that acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on individuals’ evaluative and emotional processing, irrespective of negative or positive valence.

Congrats to Jasmine

Merrie Monarch 2015 Miss Aloha Hula (Auana) - Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap dances a tragic myth about love and betrayal.

Aloha! Here's a Hawaiian Easter Song: Kalana


Barrett Awai notes: As a people, this moolelo connects us to our native source for clarity and understanding of our faith in the one true God. My Kumu, teacher, Kaipoi Kelling, has been sharing this moolelo which has inspired us to write this song which speaks of those who were first to proclaim the Truth!

Nohu at Puako Village End

You can see the scorpionfish here, right? This one is about a foot long. About 30 feet of water depth, midafternoon, second low tide.

Artificially Sweetened Soft Drinks May Increase the Risk of Stroke

This week JAMA published an epidemiological study of 451,743 Europeans from 10 countries which suggested there is an increased risk of m...