15 more creative and catchy neurology headlines for 2019

Regular visitors to this blog know that we love catchy article titles. It is always heartwarming to see how some authors create imaginative and inventive headlines. This skill involves the ability to play with words, and the capacity to be double-edged. This is why this blog keeps a lookout for fascinating neurology titles. And in line with this tradition, and in no particular order of inventiveness, here are 15 more catchy neurology titles!

By Andrikkos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33725735

15. Who do they think we are? Public perceptions of psychiatrists and psychologists

This paper, for some unfathomable reason, set out to ask if the public knows the difference between what psychiatrists and psychologists actually do. And the authors discovered that “there is a lack of clarity in the public mind about our roles”. More worryingly, or reassuringly (depending on your perspective), they also found out that “psychologists were perceived as friendlier and having a better rapport“. Not earth-shattering discoveries, but what a great title!

By Laurens van Lieshout – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2059674

14. OCT as a window to the MS brain: the view becomes slightly clearer

Optical coherence tomography (OCT), a cool tool which measures the thickness of the retinal fiber layer (RFL), has acquired the ubiquitous habit of popping up in an increasing number of neurological specialties. OCT is, as the title of this editorial in the journal Neurology shows, indeed a window in the brain. In this case, the specialty is multiple sclerosis, and the subject is how OCT influences its diagnosis and surveillance. The authors of this paper provide an excellent summary of the diverse studies that have applied OCT to MS, and they concluded that the literature “implies a potential role for OCT in the clinical monitoring of MS in the future”.

Optical coherence tomography of my retina. Brewbooks on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/8463332137

13. A little man of some importance 

The homonculus is the grotesque representation of the body on the surface or cortex of the brain. This paper reviews how formidable neurosurgeons such as Wilder Penfield worked out the disproportionate dimensions of this diminutive but influential man. He (always a man for some reason) has giant hands, a super-sized mouth, very small legs, and a miniature trunk. The clever brain doesn’t readily allocate its resources to large body parts that perform no complex functions! But be warned, this article is no light-weight reading!

The Homunculus in Crystal Palace (Moncton). Mark Blevis on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/electricsky/1298772544

12. Brain-focussed ultrasound: what’s the “FUS” all about? 

This title is a play on words around MR-guided focussed ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS), an emerging technique for treating disorders such as essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease (PD). This review looks at the controversial fuss that this technique has evoked.

By Luis Lima89989 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19162929

11. The Masks of Identities: Who’s Who? Delusional Misidentification Syndromes

This paper explores the interesting subject of delusional misidentification syndromes (DMSs). The authors argue that few concepts in psychiatry can be as confusing as DMSs. And they did an excellent job of clearing our befuddlement around delusions such as Capgras and Fregoli. Very apt title, very interesting read.

no identity. HaPe-Gera on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/hape_gera/2929195528


10. Waking up to sleeping sickness.

A deceptively simple headline yet this is really a superbly imaginative play with words that evokes several levels of meaning. This excellent title belongs to a review of trypanosomiasis, the notorious sleeping sickness, published in the journal Trends in Parasitology in 2003. I admit this is not a neurology publication, but neurologists reserve the right to stake their claim to anything to do with sleep. The authors of the paper note the “recent impetus…to provide a free supply of antitryponosomal drugs”; “to develop a new orally active trypanocidal agent”, and “to attack the tsetse vector with modern technology”, but they fear that all these efforts might not be enough to reverse the resurgence of this deadly disease in the heart of Africa”. So with an inventive headline, they shout a wake-up call to heed the havoc that T. gambiense and T. rhodesiense are wreaking in sub-Saharan Africa.


09. Brains and Brawn

This paper brings into play the received wisdom that intellect and strength are conceptually antagonistic and cannot co-exist in the same space. Whoever thought this however did not count on this paper published in the journal Trends in Parasitology, and whose full title is “Brains and brawn: toxoplasma infections of the central nervous system and skeletal muscle”. The authors of the paper prove that toxoplasmosis is an ecumenical abuser, meting out the same parasitic fate to brain and brawn; their detailed review article explores how this parasite, which “infects over a third of the world’s population”, successfully integrates into both brain and muscle – two supposedly opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum.

Brain vs. Brawn. Yau Hoong Tang on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tangyauhoong/4474921735

08. Shedding light on photophobia

An excellent paradoxical title this one, from a review article that that casts a bright light on a symptom that prefers to remain in the dark. Published in the Journal of Neuroophthalmology in 2012, the article is indeed an eye-opener (pardon the pun). From the start, the authors cast aspersions on the term itself, declaring it a misnomer because light in this case doesn’t provoke fear, but pain. By its detailed exploration of the almost endless causes of photophobia, to its discussion of its pathogenesis and treatments, the article successfully dragged the dingy symptom, out from the shadows and into the limelight.

Photophobia (light sensitivity). Joana Roja on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cats_mom/2772386028/

07. No laughing matter: subacute degeneration of the spinal cord due to nitrous oxide inhalation

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is now “the seventh most commonly used recreational drug”, but those who pop it do so oblivious of the risk it poses of subacute combined degeneration (SCD). And this paper, full title “No laughing matter: subacute degeneration of the spinal cord due to nitrous oxide inhalation”, highlights the process whereby nitrous oxide depletes the body’s store of Vitamin B1 (thiamine), with the devastating consequence of degeneration of the upper spinal cord. Published in Journal of Neurology in 2018, it is the largest case series of 10 subjects who learned the hard way that laughing gas is no laughing matter at all. The authors documented the clinical and radiological features of N2O-induced SCD, and, warning that this may just be the “tip of the iceberg”, they called for more studies to define this disorder, and for the implementation of measures to prevent it.

Empty Laughing Gas Canisters. Promo Cymru on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/promocymru/18957223365

06. To scan or not to scan: DaT is the question

Dopamine transport (DaT) scan is a useful brain imaging tests that helps to support the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and other disorders which disrupt the dopamine pathways in the brain. It is particularly helpful in ruling out mimics of Parkinson’s disease such as essential tremor. When to request a DaT scan is however a tricky question in practice. This paper, with its Shakespearean twist, looks at the reliability of DaT scans.

Dopamine. John Lester on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pathfinderlinden/211882099

05. TauBI or not TauBI: what was the question?

It should be no surprise if Shakespeare rears his head more than once in this blog post. Not when the wordsmith is such a veritable source of inspiration for those struggling to invent catchy titles. This paper looks at taupathy, a neurodegeneration as tragic as Hamlet. It particularly comments on an unusual taupathy, one induced by traumatic brain injury. Curious.

By Lafayette Photo, London – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID cph.3g06529.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link

04. Mind the Brain: Stroke Risk in Young Adults With Coarctation of the Aorta

What better way to call attention to a serious complication than a catchy title like this one. This paper highlights the neurological complications of coarctation of the aorta, a serious congenital cardiovascular disease. And the key concerns here are the risks of stroke and cerebral aneurysms. Cardiologists, mind the brain!

Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=803943

03. Diabetes and Parkinson disease: a sweet spot?

This paper reviews the unexpected biochemical links between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. And this relationship is assuming a rather large dimension. Why, for example, are there so many insulin receptors in the power house of Parkinson’s disease, the substantia nigra? A sweet curiosity.

Insulin bubble. Sprogz on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sprogz/5606839532

02. PFO closure for secondary stroke prevention: is the discussion closed?

The foraman ovale is a physiological hole-in-the-heart which should close up once a baby is born; a patent foramen ovale (PFO) on the other hand results when this hole refuses to seal up. PFOs are among the major concerns neurologists have about the heart because they enable clots that form in veins of the legs or abdomen to travel, visa-free, to the brain and result in strokes. For this reason, the neurology literature is awash with research papers arguing for and against surgically closing up PFO’s whenever they are detected in the screening of patients who have suffered a ‘brain attack’. It is with this backdrop that this editorial, published the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis in 2018, reviews the evidence for the benefit of closing PFOs in preventing stroke. The authors are not convinced, and their title, in retrospect, appears to be a rhetorical question, with their answer in the negative. In their view, the discussion, just like PFO’s, remains open!

By Kjetil Lenes – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3705964

01. Closure of patent foramen ovale in “cryptogenic” stroke: Has the story come to an end?

If more evidence is needed to show that patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an itch that neurologists just can’t scratch, then this catchily-titled paper is it. Published in International Journal of Stroke in 2018, it is a review of the most recent, and conflicting research, about the benefit of closing PFO’s following stroke in which there is no obvious cause, apart from the PFO of course. Siding with the naysayers, the authors of the paper highlighted the significant procedural risks of surgically closing PFO’s, and pointed out the methodological inconsistencies of the studies which reported that PFO’s are beneficial in preventing stroke. The PFO and stroke story, like a movie with endless sequels or remakes, keeps going…with no end in sight.



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