scilogs Gray Matters

Gray Matters moved to

25. September 2012, 22:17

This is the last post here, and only a note, that my blog here has moved to

 Click here to move with me.

The older posts will probaly stay here or at least, if moved, the old URLs will be relinked. But that might take a while.


Geschrieben in General Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Migraine the movie

29. September 2011, 20:10

If you plan to direct a movie with a realistic visual migraine aura, tell your people to call my people and we'll do lunch.

If you are Edmund Messina, or any other a practicing neurologist and filmmaker call me directly: +493143028948.  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comments: (1). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Can a migraineur become president?

22. July 2011, 16:25

Yes, he or she can. Of course one can. Thomas Jefferson could. Can Michele Bachmann become the president of the United States of America? This, to me, is a different question.

You know, this is a science blog, and although I mostly blog about migraine, I would rather ask whether somebody who is in favour of creationism can run for president? I don't mind the country. Any country. A leader believing in creationism and intelligent design, as a replacement of a solid scientific view, is one huge step backwards.    

I just read "Michele Bachmann's Stance on Evolution Demolished by High School Student" (which I can recommend) and I read about Bachmann in both her German and English Wikipedia page, funny enough, only the former, the German page, mentions that she is a fan of creationism and intelligent design. 

Well, let's get back to migraine. Migraine varies quite a bit. Symptoms can be very severe and thus migraine can be a highly disabling disease, while in others, symptoms can be rather mild and it may even not need to be treated with medication.

The discussion, that sufaces now, is actually far too sensitve to be used in a political race. The discussion about how we educate our children, by contrast, is worth the trouble.

Geschrieben in Migraine Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Dear industry, it is all wrong: go for migraine

25. June 2011, 20:50

First impressions form the Headache Congress IHC2011.

One day left of the 15th Congress of the International Headache Society (IHC2011) in Berlin, yet I already have picked my favorite talk. It was the talk entitled: "Possible new targets for migraine drugs" from Dr. Jes Olesen: "the people's neurologist" [1].   (More)

Geschrieben in General Comments: (1). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Physiology or Medicine

12. June 2011, 11:31

As part of this years preparations for the 61th Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates you can suggest a question on the subject of physiology and medicine to be asked the Nobel laureates. Here in mine.

There is no Nobel Prize in Medicine. It is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. My question is about the "or" in the above name of the prize.

Form the viewpoint of both how research is done and the way these disciplines are taught, is this "or" as in

  • (1) New York State or U.S.

For instance, "For New York State or U.S. stroke statistics, visit ...", i.e. physiology is part of medicine. Or is it more as in (More)

Geschrieben in Physiology Comments: (2). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Bridging the phases of migraine

08. June 2011, 21:00

A migraine attack is usually divided into four distinct phases, plus the symptom-free interval between attacks. How do these phases go together? Searching for treatment beyond "motherhood and apple-pie" advice.

+++ UPDATE with two figures I'll present at the IHC2011 +++

While some of us are waiting for the Lindau Nobel Laureates meeting, I look forward to The 15th Congress of the International Headache Society (IHC2011) in Berlin. The IHC2011 takes place in the week before the Lindau meeting, from June 22-26. Maybe I'll meet a future Nobel Laureate there, the one who has found "the holy grail of migraine treatment", as  Peter Goadsby, a migraine expert, recently called it.

IHC 2011 in Berlin.

Just last week, the 53rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society ended in Washington. This is an intense migraine meeting month, though I must admit, I skipped the US meeting. June is also National Migraine Awareness Month in the US.

Such meetings are also always the time of heightened and unfortunately also often confusing—to say the least—press coverage. This time,  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comments: (13). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Movie-making for science blogs

05. June 2011, 14:58

Short movies are a great addition to posts in a science blog. I found a surprisingly easy-to-use tool for making text-based movies.

Guess what? I have not heart from YouTube as to why my video was disabled. So I'm working on a new video, but that will take a while. In the meantime, I've found xtranormal. You type something; xtranormal turns it into a movie. It is great fun.



Geschrieben in Migraine Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

A nearly perfect example how to trigger a migraine attack on YouTube

06. May 2011, 15:40

The members of ArtOfficial, a jazz/hip-hop fusion group from Miami Florida, turn out to be experts in neuroscience! Apply directly to yo’ primary visual cortex—Please bang (and watch) responsibly!

Two days ago, YouTube disabled my migraine video. It might be due to a copyright violation, because I used Google's homepage to illustrate the progression of a typical visual field defect in migraine. But I guess more likely is that YouTube feared that watching my video might trigger a migraine attack.

Well I do research in this direction and cooperate with other scientists that have also studied this problem [1-3]. It's true, visual stimuli are common triggers of migraine. In my video, however, I deliberately used a low contrast such that triggering a migraine attack is very unlikely. In addition, I placed a clear warning at the beginning of the video.

I think, my video did a great job in raising awareness and educating people, therefore, I asked yesterday for help on Twitter to get back my video online. Thereby, I stumbled over this tweet.


Well, 10 000 views in two weeks is not too bad. I checked out the video and was first shocked but meanwhile ...  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comments: (5). Trackbacks: (1). Permalink

YouTube receives Migraine-Community warning strike

05. May 2011, 13:10

... which will expire on release of my migraine video. Or does YouTube really think that my migraine video can cause migraines?

Yesterday, I got this email.

Regarding your account: markusdahlem. The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines: Migraine aura simulation - (markusdahlem)

Really, had I received a Community Guidelines warning strike, which will expire in six months or is this SPAM? I looked for my video and, well it's not SPAM, I saw this.  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comments: (6). Trackbacks: (3). Permalink

Get your hands on mathematical neuroscience

16. April 2011, 07:59

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to introduce the speaker at a seminar: it was Bard Ermentrout. Already last year, Springer send me a copy of his book to review, so when, if not now, will be a better time to do this and reuse and expand my freshly crafted introduction?

In quite a few posts, I argued that math matters in neuroscience (e.g. see "Math Matters, Apply It To Neurology" or see here and here). Bard is one of the modern pioneers that began to use and develop mathematical methods to attack problems in neuroscience. I write modern pioneers because this field dates back to 19th century with Emil du Bois Reymond* and Hermann von Helmholtz, known as "organic physics" then. So the term "modern" refers to methods of dynamical systems theory, a field within applied mathematics that describes complex behavior of dynamical systems by employing differential equations.  (More)

Geschrieben in General Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Are you sure it's safe to let Mom out of the house...?

23. February 2011, 21:59

A rare document of an acute speech problem (aphasia) during a migraine attack could recently be seen on air. A still hardly known migraine symptom that deserves more attention—and definitely no need to call an exorcist.

About a week ago, I read in the New York Times the headline "Did a Reporter Have a Stroke on TV?". I—as more than a million others—became a video witness to what happened to Serene Brandson.

In the article, I read about the first suspicion, which turned out to be wrong.  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

The Shaking Woman on Twitter

13. February 2011, 10:01

The other review of  Siri Hustvedt's "The Shaking Woman".

I wanted to read this book as soon as it came out. Well, it was first published in Germany (i.e. in German language). I decided to wait. When it then arrived, it got lost in the piles of unread or half-finished books that are all over my place.

Almost a year later, somebody at my university told me my migraine website is mentioned in the book. Not really a surprise, as I knew Klaus Podoll, with whom I run this website, had contact to her. But WOW, my name in a book of Hustvedt. Now I couldn't wait any longer.

Is it still worth to write a review? (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

Only WebMD and Mayo Clinic?

07. February 2011, 15:27

Health information online—should we worry about hypochondriacs or rather hypocrisy? In the NYT Magazine, Virginia Heffernan offers a critical perspective on health sites. WebMD, being attacked, responded. It is probable that the quarrel will not end here. But who are the actual independent big players in the online health market? WebMD and Mayo Clinic - and medlinePLus WebMD and Mayo Clinic? The raise of MedlinePLus.

The internet has significant impact on healthcare services. By providing access to medical information and advice it is possible for patients to assume much greater responsibility for their healthcare. In fact, many patients firstly prefer to investigate their health concerns in privacy before seeing a doctor. This pose significant conceptual, practical, and ethical challenges. Providing useful and reliable medical and health information, and ensuring its appropriate and efficient use should be the supreme concerns for every public website in this field. Who is pursuant to this standard? To what standard actually?  (More)

Geschrieben in General Comments: (2). Trackbacks: (1). Permalink

Superheros fight migraines wearing tinted goggles and Calvin Klein underwear

28. January 2011, 23:18

Migraine in the US sports news—a great opportunity to raise awareness about this widespread disease. An opportunity missed for German players, who seem too embarrassed to admit that they suffer from this disorder.

Fighting migraines begins with awareness.

Every other week I read in the sports news about players missing a game because of a migraine. 

For instance, November last year the NYT reported in its sports section that Percy Harvin, an American football receiver (Minnesota Vikings) missed practice for two days because of a migraine headache. In the same month, I read that another player got not only migraine headache but also other migraine symptoms as a result of a sport injury. Eric Shelton, an American football running back, suffered a helmet-to-helmet collision and lost all feeling in his extremities for one minute, a possible migraine symptom. The next day he was numb from the waist down. This could be one of the possible symptoms occurring in the resolution and recovery stage of a migraine attack. Furthermore, as a result of this injury, Shelton has been unable to work for some time because of migraine headaches that persisted.  (More)

Geschrieben in Migraine Comments: (2). Trackbacks: (2). Permalink

A deluxe brain feels no pain

01. January 2011, 00:57

In Berlin, a new Collaborative Research Centre "Control of self-organizing nonlinear systems" is set up. One focus will be on mathematical neuroscience. The goal is to understand the brain's control mechanisms and how their failure leads to diseases. The precise language of mathematics offers the promise for better diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.

My deluxe brain made it on the homepage of my university, the Technische Universität Berlin. It is gone by now, but it was there for four days on the occasion of the anoucment of our new Collaborative Research Centre 910: Control of self-organizing nonlinear systems. The centre is funded with €7 million over a period of four years.

Philipp Hövel (acting managing director), Sabine Klapp (vice-coordinator), my brain (deluxe version), and Eckehard Schöll (coordinator of the CRC 910, from left to right)

Well, it was only my brain anatomy model that you see above. I bought it some time ago and had to choose from over two dozen different models. The simplest (and cheapest) version would have sufficed for my usual purpose, that is, to demonstrate the path taken by a localized wave of overly excited neurons through the folded surface of the brain. This wave causes on its course neurological deficits in migraine called aura [1]. Anyway, I decided to go for the deluxe brain. Who wouldn't?  (More)

Geschrieben in General , Migraine Comment: (0). Trackbacks: (0). Permalink

1 2  Next»