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Comment: As a neurologist. (Score 5, Informative) 86

by MPAB (#46441771) Attached to: New Blood Test Offers Early Warning for Alzheimer's Onset

The main symptom that brings people to the neurologist is forgetfulness. Most of the time it's subjective (ie. I know someone with Alzheimer's and I begin to notice and worry about the times I meet people and the names won't come to my head). We look for signs of cognitive impairment, with tests that include memory and other mind processes. Of course, YMMV depending on your previous performance, career, educational level, etc.
Once we get proof of MCI, we can make some tests because Alzheimer's isn't the only thing that can cause it. The usual stuff ranges from depression or unfelt strokes to syphillis. The CAT scan/MRI only tells us if the brain is intact, somewhat like trying to work out if a car works by just opening the hood.
Alzheimer's itself can only be diagnosed under the microscope right now. Not a thing we'd agree to to do a live brain.
Other than this blood test, there are radioactive tracer tests and CSF tests. In all of them the result is a chance or ratio telling the possibility of the MCI to be a sign of Alzheimer's against something else.
So, it's a disease for which there is no prevention nor a cure and the current tests just tell us "yes your worries about that time you left the keys on the toilet are related to a 75% propability of having Alzheimer's". We should get into positive and negative predictive values here.
As I tell my patients: "No: there is no sign of cognitive impairment right now. If I knew you were to develop a demence, I'd suggest you settle your pending issues right away, but I don't see a reason not to do that, anyway, You don't know what awaits you at the turn of the corner."

Comment: Venezuela (Score 2) 347

by MPAB (#46333571) Attached to: NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

Right now the social networks are flooded with alleged "discoveries of fraud", according to which the opposition is spreading pictures from protests elsewhere as being from Venezuela right now. It's interesting that the original photos are very easy to find in the internet, but the ones supposedly shared by the venezuelan opposition are nowhere.
Either the venezuelan opposition is dumb enough to get pictures that are widely available and spread them as their own or there's some seeding taking place in hopes that the opposition will get framed by spreading a false pic that was given to them by someone else.

Comment: Incompatibility (Score 2) 944

by MPAB (#45783983) Attached to: 60% of Americans Unaware of Looming Incandescent Bulb Phase Out

At home the light switches have a dim blue light to be visible in the dark. It seems to be rigged in series with the circuit, so it lights up only when a lightbulb is in the socket. If fluorescent bulbs are installed, they (the bulbs!) will flicker all night long. Also the fluorescent bulbs installed in the bathroom die out very early from the moist. LEDs may be a good solution, but I've yet to find ones that give out enough red tones.

Comment: PC at its best (Score 5, Insightful) 452

by MPAB (#44784737) Attached to: Could Technology Create Modern-Day 'Leper Colonies'?

I once asked in several forums about the neighborhoods of a city I was going to move into with my family. I didn't want to fall into bohemian neighborhoods (want rest at night, not party) or ghettos just because I didn't know the place. The answers were all about racism, how beautiful and diverse those places were, how much of a lousy father I was for denying my children such enriching experiences, etc.
I resorted to look around for external signs, such as crowded balconies, abandoned cars, how people dressed, etc.

I think I have the same right to be informed when I look for somewhere to live than when shopping around for stuff that suits my needs as precisely as possible.

Comment: Modern luddites (Score 5, Insightful) 198

by MPAB (#42889381) Attached to: Computers Shown To Be Better Than Docs At Diagnosing, Prescribing Treatment

An expected outcome. First machines become good and cheap at performing manual labor, then it's lowly qualified jobs such as sorting stuff or basic accounting.
In a few years, liberal professions will fall. Our salaries (I'm a doctor) have been diving as more and more people around the world can afford a career and achieve a good enough level to perform as a doctor or an engineer.
Creative and risk-taking careers will resist for a longer time.
We can hope for a future of working machines and humans enjoying themselves. The other option will be cheap-ass humans with no way of earning a living whatsoever.

Comment: PDF killed the ebook (Score 1) 465

by MPAB (#42493585) Attached to: Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated

The ebook lacks the short battery life and sun glare of computer screens, it also is weightless. It was meant to let us carry all of our texts along, but...
While casual fiction readers tend to be tech unsavy, those of us that are want to carry around complex texts to study from. Sadly there's no right way to get a simple web page into most ebooks without formatting issues. And PDF is the final insult, where words are split without any rules, paragraphs get slaughtered and images disappear into the void.
Tablets are much better at displaying anything that's not just plain text, but they're cumbersome, more fragile and seldom last for more than a few hours on a charge.

Ebooks should've come in more than paperback size (I know there are bigger ones, but they cost as much as a midrange tablet) and with enough horsepower to overcome the slow screen when zooming and panning, not to add even more wait time to it.

Comment: Re:Conversion diseases are so frustrating... (Score 2) 146

by MPAB (#40576677) Attached to: WHO Says Afghan School "Poison Attacks" Probably Mass Hysteria

I myself have migraines. Lots of people do and everyone's migraine is different and has different triggers. As an anecdote: I had daily migraines for a few months while at med school. I even blamed the anatomy teacher, because they would begin during said class. Then someone fixed the vending machine, which had been giving away Fanta at 1/10th the price and I quit drinking it before class. The migraines remitted to their usual frequency of once or twice a month and I could unleash one by drinking a Fanta (not a Coke or Sprite). I've known of no other person with such a trigger.
As for your question, most of the time CD diagnosis is straighforward but tests are made to ensure it is not a rare manifestation of a life-threatening illness. Sometimes, it's not as simple as it seems. I've seen deep focal epilepsies which go undetected by EEG after EEG but cause bizarre symptoms. Or paraneoplasic syndromes that show up as dementia in which the tumor isn't detected until after a year or so.
In your case, migraines are in fact very sensitive to sleep disorders, still I'm very surprised a doctor would keep you in for 5 whole nights just because your sleep disorder was not diagnosed in the first full-night polysomnography. We usually draw the line there.

Comment: Re:Conversion diseases are so frustrating... (Score 2) 146

by MPAB (#40576339) Attached to: WHO Says Afghan School "Poison Attacks" Probably Mass Hysteria

It's a side effect I've heard from many people. I don't know why it happens, but I believe them. I don't even know if the sensation is produced in the peripheral nerves or in the brain. Like when you hit your elbow and feel an electric shock in your outermost fingers: the hit stimulates the ulnar nerve and that signal is interpreted in your brain as a weird feeling in the area the aforementioned nerve controls. No imaging method nor an EMG/ENG/EEG will show anything because it's a tiny chemical malfunction that happens somewhere, like a miscalibration. Most withdrawal symptoms (even from alcohol) come from such miscalibrations because the brain adapts to the new chemical balance induced by the drug.

Comment: Conversion diseases are so frustrating... (Score 5, Interesting) 146

by MPAB (#40573623) Attached to: WHO Says Afghan School "Poison Attacks" Probably Mass Hysteria

I'm a neurologist and I deal everyday with people that are obviously suffering a conversive disease. This does not mean that they are feigning or malingering, It's just that somehow their brains malfunction and generate bizarre symptoms. In most cases the disease has no anatomical and physiological integrity (i.e. it crosses boundaries that it should not, or a certain part that should also be affected works fine).
It's frustrating because the patient and everyone around her (mostly happens to females) is pretty convinced of an impending illnes and they request test after test, sometimes even threatening to sue. Of course nothing is found ... or worse: a harmless congenital defect can be found, which will produce more anxiety.

Comment: Re:Business only! (Score 1) 732

by MPAB (#40126941) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Shop For a Laptop?

I bought a Samsung 300E. i5, 6gb ram, Nvidia graphics, 750 gb HD. 15" matte display. Light, cheap, durable battery.
Downside is that the Fn keys work only with the maufacturer's "utility". If I remove it, the only thing I can do via keyboard is change the volume. No screen brightness control, no touchpad turn-off, no fan control, no WiFi on/off. And for each of those it takes a LOT to obey because when pressed they load the whole "utility".

Comment: Re:mac (Score 1) 732

by MPAB (#40126909) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Shop For a Laptop?

When it came to buying a netbook, I went for the dual-core (Atom 570) and upgraded the 1gb RAM to 2gb (It was tricky because it wouldn't accept any $20 ram module, and the manufacturer wanted more thatn $100 to upgrade. Thankfully I had a friendly store nearby that let me try many brands till I found the right $20 one).

I have compared it to many "normal" netbooks and it's much quicker for most tasks. The only thing I would have wished for was an ION chipset for a better video experience (it's still low to rearrange windows when connected to an external monitor), but it would have raised the price to notebook levels.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

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