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Concept: Spontaneous human combustion


We present a case with outspoken spontaneous vestibular schwannoma shrinkage and review the related literature. The patient was initially diagnosed with a left-sided, intrameatal vestibular schwannoma, which subsequently grew into the cerebello-pontine angle (CPA), followed by total shrinkage of the CPA component without any intervention over a 12-year observation period. The literature on spontaneous tumor shrinkage was retrieved by searching the subject terms “vestibular schwannoma, conservative management” in PubMed/MEDLINE database, without a time limit. Of the published data, the articles on “shrinkage” or “negative growth” or “regression” or “involution” of the tumor were selected, and the contents on the rate, extent and mechanism of spontaneous tumor shrinkage were extracted and reviewed. The reported rate of spontaneous shrinkage of vestibular schwannoma is 5-10% of patients managed conservatively. Extreme shrinkage of the tumor may occur spontaneously.

Concepts: Time, Patient, Subject, Real number, Conservatism, Schwannoma, Limit superior and limit inferior, Spontaneous human combustion


Synaptic plasticity - the directed modulation of synaptic connections by specific activity histories or physiological signals - is believed to be a major mechanism for the modification of neuronal network function. This belief, however, has a ‘flip side’: the supposition that synapses do not change spontaneously in manners unrelated to such signals. Contrary to this supposition, recent studies reveal that synapses do change spontaneously, and to a fairly large extent. Here we review experimental results on spontaneous synaptic remodeling, its relative contributions to total synaptic remodeling, its statistical characteristics, and its physiological importance. We also address challenges it poses and avenues it opens for future experimental and theoretical research.

Concepts: Synapse, Experiment, Key signature, Spontaneous human combustion


Sleep is a dynamic process comprising multiple stages, each associated with distinct electrophysiological properties and potentially serving different functions. While these phenomena are well described in vertebrates, it is unclear if invertebrates have distinct sleep stages. We perform local field potential (LFP) recordings on flies spontaneously sleeping, and compare their brain activity to flies induced to sleep using either genetic activation of sleep-promoting circuitry or the GABAA agonist Gaboxadol. We find a transitional sleep stage associated with a 7-10 Hz oscillation in the central brain during spontaneous sleep. Oscillatory activity is also evident when we acutely activate sleep-promoting neurons in the dorsal fan-shaped body (dFB) of Drosophila. In contrast, sleep following Gaboxadol exposure is characterized by low-amplitude LFPs, during which dFB-induced effects are suppressed. Sleep in flies thus appears to involve at least two distinct stages: increased oscillatory activity, particularly during sleep induction, followed by desynchronized or decreased brain activity.

Concepts: Brain, Electrophysiology, Sleep, Neuroscience, Electroencephalography, Stage, Potential, Spontaneous human combustion


Experiments performed primarily with adults show that self-distancing facilitates adaptive self-reflection. However, no research has investigated whether adolescents spontaneously engage in this process or whether doing so is linked to adaptive outcomes. In this study, 226 African American adolescents, aged 11-20, reflected on an anger-related interpersonal experience. As expected, spontaneous self-distancing during reflection predicted lower levels of emotional reactivity by leading adolescents to reconstrue (rather than recount) their experience and blame their partner less. Moreover, the inverse relation between self-distancing and emotional reactivity strengthened with age. These findings highlight the role that self-distancing plays in fostering adaptive self-reflection in adolescence, and begin to elucidate the role that development plays in enhancing the benefits of engaging in this process.

Concepts: Philosophy of science, Ageing, Adolescence, African American, Reflection, Inverse relation, Spontaneous human combustion


Humans, including infants, and many other species have a capacity for rapid, nonverbal estimation of numerosity. However, the mechanisms for number perception are still not clear; some maintain that the system calculates numerosity via density estimates-similar to those involved in texture-while others maintain that more direct, dedicated mechanisms are involved. Here we show that provided that items are not packed too densely, human subjects are far more sensitive to numerosity than to either density or area. In a two-dimensional space spanning density, area and numerosity, subjects spontaneously react with far greater sensitivity to changes in numerosity, than either area or density. Even in tasks where they were explicitly instructed to make density or area judgments, they responded spontaneously to number. We conclude, that humans extract number information, directly and spontaneously, via dedicated mechanisms.

Concepts: Human, Mathematics, Species, Volume, Dimension, Population density, Space, Spontaneous human combustion


Efficient social interactions require taking into account other people’s mental states such as their beliefs, intentions or emotions. Recent studies have shown that in some social situations at least, we do spontaneously take into account others' mental states. The extent to which we have dedicated brain areas for such spontaneous perspective taking is however still unclear. Here, we report two brain-damaged patients whose common lesions were almost exclusively in the left posterior temporo-parietal junction (TPJp) and who both showed the same striking and distinctive Theory of Mind (ToM) deficit. More specifically, they had an inability to take into account someone else’s belief unless they were explicitly instructed to tell what that other person thinks or what that person will do. These patients offer a unique insight into the causal link between a specific subregion of the TPJ and a specific cognitive facet of ToM.

Concepts: Psychology, Belief, Sociology, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Theory of mind, Spontaneous human combustion, Propositional attitude


Studies of social distancing during epidemics have found that the strength of the response can have a decisive impact on the outcome. In previous work we developed a model of social distancing driven by individuals' risk attitude, a parameter which determines the extent to which social contacts are reduced in response to a given infection level. We showed by simulation that a strong response, driven by a highly cautious risk attitude, can quickly suppress an epidemic. However, a moderately cautious risk attitude gives weak control and, by prolonging the epidemic without reducing its impact, may yield a worse outcome than doing nothing. In real societies, social distancing may arise spontaneously from individual choices rather than being imposed centrally. There is little data available about this as opportunistic data collection during epidemics is difficult. Our study uses a simulated epidemic in a computer game setting to measure the social distancing response.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Redox, Sociology, Developed country, Simulation, Individual, Epidemic, Spontaneous human combustion


Flocking behaviour, as a type of self-organised collective behaviour, is described as the spatial formation of groups without global control and explicit inter-individual recruitment signals. It can be observed in many animals, such as bird flocks, shoals or herds of ungulates. Spatial attraction between humans as the central component of flocking behaviour has been simulated in a number of seminal models but it has not been detected experimentally in human groups so far. The two other sub-processes of this self-organised collective movement - collision avoidance and alignment - are excluded or held constant respectively in this study. We created a computer-based, multi-agent game where human players, represented as black dots, moved on a virtual playground. The participants were deprived of social cues about each other and could neither communicate verbally nor nonverbally. They played two games: (1) Single Game, where other players were invisible, and (2) Joint Game, where each player could see players' positions in a local radius around himself/herself. We found that individuals approached their neighbours spontaneously if their positions were visible, leading to less spatial dispersion of the whole group compared to moving alone. We conclude that human groups show the basic component of flocking behaviour without being explicitly instructed or rewarded to do so.

Concepts: Human, Bird, Science, Herd, Collective animal behavior, Spontaneous human combustion, Humans, Herd behavior


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The decision to extubate is a crucial moment for intubated patients. In most cases, the transition to spontaneous breathing is uneventful, but in some patients, it implies a more challenging decision. Both extubation delay and especially the need for reintubation are associated with poor outcomes. We aim to review the recent literature on weaning and to clarify the role of certain interventions intending to help in this process. RECENT FINDINGS: Cardiac dysfunction is probably one of the most common causes of weaning failure. Several studies have evaluated the ability of B-natriuretic peptides and echocardiographic tools to predict weaning outcome due to cardiac origin, attempting to prevent its failure. Noninvasive ventilation may have a potential benefit in preventing respiratory failure after extubation of hypercapnic patients, although more studies are needed to define a target population. SUMMARY: Current research is focusing on preventing extubation failure, especially in the most challenging cases. The use of weaning protocols - written or computerized - attempts to early identify patients who are able to breathe spontaneously and to hasten extubation, resulting in better outcomes. Nevertheless, individualized care is needed in the most vulnerable patients, trying to prompt weaning without exposing patients to unnecessary risks.

Concepts: Game theory, Mechanical ventilation, Prevention, Intubation, Outcome, Need, PReVENT, Spontaneous human combustion


Presynaptic nerve terminals release neurotransmitter synchronously, asynchronously or spontaneously. During synchronous neurotransmission release is precisely coupled to action potentials, in contrast, asynchronous release events show only loose temporal coupling to presynaptic activity whereas spontaneous neurotransmission occurs independent of presynaptic activity. The mechanisms that give rise to this diversity in neurotransmitter release modes are poorly understood. Recent studies have described several presynaptic molecular pathways controlling synaptic vesicle pool segregation and recycling, which in turn may dictate distinct modes of neurotransmitter release. In this article, we review this recent work regarding neurotransmitter release modes and their relationship to synaptic vesicle pool dynamics as well as the molecular machinery that establishes synaptic vesicle pool identity.

Concepts: Neuron, Action potential, Neurotransmitter, Chemical synapse, Neurophysiology, Synaptic vesicle, Asynchrony, Spontaneous human combustion