Best of PubMed #2

Today’s picks from PubMed explore head-banging in rock concerts, sending e-mails in your sleep, the effects of Polka music on developing Alzheimer’s Disease, how to tell the difference between good and bad conspiracy theories, potato chips that look like Elvis, and, of course, more insights into the zipper phenomenon. For links to the full articles, and deep insights go to and type in the PubMed or DOI number.

Neurology. 2001 Oct 23;57(8):1485.

Polka music and semantic dementia.

Boeve BF, Geda YE.

PMID: 11673594 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Am J Emerg Med. 2005 Jul;23(4):480-2.

Comparing 2 methods of emergent zipper release.

Inoue N, Crook SC, Yamamoto LG.


Department of Pediatrics, University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, HI 96826, USA.



There are several types of emergent zipper release methods described. The standard method can be difficult. The purpose of this study is to determine if an alternate method of zipper release can be easier to accomplish.


Subjects were provided with zippers and were taught 2 methods of emergent zipper release using a standard method (cutting the median bar of the actuator) and an alternate method (cutting the closed teeth of the zipper). The elapsed times to successful zipper release for both methods were measured.


Mean zipper release times were faster for the alternate method (10.5 seconds) compared with the standard method (75.8 seconds) ( P < .001).


The alternate method of zipper release is faster and easier than the standard method of zipper release; however, the optimal procedure is also dependent on the location of the entrapped tissue relative to the zipper actuator and the type of zipper.

MMW Fortschr Med. 2013 Apr 18;155(7):24.

 Bach, but not heavy metal is good for heart patients

[Article in German]

Stiefelhagen P.

PMID: 23668166 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Dec;94(6):2113-4. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.05.054.

Mediastinal emphysema after head-banging in a rock artist: pseudo shaken-baby syndrome in adulthood.

Matsuzaki S, Tsunoda K, Chong T, Hamaguchi R.


National Hospital Organization, Tokyo Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan.


A 34-year-old man was seen because of severe right neck pain. He was a guitarist in a special type of heavy metal rock (so-called visual-kei, a subgenre related to glam-rock) band and habitually shook his head violently throughout concert performances. He regularly experienced neck and chest pain after a concert, which persisted for some time. Computed tomography scanning of the neck showed mediastinal emphysema. We surmise that head-banging resemble those of shaken-baby syndrome.

Copyright © 2012 The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 23176926 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2004 Dec;25(4):273-5.

Velocity necessary for a BB to penetrate the eye: an experimental study using pig eyes.

Powley KD, Dahlstrom DB, Atkins VJ, Fackler ML.


Forensic Laboratory, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.



To determine the V-50 threshold velocity needed for a steel BB to penetrate the eye of a 230-pound pig.


BBs were shot at a distance of 10 feet into the corneas of pig eyes with a pump-action BB gun.


The V-50 velocity for corneal penetration and serious disruption of the eye was found to be 246 ft/sec.


Due to the nearly identical size and anatomy of the human eye to the pig eyes used in this study, it is felt that 246 ft/sec is a reasonable approximation of the velocity needed to penetrate the human eye.

PMID: 15577514 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Singapore Med J. 1998 Mar;39(3):121-3.

“I’ve got a UFO stuck in my throat!”–an interesting case of foreign body impaction in the oesophagus.

Yip LW, Goh FS, Sim RS.


Department of Otolaryngology, National University Hospital, Singapore.


This is a case report of an elderly lady with odynophagia because she accidentally swallowed a tablet which was still wrapped in its blister pack. A discussion of foreign body ingestion, particularly in the elderly, is included. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper that includes a lateral cervical radiograph of an ingested blister pack.

PMID: 9632971 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Science. 1993 Nov 12;262(5136):987.

UFO Sighters not Batty, Study Finds.

[No authors listed]

PMID: 17782045 [PubMed]

Appl Opt. 1978 Nov 1;17(21):3355-60. doi: 10.1364/AO.17.003355.

Insects as unidentified flying objects.

Callahan PS, Mankin RW.


Five species of insects were subjected to a large electric field. Each of the insects stimulated in this manner emitted visible glows of various colors and blacklight (uv). It is postulated that the Uintah Basin, Utah, nocturnal UFO display (1965-1968) was partially due to mass swarms of spruce budworms, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clemens), stimulated to emit this type of St. Elmo’s fire by flying into high electric fields caused by thunderheads and high density particulate matter in the air. There was excellent time and spatial correlation between the 1965-1968 UFO nocturnal sightings and spruce budworm infestation. It is suggested that a correlation of nocturnal UFO sightings throughout the U.S. and Canada with spruce budworm infestations might give some insight into nocturnal insect flight patterns.

PMID: 20203984 [PubMed]


Sci Am. 2010 Dec;303(6):102.

The conspiracy theory detector. How to tell the difference between true and false conspiracy theories.

Shermer M.

Erratum in

Sci Am. 2011 Apr;304(4):10.

PMID: 21141366 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Cereb Cortex. 2012 Oct;22(10):2354-64. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr315. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

The potato chip really does look like Elvis! Neural hallmarks of conceptual processing associated with finding novel shapes subjectively meaningful.

Voss JL, Federmeier KD, Paller KA.


Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Clouds and inkblots often compellingly resemble something else–faces, animals, or other identifiable objects. Here, we investigated illusions of meaning produced by novel visual shapes. Individuals found some shapes meaningful and others meaningless, with considerable variability among individuals in these subjective categorizations. Repetition for shapes endorsed as meaningful produced conceptual priming in a priming test along with concurrent activity reductions in cortical regions associated with conceptual processing of real objects. Subjectively meaningless shapes elicited robust activity in the same brain areas, but activity was not influenced by repetition. Thus, all shapes were conceptually evaluated, but stable conceptual representations supported neural priming for meaningful shapes only. During a recognition memory test, performance was associated with increased frontoparietal activity, regardless of meaningfulness. In contrast, neural conceptual priming effects for meaningful shapes occurred during both priming and recognition testing. These different patterns of brain activation as a function of stimulus repetition, type of memory test, and subjective meaningfulness underscore the distinctive neural bases of conceptual fluency versus episodic memory retrieval. Finding meaning in ambiguous stimuli appears to depend on conceptual evaluation and cortical processing events similar to those typically observed for known objects. To the brain, the vaguely Elvis-like potato chip truly can provide a substitute for the King himself.

PMID: 22079921 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC3432238 [Available on 2013/10/1]

Sleep Med. 2009 Feb;10(2):262-4. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2008.09.008. Epub 2008 Dec 6.

Writing emails as part of sleepwalking after increase in Zolpidem.

Siddiqui F, Osuna E, Chokroverty S.


Seton Hall Univ. School of Graduate Med. Edu., New Jersey Neuroscience Inst. at JFK Medical Ctr., 3000 Arlington Ave, Toledo, OH 43614, USA; Neurol. Dept., Univ. of Toledo Medical Center, 3000 Arlington Ave, Toledo, OH 43614, USA.

PMID: 19059805 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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