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Mind and Brain to Medical Sciences

  1. Oct 7, 2007 #1
    We have decided to change the Mind and Brain forum to full blown Medical Sciences. Topics that could be discussed include: Clinical Medicine, Human Anatomy, Physiology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Psychology, and General Health. Before using this forum please read this disclaimer: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=173247
     
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  3. Oct 7, 2007 #2

    hypnagogue

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    Lame. Anatomy, physiology, and immunology are subsets of biology for which there is already a forum. And the scope of psychology and neuroscience far outstrip medical applications. If anything psychology and neuroscience are better fits under biology than medical science.
     
  4. Oct 7, 2007 #3

    Moonbear

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    I disagree hypnogogue. We don't have enough neuroscientists to sustain the Mind and Brain forum in its current format, so it has mostly just been an extension of philosophy. From looking at the questions people ask, it seems there's much more of a need for people to understand the medical sciences. Biology can still cover the topics that go beyond the scope of medical sciences. Many of the basic neuroscience questions really do best fit under biology, such as "How is an action potential propagated?" etc., whereas there are medical questions that span a great variety of fields and don't easily fit within any current subforum. For example, something like, "I was told I need an MRI, how does that work and what sort of information will it provide about..." Such a question requires both biology and physics to adequately answer. Another example are the questions we get about pharmaceuticals and their actions. Those require chemistry and biology to answer. I think this change also makes it a bit more clear cut where the divisions are between the various forums. For example, when someone has a pure psychology question, do they post it in the social sciences forum or Mind and Brain? There's too much overlap and no clear division of why one would choose one forum over another. It makes Mind & Brain redundant.

    Specializing the forum to address medical sciences questions provides a clearer delineation of where a question belongs. If it's a basic science question, place it in biology, chemistry, or social sciences. If it pertains to health or medicine, place it in the medical sciences forum. For example, a question about the cellular mechanisms of neurite outgrowth belongs in biology, a question about a psychology study on decision-making would go in social sciences, while a question about what happens in the progression of Alzheimer disease, including the behavioral changes, the neural changes, other related health issues, support options for caregivers, whether any treatments or lifestyle modifications will slow or halt progression of the disease, etc., would fit within medical sciences.

    Right now, a lot of the medical type questions land in GD and don't get very serious responses, and as much as I loved the idea of Mind and Brain originally, we just don't have a membership under which it is fluorishing, and it hasn't drawn in any new membership to help it grow either.

    I think providing solid science-based answers about medical questions is more useful for the general public as well. There are a lot of sites that provide very basic clinical information, such as signs and symptoms of various diseases, what sort of treatments are available, and emotional support for sufferers of the diseases and those close to them, but very few where the actual science behind the diseases, the ongoing research about them (people often don't see the connection between a lot of basic science research and the ultimate goal of improving medical care, including how the basic science knowledge can provide information on novel drug targets), and in an environment where scientists can provide the explanations and interpretations of the research to the non-scientific public. I see a lot of disconnection between efforts to make research articles available to the general public and their actual ability to understand what is written in those articles. They are written by scientists for scientists, and are not understandable by the general public. On the other hand, the pre-digested versions and news articles often contain inaccuracies, or hype findings as bigger than they are, and there's nobody around to explain how the science is really working or what it really means. This is something we can do that other sites don't offer...a place for the scientists to help explain to non-scientists what all those studies they now have access to mean, and to help put it in context of the greater body of literature they don't have time to read and understand on their own.
     
  5. Oct 7, 2007 #4

    hypnagogue

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    Agreed that there hasn't been a solid membership for M&B. I guess I am annoyed at the categorization of psychology and neuroscience underneath medical science, as if they are proper subsets. This only propagates the mistaken perception that these fields are synonymous with psychiatry and clinical psychology.
     
  6. Oct 7, 2007 #5

    hypnagogue

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    I also have to say I am skeptical of the utility of opening a forum for medical science. This will only further attract people who have the wrong idea and come looking for personal diagnoses and such. This is not something PF is equipped to offer. With the old structure, folks were still in a position to ask something like "what is the logic behind neurological procedure X?" but of course, we know that instead they would ask "I experience X and Y symptoms, so what is wrong with me?" This will continue to happen no matter how the forums are structured.

    Disagreed that the delineations are clearer. They are not clearer, just different. Some questions are now more clearly categorized, and other less so. If a person has a question about cognitive neuroscience, should they post it in biology or social sciences?

    Of course, no one asked about cognitive neuroscience anyway, so I suppose it's a moot point!
     
  7. Oct 7, 2007 #6
    I thought about saying the same thing about cognitive neuroscience Hynagogue, but I decided against posting it, since (as you said) it's a moot point anyway.

    At first glance at the name change I was also sort of annoyed, but after thinking about it for a minute I agree with Moonbear. There aren't really enough <real> neuroscience topics being posted here to warrant a separate forum.
     
  8. Oct 7, 2007 #7

    Gokul43201

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    Two questions:

    1. Do we have enough expertise in medical sciences to adequately Mentor such a forum?
    2. Is there a plan for dealing with "please cure my illness" kind of threads? (sub-question: don't the forum Guidelines need revision to deal with this?)
     
  9. Oct 7, 2007 #8
    Although it experiences dry spells Mind and Brain as such served the important purpose of alerting people to basic neurological facts they wouldn't be exposed to anywhere else. I think of it as a place where, in the course of poking around the forums, the average physics student might be exposed to the information that vision is processed in the occipital lobes and that damage to the occipital lobes can result in blindness despite there being nothing wrong with a persons physical eyes, for example. Or that your senses are primarily processed in a dedicated region of the brain called the sensory strip located at the front of the parietal lobes. It specifically fostered discussions about, and increased awareness of, what the brain does, for people who hadn't been exposed to much information about it. Rather than a place for students of neuroscience to discuss things at an advanced level I thought of it as a place where physics and math students could pick up very basic, but important, insights about the most sophisticated organ in the body.

    I agree with Hypnagogue that "Medical Sciences" is a particularly unfortunate alternative since it's bound to attract a slew of people wondering what caused the boil on their ass and how to get rid of it.
     
  10. Oct 7, 2007 #9

    Moonbear

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    Yes, I think so. We have some physicians here along with other health professionals and considering I teach at a medical school, I think those are things I can field as well.

    Follow the link Greg provided. :biggrin: That was my first concern with such a name change. We're still not providing diagnoses; it's going to still be very much focused on the science side of things.
     
  11. Oct 7, 2007 #10

    Moonbear

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    And there's no reason they can't continue to do that within the biology forum, which is where a lot of those discussions landed in the past. The problem is, without enough neuroscientists around, all those basic questions had nobody around who could actually answer them and keep them on track. We mostly got a lot of "how can I improve my memory for studying" type questions.

    And why would that be unfortunate? If there's a huge demand for people to know that sort of information that the forum would "attract a slew of people" asking questions like that, why is it a bad idea to provide that sort of information?
     
  12. Oct 7, 2007 #11

    Gokul43201

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    A Boiled Ass forum? Hmmm, why not? :biggrin:
     
  13. Oct 7, 2007 #12

    Evo

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    Probably more so than the neuroscientists we didn't have to mentor mind and brain. :smile:

    Which is why it became a "can you tell which mental disorder I have?" or "what kind of tricks can I learn to improve my memory". The first we don't do here and the second should go in General Discussion.

    I think we have a better chance going in the new direction, it will require input and trial and error until we figure out what people want and what we can deliver, as always, it's the way it is until we change it.

    I am hopeful it will attract more interest and generate some interesting discussions.

    This will also place more scientific questions back into biology for Monique and Ian Smith's areas of expertise.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  14. Oct 7, 2007 #13

    Astronuc

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    Well, that's true of any professional service. I would not offer engineering services through the forum, but I would discuss some background information, research or journal references that might be of use.

    Unlike a doctor, I don't have to deal with the general public with respect to my professional services. :biggrin:
     
  15. Oct 7, 2007 #14
    If there's no one to keep them on track in mind and brain, there's no one to keep them on track in biology: it's all the same people.

    I don't think that's the case at all, though. There's plenty of people around here who can give a basic explanation of the limbic system, for example, to someone who has never heard of it.
    If you don't mind running an on-line clinic, it's fine with me. I thought PF wanted to avoid that.
     
  16. Oct 8, 2007 #15

    Monique

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    I'm a medical biochemist, with an interest in the biology of diseases, so such questions are welcome. If people come for a diagnosis they'll have to be referred to their doctor.
     
  17. Oct 8, 2007 #16

    Moonbear

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    Again, note that we are NOT offering diagnoses. We've always gotten questions like that, both within Mind and Brain, Biology, and even in GD. There is far more to the medical sciences than diagnosing boils. But, if people want to know what a boil is, what types of things can cause it, how it forms, why it forms, there is no reason we can't discuss those topics...we already do. Once one person has asked it, there will be no reason for additional threads on it, because there will be an existing thread for it.

    If someone comes here describing a bunch of symptoms and asking what's wrong with them, we will refer them to their personal physician, as we have already done in Mind and Brain as we were getting an onslaught of, "I have hallucinations, and bouts of depression, and sometimes..., do I have...?" On the other hand, when someone posts a thread such as, "Someone I know has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, can you explain more about what causes this, how it's treated, what sort of research is being done about it..." then that will be an appropriate place for it.
     
  18. Oct 9, 2007 #17
    My original remark was:
    Recently, for instance, there was a thread asking what to do about patches of dry skin, and such questions come up frequently. I think a forum called "Medical Sciences" is going to specifically attract this kind of question in a way that Biology and General Discussion does not. I see a potential for "Medical Sciences" attracting not just people wanting diagnoses but also courses of action, in which case, if you cater to that, it becomes an informal clinic.

    I, personally, don't care if it does. My point is that recasting the forum as "Medical Science" doesn't, logically, ameliorate any problem you thought Mind and Brain was having with people wanting to find out what psychological disorder they had: it merely expands the field of curiosity people have about what's wrong with them to the whole body: "What's this lump on my elbow? What's this pain in my back? What's this rash? Why is the side of my foot swollen?" Etc.

    If guidelines aren't already 100% effective now, they won't be under a new Forum title, and you'll still encounter people ignoring them or trying to find a way around them.

    As Hypnagogue said:
    All the forums have guideline violation problems. It's just something you have to deal with as they crop up. Changing Mind and Brain to "Medical Sciences" strikes me as a byzantine way to solve the problems you think Mind and Brain is having. It would be better to leave it as is, or simply close it altogether.
     
  19. Oct 16, 2007 #18

    jim mcnamara

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    Yup. We are still getting steady stream of 'what is wrong with me?' Plus a small dose of spam messages, too.

    Is there primo forum moderator for Medical? I know that still seems to be undecided.
    But we seem to be generating a new genre of posts there - ones touting cures.
    Maybe I just never read Mind+Brain. I don't think we want to sell snake oil.
     
  20. Oct 16, 2007 #19

    Evo

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    Be sure to report any of these posts so we can take appropriate action. Monique & Ian Smith are the official mentors, with Moonbear filling in.
     
  21. Oct 16, 2007 #20
    What are you talking about? There's only one new "what's wrong with me" thread that I can see. And where's the spam?

    Again, what are you talking about? I haven't seen any posts offering cures for anything.
     
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