Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
The epidemic of mental illness plaguing the Americans and the overmedication of psychiatric patients are in part artifacts of the diagnostic method. [more inside]
At midnight tonight, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a proposed draft of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). [more inside]
Does american football unavoidably lead to brain damage over time? Does a culture favoring perseverance at the expense of well being begin in high school?
David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Resist; Now He Knows Why. Former FDA commissioner David Kessler goes dumpster-diving to investigate the neurological impact of eating junk food. [Via]
Ecstasy's long-term effects revealed. "Enough time has finally elapsed to start asking if ecstasy damages health in the long term. According to the biggest review ever undertaken, it causes slight memory difficulties and mild depression, but these rarely translate into problems in the real world. While smaller studies show that some individuals have bigger problems, including weakened immunity and larger memory deficits, so far, for most people, ecstasy seems to be nowhere near as harmful over time as you may have been led to believe." [Via]
Dictionary of Disorder - shaping the DSM
Vegetative Patient 'Communicates' Sort of.
Psychiatry by Prescription - Do psychotropic drugs blur the boundaries between illness and health?
Some British nurses want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely.
Ivan Noble's Tumour Diary The BBC's Ivan Noble has been keeping an online diary of his fight against a malignant brain tumour. Alas, his illness is now getting the better of him, and this will be his final column. He has been, at times, an inspiration, incredibly brave and totally honest about his illness. As a former colleague, he shall also be remembered fondly. Start from the beginning, it's a must read.
Nootropics ("smart" drugs) - all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon, the effect seems temporary. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
Making the Mind. "The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
The Harvard Brain Atlas has a veritable plethora of images of the brain, whether normal or diseased. Tours, 3-D Java exploration and a [very difficult] quiz are available. Plus: the top 100 brain structures!
The strange range of human behavior continues to draw us like moths to a flame. Consider Amanda Fielding who continually performed self-surgery on her braincase, Catharina Geisslerin, the woman who vomited frogs, and the Collyer brothers, who collected so much junk that it crushed them in their own home. Samuel Johnson, compiler of the first dictionary of the English language, was compelled to whirl, twist, and make highly ritualized hand motions when going through doors. When he went for a walk, he touched every post he passed. If he missed one, he went back to touch it. Recent research suggests that obsessive-compulsive child behaviors can be caused by strep infection. Who do you think are the most interesting, eccentric, and compulsive personalities?
Tumor-induced Pedophilia - the BBC reports on an american man who, at the age of 40, developed completely uncontrollable and ammoral sexual impulses after developing a tumor in the right lobe of the orbifrontal cortex. After the tumor was removed, he returned to normal. More inside...