Category: Neuroscience

Most psychiatrists of a certain age began their careers thinking marijuana use – even daily marijuana use – was no big deal. We bought the conspiracy theory (somewhat accurate, somewhat false) that marijuana was histrionically banned in the 1920s through sneaky back-room deal making by Hearst and DuPont in order to get rid of hemp, which was a threat to their business models (making paper and nylon respectively). The terrifying, effects of weed on the human mind – particularly the nonwhite human mind, but also the white female mind – was the scare tactic these corporations used to accomplish their financial objectives. And thus, tragically, in white America’s panic to avoid miscegenation and race wars, which turned out merely to deprive them of superior paper and nontoxic, organic clothing and rope – both superior by far to wood pulp paper and cotten clothes and nylon rope – we got rid of a perfectly safe drug.

If the results stand up, they provide intriguing evidence that “emotional eating” binges may be just the opposite – efforts to turn off emotion. Have people who binge eat after distressing experiences stumbled upon a hypothalamic emergency brake?

The NYT has a loving and heart-warming replica of Watson’s letter describing the discovery of DNA to his 12 year old son in 1953. To say something nice about it, it’s amazing to see what a good teacher Watson was – he describes the double-helix, first-time out, from a standing start, better than it is usually described by professional educators in high school and college. What’s even more amazing and heart-warming is that Watson completely forgets to mention Rosalind Franklin to his son. You know, Rosalind Franklin…the Jewish woman chemist who took the x-ray diffraction picture of DNA that led directly to Watson’s theory? Never heard of her? Riiiiiiiiiight.

If you don’t think there aren’t a few neocons salivating at the thought of future fleets of American neurosoldiers cutting through the Mongol hordes, you haven’t been watching enough House of Cards. DARPA’s got skin – big skin – in this game for a reason. Visions of neuroweaponry are dancing through at least some of their heads. Isn’t it time to ask some questions about it? America’s just flubbed two wars, at incredible expense, in which overconfidence in DARPA weaponry played a huge role. Let’s find out exactly what their thinking about the BRAIN initiative is, and how this military-scientific collaboration is supposed to play out. And let’s hope that we don’t have a new challenge on our hands – to keep not only weapons out of the wrong hands, but the wrong heads. And let’s follow their mission statement and funding patterns closely over the years. NYT, what do you say? Want to give cynicism a shot? I’ve heard it’s something that reporters – and even Presidents – used to do.

For anyone reading today’s NYT article on the ADHD “epidemic” (sidenote: the only epidemic is in the eyes of the diagnosticians and, worse, the school administrators who ensure that normal boys look hyperactive by sticking them in classrooms at 8am every morning), it wasn’t hard to notice someone conspicuously absent: Jaak Panksepp. If you haven’t read Panksepp’s most recent article on the normal evolutionary function of attentional shifting, and on the necessity of reorganizing our grade schools to make recess the first class of the day, read it now (link here…)

As a rather precise analogy, knowing the distribution of cell phones in the United States might tell you this much (pinchy fingers) about what Americans are saying to one another. A complete list of every phone’s contact history (eg, who is calling who, and when, and for how long) would tell you this much (hands a foot apart) about what Americans are saying. But actually recording all of the conversations would tell you this much (arms stretched as wide as possible) about what Americans are saying.

Everything you ever wanted from a nervous system and more. Perception, analysis, intentionality, persistence, problem solving, and motor behavior up the wazoo.

Time was when the cell body was the telephone mouthpiece and the axon was the telephone cord. Axons just passively conducted the information fed into them like so many cables. But this new article Neurosci. Res. 2013 Sasaki sets forward a summary of recent evidence that astrocytes camped out along the axon modify the signals that cell […]

Many prisons in America are privately run, and wardens, making $40,000/year per inmate, have reasons to keep people in – the inmates are in a sense (unwilling) customers. So when they write that “this pattern of results raises the possibility that brain activity in regions such as the ACC, elicited by a simple experimental task, may lend incremental utility to existing behavioral risk factors in the ability to predict rearrest,” one worries about how, exactly, this information might be used.