I was a 2nd year resident in neurological surgery when there was news that a single neuron could link with a single computer wire and messages could travel from the one to the other. Nobody in my doctors’ lounge seemed to care.
He told me about an idea which long before that had been both funded and forgotten. The idea had been one of a prosthetic frontal lobe. Frontal lobe of the brain, among other things, tells people what is “appropriate” socially. The one example I will never forget is the physician who (inappropriately) peed in his pants on rounds, and ended up having a frontal lobe tumor. So the idea was that somebody who had a hunk of frontal lobe excised to get rid of the tumor, or presumably some other kind of illness, could have a teency-tiny computer to hold in their hand that would do some frontal lobe kinds of things that they no longer could.
The attempt to develop this happened on the east coast, presumably sometime after Noah’s flood, and the funding dried up just like that great flood did.
Of course, another possibility is that men do not much care where and when they pee. I doubt this, since I had a patient in Oklahoma who had purchased a fair amount of real estate in his life and thought it necessary and appropriate to “mark” it in the same way a dog marks his territory. Yes, it involved peeing in public, but the fellow had no known frontal lobe pathology at the time.
Ah, those Oklahoma men. Read more on Maybe Those People Who Annoy Can Get A Prosthetic Brain…
Why can’t science be fun?
I mean, sure – I’d love to see cancer cures, and schizophrenia cures and even more on the promising telomeric theory of living forever. But sometimes, we learn a lot of things that seem – if not useless, then inconsequential –and they prove invaluable later on in ways we can never predict.
Would you like to know in advance if a pop song is going to be a big hit? I’m sure some people would. Believe it or not, that has been the topic of recent research. Okay, so it is a small study. Who would fund further research on this one? There is a certain part of the tender adolescent brain (remember, our brains don’t get completely myelinated until age 28. That means we do not have all the fatty-insulation around the nerves to conduct impulses) that reacts in a very interesting way to music. Based mostly on animal studies, the ventral striatum seems to be associated with emotions that generate behavior. This differentiates it from the dorsal striatum, which has mostly sensorimotor control. Makes sense. Although they are similar, these two different types of behavior are slightly different. Sometimes we decide what we want to do by what we feel physically. If it is too cold, we go for a jacket. The sensory input probably goes through at least a couple of brain centers, like thermoregulation. Read more on Using Science To Predict Pop Music Hits…
While taking my psychiatric training at the University of Kansas, Wichita – the so-called “Buckle of the Bible Belt,” I often saw patients who told me freely they did not think I could help them because I was of Jewish origin.
Most could deduce because of my name, and most were not shy about asking point-blank. I had nothing to hide and was not ashamed.
They would quiz me about my belief in Christ, and despite my protestations that a prescription pad looked pretty much non-sectarian to me, some would request/demand to see someone who was at least marginally a Christian. Read more on What About The Brain Of The Born-Again?…
It’s hard for many who know me to believe – and it is even hard for me to believe – but from a very early age, I loved the brain.
Looking at my professional path, one can see that everything I’ve done has been related to the brain (with a few side trips, of course). I tell most people now that my change from neurosurgery that ultimately landed me in psychopharmacology was a result of personal maturation. After all, I once believed that most medical problems had mechanical, or near mechanical solutions.
I once believed that a hematoma drained, using squishy squeegie apparatus, just like my mother of blessed memory would have used to baste the Thanksgiving turkey.
The truth of the matter is that I had become convinced slowly that a brain, once touched or handled, changed in immeasurable ways. My own dexterity seemed piteously inferior to the task of brain manipulation. It was not fear — at least I do not think it was. It was more a sort of reverence for the complexity of that which I struggled to lay my hands upon – literally to manipulate. Read more on Messing Around With The Brain Is Serious Business…
It is horrible and terrible and should not have happened, but it did. We have to look at questions we have looked at before. We claim — all of us at one time or another — that human life is precious, and that its very existence is beyond price, and the quality of such existence is pristinely precious, and then everybody in America has to process this tragedy.
First, let’s take care of the straight medical questions. Congresswoman Giffords is obviously getting the best possible care and the most modern possible care. People have learned a whole lot about injuries to the brain since yours truly hung out in a semi-rural University Medical Center in Northern France. (I cannot believe it was over two decades ago).
The people taking care of her have told USA Today the basics, so I can only recapitulate.The shot was made at point blank range, estimated by some as 3 or 4 feet. The bullet entered the back of her head on the left side, and exited through the front. It is true that the structures controlling heartbeat, breathing, and basic survival are more toward the middle of the brain, or “brain stem.” Things like using the senses to put together images of what a human is dealing with are a bit more superficial. Read more on Left, Right, Jewish, Christian — Arizona Shooting Victims Are More Than Political/Religious Pawns…
Okay, so nobody has done whatever kind of research they need to do to figure out why fatty diets work so well at controlling epilepsy. But it works, and it seems safe, and it seems to be saving lives by inductive reasoning; watching and gathering data. So let’s do it when and where we can. People have a hard time believing that food can serve as medication. Maybe they would have an easier time believing it if they believed how much fat there is in a brain. One of my earliest comedy bits, when I was just beginning to read about the brain, was trying to convince people that “fathead” was the world’s greatest compliment.
It would have been better to just say “no.”
Last week two young men died on the football field. One known epileptic; another from some kind of cardiac accident. Both had presumably passed some kind of medical clearance including a physical examination, signatures from parents, whatever.
In my day, which was not over thirty years ago, I heard about those diagnosed with epilepsy not playing football. After all, people who have an alteration of consciousness such as epilepsy are held from driving cars, as they could lose control and the car could kill others, as well as themselves. Seems to me that people who had that capacity might not be ideal candidates for a full body contact sport. How long seizure-free is long enough? What kind of seizure? There are all kinds of possible questions. Hats off to ABC Good Morning America where the questions were asked, how do things like this happen? Both parents and kids want the chance at sports and may be minimizing symptoms. Read more on Choose Life Over Football…
I first found out about this list of so-called “Influential Doctors“ in the USA Today newspaper and did not finish the article before I became aware of two powerful realities: 1. This list does not sound like it will help people who need a doctor, but more likely it will benefit someone else in the health care industry. 2. Nobody compiling a list of influential doctors is going to add me because I’m a professional pain in the rear-end of the other doctors on the list.
It sounds like one of those times when somebody is making money from patients pockets by marketing drugs or services, via insurance companies or drug companies.
Hello “parasite!” Hello person-making-money-from-sick-people without adding “value” to healing them. Read more on Turning The Brain Back Ten Years And Slowing The Decline…
She was beautiful. Early forties, slender, blond hair with a few streaks of gray. She could not stop crying and could not think of any way out of her predicament. Several had been suggested. The one she kept thinking about, however, was suicide. She thought it was the only one, and I believe it never is. This woman literally could not look at an electric cord without thinking how to choke herself with it. She could not look at a plastic bag without thinking how to asphyxiate herself with it.
As far as I am concerned, this is a biological problem. It has something to do with low serotonin in the central nervous system. I remember years ago, reading about a study done in Detroit, comparing the serotonin in the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord) in people who had been gunshot victims with levels of the same chemical in people who had shot themselves. Those who had shot themselves had less.