I think, therefore I am

There are several highly-ordered neurological representations of the surfaces of your body within a cortical region called “S1”, which occupies a narrow band that roughly bisects the cerebral cortex mantle from a location just above and in front of your ear, and extends from ear to ear. When you stimulate a specific location on the…

Red, red wine

Alcohol is our best-studied neurotoxin. You can pickle a brain in booze. At somewhat lower concentrations that are quite easily achieved in drinking humans, ethanol alters synaptic spines and their plasticity, greatly reduces the complexity of neuronal interconnections, ultimately kills off your neurons, and shrinks your brain. Cognitive and motor losses are the predictable behavioral…

A brain fitness graduate comes home

A couple of weeks ago, Jerry Emmons shared his story with Posit Science. It seems that the 84-year-old was spending much of each day re-living old, painful World War II memories. He had been the only survivor in his crew and the horror was haunting him more and more. “Post-traumatic stress disorder,” said his doctor.…

EVERYONE doesn’t feel the pain

Neil Pearson wrote an inspirational and informative comment from a soldier on the front lines of pain therapy about my last entry [which described another neurological confirmation of an empathetic response actually engaging the pain centers of the brain, when a subject witnessed realistic (fake) videos of inflicted pain]. If pain is an issue for…

West Nile virus is also on the list

In Caldwell, Idaho, on the Snake River in Western Idaho, Dr. Carolyn Rees tells us that she was at ground zero during a West Nile Virus epidemic “leaving many people with post-encephalitic brain damage”. A review of the research literature on WNV includes a number of studies now documenting enduring memory and other cognitive losses…

Understanding other brains

Alan Towers wrote an instructive, poignant comment about the difficulty that he had understanding that his schizophrenic son could not be EXPECTED to “make sense”, if sense was defined by the standards that applied for Alan, or for the wider society. Because so many people who live with psychotic illness or substantial neurological impairment require…