PTSD and the Purple Heart

Several weeks ago, the Army formally responded to a recommendation from a military psychologist that soldiers suffering from PTSD be awarded a Purple Heart. “No”, they said. “It is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy”, explained an Army spokesperson. On lots of blogs and in commentaries written about this suggestion, many soldiers weighed…

Helping the troops

It was distressing to read last week about a careful scientific meta-analysis of more than 1800 studies of the nature of, and the origins of “Gulf War Syndrome”.  That study showed, with statistical surety, that the cause of this affliction that has substantially, permanently degraded the lives of about 175,000 former men and women who…

Going googly

In the July-August issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Nicolas Carr asks us the interesting question: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The article appeared at an interesting time for me, because I had been invited to deliver a lecture at Google about 2 weeks before its publication, and I had already asked Google employees the same…

Celebrating the Career of a Great Scientist and Friend

I spent the last 3 days in Oslo, attending the 80th birthday party (a scientific “festschrift”) of an esteemed scientist and friend, Kirsten Osen. It’s a long trip from San Francisco to Oslo, and back—about 15 hours in transit each way. The scientific agenda for this meeting, focusing on the primary research interests of Professor…

Keeping those troops on alert

I usually don’t read Time , but my wife has a subscription and I happened to notice and read a cover story in a recent issue discussing the profligate prescription of drugs (especially, anti-depressants) to active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was not surprised by the story, for two reasons. First, as you probably…

Drugs for children with bipolar disorder

Joseph Biederman is probably THE leading advocate for more aggressive diagnoses and more aggressive medical treatments of children with severe neuro-behavioral problems. If you track the research history of this prominent Harvard scientist and his Massachusetts General Hospital colleagues, it documents the development of a new diagnosis of the misbehaving, out-of-control child as “bipolar”, and…

Gory neuroscience

I was surprised to read about neuroscience and the brain considered from a particularly intelligent general perspective in the politician Al Gore’s recently published The Assault on Reason (now a Penguin soft-cover). I recommend this book for its perspective about the relationship between “reason” and “marketing” — as “truth” hangs in the balance — in…

A message from the isles…

No blogs for a few days, because I have been attending a scientific meeting in Crete, and have now moved on to attend a second meeting in Jerusalem. The focus of the meeting in Crete was on the neurological processes contributing to normal and abnormal brain development. I am struck at meetings like this by…

We know because we measure

In his Comments, Daniel has asked a lot of questions, and I thought that I’d take a minute to answer two of them. First, after I reviewed a book (Elyn Saks, The Center Cannot Hold, Hyperion:New York, 2007) in which a schizophrenic individual provided her personal descriptions of her life with this illness, he asked…