Monday, June 2, 2008

Encephalon!

Encephelon 46 is out - the Neuroscience Blog Carnival!

Some cool things from the carnival (if you're too lazy to click the damn link):

We all know about phantom limbs resulting from amputation. But did you know that a particular kind of right-hemisphere brain damage can result in the full-out perception of extra phantom limbs? I find it particularly interesting that in men, the phantom third leg runs down the midline of the body, while in women it seems that the phantom third leg is superimposed upon one of their other two legs.

Would you vaccinate your kids against drugs? No shit - "Clinical trials are currently underway for vaccines intended to treat cocaine and nicotine addiction, respectively." Personally, I'd prefer to teach my kids about the dangers of drugs first, and then if drug use seemed to be a problem then I'd encourage this as a kind of treatment option.

(A personal story Re: the dangers of drugs. I'm not talking about telling my kids "you'll have no motivation or self-esteem if you smoke pot" or "heroin/crack/meth will ruin your life and you'll be a homeless addict stealing for your next fix." The mainstream media and D.A.R.E will have no trouble telling my kids that. I'm going to tell them what helped me resist drugs. Namely, that a drug is something that changes the way your mind works. The reason that drugs are addictive is that they set off a chemical cascade in your brain that says, "Putting this drug in me is good." Even if the drug is harming you. So if you are inclined to try drugs, what you need to do is to consciously think about whether a drug is doing good things (relaxing you, making you laugh, easing social anxiety, preventing boredom, inducing euphoria, "expanding your mind") or bad things (coughing, shortness of breath, forgetting to eat, panic attacks, social isolation, trouble with school/work/friends/finances, putting you at risk of overdose) regardless of how it immediately feels when you put the drug in you. And then you need to consciously think about whether or not you want to continue putting the drug in you, and on what schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, twice a year) and at what dose if you do choose to indulge. If you are having trouble enforcing this schedule, then we talk about getting outside help, because that's called addiction and is not your fault. This is what my kid will hear, when I have a kid.)

You may have heard that Senator Ed Kennedy has been diagnosed with a glioma - a brain tumor. But what exactly is a glioma, and what are the Senator's options? My deepest sympathies go out to the Senator as well.

The links are good, and the carnival is better.

But don't just take my word for it!

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