Monday, February 13, 2012

Shocking Brain News

According to a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, entitled Memory Enhancement and Deep-Brain Stimulation of the Entorhinal Area“, an electrical brain-stimulation technique used to treat Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain appears to enhance human memory as well as reported late last week in the Wall Street Journal. 


To rein in expectations, you should know that, according to a February 9th Wall Street Journal article, the study focused on “seven patients with severe epilepsy whose memory abilities ranged from normal to severely impaired.”


Now, here’s the “would I do this?” part of the test: “They had electrodes implanted through a hole in the skull in order to detect the source of their seizures.  This gave researchers the chance to send an undetected burst of current to different brain regions, known as deep-brain stimulation, and observe changes in memory”, noted the article.


Would I let some drill holes (again) in my skull just to improve my memory?  Hmmmm, I guess it depends upon how bad things have gotten. Yesterday I put the moussaka into the oven without adding the final layer of eggplant, which became rather obvious once I saw the missing slices lying on the prep area near the sink. 


At the same time, I don’t want to diminish the gravity of the issue. For many, short term memory loss – did I turn off the stove? – is a big deal and one that I worry about as I get older. At the same time, the thought of another hole in my head is the last thing I want right now.


All this somehow reminded me of the Frank Zappa quote, “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it's not open”. Only in this case, it gave a whole new meaning to the word “open”.


And, of course, this opens the door for boomer fantasizing.  Because, “unlike stimulation for treatment of Parkinson’s or other issues, in which the brain is stimulated continuously or repeated with an implanted pacemaker-like device, memory in the latest study was improved by a single burst of current when administered in their right location as memories were being formed”.


What could be more perfect for boomer than a one-stop shock for brain enhancement?


Is that the future? Instead of getting Botox injections, will boomers all troop off to their local brain stimulation doctors and get zapped? Instead of dropping LSD will ex-hippies be getting LSB (locally stimulated brains)?


Here’s the The Wall Street Journal article:


And here’s a link to The New England Journal of Medicine article,

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