It is fairly remarkable that Concussion, the movie, exists. Ten years ago, the public did not know much about concussions and other forms of brain trauma. People weren’t watching football games and thinking about the long-term neurological effects of the brutal hits. Around 2009, the National Football League (NFL) started catching heat for its outdated concussion policies. In 2013, a book and corresponding documentary that tackled the issue, League of Denial, were released. And now, at the end of 2015, Hollywood has brought us a major motion picture that stars Will Smith as a neuropathologist fighting to reveal the truth about head trauma in football players.
I took a sip of sugary Coke and was struck by a hideous intense blast of aluminum. I rushed to the sink and spit out the tainted drink. Poison! What’s wrong with this Coke! I took another tentative sip. I was slammed again by the overwhelming metallic taste. I spat out the poison by rapid reflex. This can of Coke must have been contaminated during manufacturing! Or, had the likes of the Tylenol Killer switched to soft drinks? Then I remembered. . . the taste of Thanksgiving and mountain climbing!
The California Fish and Game Commission has banned crab fishing until further notice after detecting high levels of a neurotoxin in Dungeness and rock crabs. The toxin, domoic acid, is produced by certain types of planktonic algae, and it becomes concentrated in tissue of crabs and other marine organisms during plankton blooms. People who consume sufficient quantities of the toxin develop amnesic shellfish poisoning, so named because it kills neurons in a part of the brain that is critical for memory. Here’s how it works.
Today it was announced that Army Capt. Florent Groberg will receive the Medal of Honor for instantly tackling a suicide bomber in a split-second reaction of self-sacrifice to save the lives of his comrades. “You don’t have time to think. You react,” he explains. But how is that possible?
“Why can’t you stop drinking?” This week at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago announced a new finding that provides a fresh answer to this persistent question that plagues people addicted to alcohol. The discovery offers an entirely new approach to treatment.
Today’s New York Times has a nice video showing how stimulating a small set of neurons in the amygdala can turn off a rat’s motivation to eat. The stimulation relies on a newly discovered technology called ‘optogenetics’. Continue reading