San Diego–Would we have Poe’s Raven today if the tormented author had taken lithium to suppress his bipolar illness? Not likely, considering the high frequency of psychiatric illnesses among writers and artists concludes psychiatrist Kay Jamison of Johns Hopkins Medical School speaking this week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Madness electrifies the creative process Jamison concludes, but this difficult drug-use dilemma raises an even more provocative question: Would we have Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds had the Beatles not taken LSD?
My thesis adviser, a colorful spirit and one whose wisdom will be missed, used to say that undergraduate or professional students differed from graduate students in that they were asked to learn what was known about a subject, while graduate students were asked to tackle the unknown.
We, in higher education, are essentially seeking to find out what is not known and start to come up with new answers. How does one find out what is not known? In fact, is it possible to do that? Don’t most graduate students or post doctoral fellows add onto a lab’s existing body of knowledge? Adding to the unknown by building on the known? If this is how we work then does this create a very skewed version of the brain? How would we even know what is really unknown?
As the government shutdown nears the two week mark, it’s worth examining the effect of this latest political showdown on American science, and what this says about our collective values. This value conversation is relevant on the heels of Nobel prize winning scientists being placed on furlough while the congressional gym remains open. Continue reading
The brain is a beautiful thing. It’s maybe not what most people think of as beautiful – I don’t think many people gaze into the gyri and canadian pharmacy online sulci of the brain and imagine a world in which they grab onto the temporal lobe and go lobe-in-hand into the moonlight. But it has a certain quality about it that inspires awe in the natural world. It is aesthetically pleasing and it “delights the senses” and so it fits the definition of most online (and print) dictionaries. Continue reading
“If we had something that could truly enhance our experience of life, without risk, why not?”
Brains are made of plastic. Seems like a ridiculous claim. The brain is not made of plastic. Or, is it? In neuroscience we often refer to the brain as being plastic, but, what is plastic? The definition that most of us are familiar with is the material known as plastic. Continue reading
Following a car accident, a heart attack, or any other life-threatening event, there have been many instances documented where people that were near death, experienced something vivid, something that to them was real. Something that not only felt real, but for some, maybe even changed their lives. This might have been an interaction with deceased family members, a god they believe in, or something else. Continue reading