Tag Archives: mental illness

April 06

THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC: A SOBERING VULNERABILITY OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

Opioids are a class of powerful psychoactive drugs that are often prescribed for pain relief, but can produce an intense euphoria that has proven remarkably addictive.  Opioid use disorder, a diagnosis characterized by compulsive opioid use and withdrawal, affects or has affected approximately 3 million Americans and 16 million people worldwide.  According to the Centers […]

August 31

Psychosurgery: from ice picks to electrodes

If you were to hazard a guess at the date of the first neurosurgery, what would you say? An image from [1] showing evidence of brain surgery in a Stone Age skull I’m going to bet that “the Stone Age” didn’t occur to you as a legitimate answer, but a skeleton dated to roughly 5000 B.C. […]

December 04

Hearing voices: Social context influences psychosis

“People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.” These are the words of John Nash, Jr., the Nobel Laureate who inspired the book and the movie A Beautiful Mind and […]

October 02

Lithium: Wonder Drug? Part I

I’m so happy ’cause today I’ve found my friends They’re in my head What comes to mind when you hear the word lithium? A drug used to manage life-threatening mood disorders? A potentially deadly toxin? A chemical found in trace amounts in many compounds in nature? (Or maybe just the Nirvana song?) Any of these […]

June 12

Pattern separation gone awry: the dentate gyrus and schizophrenia

[Image Source: Sebastian Seung via http://connectomethebook.com/.] Since the discovery of patient H.M. in the 1950s (see this post from October 2013), scientists have known that the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure located in the medial temporal lobe, is crucial for the successful formation of new memories. The mammalian hippocampus is characterized by several distinct regions, each with […]