Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category


Way Too Fascinating

“What all this suggests is that the amygdalae, which are normally thought of as the brain’s “fear” centers, also actually *inhibit* panic attacks.”

“Researchers scare ‘fearless’ patients. Weird science for today. People with amygdala lesions don’t experience fear — they walk in the middle of the street because they are not afraid of getting hit by cars. But if you make them breathe air with extra carbon dioxide, which in normal people just causes them to try to breathe harder, in people with amygdala lesions causes panic attacks.”

via Researchers scare ‘fearless’ patients : Nature News & Comment.

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Depression induced or cured within 10 seconds in rats by turning on or off neurons that release dopamine in the ventral tegmental area of the brain with the help of optogenetics (previously changing neurons to make them be turned on or off by focusing light on them). 10 seconds is shorter than the time that antidepressants usually take to work, which is some weeks. Treatment with magnesium may work within one week, and could be combined for best results with vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, and omega-3.

via Stimulating dopamine-releasing neurons in the ventral tegmental area immediately extinguishes depression in mice. | MIT Technology Review.

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Looks like a fast therapeutic approach for chronic depression may be on the horizon. Ketamine provides fast and effective relief for chronically depressed patients. It works on an entirely differently type of transmitter than current antide

pressants. Research suggests it helps regenerate synaptic connections between brain cells which have been damaged by stress and depression.

From the article:
“The improvement in symptoms, which are evident just hours after ketamine is administered, lasts only a week to 10 days. In large doses, ketamine can cause short-term symptoms of psychosis and is abused as the party drug “Special K.”

YaleNews | Yale scientists explain how ketamine vanquishes depression within hours.

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“These multi-session adult courses share the latest research on the neuroscience, psychology, and evolution of human behavior. With the help of expert guest speakers, online resources, documentary footage, and in-class projects, students will learn how to be critical consumers of scientific research and news reporting—all in a small, discussion-based setting”

via Sackler Brain Bench.

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Mice, constantly stressed by changing their cage composition during adolescence, exhibit anxiety and poor social interactions throughout adulthood. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

This stress was especially prominent in fema

le mice who were stressed in this way. The experiment then proceeded using only the stressed male mice.

And then, along comes this oddity:

The male mouse, when mated with a non-stressed female mouse, passes on the excessive anxiety to *only* his female offspring. Not only that, but his (non-stressed) sons pass it on again, in their own female offspring.

It seems there is a little understood biochemical change in the male’s sperm taking place.

via Male mice exposed to chronic social stress have anxious female offspring.

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Ayahuasca is a psychedelic plant tea made from the bark of a vine mixed with (usually) the leaf of a certain tree found in the Amazon basin. It is cooked up with water over an open fire and simmered for 2-3 days while a shaman or curandera sings over it.

At this point, a small amount of the resulting “tea”, usually 1-2 ounces, is drunk in a “ceremony”. Those who imbibe experience a strong and thorough purging of their insides. Within about 30-40 minutes, vomiting ensues for most, sometimes followed by bouts of diarrhea. For an unfortunate few, extreme nausea goes on for a length of time, followed by several bouts of explosive diarrhea. In any case, eventually for all, the brain is flooded with serotonin, which stays at higher than normal levels for a period of about 24 hours.

The experience often involves hallucinations of seeing spirit guides, talking trees and occasionally a snake (said to be the spirit of the plant, itself). For those who take it seriously, it has been a life changing experience. For others, it is a horrible way to get high.

During that 24 hour period of “coming down”, the ayahuasca drinker seems to be extremely susceptible to suggestion, which tend to linger long after the effects of the tea has worn off.

This study on the neurotoxicity of the ayahuasca tea is flawed, although I don’t doubt there may well be lasting negative neuro effects for those who imbibe with any regularity. What those neuro effects are, remains unknown at this point.

This particular study was flawed in a number of ways — most glaringly by the mixture of the tea. Who mixed it? from whose recipe? what was the admixture used? What amounts of each and what preparation method?

via Is Ayahuasca Neurotoxic? | Singing to the Plants.

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They found three things which lowered compulsive behavior in dogs: vitamin and mineral supplements, female neutering and maternal care length. Pretty interesting.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder observed both in humans and animals. Examples of Canine Compulsive Disorder (CD) include excessive tail chasing (TC), light/shadow chasing and flank sucking. We performed a questionnaire survey to investigate the characteristics of compulsive (TC) and its possible associations with environmental correlates and personality in a pet population of 368 dogs from four dog breeds. We observed an early onset of TC at 3–6 months of age and a large variation in TC frequency in all breeds, with an overrepresentation of milder cases. Almost half of the TC dogs showed lowered responsiveness during bouts and displayed also other types of compulsions more often than the controls. Interestingly, dogs that received dietary supplements, especially vitamins and minerals, expressed less TC compared to dogs that did not receive any supplements. Neutered females had less TC, suggesting an influence of ovarian hormones on TC. Tail chasers were shyer and had separated earlier from their mothers than the controls. Finally, our genetic study did not find an association between TC and CDH2, a locus previously associated with the canine flank sucking compulsion. In conclusion, the early-onset and the variable nature of the repetitive behaviour, which is affected by environmental factors such as micronutrients, neutering and maternal care, share several similar components between canine and human compulsions and supports canine TC as a model for human OCD.

via PLoS ONE: Environmental Effects on Compulsive Tail Chasing in Dogs.

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