I've Lost My Vision

I'm Eric. I am a Neuroscience student at the University of Lethbridge. My goal with this site is to post interesting articles about the brain and how curious a contraption it can be.

The Authority Gene

We were discussing schizophrenia in my neuropsychopharmacology class and the hereditary/genetic aspect came up.  What is strange about this is that there is a family history, but 60% of people do not have any family history of it.  Now what is unique here is that many of the schizophrenics who do not have a family history, often have someone in their family who is extremely religious.  I’m not talking about the aunt who smacks you for not saying grace, I’m talking about the relative who goes to a religious institutions 10 fold more than the most zealous and obeys everything to do with the higher power.  The cool thing here is that they have found a gene for this, and it has been coined the “authority gene”.  Since we are a social creature this would make sense considering all of our hierarchies.  Now the theory is that this gene is over expressed in the overly religious (obeying the “greater authority”) schizophrenic (creating the “greater authority”).

Interesting theory.  I’m going to keep an eye on this one.

Stupid Things People Say About the Brain

  1. "Once you are an adult, you will never have new neurons in your brain"

Far from true.  It has been known since the 1960s that there was evidence of new cell growth in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (memory center) and the Rostral Migratory stream (olfactory).  This has been solidified during the 80s, and 90s by Heather Cameron and Elizabeth Gould (at least I think these are the most convincing authors).  How high school science teachers have spaced on this idea, and outright lied to us because they are not checking the facts.

2. “You only use 10% of your brain”

This little dogma seems to be known by everyone and there 5 year old kid.  It is very misleading.  I heard someone state that “I’ve offered to remove   90% of someone’s brain and see how well they function.  And so far no one has taken me up on this.”  The reason this idea came to be, I believe, is because of the ratio of neurons to glia in the brain.  Here is an interesting fact:  Do you know what happens to your brain when you use 100%, nay even 40% at any given time?  …Seizures…and very bad ones at that.

There will be more to come on this topic.  Trust me I’m far from finished.  Send me other brain myths if you like.  ecarmichael@gmail.com

Drug addiction causes irreversible brain changes

There are several studies (mostly from the labs of Brain Kolb and Tim Robinson) that have found that the brain has negative plastic changes in the Nucleus accumbens, Pre-frontal cortex, and the ventral tegmental area in response to drug addiction which cannot be reversed in animal models.  These effects cannot even be reverse by complex housing (the most powerful method for increasing positive plasticity).

This has been found in humans by Chang et al. (2002) who found these changes in methamphetamine addicts using fMRI.

Nicotine for the fetus

Turns out that small amounts of nicotine can be beneficial to rat embryos.  It is associated with a slightly higher IQ.  

This does have a downfall, along with the higher IQ comes the higher possibility of a low birth-weight which is attributed to a higher chance of complications which then correlates with lower IQ.

So this is one hell of a gamble.  Either the kid is slightly smarter or slightly less stupid. 

RAT EMBRYOS. Just in case you jump to conclusions.

Drugs in utero

Another tid bit from neuropharmacology

If a fetus receives any amount of a drug in utero, they will experience a tolerance/with-drawl proportional to the amount of the drug which they were exposed to.   Think about that if you get knocked up.

Drugs and Grapefruit

According to my Neuropsychopharmacology Prof, there is something in grapefruits that causes potentiation of drug effects.  What this means is that by taking a drug (i.e. alcohol, SSRIs, even caffeine) the effect of the drug will be increased by the consumption of grapefruit.  Nifty.  

Don’t abuse this and OD….please.

References (APA 5th style)

Dasgupta, A., Reyes, M. A., Risin, S. A., & Actor, J. K. (2008). Interaction of White and Pink Grapefruit Juice with Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) In Vivo in Mice. [Article]. Journal of Medicinal Food, 11(4), 795-798.

Miniscalco, A., Lundahl, J., Regardh, C. G., Edgar, B., & Eriksson, U. G. (1992). INHIBITION OF DIHYDROPYRIDINE METABOLISM IN RAT AND HUMAN LIVER-MICROSOMES BY FLAVONOIDS FOUND IN GRAPEFRUIT JUICE. [Article]. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 261(3), 1195-1199.

Other interesting note:  Putting acid on your eyes doesn’t count as a transdermal (skin absorption) since the eyes are considered a mucus membrane it is injection or, in a strange way inhalation.

As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the structure of the brain will also be a mystery. Santiago Ramón y Cajal