For many years, people have turned to electric shock therapy for a variety of ailments—most notably for the treatment of mental illnesses. Now, a study shows that targeted electric shocks to the brain—through an implant—could eventually bring relief to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia by improving their memories. Based on this technology, researchers are also developing a prosthesis that would enhance your brain’s natural abilities.
Memory Boosting Implants
Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) implanted what they call a “memory prosthesis” in 20 volunteers—the first human trial of its kind. These participants had previously had electrodes implanted in their brains for epileptic treatment, so the memory system did not necessitate an additional surgery. Through the electrodes, the implant delivers small electric shocks to part of the brain most involved in memory and learning—the hippocampus. The shocks are devised to mimic the pattern of healthy brain activity and the way humans process memories.
The abrupt changes in biology and physiology that occur when the body responds to infection, especially in childhood, are an important research subject at the moment. Researchers have established links between the onset of depression, psychosis, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and our body's natural immune response.
But some effects may occur even before birth. Pregnant women could react to infection in a way that influences their baby’s developing brain. Such immune responses could lead to atypical neural development in their child resulting in conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you’ve any doubt that sexism is alive and well in the United States, look no further than recently fired Google employee James Damore who disseminated a 10-page long manifesto criticizing Google’s diversity policies in favor of men. Damore hung his sexist hat on evolutionary psychology, a controversial field that suggests psychological traits are selected in the same way as our biological traits via evolution, which then confers entitlements like better pay and promotions to those he deems superior, namely men.
His conclusion? That men and women “biologically differ in many ways,” and thus, men have a biologically-based “higher drive for status” which suggests that men are somehow more inherently entitled to make more money than women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” Damore wrote, while apparently ignoring the evidence that sexism is, in fact, strongly associated with women receiving lower pay than men on average in almost every field imaginable.
Estimating a person’s time of death is crucial for forensic investigations, organ donation, and for relatives’ peace of mind. Now, a group of specialists from the University of Western Ontario have found that brain activity might continue ten minutes after a person has been declared clinically dead. The discovery now makes the “time of death” question trickier for doctors and ethicists to navigate.
If you get motion sickness, you’re not alone. About 33 percent of the population is susceptible to motion sickness. While you may assume that the queasiness comes from being bumped and jostled about, the actual reason may be a bit stranger.
Can there be life after death? Biosciences company ReAnima thinks so, and they’ve just been granted permission to find out.
An institutional review board has granted Bioquark, a life sciences company taking part in the ReAnima project, ethical permission to recruit 20 brain-dead patients for a study that will test whether stem cells can bring them back to life.