Archive for May, 2008


So Dr. Bazan seems to have figured out the mechanism of Omega-3 fatty acids’ neuroprotective quality.

Fish oil supplements contain two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. As it turns out DHA is the essential precursor for a protein Bazan coined NPD1 (neuroprotectin D1). The protein plays an important role in suppressing apoptosis (source).

Subsequently NPD1delays neurodegrenerative diseases like Parkinson’s (source) and curbs the acute immune response damage after stroke (source).


Dean Kamen

D6, a convention about all things digital, recently had Dean Kamen speak. Since, the blogosphere and twiterverse have both been buzzing.

Dean is the guy who invented the Segway and adapted that technology into the iBOT. He spoke at TED a while ago about his new project — now coined the “luke arm” — and, just recently, about its ‘completion’ at D6.

TED video

D6 Highlights via Wired

Youtube Video via Clusterflock

iBOT Commercial via Youtube

Activate Your Immune System…

by watching videos of your favorite actress!

The most recent post at The Neurocritic had me literally laughing out loud. I particularly enjoyed the footnote about the “scarry bunny furry wearing a gigantic clock“.

Music and Medicine

Seems music therapy is getting more attention these days. I wonder if Sacks’ latest book, Musicophilia, has anything to do with the press.

SciAm recently reported that depressed patients feel happier after listening to Beethoven.

Similarly, the NYT published a recent article about Claudius Conrad, an MD PhD surgeon at Harvard who’s investigating the biochemical nature of the Mozart-induced. Jonah Lehrer (The Frontal Cortex) comments.

The study itself was fairly simple. The researchers fitted 10 postsurgical intensive-care patients with headphones, and in the hour just after the patients’ sedation was lifted, 5 were treated to gentle Mozart piano music while 5 heard nothing.

The patients listening to music showed several responses that Dr. Conrad expected, based on other studies: reduced blood pressure and heart rate, less need for pain medication and a 20 percent drop in two important stress hormones, epinephrine and interleukin-6, or IL-6. Amid these expected responses was the study’s new finding: a 50 percent jump in pituitary growth hormone.

Interesting stuff, though, Dr. Conrad seems a little full of himself:

Thus, future studies are necessary to investigate how this beneficial effect of music can be further integrated clinically, both for patient and for physician.[13,14]

That’s my opinion. I am Dr. Claudius Conrad, Senior Surgical Resident, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital.


Modern Day Phineas Gage


Phineas P. Gage (July 9?, 1823 – May 21?, 1860) was a railroad worker remembered for his incredible survival of a traumatic brain injury which destroyed one or both of his frontal lobes, and for the injury’s reported effects on his personality and social functioning—effects said to be so profound that friends said he was “no longer Gage.” His case played a role in the development of the understanding of the localization of brain function, and was among the first to suggest that damage to the frontal lobes can affect personality and behavior.

Street Anatomy reports on a modern day equivalent:

According to a case report in the European Journal of Neurosurgery, a 49 year-old Native American male presented to the emergency room complaining of soreness in the left cheek and eye area after being hit in the face 6 hours earlier by an assailant.

A physical examination only showed a 5m cut below his left eye with some periorbital edema, but a CT scan showed a cylindrical foreign body coursing from the left orbit to the right thalamus.

Under general anesthesia an incision was made near the man’s eyelid. The surgeon searched around and then carefully pulled out the proximal end of what appeared to be a wooden object.

The wooden object turned out to be a 10.5cm–long paintbrush, shoved in bristles first!

Amazingly the patient was discharged neurologically and ophthamologically intact.

The pictures are even more impressive:

Our body’s resilience never ceases to amaze.

Genetic Nondescrimination Act

was just passed into law.  Health insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate based on genetic testing.

(via SciAm)

Transgender pointed out…

this article and photographs of the incredible skill and artfulness involved in one person’s transformation from a man to a woman.

I don’t know which methods were used in the creation of this particular neovagina, but surely this is art of the highest caliber. Sculpture in flesh tissue and nerve bundles.

I find gender identity disorder so fascinating because it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. I’ve also got profound sympathy for the prejudice, confusion, and self doubt they must encounter. Gender identity is probably the earliest label we affix to a child; the first question on everyone’s lips is “Is it a boy or a girl?” It’s gotta take a lot of courage to undergo a sex change surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and countless hours of counseling to reassign yourself. If you haven’t seen Transamerica, please do.

(quote via Clusterflock)