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THE FUTURE OF BRAIN TREATMENT?

Buck_rogersYou have got to read THIS post over at John Robison's blog about brain plasticity and some science-fictionesque research he's been participating in at Harvard.  John, as you may already know, is the author of LOOK ME IN THE EYE, his memoir about growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome.

John is undergoing crazy, insane, you'll never believe it kind of testing that could change the world for millions. Including our kids. It's like something from Ray Bradbury. But it's here. Holy Martian Chronicles....

He'll share more with us soon. Get ready.

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I suppose there might be a serious risk component. In fact experiments of this kind go back to Anton Mesmer in the 18th century. Notably, he was said have cured the pianist Maria-Theresia Paradies temporarily of blindness, using animal magnetism. Mozart and Haydn both wrote concertos for Paradies, and Mozart lampooned Mesmer's method in Cosi fan tutte.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Mesmer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Theresa_von_Paradis

Um, I'm going to stay my enthusiasm a little here. I've heard some...things about this magnetic treatment. Things which liken it to brain stimulation by electrodes and electro-convulsive therapy, which have disastrous histories (want to get dry heaves and get chronic nightmares for a month? Read "The War Against Children of Color" by Peter Breggin and bear in mind that no one ever was able to sue him for what he wrote regarding the proponents of invasive brain treatments in the U.S. and Europe).

I know the magneto treatments are not nearly as invasive and an icepick or electrodes, but everyone should bear in mind that this treatment is not exactly brand new. Furthermore, synesthesis, visions and euphoria occur when brain cells are dying by the millions, which is why certain psychiatric drugs (not unlike LSD) cause that warm "rush" and "unleashed creativity" at first, only to be supplanted later by emotional flatness, mania and dementia. Just because it feels good doesn't mean it's not causing apoptosis, in other words.

If there are benefits to this, we should wait to see them established independently and I hope the enviro movement is very, very careful to avoid aligning itself with these kinds of "innovations" until the real kickback-free jury is in. Otherwise this could be just another form of sutureless psychosurgery.

Don't hate me for raining on this parade. I'm the first one to jump up and down at a sign of progress or discovery for our children, but this one worries me.

Looking at his photos on his blog I was dismayed to see the telltale big head in the younger years. What vaccines did he get when? Since he can think so vividly in pictures, he might be able to correlate significant events in his life to when it suddenly "slipped out" from under him. Like when he turned 16 for instance. What precipitated that? I am hoping his memory returns so he can answer some of these questions and write about them. He is a very gifted writer.

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