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A couple of the research blogs I follow lately have had some insight that really struck me as they fought off dualism in regards to the thorny issue of psychological vs. physical addiction and the brain, arguing that the elimination of mind and body distinctions is a good thing, as addictive pathways are real, physical represented by neuronal circuits.

This is an interesting argument, that collapsing psychology to the brain mechanisms brain can erase stigma by medicalizing it and making it a matter of physical function.    In addiction it makes quite a bit of sense.  We know what part of the brain is being stimulated, that dopamine reward pathways are building and feeding the habit.  The derogatory statement, “It’s all in your head,” remains technically true, but loses its bite when you can explain it in such a real and tangible way. Read the rest of this entry »

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It is good to be back. I have just returned from the annual AAN conference, and my mind is now loaded with all the brain facts any person in their right mind should ever hope for, at least in the course of one week. Mastering the mind cannot be done in a lifetime. It is an odd paradox that the neuroscientist lives in. We try to understand why we think the way we do and thus gain the power to artificially change the way we think. But then, what is it that leads us to change the thinking if not our thinking and brains?

There is this odd and mysterious component of will that comes along, or is it just a will of the gaps? If we can understand all thinking, are we really thinking or are we executing a predetermined program? Is it environment, chaos, or some other explanation that leads us to alter thinking through thinking? Read the rest of this entry »

     Thanks to the Frontal Cortex, I recently stumbled across an article on the online journal n+1 that describes firsthand a new and disturbing trend in higher education, Adderall abuse.   Adderall is a mixture of long and short acting amphetamines that keep the mind revved up and the body energized for hours.  It appears overachievers at Ivy League Universities are sorely tempted by this as it improves test taking skills, focus, recall, enables all-nighters to work, etc.  The one group of students my mind immediately went to was the classic overachiever, the medical student.  Read the rest of this entry »

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