Drugs and the Brain

Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Category archives for Drugs and the Brain

Cognitive Enhancers in Academic Doping

A commentary today in Nature, by Sahakian and Morein-Zamir, poses the question: if you could take a pill which enhanced attention and cognition with few or no side effects, would you? But I ask, why wouldn’t you? Interest in potions and drugs which increase awareness and “brain power” has been around for thousands of years.…

The Dramatic Effects of PCP

I have heard a lot of stories about the aggressive behavior of people on angel dust, but this video is the first time that I have seen just how dramatic it can be. The guy is completely naked and smashes straight through a fence then tries to climb through the hole in order to evade…

The Dark History of Truth Serum

As our civil liberties are eroded under the guise a war on terror and men without rights are kept in secret prisons and sent to foreign jails for abuse, I worry that truth serums will once again become a staple of law enforcement and intelligence. They do not allow interrogators to extract reliable information, but…

Five Ways Your Mind Plays Tricks on You

The October issue of Popular Science has several excellent articles about the mind. My favorite is a collection of five explanations of unusual or creepy sensations that are caused by neurological glitches. Reporter Veronique Greenwood included short summaries of academic research about each of the mental malfunctions. I was pleased to see that she included…

Are Your Drugs Right-Handed?

In recent years, pharmacutical companies have re-released several of their blockbuster drugs with a new twist. By carefully controlling the spatial arrangement of each atom in the active ingredient, chemists can increase the effectiveness of medications and sometimes prevent unwanted or horrible side effects. Modafinil (provigil) is a treatment for narcolepsy. It also allows healthy…

[This is part of a series I'm doing here on Retrospectacle called 'Science Vault.' Pretty much I'm just going to dig back into the forgotten and moldering annuls of scientific publications to find weird and interesting studies that very likely would never be published or done today (and perhaps never should have.) I'll probably try…

The Wonderfully Tasty, and Deadly, Fugu

One of the more, uh, interesting culinary experiences I have had in Asia was ordering fugu (pufferfish) sushi at a Japanese restaurant in China. A few moments after my order, a plate was sat in front of me that contained lots of fresh, white sushi slices…positioned just below the still-gasping decapitated fugu head. My dad…

Hallucinogenic Sage

Saw this over at Wired Science a couple days back, an interesting article about an unusual, uh, herb called Diviner’s sage which has hallucinogenic properties and could spark a new class of drugs. Reports of people curing themselves of depression and treating pain with this form of sage are common, however the likelihood of pharmaceutical-grade…

Cone snail shells are beautiful, but their venom is a potent cocktail used to paralyze passing fish. The venom is a witch’s brew of hundreds of novel compounds, many more than are found in snake venom (which has been used by science extensively as well). One compound in particular is a pain killer many times…

The Neuroscience of ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), currently the most common childhood-onset behavioral disorder, is nothing if not controversial. Nearly every aspect of ADHD from diagnosis to prevalence to medication, and even its mere existence, is disputed by at least one ‘concerned’ group. And honestly, who could blame parents for being hesitant to medicate their young children,…