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In this post: the large versions of the Medicine & Health and Brain & Behavior channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week.


Brain & Behavior. From Flickr, by Kyknoord


Medicine & Health. From Flickr, by riot jane

Reader comments of the week:

On the Medicine & Health channel, Revere of Effect Measure poses the question, Who uses alternative medicine and for what? The most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the CDC revealed that over 15 percent of adults in the U.S. use some form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for back pain, and a significant percentage also use unconventional methods for joint and neck pain, high cholesterol and other ailments. Altogether, nearly two in five adults used some form of CAM. Revere relates his own experience using acupuncture for unrelenting back pain, and questions whether alternative practices might at least do less harm than traditional medicine for certain afflictions, whether they “cure” the pain or not.

Reader Ana suggests one reason why some methods under the CAM umbrella are not widely supported:

I find it shameful that low-level labor-intensive “therapies” such as physiotherapy, gymnastics targeted to back pain, tai chi, mud baths, and others, are excluded from the Western modern medecine remit, and usually not reiumbursed by insurance or paid for by the State in semi – National Health care systems. The reasons are obvious: there is no money to be made, except by those who actually do the work, an they are rather modest in their expectations, and drain patient payments to them.

The magic knife and the magic pill offer the possibility of huge profits.

But reader Gindy doesn’t think adding CAM treatments to insurance plans would help things:

“The magic knife and the magic pill offer the possibility of huge profits.”
Sadly, any time something becomes payable by insurance it switches from affordable to big bucks.

Over on the Brain & Behavior channel, Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science is talking about The right side of fair play. To what extent humans sacrifice material gain to secure a sense of justice, or “fairness,” may be partially controlled by a specific region of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. When this region was shut down using magnetic stimulation, participants in a study were more likely to accept bargains from friends even when they knew they were on the losing end.

Some readers wondered why humans seem to value fairness so much to begin with, and reader miko offers an explanation:

Humans, according to economists, don’t try to maximize money. They maximize a hypothesized, unitless thing called “value.” Maybe it’s dopamine. It’s perfectly rational to reject an “unfair” offer if fairness is something we biologically or culturally prize, which we do. All apes (and probably monkeys and other smart, social mammals) have a sense of “fairness” that is easily offended–it sets your habenula firing and stopping the release of dopamine in the VTA.

Some other Medicine & Health posts we thought were cool this week were:

Stossel gets it right

Racist Medicine

Repeat after me: “I do not know who the reviewers were”

Down syndrome and abortion rates

Cancer research: Playing it safe versus taking risks

And from the Brain & Behavior channel:

Casual Fridays returns: Politics versus sports!

AVPR1a ain’t all that


Depression, ADHD, and Cocaine

That’s Incredible

Look for highlights from other channels coming up!