The knowledge of the brain has evolved over the years, but the complexity remains. With many advances in brain imaging and the ability to scan the brain; the understanding of particular regions of the brain that carry responsibility for particular functions or lack of function has become a reality.
For instance, if one has had an interruption in the flow of blood or any type of trauma to the left angular gyrus around the posterior temporal cortex areas; there is a good chance that the practicing Dr can look for trouble in mathematics (Dyscalculia) or write (Agraphia).
However, with everything that we do know, and have mapped out in the brain, we still know that the brain is very interconnected like a big web of alternating levers or circuits that are ever changing to ebb and flow to accomplish any given task.
Essentially there is not one specific duty that equates to a certain result but a plethora of dynamics that work together like a huge army trying to win the battle of a simple task.
How Does Lack of Sleep Affect our Brains?
We all know how sleep is detrimental to healing* and allowing our mind and bodies time to rejuvenate for the challenges of the next day. However, we still do not know how the lack of sleep secondarily affects our brains.
Let us look at two certain scenarios that could be interrelated.
We have insomnia, which according to recent studies, sufferers of Insomnia present with substantial decreased* levels of gamma-Amino butyric acid (GABA). It has been shown that otherwise healthy people that suffer from insomnia have 25-30% less* GABA than people without sleeping problems.
The findings suggest that insomnia is not necessarily just a sleep anomaly but has other factors related to GABA.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that can help dampen other areas of the brain by lessening the stimulation. So, essentially, when the other areas of the brain are more stimulated it creates a somewhat “hyper” awareness that can last throughout the night and day.
In a second scenario, we can look at sleep apnea, which also causes lack of sleep and many sufferers wake up continuously throughout the night. This constant waking can cause a major disturbance in the balance of GABA and Glutamate which have a symbiotic relationship.
This decrease* in GABA and increase* in glutamate in sleep apnea causes hyper arousal that leads to more stress, confusion, and an imbalance in emotions.
If you can look at both of these scenarios, there are two common aspects, which are a loss of sleep and the decrease* in the neurotransmitter GABA. Once this imbalance happens, then other parts of the brain seem to interfere with the regular sleep cycles.
There are different ways to approach it, and this is an ongoing hypothesis to be researched.
Older studies of the drug modafinil have shown promising results in sleep disorders related to sleep apnea and attempting to balance out the circadian rhythm.
It would appear that once the sleeping disturbance gets severe it is somewhat like falling off a cliff and it takes a little help to get back up the mountain to gain the appropriate balance of neurotransmitters to obtain optimal sleep.
How Does FB and Social Media Affect our Emotions?
It is not a question of if social media has been a success or not but rather are we maybe addicted to it. The brain’s need for social acceptance is based on evidence, and being left out of things or lonely is also demonstrated on scans in the threat centers of the brain.
Basic science shows that FB and other media platforms can either deeply excite the brain or cause the opposite with minimal effort. Most times we as individuals will do our best to manipulate our environment or friends list to provide a more pleasant and rewarding experience to reap the benefits ín our reward centers of the brain.
Consequently, the threat centers in the brain have the opportunity to go the opposite direction. Other studies have shown that using FB has shown that it can increase* jealousy and feelings of envy.
The achievements of other people in your social-circle have the ability to invoke a social-comparison. Other studies have proposed that the essential addiction of FB can cause negativity which secondarily will then cause bitter indignation.
This ultimately contradicts the reason anyone started using FB in the first place.
Does Marijuana help with Memory?
The ongoing debate of memory and marijuana continues to evolve just as many other ongoing discussions such as red wine, coffee, and eating organics about cognitive or other physiological effects on the body.
Looking around the web and most movies, most if not all people associate smoking marijuana with a long haired, a hippy from the likes of someone from the movie “Dazed and Confused” that doesn’t have a lot of intellectual things to state.
One particular study around the early 2000s, suggests long term use of marijuana fogs the brain and candidates studied performed worse in memory, ability to learn new things, and being able to hold onto and recall information.
Recent studies in mice have shown that elderly people might benefit from THC and it does the exact opposite of the brain fog in younger subjects. It has been shown to increase* synaptic activity in the neurons in the hippocampus, which is directly related to learning and memory.
What this data might present is that Cannabinoids and other properties of marijuana such as THC might be able to protect* the brain from aging or even help the brain in healthy, older adults. Additionally, it has the room to continue studies in other areas of medicine such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Should Genetic Testing Be Used for Disease Prevention?
Genetic testing is changing the game in how we think about preventive medicine and the ethical and security downfalls in the near future. The new information brings on many debates on how these genetic tests should be used and how should they be implemented.
Should the tests be mandatory to save costs on healthcare and prevent the inevitable of our genetic pathologies?
Genetic testing is on the forefront and brings us more information on our medical history but is it a good idea to do the testing? A good example would be the disease Alzheimers, which the most common risk gene is called APOE.
There are many variants of this gene, but the e4 gene has been signaled out as being the most susceptible, while the other variants still having some form of risk towards attaining Alzheimer’s.
There is a catch, just having these genes does not mean it is confirmed that the person will come down with Alzheimer’s and also carries a low predictive value. This low value is why genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease today is not recommended and if done can come with significant emotional baggage as well.
It is important to understand that genetic testing can be difficult to deal with emotionally, does not provide real conclusive information, and it is important to understand the complexity of the testing
This information alone is why many professionals are trying to stop* genetic testing altogether until privacy issues are under control* and firm guidelines are in place to protect* ethical and legal principles.
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