Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shockingly cavalier: Scientists charge a-head with their brain bedazzlers

The latest from Copenhagen. So scary, it'll curl your hair. No thank you!
    (5/17/2014) The mad scientists of the world seem obsessed with shooting electricity into our brains to see what strange and/or fabulous results they can trigger, hoping -- of course -- to become billionaires in the process.
    It is literally mind-boggling to read about all of their varied approaches -- including implanting electrodes directly into the brain -- in order, theoretically, to treat virtually every affliction known to man. (http://kronstantinople.blogspot.com/2013/09/our-future-everything-in-modulation.html.)
Let's just open up that skull and screw a few things into your brain, OK?
If it doesn't work (and it probably won't) the electrodes can't be removed.
    The newest and silliest of these Grand Inventions was unveiled this past week in Copenhagen.

    The "helmet," shown in the picture at the top of this post, delivers mild electric impulses to the brain. It has shown "promise" in treating depression, the researchers claim.
    It was tested on 65 patients by the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Copenhagen University and the Psychiatric Centre at Hillerod in North Zealand. 
    The device contains seven coils that deliver a dose of Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields (T-PEMF) to brain tissues.
    "The pulses are so minute that the patient cannot detect any sensation, and the only side effect so far is occasional 'tiny' nausea that immediately disappears after treatment, according to the BBC.
    I wish I could experiene some "tiny" nausea, instead of my "stop the world -- I want to get off" nausea, which leaps into action whenever I have a distressing thought. 
    Prof. Steen Dissing, of Copenhagen's Faculty of Health Sciences is the helmet's principal architect. He said: "The device mimics electrical fields in the brain, and triggers the body's own healing mechanism."
    "The pulses activate capillaries in the brain, which form new blood vessels and secrete growth hormones."
    This explanation assumes that depression is an "injury" that requires greater oxygenation and repair activity, a theory that is simply laughable. Any psychiatrist or neurologist will tell you that clinical depression has little if anything to do with the circulatory system or growth hormones.
    Electricity is being poured into the brains of hapless clinical trial subjects with such wild abandon, with the hope that something positive will occur, that I have seriously considered putting my two TENS unit electrodes on my temples to see what might happen. Given all the things our brain does, it seems that almost anything could happen, including a complete change of personality or a radical decrease in one's appetite for food, booze and drugs, which would be nice. Or a radical ability to consume vast quantities of
food, booze and drugs without getting fat or addicted, which would be even better, and may well be possible.
    But I've already experienced the most bold, ambitious application of this concept by having electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) -- sometimes referred to as shock treatments. It was shocking, all right, since all it did was to destroy memories and impair my cognitive function for about 10 years.
    So it's not surprising that I regard this whole "current" of research, which has so little basis in actual understanding of how the brain functions, with skepticism and hostility. They're shooting in the dark. It's dangerous and irresponsible.
    "We’re dealing with things affecting thought, emotion, behaviour — what people hold valuable as the essence of the self," says James Giordano, chief of neuroethics studies at Georgetown University. The disturbing moral implications of this research are addressed in the August 2013 issue of Nature (http://www.nature.com/news/us-brain-project-puts-focus-on-ethics-1.13549). 
Promotional photo from Cefaly Corp.
    Don't forget about the "great breakthrough" before this one: The electric "tiara" that supposedly zaps away migraines, especially if you're naked. (http://kronstantinople.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-heady-naked-guile-of-medical-style.html)