Welcome to the third edition of The Synapse, a fortnightly neuroscience carnival, which comes to you on time, despite my home broadband connection being down temporarily, and despite an unexpected trip to Accident & Emergency at St. Thomas’s Hospital to have a nasty bump on my young son’s head looked at!
Like The Neurocritic, I doubt that I am suggestible enough to be hypnotized, but appreciate that others are, and that hypnosis can be useful. The critic gives us two posts about hypnosis; one is about hypnosis and consciousness, the other about the use of hypnosis to control pain.
President George W. Bush last week vetoed legislation that would increase the federal funding available for stem cell research. By doing so, he’s pandering to the religious right who re-elected him in 2004, without taking into consideration the huge potential of stem cell therapies. Evil Monkey has a post about the use of stem cells in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
I’ve been a science teacher so have had the pleasure of teaching groups of kids who have just stuffed their faces with crisps (potato chips), chocolate and fizzy drinks; I’ve also taught children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger’s syndrome, a related condition. I was, therefore, interested to read a review by Chris of the evidence for a link between diet and ADHD.
We can thank the psychedelic indulgences of the hippies during the 1960s for the lack of research into hallucinogenic drugs. Suddenly, however, the scientific and medical communities seem to have gained interest in this group of drugs. Vaughan reviews a study into the use of hallucinogenics for the treatment of cluster headaches, and here’s something I wrote recently about the use of psilocybin to induce mystical experiences.
Neuroprosthetics is a pretty hot topic at the moment. Joe Kissell discusses methods for restoring sight to the blind; the news that an electrode array implanted into the motor cortex of a quadriplegic man, enabling him to control the movements of a cursor and robotic arm, made the headlines, and the cover of Nature, earlier this month.
Glia are non-neuronal cells which provide neurons with support (glia means ‘glue’) and nutrition. They are also involved in maintaining homeostasis and myelin formation. Glia are believed to outnumber neurons by 50 to 1 in the human brain, and are now known to be involved in the transmission of signals. Clearly, glial cells are not as passive as we’ve always thought they were. Jake, who started this carnival last month, writes about neuron-to-glia synapses.