From the Archives: The Promise of Ketamine

promiseofketamine.jpgThis month, the FDA approved the use of esketamine, a nasal spray based on the old anesthetic and once-popular club drug ketamine, to treat people with severe depression that has not responded to other treatments. It’s costly and entails visiting the doctor for four hours a week for four weeks, but it’s the first treatment in decades that works in a new way in the brain. That means it might reach the large number of people with depression who are not helped by drugs that target other brain functions.

Last March, Ronald S. Duman, Ph.D., wrote for Cerebrum on “The Dazzling Promise of Ketamine,” exploring how the drug was validated as an antidepressant, how it works, and what it could mean for development of other drugs: Continue reading

Science in Storytelling


Wednesday night’s Story Collider x braiNY event provided audience members with five stories from five accomplished scientists of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, all of whom had participated in a six week storytelling workshop.

The event took place in the charming lower level of El Bario’s Artspace in East Harlem, where brick walls, black curtains, and bright lights alluded to a crowded comedy night. And the storytellers did not disappoint–their recounts and anecdotes poked fun at either themselves or their situations in an endearing and hilarious way, garnering laughter from the audience throughout the night. But the event offered more than just humor; many of the stories took on a more serious tone as the night continued.

Continue reading

Fear and Resilience in Brainwave’s “Capturing Conflict”

In 2011, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was covering the civil war in Libya when her team was “ripped out” of their jeep by Moammar Gadhafi’s troops. After enduring one week of being bound up, tortured, and continually threatened with execution, Addario and her teammates were released. Despite being kidnapped twice (once in Libya, once in Iraq), caught in an ambush in Afghanistan, and witnessing the destitution of famine and war, Addario exhibits not a single trace of trauma. What is it that makes some of us more resilient than others in times of extreme panic or fear?

Continue reading

When Trauma Treatment Goes Out of the Box

Guest post by science writer Brenda Patoine

Yoga. Bodywork. Meditation. Chanting. Role playing. Tapping. Talking. These are all strategies used to try to heal psychological trauma, but only one of them (talk therapy) is backed by rigorous clinical studies of the sort that mainstream medicine deems acceptable–that is, randomized, blinded, controlled clinical trials that are published in peer-review medical journals. But does that mean the others are not useful?

Continue reading

PTSD Awareness Day: The Future of Treatment

Post-traumatic stress order affects approximately 7.7 million adults in the United States, but it is critical to remember that there are effective treatments and more are on the way. Last year in this space, Dana Alliance member Kerry Ressler said we understand the neural circuitry behind PTSD well enough that we can pinpoint where it starts. “It’s solvable,” he said.

Ressler, whose work was recently featured in an Emory Medicine article, has combatted fearful memories with drugs as well as extinction training immediately after a trauma. Alliance member Liz Phelps has worked on modifying fear-related memories through extinction training as well. Another DABI member, Jordan Grafman, who was interviewed here two years ago, recently said that “all memories are modifiable, so the lesson is to take the PTSD memory and figure out a way to modify it through new associations with positive acts.”

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: