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

Hundreds Attend Successful Aging & Your Brain Event

The Dana Alliance’s Successful Aging & Your Brain  program attracted more than 700 seniors at the Up With Aging brain health expo, organized in partnership with the Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer. The event was held at The City University of New York (CUNY) graduate center to celebrate the final day of Brain Awareness Week 2016 and learn how to improve brain health.

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B. Smith (left) and Dan Gasby (right)

Trainer Linda Meyer, Ed.D., CPT, started the program by getting the audience up and moving with a short exercise routine, including dance moves and brain teasers. Next, Dan Gasby, husband of 66-year-old model and celebrity restaurateur Barbara Smith (B. Smith), personalized the importance of brain health by speaking about his wife’s early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. “Many people decide to run away from what’s going on, we decided we’re going to run right at it; we’re going to fight it,” he said.

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Science in Storytelling

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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.

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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?

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Free the Mind: Rewiring the Brain with Contemplative Neuroscience

In an article published last week, a team at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge recognized signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in writings dating as far back as 1300 BC. Though they of course did not use that term, recovered accounts of soldiers from ancient Mesopotamia described the familiar symptom of being visited by “ghosts they faced in battle” long after their return from war. Today, approximately 7.7 million war veterans and other adults in the US are impacted by PTSD and the long term health concerns it carries.

Seeking to ease their pain, Dr. Richard Davidson, named as one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in 2006, conducted a seven day experiment to investigate whether short-term meditation exercises could be used to help alleviate the anxiety and anger that often arises with PTSD. His findings were showcased last week at NYC’s Rubin Museum of Art in a documentary entitled “Free the Mind.” The research took place at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, founded by Davidson, as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a faculty member of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. The institute’s founder, Dr. Joseph Loizzo, introduced the documentary at the Rubin Museum with a few remarks on his determination to “weave mind science into everyday work.” Loizzo has published many scientific articles covering Indo-Tibetan mind and health science, the role of mind-body methods in modern medicine, and meditative approaches to psychotherapy.

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