Tag Archives: brain chemistry

Understanding the Brain’s “Brake Pedal” in Neural Plasticity: Scientific American

Understanding the Brain’s Brake Pedal in Neural Plasticity: Scientific American 

wow! could my 60-year-old brain become more like it was when i was younger? when i could remember all of the words that i cannot pull out of memory while lecturing or just talking? when i could remember names (well, sort of remember them)? when i could work more efficiently, getting more done? when i could concentrate, pay attention, and hear better? as this article indicates, at my age the brake pedal has been pushed down — not pedal to the metal, as in senility. but enough to let me know that i am not the me i was at 28, which is the age i still imagine myself to be. but the mirror reminds me that the inevitability of age shows in the face and neck, the hands, and the extra-padded frame. what we know about the brain is so astonishing to me, because when i was a girl, all we knew was that aging caused an inevitable deterioration of brain cells. now we know that the brain is indeed plastic — reacting to changes in our environment, creating neurons and their magical paths from one part of the brain to another. if i were 12 today, i might decide to study the brain. from my perspective, the brain is the final frontier.

Bring Change 2 Mind


actor glenn close has family members with mental illnesses, and she helped form this organization to erase the negative valence associated with mental disorders — depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and such. you can reach it at http://www.bringchange2mind.org.

— i have also had family members with problems like these, and i inherited unbalanced brain chemistry. it’s been nearly 40 years since i first sought help for depression. in addition, i was a victim of physical abuse a few years ago and experienced post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. downer, right?

— Medication 2010: it’s a new world, with a much more sophisticated understanding of the brain and how it works. now there are drugs targeted at achieving specific outcomes. you need to see a psychiatrist — hopefully someone under 40-45 — who understands the differences between the most recent medications and the therapeutic dosages. your family doctor or internist just doesn’t know enough to treat mental illness effectively. but this person can refer you to a psychiatrist.

— Talk therapy 2010: Flash — talk therapy actually causes changes in your brain. you may need a good psychologist and a good psychiatrist. they work in tandem. avoid psychologists who, after listening to your problems, just say “i feel your pain.”

— Insurance 2010: my employer’s medical insurance covers physical and mental illness in the same way. i just pay the co-pay that i pay for any specialist. prescriptions are also covered the same. this is a huge change and definitely overdue.

— if you need help, consult your doctor, talk with a friend who knows about treatment options, call in-crisis support 800-273-8255, or call 911. get help now.

— 1 in 6 adults experiences a mental illness in his or her lifetime. sometimes these last a few months or a few years, and sometimes they last a lifetime. there’s no shame in saying that you are being treated for a mental illness, and there’s no shame in seeking help.