Book Review: Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control your Thoughts and Feelings

Sci recently got asked to be a book reviewer for Oxford University Press again! She is thrilled about this. Having recently moved to Huge New City (and consequently to Very Small New Apartment) she ended up having to…*gulp*…get rid of some books. It was a painful process, but she firmly believes her books are going to a good home (or at least the guys at the used bookstore started setting them aside into little piles with their names on them and begging Sci to return with more).
(*sniff* Goodbye, my lovely, lovely friends! Sci will miss you and think of you fondly! Go to a good home and don’t ever let anyone break your spine!)
But book reviewing is great! Sci gets more books! She can replenish her depleted supplies! Well. Ok. Very Small New Apartment probably can’t deal with much of that. We’ll see how far it gets.
Anyway, Sci was glancing through the list of books that Oxford sent along, and was immediately caught by this title:
“Your brain on food: how chemicals control your thoughts and feelings” by Gary L Wenk.
(Sorry there’s no pic, but Sci got a galley copy and doesn’t have the cover and can’t find it online. As an aside though, Much <3 to Oxford Uni Press for BINDING their galley copies in little plastic covers with little plastic spines! YAY! Sci doesn't have to cart around a 400 page pile of paper! Other presses, take note. Your reviewers will LOVE you for this.)
Food! Chemicals! Brain! W00t! That's totally up Sci's alley. Sci pounced.
And so when the book arrived a few days later, I was very hopeful and opened it up first (oh yes, they sent a PILE, Sci's book shelves will soon be restored to their former glory).
And…well. See below.
Sci would like to note that writing this review gave her angst. So much angst that she ate most of a giant chocolate bar while she read it. I sacrifice my waistline for my art. Sigh…

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On Washing your Fruit: ADHD and Pesticides

Sci was a little startled recently when she saw “the latest study” on ADHD splashed across the frontpage of Yahoo. You can see it here on Reuters.
(Run for the hills, indeed. Or maybe run AWAY from the hills, since they might have pesticides)
However, the story broke a good TWO DAYS in advance of the paper actually coming out, and so Sci was forced to possess her soul in patience until she had access.
But she’s got it now! And let’s take a look at this thing.
But first, I want us to all breathe in together and say: “Correlation is not causation”
Say it with me: “Correlation is not causation”
(Behold Sci contemplating the science of the universe)
All right, here we go. Bouchard, et al. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides” Pediatrics, 2010.

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The Neurogenesis theory of depression and a little guy called CREB

Sci wishes she could begin this post with something clever. But she has a cold. Suffice it to say that this paper is cool and interesting. And also, as Sci has a cold, I expect all of you to read this post out loud to yourselves in suitably stuffy, gluey Sci-voices.
(*sniff*) Gur et al. “cAMP Response Element-Binding Protein Deficiency Allows for Increased Neurogenesis and a Rapid Onset of Antidepressant Response” The Journal of Neuroscience, 2007.
(Yeah, yeah, the title is long and scary. Worry not, Sci will ‘splain.)
And this paper is especially good because it allows Sci to write a post on a topic she’s been meaning to get to even since she did a depression series way back when: the neurogenesis theory of antidepressant responses.
So here we go. And a new neuron is born.
(From Bumpy Brains. Sci thinks the rendition of diapers as glia is hilarious.)

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Anorexia, Dopamine, and Experimental Confounds

We are now continuing on Sci’s new found, somewhat relentless search into the relationship between eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia, and reward systems that are usually associated with things like drug addiction.
And today I found a human study that looks a little…interesting. For a lot of reasons. Let’s talk dopamine receptors, shall we?
Editor’s Selection IconThis post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for Frank et al. “Increased Dopamine D2/D3 Receptor Binding After Recovery from Anorexia Nervosa Measured by Positron Emission Tomography and [11C]Raclopride” Biological Psychiatry, 2005.
This one’s going to require some background. Let’s talk about dopamine and dopamine receptors.

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Friday Weird Science: The Sunny Sneeze

This time of year is a rough one is the Southeast. It’s a time of angiosperm related hyprocrisy. It’s so pretty outside that it cries out for Easter egg hunts, picnics, and other outside activities.
(it really does look like this)
Unfortunately, once the weather is warm for a few days, it looks like this.
(Sci’s car this morning, only it was worse than that. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.)
As you might be able to imagine, this sort of thing means that the sneezing rate in the south has a remarkable uptick in the spring (though there’s no data on this, and compared to fall and summer allergies and winter colds, Sci might indeed just be spouting off lies right now).
But did you know that there are some people who will sneeze on a bright, sunny day, regardless of the pollen count? Did you know WHY?! Langer et al. “When the Sun Prickles Your Nose: An EEG Study Identifying Neural Bases of Photic Sneezing” PLoS ONE, 2010.
And the best part of this study, what do you CALL the “photic sneeze reflex”?
ACHOO (Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Ophtalmologic Outburst) syndrome. Some grad students who came up with this were probably giggling hysterically over their beers for this one.
(Sci would like to note that she sneezed no less than about 5 times during this write-up, though probably not due to sunlight)

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HM Brain Slicing: So much better than TV

In case any of you peeps have missed it (and you never know), the great memory patient, HM, died last year on Dec 2, 2008.
HM was an epilepsy patient who suffered horrible seizures from age 16 on. Finally, we was referred to a neurosurgeon, who localized the seizures to the medial temporal lobes, and he had them removed in 1953. The good news: new epilepsy. The bad news: no MEMORY. HM retained all of the memories from before the surgery, but until the day of his death, was unable to create new ones. He continually thought it was 1953. He was capable of doing things requiring short term memory and retained an IQ of 112, but could not remember anything new taught to him. Interestingly, he could retain motor memories, and could learn new motor procedures and remember them, though he didn’t remember learning them. HM was altogether a fascinating patient, and taught neuroscientists a huge amount about the brain. Unfortunately, due to his severe amnesia, he lived the rest of his life in a care institute, dying peacefully in 2008.
Though obviously informed consent was a little difficult, every time they asked, HM agreed to donate his brain to science, and the person with his power of attorney also agreed. Thus HM’s brain is currently being SLICED into 70um (those are microns, very small) thick sections, in the hopes that we will be able to gain even more knowledge about the man and his brain following death. You can follow the slicing, which is going to take 50 hours, here and here. They’re about to reach the temporal lobes, and there it should get very exciting! It’s a big moment for neuroscience.
Sci is totally geeking out about this, and she and her charming co-blogger Evil Monkey have been tweeting it up over the past few hours (Evil is @neurotopia, and you should follow him on twitter). Some of the people Sci has talked to have expressed reservations about having their brains (or bodies) sliced on live video feed. Sci personally thinks she wouldn’t mind at all, if it was for scientific benefit. Also, I have been told I have a very pretty brain. But she would be interested to hear the thoughts of others. Would you donate your brain to science? Would you mind being sliced (after death) on live video? Why or why not?

Mapping the Glutamate Receptor

So Sci said she wasn’t going to blog this week because of Open Lab and how stressed she is.
(Sci right now, only with better hair and no pocket-protector)
But she lied.
The science, it calls us, precious.
Ah, the power of Twitter. It is indeed powerful, for it hath informed Sci of a new development in SCIENCE. Also, it made her sing. We’ll get to that. Sobolevsky, Rosconi, Gouaux “X-ray structure, symmetry and mechanism of an AMPA-subtype glutamate receptor” Nature, 2009.
glutamate receptor.jpg
Pretty, huh?

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