Tonight, as you're wondering if your level 81 dark elf mage and her sweet double-enchanted dragonscale armor makes up for the girlfriend you lost playing Skyrim, turn your xbox over to the live streaming of the landing of the new Mars rover, Curiosity. Because it's right there on your console's dashboard!
It's really a win-win situation. Arborea Darkshadow can wait a few minutes, I'm sure, and you'll either get to witness an action-packed landing of a big new Mars rover, or you'll get to see the hopes and dreams of hundreds of scientists and engineers crash and disintegrate on the cold surface of a dead planet millions of miles away!
You know what JGordon will be doing approximately 12 hours from now? Definitely not watching the Curiosity landing! But that's only because I don't have an internet connection at my apartment. No, I'll probably be forcing the cat to participate in the St. Paul Cat Olympics. As far as I know, there will be only one contestant, but it promises to be hilarious! Why? Because she probably can't swim very well.
Mars! Be there!
Courtesy Mark RyanIs the circuitry of an addict's brain different because of drug abuse or is drug abuse caused by innate differences in the brain? This is one of the questions raised during a new study out of the University of Cambridge. Researchers there compared the brains of 50 addicted individuals with the brains of a non-addicted brother or sister. What they found was that both the addict and their non-addict sibling display the same abnormalities in the brain areas that control behavior. Yet, despite possessing this similar inborn brain disorder, the non-addict siblings somehow managed to avoid getting hooked into a self-destructive lifestyle. If the scientists can figure out how the siblings did that, it could open up new ways of treating addiction. The study appears in the journal Science.
Courtesy KjrajeshSo you think you have a bad job? How would you like to run a drug rehab unit for elephants? Here's the story of how an elephant addicted to heroin has gone clean after three years of rehab. That's a lot of methadone to be shooting into some pretty tough skin.
Courtesy ocadotonyI hope I don’t look like a chump. Because I’m no chump. I’m no chump, and I’m leaving this chump job. Goodbye, Chump Inc. Goodbye, Chumville. I’m starting an exciting new life, effective immediately, as a drug dealer.
And what poison will I peddle? What do I plan to sling on street corners and playgrounds? The worst and most deadly drug: pure, uncut baby.
Trust me; it’s the next big thing. I accept that my baby dealing operation will probably start out small (baby manufacturing is notoriously time-consuming), but before you know it gossip pages will be swimming in photos of starlets with babies peaking out of their handbags, or smeared on their upper lips. Why?
Because babies get you hiiigghhh!
Or at least they get mothers high, and that’s a market somewhat neglected by dealers. Cha-ching!
Research has shown that mothers, when shown pictures of their babies, experience strong brain activity in regions associated with reward and addiction—a natural high.
The strength of a mother’s reaction seems to depend partly on her baby’s expression. A crying baby, for instance, evokes a reaction little different from a mother seeing a stranger’s baby (ha!), whereas a smiling baby is like a spoonful of hot heroin. Relatively speaking.
That’s something I’ll have to factor into my operation—happy babies are the most potent, and I surely want to offer a high quality product. How do you make babies happy? It’s never really been my thing. Like…rattles, maybe? Cigarettes? I have the feeling that it’ll be a trial and error sort of thing.
Aside from inspiring a whole new career path for me, the research promises to be valuable in understanding some of the most basic elements of mother-child bonding, and why, in some cases, this bonding fails to occur. Neglect and abuse sometimes arises from such cases, and so, as a baby dealer, I think I would only be helping society by fixing up moms already jonesing for some baby, and encouraging the habit in others.
A new study at the University of Minnesota has shown favorable signs that an amino acid, easily available as a health food supplement, may curb the pathological urge to gamble in some subjects.
“It looks very promising,” said Jon Grant, a University of Minnesota associate professor of psychiatry and the study’s principal investigator.
Twenty-seven subjects were administered increasing doses of the amino acid known as N-acetyl cysteine during the two-month trial. N-acetly cysteine acts on the chemical glutamate - often linked with reward in the brain – and is commonly sold under the name NAC at health food store. When it ended, 60 percent of the study’s subjects reported reduction in their urges to gamble.
Most of the participants from the original study then agreed to continue into a second phase that went for another six weeks. Phase two of the study, however, was a double-blinded, meaning neither subjects nor researchers knew who was in the control group.
That time around 83 percent of those who were given the supplement reported fewer urges to gamble, while more than 71 percent of those given placebos returned to gambling.
“This research could be encouraging for a lot of addictions,” he said.
The kids of my friends and even some of the younger people I work with rave about the latest games and the fun they have with them, but it blows right by me. I can’t see why people camp out overnight to get the latest playing systems or the hottest new games.
Now, people in the medial/psychiatric fields are taking a harder look at video games. Can excessive playing be an addiction?
Meeting over the weekend, the American Medical Association passed on making a judgment call on the situation. It’s asking the American Psychiatric Association to study the issue over the next several years to see where video gaming fits on the addiction horizon.
To tell you the truth, I haven’t got any opinion on this. I guess you could say this is a drink I’ve never drunk, a drug I’ve never tried. But some of the information I’ve read makes me see that video gaming can be a serious problem for some people.
Some counselors report increased amounts of patients coming to them with tales of excessive video gaming at the expense of other daily life activities: a mother playing games for hours ignores her baby’s cry, a university student flunking out because of too much gaming, a spouse’s vast game-playing time leading to divorce.
With some addictions, the medicine and science are obvious. Consuming alcohol or drugs alters the body’s chemistry with a short-term good feeling, but a long-term addiction. Other currently accepted addictions like gambling or sexual activity have been shown produce a chemical reaction inside the “users” body that can work like ingested chemicals.
So what about video gaming? As one person asked out in an article I saw on the issue, is compulsive playing of the games addictive to someone or is that simply a sign of another problem – boredom, depression, loneliness – that has a deeper root in the person.
The verdict reached by the medical and psychiatric groups will have a big bearing. If video gaming is ruled to be an addiction like alcoholism, drug use or gambling, insurance companies could be made liable to cover treatment programs for those diagnosed with the addiction. Work places would be made to make provisions to get people dealing with the addiction help.
So what do you think? Could excessive gaming be an addiction? Is it something less than that? Is it no big deal? Share your thoughts with other readers hear at Science Buzz.
May 16, 1988: C. Everett Koop, surgeon general of the United States, publishes a report declaring nicotine as addictive as either heroin or cocaine.
Stroke patients lose the urge to smoke after suffering damage to a particular part of the brain. Doctors believe this may lead to treatments with drugs that target this area, helping people to quit smoking more easily.