June, 2015

Science May be Able to Recover Repressed or Lost Memories

Scientists may be able to recover “lost” or repressed memories by stimulating neurons in the brain, according to a recent study publish in Science.  The study involved inducing, through drugs, retrograde amnesia in mice.  The scientists then activated specific neurons through the use of optogenetics, a process involving the introduction of an engineered virus that delivers a protein to specific neurons.  The neurons are then rendered susceptible to blue light, and through application of blue light, the neurons are stimulated and the memories apparently are restored.

Sources:  Dan Taylor, “Breakthrough: Scientists discover to recover “lost” memories,” www.newsquench.com, May 31, 2015: http://www.newsquench.com/2015/05/breakthrough-scientists-discover-way-to-restore-lost-memories/.

Study Finds Connection Between Use of Pain-Relievers and Homicide

Medications affecting the central nervous system, e.g., tranquilizers such as benzodiazepines and pain-relievers, have – for the first time – been linked to an increased risk of homicide.  Drugs used for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and pain were all found to increase the risk of homicidal behavior.

The study compared data of 980 men and women in Finland who had been convicted of a homicide, to ten times as many people from the same town who were of similar age and gender to the person convicted.  The researchers found that the use of tranquilizers increased the risk of a person committing a homicide by 45%; the use of anti-depressants increased the risk by 31%; the use of anti-inflammatory pain-relievers increased the risk by 200%; and the use of opioid pain-relievers increased the risk of committing a homicide by 92%.

Lead author of the study, Professor Jari Tiihonen, said, “I think that these chemical substances affect the impulse control of the person … The only surprising result was that painkillers also increase the risk.

Sources:  http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2015/06/01/medications-linked-to-homicide/ and http://www.livescience.com/51030-benzodiazepines-pain-relievers-homicide-risk.html

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor