This was originally published on Off The Main Page on July 30, 2017.
August 13 is International Lefthanders’ Day, so I’m celebrating already!
A long time ago, people thought that left-handed people had dealings with the devil and the trait had to be corrected. The prejudice is gone, but the question remains. Why are some people left-handed?
Some researchers believe it’s genetics, but that is not likely the full story. Some experts say genetics only play a part 25 percent of the time. Although, it can run in families. Some say handedness can be pretty random. Stress during pregnancy can cause a child to lean toward being left-handed.
It also doesn’t necessarily make you “right-brained.” Gina Grimshaw, Ph.D., director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Wellington in New Zealand, says:
Most left-handers seem to have similar language processing to right-handers. But for the most part, left-handers do not differ obviously from right-handers. They certainly don’t have reversed brains.”
It can also affect school performance as well. People who are left-handed or ambidextrous are more likely to use their brains in different ways.
Unfortunately, it is linked to a higher risk of mental health problems as well. According to a 2013 Yale University study, when researchers polled patients at a mental-health clinic, 40% of those with schizophrenia or schizoaffective said they wrote with their left hand.
Being left-handed makes us awesome and unique.
One very common side-effect of anti-psychotics is a condition called tardive dyskinesia. It can be permanent and can cause twitching of the eyes, lips, tongue, and extremities.
The drug is called Ingrezza, and it's awaiting an FDA decision for the tardive dyskinesia treatment.
Christoph U. Correll, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, said in a press release:
"Until now, one of the few options for physicians, when managing TD, was to stop, change, or lower the dose of antipsychotic medication, potentially jeopardizing patients' psychiatric stability. In clinical trials, Ingrezza significantly and rapidly improved TD symptoms compared to placebo, reducing involuntary movements acutely and through 48 weeks of treatment without compromising underlying psychiatric care. These results, combined with convenient once-daily dosing, represent a tremendous breakthrough for patients suffering from TD."
Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning to get ready for work? Well, you aren't the only one! According to one study, getting up before 10 a.m. is the equivalent of torture. You may need an I.V. of coffee when you get to work at 8 or 9 in the morning. You blink and struggle to stay awake under the fluorescent lights.
The article says:
"Dr. Kelley and a research team at the Sleep and Circadian Institute have confirmed something that has crossed everyone’s mind as they watched someone helplessly nod off on early morning public transit—a 9 am start is just fucking inhumane."
"This is because the human body runs on a biological timers. They’re called circadian rhythms and they are genetically preprogrammed cycles that regulate human energy levels, brainwave activity and hormone production."
Disrupting our circadian rhythms can cause many symptoms. Our bodies have certain patterns, and workplaces should change the workday to fit that, but they probably won't.
The eight-hour workday was started to maximize productivity, but it really doesn't. Many companies are starting to have more flexible workdays and hours. It's mainly for work-life balance, but it could help in this department as well.
I ran across an interesting article on How Stuff Works today. It talks about a possible link between intelligence and mental illness. It's an interesting concept to think about . Are the smartest of us also mentally ill?
The example the author used was the great inventor Nikola Tesla. His inventions were precursors to many things we use today such as A/C electricity, electrical generators, and more.
However, he also had many behaviors that could be described as something a mentally ill person would do. The things in his life needed to be divisible by three. He used 18 napkins at every meal. He would only stay in a hotel room with a number divisible by 3. He would probably be considered obsessive-compulsive if he lived today.
The article also says:
"Researchers conducting one such study of Swedish teenagers discovered straight-A students were four times more likely to develop bipolar disorder, a mental illness marked by alternating moods of elation and depression, illustrating a correlation between intelligence and higher instances of mental illness. As the study subjects' emotional state transitioned from low to high, there was evidence of increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. This area is known for regulating creativity."
Many smart and creative people suffered or do suffer from mental illness. Carrie Fisher and Kurt Cobain were bipolar.
This where the term "tortured genius" comes from. I'm not saying everyone who is smart is mentally ill. I'm just looking at people who are considered "smart" and also happen to have mental health issues.
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on April 10, 2017.
The renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking, has an interesting explanation on why he is an atheist:
“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation.”
Many people ask, “What existed before the Big Bang happened?” Hawking says:
“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise… it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god.”
In his book, The Grand Design, he says:
“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper set the universe going.”
Note: Touch paper is paper with chemicals used as fuses for explosives.
Hawking is a very smart man, and I find his explanation of the universe interesting.
Infographic via InformationIsBeautiful.net.
Check out this awesome infographic!
Image via DailyInfographic
This was originally published on Liberal America on March 2, 2017.
Facebook is using artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent suicides among its users. There are already tools in place to report a post of someone who is suicidal, but this will go even further. In a blog post, the company said they will be offering:
They are testing out a pattern-recognition algorithm that will look in posts for potentially suicidal thoughts. The Community Operations team will then look at the flagged posts to see if the person is in danger. They are starting out using these new features in the United States only, then they will begin expanding to more countries.
Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg would also like to use AI to try and spot terrorist posts and other inflammatory content. He said:
“Right now, we’re starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization.”
It will take years to develop because they will need to make an algorithm that can tell the difference between a news story about an attack and propaganda.
I applaud the efforts to prevent suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK. You can also use the Crisis Text Line by texting “HERE” to 741-741. Facebook is partnering with organizations around the world to help prevent suicides.
There is a new procedure being used to treat people suffering from depression. It is called trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.
It is usually used in cases where more traditional treatment methods fail to relieve the symptoms. For instance, there are many people out there who just can't find a medicine that will relieve their symptoms.
During the procedure, a magnetic coil is placed on your head, and it uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the neurons. It is meant to activate areas of the brain that have been shown to have less activity in people with depression.
It can cause some headache and maybe some discomfort at the area where the magnet was. Unfortunately, it can cause mania in some people with bipolar disorder. It is less likely to work in people with psychotic symptoms like me. Some research has shown that this procedure can help people with schizophrenia.
However, seeing things like this gives me hope. I would love to see a cure in my lifetime.