enzyme discovered that encodes memory, dry field wallpaper, anti-anxiety drugs and where to draw the line

Physicists may have discovered how the brain encodes memory

Scientists understand memory to exist as strengthened synaptic connections among neurons. However, “components of synaptic membranes are relatively short-lived and frequently re-cycled while memories can last a lifetime,” according to the research team of University of Alberta professor Jack Tuszynski, his graduate student Travis Craddock and University of Arizona professor Stuart Hameroff.

“This could open up amazing new possibilities of dealing with memory loss problems, interfacing our brains with hybrid devices to augment and ‘refresh’ our memories,” says Tuszynski. “More importantly, it could lead to new therapeutic and preventive ways of dealing with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, whose incidence is growing very rapidly these days.”

This is one of the key open and most intriguing problems in neuroscience. We read a paper on experiments that were able to safely erase memories in animals. These experiments implicated a specific molecule (the enzyme called calcium-calmodulin dependent kinase complex II) that is instrumental in encoding and erasing memory in the brain. We noticed an amazing similarity in its geometry to a patch of tubulin dimers in a microtubule. Microtubules fill the interiors of our brain’s neurons, especially in axons and dendrites where most of the activity takes place. We undertook to find out if this similarity is accidental or not. This led to the generation of a very accurate computational model of the interaction between CaMKII and microtubules. It looks to us that a mechanism for memory encoding has now been found.

Once the organic mechanisms are known that poses the possibility of repairing memories as in cases of severe physiological trauma like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or physical trauma like strokes. That super memory that many of us dream about might also be possible. Or a real life Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind where memories of emotional or physical pain are erased. Erasing painful memories carries some interesting implications. If who we are is the sum total of our experiences and memories, will we be us after erasing the memories we find unpleasant or deeply painful. Human suffering has inspires a lot of great art, literature and music. Some artists have seemed to seek out experiences that they know will turn out badly. Some people seem to relish their pain. Some, we call them drama queens, would have little to do or talk about without tragedy – real or manufactured. Though some human suffering is perpetrated by suffering. Not all abused children grow up to be abusive, but some do. maybe if they had access to a very selective memory wiper they could move beyond their past. Many of history’s worse characters have been motivated by revenge – they seem to have incapable of forgiveness or just moving on from both real hurts and those they imagined. Memory enhancement is not the same as innate intellectual capacity, but a good memory and dedication to mastering a subject can make up quite a bit of the difference between the two. In some areas of study making the highly intelligent almost indistinguishable from the memory enhanced. Because our educational system seems stuck – with good reasons and some not so good – on the testing model, there will be ethical issues. Did she get a 4.0 GPA because she was born with a excellent memory or because her parents bought her a better memory.

Tourists at Disneyland tour a plastic “house of the future” built by Monsanto Chemical Company. The House of the Future opened in 1957  and was a speculation about what the future of housing would be like.

Pop Science Those Living in 1925 May Live to See The Future City of 1950. The upper level was for pedestrians and restaurants. The middle next deck down for slow motor traffic. The one level up from the ground was for fast traffic. The bottom for for fast moving electric trains.

Listening to Xanax – How America learned to stop worrying about worrying and pop its pills instead. Not an unfair treatment of the subject  – should we tough out our anxiety in all its forms from the death of a loved one to work stress or given that we have the science can’t we have the pills there as a back-up plan. The general public debate – certainly my perception – is that we have to make choice take the pills or never take them and be anti-pills as well. There is a huge gap between the two sides. In terms of making such decisions I feel a little uncomfortable judging from a distance what someone in pain should do with a absolute line that should never be crossed.

The real love affair, then, is not with the pills but with the anxiety itself. Anxiety is like the spouse you’re stuck with for better and worse, who makes you nuts but has permeated your cells and without whom you cannot imagine your own heart beating. Anxiety lives with you day and night, holding your hand and nudging you to act, urging you to get up, do more, fix something, make something. Never satisfied, always pressing, it wants you to win, to outlast the others, to impress, excite, excel, astonish. And, as in a marriage, you comply, mostly agreeably, for your anxiety traces the rhythm of your life. Then one morning, it has you by the throat and you find yourself weepy and overwrought, unable to respond to its call. Like a reliable friend, Xanax is there, offering an intermission, the gift of quietude, a break. Because the truth is, and I’ll speak for myself here, I want tranquillity once in a while. But I don’t want a tranquil life.

blue clouds and dry field wallpaper

Childhood of a Circle

Archibald, a creature to whom nothing never happens sees his routine changed by the arrival of a mysterious circle.

Some wonky issue stuff: American Airlines can declare bankruptcy and wipe away debt. But you can’t—and that’s just the beginning

Seniors see savings on Rx drugs under Obama health care law

Contrary to “Entitlement Society” Rhetoric, Over Nine-Tenths of Entitlement Benefits Go to Elderly, Disabled, or Working Households. Ain’t no body living high off the hog in some conservative fairy-tale welfare society