Unhinged - Page 8 of 9 - Talking Mental

Yawning and the Brain

by Doug 0 Comments

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Yawning is a stereotyped behavior with very ancient origins, for it is found in fish, reptiles, and birds, as well as in humans. Described in ancient times by Hippocrates (who thought it served to evacuate fever), yawning did not become a subject of serious interest until the advances achieved in neuroscience in the 1980’s.

Generally speaking, yawning consists of three phases: first, a long intake of air, then a climax, and finally a rapid exhalation, which may or may not be accompanied by stretching. After yawning, you generally experience a sense of well being and relaxation and feel much more present in and aware of your body than you did before you yawned.

Contrary to what was believed for centuries, yawning does not serve to improve oxygenation in the brain. This myth was first laid to rest when it was discovered that the human fetus can yawn as early as the age of 12 weeks, even though it is surrounded by amniotic fluid in its mother’s belly and so is scarcely likely to get any more oxygen to its brain from this effort.

Second, if yawning really helped to raise the oxygen concentration in the blood, then inhaling pure oxygen would cause yawns to become less frequent, while raising the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood would make them more frequent. But several studies have shown that neither of these things occurs. Also, yawning is no more common in people with acute or chronic respiratory problems than it is in the general population.

The role of yawning has yet to be fully determined. But because we yawn more often when we first awaken, when we are bored, and when we are trying not to fall asleep, its primary function would appear to be to help make us more alert. Yawning also seems to play a role in non-verbal communication, especially among primates.

Which leads us to something truly singular about yawning: its contagiousness. That is, when we see someone yawn, it makes us yawn. Sometimes simply thinking about a yawn can be enough to trigger one! Obviously, the term “contagiousness” should not be taken literally here, because no germs are being transmitted. More precisely, yawning is a form of involuntary imitation. Some scientists believe that this characteristic of yawning may have developed as a mechanism for promoting social cohesion, for example, by enabling all the people present in a group to have the same level of alertness at the same time.

In the rest of the animal kingdom, yawning is observed among predator and prey species alike. Among predators, its purpose might be to encourage the group to take a restorative nap so that all of its members can be well rested for an attack on their prey later on. Among prey, by encouraging all members of the group to fall asleep at the same time, yawning might reduce the risk that any one individual might be sleeping alone and hence highly vulnerable to attack by a predator.

There is no nerve centre strictly associated with the yawn reflex, but certain brain structures, such as the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the brainstem are essential for its expression. Some scientists have even hypothesized that the strong contractions of the jaw muscles during yawning may stimulate the reticular formation and thereby encourage wakefulness.

Lastly, one interesting linguistic note: the French verb bâiller (to yawn) has a circumflex accent on the “a” and not on the “i” because in Old French, when people pronounced this word, they stretched out the “a” to imitate the sound of someone yawning.

*Courtesy of McGill University -“The Brain, Start to Finish”                                                                                 copyleft

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Unhinged Episode #011: Inside the Criminal Mind

by Ed 0 Comments
Unhinged Episode #011: Inside the Criminal Mind

We all love to fear monsters. In Hollywood, that thrill brings in millions. But what about when those monsters are real people who feel no remorse for their criminal behaviors, including murder? In this episode of Unhinged, we dig into what makes serial killers, from environmental factors to neurology. Can a serial killer be created in childhood? Can they be rehabilitated?

We also talk about the similarities and differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. There’s a fine line between the two, but there is a critical difference. You’ll also learn a bit about what drove people like Ted Bundy, Edward Gein, Joel Rifkin, and Charles Manson.
The scariest part of the show is seeing how Doug had a similar childhood experience to one of the above serial killers, yet he has not turned out the same way. We discuss why that may be.

And lastly, we talk about why we like watching movies about killers, disasters, and horror. Do we each go into it in the same frame of mind?

Show resources:

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Doug’s 2nd Consultation with Dr. Roger S. McIntyre

by Doug 0 Comments

Dr. Roger S. McIntyre

Monday June 6th, 2016 -Met with Dr. McIntyre today for my 2nd consult with him. Now that the DBS is working to some degree, will Dr. McIntyre have some insight into whether or not supplementation on the biochemical side will possibly help the DBS in it’s work? And what does his latest research suggest, given my mood, fluctuation patters, and from a full-scale picture, in the way of medications that are NOT typically used for TRD.

 *More in tomorrow’s post; and you won’t believe what he said…


Dr. Roger S. McIntyre MD, FRCPC
Head, Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit (UHN)

Dr. Roger McIntyre is currently a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and the Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit at the University Health Network, Toronto, Canada.

He was named by Thomson Reuters in 2014 as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”. This distinction is bestowed upon researchers who publish the most highly cited articles in a variety of scientific fields during the previous decade.

He is also extensively involved in medical education.  He is a highly sought-after speaker at both national and international meetings. He has received several teaching awards from the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry and has been selected for the joint Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA)/Council of Psychiatric Continuing Education Award for the Most Outstanding Continuing Education Activity in Psychiatry in Canada.

Dr. McIntyre is the co-chair of the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Task Force on the Treatment of Comorbidity in Adults with Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder and as well a contributor to the CANMAT guidelines for the treatment of Depressive Disorders and Bipolar Disorders. He has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and has edited and/or co-edited several textbooks on mood disorders.

He completed his medical degree at Dalhousie University and completed his Psychiatry residency training and Fellowship in Psychiatric Pharmacology at the University of Toronto.

Research Interests

Dr. McIntyre is involved in multiple research endeavours which aim to characterize the association between mood disorders, especially cognitive function and medical comorbidity.  Broadly, his work aims to characterize the underlying causes of cognitive impairment in individuals with mood disorders and their impact on workplace functioning. This body of work has provided a platform for identifying novel molecular targets to treat and prevent mood disorders and accompanying cognitive impairment.

Links:

Dr.McIntyre’s UHN Profile

Dr.McIntyre’s Research Publications

Dr. Roger McIntyre: Mood Disorders and Metabolic-Inflammatory Comorbidity -YouTube Video

TW-KrembilNeuro

Toronto Western Hospital (UHN)

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Unhinged Episode #010: Money, Magic, & Murray

by Ed 0 Comments
Unhinged Episode #010: Money, Magic, & Murray

Another rocky start this week as Doug’s money troubles due to being on disability nearly derailed the show. So we decided to discuss the issue as our opening topic. How does someone with a mental illness, who cannot work, survive on only $15k per year in a city where the poverty line is at nearly $20k? Hint: It’s not easy.

We also welcome a very special guest to the show, hypnotherapist, motivational speaker, and magician Murray Goldsmith, who happens to be Doug’s uncle. Besides entertaining audiences for decades with his stimulating and humorous talks, he has written books and held seminars on “The Power of Your Belief System”. We discuss hypnotherapy, psychology, and even magic with Murray in a very entertaining and enlightening interview.

Show resources:

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Unhinged Episode #009: Music and the Brain

by Ed 0 Comments
Unhinged Episode #009: Music and the Brain

In our 9th episode, We talk about how music is what brought us together many years ago and how it became an important part of our friendship. We also disclose what the “blue room” from our previous intro is and how that’s related.

There was another rocky start the morning of this show, and Doug tells us what’s got him down.

Doug explains all about neurotransmitters and their importance in the brain, and how music can help with their production. And finally, we discuss an article from Time about how learning to play an instrument and participating in musical learning leads to better academic performance all around.

Show resources:

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Renowned neurosurgeon, and my DBS doc, Andres Lozano on TED (Jan 2013)

by Doug 0 Comments

Parkinson’s, depression and the switch that might turn them off

Deep brain stimulation is becoming very precise. This technique allows surgeons to place electrodes in almost any area of the brain, and turn them up or down — like a radio dial or thermostat — to correct dysfunction. Andres Lozano offers a dramatic look at emerging techniques, in which a woman with Parkinson’s instantly stops shaking and brain areas eroded by Alzheimer’s are brought back to life. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)

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Unhinged Episode #007: Prince, Robin Williams, and Suicidal Contagion

by Ed 0 Comments
Unhinged Episode #007: Prince, Robin Williams, and Suicidal Contagion

In this episode, we discuss the difference in how the media covered the death of Prince vs. the death of Robin Williams. Responsible journalism calls for portraying celebrity suicide as not something romantic and sensationalized, but rather as a disease that has treatment options and support.

Is the media partially to blame for suicidal contagion on college campuses? We talk about a recent article in the Psychiatric Times that talks about the risk, prevention, and management of suicide clusters, and how preventing that first suicide is key to stopping the “Werther Effect” of copycat suicides.

Lastly, we get an update on Doug’s progress with his depression. Is his DBS finally starting to kick in again?

Show resources:

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