Celebrating 30 years
The genetics of trauma
Medical researchers are beginning to ask a question: Can the effects of a trauma experienced by one generation somehow be passed on to subsequent generations? Could the deeply traumatizing experience of surviving, for example, genocide or severe malnutrition negatively impact the health of subsequent generations of survivors’ children?
Jews, homosexuals, and others experienced brutal persecution during World War Two. Contemporary Native Americans are the offspring of survivors of a concerted effort at genocide, both physical and cultural, through the Indian Wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the boarding school system that stripped Indigenous North Americans of their cultural knowledge, including their languages and … » More …
What dreams may come
If Shakespeare lived today, the playwright would surely be prescribed a sleep study. With his many references to sleep walking, apnea, insomnia, and nightmares, you can almost see the baggy-eyed bard sitting in his nightcap writing by candlelight.
“O sleep, gentle sleep! Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down?” he bemoans in Henry IV, Part 2.
It’s a familiar lament to all those who have lain awake yearning for sleep’s healing balm. But there the comparison ends.
While Shakespeare’s restless, seventeenth-century nights were lit with a single amber flame, today’s insomniacs are usually staring at … » More …
Getting a new perspective on stress
Humans generally think of themselves as highly evolved creatures, but when it comes to stress, our fear response is as primitive as the tiny beasts that fled predators 500 million years ago. Though lifesaving, this fight-or-flight system is also triggered by modern concerns such as political Facebook posts or being stuck in traffic. Over time, psychological stress can build into an internal time bomb.
While some suggest humans have outgrown their stress system, studies show there are ways to teach that old brain new tricks, helping to calm the angst that comes with contemporary living.
Ryan McLaughlin, assistant professor in the Department of Integrative … » More …
Targeting the brain’s “bad opioids”
The stark reality of drug abuse hit home for Brendan Walker when two college classmates overdosed on heroin and Xanax. Their unsettling deaths steered Walker toward a career in the neuroscience of psychology and addictions.
Today, the associate professor of psychology and member of the Neuroscience Program at WSU is a leader in the study of alcohol and opioid drug dependence. His research is advancing the development of new pharmacotherapy treatments for addiction.
“Alcohol and abused opioids have a lot of similarity,” says Walker. “They both manipulate very powerful primitive systems in the brain that are critical for our motivation.”
One of those systems … » More …
Trip the light fantastic
When physicist Mark Kuzyk throws a science soiree he doesn’t mess around. Out come the lasers, high-tech origami, ornate wire sculptures, and sticky-stretchy gel that’s fun to throw at the wall. But it’s all for a greater purpose.
The Washington State University Regents professor is developing a shape-changing, laser-guided electrode for the treatment of pain, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
The ultra-thin electrode is designed for use in deep brain stimulation (DBS) and relies on optics and photomechanical materials to improve the precision and delicacy of the procedure. Sometimes known as the “brain pacemaker,” DBS holds promise for a wide range of conditions and may … » More …
The Animal Mind Reader
Beyond the notion that animals other than humans may indeed possess consciousness, Jaak Panksepp’s work suggests a litany of philosophical implications: How should we treat animals? Do we have free will? Where might we search for the meaning of life? Are our most fundamental values actually biological in nature?» More ...