Sci got this comment to her Ritalin post the other day:
It sounds like you are suggesting that cocaine taken in the same form as Ritalin -- as low-dose, slow release pills -- would produce the same effects as the ADHD medication does. But, clearly, the FDA has seen fit to outlaw cocaine and place its seal of approval on doctor-prescribed Ritalin. Not that I think the FDA is infallible or anything, but did they really make the mistake of controlling one substance and permitting another that are essentially equivalents? Benzoylmethylecgonine and methylphenidate are clearly not the same chemical compounds, but if they act in synonymous ways on the brain, shouldn't they be treated equally under the law?
And what about the all-touted maxim that patients who have not been prescribed Ritalin should not take it but those who have been shouldn't miss a dose? Is there really such a neurological difference between those with ADHD and those who haven't been diagnosed with it, or is it just a matter of how much rapport you establish with your psychiatrist? (I am not trying to patronize; I legitimately want to know!)
Similarly, are their patients for whom controlled doses of cocaine would yield medical benefits equal to or exceeding those of Ritalin? Or are there manifold side effects that discourage the use of cocaine as an ADHD/ concentration medication in spite of its similarities to Ritalin?
Personally, I'm skeptical of many of the diagnoses of ADHD that I see and of the politician-worthy campaigns that I hear that deny the efficacy of Ritalin for patients who have not been diagnosed with ADHD. It seems to me that for a disorder whose diagnosis is so imprecise and objective, it's a convenient coincidence that most takers of Ritalin who have been diagnosed with ADHD (regardless of whether or not the diagnosis is accurate) show marked improvement in concentration...
As you can see, it's long and has a lot of questions. And some of them are very good ones. But I knew that answering it within the comment thread was going to be long, and also I needed to use lots of links. So congrats, cerebration! You're getting your very own post!!!
Here we go.
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Check it out at Ionian Enchantment. Some great stuff this issue, including a great deal on ADHD from Sharp Brains. And a cool post from Mindhacks on Mummy brain scans!!!
It seems, from the time I first heard about it, there's been an eternal flare-up about Ritalin, and its similar counterparts, including things like Concerta and Tranquillyn. Issues with who should get it, who HAS attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), whether or not ADHD is is even a real diagnosis. Issues about whether people who DON'T have ADHD should get Ritalin, and whether it's ethical to use Ritalin (or other stimulant medications used for ADHD) for things like "cognitive enhancement", whether it amounts to use of something that is no more harmful than using caffeine, or whether it's something more sinister.
But that's not what Sci is going to blog about today. Because I get a lot of people asking me whether Ritalin is bad, mentioning they've snorted it once or twice or took it once or twice and it did/didn't work for them, etc, etc. But Sci's a scientist. She hopes that people might be able to determine for themselves whether Ritalin is good or bad, once they know how it works.
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Sci will admit that she hasn't listened to They Might be Giants since...ummm...that Istanbul song. Which was awesome. But now this video has been going around. And it's awesome. And it's simple:
Science is REAL!
Though I want to nitpick that they didn't make any specific references to chemistry...
About a month ago now (yikes, it's been a while!), Sci handed over her diet to the judgment of the goddess. The goddess Isis. Since then, and since finding out that Sci ate roughly 2500 calories a day (or more, and running 5 miles a day doesn't help THAT much), some major changes have been taking place. This little muffin dumped a lot of her carbs, and increased her protein, and more than both of those, she has upped her fruit and vegetable intake. This is less expensive than it sounds, thanks to the abundant loveliness of my local farmer's market, but it still hasn't been easy. Carbs taste GOOD. Cooking takes TIME. I never HAVE any time...and I like scones. A lot. Sigh.
Anyway, I have current reduced calorie intake to around 2000 calories a day (sometimes), and try not to eat too much pizza (most of the time). I am currently training for some ridiculous running distances, so exercise isn't a problem, and I give myself weekends off to eat whatever I like. And I write it ALL down. Every day. Sci is in this for the long haul. I'm not looking to lose too much weight, rather, I am looking to improve my diet, eat more veggies and fruit and make these changes LAST.
And I have my good days and bad days. There was the Day of the Entire Pepperoni Pizza for dinner. Followed shortly thereafter by the Day of More Pizza and those Pretzel Chip Things that are So Delicious. But there are good days, too. Days when it doesn't seem so bad to have fruit instead of fro-yo. And you know, marinated grilled chicken breasts are quite tasty!
But it's all made Sci think a lot about appetite. Why we eat when we eat, and what we're really eating for. Why that bowl of candy in advisor's office is SO tempting even though I just had lunch. You know, that sort of thing.
And then I saw this study:
Piech, et al. "Neural correlates of appetite and hunger-related evaluative judgments" PLoS ONE, 2009.
Which raised far more questions than it answered.
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Sigh. It crept up on me. I feel so...not old. But today, today is the DAY! Today is the anniversary of Sci's very first post at Scienceblogs!!! I'd like to thank the Academy...
It really doesn't feel like it's been very long at all. Heck, it feel's like it's been WAY less than a year. But that's good! It means Sci hasn't lost steam, though the next few months are likely to be hectic ones (they say that Sci shall get her PhD someday...).
Sci cannot be grateful enough to the Evil Monkey for bringing me in, and to the Scienceblogs community, who have been incredibly supportive and welcoming, and made Sci feel so at home. I can't envision a life without science blogging. So here's to another year of Scicurious, and to Neurotopia!
That's more like it!
I'm sure those of you around the blogosphere have heard about the contest for a blogger to go to Antarctica, right? And did you know that our lovely Grrl is in the running?!
But, you say, what of it.
Well, I say, she is in the TOP THREE!!
But, you say, how do we know she's the best?
DUH, I say. First off, her writing is fantastic. Look at this. She is connected to the scientific world in a way few others are, maintaining her own blog carnival, and writing for SCIENCE!! She loves her ornithology, and what better profession to check out the many birds of the lower continent?
And then there's this:
With photography skills like that, imagine what she's do with the fantastic, humbling landscape of Antarctica?
But, you say...but...um...wow...
And finally, look at this face:
Awwww....you can't refuse that face. Go vote for it! You have to register, but it's quick and easy and no one will bother you with email. Send our Grrl to Antarctica and see her fly!
Sci feels really famous today! That's because someone actually emailed her to ask her a question!!!! This makes her feel very knowledgeable and wise, even though she had no idea what the person was asking and had to look it up. Anyway, here goes nothing, your very first Ask Scicurious!
t's me, Juniper. I hope I'm not bothering you.
I would like to please pester you with some questions. In your opinion, is agomelatine as good as it sounds? What about for patients who once responded to NDRIs but no longer do? (Does that last question even make any sense?)
I thought you might be a good person to ask because of your dopamine obsession. 🙂 I found this because I was researching antidepressants to ask my doctor about. It was particularly interesting to me because bupropion is particularly interesting to me. I am always more than willing to read and try to understand PubMed articles, but I don't have access to the ones about agomelatine. Besides, I really want to know what you personally think.
Just so you know, I'm only asking you out of curiosity. I wouldn't ever ask anyone but my doctor for medical advice, and you can't even get this drug in the States anyway. Also: I totally understand if you are way too busy to address my silly questions.
P.S. Objectively, 10 Things I Hate About You is a really bad film. I only think it's cute because I'm old and nostalgic and I was a teenager in the '90s.
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I'm sure you all know that you have both a short-term and a long-term memory. Many people think of those as separate things, and to us, it may seem that way. But in fact, the formation of short and long term memories in the brain is very intertwined, and a short-term memory can become a long-term one. What we don't really know is HOW this happens. What makes the difference between remembering a phone number for a few minutes and remembering it for months? Turns out, it's a simple tag.
Ballarini et al. "Behavioral tagging is a general mechanism of long-term memory formation." PNAS, 2009.
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*cough cough* This is not a post about science. You were warned. Science post tomorrow.
Sci went to see Taming of the Shrew this weekend. Mr. S brought her to the show as a semi-surprise, because he is generally awesome. 🙂 And I highly recommend (the show! Not Mr. S! Mr. S is mine). It's a free show put on every year by the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington. You have to sit in line for tickets, so Sci recommends bringing a picnic. But you can't argue with free Shakespeare performed by one of the best Shakespeare companies in the nation. We sat in line for an hour and a half, but we got in! Sci has a long-standing love of Shakespeare, as well as most other theater, and has in fact been in a production of Taming of the Shrew. I very much enjoyed the interpretation they used (setting it in the age of the pin-up girls, with an interestingly versatile set, KILLER costumes for Bianca, and using the plot to talk about honesty in relationships between men and women).
But there's always that last scene in Taming of the Shrew. It makes me shudder inwardly every time I see it, no matter how it is interpreted.
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