Alt Left: Transgender People Are Obviously Mentally Ill, But Some Are More Mentally Ill Than Others

In 90% of the cases, MtF transgenderism is just a paraphilia. They are crossdressers, transvestites, and autogynephiles. In many cases, the transgenderism simply goes away. If it vanishes regularly like that, then there cannot be anything wrong with their brains and of course it’s just a mental disorder. In the several areas in which male and female brains differ, autogynephilic transgender people’s brains look exactly like male brains. However, in four or five areas that are the same in both males and females, autogynephiles’ brains are different from both sexes. These brain changes may be the source of the mental disorder.
There is an incel on an incel board who identified as transgender in adolescence and went on hormones. He lost 3-4 inches in height and there is something wrong with his face as a result of the hormones. He now describes his transgenderism as a delusion, which it was of course.
Of course it’s a delusion if a man insists he is really a woman. How could it not be a delusion?
10% of transgender people are the real transsexuals. These are all gay men. These are biological transsexuals with a very early onset, sometimes as early as age two. Their brains are different. There are several parts of the brain that are quite different in men and women. In these brain areas early onset transsexuals have brains that are in between male brains and female brains. That is, their brains are female-shifted.
Now that does not mean that they have women’s brains in men’s bodies, but their brains are somewhat feminized. And yes, it does seem to be related to hormonal aberrations in the womb. This transgenderism is more valid because it involves actual changes in brain structures. Nevertheless, if these men insist that they are really women, that is a delusion in my opinion because it’s just not true.
I know little about FtM transsexuals except that 99% of them are lesbians. I am not aware of any good work on FtM transgender people’s brains.
There is a new phenomenon called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria which is hitting teenage girls in an epidemic form. It spreads like anorexia as a social contagion in emotionally susceptible teenage girls. This is simply a mental illness like Anorexia and in fact, it may be closely related to Anorexia because it resembles Anorexia in many ways and it also involves distorted body image.

Alt Left: The Transgender and Transtrender War

Recently the 12% of trans people who are actually pure transsexuals with severe gender dysphoria from an early age have weighed in on the TERF versus Transgender debate. This group takes a very different stance from the 88% of transgender people who are autogynephiles, crossdressers, and transvestites. It is this larger group of most heterosexual male transgender or transwomen who are driving this debate. They also seem to be the ones making the most noise and threatening and assaulting the TERF’s.
The 12%, however, take a very different stance towards TERF’s. These are the real transsexuals, assuming there is such a thing. The transsexuals are much more sympathetic to the concerns of the TERF’s and many of them argue that they, the transsexuals, possibly should stay out of women’s spaces.
The transsexuals realize that they do indeed have a medical/psychological condition, which is a fact. They tend to be much more science-minded than the other group, which is just another Cultural Left Identity Politics that plays fast and loose with facts and truth like they all do. These transsexuals often have very early onset of gender dysphoria, sometimes as early as age two.
And transsexual brains are in fact different. Transsexuals are not women in men’s bodies, but their brains are female- shifted, that is, their brains are more feminine than the typical male brain. Transsexual brains are about halfway between a male brain and a female brain. The autogynephiles on the other hand have brains that look like a normal man’s brain in the areas in which men’s and women’s brains differ. In other words, the autogynephiles are not men in women’s bodies either, and they do not even have female-shifted brains. Instead they have a normal male brain with some differences. Their brains are different in 4-5 areas that are the same in men and women. So there are two types of transgender people that can even be differentiated on brain scan.
There is a war brewing between people who consider themselves real transsexuals or transgender people and others who this former group derides as fakes or pretenders.
This war is being called Transgenders versus Transtrenders. The autogynephiles are seen as faddists by the transsexuals, and the transtrenders often don’t even have gender dysphoria, although for decades they have been lying and saying that they did, driving clinicians crazy in the process.
The transtrenders also hate the word transsexual, apparently because it implies a medical condition, and they say they are fine. The transtrenders are much more anti-scientific than the transsexuals. In fact, the word transsexual is now apparently a transphobic slur! You might see a lot more psychopathology in the transtrenders too, as they are basically faking it. I have heard people say that 95% of transgender people are transtrenders, and only 5% of them are the real deal. I’m not sure how accurate that is. It’s interesting that the real transgenders are a lot more sympathetic to women than the fakers who are often called misogynists by feminists, but then feminists call 95% of men misogynists, so that might not mean anything.

Gender Is Biological and Given, Not Social and Constructed

The view of radical feminism and in fact all of feminism is that gender is socially constructed. From a radical feminist or radfem website:

There is no such thing as biological gender! Seriously dude, do you even know what radfem is? From your comments here you seem to think we are a bunch of sexless, genderless, manhating, violent women.
Sex is biological. We are born either male or female (with a small percentage intersex).
Gender is a social construct with attributable stereotypical traits, behaviours and presentation.
Please educate yourself on the basics.

All you have to do is wander around the planet a bit for while with your ears and eyes open to realize that that’s not true. Recent advances in neurology indicate that there are vast differences in male and female brains in terms of the number of structures effected, which typically differ in size, shape, etc.
Look also at the experiences of transwomen,  men who became women. On female hormones, their behavior and  thinking changed radically and even their entire view of the world became radically  different.
Some transwoman’s on those hormones have reported changes in emotionality and even entire worldview. I realize radfems reject biological gender, but these reports are very interesting. One transwoman was a very masculine, almost stoical, hard-type man. On the hormones, he reported that he was wildly emotional, all over the place all the time, and frequently out of sorts via being confused by all this mercurial emotionality. And this guy was John Wayne before. I figure the pills caused the changes. And one more thing, radfems will hate this too – he said he started giggling. A lot. Not sure if I have ever seen a man giggle.
Another transwoman was on the Reddit Redpill MRA group (I know you hate them but I read everywhere). He reported that on the hormones, the world felt very frightening and confusing and he has a strong sense of weakness and wanting to be protected, specifically by a strong, powerful figure. He also become quite emotional, often for little reason. He noticed that his “cis” boyfriend pretty much ignored the emotionality and this transwoman felt that men often ignored a lot of women’s emotionality because a lot of it was not based on much and its too tiring to respond to weathervanes all day.
I know feminists don’t believe any of this stuff, but those pills are very powerful and surely hormones can have some psychological effects? Isn’t this obvious evidence that gender is biological? Give a men female hormones and his behaviors, emotions, thinking and even epistemology change dramatically in ways that remarkably resemble stereotypical female behavior. How can feminists explain this away?
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Shouldn't One's Confidence in Their Intelligence Validate Itself, Since Intelligence Is Defined in Some Spheres as the 'Ability to Discern Similarities & Differences?'

Answered on Quora.
Well, I am supposed to have a genius IQ, but even I cannot understand what the person asking this question is trying to say.
First of all, if critical thinking is anything, it is intelligence.
Intelligence, more than anything else, is pure brain speed. And in fact, that is exactly what an IQ test tests for.
Let us say that I have a higher IQ than someone else. Mine is 147. The other person’s is 120, almost a full two SD’s below me. For some people around this level, I seem smarter than they are, but on the other hand, they are no dummies. We can communicate very well. It’s the difference between a smart person and a really smart person, which doesn’t boil down to a whole lot in the real world.
For others at ~120, I hate to say it, but I simply cannot see how I am smarter than they are, even at a near full two SD difference. Now why this is, I am not sure, but maybe we are comparing smart with very smart, and it’s hard to see a difference there.
Nevertheless, according to an IQ test, comparing me to the 120 IQ person:

  • I have a faster brain.
  • I have a better and bigger memory. I can remember more stuff and keep it around better.
  • My memory recall is faster and more accurate. I can pull stored knowledge out of my brain faster and more correctly.
  • I have better verbal and nonverbal analytical skills. I am better at “seeing the whole picture” and “tying it all together.”
  • I can analyze a problem in terms of vocabulary and make sense out it and see patterns and connect them together better and perhaps faster.
  • I can see patterns in objects in space and connect them up more faster and more accurately.
  • I can find the answer to a new problem that I have never seen before faster and more accurately.
  • My critical thinking skills work faster and more accurately.

Bottom line is simply that I have a faster brain. My brain also utilizes glucose better and faster. In addition, my brain itself may well be larger, and I may have more cells and especially connections.
I may not be more creative, and I may well have worse musical or artistic skills. These are all subtypes of intelligence.
My kinetic intelligence may well be worse. This is “physical intelligence.” It is a real thing. The best athletes actually have “intelligent bodies.” They are better and faster at moving their bodies the way they want them to than I am.
I may have worse social intelligence. Social intelligence is a very real thing. It is definitely a type of intelligence.
I may have worse street smarts, or crafty, foxy, sly, clever, or sneaky type intelligence. This “smart like a fox” intelligence is a very real thing, and it is a type of intelligence.
I may not be as wise. In fact, I may have little or no wisdom at all, and I may live my live in a completely idiotic or para-suicidal manner. Wisdom indeed is a type of intelligence.
I may well have worse mechanical skills. Mechanical skills are absolutely a type of intelligence.
I may have poor skills at higher mathematics. IQ tests only test low level mathematics. Quite a few very high IQ people barely got through high school math and struggled with Algebra 2 and Geometry, including me.

  • An IQ test does not test for artistic, musical, or creative intelligence. Not at all.
  • An IQ test does not test for kinetic intelligence of course. You would test that on a playing field of some sort.
  • An IQ test absolutely does not test social intelligence at all. You test that out in the real world with real people, and they will be the judges of your social intelligence, not you.
  • An IQ test does not test crafty, sly, or street smart intelligence. Street smart people will judge you on that on their own, and they will always be right.
  • An IQ test is absolutely not a wisdom test! So many people cannot seem to figure this out as they constantly conflate raw intelligence and wisdom. They are two different things.
  • An IQ test does not test mechanical intelligence at all.
  • An IQ test absolutely does not test for higher math skills at all.

I hope this clarifies for people exactly what an IQ test checks for and how indeed it leaves out a number sub-intelligences which may well be very important for you and society.

Can a Person Have Above Average IQ 125-135 SD=15 and Still Be a Slow Thinker?

Answered on Quora.
That would not make sense at all.
IQ more than anything else (at least fluid IQ) is a test of raw, pure, brain speed and efficiency. Studies have found that as IQ rises, the brain works more efficiently.
If you have spent time around bright people, one of the most striking things about them is how lightning fast they are. This can be seen even in conversation. Have you ever met people so fast that they almost finish your sentences for you. You get halfway through the sentence, and they are already reacting to the sentence because they have actually predicted what the rest of the sentence is! That’s pretty damn smart.
Some very bright people have fast moving eyes. If you watch them when they talk, you see their eyes flitting all around very rapidly. Sometimes there are also a lot of micromovements with their faces.
In fact, I think I can see this even comparing a 110–115 IQ person to a 95–100 IQ person (I am guessing at their IQ’s). The latter are noticeably slower, and the former are often strikingly fast. The slower people are often very nice and pleasant, but they’re just not as fast. You have to admit it.

Kundalini Binaural Beats

Here.
This stuff is pretty trippy. Scientists poo poo it, but I believe there is something to it. The binaural bets are set to mimic various brain waves: Alpha waves, Beta waves, Delta waves, Gamma waves and Theta waves. Of course you have all of these waves in your brain. So you put in Theta binaural beats and you get more theta waves supposedly. The same with Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, etc. It sounds like a reasonable hypothesis anyway. This stuff is called brain entrainment because supposedly it actually changes how your brain works (via manipulation of existing brain waves).
They also work with your chakras. Chakras are an Indian medical theory. Supposedly you have chakras in your body that do various things and you can mess around with these chakras to achieve desired ends. A lot of yogi types swear that they are true and a lot of folks who listen to these beats have had experiences suggesting of chakras.
For instance, people who listen to the Kundalini beats report that they feel a warmth at the bottom of their spine that goes all the way up to the top of their spine. These people who report this have no idea that this is one of the things that Kundalini is supposed to do.
It is called Kundalini rising because it supposedly turns on the energy levels in your body. The Kundalini is said to be like a snake that moves up and down your spine. It’s all pretty wacky and insane, but who knows, maybe there is something to it. I have no idea if chakras exist or not either but I would not take the word of modern scientistic medicine about whether there is anything to this stuff. There are supposedly dangers that can occur when you awaken Kundalini, but I am not sure about that either. If it’s all nonsense, how could it have ill effects?
I put this Kundalini stuff on very low and then I go to sleep in the other room. I put it on so low that you can hear it but only barely. I also have a fan in my room and often have windows open so there are other noises. I try to make sure that the other noises are louder than the binaural beats. Nevertheless you can sense them if you listen hard because it feels like the whole room or apartment is vibrating in this strange way like the hum you hear of highway workers at night or an electric plant that is nearby.
One thing I noted is that I crash hard as Hell with that stuff on. I sleep maybe five hours and I wake up and think I slept for 18 hours. I get up and feel like a slab or wood or concrete, but that feels very good. It reminds you of the feeling of whenever you had some very good hard sleeps. It’s like as hard as the hardest crash you have ever had.
I also noticed that some of the pains I have in my neck and back diminished after that very hard crash. In addition, the first few nights I had this stuff on, my dreams changed.
It’s a bit embarrassing, but I had sex in my dreams! I know you are thinking so what, but the thing is, I do not know if it is a hangup or what, but I never or almost never have sex in my dreams. Even when I have a girlfriends and we are going at it for hours a day, I still never have sex in my dreams. And with this Kundalini stuff, I had sex in my dreams for maybe four days straight. That’s pretty weird right there.
This stuff might effect you more than you think it does.

Football Is Inherently Dangerous

There’s apparently no way whatsoever to make the game safer. They have tried everything at this point, and nothing works. The only way to make the game safer is to not play it in the first place. They are talking mostly about head injuries. No matter how they make the helmets, football players still get head injuries. And those who play it for a long time apparently end up brain damaged, just like boxing. There’s new data on this just starting to come out now.

Choking Women Out Is a Bad Idea

Interesting piece from a BD/SM enthusiast who is also a medical professional. You see guys choking out women all over porn these days. And on PUA sites, a lot of guys like Roosh are really into choking women out when they have sex with them. I must say that this is completely sick. Why would I want to choke out the woman I am screwing?  Maybe if I wanted to fantasize being a serial killer? Anyone who does this obviously is fantasizing about being a murderer or a rapist. I don’t feel like pretending to be Ted Bundy when I am in bed with a woman.
Not only is it sick, but it’s also dangerous. You can kill a person or give them a heart attack at any time. And there are a lot of other injuries that can and do occur also. I have heard that a number of women in porn are getting TIA’s from getting choked out all the time on porn sets. Those are Transient Ischemic Attacks. They are like mini-strokes. The thing is, if you have enough of these as a young person, you may damage your brain and make a real stroke more likely when you get older.
These choking fetish is insane. Don’t choke out your partner! Ever!
Former ambulance medic, former law school professor, expert witness on BD/SM matters, Jay Wiseman has over 35 years of experience in BD/SM and was one of the early pioneers and builders of the BD/SM community in the San Francisco area.
He continues to be heavily involved, both in his local area and nationally, as an S/M author, educator, mentor, workshop leader, video producer, expert witness, and activist. Noted for being both an exceptionally knowledgeable and highly entertaining presenter, he is very much in demand and has given hundreds of presentations on various aspects of health, relationships, and sexuality in more than 70 cities in the United States and Canada. In 2007, Black Rose presented him with the Vaughn Keith National BD/SM Educator Award.

The Medical Realities of Breath Control Play

For some time now, I have felt that the practices of suffocation and/or strangulation done in an erotic context (generically known as breath control play; more properly known as asphyxiophilia) were in fact far more dangerous than they are generally perceived to be.
As a person with years of medical education and experience, I know of no way whatsoever that either suffocation or strangulation can be done in a way that does not intrinsically put the recipient at risk of cardiac arrest (There are also numerous additional risks; more on them later.)
Furthermore, and my biggest concern, I know of no reliable way to determine when such a cardiac arrest has become imminent.
Often the first detectable sign that an arrest is approaching is the arrest itself. Furthermore, if the recipient does arrest, the probability of resuscitating them, even with optimal CPR, is distinctly small. Thus the recipient is dead and their partner, if any, is in a very perilous legal situation. The authorities could consider such deaths first-degree murders until proven otherwise, with the burden of such proof being on the defendant. There are also the real and major concerns of the surviving partner’s own life-long remorse to having caused such a death, and the trauma to the friends and family members of both parties.
Some breath control fans say that what they do is acceptably safe because they do not take what they do up to the point of unconsciousness. I find this statement worrisome for two reasons:
(1) You can’t really know when a person is about to go unconscious until they actually do so, thus it’s extremely difficult to know where the actual point of unconsciousness is until you actually reach it.
(2) More importantly, unconsciousness is a symptom, not a condition in and of itself. It has numerous underlying causes ranging from simple fainting to cardiac arrest, and which of these will cause the unconsciousness cannot be known in advance.
I have discussed my concerns regarding breath control with well over a dozen S/M-positive physicians, and with numerous other S/M-positive health professionals, and all share my concerns. We have discussed how breath control might be done in a way that is not life-threatening, and come up blank. We have discussed how the risk might be significantly reduced, and come up blank. We have discussed how it might be determined that an arrest is imminent and come up blank.
Indeed, so far not one (repeat, not one) single physician, nurse, paramedic, chiropractor, physiologist, or other person with substantial training in how a human body works has been willing to step forth and teach a form of breath control play that they are willing to assert is acceptably safe — i.e., does not put the recipient at imminent, unpredictable risk of dying. I believe this fact makes a major statement.
Other “edge play” topics such as suspension bondage, electricity play, cutting, piercing, branding, enemas, water sports, and scat play can and have been taught with reasonable safety, but not breath control play. Indeed, it seems that the more somebody knows about how a human body works, the more likely they are to caution people about how dangerous breath control is, and about how little can be done to reduce the degree of risk.
In many ways, oxygen is to the human body and particularly to the heart and brain what oil is to a car’s engine. Indeed, there’s a medical adage that goes “hypoxia (becoming dangerously low on oxygen) not only stops the motor, but also wrecks the engine.” Therefore, asking how one can play safely with breath control is very similar to asking how one can drive a car safely while draining it of oil.
Some people tell the “mechanics” something like, “Well, I’m going to drain my car of oil anyway, and I’m not going to keep track of how low the oil level is getting while I’m driving my car, so tell me how to do this with as much safety as possible.” (They may even add something like “Hey, I always shut the engine off before it catches fire.”) They then get frustrated when the mechanics scratch their heads and say that they don’t know. They may even label such mechanics as “anti-education.”
A bit about my background may help explain my concerns. I was an ambulance crewman for over eight years. I attended medical school for three years, and passed my four-year boards, but then then ran out of money. I am a former member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a former American Heart Association instructor in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. I have an extensive martial arts background that includes a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. My martial arts training included several months of judo that involved both my choking and being choked.
I have been an instructor in first aid, CPR, and various advanced emergency care techniques for over sixteen years. My students have included physicians, nurses, paramedics, police officers, fire fighters, wilderness emergency personnel, martial artists, and large numbers of ordinary citizens. I currently offer both basic and advanced first aid and CPR training to the S/M community.
During my ambulance days, I responded to at least one call involving the death of a young teenage boy who died from autoerotic strangulation, and to several other calls where this was suspected but could not be confirmed. Family members often “sanitize” such scenes before calling 911.
Additionally, I personally know two members of my local S/M community who went to prison after their partners died during breath control play. The primary danger of suffocation play is that it is not a condition that gets worse over time (regarding the heart, anyway, it does get worse over time regarding the brain). Rather, what happens is that the more the play is prolonged, the greater the odds that a cardiac arrest will occur. Sometimes even one minute of suffocation can cause this; other times even less.

Quick pathophysiology lesson # 1

When the heart gets low on oxygen, it starts to fire off “extra” pacemaker sites. These usually appear in the ventricles and are thus called premature ventricular contractions — PVC’s for short. If a PVC happens to fire off during the electrical repolarization phase of cardiac contraction (the dreaded “PVC on T” phenomenon, also sometimes called “R on T”) it can kick the heart over into ventricular fibrillation — a form of cardiac arrest. The lower the heart gets on oxygen, the more PVC’s it generates, and the more vulnerable to their effect it becomes, thus hypoxia increases both the probability of a PVC-on-T occurring and of its causing a cardiac arrest.
When this will happen to a particular person in a particular session is simply not predictable. This is exactly where most of the medical people I have discussed this topic with “hit the wall.” Virtually all medical folks know that PVC’s are both life-threatening and hard to detect unless the patient is hooked to a cardiac monitor. When medical folks discuss breath control play, the question quickly becomes: How can you tell when they start throwing PVC’s? The answer is: You basically can’t.

Quick pathophysiology lesson # 2

When breathing is restricted, the body cannot eliminate carbon dioxide as it should, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood increases. Carbon dioxide (CO2)* and water (H2O)* exist in equilibrium with what’s called carbonic acid (H2CO3)* in a reaction catalyzed by an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase.
*Sorry, but I can’t do subscripts in this program.
Thus: CO2 + H2O = H2CO3
A molecule of carbonic acid dissociates on its own into a molecule of what’s called bicarbonate (HCO3-) and an (acidic) hydrogen ion. (H+) Thus: H2CO3 = HCO3- and H+ Thus the overall pattern is: H2O + CO2 = H2CO3 = HCO3- + H+
Therefore, if breathing is restricted, CO2 builds up, and the reaction shifts to the right in an attempt to balance things out, ultimately making the blood more acidic and thus decreasing its pH. This is called respiratory acidosis. If the patient hyperventilates, they “blow off CO2” and the reaction shifts to the left, thus increasing the pH. This is called respiratory alkalosis, and has its own dangers.

Quick pathophysiology lesson # 3

Again, if breathing is restricted, not only does carbon dioxide have a hard time getting out, but oxygen also has a hard time getting in. A molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) breaks down within the cell by a process called glycolysis into two molecules of pyruvate, thus creating a small amount of ATP for the body to use as energy. Under normal circumstances, pyruvate quickly combines with oxygen to produce a much larger amount of ATP. However, if there’s not enough oxygen to properly metabolize the pyruvate, it is converted into lactic acid and produces one form of what’s called a metabolic acidosis.
As you can see, either a build-up in the blood of carbon dioxide or a decrease in the blood of oxygen will cause the pH of the blood to fall. If both occur at the same time, as they do in cases of suffocation, the pH of the blood will plummet to life-threatening levels within a very few minutes. The pH of normal human blood is in the 7.35-7.45 range (slightly alkaline). A pH falling to 6.9 (or raising to 7.8) is “incompatible with life.”
Past experience, either with others or with that same person, is not particularly useful. Carefully watching their level of consciousness, skin color, and pulse rate is of only limited value. Even hooking the bottom up to both a pulse oximeter and a cardiac monitor (assuming you had either piece of equipment, and they’re not cheap) would be of only limited additional value.
While an experienced clinician can sometimes detect PVC’s by feeling the patient’s pulse, in reality the only reliable way to detect them is to hook the patient up to a cardiac monitor. The problem is that each PVC is potentially lethal, particularly if the heart is low on oxygen. Even if you “ease up” on the bottom immediately, there’s no telling when the PVC’s will stop. They could stop almost at once, or they could continue for hours.
In addition to the primary danger of cardiac arrest, there is good evidence to document that there is a very real risk of cumulative brain damage if the practice is repeated often enough. In particular, laboratory studies of repeated brief interruption of blood flow to the brains of animals and studies of people with what’s called sleep apnea in which they stop breathing for up to two minutes while sleeping document that cumulative brain damage does occur in such cases.
There are many documented additional dangers. These include, but are not limited to: rupture of the windpipe, fracture of the larynx, damage to the blood vessels in the neck, dislodging a fatty plaque in a neck artery which then travels to the brain and causes a stroke, damage to the cervical spine, seizures, airway obstruction by the tongue, and aspiration of vomitus. Additionally, there are documented cases in which the recipient appeared to fully recover but was found dead several hours later.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates a death rate from this practice of one person per year per million of population — thus about 250 deaths last year in the U.S. Law enforcement estimates go as much as four times higher. Most such deaths occur during solo play, however there are many documented cases of deaths that occurred during play with a partner. It should be noted that the presence of a partner does nothing to limit the primary danger and does little or nothing to limit most of the secondary dangers.
Some people teach that choking can be safely done if pressure on the windpipe is avoided. Their belief is that pressing on the arteries leading to the brain while avoiding pressure on the windpipe can safely cause unconsciousness. The reality, unfortunately, is that pressing on the carotid arteries, exactly as they recommend, presses on baroreceptors known as the carotid sinus bodies. These bodies then cause vasodilation in the brain, thus there is not enough blood to perfuse the brain and the recipient loses consciousness.
However, that’s not the whole story. Unfortunately, a message is also sent to the main pacemaker of the heart, via the vagus nerve, to decrease the rate and force of the heartbeat. Most of the time, under strong vagal influence, the rate and force of the heartbeat decreases by one third. However, every now and then, the rate and force decreases to zero and the bottom “flatlines” into asystole — another, and more difficult to treat, form of cardiac arrest. There is no way to tell whether or not this will happen in any particular instance or how quickly. There are many documented cases of as little as five seconds of choking causing a vagal-outflow-induced cardiac arrest.
For the reason cited above, many police departments have now either entirely banned the use of chokeholds or have reclassified them as a form of deadly force. Indeed, a local CHP officer recently had a $250,000 judgment brought against him after a nonviolent suspect died while being choked by him. Finally, as a CPR instructor myself, I want to caution that knowing CPR does little to make the risk of death from breath control play significantly smaller. While CPR can and should be done, understand that the probability of success is likely to be less than 10%.
I’m not going to state that breath control is something that nobody should ever do under any circumstances. I have no problem with informed, freely consenting people taking any degree of risk they wish. I am going to state that there is a great deal of ignorance regarding what actually happens to a body when it’s suffocated or strangled, and that the actual degree of risk associated with these practices is far greater than most people believe.
I have noticed that when people are educated regarding the severity and unpredictability of the risks, fewer and fewer choose to play in this area, and those who do continue tend to play less often. I also notice that, because of its severe and unpredictable risks, more and more S/M party-givers are banning any form of breath control play at their events.
If you’d like to look into this matter further, here are some references to get you started:
Emergency Care in the Streets by Nancy Caroline, M.D. (I’d recommend starting here.)
Medical Physiology by A.C. Guyton, MD
The Pathologic Basis of Disease by Robbins, MD
Textbook of Advanced Cardiac Life Support by American Heart Association
The Physiology Coloring Book by Kapit, Macey, and Meisami
Forensic Pathology by DeMaio and Demaio
Autoerotic Fatalities by Hazelwood
Melloni’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary by Dox, Melloni, and Eisner
People with questions or comments can contact me at www.jaywiseman.com or write to me at P.O. Box 1261, Berkeley, CA 94701.
Regards,
Jay Wiseman

Sapir Whorf Reversed

The Sapir Whorf Hypothesis is a very interesting hypothesis in Linguistics that states that the language you speak actually effects your brain, or at least the way you look at and see the world. Since its publication, the silly Linguistics profession has torn this fine hypothesis into a million pieces, but I still believe that there is something to it, and Everett’s very controversial work on the Piraha language in the Amazon seems to have revived Sapir-Whorf. At any rate, Benjamin Whorf was a very smart man.
How about if we reverse the hypothesis, and say that instead of language shaping the brain, the brain shapes language, even worse, that your genes in part determine what type of language you may speak. This is raw HBD stuff, so the ridiculous Linguistics profession is going to go insane with rage over this, but it seems there is something to it.
Tone languages and genes.
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"The Noise in Their Heads," by Alpha Unit

It’s one of the most common disabilities among returning war veterans. Construction and factory workers often end up with it.
KT Tunstall got it in 2008 by sitting too close to the speakers at a concert.
Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas has it. He says he doesn’t know what silence sounds like any more, and that music is the only thing that eases it.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich developed it early in his career, when the loud noise from his shows would follow him offstage. It worsened over time. He’d get up in the middle of the night to turn off the TV, only to realize that the TV wasn’t on.
Other musicians reported to suffer from it include Al Di Meola, Jeff Beck, Danny Elfman, and Andy Partridge.
All of these people and millions more suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing or buzzing sound in the ear. There is really no way to treat it so far. Different people describe it different ways: ringing, hissing, whooshing, roaring, buzzing, crickets, screeching – even music. It can be intermittent or constant. In one ear, or both ears – or even throughout the entire head. From soft to extremely loud.
Some people suffer from it so badly they can’t work. One retired firefighter told The San Francisco Chronicle that his tinnitus made him suicidal at one point. He says it’s like hearing a “high-voltage electrical buzzing” in his head all the time. Erin Allday, reporting on findings by UC Berkeley scientists, writes:

Doctors have known for several years that the cause of tinnitus is not in the ear alone, but in the brain. In research released last week, the UC Berkeley team found that tinnitus may be similar to the “phantom limb” syndrome that amputees sometimes experience – neurons continue firing in parts of the brain associated with hearing, even though they’re getting no input from the ear.

Shaowen Bao of UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute suggests that exposing tinnitus patients to frequencies near the ones they are no longer able to hear might coax neurons to accept input from frequencies similar to ones they lost – remapping the brain, so to speak, and providing relief.
Drugs might also be helpful in preventing the neurons from constantly firing, but it doesn’t appear to be a good idea so far, since the drugs have serious side effects, including blindness.
But these research findings out of UC Berkeley are some of the most promising to date for effective treatment of tinnitus, which can be debilitating for some of the people suffering from it. Michael Merzenich, professor of otolaryngology at UC San Francisco, has been studying brain remapping for years, and says that several patients reported improvement for tinnitus after their brains were retrained – and this was even before Bao and his colleagues reported their findings.

“The Noise in Their Heads,” by Alpha Unit

It’s one of the most common disabilities among returning war veterans. Construction and factory workers often end up with it.

KT Tunstall got it in 2008 by sitting too close to the speakers at a concert.

Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas has it. He says he doesn’t know what silence sounds like any more, and that music is the only thing that eases it.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich developed it early in his career, when the loud noise from his shows would follow him offstage. It worsened over time. He’d get up in the middle of the night to turn off the TV, only to realize that the TV wasn’t on.

Other musicians reported to suffer from it include Al Di Meola, Jeff Beck, Danny Elfman, and Andy Partridge.

All of these people and millions more suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing or buzzing sound in the ear. There is really no way to treat it so far. Different people describe it different ways: ringing, hissing, whooshing, roaring, buzzing, crickets, screeching – even music. It can be intermittent or constant. In one ear, or both ears – or even throughout the entire head. From soft to extremely loud.

Some people suffer from it so badly they can’t work. One retired firefighter told The San Francisco Chronicle that his tinnitus made him suicidal at one point. He says it’s like hearing a “high-voltage electrical buzzing” in his head all the time. Erin Allday, reporting on findings by UC Berkeley scientists, writes:

Doctors have known for several years that the cause of tinnitus is not in the ear alone, but in the brain. In research released last week, the UC Berkeley team found that tinnitus may be similar to the “phantom limb” syndrome that amputees sometimes experience – neurons continue firing in parts of the brain associated with hearing, even though they’re getting no input from the ear.

Shaowen Bao of UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute suggests that exposing tinnitus patients to frequencies near the ones they are no longer able to hear might coax neurons to accept input from frequencies similar to ones they lost – remapping the brain, so to speak, and providing relief.

Drugs might also be helpful in preventing the neurons from constantly firing, but it doesn’t appear to be a good idea so far, since the drugs have serious side effects, including blindness.

But these research findings out of UC Berkeley are some of the most promising to date for effective treatment of tinnitus, which can be debilitating for some of the people suffering from it. Michael Merzenich, professor of otolaryngology at UC San Francisco, has been studying brain remapping for years, and says that several patients reported improvement for tinnitus after their brains were retrained – and this was even before Bao and his colleagues reported their findings.

High-nutrient Diet Causes 8 point IQ Gain

Repost from the old site.
In a a truly amazing study, Pediatrics notes that premature infants fed a high nutrient diet for only one month after birth showed an increase of 8 IQ points, in males only and only on verbal IQ, at the late age of 16. Further, there were actual significant increases in the volume of a brain structure called the caudate, values which were associated with the verbal score increases.
The regimen was not specified, but was only identified as moderately higher protein and calories and more micronutrients (presumably on the order of a Once a Day type multivitamin of the sort that science insists is absolutely useless).
Blacks have a very high rate of premature infants, and it may be genetic. Although this regimen would not benefit Black females, they already have a higher IQ anyway. Black female IQ (=87) is higher than Black male IQ (=83) at adulthood. I cannot think of any possible genetic reasons for Black females to be smarter than Black males.
But if you go into schools in the ghetto, the honor roll will be almost all Black females, with scarcely a Black male in sight. In 1990, I taught school at Compton High School in Compton, California. I had a Chemistry class filled with almost exclusively Black females. They were calm and well-behaved. This is in part because after Grade 10, even terrible Black ghetto schools improve incredibly.
In most cases, there is still an utter and absolute refusal to learn anything, but at least they are good-natured about it.
You sit there in your teacher’s chair all hour and give them an assignment that the whole class refuses to do, laughing all the time. This is known as a joke. You fight them for a bit, then you give up and just get in on the joke. You sit there and read a book all hour while everyone laughs and jokes and has a good time.
This is best because this way the mostly-Black class is almost completely warm, pleasant, friendly, and well-behaved. By 11th grade, except in the most horrible heart of the ghetto, the bad ones are all long-since dropped out, dead or in jail or juvey. They’re just gone, and that’s all that matters. There are Samoans there too, but they don’t want to learn either. The school Administration is just trying to survive.
The cute Black girls, 18 year old seniors, come up to the teacher, sit down next to his desk, and ask how old he is. Informed, they say they have been looking for a boyfriend right around that age, and they write their phone numbers down and give it to the teacher “accidentally”. Teacher contemplates whether or not to call the number when he is home alone after work. If he does, his credential is pulled, if not, nothing lost.
Anyway, the all-girls Chemistry class at Compton High was a good bunch of girls. They informed that they were all in gangs, but that just means if you are in a Crip neighborhood, everyone there claims Crip so as not to be killed, and also to root for the hometown. As these days I actually claim Norteno for similar reasons, I can relate.
The girls are bright, quiet, polite and hard-working. All of the crappy lies you had about Blacks are getting blown away every minute you teach these Compton High Chemistry class girls.
These days, at age 16, the US Black IQ is 88.4. The US female Black IQ at age 16 must be 90.4, and the Black male IQ must be 86.4. With a rise of 8 points in verbal in those males who were preemies, their full-scale IQ’s would go up by 4 points, since there is no effect on performance IQ. Blacks are better in verbal than on performance IQ anyway.
The Black male IQ of the ex-preemies would be 90.4 at age 16, the same as Black females of that age. With time, the Black female IQ will decline at age 24 to 87. It is unknown if these supplemented Black males will also decline to age 24, but normally Black males would lose 3 IQ points from age 16 to age 24.
Even if this still occurred, Black male IQ in the supplemented males would decline to 87.4 at age 24. Not exactly the greatest thing in the world, but as an IQ fetishist, let us now praise not only great rises, but mild ones too. I suggest that a rise in Black male IQ from 83.5 to 87.4 at age 24, 3.9 IQ points, would hold some real and significant consequences for those males who benefited.

Facts and Nonsense About the Brain

Repost from the old site.
Like most things, there is much nonsense spoken about our brains. Our brains are very interesting to us, even to stupid people, because we use them to think. Yes, even dumb people do use their brains to think. We don’t really understand how our brains work, so some of us try to sound smart by pontificating about our mysterious brains.
Here are some widespread myths about our brains:
We only use [choose one: 10%, 20%] of our brains. This silly statement makes us feel good, because it suggests that if we really try hard, we can use 30 or 40% of our brains and make more money or get laid more or dazzle folks with our wit, or this or that. Problem is that no neurologist will agree with this statement, and no one quite knows even where it came from.
It’s one of those feel-good statements that is complete nonsense. We use all of our brains. Even total idiots are using all of their brains most of the time, strange as it may seem.
There are parts of the brain that are emotional and parts of the brain that are dedicated to cognition. This one is not nearly as silly as the first one, but it’s still not true. I know this because 15 years ago I was acquainted with a neuropsychologist. He did various sorts of cognitive testing, and he also worked with people with various forms of brain damage.
He was also a strange guy, but he was nice enough, and he did have a PhD. I assumed that getting the PhD had probably driven him partly crazy, and he was neurotic as a result. He informed me that there were no emotional or thinking parts of the brain. He said that all of the brain engages in both thinking and emotion.
Sure, some parts, like the amygdala, are more dedicated to emotion and other parts, like the prefrontal cortex, are more dedicated to thinking, but all the parts do both.
Every drink (or joint) kills a few brain cells. I can’t believe even physicians tell me this crap. It’s nonsense. Yes, alcohol is one of the few drugs that actually kills brain cells, but you have to drink alcoholic-style for years before it happens. Cannabis, like many drugs, does not kill brain cells at any dose. Unfortunately, drugs don’t need to kill cells to mess up your brain. They can damage cells and destroy connections between cells.
Male brains are better at math and science than female brains. Actually, they start out the same, but worldwide studies show that at about age 13, when massive male hormones kick in, males all over the world start to surpass females.
A personal observation is that females who do well at these subjects are more likely to be more masculine (not necessarily lesbian) than other women. The President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, was recently massacred for stating this obvious fact.
Female brains are better at verbal than male brains. Apparently the case, though there are arguments about which type of verbal we are talking about. If you think about it, there are evolutionary reasons why females would end up better at verbal (needed to raise young kids) and males are better at visuospatial (needed for hunting).
There are some more facts about the brain that you may find interesting.
We have a maximum number of brain cells at age 23, and after that, there is a steady decline. This is correlated with what is known as fluid IQ, a rough measure of brain efficiency. This is why mathematicians, physicists, novelists, poets, songwriters, musicians, artists and others like them tend to do their best work when they are still pretty young.
On the other hand, only an insane person would put the 18-22 year olds in charge of a country. This group has never been put in charge of anything in any society, with good reason. Their brains are going like gangbusters, but they don’t have any sense.
They think they know everything, but they don’t know shit. They are supremely self-confident, and they have not even reached the stage of self-doubt.
Other than passing their classes, they are contemptuous of learning and knowledge in general and never admit there is anything they don’t know. If they can’t figure it out, it’s worthless. This age group is a prime example of the notion that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
They have a grotesquely poor understanding of their fellow man, and they are horribly intolerant. Also, they are very much group-thinkers who are terrified to defy group-think and peer pressure.
If we put them in charge, it would be a nightmare. They would hold public executions and would probably torture people in public. There would be stupid wars all the time. Everything would be legal, and no one would care. There would be private armies all over the place and probably some form of fascism would be the flavor of the day.
We occasionally put them in charge of some stuff, like being Presidents of fraternities, but often they even fuck that up.
Mind you, I was an 18-22 year old too, and those were the best days of my life. I remember myself as being supremely mature and with-it, but I assume I had my head up my ass like the rest of them.
Yes, the brain declines with age, but wisdom is good. The crystallized intelligence of age does have advantages over the rarely-used super-brains of the young. Our brains are slower, but with the gifts and harsh lessons of time, we are vastly superior at making decisions.
Any tribe or civilization of any worth always put middle-aged to old guys in charge and revered its elders. We are cautious and careful, and we already did most of the dumb things there are to do, and we are not likely to do them again.
Crystallized intelligence is more or less the stuff you know. As you age, you accumulate knowledge and theoretically wisdom. You don’t get a hardon with every passing breeze, but you’re much less likely to do stupid shit. It’s called a trade-off.
A process called pruning occurs in which there is actually a massive loss of brain cells and connections. Most folks do not know this, but there is a massive overgrowth of brain cells in childhood. At adolescence, the brain decides to clear out all those stupid dirt roads that don’t go much of anywhere and make some superhighways instead. The result is like pruning a tree, and the brain works much better as a result.
There is quite a bit of loss of brain structure in the process, but it’s all good in the end. In fact, pruning is an essential process for the adolescent brain. If you observe most adolescents, it would not seem controversial that they are experiencing massive loss of brain structure, but a lot of folks still refuse to believe this.
There is a window in the brain for language that starts to close at about age 7. If you wait until later, you never really get language right. We have folks born deaf who got hearing at age 33 and have still never picked up language right. You can learn a foreign language in adulthood, but you will always have an accent, and you will never get 100% native speaker competence.
There is a blind cave fish that has a window for sight. If it is exposed to light before a certain age, it can see. If not, it just figures there is no light down in this cave, so it just goes blind and turns the visual portion of the brain over to something else. The brain seems to open up windows, so to speak.
The brain opens a language window that says, “Any language here?” as it waits for input. If there is no input, the brain just closes the window, figures there is no language coming, and turns the area over to something else.
The brain is plastic. That does not mean it is made out of polyurethane. It just means that it is smart. For instance, if one part gets damaged, your brain will try to reroute connections around the damaged area. Also, other areas of the brain will try to take over for the damaged area. Brains are smart! They actually think about how to fix up messed up brains! Cool!

Psilocybin Doesn't Cause Brain Damage

Repost from the old site.
Told you so.
Hell, I’ve only taken it, what, 30 times or so? It never fried me, or at least I don’t think so. I never noticed any long-lasting harm after taking this drug. One time, I had bright colors for about six months after I took it. Another time, I got depressed and sat around alone on Saturday night feeling sorry for myself. Next morning, I woke up and was not depressed anymore.
One time, I took some, got in my car, and drove from Los Angeles to the Owens Valley, then turned around and drove home again. I think the whole trip took me about 12-14 hours. You can drive great on the stuff if you have a nice, clear, open road in front of you, and the towering Sierra Nevada sure looks great when you are frying. Plus, the stuff keeps you awake for many hours somehow.
I used to sell these mushrooms, and boy was it fun. I was a student, a schoolteacher, a paralegal and a drug dealer. I would sell quarter pounds and pounds and make insane profits like $300 for an hour’s work or so. Plus you get to feel like a spy and feel some real terror when you carry the dope around and do the deal itself.
You get to drive past lots of cops with a car full of dope that could send you to jail for a long time. You look at the cops and just drive right on by like nothing is happening. You carry the dope in a briefcase and dress up like an office worker, or you carry it in an athletic bag and dress up like you’re going to gym.
There’s nothing like the rush you get being out in public with a car full of felonious dope or a wallet full of tainted drug money.
My friends and I dealt dope in the smart way, and most of us never got caught. We were not all totally White, but most of us were raised in a mostly-White beach town. We dressed up like college kids, office workers, gym enthusiasts, and conformed to White middle class society in every way.
Yet we sold dope right in front of the cops and society’s noses for years for years and never got caught. There’s a luscious feeling in that.
A friend of mine made so much money selling coke that he bought two homes in San Fransisco, one to store the coke and another to live in. He was so hot I didn’t dare even look him up. You don’t even want to hang around some super-dealer like that.
I just checked him out and he’s resurfaced in Southern California, fit, healthy and fifty, selling real estate. A survivor. I guess he never got caught either. Even my Mom shakes her head in admiration of him. White society always respects someone who can outsmart the cops in a not-too-evil way. Why? It places a premium on not being stupid, and not being caught.
I often wonder if other ethnics share this value.
Sometimes I think that these young Blacks and Hispanics nowadays place a premium on getting caught, and therefore being a moron. This I will never understand.
These Hispanic kids around here are the biggest idiots on Earth. They do dope deals, albeit for small amounts of pot, right out in the open in front of everyone. They seem to take special delight in doing an obvious drug deal right out where anyone can see it happen. I guess it’s a macho thing.
White middle class me says it’s not a macho thing, it’s a stupid thing. No wonder they are always getting hauled in on dope-selling charges. They dress up like gangsters and criminals and then wonder why they get stopped by the cops. Duh.
There really is an art to being a criminal.
All in all, psilocybin is a fun drug. You keep hearing horror stories about this stuff, about people who took too much of it and are mentally ill, or people who took too much and are fried in some way or another. Problem is that there is not the tiniest evidence that this stuff damages your brain, unlike almost other drugs of abuse. Yes, the drugs that make you feel the most insane of all do not do the slightest harm to your brain in any way.
All those stories floating around about people taking too much hallucinogens need to be taken with a grain of salt. If it’s harmless to the brain, how is it supposed to create fried-out acidheads? Answer: it’s can’t.
I’m not saying take them every weekend. I haven’t taken the stuff in about 23 years, and I’m not sure if I will ever take it again.
Taking these kinds of drugs is one of the most bizarre experiences that one can have on this Earth, though, and you can have some really terrifying bad trips. Psychological harm can occur from traumatic experiences.
By the way, it’s not harmful to any other organ in your body either. Plus there are long-lasting positive effects, apparently.
On the other hand, this drug can cause HPPD , so I’d advise against taking it. I have HPPD, but I only have bright colors, and it’s really not so bad. You’re living in a Technicolor world, and if you just accept it, the world looks a lot better this way.

Cannabis, Teens and Schizophrenia

Repost from the old site.
I received a mail today from someone who attended an interesting conference in the Midwest.
At a Mental Illness and Criminal Justice Conference today in Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Frederick Frese, who is the Coordinator of the Summit County Recovery Project and Assistant Prof of Psychology in Clinical Psychology at NEOUCOM and Case Western Reserve U, and on the Board of Trustees for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, gave a session on teenage cannabis use and schizophrenia.
He has been a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic for 40 years.
Frese stated that use of cannabis between the ages of 15 and 18 in persons who have a variant allele of the COMT gene will lead to an almost certain psychotic break by the age of 25. He said it’s because of the formative time that the brain is in during those years, in combination with that certain allele, together with cannabis use.
He said that if you have do not have the variant allele, no problem. Frese is so concerned about this that he and his team are going to start setting up genetic testing booths for kids at rock concerts because of the very real danger that the studies show exist.
I applaud Dr. Frese for the very real efforts he is taking to try to prevent schizophrenia in vulnerable youth.
I am dubious about how many kids this will save. The rate of schizophrenia has not gone up since the cannabis era began. This suggests that use of cannabis if anything will cause schizophrenia to occur sooner than it would otherwise occur, and it would occur anyway, just later.
The number of folks with this variant allele is high in absolute numbers, and many of them use MJ and don’t get schizophrenia. But it does cause a 10 times elevated risk. I think that Frese is wrong to say that it’s almost certain that these kids will get schizophrenia by 25 after smoking one jay between ages 15-18.
As I’ve said before on this blog, I have known 1000’s of cannabis users over my lifetime, many heavy users. The number who went on develop schizophrenia? Zero. This is why this whole subject makes me yawn.
I wish Frese good luck with his experiment though. Ideally, we could construct a good experiment this way. We could follow kids with the variant allele who wait til 19 to start MJ (Is this protective?) or avoid it period, with another group who did not avoid cannabis and see how many of each develop schiz and at what ages.
Tell the truth, I am quite concerned about use of cannabis by minors. I wish they would not do it. Period. Wait til you’re an adult!
I have OCD (another, though vastly less devastating, mental illness), and I have found that cannabis is actually a superb psychiatric drug for this illness. It works better than almost any med I have ever taken for this (The drugs work great at high doses, but nuke my sex drive, so what good are they?), and I have suffered for 26 yrs.
No clinician believes me when I tell them this; all insist that pot makes you mentally ill or worsens all mental illness or caused my problem in the first place (The gall of them!?), and all try to steer me to drug treatment or drug counseling when I tell them I use. I’m really getting tired of this shit. I’m 50 years old, and I’m being treated like a child.
I have some opinions about the mental health profession, but in general they are extremely low. For such a bunch of super-smart people, there sure is a lot of bullshit groupthink, scaredy-cat thinking and just general lack of an empirical outlook.

Cannabis Is Good For You

Repost from the old site.
Well, not necessarily in general, but if you are a regular methamphetamine user, there is a suggestion that you get less, not more, brain damage, or cognitive impairment (whichever it was) if you concurrently use cannabis than if you use methamphetamine only. The fact that there is a drug that gets you high that might actually be protective of brain damage in some cases is downright fascinating.
Keep in mind that this study found only a trend, and did not prove that cannabis protected against the damage caused by meth use. However, if you read the study, there was a linear trend that showed that the meth + cannabis users had scores intermediate to the controls (no drugs) and meth only groups.
The meth only group scored worst, the controls scored best, and there was a trend for the meth + cannabis group to score intermediate. The trend was not significant enough at the .05 level to be probative, but there was a suggestive trend towards better scores if meth users used cannabis also.
What was found was only cognitive impairment, or worse scores on a test, but with meth use, at some level, say 1/2 gram a day for 1 1/2 years, there is definitely brain damage, and it does not completely clear up with abstention.
There is anecdotal evidence for permanent damage after only 2-3 weeks of very heavy use, but it’s not proven. We don’t yet know when structural damage to the brain due to meth use begins. Meth can probably be used up to a dozen times or so in a lifetime with no problems, but after that, all bets are off.
If anyone has some good data on meth and brain damage, please comment or email me the links.

Those Brainy Asiatics

Wow.
Breathtaking snippet:

Even more strikingly, Dr. Williamson’s group reported that a version of a gene called DAB1 had become universal in Chinese but not in other populations. DAB1 is involved in organizing the layers of cells in the cerebral cortex, the site of higher cognitive functions

Damn.

Latest Scary Marijuana-Brain Damage Study

Repost from the old site.

A new study of cannabis and brain damage is continuing to get a lot of publicity.

Study Strengthens Marijuana Brain Damage Case is the title of the accompanying headline.

Marijuana users who had smoked more than 5 joints a day (average of 11 joints a day) for more than 10 years (average use of 20 years) were tested.

They found that there was shrinkage in the amygdala and the hippocampus related to how much cannabis the person used.

The shrinkage was not large in either structure. The damage is described as “equivalent to mild traumatic brain injury or premature aging.” The article:

Doctors have known for years there is nothing “soft” about the drug cannabis. Professor Jon Currie is the director of addiction medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.”This is a very exciting study because it proves for the first time what we have been really worried out. That brain problems are real and that people who smoke cannabis over a long term do get problems.” he said.

It’s also equivalent to drinking over 2 drinks per day. It’s equivalent to severe stress. It’s equivalent to having PTSD. It’s equivalent to all sorts of stuff.

This study was done by Nadia Solowij out of Australia. For whatever reason, every single study done by Solowij and colleagues seems to find pretty serious brain damage.

This study is pretty scary, but so far there have been four other studies of heavy cannabis users that did not find damage to the hippocampus or the amygdala.

An MRI study from 2005 of very heavy cannabis users who had used cannabis on average of 20,100 times found no damage to the hippocampus at all. A study of cannabis-using young adults from 2006 found no damage to the hippocampus, or to any other structure. And a third study also found no hippocampal damage .

The study of users from 2006 also found no damage to the amygdala. This study actually found that the hippocampus-amygdala was 5% larger in the cannabis users than in the non-users, but the difference was not thought to be significant.

So there you have it. There are some pretty scary new findings coming out about cannabis and damage to the limbic system, but things are still far from proven. The single study so hyped by the media nowadays has already been contradicted by four negative studies. You would think that the media might have noted that. You would think wrong.

The road forward? More studies, I guess. You could always try smoking less than five joints a day too, just to be on the safe side.

"Older Really Is Better," by Alpha Unit

When I was a kid, my idea of what it might feel like to be old had been captured in this Beatles song:

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Sixty-four was ages away in my mind. It was something my grandparents might have been. Whatever it was, it was old. You’d practically had it by then.
Sixty-four isn’t old. If you’re between 40 and 68, you’re doing better than you were twenty years ago.
The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain lays it all out.
Barbara Strauch, the author, explains that middle age is practically brand new in our species, a product of our increasing lifespan in the West. Scientists have only recently begun studying it.
Surely by the time you’re pushing fifty, it’s pretty much downhill from there, people might have once thought. It’s only a matter of time before parts of you are all used up, broken down, and ready to be replaced or given up on. Maybe not today or tomorrow – but the decline has set in, and there’s no turning back the clock.
Completely baseless, according to research cited in the book.
In middle age, your brain is actually still developing. In no way is it static or inevitably turning to mush.
Myelin is the fatty material that insulates nerve fibers. It increases the speed at which signals move around your neural network. Myelin levels actually increase the older you get. Its growth takes off in middle age.
Your brain is improving in other ways as well.
First, though, the big difference between your brain at 20 and your brain at, say, forty-five is processing speed. It’s slower, so you’re more easily distracted when your start to focus on something.
According to Strauch, processing speed mainly affects the beginning of your concentration on something. That’s why researchers recommend that you consciously focus at the very beginning when you set out to complete a task.
This slower processing speed, allowing for distraction, is how you end up in a room with no idea why you walked in.
Strauch says scientists used to think processing speed underpinned every aspect of brain functioning. But they now know it doesn’t. So the decline in processing speed doesn’t really matter that much in middle age.
There’s also no disputing the struggle with memory as you get older, particularly episodic memory and names.
What the author points out is that in spite of the fact that you’ve drawn a blank, those memories haven’t vanished. It’s just that your brain struggles now with requests for names and facts that it can’t associate with anything else.
It’s like trying to find the right book in a well-stocked library, says Strauch. It’s not a storage problem; it’s a retrieval problem.
Sound and meaning are stored in different parts of the brain, and over time, the link can decline. But these memories can pop up if someone gives you a hint.
To help yourself remember names as you get older, she says try to attach the name to something else. For example, when meeting Joe, who happens to have bushy eyebrows, giving him the name “Joe Bushy-Eyebrows” (in your mind, of course!) will help you remember his name. The simple word “Joe” might be too arbitrary for your brain to retrieve easily.
And to help yourself remember a task you need to do, she suggests imagining yourself doing it. This will create a neural footprint that will actually help trigger your memory.
Distraction and memory loss are common concerns the older you get, but what’s good is that they in no way signal any major loss of brain cells. Strauch says brains shrink about 2% per decade. The old idea that we lose 30% of our brain cells is completely wrong. You actually keep most of your brain cells.
What researchers will tell you is that since you keep these cells, there are ways to keep your brain running well.
The fact is that in middle age, entire areas of cognitive functioning are improving.

  1. Inductive reasoning is better than it was in your twenties.
  2. You are better at recognizing categories.
  3. You are better at sizing up situations.
  4. You are better at getting the gist of a matter.
  5. Your social expertise has never been better.

A sense of well-being peaks in middle age, across occupations and ethnic groups. Your brain is actually becoming less responsive to negative stimuli.
In all these areas, your brain is functioning at its best.
Over the years various “brain boosters” have been touted, but a couple of things have proven to be effective. One thing that’s good for your brain is being open to new ideas. Don’t shy away from confronting ideas that are different from your own. Talk with people you disagree with. These kinds of challenges sharpen brain functioning.
But the best thing you can do for your brain, by far, is exercise. According to researchers, anything that impacts your body impacts your brain. Your brain is like your heart; everything you do for your heart is just as beneficial to your brain.
Vigorous exercise increases brain volume and actually produces new brain cells. Cognitive functioning goes up.
All of this brings to mind more words from the Beatles:

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time…

References

Lennon, J. and McCartney, P. 1967. Getting Better [Recorded by the Beatles]. On Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Record]. London: Parlophone.
Lennon, J. and McCartney, P. 1967.  When I’m Sixty-Four [Recorded by the Beatles]. On Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Record]. London: Parlophone.
Strauch, Barbara. 2010. The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain. New York: Viking Press.

“Older Really Is Better,” by Alpha Unit

When I was a kid, my idea of what it might feel like to be old had been captured in this Beatles song:

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine,
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Sixty-four was ages away in my mind. It was something my grandparents might have been. Whatever it was, it was old. You’d practically had it by then.

Sixty-four isn’t old. If you’re between 40 and 68, you’re doing better than you were twenty years ago.

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain lays it all out.

Barbara Strauch, the author, explains that middle age is practically brand new in our species, a product of our increasing lifespan in the West. Scientists have only recently begun studying it.

Surely by the time you’re pushing fifty, it’s pretty much downhill from there, people might have once thought. It’s only a matter of time before parts of you are all used up, broken down, and ready to be replaced or given up on. Maybe not today or tomorrow – but the decline has set in, and there’s no turning back the clock.

Completely baseless, according to research cited in the book.

In middle age, your brain is actually still developing. In no way is it static or inevitably turning to mush.

Myelin is the fatty material that insulates nerve fibers. It increases the speed at which signals move around your neural network. Myelin levels actually increase the older you get. Its growth takes off in middle age.

Your brain is improving in other ways as well.

First, though, the big difference between your brain at 20 and your brain at, say, forty-five is processing speed. It’s slower, so you’re more easily distracted when your start to focus on something.

According to Strauch, processing speed mainly affects the beginning of your concentration on something. That’s why researchers recommend that you consciously focus at the very beginning when you set out to complete a task.

This slower processing speed, allowing for distraction, is how you end up in a room with no idea why you walked in.

Strauch says scientists used to think processing speed underpinned every aspect of brain functioning. But they now know it doesn’t. So the decline in processing speed doesn’t really matter that much in middle age.

There’s also no disputing the struggle with memory as you get older, particularly episodic memory and names.

What the author points out is that in spite of the fact that you’ve drawn a blank, those memories haven’t vanished. It’s just that your brain struggles now with requests for names and facts that it can’t associate with anything else.

It’s like trying to find the right book in a well-stocked library, says Strauch. It’s not a storage problem; it’s a retrieval problem.

Sound and meaning are stored in different parts of the brain, and over time, the link can decline. But these memories can pop up if someone gives you a hint.

To help yourself remember names as you get older, she says try to attach the name to something else. For example, when meeting Joe, who happens to have bushy eyebrows, giving him the name “Joe Bushy-Eyebrows” (in your mind, of course!) will help you remember his name. The simple word “Joe” might be too arbitrary for your brain to retrieve easily.

And to help yourself remember a task you need to do, she suggests imagining yourself doing it. This will create a neural footprint that will actually help trigger your memory.

Distraction and memory loss are common concerns the older you get, but what’s good is that they in no way signal any major loss of brain cells. Strauch says brains shrink about 2% per decade. The old idea that we lose 30% of our brain cells is completely wrong. You actually keep most of your brain cells.

What researchers will tell you is that since you keep these cells, there are ways to keep your brain running well.

The fact is that in middle age, entire areas of cognitive functioning are improving.

  1. Inductive reasoning is better than it was in your twenties.
  2. You are better at recognizing categories.
  3. You are better at sizing up situations.
  4. You are better at getting the gist of a matter.
  5. Your social expertise has never been better.

A sense of well-being peaks in middle age, across occupations and ethnic groups. Your brain is actually becoming less responsive to negative stimuli.

In all these areas, your brain is functioning at its best.

Over the years various “brain boosters” have been touted, but a couple of things have proven to be effective. One thing that’s good for your brain is being open to new ideas. Don’t shy away from confronting ideas that are different from your own. Talk with people you disagree with. These kinds of challenges sharpen brain functioning.

But the best thing you can do for your brain, by far, is exercise. According to researchers, anything that impacts your body impacts your brain. Your brain is like your heart; everything you do for your heart is just as beneficial to your brain.

Vigorous exercise increases brain volume and actually produces new brain cells. Cognitive functioning goes up.

All of this brings to mind more words from the Beatles:

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time…

References

Lennon, J. and McCartney, P. 1967. Getting Better [Recorded by the Beatles]. On Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Record]. London: Parlophone.

Lennon, J. and McCartney, P. 1967.  When I’m Sixty-Four [Recorded by the Beatles]. On Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Record]. London: Parlophone.

Strauch, Barbara. 2010. The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain. New York: Viking Press.

Cannabis Is Neuroprotective

A fascinating new study shows that cannabis offers some neuroprotection to young people who engaged in binge drinking episodes. The binge drinkers were young – aged 16-19. This is an age at which the effects of drugs on the brain may be particularly bad, since the brain is continuing to develop.

What was shocking was that binge drinking in adolescents caused the type and degree of damage that it did. Binge drinking caused actual losses of white matter in the brain, similar to the damage seen with drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

Briefly, white matter is the axons that connect brain cells to each other. Grey matter consists of the connections and also the cells themselves. So heavy drinking in adolescence causes actual damage to the connections between brain cells. That’s pretty serious stuff. It’s not known if the damage repairs later, or at all. However, connections between cells can grow back.

If the damage does not repair, then a Hell of a lot of adults are walking around with significant brain damage from binge drinking in adolescence. If this is the case, then clearly the brain can handle this sort of damage, since most such folks, assuming they are damaged in this way, are able to function well both cognitively and psychologically.

The study was fascinating because if the adolescents used cannabis in addition to binge drinking, the damage was notably less than if they binge drank alone. Therefore, cannabis use was somewhat neuroprotective to the brain in terms of the damage caused by binge drinking.

This does not mean that cannabis use is good for your brain, or that it does not damage the brain. But no study of cannabis use has ever found anything as dramatic as extensive white matter losses in the brain (that’s a pretty serious type of damage). So, if anything, binge drinking in adolescence (which many adolescents do) is remarkably worse for your brain than using cannabis in adolescence, which is an amazing thing to say right there.

But that’s not exactly what the anti-drug moralfags and fuckwits tell us, is it? In their view, binge drinking is a necessary evil, while cannabis use, especially in adolescence, is a moral and public health catastrophe. God, what a load of shit that is.

Does Marijuana Cause Brain Damage?

Repost from the old site.
Fortunately for users, many of the most worst accusations against marijuana have not yet panned out. One of the most frightening is the specter of permanent brain damage. For instance, according to this site, marijuana:

affects, alters, and damages brain cells controlling thinking, emotion, pleasure, coordination, mood and memory. The pituitary gland is also damaged, which regulates hunger, thirst, blood pressure, sexual behavior, and release of sex hormones.Marijuana accumulates in the microscopic spaces between nerve cells in the brain called “synapses.”
This clogging interferes by slowing and impairing transfer critical information. Long term use causes the brain to stop production of brain chemicals necessary to “feel good” – a negative feedback condition. And, the user becomes chemically addicted to marijuana.

These studies may be related to the famous Heath monkey studies done in the 1970’s. A recent attempt by William Slikker in Arkansas and Charles Rebert and Gordon Pryor of Stanford Research Institute to replicate Heath was not able to replicate any of his frightening findings. There was no brain damage whatsoever in Slikker’s and the SRI Group’s monkeys.
In the early 1990’s, I conducted interviews with both Rebert and Pryor about these studies. At one point in the interview, an exasperated Rebert said, “Forget it. Cannabis is not neurotoxic.” Pryor had no explanation for the discrepancy between his findings Heath’s.
There is no evidence that THC “accumulates in synaptic gaps and clogs them up.” There is also no evidence that marijuana causes the brain to “stop producing feel good chemicals.” I am not sure where they are getting that one from. Recent studies show no long-term changes in brain chemicals from marijuana use.
Neither is there any evidence that, in a broad sense, cannabis causes “…damages brain cells controlling thinking, emotion, pleasure, coordination, mood and memory.” There is a possibility that cannabis use may impair the brain’s ability to winnow out extraneous stimuli to focus on one thing, but this is not yet proven. Nor is there any evidence of damage to the pituitary gland.
This post in its original form was far too long. I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here.
For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Structural Evidence

Repost from the old site.
The original post in its native form was far too long, so I broke it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
The original post, what is left of it, is here.
For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users to determine brain damage, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here.
A major charge against cannabis is that it causes actual structural damage to the brain, that is, damage to the brain cells, axons and dendrites themselves. In this post, we will look at this charge. In other posts, we will look at other charges relating to cannabis and brain damage.
A frequent charge is that marijuana causes “changes to the hippocampus,” which may or may not be permanent.
A new study released in early June 2008 suggested that use of more than 5 joints/day for more than 10 years (average of 20 years) caused shrinkage of the hippocampus and the amygdala in the brain. The hippocampus of the cannabis users was 12% smaller, and the amygdala was 7.1% smaller. The cannabis users also did poorer on a word recall test.
Nadia Solowij of Australia was involved in this study, and her studies, for whatever reason, almost always find serious harm from cannabis, even at low doses (see below).
However, four other studies found no hippocampal damage from cannabis. An MRI study from 2005 of very heavy cannabis users who had used cannabis on average of 20,100 times found no damage to the hippocampus at all. A study of cannabis-using young adults from 2006 found no damage to the hippocampus, or to any other structure. And a third study also found no hippocampal damage .
The study of users from 2006 also found no damage to the amygdala. This study actually found that the hippocampus-amygdala was 5% larger in the cannabis users than in the non-users, but the difference was not thought to be significant.
For what it is worth, 15-18 year olds with alcohol abuse (extremely common at that age) and alcohol dependence also showed hippocampal shrinkage. Even chronic stress such as is seen in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder causes shrinkage of the hippocampus. Such shrinkage is also a completely normal part of aging for all humans, and probably becomes apparent first around age 40.
Another study released in March 2008 found that heavy cannabis use beginning in early adolescence caused loss of white matter in the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that separates the left from the right hemispheres. White matter is composed of the connections between neurons, or axons.
This alarming study implies loss of axons in the corpus callosum separating the prefrontal cortex in early adolescent heavy cannabis users. This adds to a body of damage suggesting the heavy cannabis use in adolescence, especially in early adolescence, may be particularly risky.
Yet another study found a marker for what they felt was a loss of axonal and neuronal integrity (this implies damage to brain cells and their connections) in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (perhaps the most highly evolved region of our brains) in recreational cannabis users.
Finally, a study found elevated nerve growth factor (NGF) blood concentrations in cannabis-using schizophrenics. This can be a marker for neuronal damage. The suggestion was that cannabis caused brain damage in schizophrenics who used it. How this relates to non-schizophrenics is uncertain.
However, another study showed a variety of differences in brain structure with heavy cannabis users.
Heavy cannabis users had less gray matter (brain cells) in the right parahippocampal gyrus and less white matter (axons) in the left parietal lobe.
However, they also had more gray matter (brain cells) near the precentral gyrus and the right thalamus and had more white matter (axons) in the left parahippocampal gyrus and the left fusiform gyrus. Only more grey matter (brain cells) in the left precentral gyrus was associated with duration of use.
This study is very confusing and implies that heavy cannabis use damages some parts of the brain while growing more cells and connections in other parts of the brain. Subjects had fewer brain cells in one region but more in two others. They also had fewer axons in one region and more in two others.
Another study found something similar – in this case they found fewer axons (white matter) in the left parietal lobe and increased axons around the left parahippocampal gyrus and left fusiform gyrus. Increased years of cannabis use was associated with increased axons in the left precentral gyrus. So, while one area appeared to be damaged, three other areas appeared to be improved by cannabis.
As might be expected, postmortem examination of the brains of cannabis users found down-regulation of cannabinoid receptors in various parts of the brain, including the caudate nucleus, the putamen, the accumbens nucleus, the globus pallidus, the ventral tegmental area and the substantia nigra pars reticulata. The effects of such down-regulation were not known.
One of the most frightening studies so far used DTI, a new method of looking at the brain that is better than MRI. This study found an altered development of the arcuate fasciculus in adolescent heavy cannabis users. This structure is a bundle of fibers connecting the Wernicke’s and Broca’s Areas of the brain, one involved in the production of language and the other involved in the reception of language.
Damage to the arcuate fasciculus is associated with a particular type of aphasia, Conduction Aphasia, where language can be produced and comprehended well, but if you say something to the sufferer, they cannot repeat what you just said. They also have a hard time reading aloud, transpose sounds and morphemes in words, and substitute phonemes with similar-sounding phonemes when they talk.
The arcuate fasiculus is still developing in early adolescence, but it is not known if it continues growing through late adolescence. In this study, lower volume was seen on the left side of the arcuate fasiculus in adolescent marijuana users.
The revelation of this damage is quite disturbing, but the significance of this altered development is not yet known. Surely cannabis users do not have conduction aphasia, the typical result of damage to this structure. But this study adds weight to evidence that people should at least wait until they are 18 to start using cannabis. Cannabis use by minors is not a good idea and needs to be discouraged.
Further studies using DTI have not found any abnormalities whatsoever in any part of the brains of adolescent heavy cannabis users. In fact, if anything, adolescent cannabis users tended to have larger brains, with more brain cells (white matter) than the controls. However, this study did not look specifically at the arcuate fasiculus.
That doesn’t mean that using cannabis in adolescence makes you smart, but it surely rules out significant global brain damage.
The damage to the arcuate fasciculus in this study is absurdly being played up as being evidence for cannabis causing schizophrenia, since this structure is also damaged, though more extensively, in schizophrenia.
There are serious problems with the notion that problems with this structure could cause schizophrenia, not to mention with the whole idea of cannabis causing schizophrenia. I deal with the question of whether or not cannabis causes schizophrenia here.
So at the moment, the issue of whether or not heavy cannabis use causes damage to either the hippocampus, the amygdala, the corpus callosum or the prefrontal cortex is up in the air.
There is one study suggesting damage to the amygdala, but another study found no amygdala damage. There is one study suggesting that cannabis damages the hippocampus, but three other studies found no damage.
There is one study suggesting damage to the corpus callosum in early adolescent cannabis users and another suggesting damage to brain cells and connections in the prefrontal cortex. Neither has been confirmed.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Neuropsychological Testing

Repost from the old site.
The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
The original post, what is left of it, is here.
For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here.
For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here.
One of the ways of determining brain damage from the use of drugs is to subject users to neuropsychological batteries. A neuropsychological battery is a test that is specifically designed to pick up brain damage. This post will deal with the results of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users.
Recent studies looking at various neuropsychological batteries have in general not shown any permanent brain damage from the long-term use of marijuana. According to Harrison Pope, a meta-analysis of such studies on long-term marijuana users found no brain damage in seven of the eight areas and only a small effect on the remaining area, learning.
Another meta-analysis of fifteen such studies of long-term users done by Igor Grant, who has been working in this area for a long time, concluded that marijuana did not cause brain damage. They did, however, find a “very small” impairment in learning and memory, but apparently did not feel it was significant enough to warrant being called brain damage.
A typical study, here, found deficits in current users, but none in former users, half of whom had been smoking 5 or more joints a week. The abstinence period was three months.
A study of male identical twins from the Vietnam Era, one of whom had formerly used marijuana and another of whom did not, found an absence of marked effects on cognition. A Canadian study found no permanent lowering of IQ scores in former heavy cannabis users.
Nevertheless, it also found that smoking more than 5 joints a week lowered one’s IQ by about 4.1 points. But smoking 3 joints a week or less raised IQ by 2-6 points, the same as abstaining from marijuana. The test measured IQ taken between ages 10-19, and the IQ rise was a consequence of going through adolescence.
Yet another study found that varying degrees of marijuana use from light to heavy did not accelerate cognitive decline in a group of 1200 persons of all ages. The only thing that did accelerate cognitive decline in this group was increasing age. Cognitive decline began as early as the 30’s and accelerated markedly in the 60’s.
Although permanent effects are dubious, there are residual effects for heavy users on memory, learning and recall. These effects are quite clear even 24 hours after use and in daily users, last, subtly, for up to a week after use and may be related more to a mild withdrawal syndrome, since they peak at about 3-5 days post-use. By one month post-use, though, these deficits are gone.
Therefore, chronic heavy users will always be somewhat impaired in these areas as long as they are using marijuana.
A 1995 study by Harrison Pope tested chronic heavy cannabis users against controls after one, seven and 28 days abstinence. Effects were seen at one and seven days, but after 28 days, there were virtually no differences between the groups.
This study shows that heavy long-term users will still be impaired even a week after their last joint. Yet it also shows that impairments are related more to recent use than to permanent damage.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: EEG Evidence

Repost from the old site.
The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
The original post, what is left of it, is here.
For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here.
For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here.
Struve et al conducted a study of the EEG’s of chronic heavy users and concluded that very long-term use was associated with changes in the EEG which he classified as “hyperfrontality of alpha waves”. Users who had used pot for 15-30 years had increases in the absolute power, relative power and coherence of their theta waves.
A new study by Struve shows that this effect lasts for 28 days after last use. One suggestion is that this change may be due to organic damage, since they also found slower reaction time. They also found neuropsychiatric deficits that persisted after one month abstinence.
Another study found decreases in alpha-2 and beta-2 waves on EEG, heart rate and even thyroid function. This study found these persisting after a month of abstinence. This indicates under-arousal of these bodily functions. The reduced heart rate, even though persistent, would seem to be a good thing. A more typical finding is increased alpha-2 waves in cannabis users. Alpha waves are associated with relaxation.
Solowij found abnormal event-related potentials in the area of the ability to focus on a task and screen out extraneous information. This effect began after five years of marijuana use, regardless of frequency, oddly enough, and increased with years of use. Alternatively, it also began after 50 uses over more than five years.
The problem appeared to be related to a de-coupling of a G-protein from the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, resulting in difficulty in screening out external stimuli. Solowij suggested that cannabis damages the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, causing those receptors to work less well.
Some call this the “cocktail party effect” – the ability, say, at a party, to talk to one person and screen out the conversations of twenty or so others around you. Rick Doblin’s MAPS criticized Solowij’s finding as useful only for

states of consciousness that are efficient for hive-insects who want or need to function within a Newtonian-Cartesian consumer capitalist society. Obviously, people deliberately smoke marijuana to achieve states of consciousness that fall outside of this paradigm.

Nevertheless, Solowij is finding a clear deficit in users, and Solowij’s study is one of the the most damning so far for marijuana users. Solowij also found some deficits in evoked potentials in the area of information processing, but these seemed to be temporary. As noted above, Solowij always finds serious problems with cannabis users in her studies.
However, a study by Patrick, et al found no differences in ERP’s after age and other factors were controlled for. Patrick was looking at visual, auditory and somato-sensory ERP’s.
The Missoula Chronic Clinical Cannabis Use Study said that Solowij’s results were on the P300 latency test, and that Patrick tested the P300 latency and found no problems, but Patrick had only four patients, although they had used for 11-27 years.
The Missoula study also said that the values for P300 in their subjects were normal. These two studies suggest that others have been unable to replicate Solowij’s work, but I do not know if either Patrick or the Missoula Group were trying to specifically replicate Solowij. So at the moment the EEG studies somewhat contradict the neuropsychiatric battery studies in that they may be finding some damage, whereas the batteries did not.
Another study found that cannabis users who had smoked an average of 1½ joints/day for an average of 7 years had altered auditory evoked-related potentials on EEG had lower EEG power and lower signal-to-noise ratios at 20Hz. This was interpreted as a deficit in neural synchronization and sensory processing.
Cannabis users also had elevated scores on a schizotypal personality disorder questionnaire that increased with years of cannabis use. The study attempted to link cannabis use to schizophrenia because schizophrenics show similar response on this ERP test.
However, in schizophrenia the effect shows up at 40hZ (gamma range), not at 20hZ (beta range). We cover the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia here on this blog.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Cerebral Blood Flow Findings

Repost from the old site.
The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
The original post, what is left of it, is here.
For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here.
For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here.
With the use of SPECT and MRI, we can now measure changes in blood flow in various parts of the brain. Permanent changes in blood flow, especially low blood flow, are said to be indicative of brain damage.
Recently, some new SPECT studies have come out of Britain, and were published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, appearing to show reduced CBF activity in certain areas of the brain with long-term heavy use of “skunk weed”, which is extremely potent marijuana. However, the part in the article where they talk about a user’s brain being “pitted and scarred” is nonsense. These are just areas of reduced activity.
One user was a 16-year-old who had smoked every day for two years, another an 18-year-old who had smoked several times a week for two years and the third was a 28-year-old who had smoked for 10 years.
Whether or not areas of reduced activity can be said to be “damaged” is an extremely difficult proposition to make. If the reduced activity is permanent, we can say that, but if it is temporary, it’s simply not “damage.”
A report also indicated that a similar study showed an effect even after one month post-use in teenagers.
Another study, this time using MRI to look at cerebral blood flow, actually found increased blood flow in the right frontal lobe, left temporal lobe and the cerebellum in chronic, long-term daily cannabis users. This means increased activity in these areas.
If the British study is being used to say that cannabis damages the brain on basis of low cerebral blood flow, then this study can be used to say that cannabis improves the brain based on cerebral blood flow. Furthermore, this study would seem to contradict the British study.
Yet another study concluded that very heavy cannabis use may be harmful, while more moderate or light use may be less deleterious. This study found that perfusion deficits in cerebrovascular flow attenuated in light to moderate users after one month’s absence, while persisting in heavy users. Moderate use was defined as 2.5-10 joints/day, while heavy use was defined as 11-50 joints/day.
This study completely contradicts the British study that got so much media attention.
The CBF findings may be related to dose. One study found an effect at 7.5 joints+/day, but found no effect at 5 joints/day or less. According to this study, it would be prudent to limit oneself to 5 joints a day or less.
The finding of this study, of reduced activity in the frontal cortex combined with increased activity in the cerebellum, is a fairly common one in recent studies. Rather than damage, this appears to be a neuroadaptation to the effects of cannabis use on the brain.
Yet another CBF study found changes in CBF in abstinent cannabis users on a stroop test. They found low CBF in the left perigenual anterior cingulate cortex and the left lateral prefrontal cortex and excessive flow in the hippocampus. The two regions with low blood flow are said to be involved in something called executive function, which I do not completely understand.
The cannabis users scored the same as controls on the stroop test, but they used a different brain style than the one people typically use to  complete the test. Since the scores were the same, the significance of this study is called into question.
There is an increasing body of literature showing that cannabis users utilize alternate brain networks than those normally employed, possibly to compensate for the effects of cannabis.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Summary

The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below.
The original post, what is left of it, is here.
For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here.
For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here.
For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here.
For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here.
For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here.
Original monkey and later rat studies indicating structural brain damage have generally not panned out when conducted in humans, but a recent study from 2008 found damage to the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus findings are contradicted by three earlier studies finding no damage, and the finding on the amygdala was contradicted by an earlier study.
Another study found damage to the corpus callosum in early adolescent users. And another found damaged axons and brain cells in the prefrontal cortex. These findings have not yet been replicated. Yet another study found damage to two areas but improvements in four other areas of the brain. The consequences of this are not known.
At the moment, whether or not cannabis causes structural damage or even improvements to the limbic system, corpus callosum, prefrontal cortex or other areas of the brain is somewhat up in the air.
Neuropsychological studies of long-term users have been somewhat contradictory, but in general have not found significant brain damage, although they did find a “very small effect” on learning and memory. Apparently they did not think it was significant enough to be called brain damage.
New studies show that chronic long-term users perform worse than controls in memory, learning and recall, and the effect worsens as use progresses. These effects last up to one week after the last use. Therefore, daily marijuana users are always going to be somewhat impaired in these areas.
Some EEG studies found some interesting changes in theta waves in users who had used heavily and daily for 15-30 years. The significance of these findings is not yet known; one suggestion that is that the increased theta may be indicative of organic damage. But here again we do not have any clinical correlates of the organic theta change either.
Even this study did not find permanent effects from sporadic or occasional use of marijuana.
Another found problems with screening out external stimuli after five years of use, but it is possible that two attempts to replicate that study may have failed.
A SPECT studies out of Britain showed low CBF in three heavy cannabis users. Another found that low CBF did not clear up in adolescent users even after one month. However, they have been contradicted by two other studies, one showing that the CBF deficits clear up after three months, and another showing increases in CBF as opposed to decreases.
A new study using DTI found damage to the left side of the arcuate fasiculus in adolescent heavy cannabis users. This is one of the most disturbing findings to date, and adds weight to evidence that cannabis should not be used by adolescents, since the arcuate fasiculus is still developing in early adolescence. Nevertheless, no clinical significance has yet been attached to this finding.
But another DTI study looking at the entire brain found no evidence of generalized damage, and if anything, found that teenage cannabis users have less brain atrophy and more brain cells than non-users. We would expect a clinical correlate of this to be more intelligent teenage potheads, but no one is suggesting that.
Unless clinical correlates can be discovered, all findings of damage or enhancement of the brain via marijuana should be viewed with a critical eye.
So the evidence on permanent brain damage from long-term heavy marijuana use is rather contradictory and is still somewhat up in the air.
It looks like cannabis can be used for up to five years, or possibly up to 15 years, even on a daily basis, without any permanent harm to the brain. Beyond that, there may effects, but they appear to be more subtle than profound.