Another Post about Drugs

“WASHINGTON — As of Monday, the Defense Department says it is conducting random urine testing for spice, an illegal synthetic marijuana-like drug. In the past, the service branches have done limited testing for spice, banned by federal law in 2012. But testing programs didn’t have the technical capability to cast a wide net for the drug, as they do for more familiar substances such as organic marijuana and cocaine.”

Source

It may seem like the topic of drugs interest me a lot, and it does because I enjoy reading about altered states of consciousness. I believe responsible activity by adults should never be outlawed or critiqued. Even moreso for people in the military. Military folks tend to be in highly stressful situations, often suffering from PTSD, and they are usually the first cut when things are being reduced. Testing for spice is so silly as the nature of it, that is a synthetic chemical that acts similar to cannabis, means it will just be modified and not be detectable.

Drug tests always bothered me because while I’ll test negative for everything (except probably dangerous levels of caffeine), it is essentially asking me to prove my innocence without really testing for much more harmful chemicals. With drug tests as they are, I can drink myself to cirrhosis every night of the week and smoke several packs that leave me cancer ridden and breathing with aid. I cannot smoke marijuana as it has an absurdly long life for testing. A drug that has never been linked to a single direct death and has been shown to reduce cancers among other benefits is a schedule 1 drug. It’s so silly that it’d be funny if it wasn’t for the people who go to jail for consuming the plant or the people who could really use the drug to have a better life. A very visible story of a little girl who had 300 seizures a day but the seizures stopped with cannabis shows that our concept of drugs is so horribly stupid and so obviously controlled by people who make money that it is more than a little sickening.

The silly thing about this policy change is it outlines the exact absurdity with drug policy. Spice was created because marijuana has such a long life in the body that it’s hard to get away with smoking it, so people turned to a very dangerous chemical that has been linked to seizures, vegetation, and death. Creating more policies won’t stop this sort of thing. Like I said, they’ll just change the compound enough to where the effects are the same, but the chemical is different, and people will be smoking something new in no time (if they aren’t already; I can never keep up with this sort of thing).

As states continue to defy the federal government, and countries defy the UN, and legalize weed, we’ll see a slow shift away from these draconian practices. Rather than banning substances and making choices for people, which ultimately lead to people breaking the law, trying these chemicals in less than clean manners, and getting hurt BECAUSE of the prohibition, we should focus on creating drug rehab facilities that are ran with tax dollars, rather than dumping billions every year on drug enforcement agencies. Addiction is a serious problem that does stop at drugs, but we are so fixated on that one idea that we ignore the far bigger problem.

Bang Zoom, straight to the moon, China

“China says it has successfully landed a craft carrying a robotic rover on the surface of the Moon, the first soft landing there for 37 years. On Saturday afternoon (GMT), a landing module used thrusters to touch down, marking the latest step in China’s ambitious space exploration programme.”

Source

China landing a rover on the moon is a slap to the face of the US. Until this moment, the moon was basically our thing. We were the first to have anyone visiting, and we were the last to send even a rover to it. While we have Curiosity on Mars, that was a private enterprise as the US has essentially abandoned all things Space. China’s rover landing could reignite the long ended Space Race to build a colony on the moon or even Mars.

The biggest point of argument to moon landing conspiracy is if we went to the moon when we said we did in 1969, why haven’t we gone back since Apollo 17? The answer is sad and simple: Because Russia stopped trying. In the 50s to 80s, the US and the USSR were in a bitter Cold War. Since we both were on the brink of nuclear annihilation, anything we did was challenged by Russia. Russia sends a few probes and a dog to space, we start with massive amounts of satellites. Russia has first manned spaceflight, we have the first piloted flight. This went back and forth until July 20th when the US landed on the moon. The Space race continued in different ways, but we won in the eyes of many.

Tragically, with this frontier conquered, many in the government saw Space as a waste of money. The problem is space travel takes a lot of research and development. R&D that doesn’t magically go away and is funneled into consumer goods. Would we have cell phones, high speed internet, personal computers, electric cars, and a myriad of other technology if the space race never happened? It’s really hard to say.

A lot of Chinese bloggers see the rover as pandering to Americans. They see no benefit for the Chinese people out of such an endeavor, and maybe, they are right. The US is in a very different place than it was in the 50s when the Space Race started, so I don’t think we could ever get the same fervor for another race.

Imagine for a second that we do start a new race. The obvious target would be to put someone on Mars, or even colonize the planet. That would lead to rapid colonization of the moon, probably within 5 to 10 years for the first Earth created structures. This would allow the Moon to serve as a docking station for a trip to Mars. It’d another Cold War type situation with less hostilities between the countries (well, no more than already present).

I doubt we’ll see any sort of Space Race or even concern out of this from our government or media. The article announcing it was British-based because most Americans have lost their desire to explore the stars. With Earth becoming rapidly overpopulated, we will eventually have to expand outwards. Unfortunately, it seems that may happen too late.

Sony’s PS4 Dominates Releases

“Did you participate in Sony’s big PlayStation 4 launch? After selling one million units in just 24 hours and enduring the Xbox One machine, Sony has released a celebratory video, calling its PS4 the biggest launch in PlayStation history.”

Source

Many people hated the PS3 when it came out. A lot of people bought a 360 out of spite. These same buyers were spited when the 360 had a nearly 50% failure rate across the board. So, when the PS4 and Xbox One were announced, fans were clamoring for a change and did they get it.

Xbox One decided to go with the most openly anti-consumer platform by not allowing used games and requiring the Kinetic to always be on. The went back on the used games, but I have no idea about the latter. Sony decided to mock them with a video. Sony’s E3 reveal conference actually earned them a lot of fans, while Microsoft earned the scorn of users. In fact, after announcing their platform, many users started selling all their 360 games for PS3s and pre-ordering a PS4. This is the volatile market of console gaming.

As of December 3rd, PS4 has sold 2.1 million units, and Xbox One has sold 2 million as of December 11th. As the consoles sit neck and neck going into the Christmas holidays, it’s still anyone’s game. Unfortunately for Nintendo, despite a year lead, they, as of September before the launch of either competing console, has only a 1.8-million-unit lead. Nintendo may see a nice boom with Christmas as well as their ad campaigns were focusing on differentiating between the Wii and the foolishly named Wii U. While the Xbox One has a really stupid name, it is enough of a difference where uninformed parents can make the distinction. Playstation 4, as unoriginal of a name as ever, at least shows that it is the newest version of the console. This is much easier for people who don’t have the time or care to learn all the naming conventions for buying things for their kids.

It’s still too early in each of the consoles life to really make a solid purchase. I’ve learned to wait at least one to two years after a console release for the prices to come down and the best, most cutting edge games to come out. The new Mario game is supposed to be a console seller, and it’s just a year after the release of the Wii U. Giving Microsoft and Sony a year to learn the nuances of the console, add perks worth buying, and to catch up on my embarrassingly large backlog, which is useless with a PS4, will end up saving me a bunch of money and headaches. I bought a PS3 about 4 or 5 months after release, and it was really rough, downloadable games were unable to be done in the background, and there were few titles worth spending money on in addition to the $600 I just spent of the console.

After looking at the PS4 screenshots, I have no idea how much further gaming can go. There will be a point where games are completely inseparable from real-life. That’s probably where Occulus Rift steps in.

The Linux Revolution is coming

“The time for Linux gaming is finally almost upon us! Valve has confirmed that SteamOS will be released tomorrow, December 13. On the same day, 300 prototype Steam Machines and Controllers will be sent out to participants of the Steam Machine beta test. With sorrowful catch in its throat, Valve says that the hardware beta test will only take place in the US, due to the “regulatory hurdles” of sending prototype hardware out of the country — everyone and anyone will be able to download SteamOS to make their own Steam Machine, however.”

Source

I am going to be doing a full review on SteamOS next week after using it for a week, but I am beyond excited for this release. Thanks to Windows making some really shitty decisions for gamers, Linux development has started to ramp up. The number one development in this arena was Steam being ported to Linux. As games get ported over and released, gaming on Linux is becoming bigger and bigger. With SteamOS, the transition will become easier. Linux is extremely easy for a lot of users, and for most people, thanks to platform antagonistic design, it has everything someone will need to use Linux with their every day life. The Windows stranglehold is breaking.

Linux provides a really unique experience for computer users. First, thanks to the way it is optimized, even low spec computers can still run the most up-to-date version of the OS. Thanks to this aspect, games that require high recommendations, if optimized appropriately, will run on older systems allowing people who couldn’t break into gaming to be able to use their old PC. What a great thing to really change the environment.

PC gaming is a niche’ market, and offering a free operating system based on games, an industry that typically pushes technology, Valve may be creating a future that is built around Linux and platform free gaming. Everyone has their preference with operating systems. Some people NEED to use Apple or Windows for business, so I can appreciate having those operating systems, but for most people, they can have Linux at home without losing any features, and by enabling triple-A to be played on a free operating system, developers will no longer see Linux as a complete niche’ market.

The major downside is like OSX, Linux gets by with no viruses at all. Both operate under the premise of “security through obscurity,” which means that viruses and other malware ignore these platforms due to the small user base. Thanks to platform agnosticism, spyware already exists on OSX and Linux, though the latter’s architecture makes it harder to actually yield results. Linux can keep a pretty nice locked down state for external users, so virus creators will have to find new ways to exploit that system, but if adoption rate continues, then it will be a matter of time before it happens.

Soon SteamOS will be released. Then, the game will officially change.

Is Our Universe a Hologram?

“A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.”

Source

This article is extremely over my head, so I will try to cobble an understanding and see where it takes me. Essentially, the article proposes that we may be on the verge of, at the very least, a test for String Theory, the concept that reality is made up of vibrating strings.

News like this is why, in my limited understanding, I love science. The article uses a beautiful phrase “Einstein’s theory of gravity.” Gravity, something we can observe on a daily basis, we can tangibly feel, and we can experience, is a theory. This is where creationist lose science. Science doesn’t work with an end-result then says “This is true.” Science works through unraveling mysteries, revelations, and discoveries. Sometimes, the puzzle starts at the beginning with an idea that requires expansion, such as how to get to the moon. Other times we discover things in medias res and have to figure out how that fits into the world around us OR change the our understanding of the world around us.

Coincidentally, history doesn’t work like this 100%. Graham Hancock, a journalist-turned-controversial-historian, proposed that civilization is older than we have recorded by a couple thousand years. His ideas were castigated and mocked soundly by the history community, and he was essentially blackballed. Then, discoveries were made that supported his notion that humans were older. Recently, a set of footprints were found to be 5,000 years older than the previously oldest pair. Other deeply buried civilizations are cropping up that put Mr. Hancock’s timeline in to the realm of validity. Graham’s biggest contention, and I believe he was quoting someone when I heard him say it,  is that due to water marks on the Sphinx, and looking at weather and flood records, the Sphinx and Egyptian civilization is 12,000 years older than we credit it.

I cannot say who is correct, and while news on String Theory being closer to validated goes ignored, the people who do stumble on it will find solace in the notion that there are people debating the very fundamentals of life. Something about having these watchful guardians looking for the next breakthrough seems pretty cool to me.

A Dream Journey

Dreaming has existed in humans since we became sentient. There’s plenty of studies about how and why we dream, but the true origin of it has always fascinated me. When we look at the beginnings of humans, it paints a fascinating story as to what and why we dream. I cannot truly answer “why do humans dream?” I do not have the skills or knowledge to do so. Instead, I can paint a fascinating story that I hope interests everyone to this secret world.

The Urge to Dream

Looking at why we dream, there are a few hypotheses regarding the benefits of sleeping and dreaming. One notion of why we sleep is that it helps us retain information and learn from our daily lives (Nixon, 2010). Per that article, by simply napping AND dreaming after learning a difficult task, we are more inclined to internalize something than someone who learns and doesn’t dream of the same activity and someone who learns a topic but doesn’t sleep. This paints an interesting evolutionary scenario. Did our ancestors evolve dreaming based on their prowess or did dreaming evolve sentience as the learned skills through the dream plane. Going further, one theory is that the diet of humans, as well as increased sleep quality, helped evolve the australopithecus into the Homo genus (Coolidge & Wynn, 2013). One fascinating aspect of sleep is that it is separated into essentially two phases, deep Non-REM sleep and REM sleep, the period in which we dream . Evolutionary speaking, the former just sucks. We are completely unable to move in any way (though this is truer in REM sleep), we take a while to wake up, and we often awaken in a confused state. What the hell, brain? With all this seemingly working against us, these tools helped humans grow and innovate. The previously mentioned article in the last paragraph mentions that tool creation may have been spurred by dreaming. That start to touch on where my topic started. Were dreams used by our ancestors to create a playground of life where they tried new things in the dream then replicated them in real-life? Imagine finding a tool in a dream that allows you to chop down trees for wood to create fire. This tool would change the way you lived your day to day life if your only tools previously were hands. What’s even more fascinating is the idea that humans could have even been lucid dreaming while creating these tools. Crazy! These early humans were likely taking the environment and their dreams were created as a practice for the world around them. They’d likely wake up, baffled as to how whatever predator that killed them in the dream didn’t actually kill them. The dream rehearsal, while jarring at first, would have given early man a place to practice how to hunt animals that they have only watched or how to evade predators that threatened them. Rachael Rettner reminds us that Sigmund Freud had a theory on why humans dreamed. “Sigmund Freud proposed dreams exist to fulfill our wishes. But such gratification in an imaginary world would do little to help us adapt our instincts to the physical world, which is one key point of evolution, Barrett said”(Rettner 2010). She proposes that dreaming is more likely a side effect of the sleep cycle that evolved through the years. Through further study and brain evaluation, we may one day cement the exact source of dreaming in the brain. Since early man didn’t have the distractions we do, they could have focus on sleeping when tired, regardless of time, and sleeping until rested or roused by danger. Modern humans have created a false sense of sleeping being at night, for 8 hours straight. Instead, humans are used to sleeping about 4 hours, waking, doing something, then going back to sleep (Hegarty, 2012 I am l). For the lucid dreamers out there, this is how a Wake-Back-To-Bed works. So, humans were predispositioned towards dreaming, and probably, lucid dreaming. In recent years, we’ve lost all respect and revere of our dreams. Because of that, we have lost a large portion our lives.

The Lost Quarter Century

We spend nearly 26 years of our lives sleeping (based on the calculation of 8 hours a night for 75 years) (Nixon 2010). Of those 8 hours, we spend roughly 1 to 2 hours in REM, which is where we dream. That translates to about 6 years of dream time for an average life-time. Using lucid dreaming, or at least paying attention to dreaming in general, can reclaim some of this lost time. A fascinating thing to try is to record your dreams nightly. After about a week, your dreams will become more vibrant and real, and you will start to recall more dreams than seemingly possible. I have filled two or three pages with single nights of dreaming. Even if you aren’t lucid dreaming, having a record of these trips at night are amazing to reflect upon, either creatively or for the sake of it being fun. As Nixon pointed out, dreams work to organize our day and the experiences in them. By keeping a solid record of these dreams, we can see how they actually work themselves out. Through various belief structures over the ages, dreaming has become viewed as a useless endeavor to a sign of possession. Watch this video: Sleep Paralysis, Demons My Story

While I feel sorry for someone to be tormented through their lack of education, his comments show no desire to learn at all that what he experienced is a natural phenomenon that can be broken. Instead, he propagates the notion that the experience is a demonic attack. By continuing this stupid notion, he is causing other people to fear dreaming and the normal aspects of sleep. Education will stop this perpetuation of fear, and once that is done, we will see progress in dreaming across the board.

Going Forward

Dreams are a natural part of our lives, and while there are a myriad of ideas about why we dream, it’s impossible to hammer down the exact reason without further dream research. Thanks to a lot of fringe groups grabbing on to lucid dreaming, and dreams in general, they are lost to the aether as useless and silly ideas that are more of a nuance or even dangerous. Through practice and exploration we can learn what dreams really do for us. Lucid dreaming is clearly the key to exploring the world of dreaming. We will never truly understand “what did Cavemen dream about?” without some revelation of records of their dreaming. Instead, we need to focus on making sure we are, and our dream materials, aren’t lost to time. Sharing dreams with friends or just recording your dreams for appreciate later will allow us to have a real record of how and why we dream for future generations. At the absolute very least, it’ll make our lives a bit more full rather than sleeping through a third of our lives.

Resources

  1. Nixon, R. (2010, April 22). Naps and dreams boost learning, study finds. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/9874-naps-dreams-boost-learning-study-finds.html
  2. Coolidge, F. L., & Wynn, T. (2013, October 14). How dreaming changed human evolution. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-think-neandertal/201310/how-dreaming-changed-human-evolution
  3. Hegarty, S. (2012, February 22). The myth of the eight-hour sleep. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783
  4. Rettner, R. (2010, June 27). Why we dream: Real reasons revealed. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/8373-dream-real-reasons-revealed.html

Would You Like to Super Size Your Wage Disparity with That?

“The chief executives of McDonald’s and Starbucks earn more than $9,200 an hour, which is at least 1,000 times the hourly wages of their sales associates, according to a new report by the personal finance website NerdWallet.”

Source

Whoa, what? The CEOs of McDonald’s and Starbucks make OVER $9,000 an hour? That can’t be right. Surely this is some communist exaggeration that the two largest companies in their industry who are accused of paying some of the lowest wages in existence aren’t getting paid that much. No way.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mcdonalds-starbucks-ceos-more-9-110100507.html;_ylt=ApTAdhfmpiKMuP.sKAywBx0JVux_;_ylu=X3oDMTFxcW9rM2JxBG1pdANBVFQgSG9tZSBUb2RheSBNb2R1bGUgMTEyMTEzBHBvcwMyBHNlYwNNZWRpYUNkdFRvZGF5VjI-;_ylg=X3oDMTFkcW51ZGliBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3BtaA--;_ylv=3

Courtesy of Yahoo,inc

Well, shit. The CEO of McDonald’s who doesn’t want to give the workers a raise, makes more in an hour than nearly 7 and half months at full time work, which doesn’t really happen at McDonald’s. Remember, McDonald’s leaked a budget worksheet for their employees that include a second income. That would be welfare. Starbucks isn’t much better, but I do believe they offer insurance, so there is that.

This news is just another example of the fact that our country is basically run by crooks. Should the unskilled workers of McDonald’s be making $50,000+? Not necessarily. Salary is used to reward people with a desired skill set and experience. It should, in theory, drive people who make little to want to make more. That discrepancy is fine. But should the CEOs of companies really be making more in an hour than an entire branch of workers make in a month? Something seems really out of touch and gross about that.

With the growing trend being towards raising minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is still lower than it would be if it kept rising with inflation, this information will just increase the ire of people. A lot of corporations and countries cap the CEOs salary at a ratio to the bottom end. The Costco CEO takes a $52,000 salary. This keeps him, a man making big decisions for the company, on the same level as the people actually working in the stores and arguably making money. Another CEO whose name I cannot remember nor can I accurately search for him capped the salary at 5:1 of highest to lowest. Trends like this show the value of the bottom of the company, and it creates a wage satisfaction where someone isn’t making such ludicrous amounts money that they probably will never even care if they lost a few paychecks.

Americans have this weird hatred of workers, despite most being considered lower class workers. I’ve spoken to many people who have defended CEOs and castigating the workers who hate having to work to be poor while making less than $100,000. The middle class mark is $250k by considerations, so all these people are doing is attacking their own kind under the false notion that they are wealthy at all and will attain some sense of wealth. It’s funny how we sit on an impossibly high debt, people still look at taxes as a threat of being injected with AIDS. If the system collapses because the rich, who can give more, won’t, then their money is equal to that of the poor which will be worth monopoly dollars.

Fast food is not a requirement or a need for anyone. In fact, it’s pretty bad for people. However, that shouldn’t preclude people who cannot, for whatever reason, get a better job from making livable wage. What people are demanding isn’t anything exorbitant; it’s enough money to live, pay bills, and eat. That seems more than deserved to me as a human being in 2013 America.

The Window Closes

This post will not be on a news article. I’ll post another one later.

I’m sitting in my office, going through the endless updates that is Windows day-to-day experience after using my desktop after a few months. My laptop is also running Windows, despite having Mint on the second partition. As I sit here and pull my hair out as the computers drag like cars with parachutes attached them, I realize how inefficient Windows really is. Both computers fly on Linux, whether I run it one hour or one week, I never see any loss in quality. My desktop has a very large processor (though out-of-date as usual with computer parts) and it is rocking 16GB of RAM. By all accounts, this computer should be moving like nothing matters. I am not even running anything that is too intensive. I guess it could be a hard drive issue, but again, the slowness is nowhere near as bad on Linux.

Windows is definitely on borrowed time. Windows 8 was such a failure that mainstream news articles explain to people how to roll back to Windows 7. Windows 8.1 is virtually Windows 9 in terms of changes, and it’s required to fix the issues that Windows 8 created. On top of all that, Windows has a really draconian method of app approval in the background, threatening the release of indie games. With this factors in mind, SteamOS cannot get here soon enough. If only someone could force MS to create Microsoft Office for Linux like they did for Mac, I’d probably never touch a Windows computer at home.

Back to the difficult task of opening folders. On a more upbeat note, I am expecting to publish my research post tonight.

The Tuned-Out Boomers

“LONDON — A record number of British retirees are receiving hospital treatment after taking recreational drugs like cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines according to a new report. Doctors diagnosed 888 people over the age of 65 as being poisoned by illicit drugs, with 473 aged 75 and over, according to new figures released by the U.K.’s Health and Social Care Information Center. Ten years ago the total was 283. ”

Source

Drugs are a scary thing to a lot of people. Through a ridiculously expensive campaign that has failed miserably, the governments of the world (though mostly the US) has fought drugs tooth and nail, and it has failed completely. It’s no small wonder why so many of the boomers, people born in a particularly rebellious time, are being hospitalized after consuming various illicit substances. The article even quotes a very silly man who lumps cocaine and cannabis together and calls them both “toxic.”  The quote-heavy article touches on this notion that cannabis is really dangerous, so dangerous it’s sending people to the hospital. It’s funny that they are talking about the people who enjoyed it and many other illict substances in the Sixties, when our attitudes towards drugs was much more lax. So why are people going to the hospital?

Recently, the news publicized a new drug hitting the scene in my area that is labeled as synthetic LSD. The drug, a nBOMe, is a research chemical created by Alexander Shulgin ages ago. In his books T.I.H.K.A.L. and P.I.H.K.A.L., he created a whole slew of psychedelics that people today are rediscovering. The problem comes in with this synthetic LSD is people who do these drugs in the club and festival scene end up taking a lethal dose and dying despite the fact it emulates drugs that have no LD-50.  Cannabis saw this with Spice/JWH-18, and rumors of of the synthetic heroin, Krokodil, landing stateside again, prove this continuing trend for beating the law through new chemicals. Bath Salts emulate a myriad of drugs, namely PCP, with horrible adverse reactions.

My theory is a lot of the elderly who enjoyed psychedelics, pot, and cocaine are going back to their old friends and finding a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These drugs are supposed to be great experiences when approached correctly, but with no foreknowledge or being sold something else, it creates a very dangerous playing ground for people who do use drugs recreationally.

The War on Drugs is an abject failure. By making substances of any sort illegal, people who want to partake of substances responsibly end up with unknown chemicals that send them to the hospital or kill them. While you should always know what you are consuming, it’s unrealistic to assume everyone is that smart when taking substances and the casualties are going to increase. Right now, in a lab in their basement, someone is making the next drug which will be sought after by everyone with a hidden side effect that is so horrible people will clamor to legalize the known stuff. Human nature doesn’t work well with prohibition; the 20s showed us that.

Awakening the Brain Dead

“Scientists have discovered a “signature” in brain activity that could explain why some severely brain injured patients awake from a minimally conscious state as result of sleep aid drugs and other medication. This is according to a study published in the journal eLife.”

MedicalNewsToday

Comas are a scary thing. On Reddit, a few people who came out of comas commented that the experience is very unlike how fiction likes to portray it. They recalled a few seconds before they went out (one guy cited a motorcycle accident), then the next second, to them, they were in a bed, sometimes pantomiming the experience. That sounds utterly terrifying to have such a massive lapse in memory.

The article I am responding to reports that patients using the sleep drug Ambien have been shown to awaken from this “minimal cognitive state.” The article goes on to show how little we really understand the brain and damage to it:

Using electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor the patients’ brain waves when using Ambien, the researchers found that although their brains were damaged in different ways, they all demonstrated the same low frequency waves in their readings. In detail, these brain waves were found to be most active in the frontal cortex – a region known to be very dependent on other brain structures in order to be active, mostly the central thalamus and the striatum. These two areas work together to support a variety of functions, including short-term memory, reward, motivation, attention, alertness and sleep.

Essentially, despite everyone studied suffering damage through very different means, they all displayed the same net results in their brains. This notion leads me to believe that this minimal cognitive state,with my absolutely cursory understanding of brain evolution, could be a manner of self-preservation and protection that we evolved over the eons. It’s fascinating to think that early humans, who would have been less cautious in their lives, would have been more susceptible to potentially debilitating head injuries, and should they incur an injury like this, would they go into a low level catatonia, only to be perceived as dead? That’s kind of a chilling notion. How many early humans were presumed dead and left semi-conscious to decay?

The link between Ambien, a powerful sedative, and awakening these with brain damage is equally fascinating. The article says:

The investigators explain that in healthy people who use Ambien, it produces sedation and causes them to sleep. But in those who suffer severe brain damage, it activates the brain further following its activation of the “sleeping” cells, causing the patients to become more awake. […] “What we think is happening in these patients is that the initial excitation produced by Ambien turns on a specific circuit. The drug creates the opportunity for the brain to effectively catch a ride on this initial wave of excitation, and turn itself back on.”

So, in essence, Ambien acts as a reset charge for the brain. The article mentions that Ambien doesn’t really repair the damage, so much as act as a vehicle for repair, and that for true results, regular use must continue. L-Dopa (dopamine) is suggested as another drug that may recreate these benefits.

Considering the scary experience for insomnia that is Ambien, I think finding uses like this for drugs is imperative to keeping them around. The pharmaceutical industry is too quick to create a drug that does X with Y side effects rather than creating a drug that targets a particular function of the body and can be used for many reasons. With the growing call to legalize illicit substances, many of which have beneficial health properties, I think more studies like this will be funded with a great sense of regularity. Showing that despite the drug’s downsides there are many benefits will lead to them being embraced by the public.