Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study: Some “brain-boosting” supplements sold in the US contain not-approved drugs at supratherapeutic doses, exposing users to unknown side effects


Some brain-boost­ing sup­ple­ments con­tain an unap­proved drug that could harm users, study warns (STAT news):

Promis­ing to lift brain fog or improve mem­o­ry, brain-boost­ing sup­ple­ments have joined sex­u­al-enhance­ment and weight-loss reme­dies in the light­ly reg­u­lat­ed world of dietary sup­ple­ments. These prod­ucts may be sold legal­ly with broad-brush come-ons like these, as long as they don’t make spe­cif­ic claims about treat­ing a dis­ease — or con­tain actu­al drugs.

New research led by Dr. Pieter Cohen of Har­vard Med­ical School doc­u­ments five sup­ple­ment brands for sale in the U.S. that con­tain var­i­ous amounts of pirac­etam Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Gary Small’s The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: Brain Fog

(Edi­tor’s Note: what fol­lows is an excerpt from Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vor­gan’s new book, The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psy­chi­a­trist’s Sto­ries of His Most Bizarre Cas­es)


Brain Fog

Sum­mer 1990

Gigi and I had moved to Stu­dio City, about a forty-minute com­mute to UCLA. On week­ends, we often went to the movies at Uni­ver­sal City­Walk, a repli­ca­tion of Los Ange­les with­in Los Ange­les. Why peo­ple couldn’t just walk down the real streets of Los Ange­les made no sense to me, yet there we were, on a Fri­day evening, eat­ing ice cream and strolling down a sim­u­lat­ed street.

We had just seen Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new sci­encefic­tion film about a con­struc­tion work­er who under­goes a false mem­o­ry trans­plant that takes him on an imag­i­nary trip to Mars. But things go wrong, and when he comes out of it, he can’t tell what’s real and what’s imag­ined.

When he first got back from Mars, there were so many signs that he was from the future that I believed it,” I said.
“But hon­ey, before he had that mem­o­ry implant done, he was per­fect­ly hap­py liv­ing in the present—on Earth. Then he got all para­noid.”
“Of course he did. How do you know what’s real­i­ty if you can’t trust your mem­o­ry?” I asked.
“I don’t know; you’re the mem­o­ry expert. I want to go into this shop for a minute.” Gigi dis­ap­peared into a record store.

As I ate my ice cream and watched the crowds, I kept think­ing about those ques­tions. If two real­i­ties seem equal­ly true, how would you know which ver­sion to believe? Many of my patients strug­gled with sim­i­lar issues, whether they were psy­chot­ic, dement­ed, or sim­ply hav­ing mem­o­ry prob­lems.

Over the past few years, I had begun to con­cen­trate a large part of my prac­tice on mem­o­ry issues—not just in old­er patients with Alzheimer’s dis­ease but in mid­dle-aged peo­ple who were wor­ried about their increas­ing for­get­ful­ness. My research was also focus­ing on ear­ly detec­tion of demen­tia and age-relat­ed mem­o­ry decline, and I was devel­op­ing brain imag­ing as a diag­nos­tic tool.

Gigi came back with a bag of CDs and said Read the rest of this entry »

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