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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 »

Alzheimer’s Prevention and Diagnostic Tests

Brain Health NewsRoundup of sev­er­al insight­ful arti­cles and recent research:

Fish Oil May Help Pre­vent Alzheimer’s (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “The omega-3 fat­ty acids found in fish oil might play an impor­tant role in pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease, accord­ing to a research team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les (UCLA).”

- “Pub­lish­ing in the Dec. 26 issue of the Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science, the sci­en­tists demon­strat­ed that the omega-3 fat­ty acid docosa­hexaenoic acid (DHA) increas­es the pro­duc­tion of LR11, a pro­tein that is found at reduced lev­els in Alzheimer’s patients. LR11 is known to destroy the pro­tein that forms the plaques asso­ci­at­ed with the dis­ease, the researchers explained.”
— “Alzheimer’s is a debil­i­tat­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease that caus­es mem­o­ry loss, demen­tia, per­son­al­i­ty change and ulti­mate­ly death. The Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion esti­mates that 5.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are cur­rent­ly afflict­ed with the dis­ease. The asso­ci­a­tion pre­dicts that may increase to between 11 mil­lion and 16 mil­lion peo­ple by 2050.”

Find­ing Alzheimer’s Before a Mind Fails’ (New York Times)

- “Ms. Ker­ley is part of an ambi­tious new sci­en­tif­ic effort to find ways to detect Alzheimer’s dis­ease at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble moment. Although the dis­ease may seem like a calami­ty that strikes sud­den­ly in old age, sci­en­tists now think it begins long before the mind fails.”

- “Many sci­en­tists believe the best hope of progress, maybe the only hope, lies in Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Coach Answers: Is “placenta brain” real? I can’t remember anything ever since I got pregnant!

Q: Is “pla­cen­ta brain” real? I am 6 months preg­nant and can’t remem­ber any­thing ever since I got preg­nant!

A: Yes, in the third trimester.
Read the rest of this entry »

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