Under the supervision of a medical team, New Scientist's Graham Lawton took a dose of MDMA and then lay in an fMRI machine. You know. For science.
Lawton was a participant in a double blind, controlled, clinical study — meaning that he didn't actually know whether he was going to be taking ecstasy or Vitamin C when he went in ... and neither did the scientists who gave him the pill. That's because the researchers want to know whether and what differences show up between the functioning of brain under the influence of MDMA and one that's sober. Not knowing which type of brain they're looking at helps them avoid their own biases, or tendencies to "spot" a difference that doesn't actually exist simply because of what they expect a high brain (or a sober one) to be doing. Only after they've made their observations do the scientists find out which brains were which.
The goal is to document was ecstasy does to the brain. Astoundingly, writes Lawton, nobody has ever done that before. And it matters, because some people think that drugs like ecstasy could be useful in helping people deal with psychological stress disorders. Not that the drugs would cure the disorder, per se, but that ecstasy could help people talk about their bad experiences more easily. Right now, there's not a lot of evidence supporting that idea, beyond some anecdotes. Studies like this help scientists figure out whether the anecdotes are pointing at a useful treatment tool, or just relating some personal experiences.
Read the story (and see a gallery of photos) at New Scientist
Via Jennifer Ouellette
Watch the skies! The peak of the Perseid meteor shower takes place overnight tonight! The bright quarter Moon will limit the number of shooting stars you’ll see but you can still expect around 15-20 per hour depending on where you’re at. The meteors are debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle burning up in Earth’s atmosphere at speeds […]
“The U.S. has reached a landmark of sorts in its so far not very successful battle with the virus that causes Covid-19 — most Americans now know someone who has been infected,” writes Justin Fox at Bloomberg, about coronavirus social data from Navigator Research, shown above.
Researchers successfully revived ancient microbes, some more than 100 million years old, that were buried in the seafloor. During an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, the scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and their colleagues drilled into the ocean sediment almost 6,000 meters below the surface. “Our main question […]
Most of us aren’t constantly beset by poor posture. But all it takes is some subtle misalignment while you’re doing serious hours behind the wheel driving or working away at a desk to do a real number on your back. In fact, most of us are so unaware of the mechanics of good posture that […]
From ordering from Amazon to paying bills over the web to something as simple as bottled water, we’re all hooked on modern convenience. We can’t help it. There are just too many modern world advances that save us too much time not to become a creature of comfort and go the easy route. Even if […]
No matter whether you go into the office or work from home, whether you roll out of bed at 5 a.m. or never get up before 9, we all agree a day can on how you feel first thing in the morning when you wake up. If you wake up feeling groggy or out of […]