Utah is the top state in the US for antidepressant use and has "disproportionately high rates of suicide and associated mood disorders compared to the rest of the country."
Perry Renshaw, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, thinks the reason could be that living in a high altitude screws up people's neurotransmitters.
Renshaw believes that oxygen-poor air tampers with brain chemistry, leading to a drop in serotonin and an uptick in dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that relay signals between neurons and other cells.
Serotonin, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, helps stabilize emotions. Antidepressants — SSRIs, (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), which include Prozac and Lexapro — work by blocking the transport of serotonin back to the neurons, thereby increasing its supply in the brain.
Dopamine, an excitatory neurotransmitter, plays a vital role in our ability to focus. Too little dopamine can make us scatterbrained, whereas a dopamine increase causes hyper-concentration and feelings of euphoria. Caffeine, prescription drugs, including some ADD/ADHD medications, and illegal stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, work by increasing the availability of dopamine in our brains.
There's a Suicide Epidemic in Utah — And One Neuroscientist Thinks He Knows Why
Professional musician Dagmar Turner had brain surgery at King’s College Hospital, London to remove a benign tumor.
Every year, the nonprofit Neural Correlate Society, an organization “that promotes scientific research into the neural correlates of perception and cognition,” holds a competition for the Best Illusion of the Year. This year’s winner is the above “Dual Axis Illusion” created by Frank Force (USA). “This spinning shape appears to defy logic by rotating around […]
For some children with severe epilepsy, the best treatment may be a very rare surgical procedure in which a large portion — even half — of the child’s brain is removed or disconnected. Amazingly, many of these individuals can relearn motor, language, and cognitive skills. How? The brain reorganizes itself and builds new connections. To […]
Two-thirds of American adults drink coffee every day. On average, they’re each drinking about three cups per day, which works out to nearly 400 million cups downed each and every day. We don’t have stats on what percentage of those cups are God awfully bad, but you have to assume with so many ways to […]
For those with a writing flair, the thought of building a career as a professional copywriter should probably have some appeal. Thankfully, it’s also an in-demand job skill with the average copywriter making a healthy $60,000 a year for their efforts. But even if you have a way with words, you still need the industry […]
While we all love our iPhones and iPads, celebrating the releases of their latest and greatest versions, it’s amusing to consider how much we at the same time HATE the main item that keeps these little tech marvels powered up and working. No, Lightning cables don’t exactly inspire feelings of awe and wonder. It’s more […]