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Tonight on 60 Minutes…

TB and I turned on the TV after watching Ratatouille (cute movie, by the way), and were met with a story about how apparently Ambien will “wake up” people with brain damage and cause them to be cognizant of their surroundings, at least for a short period of time.

My response was something close to “Oh, duh. That makes sense.”

They showed all these MRIs of this guy who apparently did some drugs or hit his head or something (I missed that part, because I was busy doing laundry), and had damage to the frontal lobes of his brain, limiting his abilities quite a bit. The front portion of his brain in the scans was yellow, meaning low activity.

THEN they gave him some Ambien, and suddenly the frontal lobes were red, much like the other parts of his brain that were concerned with unconscious activities like breathing. The guy could talk. He could answer questions. He focused on people.

And they reported this like, “ZOMG THE WONDER OF IT ALL!”

I realize that my brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, and I’m okay with that.

Thus, I’d like to introduce a new-ish segment of my blog:

thot-prosess.jpg

Okay, so…we have a guy who’s gotten smacked around or something, and the part of his brain that basically processes things like pleasure and emotion and stuff like that gets fucked up.

That totally sucks.

Then we have a drug that causes people to engage in pleasure-seeking behavior (they’ve been known to walk around, eat, shop, engage in promiscuous behavior, and the like) all while basically being asleep.

The drug, when given to the guy with the screwed-up brain, makes him “wake up”. This? Makes total sense to me.

Why?

Well, I’ve taken Ambien before, and in my totally non-scientific way of explaining how it works, it basically shut my muscles down. My face stopped working (highly amusing to people who spoke to me in the 15 or so minutes between me taking it and actually going to bed), my arms got all loopy, and my legs turned to jelly. My eyes didn’t necessarily want to close on their own, but my eyesight got so weird that I just had to close them. Then I conked out.

Now, I have some photos that I don’t remember taking. They’re pretty weird. I took them while on Ambien, and they feature several objects in my room in configurations that are totally, in a word, retarded. I guess I thought I was being amusing and artistic or something. Who the hell knows? Anyway, I don’t remember this, because the part of my brain that’s cognizant of motion? Was asleep. But the part of my brain that actually moves and controls pleasure-seeking behavior? Was obviously alive and kickin’. I’m pretty sure I ate half a box of Wheat Thins during that night, as well. Wheat Thins are one of my comfort foods, and photography is one of my favorite activities.

I DO remember fighting the drug to edit ONE LAST PHOTO before finally just laying down (how the fuck did I get down from my bunk bed afterward? scary.), so that’s probably a factor. I’m relieved that I neither broke my neck nor my camera that night, because either was possible.

When someone’s got brain damage, sometimes there are parts of their brain that control simple movement that just don’t work any more. That was the case with the guy on the show. What’s one of the things that Ambien does? Shuts down the part of the brain that controls simple movement (seriously? I’m not scientific at all, so take the absolutes that I’m stating with a grain of salt). The brain-damaged guy doesn’t feel that effect, since his brain’s not responding in that portion, anyway.

So we have the frontal lobes. I have NO CLUE why his weren’t working as well, but they weren’t. And the Ambien did to him what it does to everyone else: stimulated those lobes. Since the part of his brain that controls simple movement wasn’t working, he wasn’t affected by the “hey, go lay down because your legs don’t work now, anyway” part of the drug. THUS, the frontal lobe stimulation dominated the day, causing him to be able to talk and look around and smile and react to the things going on around him.

To me, that’s just like a lightbulb going off after seeing the two of those things (Ambien and a brain-damaged response to it) in the same place.

But then again, I’m pretty weird.

What do you think? Is that a “duh”, or am I just nuts?

I should get a grant. I see correlations in all kinds of weird things, and some of them might actually turn out to be correct.

EDIT: I found a link of the story, which I posted above at the very beginning of this blog entry. The guy I’m talking about was in a car accident involving a pond, and almost drowned.

Now, the theory that Dr. So-and-So (from Cornell, they say) has is that the Ambien quiets cells that inhibit neural transmission to the frontal lobe of the brain, allowing more activity.

Soo…what he’s saying is that these “inhibitive” cells are “noisy”, which certainly uses energy, and they’re not showing up on the metabolic heat scan that he used?

Can I call bullshit, or would that just look conceited?

Read the article and see for yourselves. Something looks…not quite right…about this story and the conclusions people are coming to. And the effect that Ambien has on “cognizant” people doesn’t match up with that “noisy cell” theory, either.

Hmmm.

If it wasn’t for chemistry and cadavers, I’d totally go to med school so that I could argue with these folks and actually sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about.

6 comments to Tonight on 60 Minutes…