Cognitive Surgery

Just finished listening to a podcast, NPR’s TED Radio Hour on “The Hackers” in which Talks about the climate, the brain, and the animal kingdom are discussed. I started the podcast sometime at 6am just before my coworkers got in… but rarely do I get to finish a podcast before they come in to the office. At lunch I finished it and I have to say that the last segment on ‘hacking’ the brain moved me almost to tears…

Andres Lozano recaps his TED Talk about how brain stimulation can  help fix some neurological conditions (conditions of the mind) such as Parkinson’s. He talks about how one woman, with Parkinson’s, was able to stop her body tremors with the careful placing of electrodes.

He then went on to talk about how it is completely possible (in the future) for cosmetic neurosurgery in which you can potentially change your IQ. Though the ethics of this are very questionable, it is still theoretically possible.

Lozano, who is chair of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, even used electrodes to help rid a patient of depression and another patient of their excessive appetite which then triggered other sorts of brain states.

All these things really just sort of moved me. I’m not so sure if in a scientific way or in a “we’re able to help people in the ways they need most” kind of way. My empathy is rather questionable, but I was definitely moved.

That we are all broken is assured. But that we don’t have to be is sort of a new revelation to me. The mind isn’t a one-trick pony; a propensity for depression doesn’t always have to be that way from here till the end.

The mind is forever and always beguiling.

(This week has been particularly rough at work. I exceedingly do not want to be here. The problems at work feel petty to me. And people are further and further disappointing and emotional. I myself am completely unstable most days.)

Science gives me hope.

It’s the only thing that does these days.

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