Tag Archives: brain

New web series explores links between concussions and brain damage in former football players

I’ve always loved watching pro football. I grew up in Miami, and came of age when the Dolphins had their perfect season in 1972, winning the Super Bowl that year and the next year as well. One of my fondest memories as a kid was going to Super Bowl 10, which was played in Miami. The Dolphins weren’t in that one, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were. My Cousin Bobby, who lived in Pittsburgh, got tickets for me and my grandfather. Memories like this stay with a kid forever.

I still love watching pro football. But, as stories about the pervasiveness of concussions and their lasting impact become more prevalent, I’ll admit that I’m in a bit of a moral quandary. For far too long, the NFL played down the seriousness of concussions. Now, as more and more players come forward with horror stories about mood swings and addictions, the NFL can’t look away any more. This new GQ web series tells the stories of a few of these former players, and the measures being taken to help them. Personally, I think the NFL needs to do even more. But at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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Unlocking the GPS in our brains

Did you know that your brain has its own type of GPS system? It does. And today, the scientists who discovered it have won a Nobel Prize.

Ever since my most recent hospitalization for depression and anxiety, I’ve been fascinated with how the brain works. Ironically, here’s what I find most fascinating: the fact that, in 2014, even the best scientists still consider the brain to be a (pun intended) head-scratching mystery. Even with this Nobel-winning discovery, scientists are JUST NOW BEGGING to understand how people think and do and plan.

There’s an obvious link to mental illness, and especially treatment for mental illness. Anyone who’s ever taken meds for mental illness knows that even the good ones are far from perfect. At times, the side effects — everything from memory loss to addiction — are as troubling as the illness. But then, if there hasn’t been much understanding about how the brain works, it stands to reason that meds designed to help the brain would have some flaws.

To be clear, I am NOT saying that people should steer clear of meds. I take them myself, and I probably wouldn’t be alive without them. But boy, I’d love to see a day when better, more effective meds are created. The more scientists continue to discover about the brain, the faster that day will come.

For more information on the brain’s GPS, click here.