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Parts of the Brain that were the last to develop the first to decline

(29 Posts)
soapsoanelive Tue 25-Nov-14 05:56:37

Brain's Dementia Weak Spot Identified

BBC news have just reported that intuitive links that doctors made between schizophrenia and dementia (they used to call schizophrenia 'early dementia') may just be right. MRI imaging of the areas of the brain last to develop, the parts used in high level functions such as seeing and hearing are the first to decline in sufferers. It's reported that this is a breakthrough in research and could be really useful in developing treatments.

Hmmm....what do you think when you read these kinds of articles? Speaking purely as a utopian idealist I have a feeling that I want more to be said about how social diversity and difference and ageing categories have changed over the last, say hundred years. Are we kinder, for example in our 'assessments' of people? Do we give also when we take information, make assessments? Is the new technology used to give back to the people being examined? How does this discovery help people live good lives? Or is it marketing material that can be picked up and used by expensive care providers? Well, you know, I think....

Because we used to judge the effects of medications that people with schizophrenia suffered as if they were the illness itself. Historically, IQ tests have been misapplied in infant and primary schools. Everyone has their list of concerns about social labelling. In the 21st century my interest is in how technology might be out of control and although doctors may want to do no harm that the technology is in the service of much earlier embedded stereotypes that do noone any favours.

What do you think?

FlicketyB Tue 25-Nov-14 06:52:34

I am not sure I quite understand your point soapsoanelive. What the doctors have found is a physical link between a certain area of the brain and certain mental conditions. No different from finding a link between one particular gene or groups of genes and specific diseases. Like the discovery of the BRCA gene that results in the women in families with it having a high probability of getting breast cancer. This knowledge has enabled doctors to help these women by proper monitoring and, sometimes, pro-active surgery.

This research has shown that part of the brain is linked with both schizophrenia and dementia and that this part of the brain is one of the last to mature and earliest to deteriorate. This discovery has only just been made. How it can be used to help those with these debilating illnesses we do not yet know. It may lead to the development of new therapies for their control or development or monitoring of those who have been identified as at risk from these illnesses because of early indicators or family history.

I am never very sure what the difference is between 'social labelling' and diagnosing a condition. At various times in the life of myself and my children we have been diagnosed with conditions that are sometimes consider 'social labelling'. We haven't been socially labelled, mainly because we haven't labelled ourselves or tried to live off our diagnosis but the diagnosis of the conditions has been invaluable in both receiving therapeutic treatment and also understanding the source of some difficulties we have.

janeainsworth Tue 25-Nov-14 08:07:41
I'm afraid I don't really understand your point either,soapsoanelive
Of course there's always a risk that scientific discovery may be misapplied, but are you saying that scientists shouldn't pursue knowledge?

janerowena Tue 25-Nov-14 14:01:45

I would assume from the article that the information would be used as an additional aid to diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's so that treatment available could be started as soon as possible, no more.

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 14:45:09

are you saying op, that you dont want to know some possible truths? That knowing does more harm than good in your opinion?

soapsoanelive Tue 25-Nov-14 20:31:51

I'm sceptical about the way science and the media come together and I'm concerned that these press releases for scientific interest groups stand in for investigative journalism. The health environment that families are in now is privatising and is about vested interests to make profit: not for science or the public good but for shareholders and investors who are institutional. Health statistics and DNA make for good money, while society as a whole doesn't evolve and develop because apparently, there's no money. It's in the hands of the companies funding and profiting from their investment in technology and the scientific brain. The research environment is a highly competitive and angry struggle for a certain kind of dominance that isn't accountable any longer to a notion of a consensual, caring struggle where everyone matters. Doctors, researchers and scientists are further and further away from feeling that they have a responsibility to engage on an equal and reciprocal basis with their patients and information about patients becomes a pathway they may never know they're on. Most people think they're living a life and have control over their lives but in the health environment we're all fragmented, so pity someone and the families of people who have the label Schizophrenia or Alzheimer's. They'll get care if they're pointed in the right direction by a caring nurse to the charities and voluntary organisations that have stepped up to the plate as the technology and the greedy companies within the NHS supply chain demand their products remain for ever more. No working towards balance here: sustainable development means that all the big scanners (even if there are hand scanners that could be cheaper) must remain at the centre of your reception into the NHS. It doesn't have to be like this but we don't know, we're never asked. We imagine what we're going to get when we go into hospital but even the sickest patients will be guinea pigs and be participants in studies that they may or may not be made aware of. This is wrong.

Think of these so-called technological breakthroughs in the context of how care is actually delivered in our society currently. When you consider how under-resourced mental health services are, when you think that The Alzheimer's Society is a charity that relies on volunteers. When you think about the recent case of Stephanie Bincliffe who, in residential care was kept in a padded room, with no exercise because of her 'challenging behaviour' and died of obesity, who was challenging to the institution she'd been taken to. The abuse and labelling she must have suffered on a daily basis. Think about the years of institutional abuse that child victims suffered where a twelve year old child was deemed to have consented to sex so there was no crime found. The institutions are adept in hiding what they're doing to our normal life cycles and expectations. That's what I mean about labelling, shame and social stigma that needs to be addressed and confronted at the same time as we implement yet another shiny research find and praise it!

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 20:39:57

while society as a whole doesn't evolve and develop because apparently, there's no money

Are you meaning health research? I dont know about health research, but research does seem to happen in other walks of life.

I think you may have a point tbh about health research.
My kids had asthma when they were younger.
I started briefly looking into the research back then, and it all appeared to be funded by pharma companies. hmm So I guessed that there would not be any big breakthroughs happening. And I was right.

Are you a health researcher?

janeainsworth Tue 25-Nov-14 20:43:40

Soap I can't understand most of your post, but I'd like to pick you up on one thing. You say even the sickest patients will be guinea pigs in studies that they may or may not be aware of
This is patent rubbish. Clinical trials and studies in this country are carried out only after rigorous scrutiny by the ethics committee of the relevant Trust, and with full, valid patient consent.

rosequartz Tue 25-Nov-14 20:47:55

The bit of my brain that is needed to understand this thread has not yet developed.

rosequartz Tue 25-Nov-14 20:51:31

I get the feeling the OP is against conventional medicine, but please correct me if I am wrong. I have heard conspiracy theories (usually emanating from the US) which suggest that doctors kill more patients than they save because they are paid by the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe those companies' drugs.

All I know is that, without research by pharmaceutical companies, we would not have had many of the breakthroughs in medical science that have happened in recent years.

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 20:52:03

Am I right in thinking that you have a beef with doctors, researchers and scientists?
And that they dont care about patients?

Have you suffered personally at their hands?

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 20:52:32

rosequartz grin

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 20:53:14

to your 20.47 post

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 20:55:47

All I know is that, without research by pharmaceutical companies, we would not have had many of the breakthroughs in medical science that have happened in recent years.

Can you name some?
Because I too, deep down, wonder if their research exists to further sales of some new or existing pills.
I appreciate that I am unknowledgeable in this area.

rosequartz Tue 25-Nov-14 21:03:11

Can you name some?
Where do I begin?
Of course their research exists so that they can market their drugs, there would be no point otherwise! The money they make will help to fund more research. They would all like to be the first to find the breakthroughs. I am thankful that they do.

Google has many references and I can't post them all.

janeainsworth Tue 25-Nov-14 21:11:04

Monoclonal antibodies soontobe, a breakthrough now used to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Elegran Tue 25-Nov-14 21:11:53

I can't understand most of your post either. It is long, rhetorical, and oblique.

Your original post is objecting to hearing that evidence has been found that certain parts are the first to deccline and that knowledge might be a useful in developing traetments. What is wrong with hearing that? i can understand that you want to hear about social factors too, but surely not by ignoring other evidence?

Yes, rigid labelling can be unhelpful and obscure individual details. But categorising patients is a step toward finding ways to help them, by using techniques which have been successful in similar cases.

"Science and the media come together" Largely, science does research and reports the results and unscientific media writers then pick out a sensational morsel from the report and blow it up into an inaccuracy. They could come together more and be more effective, but researchers are not media-savvy, and the media are mostly scientifically illiterate.

"even the sickest patients will be guinea pigs and be participants in studies that they may or may not be made aware of." No. Patients are enrolled in studies after the purpose and methodology has been explained to them. If you know of cases where this has been abused, you should be informing the BMA.

I don't know the details of the cases you partly quote about mental health patients, so I can't make much comment.

Yes the " shame and social stigma" of mental illhealth needs to be removed (and the media could help more with that) - but stopping the research into and publicity about another diagnostic tool doesn't help that. They are two different paths of the treatment of these conditions. Some people do one, some the other. It is not either/or.

FlicketyB Tue 25-Nov-14 21:15:21

Elegran I was labouring on a long and turgid reply to this thread when your neat and succinct summary came up. I ditched my post and instead I am posting to say that I am absolutely in agreement with you.

Elegran Tue 25-Nov-14 21:28:46

It seems to me to be logical that the parts of the brain which developed last should be the first to "undevelop" The parts which developed first, those which operate without our awareness and are very similar to the primitive brains of some ancient creatures, continue to work even when we are in a coma.

soontobe Tue 25-Nov-14 21:30:40

Of course their research exists so that they can market their drugs, there would be no point otherwise

I have just looked up the asthma uk website.
It looks far better than it used to do.
And it does now seem to concentrate on medical breakthroughs that are not just giving money to pharma to create more pills or inhalers.
They are now looking into things like the immune system, gene research etc.

Soutra Tue 25-Nov-14 22:41:00

I am not sure what you are finding "new" in links between asthma and the immune system soontobe as the role of the immune system in asthma, eczema, gastric disorders such as ulcerative colitis and now rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis among others are well established.

Soutra Tue 25-Nov-14 22:42:20

Sorry that should of course have been is well established !

janeainsworth Tue 25-Nov-14 22:49:17

And of course what is used to modify the immune response, and to improve the lives of those suffering from such conditions is......... wait for it........ drug therapy developed by Big Bad Pharma shock

janerowena Tue 25-Nov-14 23:13:33

Maybe this will make you feel slightly better

Eloethan Wed 26-Nov-14 00:58:08

janeainsworth You say that it is "patent rubbish" that some people are used as "guinea pigs" without their knowledge.

There have been many well documented cases of people being used to trial treatments without their knowledge or consent.

In 1996 Dr G Fairhurst was struck off for using elderly patients to test a range of new drugs manufactured by Glaxo and Merck Sharp & Dohme for hypertension and various heart conditions, without the patients' knowledge.

In the Guardian in February 2003 it was reported that firms pay out millions to doctors to test medicines. A patient's GP was using her as a guinea pig by giving her tablets that were not medically approved. An investigation by the Observer revealed that many doctors were risking their patients' health by subjecting them to medical trials without their knowledge. One doctor had earned more than £100,000 from drugs companies.

Of course, these cases were some time ago and since all the terrible publicity of these cases, presumably these practices have been tightened up. Or moved somewhere else. In the Guardian in November 2012 there was a headline "Have India's poor become human guinea pigs?"