Bump-liners … the opposite of flat-liners

Back in 1990 the movie Flatliners came out. It explored the idea that the Near Death Experience could lead to insights into yourself and the universe.

In the movie med students bring themselves to the edge of no return, metabolically speaking, and hope ‘things will happen’. Because they’re clinically dead their Electro Cardio Gram shows a ‘flat line’ – hence the movie’s title.

Because they’re med students they have the means and know-how to take someone there (brink of death) and bring them back before its ‘too late’.

This runs through my head as I read this article from ScienceDaily: “Stimulating a specific region of the brain leads to the production of new brain cells that enhance memory, according to an animal study in the September 21 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.”

How … Stimulating 🙂

And just how is this achieved? Using DBS – Deep Brain Stimulation, of course: “… (a) one hour of electrical stimulation to the entorhinal cortex — a region that directly communicates with the hippocampus — in adult mice led to a two-fold increase in new cells in the hippocampus. Although the burst of new cells lasted for only about one week, the cells produced during this time window developed normally and made connections with other nearby brain cells.” – That might be reflected in an increase in EEG activity – hence my title. (Ok, ok – it’s not too likely to be all that noticeable in all the ‘chatter’ you see in EEGs 🙂

Further: “Six weeks later, the researchers evaluated whether the newly integrated cells produced changes in memory. The authors tested how well the animals learned to navigate onto a landing submerged in a small pool of water. Compared with mice that did not receive the therapy, DBS mice spent more time swimming near the landing, suggesting that stimulation of the entorhinal cortex improved spatial learning.”

So I’m thinking that there are Med students out there with access to DBS technology and they’re itching to see if this gives them an edge in school. ‘Cuz we keep hearing how Med students top the charts for using everything they can to beat the system and win a plum career … why would this be any different?

Heck – even if it didn’t really work at all (or as well as hoped) an enterprising med student could sell the idea to non-med students for cash. “Sit in this machine for an hour and your memory will improve and you’ll get better grades.” Worse: “Take this well-known memory-enhancing drug-concoction and also sit in this machine for an hour …”

Of course I do hope the actual science leads to actual advances in neurobiology … but I can’t stop my imagination from twisting it around 🙂

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