dangx111: October 2011 Archives

Memento.jpgIn the movie, Memento, Leonard, played by Guy Pearce, is an ex-insurance investigator who is hunting down his wife's murderer. Leonard's problem does not stop at searching for his wife's murderer, Leonard also has anterograde amnesia. He is incapable of creating new memories and he can only remember things for no more than a few minutes. Memento follows Leonard as he struggles to contain and remember the information that he collects that will lead him in finding his wife's murderer. He does not know who to trust but himself, the comments he wrote prior to forgetting on photos, and his own judgement. In the end, through all his struggles and difficulties, Leonard finds out the truth and discovers the person who had murdered his wife. (It's shocking to find out who it is!)

Memento fantastically portrays the life of a man who lives his day to day life with anterograde amnesia. They not only show how instantaneous his disorder effects him, it also shows how he manages and bypasses it day by day. For example, Leonard can only remember something for a few minutes, about ten minutes max. To bypass this difficulty in not remembering anything for more than those precious few minutes, Leonard takes photos of people and objects he encounters. With these photos he quickly scribbles down comments and his thoughts within those moments before he forgets. After those few minutes are up, Leonard forgets everything that has just occurred but all he has to do is look at these pictures and these notes to know where to continue on in searching for his wife. Just like Clive Wearing who also jots down notes after every several minutes because he feels he's just woken up, he is clueless as to what is written and why it was written. Also like Clive, Leonard recognizes that it his handwriting but unlike Clive, he tries to figure out the meaning behind what is written.

Not only does the movie show him jotting down things quickly in urgency he also tattoos them to his body. The movie shows Leonard's fight against this disorder, strongly depicting his emotions and reactions as he reads the words, phrases, dates, and names tattooed all over his body. There are times where Leonard awakens and is afraid because he does not understand and know his whereabouts but when he looks in the mirror, his prior self from hours or even minutes before has tattooed onto his body what has happened, in addition to the photos and post-it notes. Every time he looks in the mirror he goes through the same emotions of learning how his wife died, what he should be looking for, and to avenge his wife.

The emotions depicted within this movie shows the clueless innocence of a man struggling with the anterograde amnesia and how difficult it is to live day by day never remembering anything new. It is just as our psychology textbooks depicts, a person with anterograde amnesia is unable to create explicit memories. But unlike our textbooks, it portrays and reveals a life of man with this problem, trying to move on with life and find a solution to what he remembers last, his wife being murdered. This film is a fantastic choice when wanting to depict the struggles of someone with anterograde amnesia and how they bypass & live life with this problem.

I strongly recommend those who haven't seen yet to watch this movie, it is in many ways impactful and makes us realize how we take our memories and remembering for granted. You can see the trailer here.

Hallucinogen's are known to cause dramatic alterations of perception, mood, and thought. So when stumbling upon an article that was recently released in the online research news site, Science Daily, that the hallucinogen methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or more commonly known as the drug "Ecstasy", has the ability to increase the survival of Dopamine neurons, it was quite shocking to think that a drug that is known to do great damage to our brains is instead found to help and enhance the neurons within our brains. MDMA is known to produce serotonin in the brain and cause damage to neurons that rely on those serotonin neurotransmitters, hallucinations, and euphoria.
In other words, MDMA is nothing to mess around with, but recently, research from the University of Cincinnati found that when MDMA was exposed to lab rats prenatally, it increased the growth of dopamine cells. Using the scientific thinking principle of Replicability when we look at the findings of this research we are led to find that this was the only research that has declared that MDMA enhances the growth of dopamine neurons rather than decrease them. No other research was found to have done the exact same thing. But if we look at what was declared as 'evidence' we found that the researchers who had exposed MDMA to the rats prenatally also exposed the drug to cultured embryonic cells, which too resulted in dopamine cells enhancing. Using the the scientific principle, Replicability, we can clarify that in some ways this experiment was 'replicated' but instead replicating it with rats, they replicated the experiment by using embryonic cells but obtained the same result. So does, MDMA in actuality result in enhancing dopamine cells? The researchers were able to replicate their own results but what this research is clearly lacking is peer review. No other researcher has had the chance to review this research and declare whether it is falsifiable or whether "they" themselves can replicate it. There is also larger evidence found in multiple research that MDMA causes depletion of dopmaine neurotransmitters rather than enhance them.
So can the hallucinogen MDMA enhance dopamine neurotransmitters survival? We can't exactly say until we know that this research can be falsifiable and replicated by other peer researchers besides the University of Cincinnati faculty. Until there is actual replication and can be falsified, we can only be scientifically skeptical about this finding.

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