Sunday, November 19, 2017

#MeToo, part 3. Top 10 Things a Gay Rapist Accomplishes

Top 10 Things a Gay Rapist Accomplishes:

1. Seals a temporary lack of self-confidence of the victim to permanence.

2. Ruins routine sleep, making you need meds for the most natural of body functions.

3. Makes victim reach for comfort on the most elemental level, including eating.

4. So victim is susceptible to drugs, sex, overeating.

5. Having reached stage 4, diabetes can be achieved.

6. Once diagnosed with diabetes, victim, now adult watches in horror that Affordable Care Act will be killed by Trump.

7. Depression, diabetes, and sleep meds make partner deeply uncomfortable, completing the stress cycle to perpetuate more stress.

8. Having no self-esteem, said victim does not attend to financial matters and faces bleak financial future, further eroding relationship with partner, who, for clarity, has contributed to support of household beyond his share.

9. Further eroding of self-confidence when victim cannot talk to anyone, particularly LGBT, about a major part of his life.

10. Victim thinks, constantly, of man's inhumanity to man and where does his situation fit. Little feedback received convinces him that, well, take a place in line. Others have it much worse. And keep setting those useless therapy appointments, for which you've paid $ thousands over decades.

#MeToo 2. When You're Gay, You Blame the Victim

I so want to tell my story, but even today, 34 years later, it haunts me and depresses me. A gay rape sears you ceaselessly.

My perp was a former high school teacher. It staggered me when it happened and stings my self-confidence today.

My friend Art, who committed suicide in 1992, was eccentric and wise at the same time. He knew that being gay in America was difficult, "whether or not you choose to deal it or not."

I still find it nearly impossible to be coherent about what happened.

I had broken up with my first boyfriend. The hurt lasted all summer of 1982, when I choose to go out on a Saturday night to the bar in North Jersey where we had met. I was tired of the trips to NYC and Connecticut, even, to socialize.

I got to the bar that night and there was his car in the parking lot. I panicked and drove home. Lonely and scared, I called my old teacher with whom I'd remained in contact over the years. I was comfortable enough to come out to him while still in school, but he never returned in kind. Yet, he was the only friend I could think to call and he immediately invited me (for the first time) to his apartment in NYC for a drink and some talk. I rushed there at the chance.

It didn't take long--five minutes--before he had stripped, cornered me, and forced himself on me. I was on his bed and stayed there, frozen in fear and disbelief for five or more hours. This was his version of intimacy.

Really, it was like animal behavior. He thought, after knowing me for a decade, that that was all I wanted or needed.

When you're gay and raped, there really are no places to go. Women can at least, at the very least, have a social understanding of the emotions and the devastation. Gay men do not have such an ephemeral place. We have depression, overeating, drugs, and dangerous, casual sex as options to block the pain.

In 2015, I went back to the Fordham Prep reunion for my class of 1975. Surreally, pictures of my perpetrator flashed on a slideshow that seemed 100 times normal size. There were other teachers, other students, but all I could see was him.

It made a difficult night even worse. I heard about a lawyer who was suing the many perpetrators at this Jesuit school. I contacted him immediately, and in my view, he took my case. I had a long phone interview and filled out a long document. Hoping for some justice, I found out a year later that the lawyer had been lying. I had no case because I was not a student at the time of the rape, he blandly told me. The school was not responsible because I was an adult that night. It was a doublecross and I suspect this lawyer, representing the law firm that took down the Boston Archdiocese priest, was either incompetent or guilty of malpractice.

The road to nowhere continues from that night in 1982. Either you switch into extreme denial, flattening out your emotions for a sort of emotional death, or you medicate with food or drugs.

The gay community is incapable of providing support, weighed down by their own baggage of self-hate and denial.

So, if you survive (and suicide ideation is never far from my mind), you live zombie-like. So if gay people can't understand, trust me that straight people can't ever comprehend.

Blame the victim is all people can do, gay or straight. It's in the books.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#MeToo Pt. 1: Where do you go if you're a gay man?

"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." --Fannie Lou Hamer

On a Saturday night in August, 1983, I, a 26-year old gay male, was abused and raped by my former high school English teacher. (He was gay, too).  It was the worst experience of my life. I became a different person that night.

I've followed closely the current wave of revelations, by mostly women, of assaults from powerful white men. Each revelation takes me back to that apartment on Riverside Drive and the gut-wrenching emotional pain I experienced the next day and in bursts over more than 34 years.

A character in a favorite show, Six Feet Under, once said to a business rival, "There are things much worse than death." I believe I am familiar with them.

The rape and abuse on that night robbed me of any sense of an already fragile self-confidence. Family, friends, work colleagues, and shrinks alike comment frequently on this deficit.

"Where is your anger?" pleaded/questioned one therapist for whom I had forked over more money than I could afford. Relationships, never easy in the gay world, burned out suddenly and rapidly. In jobs, I worked below my capabilities and when I was lifted up by some enlightened people filled with grace, I burned out on the job and walked away.

The last 10 years have been spent in a relationship strained to the limit. Scrapping to earn money, I have found myself at food pantries and bottle return machines. Without my partner's financial support, SNAP, and Obamacare, I don't know where I'd be. I do not denigrate all these supports; neither are they ennobling. They dig the hole of self esteem as much as provide food and medicine.

Wherever that place would be, what happened in the late summer of 1983 rides along with me, never exorcised.

To the Kevin Spaceys, Harvey Weinsteins, Donald Trumps, Louis CKs of recent note, you must somehow learn the devastation of your assaults. Not in the moment, not the next day, but throughout a lifetime.

I understand the character in Six Geet Under: There are things worse than death.

End of Part 1.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Parkinson’s Disease: A Looming Pandemic

Parkinson’s Disease: A Looming Pandemic

NEWS   Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.
In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, your face may show little or no expression, or your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.
Although Parkinson's disease can't be cured, medications may markedly improve your symptoms. In occasional cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.--Mayo Clinic
Parkinson’s Disease: A Looming Pandemic

Sunday, November 12, 2017

FASD: Alcohol and the Precious Fetal Brain

Alcohol is the leading known environmental agent capable of causing physical birth defects.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders


  • Alcohol’s ability to cause birth defects was recognized more than three decades ago by U.S. researchers, and it is now the leading known environmental teratogen (an agent capable of causing physical birth defects). In a 1981 advisory, the U.S. Surgeon General suggested that pregnant women should limit their alcohol intake – although no recommended level of intake was specified.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one of the most serious consequences of heavy drinking during pregnancy. FAS is a devastating constellation of birth defects characterized by craniofacial malformations, neurological and motor deficits, intrauterine growth retardation, learning disabilities, and behavioral and social deficits.
  • While the prevalence of FAS in the U.S. is between 0.5-2.0 cases per 1000 births, it is more common in other parts of the world. For example, in parts of South Africa where heavy drinking prevails, the incidence of FAS exceeds 60 cases per 1000 individuals.
  • It is estimated that for every child born with FAS, three additional children are born who may not have the physical characteristics of FAS but who, as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure, still experience neurobehavioral deficits that affect learning and behavior.


  • The umbrella term "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)" is now used to characterize the full range of prenatal alcohol damage varying from mild to severe and encompassing a broad array of physical defects and cognitive, behavioral, and emotional deficits.
  • The earliest stages of life are periods of great vulnerability to the adverse effects of alcohol. Embryonic and fetal developmentare characterized by rapid, but well-synchronized patterns of gene expression, which makes the embryo/fetus particularly vulnerable to harm from alcohol.
  • Research shows that patterns of exposure known to place a fetus at greatest risk for FASD include drinking four or more drinks per occasion, and drinking more than seven drinks per week. The outcomes attributable to prenatal alcohol exposure for the children of women drinking in this manner include deficits in growth, behavior, and neurocognition, including deficits in arithmetic, language and memory, visual-spatial abilities, attention, and speed of information processing.
  • Imaging and neurobehavioral research in individuals with FAS and FASD reveals that some brain regions appear to be most sensitive to prenatal alcohol while other areas apparently are spared adverse effects. Particularly vulnerable regions include the frontal cortex, hippocampus, corpus callosum, and components of the cerebellum, including the anterior vermis.
  • Despite a number of prevention efforts, including point of sale warning signs and bottle labeling, national surveillance data indicate that in 2005, 12% of pregnant women admitted drinking alcohol in the previous month and 2% were binge drinking. Data from prenatal clinics and postnatal studies suggest that 20-30% of women drink at some time during pregnancy. A majority of women in the U.S. reduce or abstain from alcohol once pregnancy is recognized but almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. More than 12% of women who are not using contraception and are at risk of becoming pregnant drink at levels that exceed 7 drinks per week or 4 or more drinks per occasion.
  • In a 2005 update of the Surgeon General’s advisory of 1981, the U.S. Surgeon General advised pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to abstain from drinking alcohol to eliminate the chance of giving birth to a baby with FASD.
  • The Surgeon General’s 2005 advisory states:

    • A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
    • A pregnant woman who already has consumed alcohol during her pregnancy should stop in order to minimize further risk.
    • A woman who is considering becoming pregnant should abstain from alcohol.
    • Health professionals should routinely inquire about alcohol consumption by women of childbearing age, inform them of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and advise them not to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.
    • Health professionals may offer brief office-based interventions to women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy or who are drinking during pregnancy, or may refer them to an alcohol treatment specialist. Women who continue to have difficulty refraining from alcohol after a brief intervention and those who are alcohol dependent should be referred to an alcohol treatment specialist.
  • A number of effective tools are available for assessment of at-risk drinking and intervention guidelines for women of childbearing age. Currently, NIH and other agencies and organizations recommend that primary care providers screen all women of childbearing age for alcohol use.


  • Ongoing NIH research seeks to find more effective ways to prevent and treat FASD. The broadest approach involves universal prevention measures targeted to the global community of men and women, and conveys general education on risks and information to abstain from alcohol in pregnancy.
  • Current research also includes multilevel interventions involving case management of high risk individuals and brief interventions using motivational interviewing and community reinforcement.
  • Screening, brief intervention, and referral for treatment (SBIRT) approaches have emerged as a significant tool for addressing alcohol and other substance use in primary and prenatal care settings. SBIRT has been endorsed by the NIH, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other federal agencies and professional societies. Ongoing NIH research on computer-delivered brief interventions is beginning to show promising effects in the area of prenatal substance use, with early results suggesting that computer-delivered SBIRT may be implemented efficiently and at low cost in community settings.
  • Other ongoing efforts to minimize the damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure include studies of pharmacological intervention during pregnancy. This approach may be applicable when there is alcohol exposure before a woman recognizes that she is pregnant, or otherwise fails to stop drinking during the pregnancy.
  • Early-stage clinical trials are underway to assess the ability of choline supplementation as well as several behavioral interventions to mitigate learning and behavioral deficits in children with FASD. In addition, basic science investigations are exploring a number of other potential therapeutic interventions, such as dietary choline supplementation during pregnancy to prevent FASD.
  • Researchers are also using animal models of FASD to explore several promising approaches to reversing or ameliorating neurobehavioral deficits. For example, recent animal studies examining the effects of neonatal binge alcohol exposure on the performance of a motor task suggest that complex motor skill training may help reverse performance deficits resulting from such exposure.
  • NIAAA also seeks to launch an initiative to establish more precise estimates of FASD prevalence through creation of a standardized diagnostic system among affected children. While multiple studies designed to examine the risk factors for and effects of FASD have estimated the overall prevalence of FASD in the U.S., results of these studies suggest disparities due to relatively high rates of FASD in selected heavily drinking groups. There is a substantial need to determine a more accurate prevalence of FASD in broader communities exhibiting more variable risk.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Supporting our Vets: Relationships and PTSD

How does trauma affect relationships?

Trauma survivors with PTSD may have trouble with their close family relationships or friendships. The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem solving. These problems may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern can develop that may sometimes harm relationships.

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How might trauma survivors react?

In the first weeks and months following a trauma, survivors may feel angry, detached, tense or worried in their relationships. In time, most are able to resume their prior level of closeness in relationships. Yet the 5% to 10% of survivors who develop PTSD may have lasting relationship problems.

Survivors with PTSD may feel distant from others and feel numb. They may have less interest in social or sexual activities. Because survivors feel irritable, on guard, jumpy, worried, or nervous, they may not be able to relax or be intimate. They may also feel an increased need to protect their loved ones. They may come across as tense or demanding.

The trauma survivor may often have trauma memories or flashbacks. He or she might go to great lengths to avoid such memories. Survivors may avoid any activity that could trigger a memory. If the survivor has trouble sleeping or has nightmares, both the survivor and partner may not be able to get enough rest. This may make sleeping together harder.

Survivors often struggle with intense anger and impulses. In order to suppress angry feelings and actions, they may avoid closeness. They may push away or find fault with loved ones and friends. Also, drinking and drug problems, which can be an attempt to cope with PTSD, can destroy intimacy and friendships. Verbal or physical violence can occur.

In other cases, survivors may depend too much on their partners, family members, and friends. This could also include support persons such as health care providers or therapists.

Dealing with these symptoms can take up a lot of the survivor's attention. He or she may not be able to focus on the partner. It may be hard to listen carefully and make decisions together with someone else. Partners may come to feel that talking together and working as a team are not possible.

How might loved ones react?

Partners, friends, or family members may feel hurt, cut off, or down because the survivor has not been able to get over the trauma. Loved ones may become angry or distant toward the survivor. They may feel pressured, tense, and controlled. The survivor's symptoms can make a loved one feel like he or she is living in a war zone or in constant threat of danger. Living with someone who has PTSD can sometimes lead the partner to have some of the same feelings of having been through trauma.

In sum, a person who goes through a trauma may have certain common reactions. These reactions affect the people around the survivor. Family, friends, and others then react to how the survivor is behaving. This in turn comes back to affect the person who went through the trauma.

Trauma types and relationships

Certain types of "man-made" traumas can have a more severe effect on relationships. These traumas include:
  • Childhood sexual and physical abuse
  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Combat
  • Terrorism
  • Genocide
  • Torture
  • Kidnapping
  • Prisoner of war
Survivors of man-made traumas often feel a lasting sense of terror, horror, endangerment, and betrayal. These feelings affect how they relate to others. They may feel like they are letting down their guard if they get close to someone else and trust them. This is not to say a survivor never feels a strong bond of love or friendship. However, a close relationship can also feel scary or dangerous to a trauma survivor.

Do all trauma survivors have relationship problems?

Many trauma survivors do not develop PTSD. Also, many people with PTSD do not have relationship problems. People with PTSD can create and maintain good relationships by:
  • Building a personal support network to help cope with PTSD while working on family and friend relationships
  • Sharing feelings honestly and openly, with respect and compassion
  • Building skills at problem solving and connecting with others
  • Including ways to play, be creative, relax, and enjoy others

What can be done to help someone who has PTSD?

Relations with others are very important for trauma survivors. Social support is one of the best things to protect against getting PTSD. Relationships can offset feelings of being alone. Relationships may also help the survivor's self-esteem. This may help reduce depression and guilt. A relationship can also give the survivor a way to help someone else. Helping others can reduce feelings of failure or feeling cut off from others. Lastly, relationships are a source of support when coping with stress.

If you need to seek professional help, try to find a therapist who has skills in treating PTSD as well as working with couples or families. 

Many treatment approaches may be helpful for dealing with relationship issues. Options include:
  • One-to-one and group therapy
  • Anger and stress management
  • Assertiveness training
  • Couples counseling
  • Family education classes
  • Family therapy
Source: Veterans Administration

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spankings can trigger adult mental health problems

Getting spanked as a child can lead to a host of mental health problems in adulthood say researchers

Spanking is defined as using physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, to correct or control the youth's behavior.
Credit: © vkara / Fotolia
Getting spanked as a child can lead to a host of mental health problems in adulthood, say University of Michigan researchers.
A new study by Andrew Grogan-Kaylor and Shawna Lee, both U-M associate professors of social work, and colleagues indicates the violence caused by spanking can lead adults to feel depressed, attempt suicide, drink at moderate-to-heavy levels or use illegal drugs.
"Placing spanking in a similar category to physical/emotional abuse experiences would increase our understanding of these adult mental health problems," Grogan-Kaylor said.
Spanking is defined as using physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, to correct or control the youth's behavior.
Researchers note that given that both spanking and physical abuse involves the use of force and infliction of pain, as well as being linked with similar mental health outcomes, it raises the question of whether spanking should be considered an adverse childhood experience. This involves abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, which includes divorce and an incarcerated relative.
The study used data from the CDC-Kaiser ACE study, which sampled more than 8,300 people, ranging in age from 19 to 97 years. Study participants completed self-reports while seeking routine health checks at an outpatient clinic.
They were asked about how often they were spanked in their first 18 years, their household background and if an adult inflicted physical abuse (push, grab, slap or shoved) or emotional abuse (insulted or cursed).
In the study sample, nearly 55 percent of respondents reported being spanked. Men were more likely to experience childhood spanking than women. Compared to white respondents, minority respondents -- other than Asians -- were more likely to report being spanked.
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Those reporting exposure to spanking had increased odds of depression and other mental health problems, the study showed.
Author Tracie Afifi, associate professor at the University of Manitoba, says that it's important to prevent not just child maltreatment, but also harsh parenting before it occurs.
"This can be achieved by promoting evidence-based parenting programs and policies designed to prevent early adversities, and associated risk factors," said Lee, who is also a faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "Prevention should be a critical direction for public health initiatives to take."
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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

More and better drug treatment needed in prisons

Drug abuse and crime continue to be linked; and although addiction is recognized as a chronic, relapsing disease, offenders are still not getting the treatment they need. 

Addiction is a brain disease. A preventable one, but nevertheless a brain disease. LEARN MORE HERE! 
  • Chronic drug abuse causes long-lasting brain changes that contribute to an addicted person’s compulsion to seek and use drugs despite catastrophic consequences. These brain changes persist long after drug abuse ends, leading to high rates of relapse (as with other chronic diseases) and the need for continuing treatment to help an individual achieve recovery.
  • More and better treatment is needed in the criminal justice system, and continuing through the period of re-entry into the community. It is estimated that about half of state and federal prisoners meet the criteria for drug abuse and dependence and yet fewer than 20 percent who need treatment receive it.
  • As in the general population, co-occurring substance use and other mental disorders are common, with about 45% of inmates in local jails and State prisons having both. In addition, about 75% of inmates with a mental illness also meet criteria for substance abuse, and vice-versa. This high rate of co-occurrence underscores the need for offenders, both adults and juveniles, suffering from one disorder to be screened for the other and, where appropriate, treated for both, necessitating an integrated treatment approach.
  • Involvement in the criminal justice system provides an opportunity to diagnose and treat these health problems, which also include infectious diseases like HIV. Fourteen percent of HIV-infected individuals pass through correctional facilities each year, and yet criminal justice–based services and community health and social services remain fragmented.
Treatment works, is cost-effective, and can help end the vicious cycle of drug abuse and criminal recidivism. 

  • Research demonstrates that treatment can work for drug abusing offenders, even when it is entered involuntarily. Forced abstinence (when it occurs) during incarceration is not equivalent to treatment. Failure to receive needed treatment or access to services often leads to relapse and re-arrest, usually during the first 12 months after release.

    Juvenile Offenders: Virtually every juvenile offender should be screened for drug abuse and mental disorders, and receive an intervention:

    • Treatment for those who are dependent on alcohol or drugs, or mentally ill.
    • Drug abuse prevention for those who are not.
    • HIV prevention or treatment as needed.
  • Longitudinal studies show that treatment begun in the criminal justice system and continued in the community garners lasting reductions in criminal activity and drug abuse. This includes medication-assisted treatment (i.e., methadone) for prisoners with heroin addiction (see figure below).
  • Providing treatment is cost-effective, saving between $2 and $6 for every $1 spent on it, which in part reflects reductions in criminal behavior and re-incarceration.


Getting proven treatments into the criminal justice system will promote abstinence, help identify and mitigate related diseases like HIV, and foster productive reintegration back into the community. 

Source: NIH

Saturday, November 4, 2017

In autism, too many brain connections may be at root of condition

Learning, social issues may reflect neuronal miscommunication

Washington University School of Medicine

Mutations in a gene linked to autism in people causes neurons to form too many connections in rodents, according to a new study. The findings suggest that malfunctions in communication between brain cells could be at the root of autism.

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A defective gene linked to autism influences how neurons connect and communicate with each other in the brain, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Rodents that lack the gene form too many connections between brain neurons and have difficulty learning.

The findings, published Nov. 2 in Nature Communications, suggest that some of the diverse symptoms of autism may stem from a malfunction in communication among cells in the brain.

"This study raises the possibility that there may be too many synapses in the brains of patients with autism," said senior author Azad Bonni, MD, PhD, the Edison Professor of Neuroscience and head of the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "You might think that having more synapses would make the brain work better, but that doesn't seem to be the case. An increased number of synapses creates miscommunication among neurons in the developing brain that correlates with impairments in learning, although we don't know how."

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting about one out of every 68 children. It is characterized by social and communication challenges.

Among the many genes linked to autism in people are six genes that attach a molecular tag, called ubiquitin, to proteins. These genes, called ubiquitin ligases, function like a work order, telling the rest of the cell how to deal with the tagged proteins: This one should be discarded, that one should be rerouted to another part of the cell, a third needs to have its activity dialed up or down.

Patients with autism may carry a mutation that prevents one of their ubiquitin genes from working properly. But how problems with tagging proteins affect how the brain is hardwired and operates, and why such problems may lead to autism, has remained poorly understood.
To understand the role of ubiquitin genes in brain development, Bonni, first author Pamela Valnegri, PhD, and colleagues removed the ubiquitin gene RNF8 in neurons in the cerebellum of young mice. The cerebellum is one of the key brain regions affected by autism.

The researchers found that neurons that lacked the RNF8 protein formed about 50 percent more synapses -- the connections that allow neurons to send signals from one to another -- than those with the gene. And the extra synapses worked. By measuring the electrical signal in the receiving cells, the researchers found that the strength of the signal was doubled in the mice that lacked the protein.

The cerebellum is indispensable for movement and learning motor skills such as how to ride a bicycle. Some of the recognizable symptoms of autism -- such as motor incoordination and a tendency to walk tippy-toed -- involve control of movement.

The animals missing the RNF8 gene in the neurons of their cerebellum did not have any obvious problems with movement: They walked normally and appeared coordinated. When the researchers tested their ability to learn motor skills, however, the mice without RNF8 failed miserably.

The researchers trained the mice to associate a quick puff of air to the eye with the blinking of a light. Most mice learn to shut their eyes when they see the light blink, to avoid the irritation of the coming air puff. After a week of training, mice with a functioning copy of the gene closed their eyes in anticipation more than three quarters of the time, while mice without the gene shut their eyes just a third of the time.
While it is best known for its role in movement, the cerebellum is also important in higher cognitive functions such as language and attention, both of which are affected in autism. People with autism often have language delays and pay unusually intense attention to objects or topics that interest them. The cerebellum may be involved not only in motor learning but in other features of autism as well, the researchers said.

Of course, there is a world of difference between a mouse that can't learn to shut its eyes and a person with autism who struggles to communicate. But the researchers said the findings suggest that changing how many connections neurons make with each other can have important implications for behavior.
Since this paper was written, Bonni and colleagues have tested the other autism-associated ubiquitin genes. Inhibition of all genes tested cause an increase in the number of synapses in the cerebellum.

"It's possible that excessive connections between neurons contribute to autism," Bonni said. "More work needs to be done to verify this hypothesis in people, but if that turns out to be true, then you can start looking at ways of controlling the number of synapses. It could potentially benefit not just people who have these rare mutations in ubiquitin genes but other patients with autism."

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Materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Regular marijuana use linked to more sex, study finds happens in the brain first.
Despite concerns among physicians and scientists that frequent marijuana use may impair sexual desire or performance, the opposite appears more likely to be the case, new research indicates.


The jury's still out on rock 'n' roll. But the link between sex and at least one drug, marijuana, has been confirmed.
A study by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine indicates that, despite concerns among physicians and scientists that frequent marijuana use may impair sexual desire or performance, the opposite appears more likely to be the case.

The findings, to be published online Oct. 27 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, are based on an analysis of more than 50,000 Americans ages 25-45. And they're unambiguous.

"Frequent marijuana use doesn't seem to impair sexual motivation or performance. If anything, it's associated with increased coital frequency," said the study's senior author, Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor of urology. The lead author is Andrew Sun, MD, a resident in urology.

Hint of a causal connection
The study does not establish a causal connection between marijuana use and sexual activity, Eisenberg noted. But the results hint at it, he added. "The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids."

The study is the first to examine the relationship between marijuana use and frequency of sexual intercourse at the population level in the United States.

"Marijuana use is very common, but its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn't been studied much in a scientific way," Eisenberg said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 20 million adult Americans are current marijuana users. With the drug's legalization for medical or recreational use in 29 states, that number is climbing. But despite marijuana's growing status as a recreational drug, its status as a procreational drug remains ambiguous: On one hand, there are reports of erectile dysfunction in heavy users, and rigorous studies have found reduced sperm counts in men who smoke it; on the other hand, experiments conducted in animal models and humans indicate that marijuana stimulates activity in brain regions involved in sexual arousal and activity.

Looking at survey responses
To arrive at an accurate determination of marijuana's effect on intercourse frequency, Eisenberg and Sun turned to the National Survey of Family Growth, sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey, which provides data pertaining to family structures, sexual practices and childbearing, reflects the overall demographic features of the U.S. population.

Originally conducted at regular intervals, the survey is now carried out on an annual basis. It explicitly queries respondents on how many times they've had intercourse with a member of the opposite sex in the past four weeks, and how frequently they've smoked marijuana over the past 12 months.

The investigators compiled answers to those questions for all years since 2002, when the survey first began collecting data on men as well as women. They included data from respondents ages 25-45 and excluded a small percentage (fewer than 3 percent) of respondents who had failed to answer one or more relevant questions.
In all, Eisenberg and Sun obtained data on 28,176 women averaging 29.9 years of age and 22,943 men whose average age was 29.5. They assessed these individuals' self-reported patterns of marijuana use over the previous year and their self-reported frequency of heterosexual intercourse over the previous four weeks.

Some 24.5 percent of men and 14.5 percent of women in the analysis reported having used marijuana, and there was a positive association between the frequency of marijuana use and the frequency of sexual intercourse. This relationship applied to both sexes: Women denying marijuana use in the past year, for example, had sex on average 6.0 times during the previous four weeks, whereas that number was 7.1 for daily pot users. Among men, the corresponding figure was 5.6 for nonusers and 6.9 for daily users.

In other words, pot users are having about 20 percent more sex than pot abstainers, Eisenberg noted.

Positive association is universal
Moreover, Eisenberg said, the positive association between marijuana use and coital frequency was independent of demographic, health, marital or parental status.

In addition, the trend remained even after accounting for subjects' use of other drugs, such as cocaine or alcohol. This, Eisenberg said, suggests that marijuana's positive correlation with sexual activity doesn't merely reflect some general tendency of less-inhibited types, who may be more inclined to use drugs, to also be more likely to have sex. In addition, coital frequency rose steadily with increasing marijuana use, a dose-dependent relationship supporting a possible active role for marijuana in fostering sexual activity.

Nevertheless, Eisenberg cautioned, the study shouldn't be misinterpreted as having proven a causal link. "It doesn't say if you smoke more marijuana, you'll have more sex," he said.

Stanford University Medical Center