Knowledge Really Is Power

Grind for January 28th, 2019
“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.”

– Leonardo da Vinci


The Headline

New discovery about the brain could help us treat addiction

The Grind

New research published this month suggests the cerebellum plays a key role in reward-seeking and social behavior.

The discovery, made by Professor Kamran Khodakhah and his team, could help us develop better treatments for addiction.

The cerebellum is an egg-shaped part of the brain that helps regulate physical movement and cognitive functioning.

Improper functioning of the cerebellum has been observed in patents with autism, addictive behavior, and schizophrenia.

The Details

Based on MRI studies, the cerebellum in patients struggling with addiction “lights up” in response to stimuli related to their addiction.

“The notion that the cerebellum did much beyond controlling movement was met with a lot of skepticism,” explains Khodakhah. “And no one had any real clues as to how the cerebellum might affect dopamine release.”

Dopamine is a hormone released when a person receives a pleasurable reward (including drug use).

To determine whether the cerebellum was involved in reward processing, Khodakhah zeroed in on an area of the brain we already know to be associated with reward processing: the ventral segmental area (VTA).

Khodakhah then designed a series of experiments based on his theory that neurons in the cerebellum would “talk to” neurons in the VTA during a pleasurable experience.

Based on the team’s experiments with mice, he was right.

The team also discovered that blocking the pathway between the cerebellum and the VTA caused mice to demonstrate anti-social behavior.

This suggests a link between the cerebellum-VTA pathway and social interactions.

“We propose that this…pathway may explain, at least in part, the association between the cerebellum and addictive behaviors, and provides a basis for a role for the cerebellum in other motivated and social behaviors.”

Out Of This World

The Headline

The Defense Department spent $20+ million investigating sci-fi ideas like invisibility cloaking and wormholes

The Grind

In 2017, the media described a secret Pentagon program called “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification.”

The program was funded almost entirely by then-senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and managed by military intelligence official Luis Elizondo.

According to documents recently made public as part of a FOIA request, the program spent $22 million on projects including:

— Traversable wormholes, stargates, and negative energy

— Warp drive, dark energy, and the manipulation of extra dimensions

— Invisibility cloaking

— Metallic glasses

— Advanced nuclear propulsion for manned deep space missions

The program ran out of funding in 2012, but according to Elizondo continued to investigate UFO sightings.

The Details

The FIOA request came from Steven Aftergood, a science fiction fan who directs the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.

“The list of research papers tells us something more than previous reporting did about this odd program,” says Aftergood. “Now we have a better idea of exactly what the Defense Intelligence Agency was up to, and what it produced.”

According to reports, a large portion of the program’s budget was sent directly to Bigelow Aerospace, a Nevada-based company owned by UFO hunter Robert Bigelow.

Bigelow is a longtime friend of former senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who provided most of the funding for the program.

Did you know… The U.S. motto, ‘In God We Trust’, was not adopted as the national slogan until 1956.