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Research

Participate in a study. Research in the last 5 years has lead to new discoveries about the brain which gives all of us more hope.

  1. Harvard Brain Tissue Center Become a brain donor

1-800-BRAIN BANK (1-800-272-4622)

Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center

McLean Hospital

115 Mill Street

Belmont, MA  02478

WHY Should I Become a Brain Tissue Donor?

In order to conduct careful studies of biologically-based brain disorders, it is essential that researchers have access to tissue from individuals who DO NOT suffer from a debilitating brain dysfunction as well as from individuals who DO  to identify comparative anatomical differences. Recent neurochemical and anatomical studies, focused on the biological nature of severe brain disorders, are opening the possibility of understanding the mechanisms responsible for these disorders.  However, a long-standing shortage of brain tissue has greatly hindered postmortem research into the neurobiology of the human brain.  Because each study only requires the use of a very small amount of tissue, each donated brain provides a large number of samples which can be utilized in a very diverse group of studies.

Light Therapy Better Than Prozac For Depression?

A study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that bright light therapy can be almost twice as effective as Prozac in treating depression.

There were a 122 patients involved in the testing.  There were four different treatments administered:

  • Daily light therapy
  • Standard doses of Prozac
  • A combination of Prozac and light therapy
  • A placebo ozone generator and a placebo pill

The light therapy consisted a 30 minute exposure to a fluorescent light box soon after waking up.  The lights in terms of light strength were 10,000 lux.  They generally cost between $75-$200 and can be found at Walmart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and at a whole host of internet sites.  A lot of folks use them for seasonal affective disorder or (lack of sunlight in the winter).

The trial lasted for eight weeks and at the end, patients were evaluated for changes in their symptoms.  The evaluations were conducted using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale which measures 60 points.

Results:  Those using the light therapy reported a 13.4 point reduction in their depression symptoms compared to only an 8.8 point decrease for those taking Prozac alone.  The results of Prozac alone were about the same as the placebo.  The combination Prozac and light therapy worked best.

Warning:  Be sure to advise your doctor that your are beginning this therapy and especially do not discontinue your medication without the permission of your doctor.  Also, make sure you do not have any eye disorders such as glaucoma or macular degeneration before starting light therapy.

Exactly how light therapy works is not known but what is known is that it works to reset the natural circadian rhythm.  This helps normalize melatonin levels in the daily 24 hour cycle.  Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and any lack there of can cause problems with the brain.  Dr. Amen is a big proponent of taking melatonin supplements if you are having trouble sleeping.  Another study published in the Dr. David Williams newsletter indicates drinking four ounces daily of tart cherry juice can increase melatonin levels.

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