‘NEURO CROSS-FIT TRAINING’
Can Video Games Elevate Human Minds?

Dr. Adam Gazzaley is crafting video games that can benefit people ill and well.
Dr. Adam Gazzaley is crafting video games that can benefit people ill and well.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley thinks mankind can do a whole lot better than a pill or a small molecule to enhance the brain and its core functions—perception, memory, goalsetting, compassion and wisdom. Modern humans, he concedes, are pretty good at optimizing physical performance—strength, flexibility, speed and agility. But with respect to the brain, “we’re not doing so well there.”

His increasingly popular intervention—as evidenced by the size of his Neuroscape Lab, his many global speaking engagements (more than 450 so far) and the number of large companies jostling to collaborate with him—is video gaming.

“Neuro cross-fit training—that’s what we’re going for,” Gazzaley told a packed balcony C in Natcher Bldg. on Nov. 5. He predicts “a paradigm change, an entirely new class of medicine within the next 4 years”—the prescription of video games, both to enhance wellness and to address cognitive deficits.

A neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, Gazzaley visited NIH at the invitation of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research to discuss “Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Education.”

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PAINKILLERS OF CHOICE
Prescription Opioid Use May Be Decreasing, but Heroin Use Is Increasing

Dr. Eric C. Strain
Dr. Eric C. Strain

One million Americans regularly use heroin. At least another million misuse or abuse prescription pain relievers. These estimates were provided by Dr. Eric C. Strain at a Contemporary Clinical Medicine: Great Teachers Grand Rounds Lecture in Lipsett Amphitheater recently.

These numbers could well be higher, but it’s hard to come up with an exact estimate, said Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research and executive vice chair of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Heroin and prescription painkillers are opioids, he explained. Both decrease pain. Opioids attach to proteins called opioid receptors. These proteins can be found in the brain, spine and gastrointestinal tract. When taken as prescribed, opioid painkillers can safely and effectively manage pain. When abused, high doses of opioids can cause severe respiratory depression and death.

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