microstates, prescription video games, rivers full of drugs
[psych news + blues]
Happy Friday, brethren, it’s time for your psychiatric-related news roundup!
Researchers want to use EEG microstates as a biomarker for ADHD. But they were only able to replicate one of their findings, and it’s the microstate associated with sleep disorder. Considering the symptoms of sleep deprivation (inattention, distractibility, mood dysregulation) are also the symptoms of ADHD, not sure how that’s a reliable biomarker, but okay!
Yet another brain scan study comparing ADHD & non-ADHD kids, with a larger sample size than previous studies, but they didn’t find any major brain differences to write home about. For some reason the researchers concluded that this just means they need to look harder, with better scanners!! I’m not a scientist but, I’m pretty sure I learned in middle school that you’re supposed to rethink your hypothesis if your findings don’t support it?
ADHDers on TikTok are creating co-working livestreams to Do Things, and some are surprised that it works, but I’m not! Co-working is one of the most helpful tactics because being alone sucks, and the presence of others has a calming effect that helps people focus. No mystery there, but I do wonder what the implications of a parasocial co-working space are — everyone can see you, but you can’t see them? You can talk, but they can’t really talk back? Idk, I prefer zoom sessions.
In Health Tech:
Akili, the first company to get a video game FDA-approved to treat ADHD, is going public, and they’re raising a shit ton of money to develop “digital therapeutics” that can treat “multiple sclerosis, autism, depression, and more.” Some day soon we will all have to pay $900 per month to play our prescription video games in the Metaverse, probably.
Related: there’s also a video game that can diagnose depression by monitoring your eye gaze and reaction times, but Lucy Johnstone thinks it’s bullshit.
Some researchers designed an algorithm that’s supposed to tell them if a patient diagnosed with depression actually has bipolar disorder. Based on the socially unjust fuckery we have seen so far from algorithms, I do not feel good about it!
Amazon does healthcare now, and Uber does patient transportation. We live in hell.
A long-term follow-up on a depression study found that psilocybin-assisted therapy reduced symptoms for up to a year. Ego death is a hell of a drug!
Another study on psilocybin microdosing found that it wasn’t any better than placebo, but they “observed a strong generic placebo-effect though: both the placebo and the microdosing group showed a significant change in their wellbeing scores from the moment they started with the study. Thus, merely expecting that you are part of a clinical trial during which you might or might not receive a psychoactive substance already improves your wellbeing.”
Pharma companies are using AI that analyzes social media engagement to find the best influencers that can market their products — they call them “Digital Opinion Leaders”. Influencer marketing is super cheap, less regulated, and very effective (I wrote a little about this last year).
Major Sad Alert: 1 in 4 of the world’s rivers are polluted with pharmaceuticals, with the highest contamination levels in poor countries of the Global South. Maybe the FDA needs to stop approving drugs without good evidence that they work?
Also: science says leisure is good for your mental health! Not sure why we needed a whole entire study to tell us that!
Here’s my favorite slug this week, Glaucus Atlanticus, also called the Blue Dragon, the sea swallow, or the blue angel, she is a badass that eats Man O’ War jellies and takes their stingers for herself. Literally, she swallows the toxins of her enemies and transforms them into a beautiful weapon. Goals.