More than 38, 000 Americans died by suicide in 2010, the most recent year for which we have national data. This makes suicide, once again, the tenth leading cause of death for all ages; the second leading cause of death for young adults ages 25 to 34. 1 Despite changes in recent decades that might reasonably have been expected to reduce suicide rates—increased awareness about mental disorders, the availability of treatment, and community-based public health efforts aimed directly at preventing suicide—U.S.

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My four-year-old grandson has a near photographic memory for outings we took a year ago, for people he met six months ago, and for books he has not seen in weeks.  Soon that will all disappear.  By the time he is eight, he will remember almost nothing of his first four years.  And by the time he is eighteen, he will remember details going back to age four and he will retain language and habits acquired before age four, but in terms of autobiographical or episodic memories, the earliest years will be almost a complete blank.  This normal loss of early memories is called infantile amnesia. Freud, a source not cited often in this space, was one of the first to write about infantile amnesia.  He attributed the loss of early memories to repression, an active forgetting of early experiences because of their heavily charged psychosexual content.  Others have explained infantile amnesia as due to the absence of language, since words seem important for encoding certain kinds of memory.   Still others have cited the need for a sense of self to provide a reference for early memory.

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I had not planned to add another posting to the “2014 predictions” blogosphere, but after reading Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times, I can’t resist. Kristof, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on social injustice, is perhaps best known for bringing international attention to human trafficking and the suffering in Darfur. In his first column of 2014 he tells readers, “Those of us in the pundit world tend to blather on about what happened yesterday, while often ignoring what happens every day

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A couple of weeks ago, President Obama launched a new open data policy (pdf) for the federal government. Declaring that, “…information is a valuable asset that is multiplied when it is shared, ” the Administration’s new policy empowers federal agencies to promote an environment in which shareable data are maximally and responsibly accessible. The policy supports broad access to government data in order to promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery

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Director’s Blog Last week a short piece in the British medical journal, The Lancet, described an “identity crisis” in psychiatry. In the U.K., the number of medical students choosing psychiatry has dropped more than 50 percent since 2009 and over the past decade the number of psychiatrists has dropped by 26 percent while the number of physicians overall has increased more than 31 percent. Ninety-five percent of posts for junior physicians across all specialties are generally filled; but psychiatry posts, as of last summer, were running more than one third unfilled.

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Director’s Blog The physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson once noted, “New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts.” 1 This week marks the publication of a new tool that may alter the way we look at the brain. Karl Deisseroth and his colleagues at Stanford University have developed a method they call CLARITY. Yes, CLARITY is an acronym, for Clear Lipid-exchanged Anatomically Rigid Imaging/immunostaining-compatible Tissue hYdrogel.

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Director’s Blog Some moments in science are so transformative that they spill out of the usual academic circles to become headlines in the New York Times and, for a day or two, part of a public conversation. This summer we had two such stories from diverse areas of science: the Curiosity landing on Mars and the report of spontaneous mutations transmitted by older fathers. Earlier this month another report – actually 30 separate papers – marked a transformative moment in our discovery of the genome.

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