Cotard Syndrome – Walking Dead Disorder

By Anupum Pant

Neurological conditions can be bizarre. Now I know that there is a condition that can delude patients to such an extent that they start thinking they no longer exist, or are dead. It’s called the Cotard Syndrome or the walking dead disorder.

Named after a French doctor Jules Cotard, the Cotard syndrome is a neurological condition in which severe degeneration of neural synapses occurs and messes with the facial recognition and emotion centres of the brain. Their brain creates a totally impaired perception of the self. As a result, patients suffering from it some times get convinced that their body parts no longer exist, or have started decaying.

Often times, patients think that they no longer need to eat (because they are already dead), and they starve to death.

There have also been cases in which patients have tried to get rid of their body parts using acid because they felt doing this was only the way to free themselves of being zombies.

Graham, a person who got caught up by this bizarre disorder was totally convinced that his brain did not exist. He had lost all his senses, he thought he was in a state between life and death, and saw no point in continuing to live this way. He tried to kill himself by getting electrocuted in a bathtub. Graham got cured to some extent, but the disorder completely messed up the rest of his life.

Another person who suffered brain injury due to a motorcycle accident was first cleared as health by doctors initially. After which he went on a vacation to South Africa. By the time he came back, he was totally convinced that he had died and had gone to hell.

Thankfully, it is an extremely rare disorder.

via [NewScientist]

A Ghost Heart

By Anupum Pant

Before I begin, I’m happy to announce that Awesci’s feed has been featured on a smartphone app, Dabblr. I covered it a couple of days back in the interviews section. If you missed it, you might want to know what Dabblr can do and why you should use it, especially if you are a student. 

At any given time, thousands of people are there on the heart transplant waiting list. Some of these people are eventually able to find a donor, while others aren’t able to. Hundreds of people who fail to find a donor, die every year. It’s a grim state, but little can be done to change it. Texas Heart Institute (THI) had a solution for this problem – use a Pig’s heart.

(There have been cases where people have survived for some time on artificial hearts too. It’s incredible how these things work.)

A pig’s heart is a lot like our own, in shape, size and function. Of course it can’t be just taken away from a pig and installed in a human. Or people from ancient times would have done it. The researchers from THI proposed this – make a ghost heart out of it first.

For making a “ghost heart”  – a kind of a structural scaffolding – they used a simple soap solution. Once they washed the pig heart in it and may be after some other processing, they had a pure protein scaffolding, stripped off of all living cells (decellularized), which could be customized and could be used to grow a custom heart for a specific human being – by using the patient’s bone-marrow stem cells. That way the new body where it would get installed won’t reject it.

In the near future, there’s a chance we could have humans with the hearts of pigs!

The Monkey Island

By Anupum Pant

Off the coast of South Carolina is an island, the Morgan island, which is home to about 4000 monkeys. Locals call it the monkey island. Approximately 750 new baby monkeys join the monkey army on Morgan island every year. However, all the monkeys living in that island  are there for a reason. These monkeys are medical test subjects – used by researchers for medical testing – for vaccine testing (Polio, AIDS etc..). That is the reason about 500 monkeys are taken away from the island every year.

No humans live on this 4000 acre remote island. Also the Monkey island is a protected area and no unauthorised people are allowed to enter it. Only authorised monkey caretakers can go in. Others who try to enter will be greeted with a monkey-shit storm – Yes, monkeys of the Monkey island pelt feces at strangers.

Thankfully, the research isn’t done at the island itself. The island is like a store for all the monkeys. So you can rest assured that you won’t run across any mutant monkeys on this island, if you some how end up there.

Where did they come from?

They were all put there by us humans. Back in the 70s the monkey colony was at La Parguera in Puerto Rico. When there were reports of infected monkeys escaping and reaching human settlements, the locals were stirred. As a result, the monkeys were all collected and had to be shifted to a remote island where no one lived – Morgan Island.

[source]