Livin' on the MDedge

Clown-tox, tattooed immunity, and cingulum-bundle comedy


Brain surgery is a laughing matter

This certainly came as a surprise to us, but as it turns out, undergoing brain surgery while conscious and awake can be extremely stressful and panic inducing to the patient. We’re sure most people (including us) would prefer to be asleep for their surgery, but sometimes when dealing with the brain, the surgeon needs to be able to talk to the patient to accurately assess their faculties in case they damage something important.

akesak/thinkstock /thinkstock

So the question is: How do you keep brain surgery patients from panicking? Why, with the power of laughter, of course! Specifically, a group at Emory University, Atlanta, published a case study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation about their treatment of a patient with moderate anxiety. When the patient woke up from initial anesthesia, she began to panic. However, after electrical stimulation of the cingulum bundle, the patient immediately turned her frown upside down and began laughing and joking with the surgeons.

Sadly, while the team did not report on the quality of the jokes being told, we can only assume the phrase “this isn’t brain surgery” was thrown around multiple times.

A male brain is a terrible thing to waste

In the future, comedy may mean pressing a button to stimulate your cingulum bundle, but for now we still have jokes. One old joke goes like this: Some aliens land on earth and want to learn about humans, so they go into a store to buy some brains. “Why does the male brain cost twice as much as the female brain?” one asks the store owner, who replies, “It’s hardly been used.”


There may be another explanation: Womens’ brains appear to age more slowly than mens’, investigators at Washington University, St. Louis, said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They performed PET scans on 121 women and 84 men aged 20-82 years to determine the fraction of sugar committed to aerobic glycolysis in various regions of the brain, and then a machine-learning algorithm used those data to calculate metabolic ages.

The womens’ brains were younger than the mens’ brains, with various calculations producing average differences of 2.7-5.3 years, they reported.

The male brain, it seems, is used for something, and after one LOTME staffer spent 5 minutes explaining total quarterback rating (QBR) to his wife, we think we’ve figured out what it is: sports trivia.


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