Medicine

How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works

With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately emerged from the dark ages and toward the respectable forefront of treatment for major depression.

Should chimps be used for medical testing?

If you've got half a heart it's an easy question to answer. But if you're happy living without polio and hepatitis B you may want to question further. Learn about what makes chimps special and the history of medical testing in this episode.

How Circumcision Works

Circumcision is a common practice in which the foreskin of a male's penis is removed, typically as a baby. Josh and Chuck take a look at the origins, practices, and arguments for and against circumcision in this episode.

Buried with a Pacemaker? You're a Jerk

The process of being prepared for the grave is fairly ghastly business: There's the removal of blood and most of the organs, incisions and sewing with thick thread and lots and lots of make up. In the U.S., after the funeral and procession, it's off to the graveyard or the crematorium, depending on one's tastes and religion. Somewhere along the way, if you've been the fortunate recipient of a pacemaker, it too is removed -- and taken out of circulation, either being thrown away or put into storage.

Epigenetics and PTSD: Nature and Nurture Working in Conjunction to Give you Flashbacks

It seems pretty sensible that the Columbia University epidemiologists conducting a recent study on biological markers of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder would travel to Detroit to find their sample population. Again, to quickly find 100 participants suffering from PTSD for their study, researchers from New York went to Detroit. After ferreting out the people who'd had experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, but didn't meet the six criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, the Columbia researchers took blood samples from 23 people they determined had PTSD. What they found is another mark in favor of epigenetics, a subbranch of genetics that's lending a lot of substantial credence to the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate.

So this slightly disturbing survey came out yesterday on CNN.com. The medical journal "BMC Family Practice" surveyed 722 Britons (people from England) about where various body organs where located. The participants were shown four body diagrams with the organs depicted in varying sizes and locations in the body. They were then asked to choose which one was correct, organ by organ. Turns out only 46.5 percent could pinpoint the correct size and location of the heart. That would be the human heart. Not only that, but only 31 percent could identify the lungs, 39 percent found the stomach and 32 percent for hit the kidneys. What's more, 589 of these folks were outpatients in a hospital. The same survey was performed in 1970 and researchers today expected better results thanks to the dawn of the information age. Unfortunately the results were about the same, despite the wonders of the Internet.