Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Well, zap my head with an electric fish!

I couldn’t resist this paragraph from an article in this week’s New Yorker about transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). 
What a great piece of writing!

The human drive to zap one’s head with electricity goes back at least to antiquity, and was originally satisfied by means of electric fish. “Headache even if it is chronic and unbearable is taken away and remedied forever by a live torpedo placed under the spot that is in pain,” the first-century physician Scribonius Largus wrote. He also used the torpedo, a species of ray native to the Mediterranean, to treat hemorrhoids. In the eleventh century, the Islamic polymath Avicenna reportedly recommended the placement of an electric catfish on the brow to counteract epilepsy. As late as 1762, a Dutch colonist in Guyana wrote that “when a slave complains of a bad headache” he should put one hand on his head and another on a South American electric eel and “will be helped immediately, without exception.”

Click here to go to the full article if you'd like to read it

If you are interested in good writing you might be interested in The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. It's a free podcast where each month a writer whose short stories have been published in the New Yorker reads a story of their choosing (by someone else) that has also been published in the New Yorker, then explains why they chose it. 
This month one of my favorite short story writers, Israeli author Etgar Keret, reads a story by Donald Barthelme (of whom I had never heard til now). I haven't listened yet but if past episodes are anything to go by it will be terrific

If you want to know some more about tDCS and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Prof Colleen Loo at the Black Dog Institute is one of the foremost researchers in the field.
Here's a link to some information about Colleen and her research. Pretty creative stuff.

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