New Scientist Story
7th January 2010 by Ewen Callaway
Brain cells can be switched on and off like light bulbs using newly identified microbial proteins that are sensitive to the colour of laser light.
The discovery is the latest in the fast-moving field of optogenetics, which has already given researchers unparalleled control over brain circuits in laboratory animals. The technology may lead to treatments for conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and blindness. New Scientist explains the science and its promise.
If you have the patience to sit and watch this video, you will be amazed by what is happening with biotechnology and psychiatry. Great possibilities for much of what ails humanity.
What's this story got to do with birth and midwifery? Psychiatry seeks to fix brains once they are broken. The fields of perinatal psychology and epigenetics are explaining how prenatal programming sets the stage and the foundations for many diseases in adulthood. Depression being one of the diseases that are increasingly linked to prenatal experiences of one kind and another, particularly those to do with elevated hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis stimulation in pregnancy (aka the stress response system).
Pregnant women feel better, that is, have lower circulating cortiosteroids (stress hormones) when they feel in control, have choices and feel listened to, valued and respected by their caregiver. They are more likely to go to term, birth well and breastfeed well . They are also less likely to get gestational diabetes, hypertension and their babies are less likely to need nursery admission. Midwives are the maternity care specialists who provide the sort of care that women want. Long term relationships between mothers and babies are better with midwifery care, women feel more satisfied and depression rates are lower. My take on this is that one to one midwifery care helps by supporting women to feel good, eat well, get enough rest, avoid toxins etc thus giving brains the best opportunity to be built right from the beginning.
YouTube - Controlling the Brain with Light (Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University)