The Lazarus Drug – A Sleeping Pill That Can Temporarily Fix Severe Brain Damage

Zolpidem is a sedative from the imidazopyridine class of drugs that is most commonly used to help people fall asleep faster. But, in rare cases, this common drug can actually restore function to damaged brains.

There is a reason why zolpidem is sometimes referred to as the “Lazarus Drug”. If you give this pill to someone with brain damage, in 5% to 6% of cases something miraculous happens. In most cases, the changes are minor. People’s speech improves slightly, the frequency of muscle spasms is reduced, they have less difficulty moving, but in some rare cases, a pill can even bring people back from vegetative states, allowing them speak and move as they did before suffering brain damage. The problem is that these positive effects are gone as soon as the drug wears off, and scientists have yet to discover why some patients with brain damage react this way to zolpidem.

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The Curious Case of a Man Who Cannot See Simple Digits From 2 to 9

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University recently reported the strange case of a man’s whose rare degenerative brain disease left him unable to distinguish basic numbers from 2 to 9.

After studying an engineering geologist diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease called corticobasal syndrome for eight years, researchers published a study which they claim suggests that a brain response to a picture or a word does not necessarily mean that person is aware of it. The protagonist of their research had suffered neurological damage to such an extent that he could not distinguish or reproduce numbers between 2 and 9, nor pictures or words with such digits embedded in them. And yet, electroencephalography (EEG) results showed that his brain was able to properly identify all pictures and words, even id he wasn’t aware of it.

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Rare Condition Causes Teen’s Short Term Memory to Reset Every Day

A year and a half ago, Caitlin Little, a sophomore at Southeast Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, suffered a concussion during a cross-country practice which left her with a rare form of amnesia. All of her new memories are erased each night, so every morning she wakes up thinking it’s October 2017.

Caitlin’s case sounds a lot like the plot of hit romantic comedy 50 First Dates, in which Drew Barrymore’s character was involved in a serious car accident which left her unable to create new memories after that terrible event, causing her to wake up every morning thinking it was the day of of the accident. In 2004, when 50 First Dates Came Out, the amnesia Barrymore’s character was suffering from was nothing more than a fictional condition called ‘Goldberg’s Syndrome’, and one clinical neuropsychologist even wrote an article about it, claiming that it “bears no relation to any known neurological or psychiatric condition”.  However, several real-life cases of short-term memory resetting have been reported since then, and today that once fictional condition is a medically-recognized disorder known as anterograde amnesia.

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