The Trauma Tamer

Easing the Emotional Strain of Crippling Memories

While memories can be sweet, they can also be savage. Survivors of violence, rape or abuse can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which forces them to relive their ordeal over and over. These flashbacks can be so debilitating that many PTSD sufferers find it hard to maintain relationships, hold jobs and—in extreme cases—simply leave the house. Now, however, the pioneering work of Karim Nader promises relief from trauma.

His experiments suggest damaging memories can be stripped of their potency by administering a common blood pressure drug, propranolol, as a traumatic event is being recollected. Nader’s findings, which were published in Nature, have caught the attention of the BBC and 60 Minutes.

Read more in Headway Magazine

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Further Secrets of the Snail Sex Love Dart

How do you make love to a snail? Slowly, violently and with a mucus-coated love dart. McGill University biology professor Ronald Chase knew that “love darts” — sharp, slimy projectiles fired at prospective sexual partners — served to enhance paternity, he just wasn’t sure exactly how. He has now learned that the key to the ritual lies not in the projectile itself but in a special mucus on the dart that can double the chances of paternity.

Published in the bi-monthly Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, Biological Sciences, the discovery by Chase and his graduate student Katrina Blanchard further explains how the love dart plays a key evolutionary role in certain species of snails.

The snails are hermaphrodites.. Read more from the McGill University Press Release

Listening to the great beyond

Seth Shostak believes in aliens. And there is a good chance you do too if you were one of the hundreds who heard him speak last March 30. In a jammed McIntyre Amphitheatre, Shostak delivered a rousing lecture in which he made a compelling case for the presence of beings on other planets who will be in touch with us before long.

Shostak is a senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, the American-based research group whose acronym stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. He was at McGill to give a talk entitled “When Will We Detect Extraterrestrials?” for the Astrobiology Lecture Series.

Read more in the McGill Reporter