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Lyndsey C's picture

Awakenings

Has anyone ever seen the movie Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro? Not only is it fantastic (one of my favorites) because of it's subject matter, casting, and closeness to the true story it portrays, but it is also relevant to our class' discussion today about the motor cortex's function in voluntary and involuntary movement and inhibition of CPGs. For those not familiar with the film, Awakenings documents a historical period of research following the encephalitis epidemic of the 1920s. This disease rendered many patients catatonic and virtually thoughtless, but remarkable studies conducted by Malcolm Sayer (Robin WIlliams) yielded evidence of a new drug - L Dopa- that could potentially revive patients. I wonder how this drug worked and if it functioned in rewritting CPG pathways. I believe it had something to do with dopamine receptor changes? What implications could this drug have for diseases like Parkinson's disease which is also related to motor cortex deficiencies.

Getting back to the movie, for a short period of time, certain paitents taking the drug in progressive doses were able to function normally. This was an extremely encouraging finding which enabled so many individuals to regain control of their lives. Not to ruin the plot, but the end result of continued use of the drug was completely unexpected. For those who have seen the movie, it would be interesting to get your thoughts on why the drug acted as it did.

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