One in three people living past 85 get Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no cure, and patients are faced with an inexorable decline that nothing can stop but death. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is one of very few treatments that might alter this grim trajectory.
For the first time in 20 years, the United States FDA has approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, news that brought both celebration and dismay. While patients and families suddenly glimpse hope, many researchers dismiss that hope as illusory.
Ketamine was once used mainly as an anaesthetic on battlefields and for horses. Later it became a party drug, the notorious ‘Special K’. Now it’s being used for depression and even to prevent suicide. Drugs have taken on new roles before, but ketamine’s career change is one of the most surprising.
There are various competing theories because each of them fails to capture everything funny. Yes, jokes release psychological tension, but so does a bath. Yes, we laugh at the misfortune of others (a fat lady falling into a pool) but often we find their misfortune upsetting instead. Meanwhile the opposite of misfortune can be hilarious, such as team’s worst player doing something unexpectedly miraculous.
Laughter is a human universal, found in all cultures, everywhere, in all times. Yet there is no clear reason why we get a burst of joy when something is funny, and even after centuries of trying, we can’t precisely define what “funny” is. We can understand jokes but usually can’t explain what it is about them that makes us laugh. Whenever we can, they aren’t as funny. All this is very strange. How can we understand and not understand something at the same time?