Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Medicine: which antidepressant tastes best for you?

First, we have psychiatric scratch-and-sniff.

Now, we have taste tests for whether you should be tried on a serotonin or noepinephrine targeting antidepressant!

The authors, led by Melichar and Lucy Donaldson, a neuroscientist and physiologist also at the University of Bristol, found that a person's sense of taste--known to be genetic and once thought to be fixed--is in fact plastic and responds to changes in neurotransmitter levels as well as to different moods. The research group gave 20 volunteers either one of two classes of common antidepressants--serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (NARIs)--or a placebo. (Both classes of drugs increase the levels of the specific neurotransmitter that they act upon in the brain.) Before taking the treatments and then again two hours after, the subjects took taste tests where researchers gave them solutions of tastants in different concentrations and told them what taste to expect--sour, salt, sweet or bitter. The participants then had to indicate at what concentration they could detect taste.
Most interestingly, this research, if it panned out to be a valid clinical test, would lend some credencce to the role of the waning monoamine theory of depression and psychopathology.

Monoamine theory is waning, you say? Note that this is one of my own personal scientific quirks, and I'd bet money that twenty years from now my reasoning will pan out. But don't think that I have fabulous direct evidence that monoamine theory is BS. I just really believe that it is BS.

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