This is my brain on antimatter

This is my brain on antimatter

When I was 18 I went with my twin brother to Switzerland to have brain scans for narcolepsy research. The scan was positron emission tomography, and I thus received a fair old whack of radiation. Nevertheless, the science groupie in me remains immensely proud that I’ve had freaking antimatter blasting out of my brain.

6 thoughts on “This is my brain on antimatter

  1. The antimatter didn’t really blast out of your brain, though. It would have been annihilated by contact with an electron in your brain; presumably they pick up the energy discharge from the annihilation. Still pretty cool, though. Wish I’d had that. Oh wait…

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  2. I think what is picked up is actually the light emitted from the positron annihilating in contact with an electron inside your brain, rather than blasting out of it. Still pretty cool though. Didn’t seen it at the time, though, with the head encased immovably in a plaster cast inside a dark Tunnel of Doom for half an hour…

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    • Indeed, I presume that the chemical (it was raclopride, for anyone in the know) attaches to the target chemical in the brain, and the positrons annihilate and the detector picks up the energy bursts from that as you say. As the target chemical was dopamine, I secretly think that the annihilations additionally caused damage to our dopamine receptors, explaining our complete inability to delay gratification; a hypothesis entirely invalidated by the inconvenient fact that this happened at 18, and we’d never have passed the marshmallow test.
      I think we should also have a little bit of pride in the fact that we were part of an experiment with a published null finding. They did them their science properly in those days.

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  3. My brain is now well and truly scrambled, without the assistance of large doses of radiation, but by the effort of trying to understand any of the above.

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