Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Despite the fact that people have benefited from its use for millenniums, how lithium works upon brains is largely unknown. ‘‘It has so-called trophic or fertilizing activity on the brain — that is, it stabilizes membranes,’’ says James Kocsis, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and an expert on lithium. But the actual mechanics are a mystery. One way to think about its effect, though, is suggested by a 2007 U.C.L.A. study that found that bipolar patients taking lithium had significantly more gray matter than their counterparts, especially in the region associated with a person’s capacity to maintain attention and emotional control.