It seems to me irresponsible even to float the idea, as neurologist David M. Holtzman does in this article, of chemically suppressing idle thought and daydreaming in people. Who can claim a basis for clinical discrimination of “bad” idle thought and daydreaming from the “idle thought” of intuitive problem solving and poetic imagination? More of human existence is at issue than the scourge of Alzheimer’s.

Dennis Schmidt
Falmouth, Mass.

In this article, scientists drew the conclusion that busy brain connections may have the downside of producing “amyloid beta, the waxy protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.” I don’t see why the following conclusion wasn’t reached: Idle brains may have a downside. In the described study, it was lack of directed thought, not busy, directed thought, that seemed to use the same areas of the brain involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies show that people who use their brains actively seem to be protected from the disease.

Elizabeth Oscanyan
Philomont, Va.

From the Nature Index

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