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George Lucas created the Ewoks because he wanted Return of the Jedi to feature a tribe of some primitive creatures that bring down the technological Empire. He had originally intended the scenes to be set on the Wookiee home planet, but as the film series evolved, the Wookiees became technologically skilled. Lucas designed a new species instead, and says his approach was simple: Wookiees are tall, so he made Ewoks short. The Ewok are named after the Miwok, a Native American tribe, indigenous to the Redwood forest in which the Endor scenes were filmed for Return of the Jedi, near the San Rafael location of Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. The name also is a pun on the syllables of Wookie in reverse order.
As presented in the films, Ewoks appear as stocky, sapient bipeds which stand about one meter tall. They have flat faces, are completely covered in fur, and have large jewel-like eyes. Both their fur and their eyes come in a variety of earth-tones, primarily brown, white, grey, gold, and black. Despite their small size, Ewoks are strong; in the climactic battle scene of Return of the Jedi, they are shown physically overpowering and once even throwing Imperial Stormtroopers, though this detail is not consistent throughout the film. Ewoks live high among the trees of their home moon’s forests, in villages built on platforms between the closely spaced trees.
Marijuana and Coffee are Good for the Brain discusses what happens to our brains as we age. Low doses of marijuana seem to stimulate the brain in positive ways. Coffee acts as another stimulant that is proving helpful. Professor Wenk also talks about the best method to slow down the aging process.
Do you know what will really keep you living and thinking clearly for a long time? Dr. Wenk does. His research explores the intersection of food and drugs and will challenge your biases on what makes a long life. His talk will explore why what we eat, and how much we eat, is the single most important daily decision we make that impacts how we age and how long we live.
Mary Jane Meets Tia Maria
As in Turkish coffee houses, or in bars of 16th century Amsterdam, this recipe has been a favorite for centuries.
- 300 milliliters (½ pint) hot fresh coffee
- 1-2 grams finely ground hash
- ½ teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon of Tia Maria
Brew some fresh coffee and divide it into two cups. Add the sugar, liqueur and hashish to each. Top with whipped cream and dust in cocoa.
Recipe care of Good & Baked, “combining two of life’s sweetest pleasures”.
Selected Publications of Gary Wenk, professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at The Ohio State University
- Gold, P.E., Cahill, L., & Wenk, G.L. (2003) The lowdown on Ginkgo biloba. Scientific American, April, 86-91.PDF
- Doody, R.S., Mintzer, J.E., Sano, M., Wenk, G.L. & Grossberg, G.T. (2003) Alzheimer’s disease: Emerging noncholinergic treatments. Geriatrics, (Suppl) 3-11.
- Wenk, G.L. (2003) Neuropathologic changes in Alzheimer¹s Disease. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64 (Suppl 9): 7-10. PDF
- Rogawski, M. & Wenk, G.L. (2003) The neuropharmacological basis for Memantine in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. CNS Drug Reviews, 9: 275-308. PDF
- Wenk, G.L., McGann-Gramling, K., Hauss-Wegrzyniak, B., Ronchetti, D., Maucci, R., Rosi, S., Gasparini, L. & Ongini, E. (2004) Attenuation of chronic neuroinflammation by a nitric oxide-releasing derivative of the antioxidant ferulic acid. Journal of Neurochemistry, 89: 484-493. PDF
- Wrenn, C.C., Kinney, J.W., Marriott, L.K., Holmes, A., Harris, A.P., Saavedra, M.C., Starosta, G., Innerfield, C.E., Jacoby, A.S., Shine, J., Iismaa, T.P., Wenk, G.L. & Crawley, J.N. (2004) Learning and memory performance in mice lacking the GAL-R1 subtype of galanin receptor. European Journal of Neuroscience,19:1384-1396.
- Wenk, G.L. (2004) The role of BDNF and dopamine dysfunction in autism, In: M.L. Bauman & T.L. Kemper, (Eds.) The Neurobiology of Autism, 2nd Ed., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 362-370.
- Gasparini, L., Ongini, E. & Wenk, G.L. (2004) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in Alzheimer’s disease: old and new mechanisms of action. Journal of Neurochemistry, 91: 521-536. PDF
- Mohmmad Abdul, H., Wenk, G.L., McGann-Gramling, K., Hauss-Wegrzyniak, B. & Butterfield, D.A. (2004) APP and PS-1 mutations induce brain oxidative stress independent of dietary cholesterol: implications for Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience Letters, 368: 148-150. PDF
- Rosi, S., Ramirez-Amaya, V., Vazdarjanova, A., Worley, P.F., Barnes, C.A. & Wenk, G.L. (2005) Neuroinflammation alters selective patterns of behaviorally induced Arc expression in the hippocampus.Journal of Neuroscience, 25: 723-731. PDF
- Rosi, S., Pert, C.B., Ruff, M.R., McGann-Gramling, K. & Wenk, G.L. (2005) CCR5 chemokine receptor antagonist DAPTA reduces microglia and astrocyte activation within the hippocampus in a neuroinflammatory rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience, 134:671-676. PDF
- Rosi, S., Vazdarjanova, A., Ramirez-Amaya, V., Worley, P.F., Barnes, C.A. & Wenk, G.L. (2006) Memantine reduces the consequences of chronic neuroinflammation and restores the hippocampal pattern of behaviorally-induced Arc expression. Neuroscience, 142:1303-1315. PDF
- Wenk, G.L. (2006) Neuropathologic changes in Alzheimer’s disease: Potential targets for treatment. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67:3-7. PDF
- Wenk, G.L., Parson, C. & Danysz, W. (2006) Potential role of NMDA receptors as executors of neurodegeneration resulting from diverse insults – focus on memantine. Behavioral Pharmacology 17: 411-424. PDF
- Marchalant, Y., Rosi, S. & Wenk, G.L. (2007) Anti-inflammatory property of the cannabinoid agonist WIN-55212-2 in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience, 144:1516-1522. PDF
- Marchalant, Y., Cerbai, F., Brothers, H. & Wenk, G.L. (2008) Cannabinoid receptor stimulation is anti-inflammatory and improves memory in old rats. Neurobiology of Aging, 29:1894-1901. PDF
- Wenk, G.L. & Marchalant, Y. (2009) Neuropharmacology. In: G.G. Berntson & J.T. Cacioppo, (Eds.) Handbook of Neuroscience for the Behavioral Sciences, John Wiley & Sons.
- Wenk, G.L. (2009) Neuroanatomy of learning and memory. In: D.S. Charney, E.J. Nestler, & B.S. Bunney, (Eds.) Neurobiology of Mental Illness, 3rd Ed., Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
- Marchalant,Y.,Brothers,H.M.,Norman,G.J.,Karolina,K.,DeVries, C. & Wenk, G.L. (2009) The differential role of endocannabinoid and vanilloid receptors in the control of neuroinflammation and neurogenesis in aged rats.Neurobiology of Disease, 34: 300-307. PDF
- Rosi, S., Ramirez-Amaya, V., Vazdarjanova, A., Esperanza, E., Larkin, P., Fike, J.R., Wenk, G.L. & Barnes, C.A. (2009) Accuracy of hippocampal network activity is disrupted by neuroinflammation: rescue by memantine. Brain, 132:2464-2468. PDF
- Marchalant, Y., Brothers, H.M. & Wenk, G. Wenk, (2009) Cannabinoid agonist WIN-55,212-2 partially restores neurogenesis in the aged rat brain. Molecular Psychiatry, 14:1068-1071. PDF
- Brothers, H.M., Marchalant, Y., & Wenk, G. L. (2010) Caffeine attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation. Neuroscience Letters, 480:97-100. PDF
- Norman, G.J., Morris, J.S., Karelina, K., Weil, Z.M., Zhang, N., Al-Abed, Y., Brothers, H.M., Wenk, G.L., Pavlov, V.A., Tracey, K.J., DeVries, A.C., (2011) Cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation disrupts cholinergic anti-inflammatory processes: a role for cholinergic ?7 nicotinic receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 31:3446-3452.PDF
- Marchalant, Y., Baranger, K., Wenk, G.L., Khrestchatisky, M. & Rivera, S. (2012) Can the benefits of cannabinoid receptor stimulation on neuroinflammation, neurogenesis and memory during normal aging be useful in AD prevention? Journal of Neuroinflammation PDF
- Bardou, I. DiPatrizio, N., Brothers, H.M., Kaercher, R.M., Baranger, K., Mitchem, M.R., Hopp, S.C., Wenk, G.L. & Marchalant, Y. (2012) Pharmacological manipulation of cannabinoid neurotransmission reduces neuroinflammation associated with normal aging. Health. PDF
- Cerbai, F., Lana, D., Nosi, D., Petkova-Kirova, P., Zecchi, S., Brothers, H., Wenk, G. L. & Giovannini, M.G. (2012) The neuron-astrocyte-microglia triad in normal brain aging and a model of neuroinflammation in the rat hippocampus. PlosOne PDF
When we are depressed our brains undergo many different biochemical changes; no one is quite certain which of these actually cause the typical feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
One important depression-related change is a dramatic decline in the birth of immature neurons, known as neurogenesis, in a brain region called the hippocampus.
Drugs that treat depression, such as Prozac and Zoloft, all induce a recovery in the rate of neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
So what’s the connection with marijuana and the munchies?
The drug, rimonabant, that was so successful in reducing food cravings as it induced depression and thoughts of suicide, has been recently shown (by Beyer and colleagues at Pfizer) to significantly reduce neurogenesis.
Let’s flip this idea on its side and ask, “What would happen to neurogenesis if we exposed the brain to marijuana?”
My lab investigated this idea and discovered that a small dose of marijuana, about only one puff, taken every day can reverse the age-related decline in neurogenesis that might underlie depression.
Whether this approach might also work in young people remains to be determined.
What these studies teach us is that our brain’s own marijuana neurotransmitter system is necessary for us to feel hungry, to experience happiness and to maintain the brain normal processes, such as neurogenesis, that prevent age-associated depression and cognitive decline.
We’ve learned from our experience with rimonabant that it is dangerous to constantly antagonize this neurotransmitter system.
What we do not know is whether it is dangerous to constantly stimulate it.