This is the second of a series of blog posts on the context behind my Physics World article: A physicist’s experience of the mental-health system. There is a lot of backstory. So during the editing process, I sent documents to the editor to help explain some of the views I express in the article. I have decided to add them as blog posts.

The author, Alex, discusses their frustration with the lack of advanced brain measurement machines available for use in their treatment. They searched for non-invasive and direct methods to record action potentials in the brain, but the techniques they found were either poorly funded, invasive, or indirect. The BRAIN initiative was also found to be lacking in progress. Alex quotes a 2015 paper by a working group on the analysis of circuits of interacting neurons, which highlights the need for development in this area and the potential for revolutionary advances. As someone who is mentally ill, Alex was disappointed that progress had been slow and felt that a lot of hope had been taken away.

When things were pretty bad and no treatment had had a significant effect, I could not understand why no one was looking at my head. Where were all these magnificent brain measurement machines I had seen in the news and media growing up? My condition was so severe I was certain something would show up. I even asked one of the clinicians this (they did research as well as treatment and had an MRI machine on site), they replied: “we wouldn’t be able to interpret the images”. Which infuriated me as an experimentalist. Non-interpretable data is literally the start of any experimental investigation!

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