Dr. John Olney is a medical doctor and researcher known for his work on brain damage. The (somewhat) famous Olney's Lesions are named after him.
Dr. Olney works at the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked there for several decades now.
Dr. Olney begin his work in the late 60's, when he did research on neurotransmitters in the brain. Instead of doing research on the classical neurotransmitters, he researched amino acid neurotransmitters, namely glutamate and aspartame. These are excitatory neurotrasmitters that exist in a great amount of the brains' neurons. Dr. Olney also found that if you gave too much glutamate or aspartame to rats, that their brains would become overexcited and they would die.
Concerned about the possible effects of glutamate on people, Dr. Olney led the fight to get MonoSodium Glutamate banned from food. In the early 70's, congress did pass a law banning the use of MSG in baby foods.
After Nutrasweet was invented, Dr. Olney spent a lot of time trying to prove that it could cause similiar brain damage, and that it was linked to a rise in brain tumors. Twenty five years later, his efforts at this are still fruitless, due to problems with methodology, and also due to opposition from Monsanto and their hordes of paid off researchers.
Dr. Olney would also gain fame for investigating a group of substances with opposite properties to excitatory amino acids. These would be the glutamate antagonists, which prevented the brain from becoming excited. Despite the fact that these drugs, which include PCP, ketamine and dextromethorphan, are associated with obviously negative personality changes, they were not widely believed to cause brain damage in regulated, pure doses. The very opposite, in fact. Drugs such as DXM can prevent brain damage after an event such as stroke, by preventing brain cells from firing, and allowing them to conserve their precious oxygen for more important things, such as staying alive. Paradoxicallyenough, when these drugs are given in high enough doses to rats (and presumably people), their brains actually become overexcited until small groups of neurons die, leaving microscopic holes in the brain. These are Olney's Lesions.
Dr. Olney also applied this research to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. During fetal development, the brain regularly prunes neurons that are not developing a sufficient amount of connections. When a fetus is exposed to alcohol, which can function as a glutamate antagonist, many of its neurons stop responding to stimulation and are therefore pruned. This pruning process can go on up until the age of 2 or 3, or possibly longer. Therefore, if you are a pregnant woman or a toddler, you may want to avoid smoking sherms.
If Ketamine continues to become a popular drug, there is no doubt that Dr. Olney's research showing that it can cause holes in the brain will be dragged out to scare people, quite possibly with scary PSA's showing a block of Swiss Cheese. However, no matter what nutrasweet or MSG do to people, I doubt that Monsanto et al will admit that that research is valid.