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Lou Gehrig's Plaza
Lou Gehrig's disease

Research into Lou Gehrig's disease has demonstrated that, at least in mice carrying the associated genetic mutation, this neurodegenerative disorder can spatially manifest itself as “very subtle” but detectable behavioral patterns before the onset of symptoms.

Quoting at length a press release from the American Psychological Association:

Researchers led by Neri Kafkafi, PhD, of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, part of the University of Maryland's School of Medicine, mathematically analyzed about 50,000 predetermined movement patterns that resulted when rats roamed freely, one by one, in a small arena. The software created an abstract space defined by combinations of behavior such as speed, acceleration and direction of movement. Mining the resulting behavioral data enabled researchers to test many more facets of behavior than they could analyze manually.

After videotaping the movement of two groups of rats – one type with the mutation that results in an ALS-type syndrome, the other type normal controls — the scientists used the computer to "pan" for differences between groups and identified a unique motor pattern in mutant rats two months before disease onset (which would equate to roughly five to 10 years in humans).

Of the multitude of behavior patterns analyzed, the predefined "heavily braking while slightly turning away from the wall" showed a group difference. In two independent data sets, rats with the ALS-type mutation were significantly less likely than controls to brake and turn from the arena wall as they approached.

The benefit of this study is that “by being able to predict more accurately which carriers may express the disease before they experience symptoms (the 'premorbid' state), researchers could test medicines that might prevent symptoms from emerging.”

Lou Gehrig's disease

One wonders whether this sort of research, somewhere down the line, will result in public places getting littered with CCTV cameras data mining for the tell-tale signs of genetic diseases affecting motor functions. Similarly when traffic cameras take a photo of your license plate when you go over the speed limit and then get your ticket in the mail a couple of days later, these outdoor medical scanners take a photo of your face, match it up to a database at the CDC and a couple of days later, you get a diagnosis in the mail.

There will be a specially outfitted plaza where those without health insurance can get their free check-ups. Those with no more sick days can simply walk pass through on their way to work or linger about during their lunch breaks. Hypochondriacs will come in droves and stay there, like skateboarders to a Brutalist plaza.

It's landscape as a diagnostic tool.


If there is a predictive behavioral pattern to a pedophile's movements within the spatial confines of playgrounds and parks (that is, if children still go outdoors anymore) as well as the streets bordering schools, you get a court order to receive some psychiatric counseling.

Do terrorists have a genetic mutation that not only affect their cognitive reasoning but also their motor functions, the pattern array of which is so perceptibly different with that of non-terrorists that you can “spot” them?

The Alzheimer House
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