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Category Archives: Mind & Brain

Articles about the engine and roads of thought

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…”


 

The words from my title were lifted from a Shakespeare Sonnet, and they orbit the issue I wish to share today.  But in order to set the stage, consider this true story from my history.


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The Accident

I was about thirteen years of age, checking on what my mom was preparing for dinner when there was a sudden desperate knock at our front door.  I skipped down the stairs and opened it to find a neighbor’s daughter, a little older than me.  She seemed urgent with a message that she wanted to share.  “Are your parents home?”, she asked with a very desperate tension in her face.  “Yes”, my mom answered as she stepped quickly behind me.
The girl continued with a rapid, pressured speech, “one of your boys was hit by a vehicle about four blocks away while he was riding a bike!”  My mother let out a shout to my father, and quickly they were racing for the car to rush to the accident.  “Which boy was it?”, they asked as they jumped into the car.  “It is one of the older twins”.
“It was Craig, my twin brother”, I exclaimed as I flipped a leg over my bike, ready to race to my brother.
“Stop”, yelled my dad from the driver’s side window.  “Stay here, and do not take your bike anywhere!”, he ordered.  I watched the neighbor jump into the back seat and with a slam of the car door, my parents sped away down the county road.  I did not know what to think, but somehow I just knew he would be fine.
Later my parents returned briefly with only a few words, as a next-door neighbor agreed to sit with us, my two younger brothers my sister and me.  But before they headed off to the hospital I blurted out, without any doubts in my mind, “check his right leg, he has a bruise there”
My brother had to stay in the hospital overnight while some tests were carried out. He was conscious, and according to my parents, “he was lucky to be doing so well”.  Then my parents asked me, “How did you know he had a bruise on his right leg? Did you go see him after we told you to stay at home?
“No”, I answered, ” I stayed home like you told me. I don’t know how I knew.  I just knew”.


IMG_0013


For me, it was just a fact.  My twin brother and I have always been close.  Often, we finished each other’s sentences.  People were always confused about telling us apart.  We laughed and talked the same.  It was only over a course of years before we developed personal tastes and carved out a clearer distinction of habits.
I have revisited this event countless times, trying to unravel the mystery of my certain knowledge of my brother’s condition.  There have been a few times since then, when I had a particular sense of his environment, though many miles away.

 On one such occasion, I was spending time with a friend in Texas, walking around a mall when I stopped and turned to her and said, “My brother is at a ball game right now”.  She would just look at me with a puzzled expression, and said, “Okay, so he said he was going to a ball game today?”.  I replied, “No, I just sensed the crowd and the smell of snacks in the air”.  Later, I found this was truly the case.  He had never shared this with me, and he rarely attended games.  But when I had the chance later, I called to ask him, and he had confirmed my suspicion.
There have been many stories along with a similar theme popularized by those claiming to have “Psychic Powers”. I have never felt there was enough validity in the “circumstantial evidence” of such “after the fact stories”.  However, I could not explain this issue; I had no answers, even from my academic and professional education and experience as a Psychiatrist.
The nearest explanation I could come up with is through an article I had read once about particular moths that could pick out a specific mate over 1000 miles away from their location, just by their “smell like sense organs”.  I was not sure about this study, but it was the only nearest explanation I had to a theoretical framework. So maybe, our primary senses are acuter and finely tuned than what we have yet discovered.  It seemed too illogical to believe in the fuzzy pseudoscience of a psychic phenomenon.
This brings me to the point of this article, with which I would like to share.  I read a fairly recent study about an interesting topic known as  “brain-to-brain interfaces” (BBIs).  Here is an excerpt.


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” A TMS device creates a magnetic field over the scalp, which then causes an electrical current in the brain. When a TMS coil is placed over the motor cortex, the motor pathways can be activated, resulting in movement of a limb, hand or foot, or even a finger or toe…”


“..
We now know that BBIs can work between humans too. By combining EEG and TMS, scientists have transmitted the thought of moving a hand from one person to a separate individual, who actually moved their hand. The BBI works best when both participants are conscious cooperators in the experiment. In this case, the subjects were engaged in a computer game).


And Further:


“..
The latest advance in human BBIs represents another leap forward. This is where transmission of conscious thought was achieved between two human beings in August last year.    Using a combination of technologies – including EEG, the Internet and TMS – the team of researchers was able to transmit a thought all the way from India to France.  Words were first coded into binary notation (i.e. 1 = “hola”; 0 = “ciao”). Then the resulting EEG signal from the person thinking the 1 or the 0 was transmitted to a robot-driven TMS device positioned over the visual cortex of the receiver’s brain.  In this case, the TMS pulses resulted in the perception of flashes of light for the receiver, who was then able to decode this information into the original words (hola or ciao)”.

Sounds like a something Hollywood dreamed up, doesn’t it?


 So not only could thoughts be transmitted under experimental conditions, so could actions, even to the point of controlling the behavior of animals.

“..that a human could control the tail movements of a rat via BBIs”

Aricle: Brain-To-Brain Interfaces And The Science Of…

 

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What this article presents is how one subject in a remote location can directly influence the actions of another subject in a different location through changes in thought content. This seems too incredible to believe. Yet, because we all share some structural similarities within our brains, I can see how this can actually be plausible. First, we need to consider what we know of “mirroring neurons”.


mirneuronMirror neuron


“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another”.[1][2][3]

“..Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behaviour of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observe in primate species.[4]

“..Birds have been shown to have imitative resonance behaviors and neurological evidence suggests the presence of some form of mirroring system.[4][5]”

“..In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortexthe supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.[6]”

Article: Mirror neuron – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One way to address this issue is to consider what is common to all of us, which already influences us beyond our “active knowing”. A case example can be understood in the context of yawning.  If we are around others who begin to yawn, before long we began to yawn.  The same is true for laughter.  If we are around others who are laughing, it becomes contagious. Others will start to giggle and laugh, just due to the presence of someone laughing. Such a design is important for us socially, though explanations are lacking.

 



 

 

 

So, if we have a similar foundational and interactive framework, isn’t feasible that thoughts could be conveyed to another person, especially those more similar or familiar to us, under the right conditions, having a very common reference point?  On a more spiritual plane, how much does this finding play a part in our prayer lives? When that loved one is suddenly dealing with a trauma, how often do we find ourselves  “thinking of them” and feel the need to pray for them without knowing why? Since I believe we were designed as social and spiritual beings, does it not make sense that such a mechanism must be in place? Maybe we need to rethink those moments and reach out to them when this happens. Maybe that is the optimal act of good to perform, given this design. After all, we are designed for more than we understand and we do have a great designer.

This study stirs up many questions for me about the implications and utility awaiting us.  It may also serve great potential for promoting skill set learning, as well as providing more effective means for a therapeutic alliance, which is yet to be revealed.  We live in such an incredible era!


 

PEDOPHIL


 

 

 

Pleasant thoughts coming your way, dear reader. (Can you sense it?)

Greg

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

 

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“To Thine Ownself be true..”

exposedtruth

Polonius:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:

Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

Hamlet Act
1, scene 3, 78–82

 
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius’s shared this counsel with his son Laertes, who was departing on a journey. It is wise counsel to us all.  As I follow the growing research in medical sciences, it becomes more apparent that dishonesty with others,  has a greater impact on our own health.  In neuroscience, it has been documented that even the very organization and process of the changing brain is intimately connected to the truths and falsehood we personally embrace.  
 
Lies stem from fears. It orbits a deeply rooted insecurity created from the dialogue we share with ourselves.  The false statements such as “I am worthless” or ” I am not important” are planted by primary support authorities when we were children, and they reside close to the center  or seat of the pathology.  Over time, we coat this falsehood in added layers , with what we believe to be “our evidence” , from how we are treated, how others react to us or how we expect others to regard us. This leads us to a desperate course of  snatching any available opportunities to “feel a moment of gratification” at the expense of honest and just means.  We find ways to meet our immediate needs like a homeless child, stealing candy from a candy store when we could not afford the costs.  Under intense judgement, we grow up and learn whatever we have to in order to avoid the punishments attached to our wrong actions.  Over the course of years, we will either look inward and unravel the lies that bind us, or we will continue our journey to become skillful in obtaining what is not ours, by whatever means necessary.  We do this while we find that particular means to avoid judgement and criticism of those “righteous people” who dare to ‘ look down on me’.  We steal, and rationalize.  We injure, and redirect blame.  But avoiding truth and living in the denial of our core negative self regard, always catches up with us.  We are funny that way.  Sometimes we think it is better to go on living with our lies, despite the snowball of growing consequences, than to to just own our lies and confront them as needed. Just because we have injuries from our past, does not make our distorted “view of self”  true.  We just make it true.  We live to fulfil it in full without considering its impact.
 
Well, I was not planning to dissect this pathology of our mindset, but there it is.  
 
Recently, I have read articles about uncovering lies. 
 
One way in which we are not even conscious, is how it affects our handwriting.  See the following. 

Lying affects the way we write

..This study shows that the system can identify when participants have written the truth and when they have lied: For example, the pressure exerted on the page when the participants were writing false symptoms was greater than when they were writing about their true medical condition.The regularity of the strokes when writing a lie,reflected in the height and width of the letters, was significantly
different from the regularity of the strokes when writing the truth.Differences in duration, space and pressure were also found in false writing.
The researchers were also able to divide the types of handwriting into more distinct profiles (very small or large handwriting, etc.) and to find other more substantial differences associated with each writing profile.
According to the researchers, when a person writes something false, cognitive load is created in the brain
and this load creates competing demands for resources in the brain, such that operations that we usually perform automatically, like writing, are affected.
They added that the current study found that false
medical information in “laboratory conditions” creates cognitive load that enables the computer system to identify changes in handwriting,
and it can be assumed that in a natural situation, together with the need to lie to the doctor, the cognitive load would be even greater.

Here is an interesting article on clues about lying.

How To Tell If Someone Is Lying: The Tell-Tale Signs

  • TV shows and folk wisdom have suggested commonly held beliefs for spotting lairs, but the truth is they’re not always accurate
  • A liar will tend to give too much information and they often struggle to
    repeat their original performance if asked to recount the events in
    opposite order.
  • liars tend to avoid “I” statements and use third-person pronouns like “he” and “she” instead.
  • people who are speaking honestly will maintain eye contact for about 60 percent of a conversation. When one lies, they work at keeping eye contact
  • so as to appear honest.
  • A lliar will often engage in more eye contact without much blinking.
  • Liars will subconsciously point their feet towards the exit of the room.
  • A smile often surfaces from the liar when they think they’ve successfully deceived you.
  • Often they nod their head while denying or shake their head while agreeing.

This note was created from Liner.
By braindocPage with highlights – http://getliner.com/uGmJ7
Original page – http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/how-tell-if-someone-lying-tell-tale-signs-327998
Let us agree make it a regular habit to review our “self talk” the next time we find our words are not ringing quite true.  
Our integrity and health depend on it.
 
Greg
 
liars

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

 

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Bonds of Friendship : Life Lessons from Chemistry

chemistry



Bonds of Friendship : Life Lessons from Chemistry

I have always enjoyed the sciences, especially the study of chemistry. Chemistry helps one to understand the interactions of matter down to the smallest particle. When I enrolled in my first class, I had much trouble grasping some of the basic concepts as a visual minded individual, especially the whole discussion of “mole”. For all of you who do not know this term, it deals with the mass of elements, given 1 x 10 ^23 units. It is like when you wish to compare apples and oranges, except in dealing with atoms you need to convert to another scale than pounds or kilogram. If you could go to the “ATOMIC STORE” and wish to buy a bag of zinc, it would not come in the same size bag as helium. So, given a standard weight of reference, one is looking for how many apples weigh as much as ten oranges. It is an over simplification but allow me to get to my topic.

Ok, so as I was saying, I am very visual in my thinking. Most of the students in my class would schedule to see the professor after class with their questions written on a sheet of paper. But for me to grasp concepts I often took a marble model of the molecule in question and ask the teacher to reassemble the solutions to a problem for me. It helped me to ‘really understand’ the workings of a reaction.

Given this tendency to visualize chemistry problems has been an asset to me in applying metaphors to other disciples. If there is one thing I have seen over my years of study, it is that the “truth in a discipline”, seems congruent to the “truth held” in other disciplines. Visual models help me to grasp truths more effectively, especially in social sciences. Now to the point of this blog, I wish to introduce a very interesting chemistry concept that can be very helpful to those who ever suffered losses in their life.

On stage the curtain is pulled back. Let us give a warm welcome to a “lipid molecule (people often just call him ‘fat’).”

MyristicAcid

You will notice many repeating patterns in a lipid molecule. It has what is called a “carbon backbone” like many organic molecules in our world. But what I wish to point out is that you will notice a large set of Hydrogen molecules (white) hugging the carbons (black) in the chain.

saturated-fat

These chains stay together by charges, known as bonds. The positive charges of hydrogen share fields with available negatively charged carbons. When two or more different chains sit close together, side by side, they will try to repel each other. Maybe now, you can probably then understand why oils are slippery. The positive bonded charges of the hydrogen atom of one lipid molecule tries to move away from the hydrogen atom of another lipid molecule close to it. You probably heard somewhere that “opposites attract and same repel”.

So, maybe it then makes sense. Lipids (or fats) in compact spaces tend to push each other away…meaning less friction..meaning it can be quite slippery. Knowing this, you can probably think of other substances that you found slippery. So do you think slippery substances have similar properties? Yes, in fact they do; whether it is a drop of oil for a hinge or a banana peel that makes an actor slip for a good laugh.

There is great lesson we can grasp through their “structural behavior” when a small piece is removed (e.g. a hydrogen atom is removed). The loss of hydrogen from paired carbon makes that empty carbon more negatively charged. This often results in two carbons sharing a neighboring hydrogen, like two boys dating the same girl.

fat_f2

Now instead of a single bond, the affected carbons create a double bond. Structurally, this makes the molecule more reactive to the environment. After all, the girl that is dating two boys at the same time, can more easily leave them both. In order for the whole molecule to become more stable, their will usually rotate slightly down the whole chain of carbons, permitting as much equal sharing to balance out the ionic shift.

fat-molecule

Now in contrast, enter Salt. He is often called sodium chloride, like the table salt your use to season your food.

image

 

Notice, there are just two parts, a sodium atom and a chloride atom. What is very different here is there are not any other competitions happening for the bond they uniquely have. Usually a medium has to be available for them to let go of each other. This is what happens as it dissolves in water. The water (H2O) ,as a medium becomes aligned in ways that react with chloride and sodium, coming between them to disassociate.

Lectur2  NaCl1

 

 

 

 

Now outside of a medium change, it would be very difficult to break the bond of salt. However, if sodium and chloride get separated without a stable medium, something very significant takes place. Both sodium and chloride become very unstable and search desperately to be united with anything, if not each other. These are radicals.

Now an unpaired Chloride would seek other Chloride atoms for stability. This ultimately results in Chloride gas; a poisonous and toxic gas.

chloridegas

The Sodium, on the other hand becomes flammable and has the capacity to burn a hole through carpet!

FB0PAX3HSVH3WXU.RECTANGLE1

 

Ok, what profound truth can we extract from this?  We are all just like molecules, with bonds like relationships. Some people have only a few relationships like salt; those with whom they share memories, experiences and events. Living life without significant companions to reciprocate, may leave us more vulnerable to stress and ‘radical’ perspective after loss. It is much more likely to become reactive and may contribute to an emotional imbalance when an only friend or partner is unexpectedly lost.

bestfriend

A unique Reality that two isolated partners share exclusively can be dramatically altered after a loss of a partner and in such circumstances a survived partner may not be able to function in their daily activities.

In fact, the survived ones identity may be essentially lost, until a limited strategy (despite its logical merit) can be employed in order to go on.

folie e deux

Some people have a large number of people they share experiences . Such people tend to always have bonds with others and share on deeper levels, or on many levels with others. They are often a part of either a large family, a club, a church or community, or may have been raised with a community mindset. Such people are best equipped to share the loss they experience with others with whom they are intimately familiar. They can access the sympathy from others, and later when a similar loss is experienced by a close friend, the bond can be further reinforced by empathy instead of sympathy.

handstogether

As joys and sorrows come their way, it is the company of established, mutually regarded companions that permit strength to face life’s unexpected challenges optimally.

Now you may see a parallel here between the loss of ionic bonds in chemistry to loss which may occurs socially; as a lost relationship. How one deals with a lost family member or partner in life have much to do with how well that loss can be shared with others. Culturing quality relationships, sharing favorable experiences with others, making good memories with others of similar core values, all strengthen bonds of your relationships. When anyone shares a bond with another then life’s challenges take on a different impact.

MyristicAcid

One writer once put it , ” friendship halves our sorrow and doubles our joy”. It brings more meaningfulness and stability to endure the unexpected hardships in our lives. Take the time to invest in your friendships. It is an investment you can not effectively live without.

Greg

Bonds of Friendship : Life Lessons from Chemistry was originally published on

 

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What “LIES” Beneath…

liedef


The most important fundamental principle in Psychiatry is discovering the content of our “self-talk”. 

cbt

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), introduced by Dr. Aaron Beck, has been established as a very useful therapy for those suffering from a wide range of emotional problems.  The effective application of this therapy has been a powerful tool not only for troubled individuals but for anyone who desires some sort of compass to navigate through the rocky terrain of everyday life.

beck

The principles are based on uncovering the lies we have learned throughout our lives and how they introduce obstacles when we hold them as truths.  The most valuable aspect of CBT is that it does not require a lifelong therapist. In fact, the pace of healing is centered on those who earnestly acquire the skills to keep their mental dialogue in check.  When we learn how to extract truth in our interpretations of life events, we are able to break free from the anxiety and fear that threaten our freedom to live life fully as intended,

Here, I will share the six basic lies that rob our freedoms.  If you learn how to identify these lies, then you will be in a position to begin replacing your self-dialogue with truths and begin a journey to freedom.

6lies

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halfplateshd2

Now, Go Reclaim your freedom!

 

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The Christmas Announcement

The Announcement

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And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, 
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

I had the privilege of hearing the Chicago Brass at my church on Sunday.  Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without hearing these talented musicians harmonize beautifully with crisp songs of Joy, that charge the atmosphere with the season of excitement and great expectation.

The sermon was also uplifting and meaningful.  The text was taken from John Chapter 1.

Allow me to quote from the KJV.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ.

With the fresh reflection of the brass instruments stirring in my heart, I started to wiggle my way through the complex texts.  It seemed deeply profound, yet there was a message brewing up from this passage.  It seemed to speak more to me as I climbed over each term, trying to follow the intended message and envision their content in a more meaningful way.

1 In the beginning was the Word..”Word” is a Greek term for “Logos“.  This has a broad meaning and application.  It is where we get logic and logistics.  It bore the concept of order, structure and was applied to the use of science in the past.  It is the “way in which all things operate and function”.  It is the personification of thought, as in God’s thought and envisioned grace that provided a son for our salvation.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  

Wow.  What a concept.  So, what now exits is because of him and in him was life. 

So, I tried to consider how to represent this.  In Him…Life.  Yes, I thought of a channel, a passage, a tube.  Yes.  Then I thought of things existing…which began as a thought.  It is like something evolved from a conception of God’s mind.  It was like an opening, a widening, like a  bell of a horn!

Then the message developed into a an image.  It became more meaningful and applicable.

tr2e

Consider this.  In Him is life..like the breath of life.  It started with the thought and intent of Logos. It is expressed in all things, like the bell of the trumpet.  Through the music of this brass instrument, it presents a song… a song of salvation…a song of invitation.  It is the light of men, to those that hear and attend to the music.  The light of men bring them to Life itself…as it was meant to be; the life we were meant to have, in meaningfulness.  I researched it further and found a similar meaning.

The trumpet was used in Communication before its use as a musical instrument. It was primarily a signal, either for soldiers, hunters, or to announce someone’s arrival. The fact that the trumpet’s sound carries a long way added to its value in that respect.

What is the Significance of Trumpets in the Bible?

Not only was this instrument used as a feast trumpet to gather people together to celebrate, it was used in processions as well. The walls surrounding Jericho crumbled when people marched around them blowing shofars. It is said that the second coming of Christ will be announced with the sound of this instrument. The first day of the seventh month was termed a “memorial of blowing” or a “day of blowing” in the Old Testament. This day is called Rosh Hashanah and is celebrated in the Jewish religion.

(“The Feast of Trumpets.” Answers.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2014.)

Also, in scripture I found a reference to God’s announcement as a trumpet.

Psalms 47:5
5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

The message goes out to a dark world, or to many who do not regard the light.  If they did see and value the light, it will lead them to Life itself.  So, here is the message as revealed in scripture.
Behold, wisdom calleth, and understanding sendeth forth her voice, 2 On the top of high places, by the wayside, at the house where there are many paths doth she place herself. 3 Alongside of gates, at the opening of the city, at the entrance of the town-doors doth she call loudly, 4 Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice goeth forth to the sons of men, 5 Learn, O ye simple, to understand prudence: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 

8 In righteousness are all the sayings of my mouth, there is in them nothing crooked or perverse. 9 They are all evident to the man of understanding, and correct to those that have obtained knowledge.

14 Mine are counsel and sound wisdom: I am understanding; mine is might. 15 Through me do kings reign, and chieftains give decrees in righteousness. 16 Through me do princes rule, and the nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

(“Proverbs 8.” Behold, Wisdom Calleth, and Understanding Sendeth Forth Her Voice,. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2014.)

In closing, I challenge each of you not to get caught up with the anxieties of the season but to listen for that music, to follow the melody, the very light and discover the Life which you deserve, as was meant to be.  May you all have a Happy and Peaceful Holiday season my friends and family!

Trumpet-Notes

Happy Holidays!

Greg

The Christmas Announcement was originally published on Braindoctr's Blog

 

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The Bridge that could not..

 

 

nobridge

 

I have heard it said “if you want friends, do not build walls, build bridges”. But if you have ever felt depressed or under stress, you may have noticed that you did not really feel very sociable.  In fact, you may remember that you avoided being around people. You may even recall how stress impaired your thinking and planning. We tend to become myopic, or near sighted and any task undertaken can seem very energy demanding.

I have been reading an article recently that explains how this experience is actually a part of a neurobiological process ; one that is common not only for times of stress and depression, but it also appears to have a common involvement in most dementias.

You see, the bridgework of social engagement is much like the bridgework that can be found between neurons of our brains.  This bridgework aligns neurons across the a signalling gap between downstream neurons.  The terminal end of one firing neuron (presynapse) communicates with the dendrite (postsynapse)  of the next neuron through a gap known as a synapse.

synapse

synbridge

The alignment of neurons is an important feature for effective communication downstream.  Researchers discovered a structure protein known as Nectin-3 that maintains this alignment to secure connections in place.  Now, what has been found is that when mice were placed in a stressful environment, there was a significant reduction in Nectin-3 in their brains.  This also correlated with the avoidance behaviour observed in these mice from the stress induced.  In order to be certain of this relationship, other experiments were designed to restore  fibronectin-3, which resulted in increased cognitive function and improved  socialization in mice.

When the scientist explored the mechanism behind nectin-3 reduction, an enzyme known as MMP-9 was identified.  During times of stress, high glutamate levels prompt the release of this enzyme which degrades  nectin-3 protein. I think of this as Military Police (MP) that lose their role as peacekeepers, causing mass chaos.

mpshadow

Normally, this enzyme has an important role, probably in modifying memory like fine tuning a piano to the right tone.  However, stress clearly permits a runaway mechanism to hinder our social interaction and capacity to think clearly.

 

I invite you to read this article below.


Stress Management Makes Us Antisocial Due To Severed Synapses: New Finding Opens Window For Disorder Treatment

grouchy
If you find yourself avoiding human interaction when you’re stressed, be sure to thank an enzyme in your brain. greg westfall, CC BY 2.0
The people who can carry on amiable conversation while also fighting a war inside their heads are few and far between. When we get stressed, we shut down.We recede from the social sphere, if only to count to 10, before rejoining the group with a clearer frame of mind. But what, exactly, is going on between our ears when all this is happening?

New research from the Brain Mind Institute at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, suggests the neural mechanism that makes stress a precursor to antisocial behavior happens at the synaptic level. Specifically, there is a disruption between a key enzyme and a set of proteinsnecessary for sociability. Keeping that relationship intact could open important doors for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

There’s a type of protein whose main function in the brain is to keep neurons stuck together. They’re called adhesion proteins, and one in particular, the nectin-3 adhesion protein, has been found in prior research to play a vital role in the preservation of cognitive functions. In rats with chronic stress, researchers recently found nectin-3 levels were substantially lower.

In looking for possible causes of the decrease, the researchers ended up at the enzyme MMP-9, known for its role in protein degradation. What they found when they looked at MMP-9 activity in the brain was that during episodes of chronic stress, when the neurotransmitter glutamate is released, the receptors responsible for memory and synaptic plasticity activated MMP-9. Literally like scissors, the enzyme cut the nectin-3 proteins.

“When this happens, nectin-3 becomes unable to perform its role as a modulator of synaptic plasticity” explained lead author and Brain Mind Institute professor Carmen Sandi in a statement. The end result for the rats was decreased sociability, avoidant behavior, and impaired memory and understanding.

By contrast, when EPFL researchers and a team of Polish scientists tried to reverse the effect — in other words, boost sociability through nectin-3 restoration — they found in in vitro and in vivo models that these external treatments yielded positive effects. Cognitive skills improved and memory returned. “The identification of this mechanism is important because it suggests potential treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders related to chronic stress, particularly depression,” Sandi said.

The research is admittedly early for any clinical application. So far, no drugs have been developed using nectin-3 as their primary target. Sandi and her team hope the findings can be repeated in future studies. Given the success with MMP-9, they also hope to exploit its benefits for other neurological diseases, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or epilepsy.

“This result opens new research avenues on the still unknown consequences of chronic stress,” Sandi said.

Source: Sandi C, et al. Nature Communications. 2014.

The Bridge that could not.. was originally published on Braindoctr's Blog

 

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Cats on the Brain

Does the Cat have your tongue? How about your brain?

Does the Cat have your tongue? How about your brain?

I remember from Medical School that there are dangers related to infections from some pets.  One, in particular, was the risk of pregnant women having exposure to cat waste.  It is well established that cats carry toxoplasmosis can be very harmful to the developing fetus.  Birth defects and death can result from exposure to the parasite, often abundant in cat waste.

toxoplasmosis_2

I also recall that some people suffering from compromised immunity are also susceptible to the same parasite which can spread throughout the body and especially the brain.

However, I have been reading about how this parasite has a greater range of impact on its host.  Apparently, this microbe has a very practical function as well for our feline companions.  It seems that mice become susceptible to the parasite, which erodes their natural defenses.  Mice have a particular agility and acuity to avoid entrapment.  But this infection makes mice less anxious and careless about being discovered.  In fact, mice can become allured to the waste of their predators, allowing them to be easy prey,

The articles below will describe this study and further present concerns about the similar mechanism of infection that can have a profound impact on human behavior. Some people can be influenced by a subacute infection that is just attributed to nothing more than a trait of character. A question we have to consider is ‘just how much can mental and behavioral management can be manipulated beyond our conscious knowledge or Will’?


Sep 18

Cat poop parasite controls minds early — and permanently, study finds

STORY BY MAGGIE FOX
WENDY INGRAM AND ADRIENNE GREENE
Even after infection with Toxoplasma gondii has been removed from rodents’ brains, they continue to behave as if unafraid of the smell of cat urine, suggesting that the infection causes long-term changes in the brain.
A parasite that changes the brains of rats and mice so that they are attracted to cats and cat urine seems to work its magic almost right away, and continues to control the brain even after it’s gone, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The mind-controlling parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, might make permanent changes in brain function as soon as it gets in there, the researchers report. They aren’t sure how yet.

“The parasite is able to create this behavior change as early as three weeks after infection,” says Wendy Ingram of the University of California, Berkeley, who worked on the study.

T. gondii has captured the imaginations of scientists and cat lovers ever since it was learned it can control the behavior of rodents. It changes their brains so they lose their innate fear of the smell of cat urine. In fact, it precisely alters their fear reaction so that they love the smell of cat pee.

This makes infected rodents much more likely to be caught by cats, which eat them and their mind-controlling parasites. T. gondii can only reproduce in the guts of cats, so its behavior directly affects its own survival.

It doesn’t just affect cats. People can be infected too — pregnant women are told to stay away from cat feces for this very reason. It normally doesn’t bother people, but it can cause brain inflammation, called encephalitis, in some — especially those with compromised immune systems like pregnant women.

“More than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website.

WENDY INGRAM AND ADRIENNE GREENE
Chronic infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii can make mice lose their innate, hard-wired fear of cats.

Studies have linked toxoplasmosis with a range of human mental diseases, including schizophrenia, bipolar disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even clumsiness. This study doesn’t answer questions about people, Ingram points out.

“It does not necessarily explain crazy cat ladies or why there are LOLCATS online,” she says.

But it does begin to hint at a potential mechanism for how and when the parasite changes the mouse brains.

“I want to know how the behavioral change is happening,” Ingram says.

Her team used a specially genetically engineered version of the parasite, made by a team at Stanford University.

Normal T. gondii parasites form a cyst in neurons. “It was assumed that the cysts … were doing something biologically that is actively changing the behavior,” Ingram told NBC News.

But the genetically engineered parasite wasn’t able to make cysts. And it was so weak that the rats’ immune systems were able to clear it from their brains. But even so, rats infected with this weakened form of the parasite just loved the smell of cat urine, Ingram and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE.

“This suggests the parasite is flipping a switch rather than continually changing the behavior,” says Ingram.

She suspects it’s somehow activating the immune system in a way that then alters brain function. “That’s one of the very first things I am going to be checking,” Ingram says.

First published September 18th 2013, 7:03 pm

 

 

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