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Archive for the ‘Neuro’ Category

Psychedelics and Therapy

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An August 19 article in The Guardian, written by psychotherapist Andrew Feldmár, talks about the benefits of using hallucinogenic drugs alongside conventional treatment:

After three LSD sessions, a patient emerged from what was labelled chronic psychotic depression (she had attempted suicide three times, had been hospitalised, and given several courses of ECT, major antipsychotics and antidepressants), and was able to hold a job, derive pleasure from her days, and look forward to cultivating a varied garden of delights. She moved from cursing me for not letting her die to blessing me for the surprising freedom that opened up for her as a result of her LSD experiences. Psychotherapy, without LSD, would not have been enough, I’m afraid.

I’ve been curious about such methods ever since reading Aldous Huxley‘s book, The Doors of Perception. (Not curious enough to try the stuff, though.) I’m wondering what it is, exactly, that helps the mentally ill get better so much faster with such drugs than without them. If we could determine that, we could determine how to duplicate the results more safely and consistently… perhaps even without the drugs.

Go read Psychedelic Drugs Could Heal Thousands.

(Thanks, BoingBoing, for the pointer.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 21st, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Neuro,Psych

Body position helps you remember

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Once again, we find Milton Erickson was ahead of his time:

A new study adds an unexpected method to the list of ways to spur memories about our past: body position. That’s right: just holding your body in the right position means you’ll have faster, more accurate access to certain memories. If you stand as if holding a golf club, you’re quicker to remember an event that happened while you were golfing than if you position your body in a non-golfing pose.

Cognitive Daily: Body position affects memory for events

Written by Michael DeBusk

June 6th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

It USED to be seven, plus or minus two

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Is the research being better refined, or are we becoming more forgetful? This Lifehacker article points to this article on Live Science:

Researchers have often debated the maximum amount of items we can store in our conscious mind, in what’s called our working memory, and a new study puts the limit at three or four.

More goodies I remembered to post about:

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 11th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Learning,Neuro,Psych

Dyslexia is different in different languages

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A recent article in discovery News indicates that there are neurological differences between the experience of dyslexia in native readers of Chinese and native readers of English:

Dyslexia affects different parts of children’s brains depending on whether they are raised reading English or Chinese. That finding, reported in Monday’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, means that therapists may need to seek different methods of assisting dyslexic children from different cultures.

Read the rest at Discovery News from the Discovery Channel.

(Hat tip to BoingBoing!)

Additional note: I read an interesting book by a former dyslexic. It is called “The Gift of Dyslexia”. Check the author’s Web site for more information.

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 10th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Linguistic,Neuro

I see what you’re saying

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Over at Interesting Thing of the Day there’s a nice article on Synesthesia:

There are at least 50 different types of synesthesia, involving various combinations of senses both as the triggering stimulus and the secondary response. Some forms of synesthesia are experienced as multiple modalities of a single physical sense. For example, seeing a number might evoke a certain color for one synesthete, while in another person the same number might cause a different visual sensation, such as a pattern or shape. One sense may also trigger another, as in a tactile sensation that has a taste. But not all synesthetic experiences are restricted to the five senses. In some synesthetes, a word or sound might evoke a sensation of motion, or even a kinesthetic response, inducing the person to assume a particular physical position. There are also cases in which abstract concepts, such as days of the week or months of the year, cause the sensation of shapes, colors, or other experiences.

Go read the article or listen to the podcast (9:26, 8.64 MB, mp3).

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 10th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Posted in Neuro

Train your Brain

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The New York Times reports on a study that shows that training your memory improves your overall intelligence:

Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience — what psychologists call fluid intelligence — is innate and cannot be taught though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing.

But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works.

Go read the full article.

(Thanks for the heads-up, honey.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 2nd, 2008 at 11:44 am

Posted in Neuro

Albert Hofmann: RIP

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Wow. LSD inventor Albert Hoffman died recently. He was a hundred and two years old.

Albert Hofmann, LSD inventor, RIP – Boing Boing

Written by Michael DeBusk

April 30th, 2008 at 10:57 am

Posted in Neuro,Psych

It’s in all the papers, so it must be true

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An interesting article from Psych Central News charges the media with disseminating the “chemical imbalance” nonsense theory of mental illness:

…there are few scientists who will rise to its defense, and some prominent psychiatrists publicly acknowledge that the serotonin hypothesis is more metaphor than fact. As the current study documents, when asked for evidence, reporters were unable to cite peer-reviewed primary articles in support of the theory.

As someone who’s spent significant time with mentally ill people (Patients! At work! Really!) I’ve consistently failed to find a reason to believe there’s a bio-chemical cause for mental illness. It simply fails the logic tests as well as violating everything I’ve been able to learn about neurology. The idea that there’s one simple thing behind such complex and varied behavior is just, well, simplistic. Financially lucrative if you manufacture drugs, but not justifiable.

Full article at: Biochemical Roots of Depression Challenged

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 23rd, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Neuro,Psych

Does Language Shape Experience? We can’t decide.

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Remember the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis? Bandler and Grinder wrote about it in The Structure of Magic. I don’t recall if they mentioned it by name, though. The basic idea is that our language shapes our perceptions. I’ve been told that it’s been Soundly Disproven By Science.

And then along comes this article, titled “Babies See Pure Color, but Adults Peer Through Prism of Language“, in Wired Science:

When infant eyes absorb a world of virgin visions, colors are processed purely, in a pre-linguistic parts of the brain. As adults, colors are processed in the brain’s language centers, refracted by the concepts we have for them.

Thanks for the pointer, Boingboing.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 17th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Linguistic,Neuro,Psych

Better Focus and Concentration

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By way of Lifehacker I found a really cool article on how to exercise your mind:

You can find strong powers of concentration in yourself. When you are decisive and sincerely want to excel in your studies, pass an important exam, or playing one of your favorite games; the power of concentration becomes available to you. This kind of concentration is raised because of some need, or desire. Increasing it in a systematic way, brings it under your control, and grants you the ability to use it easily, with no exertion whenever you need it. Real and good concentration is developed slowly, through daily work, and with special exercises. It has to be approached in a reasonable and practical way.

Read more at the EgoDevelopment blog, and see also my recent reference to a great DVD on the subject.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 7th, 2008 at 7:39 pm