Self -ness, the Etherial Quantum of Me and the Other Mes …infinitum

May 31st, 2016

The concept of a continuum of matter, time and energy has always taken on a spiritual and metaphysical theme for me. Ever since in high school when I learned of Bell’s theorem, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrödinger’s cat, or the concept of spooky action at a distance – quantum entanglement, I have really questioned much of my self-ness as a unit of being. Dawkins with the Selfish Gene and the concept of the unit of selection also put a biological spin on the theoretical physics (pun intended).

So if I move away from thinking about the outside of me, which doesn’t really make sense, but move more toward a mindset of understanding via my subjective brain experience, brain thinking about the brain thinking about the brain…never ending self reflexive paradox..maybe I am more than just me, but a few of me or infinite me, hummmm

Here is another similar video that I like that questions more of the same…

Researchers say they can predict awareness and return to consciousness of comatose patients

Digital Trends – Dyllan Furness – 30 May 2016


Researchers have developed a new method to peer into a comatose patient’s brain. By measuring how much sugar a brain consumes, scientists are able to predict a patient’s current state of awareness and the chance that the patient will regain consciousness within a year, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.

inbraininjurA research team from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the University of Liège in Belgium sought a more dependable laboratory analysis that would accompany clinical examinations to determine a patient’s current and future level of awareness. They administered, mapped, and measured sugar as a marker in 131 brain-injured patients, and found that the brain’s glucose metabolism strongly correlated with behavioral responsiveness. The researchers were able to predict consciousness or return to consciousness in 94 percent of cases.

Related3D-printed brain tumors may help scientists fight cancer

“In nearly all cases, whole-brain energy turnover directly predicted either the current level of awareness or its subsequent recovery,” Ron Kupers of the University of Copenhagen and Yale University said in a press release. “In short, our findings indicate that there is a minimal energetic requirement for sustained consciousness to arise after brain injury.”

Patients whose glucose metabolism measured under a threshold of 42 percent of normal appeared unconscious and failed to recover consciousness within the following year. Meanwhile, patients whose glucose metabolism measured above 42 percent the threshold had signs of initial responsiveness or recovered responsiveness within a year.

“The take-home message [for now] is that consciousness is a highly energy demanding process, involving the brain at large,” Kupers said. “This fundamental physiological trait can help clinicians determine the potential for recovery of awareness in patients suffering from severe brain injuries of any kind.”

Kupers and his team still insist that their findings need to be verified by an independent study. However, their research opens interest in further investigating how awareness relates to brain metabolism and how brain metabolism may change over time in brain-injured patients.

Sleep is my favorite thing. Why do I have to loose it when I age?

Sleep is a very fascinating subject when studying the human brain. It is an altered state of consciousness, a time we can not eat, fight for our survival, or run from a saber tooth tiger. In sleep we have a decreased ability to react to stimuli. Some people loose the ability to react to stimuli much more than others. Out senses are turned of and all our voluntary a actions shut down. Sleep is more easily reversed via stimuli than the state of hibernation or of being comatose. But still it is a time 1200px-Biological_clock_human.svgthat we are severely vulnerable (enough so we can even have a surgeon cut into us without any pain). Wouldn’t that be a need/trait that would render us unfit in the natural selection game. So why sleep? And ever weirder, why do we turn into delusional trippy zombies without sleep (like in the first few weeks of your new born child’s life – great timing nature).

Sleep science is fairly deep and complex. Here are some interesting factoids about sleep:

  1. Adenosine is an enzyme/neurotransmitter that is involved in the timing of our sleep and wake states
  2. The brain releases the hormone melatonin and core body temp gradually decreases (unless you are pre-menopausal – then you are burning up and swimming in sweat)
  3. Below is what the National Sleep Foundations says about the sleep you need to be healthy
    Newborns (0–3 months) 14 to 17 hours
    Infants (4–11 months) 12 to 15 hours
    Toddlers (1–2 years) 11 to 14 hours
    Preschoolers (3–5 years) 10 to 13 hours
    School-age children (6–13 years)   9 to 11 hours
    Teenagers (14–17 years)   8 to 10 hours
    Adults   7 to 9 hours
  4. sleepstagesSleep has stages. Stages of REM and NREM, usually four or five of them per night, the order normally being N1 → N2 → N3 → N2 → REM. There is a greater amount of deep sleep (stage N3) earlier in the night, while the proportion of REM sleep increases in the two cycles just before natural awakening.
  5. The sleep you need as you age decreases but less sleep is may not be responsible for lower cognitive abilities

(From NPR-KUT Austin) Two Guys on Your Head

Many sleep studies are conducted on younger people who need a lot of sleep, in part, because their brains are developing in many different ways. For example, when we are young, we’re forming ideas of who we are. We’re also trying to remember and learn all sorts of different things about the world and our place in it. Our brains are working really hard and sleep helps to consolidate memories and clean out the detritus that lingers between the cells in our brains.In middle age it is very important that we sleep well and maintain healthy sleep patterns also, because this helps to protect our brains in old age. If we don’t get enough sleep in this stage of life, Markman says, by old age there’s broken windows and graffiti all over your brain. As we reach old age there is less “creation of self” going on in our brains, and our brains don’t need as much recovery time. In fact, if we need more sleep in old age, it is likely because we’re sick. So, in some studies, we see a reversal between the amount of sleep people are getting and cognitive functioning. Healthy older adults just don’t need a lot of sleep – and that’s okay.

Brain Fat

ScienceDailybrain600

via Obesity is associated with brain’s neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters and hormones are physiology’s sculptures. It is amazing how much these chemical can change/morph an animals being physically and behaviorally.

The story reveals that there is a link between the main pleasure chemical receptors in the brain and obesity. The question is, does becoming Obese change the receptors or does a change in the receptors cause Obesity (Chicken – Egg, humm I’m hungry just saying that). I have experiences middle age weight gain and many hormone changes as I enter my 50’s. I have experienced first hand the complexity of Thyroid, Estrogen, and Progesterone on my energy, hunger, sleep and moods. I have not yet made a decision about hormone replacement therapy or thyroid supplementation. But now it looks like I may just need to get an opiate addiction and Ill be fine (dark joke..get used to it if you are goning read my blogs)

“New research reveals how obesity is associated with altered functioning of brain’s opioid system, which is intimately involved in generating pleasurable sensations. Researchers found that obesity was associated with significantly lowered number of opioid receptors in the brain. However, no changes were observed in the dopamine neurotransmitter system, which regulates motivational aspects of eating.

Obesity is a great challenge to human health worldwide because it is associated with serious medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Even though it is well known that unhealthy eating habits are the major cause for obesity, people have often problems with restraining their eating.

Our findings highlight how obesity is associated with brain-level molecular changes. It is possible that the lack of brain’s opioid receptors predisposes the obese individuals to overeating to compensate decreased hedonic responses in this system, tell professor Lauri Nummenmaa and researcher Henry Karlsson.

The findings have major implications for our understanding of the causes of obesity. They help us to understand the mechanisms involved in overeating, and provide new insight into behavioural and pharmacological treatment and prevention of obesity. However, we do not yet know whether the altered brain neurochemistry is a cause or consequence of obesity”

Below is a bit more of the science behind the claims:

Researchers have revealed how obesity is associated with altered opioid neurotransmission in the brain. New research reveals how obesity is associated with altered functioning of brain’s opioid system, which is intimately involved in generating pleasurable sensations. The researchers found that obesity was associated with significantly lowered number of opioid receptors in the brain. However, no changes were observed in the dopamine neurotransmitter system, which regulates motivational aspects of eating.

Obesity


Original Story Source:

Science Daily

The above story is based on materials provided by Aalto University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. K. Karlsson, L. Tuominen, J. J. Tuulari, J. Hirvonen, R. Parkkola, S. Helin, P. Salminen, P. Nuutila, L. Nummenmaa. Obesity Is Associated with Decreased  -Opioid But Unaltered Dopamine D2 Receptor Availability in the Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 2015; 35 (9): 3959 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4744-14.2015

Cite This Page:

Aalto University. “Obesity is associated with brain’s neurotransmitters.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150304104518.htm>.

Gweek 075: Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations

Gweek 075 interviews Oliver Sacks about his new book “Hallucinations”. Dr. Sacks is the author of twelve books, including Uncle TungstenThe Mind’s Eye, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. He is a fascinating author who writes about topics of neuroscience and the human mind. Dr. Sacks’ books are fascinating explorations into the way the human mind works, usually through studying abnormal minds and surprising ways in which they give us clues about perception, consciousness, and behavior. Interestingly, Dr. Sacks himself has face blindness, Asperger’s syndrome, is blind in one eye, and is slightly deaf, which might explain in part why matters of the human mind are of great interest to him.
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/fOPHuWjRtdY/gweek-075-oliver-sacks-hall.html

Neurosurgeon Goes Into Week-Long Coma, Claims to Have Seen Heaven

For our daily science mystery, we bring you the story of Dr. Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon who nearly died four years ago “when a ferocious E. coli meningitis infection attacked his brain and plunged him deep into a week-long coma.” During that time while deep in coma, “his brain infected so badly only the most primitive parts were working, Alexander claimed he experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.”

“Nurses would come in, and they would pull his eyelids back, shine in the flashlight, and his eyes were just off and cocked,” Holley Andersen said. “It’s just like no one was there.” Against all odds, Alexander woke up a week after being stricken. But he believes Holley was right: He wasn’t there. Deep in coma, his brain infected so badly only the most primitive parts were working, Alexander claimed he experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.

Deep in coma, his brain infected so badly only the most primitive parts were working, Alexander claimed he experienced something extraordinary: a journey to Heaven.

“In every sense, of the word that’s what my experience showed me,” Alexander said.

“My first memories from when I was deep inside: I had no language, all my earthly memories were gone,” he said. “I had no body awareness at all. I was just a speck of awareness in kind of a dark, murky environment, in roots or vessels or something. And I seemed to be there for a very long time — I would say years.

“I was rescued by this beautiful, spinning, white light that had a melody, an incredibly beautiful melody with it that opened up into a bright valley,” he added, “an extremely verdant valley with blossoming flowers and a just incredible, rich, ultra-real world of indescribable complexity.”

Alexander said there was a young woman who soared across time and space with him on a butterfly wing and gave him a message to take back from Heaven.

“She looked at me, and this was with no words, but the concepts came straight into mind: You are love; you are cherished; there’s nothing you have to fear; there’s nothing you can do wrong,” he said.

God was there as a vast presence of love, Alexander said, and Alexander understood God through an orb of brilliant light.

“It was all of eternity and all of conscious existence,” he said. “But it was this brilliant orb of light that was almost as necessary as a translator to bring in that message from the divine and the incredible.”

After he recovered, Alexander, who was adopted, was shown a picture by his biological family of a sister he had never met or seen before. He recognized the sister as the young woman from Heaven.

“I looked up at that picture on my dresser that I had just got and I knew who my guardian angel was on the butterfly wing,” he said. “It is the most profound experience I’ve ever had in this life.”

[Source]

Nature Article: Scientists read dreams

NATURE | NEWS ORIGINAL POST: Scientists read dreams – Brain scans during sleep can decode visual content of dreams.

Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep. A team of researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).
Researchers in Japan can predict certain features of dreams by looking at the brain activity of sleeping volunteers. The researchers woke the participants whenever they detected the pattern of brain waves associated with sleep onset, asked them what they had just dreamed about, and then asked them to go back to sleep. This was done in three-hour blocks, and repeated between seven and ten times, on different days, for each participant. During each block, participants were woken up ten times per hour. Each volunteer reported having visual dreams six or seven times every hour, giving the researchers a total of around 200 dream reports.

Perchance to dream

Most of the dreams reflected everyday experiences, but some contained unusual content, such as talking to a famous actor. The researchers extracted key words from the participants’ verbal reports, and picked 20 categories — such as ‘car’, ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘computer’ — that appeared most frequently in their dream reports. Kamitani and his colleagues then selected photos representing each category, scanned the participants’ brains again while they viewed the images, and compared brain activity patterns with those recorded just before the participants were woken up. The researchers analysed activity in brain areas V1, V2 and V3, which are involved in the earliest stages of visual processing and encode basic features of visual scenes, such as contrast and the orientation of edges. They also looked at several other regions that are involved in higher order visual functions, such as object recognition.

In 2008, Kamitani and his colleagues reported that they could decode brain activity associated with the earliest stages of visual processing to reconstruct images shown to participants. Now, they have found that activity in the higher order brain regions could accurately predict the content of the participants’ dreams. “We built a model to predict whether each category of content was present in the dreams,” says Kamitani. “By analysing the brain activity during the nine seconds before we woke the subjects, we could predict whether a man is in the dream or not, for instance, with an accuracy of 75–80%.” The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, Louisiana, earlier this week, suggest that dreaming and visual perception share similar neural representations in the higher order visual areas of the brain. “This is an interesting and exciting piece of work,” says neuroscientist Jack Gallant at the University of California, Berkeley, of the work presented at the meeting. “It suggests that dreaming involves some of the same higher level visual brain areas that are involved in visual imagery.” “It also seems to suggest that our recall of dreams is based on short-term memory, because dream decoding was most accurate in the tens of seconds before waking,” he adds. Kamitani and his colleagues are now trying to collect the same kind of data from the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is also associated with dreaming. “This is more challenging because we have to wait at least one hour before sleeping subjects reach that stage,” Kamitani says. But the extra effort will be worth it, he says. “Knowing more about the content of dreams and how it relates to brain activity may help us to understand the function of dreaming.”

References

  1. Miyawaki, Y. et al. Neuron 60, 915–929 (2008).