Archive for the ‘Altered States of Consciousness’ Category

Depression induced or cured within 10 seconds in rats by turning on or off neurons that release dopamine in the ventral tegmental area of the brain with the help of optogenetics (previously changing neurons to make them be turned on or off by focusing light on them). 10 seconds is shorter than the time that antidepressants usually take to work, which is some weeks. Treatment with magnesium may work within one week, and could be combined for best results with vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, and omega-3.

via Stimulating dopamine-releasing neurons in the ventral tegmental area immediately extinguishes depression in mice. | MIT Technology Review.

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Scientists have figured out a way to read our dreams. It is in the preliminary stages, but the knowledge base will continue to expand. Although it seems pretty simplistic, it is a phenomenal step in an understanding of what our unconscious mind is up to during the one-third of our lives spent in slumber. Many people report infrequent memories of dream content, while some report no memory whatsoever. 

via Scientists read dreams : Nature News & Comment.

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UCLA researchers have�discovered that�the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease behaves as if it’s remembering something during sleep, even under anesthesia — a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

His team found that the entorhinal cortex showed what is called persistent activity, which is thought to mediate working memory during waking life — for example, when people pay close attention to remember things temporarily, such as recalling a phone number or following directions.

“The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time.” Mehta said. “These results are entirely novel and surprising. In fact, this working memory-like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex even under anesthesia.”

The findings are important, Mehta said, because humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping and a lack of sleep results in adverse effects on health, including learning and memory problems.

via The sleeping brain behaves as if it’s remembering something | KurzweilAI.

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Researchers Hunt For Mechanisms Of Hypnosis To Better Understand How It Works On Some, And Not On Others

via Hypnosis Mechanisms Tracked Down – Health News – redOrbit.

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On the morning of May 24, 1987, sometime after 1:30 A.M., a 23-year-old Canadian named Kenneth Parks drove 14 miles to his in-laws’ home, strangled his father-in-law to the point of unconsciousness, and beat and stabbed his mother-in-law to death. A year later he was acquitted of both assault and murder. After a careful investigation, specialists reached the astonishing conclusion that Parks had been sleepwalking—and sleep driving and sleep attacking—during the incident.

Neuroscience will inform our justice system in the very near future. It is already having an impact. Does this defense qualify? or is it just another cop-out murder defense?

via Are Sleepwalking Killers Conscious?: Scientific American.

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Ayahuasca is a psychedelic plant tea made from the bark of a vine mixed with (usually) the leaf of a certain tree found in the Amazon basin. It is cooked up with water over an open fire and simmered for 2-3 days while a shaman or curandera sings over it.

At this point, a small amount of the resulting “tea”, usually 1-2 ounces, is drunk in a “ceremony”. Those who imbibe experience a strong and thorough purging of their insides. Within about 30-40 minutes, vomiting ensues for most, sometimes followed by bouts of diarrhea. For an unfortunate few, extreme nausea goes on for a length of time, followed by several bouts of explosive diarrhea. In any case, eventually for all, the brain is flooded with serotonin, which stays at higher than normal levels for a period of about 24 hours.

The experience often involves hallucinations of seeing spirit guides, talking trees and occasionally a snake (said to be the spirit of the plant, itself). For those who take it seriously, it has been a life changing experience. For others, it is a horrible way to get high.

During that 24 hour period of “coming down”, the ayahuasca drinker seems to be extremely susceptible to suggestion, which tend to linger long after the effects of the tea has worn off.

This study on the neurotoxicity of the ayahuasca tea is flawed, although I don’t doubt there may well be lasting negative neuro effects for those who imbibe with any regularity. What those neuro effects are, remains unknown at this point.

This particular study was flawed in a number of ways — most glaringly by the mixture of the tea. Who mixed it? from whose recipe? what was the admixture used? What amounts of each and what preparation method?

via Is Ayahuasca Neurotoxic? | Singing to the Plants.

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