Science of the Spirit


Sleep apnea may affect memory of everyday events

© Sleep Apnea Health Center
Sleep apnea may affect your ability to form new spatial memories, such as remembering where you parked your car, new research led by NYU Langone Medical Center sleep specialists suggests.

The study, published online Oct. 29 in Journal of Neuroscience, demonstrates through the playing of a specific video game that disruption of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as a consequence of sleep apnea impairs spatial memory in humans even when other sleep stages are intact.

Spatial memory is utilized for everyday tasks, such as remembering the location of a favorite restaurant, remembering how to get home even if you are required to take a detour from your typical route, or remembering where you left an item in your house. This type of memory is particularly affected in Alzheimer disease, and often is the root cause of why afflicted individuals are often found wandering lost by caregivers.

When authors "channel" their books, what can we believe?

© Unknown
Just in time for Halloween, there are several recent books out that are claimed to have been written by dead people through living writers. One is by musician David Young called Channeling Harrison, in which he claims that the spirit of ex-Beatle George Harrison is in contact with him, guiding his songwriting and teaching him life lessons.

There is nothing new about this; so-called "channeled" books were very popular in New Age circles in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the most popular was the 1970s book series Seth Speaks, dictated by Jane Roberts, who claimed that an energy named Seth possessed her body and dictated esoteric information through her about the soul, the nature of consciousness, spiritual truths, higher planes of reality, and so on.

Channeling remains immensely popular among New Agers; hundreds of books, audiotapes, seminars, and DVDs are devoted to the practice.

Comment: It's vital to retain critical faculties when reading any sort of "channeled" material, and there's no reason to run to ghosts or spirits for answers that one can find for one's self.

But mainstream science has gone overboard and proclaimed there is no evidence for channeling, near-death experiences, or anything "higher" than materialism. This is based on a belief system, not the scientific method. See Rupert Sheldrake's "The Science Delusion" talk, and check out the subsequent fallout for his attempt to set science free.


Politics can interact with evolution to shape human destiny: Just look at the horrible decline of society under the rule of psychopaths

© Ninjin Club
The Human Condition
Politics can have unintentional evolutionary consequences that may cause hastily issued policies to cascade into global, multigenerational problems, according to political scientists.

"Most western democracies look at policies as if they are bandages, we fix what we can and then move on," said Pete Hatemi, associate professor of political science, Penn State. "But we need to consider generational policies so that we can fix what we can now, but also be prepared for what comes next."

The researchers said that there is an interaction between political and cultural forces and evolutionary results. Genes can shape culture and political institutions, which in turn can shape biology and physiology, passing on certain traits to future generations. The environment's influence on adaptation and how it changes biology is better known and often easier to observe, said Hatemi, but the way culture can affect gene expressions in future generations is often harder to show and may take longer to reveal itself.

One more obvious way to see how culture affects natural selection is the effect that politically inspired atrocities -- for example, Communist purges in China and USSR and the Nazi Holocaust -- have on genetic diversity, according to the researchers, who released their findings in a recent issue of Advances in Political Psychology.

Comment: Everything is interconnected, and now there is a scientific explanation to the enormous mess we find ourselves in, due to the global infestation by psychopaths. Consider the following information:

The transcript: Well this is something the Cassiopeans have told us. We don't have a full theoretical explanation for all of this. What we have are observations. We can observe that all the planets in our solar system are heating up, the same as our earth is. Now we have the global warming alarmist who say that we have human caused global warming. Well if we have human caused global warming on planet Earth, who is causing it on Mars and Jupiter, on Saturn, on Uranus, on Neptune...the other planets in our solar system? How is that happening? So we have evidence of that.

We also have evidence of great shifts in the magnetic field of our planet. It's fluctuating wildly. We have evidence of strange things going on on our planet. We have sink holes. We have volcanic eruptions. We have the gulf stream behaving irrationally or crazy. I don't know if you saw the picture of those cyclones over the U.S. and the fact that nearly the entire U.S. was covered with snow except for the state of Florida and Hawaii, I believe. Well, I think Hawaii even had snow.

And if you just read the articles we post on SOTT.NET every day and we have categories for these articles. We have a category for earth changes. We have categories for things happening in the sky and cosmos. If you read the scientific reports that come through and put the pieces together, you can see Something BIG is happening. Something BIG is happening!

And we have the Cassiopaeans telling us this explanation for it - this Wave, this change in the cosmic environment. They've talked about the fact that there is a companion star involved and swarms of comets that may or may not devastate the earth. We may get a few; we may get a lot. And I think a lot of that depends on the state of humanity itself at the time of the event. So we have all of that. But what we still need, is that we still need a real theoretical structure into which to place all of these things that we can observe with our eyes.

So that's where science really needs to come in. And, we need to get psychopaths out of science. We need to get science able to really do what they should be doing, which is exploring our reality and our universe and coming up with answers for what is going on. I mean I have my know he is a scientist. We have numerous scientists in our research team. We do the best we can to produce the best work we can, but we need help. There are other kinds of sciences that we don't have necessarily represented in our group. There are things that need to be studied, that need to be researched; tests that need to be done and we don't have the time now. This should have all been done and it's been prevented for millennia by psychopaths.

We are in the condition we are in, in the state of ignorance we are in, in the state of war, the state of economic depression and the state of depletion of the resources of our planet because of the greed of the psychopaths who thought that they could create their own reality - Well look at the reality they created! Just look at it.


Murderers may be hardwired to kill

Charles Manson, convicted serial killer, is escorted by police in 1969.
Serial killers and other people who repeatedly commit violent crimes, such as assault and battery, may be hardwired to hurt others, suggests a new study that identifies two genetic variants tied to extreme violent behavior.

The findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, could help to explain why the majority of violent crimes are committed by a small group of antisocial, repeat offenders. The extensive study represents the first effort to investigate the genetic background of people exhibiting such repetitive, brutal behavior.

"I think that we have found two genes that have the largest effect in aggressive behavior, and that there are probably tens or hundreds of other genes having smaller effects," lead author Jari Tiihonen told Discovery News.

Comment: But it's important to remember, that there is a kind of predator, that may not murder, but still cause tremendous damage, ruin lives and inflict pain on others around them.


Unconscious mind influences accuracy of decisions

Unconscious information
© alphaspirit/iStockphoto
The idea that unconscious information can influence our decisions has been an intriguing but controversial idea in psychology.
Information processed unconsciously can influence the accuracy of our decisions without us knowing it, new research has found.

"People tend to think the decisions they make are based on deliberation but there are elements in every type of decision we make that are unconscious -- a lot more than people think," says PhD candidate Alexandra Vlassova, of the University of New South Wales.

"Unconscious information could make your decisions better but it could also make them worse."

The idea that unconscious information can influence our decisions has been an intriguing but controversial idea in psychology, says Vlassova.

In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she and colleagues report on a study designed to overcome the limitations of previous research into this question.

Participants were given the task of deciding whether a group of grey dots were moving left or right across a computer screen.

"The longer you look at the dots, the more evidence you get and at a certain point you have enough evidence to make your decision," says Vlassova.

"That's quite similar to how we make any type of decision. We accumulate information over time until we have enough to make a decision."

It's better for memory to make mistakes while learning

...but only if the guesses are 'close-but-no-cigar'

© iStockphoto
Making mistakes while learning can benefit memory and lead to the correct answer, but only if the guesses are close-but-no-cigar, according to new research findings from Baycrest Health Sciences.

"Making random guesses does not appear to benefit later memory for the right answer , but near-miss guesses act as stepping stones for retrieval of the correct information - and this benefit is seen in younger and older adults," says lead investigator Andrée-Ann Cyr, a graduate student with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto.

Cyr's paper is posted online today in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition (ahead of print publication). The study expands upon a previous paper she published in Psychology and Aging in 2012 that found that learning information the hard way by making mistakes (as opposed to just being told the correct answer) may be the best boot camp for older brains.
Cupcake Choco

Sex, chocolate... new language? Same pleasure for human brain, scientists say

In the Park
© Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Learning new words stimulates the same brain center as such long-proven means of deriving pleasure, as having sex, gambling or eating chocolate, a new study says.

A team of Spanish and German researchers at Barcelona's Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and Otto von Guericke University has found that successful learning of the meanings of new words activates a core reward center in the adult brain. They have recently published their findings in the Current Biology journal.

The ventral striatum is a part of the brain activated by actions that trigger positive emotions, should it be sugary food, sex or drugs.

Traditionally, the process of learning of a new language was associated with a boost in the number of connections between neurons, but it wasn't proven that emotions are also involved.

"The purpose of the study was to find out to what extent learning a language could activate these pleasure-and-reward circuits," study author Antoni Rodríguez Fornells told La Vanguardia, Catalan daily newspaper.

Learning is fun! Study shows the pleasure of learning new words

© Unknown
learning is fun - results confirm that the motivation to learn is preserved throughout the lifespan
From our very first years, we are intrinsically motivated to learn new words and their meanings. First language acquisition occurs within a permanent emotional interaction between parents and children. However, the exact mechanism behind the human drive to acquire communicative linguistic skills is yet to be established.

In a study published in the journal Current Biology, researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB), the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (Germany) have experimentally proved that human adult word learning exhibit activation not only of cortical language regions but also of the ventral striatum, a core region of reward processing. Results confirm that the motivation to learn is preserved throughout the lifespan, helping adults to acquire a second language.

Researchers determined that the reward region that is activated is the same that answers to a wide range of stimuli, including food, sex, drugs or game. "The main objective of the study was to know to what extent language learning activates subcortical reward and motivational systems," explains Pablo Ripollés, PhD student at UB-IDIBELL and first author of the article. "Moreover, the fact that language could be favoured by this type of circuitries is an interesting hypothesis from an evolutionary point of view," points out the expert.

According to Antoni Rodríguez Fornells, UB lecturer and ICREA researcher at IDIBELL, "the language region has been traditionally located at an apparently encapsulated cortical structure which has never been related to reward circuitries, which are considered much older from an evolutionary perspective." "The study -- he adds -- questions whether language only comes from cortical evolution or structured mechanisms and suggests that emotions may influence language acquisition processes."

Subcortical areas are closely related to those that help to store information. Therefore, those facts or pieces of information that awake an emotion are more easily to remember and learn.

How your memory deceives you

© agsandrew/Shutterstock
Two beloved sci-fi franchises returned to the screens this fall burdened with shaky memories. In ABC's superhero spy TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the lead character, Phil Coulson, is still reeling from a case of implanted memories. Meanwhile, the movie adaptation of the young-adult novel The Maze Runner opens on a hero with amnesia who is stranded in a dystopian maze.

These characters' memories betray them in seemingly fantastical ways, but the recollections stored between your own ears may hardly be any better. From vivid images of events that never happened to bad memories artificially engineered in the lab, here are the real-life ways your brain can distort your past.

In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., super-spy Coulson carries on with his superhero-monitoring work from the Avengers movies. This season, he must do so with the knowledge that his traumatic death and recovery had been papered over in his own mind by images of a fictional Tahiti vacation. (Killed off in the Avengers movie, Coulson was revived by mysterious techniques in the show.) In one disturbing scene, the real memory returns - and he recalls a spiderlike machine rewriting the information in his brain.

How stress affects your mind and body

We all know we should lower our stress levels, but it isn't always easy. Sometimes, though, knowing exactly how stress is affecting us can be highly motivating to take steps that will actually decrease stress in our lives. Whether we do it by spending time in nature, practicing yoga or tai chi, laughing more often, or by unplugging from our computers and smart phones for at least a few hours every day, lowering stress is imperative. Here are 5 reasons why learning how to destress is so important!