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Meta-analysis indicates the Mozart effect might be the real thing

Mozart Concert
© Onur Erdoğan / Voice of America
Pianists Güher & Süher Pekinel playing Mozart at the Mersin International Music Festival in Turkey.
The idea that listening to Mozart can help people with epilepsy has been around since the early 1990s.

It has been treated with not a little scepticism, but also not ignored: there have been studies (this one, for example) and even studies of studies (this meta-analysis is from as early 1999). The brief has also expanded from just Mozart to other forms of music.

In fact, there has been such "a flow of new research in the last few years", according to Gianluca Sesso from Italy's University of Pisa, that it was again "time to stand back and look at the overall picture" - which is what he and colleague Federico Sicca did.

In a paper published in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology and just presented at a virtual meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, they present findings which, they say, "may overturn current scepticism about the effect".

They looked at 147 published articles, evaluated them according to relevance and quality, then selected the 12 pieces they thought represented the best available science on the topic.

They found, they say, that listening to Mozart, especially on a daily basis, led to a significant reduction in epileptic seizures, and also to a reduced frequency of interictal epileptiform discharges - abnormal brain activities commonly seen in epileptic patients.

These effects occurred after a single listening session and were maintained after a prolonged period of treatment.

Cross

Unconscious learning underlies belief in God; stronger beliefs in people who can unconsciously predict complex patterns

figure with dimension stuff
© Unknown
Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.

Their research, reported in the journal, Nature Communications, is the first to use implicit pattern learning to investigate religious belief. The study spanned two very different cultural and religious groups, one in the U.S. and one in Afghanistan.

The goal was to test whether implicit pattern learning is a basis of belief and, if so, whether that connection holds across different faiths and cultures. The researchers indeed found that implicit pattern learning appears to offer a key to understanding a variety of religions.

"Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions," says the study's senior investigator, Adam Green, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown, and director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition.
"This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods. Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power. "

People 2

Factors involved in psy­cho­pathy and schizo­phrenia already present in new­born brain cells

baby dna
© Iita Noman
Would testing for schizophrenia or psychopathy cause more harm than good?
Would you prefer to be told that your newborn is likely to grow up into a psychopath? Or that they may develop schizophrenia? What if, after receiving a positive result, it would be possible to prevent this from happening?

Prognostic factors for psychopathy and schizophrenia can be observed in human brain cells already in the second trimester of pregnancy. In principle, newborns could be tested and their risk of developing a disorder assessed. Whether such testing would engender too much suffering is another matter.

"Regardless of the disease, the easiest and least expensive way of reducing suffering is prevention or alleviation in advance," says Professor Jari Koistinaho, director of the Neuroscience Center.

Nevertheless, testing would be associated with risks and difficult questions.

Comment: First and foremost, society needs to educate itself on psychopathy, this would also go some way to providing itself with a defense from the damage caused by it: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Bug

The high price of perpetual fear

fear
I've gone on for a long time about fear making humans stupid, and even about it being a weapon and a brain poison. But I've also wondered at times whether people would hit fear-fatigue... that point where people have simply had enough fear and walk out from under it.

As it turns out, however, I was a bit optimistic on fear fatigue. I've been reading Robert Sapolsky's newest book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best And Worst, and was disappointed to learn what the best new research shows on the long-term application of fear. (Or, in the academic terminology, sustained stress.)

My disappointment, however, was soon tempered by two things:
  1. I gained information on how fear poisoning works.
  2. That human neurology is immensely variable, that there are exceptions to everything, and that if the whole picture were actually as dark as the most troubling findings, we'd have devolved into nothing but murderous monkeys long ago.
I barely need to say this, but 2020 has been The Year of Fear. I'm a bit amazed by the extent of it. There is a certain appeal to soaking up all the fear stories in normal times - our ability to look evil in the eye makes us appear vibrant - but 2020 has pushed far beyond that level. What we're encountering is much more than simple fear porn, and there are certain outlets (including websites) that I can only describe as obscene.

This is more destructive than people realize.

Comment: See also: And if you still haven't yet seen or tried it: Éiriú Eolas - The revolutionary breathing and meditation program:




SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Interview with John Buchanan: Alfred North Whitehead - A Philosophy For Our Time

john buchanan
We've made numerous references to Alfred North Whitehead and process philosophy on MindMatters, but who was Whitehead, and what makes his philosophy so interesting, and relevant? Today on the show, we are joined by John Buchanan, co-editor of the recently released volume Rethinking Consciousness, in which he has a paper highlighting the similarities between Jim Carpenter's first sight theory and Whitehead's process philosophy.

In our discussion with John we discuss Whitehead, some of the things that made his philosophy so revolutionary, why he isn't more well known today, and why he should be. His philosophy rejects the atheism and materialism of the current 'scientific' worldview, making room for the entire range of human experience. Another advantage is that Whitehead as a mathematician was well versed in the relativity and quantum theories that have come to characterize our contemporary science and technology, and his philosophy accounts for them too. We also discuss the intriguing parallels with first sight theory and its implications for a philosophy of perception and consciousness, and the nature of reality.


Running Time: 01:34:03

Download: MP3 — 86.1 MB


Info

Children use both brain hemispheres to understand language, unlike adults says new finding

Brain Scans
© Georgetown University Medical Center
Examples of individual activation maps in each of the age groups. Strong activation in right-hemisphere homologs of the left-hemisphere language areas is evident in the youngest children, declines over age, and is entirely absent in most adults.
Infants and young children have brains with a superpower, of sorts, say Georgetown University Medical Center neuroscientists. Whereas adults process most discrete neural tasks in specific areas in one or the other of their brain's two hemispheres, youngsters use both the right and left hemispheres to do the same task. The finding suggests a possible reason why children appear to recover from neural injury much easier than adults.

The study, published Sept. 7, 2020, in PNAS, focuses on one task — language — and finds that to understand language (more specifically, processing spoken sentences), children use both hemispheres. This finding fits with previous and ongoing research led by Georgetown neurology professor Elissa L. Newport, PhD, a former postdoctoral fellow Olumide Olulade, MD, PhD, and neurology assistant professor Anna Greenwald, PhD.

"This is very good news for young children who experience a neural injury," says Newport, director of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, a joint enterprise of Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. "Use of both hemispheres provides a mechanism to compensate after a neural injury. For example, if the left hemisphere is damaged from a perinatal stroke — one that occurs right after birth — a child will learn language using the right hemisphere. A child born with cerebral palsy that damages only one hemisphere can develop needed cognitive abilities in the other hemisphere. Our study demonstrates how that is possible."

Their study solves a mystery that has puzzled clinicians and neuroscientists for a long time, says Newport.

In almost all adults, sentence processing is possible only in the left hemisphere, according to both brain scanning research and clinical findings of language loss in patients who suffered a left hemisphere stroke.

But in very young children, damage to either hemisphere is unlikely to result in language deficits; language can be recovered in many patients even if the left hemisphere is severely damaged. These facts suggest that language is distributed to both hemispheres early in life, Newport says. However, traditional scanning had not revealed the details of these phenomena until now. "It was unclear whether strong left dominance for language is present at birth or appears gradually during development," explains Newport.

Question

Will you choose freedom?

love freedom inspiration
In George Orwell's classic dystopian novel "1984," protagonist Winston wonders whether he is the only person who retains a real memory and doubts the narrative of The Party. He has no way to find out whether everyone else truly believes the government-revised version of history, or simply acts like they do; discussing such matters is verboten, punishable by vaporization: deletion from history. Fortunately we are not quite at that point in the United States — no one has yet been vaporized.

However, we seem to be imprisoned by the force of social disapproval just as surely as Winston was imprisoned by the threat of instant death. Millions of lockdown opponents won't make their position known even to their closest family and friends; taking a position publicly is unthinkable — they would lose social standing, clients, and possibly even their jobs. Thanks to this dynamic, the pro-lockdown crowd enjoys the appearance of majority consensus, and everyone gets...more lockdown.

Nebula

Scientists induce psychedelic-like experiences from a placebo alone

psychedelic head
New research recently published in Psychopharmacology provides evidence that inert placebo pills can induce psychedelic-like effects, including perceptual alterations. The findings highlight the importance of expectations and context when ingesting psychedelic substances. The study also sheds some light on the mystery of so-called contact highs.

"I am interested in placebos generally and in particular in maximizing their effects. When I was reading clinical trials of psychedelic drugs, I was surprised by the low placebo effects reported in many studies," said study author Jay Olson, who recently earned his PhD in psychiatry from McGill University.

"We have other evidence that people can have psychedelic-like effects without taking the drug. For example, in the case of 'contact highs' in which people feel the effects of drugs merely by being around people who have consumed the drug. Or, other people have reported having experiences after taking fake drugs, such as after consuming empty blotter paper rather than LSD. We thus thought that with the right context, we may be able to promote strong placebo psychedelic effects."

Comment: Notably the percentage of people who experienced some placebo effect correlates with studies on placebos more generally that show around 50% of people report effects experiencing some effect: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Eye 1

More entitled people get angrier after experiencing bad luck

bad luck
We've all had the experience of losing our temper when being treated unfairly by someone else. And while anger isn't the most pleasant emotion, it can be a useful social tool to signal to another person that we're not happy with how they're acting towards us.

But what about when we suffer because of bad luck, rather someone else's actions? In that case it would seem to make little sense to get mad. And yet, a new study in Personality and Individual Differences finds that a certain group of people are more likely to show anger in such situations: those who feel like they are particularly entitled in the first place.

Psychological entitlement is essentially a belief that you deserve more than others. People who score highly in entitlement tend to think that others should be accommodating of their own needs and schedules, for instance, and are more likely to see themselves as being mistreated. When their high expectations aren't met, they can experience reduced wellbeing and feelings of anger.

Comment: Here we see a direct connection between high expectations and entitlement, and the natural reaction of anger when the world doesn't conform to unrealistic expectations. Everyone experiences entitlement and high expectations to varying degrees, but these things can be managed with just a bit of self reflection and observation about the world. And as far as good luck goes, fortune favors the prepared mind.


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MindMatters: Interview with Alan Francis: The Fourth Way, Taoism and Spiritual Development

alan francis
Today on MindMatters we interview Alan Francis, a longtime Fourth Way practitioner, teacher and author of the book Secrets of the Fourth Way. Alan is the founder of the Russian Center for Gurdjieff Studies as well as the International School of the Fourth Way, planned to open this coming winter. Our discussion covers a range of topics, from Alan's early life experiences that led him to the Fourth Way, basic Fourth Way topics like kundabuffer and Gurdjieff's take on kundalini, addiction, and fear, to 'powers and principalities', Taoist alchemy and its possible significance in relation to Gurdjieff's ideas and practice, concluding with a demonstration of a unique Fourth Way gymnastics exercise.

Alan's Facebook group is accessible here.


Running Time: 01:42:06

Download: MP3 — 93.5 MB