Science of the SpiritS


How the brain builds its image of the body

Scientists have identified the region of the brain that is responsible for the way people view their bodies. The parietal cortex generates the body image, and disruption of the region's normal functioning could play a role in conditions such as anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder, in which people grossly over- or underestimate their body size, researchers believe.

The researchers, led by Henrik Ehrsson, a neuroscientist at University College London, scanned volunteers' brains while carrying out an illusion that made them think their waists were shrinking.


Families share traits of autistic children

Some relatives of people with autism also display behaviours and brain differences associated with the condition, even though they themselves do not have it. This could make it easier to spot families at risk of having an autistic child. It could also help in the quest to identify the genetic and environmental triggers for the condition, though it seems these triggers might vary from country to country.

Eric Peterson of the University of Colorado in Denver had compared an MRI study of the brains of 40 parents with autistic children to that of 40 age-matched controls. And he told the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington DC that the parents who had an autistic child shared several differences in brain structure with their offspring.


How life shapes the brainscape

“Our brains form a million new connections for every second of our lives. It is a mind-blowing statistic, and one that highlights the amazing flexibility of our most enigmatic organ. While the figure emphasises how much we still have to learn about brain structure, it also reveals the huge importance of our everyday experiences in making our brains what they are.

Anatomy, neural networks and genes are yesterday's hot topics. Today, neuroscientists are increasingly concentrating on how the way we live our lives creates profound and often long-lasting changes in the structure and connectivity of our brains. They are focusing on how influences as diverse as our emotions, environment, social interactions and even our spiritual lives help make us tick.


From Wounds, Inner Strength

Some Veterans Feel Lives Enlarged by Wartime Suffering

As Hilbert Caesar told his harrowing war story one night recently in the living room of his apartment, he patted the artificial limb sticking from a leg of his business suit. "This, right here," he said, "this is a minor setback."

Eighteen months after Caesar's right leg was mangled by a roadside bomb near Baghdad, and after weeks of coming to terms with what he thought was the end of his life, the former Army staff sergeant believes he has emerged a richer person -- wiser, more compassionate and more appreciative of life.

Asked whether he would endure it all again, he replied: "The guys I served with were awesome guys. . . . I would go through it again -- for the guys that I served with. Yes. Absolutely. I wouldn't change it for the world."


Naked Statue Triggers Mental Imbalance

Michelangelo's David, regarded as the world's most beautiful statue, can trigger mental imbalances in overly sensitive and cultivated onlookers, according to a top psychiatrist in Florence.

Graziella Magherini, president of Italy's Art and Psychology Association, reported the preliminary findings of her year-long study at a symposium at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence where the naked marble man attracts 1.2 million visitors a year. She said David can have a particular emotional impact on a certain kind of visitor.

Magic Wand

Meditation builds up the brain

What astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.

Meditating actually increases the thickness of the cortex in areas involved in attention and sensory processing, such as the prefrontal cortex and the right anterior insula.

Comment: One of the most effective breathing techniques to aid in these results can be found here.


Why We Always Think We're Right

On Veterans' Day, as a Vietnam-era vet, I always ponder why Johnson and Nixon believed they were right to issue orders that killed and maimed so many of my brothers and sisters, and the sons and daughters of other nations. Today, why does George Bush think he's right, while most everyone thinks he's wrong? Why do Benedict, Sistani, and Robertson believe they speak for the same God?

And, why do I believe I have a right to challenge their interpretation of reality?

Humans appear to have a psychological need to deceive themselves. We pretend to have answers about the most fundamental issues - the nature of reality - where there are only unanswered questions. We depend on delusions.

Comment: Indeed there are many "worldviews" or "mindsets." It also seems that there is a primary division based on creativity and entropy. Listen to Saturday's podcast for a discussion of this issue. Just to give an example of how bizarre these different worldviews can be, here is what a reader, Dennis, writes:

November 13, 2005 - I was watching the News a couple days ago and The Secretary General of the United Nations was talking about the bombing of three Jordanian hotels by suicide bombers. "There is no cause which justifies the taking of innocent lives," he stated passionately.

During that same newscast there was an interview with an American soldier regarding some Iraqi women and children that were killed during an American attack on insurgents. "Well, we regret these innocent deaths, but this is war," he said.


Black Cat

A basic hypothesis of Psychopathy

My concept of the psychopath's functioning postulates a selective defect or elimination which prevents important components of normal experience from being integrated into the whole human reaction, particularly an elimination or attenuation of those strong affective components that ordinarily arise in major personal and social issues.

However intelligent, he apparently assumes that other persons are moved by and experience only the ghostly facsimiles of emotion or pseudoemotion known to him.

However quick and rational a person may be and however subtle and articulate his teacher, he cannot be taught awareness of significance which he fails to feel.


Scientists Show How Thinking Can Harm Brain Cells

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center have targeted a new culprit and method of attack on neurologic functions in diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia associated with HIV.


SOTT Focus: Laura Knight-Jadczyk interview with the Perseo forum

Laura Knight-Jadczyk
© Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Laura Knight Jadczyck is a renowned American hypnotherapist and researcher. She is the intellectual creator of the Cassiopaean Experiment, and her books can be obtained, among other places, HERE.