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Old 03-12-2006, 06:49 AM   #1
Philboid Studge
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As you know, this week marks 'International Brain Awareness Week -- March 13-19.

This thread can be a repository for articles, brain-dead opinions, jokes, websites, new research, and et cetera on the frigging brain. (scathach, whassup?)

ALL mental illnesses have one common feature: A disruption in brain circuitry. Do you ever intentionally disrupt your own circuitry? I know I do.

Similarly, it's possible to instill x-psychosis, at least temporarily, in people by stimulating the brain with magnetic forces. Unfortunately, you have to wear a cumbersome God Helmet, but it's probably worth it. According to the dean of 'neurotheology,' Michael Persinger: "Theoretically, we might simulate all of the effects of drugs as well as the chemical pathways within biological systems by the direct application of appropriate weak, complex magnetic fields. ... burst-firing patterns produce reliable analgesia that is similar to 4 mg/kg of morphine."

The God Helmet



(I have pic of another heavenly helmet, but Eva will delete if I post. :()



[P.S. This site supposedly has the skinny on IBA Week events in your area and around the goddamn world, and a number of resources on the brain (for the layperson).~PS]

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Old 03-13-2006, 09:53 PM   #2
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Phil, this is an awesome thread, and I will jump right in here as soon as I grade a buttload of dumbass term papers!

I have some good brain trivia if anyone is interested!

Regarding the "god helmet", I saw Shermer's segment on it, and I think he was super nice to Persinger, because the guy came off as somewhat flaky. It would be CAKE to do this as randomized, double blind placebo controlled true experiment design, so why hasn't he done it?

Hmmmm... maybe it doesn't work that way..... sort of like.......homeopathy, perhaps???

I think this guy (from the Wiki refs) has some good points!
timboucher


Do you think god really wears a helmet ? Like the kids on the short bus?
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Old 03-13-2006, 10:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Philboid Studge wrote
... According to the dean of 'neurotheology,' Michael Persinger: "Theoretically, we might simulate all of the effects of drugs as well as the chemical pathways within biological systems by the direct application of appropriate weak, complex magnetic fields. ... burst-firing patterns produce reliable analgesia that is similar to 4 mg/kg of morphine."
Oh yeah, PAIN perception, that's like, TOTALLY not affected by PLACEBOS!!!!

This guy is really reaching here, cause SALINE can produce reliable analgesia similar to that induced by morphine!

(hope I'm not pissing in your wheaties there, Phil! I can't help but be sarcastic when I'm forced to evaluate a lot of crap, like the papers I have to read this week!)

Anyhoo, here's a bit of brain trivia that might not be well know to all: Two perceptual processes that are MOST susceptible to placebo effects are mood and pain. Easy to make suggestions about either. It is also relatively easy to make suggestions about levels of awareness and sensory perceptions. (yawn!)


Hence the power of hypnosis.


Did you know that pharmaceutical companies are trying to discover everything they can about placebo responders? Guess why?

They want to be able to identify them so they can eliminate them from drug trials, because placebo responders tend to reduce the likelihood of finding significant effects of antidepressant meds. And they can't pass FDA regs to market their drugs if they can't show that the drugs are more effective than placebos.

Yep. Good science at work there.
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Old 03-13-2006, 11:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
scathach wrote
Quote:
Philboid Studge wrote
... According to the dean of 'neurotheology,' Michael Persinger: "Theoretically, we might simulate all of the effects of drugs as well as the chemical pathways within biological systems by the direct application of appropriate weak, complex magnetic fields. ... burst-firing patterns produce reliable analgesia that is similar to 4 mg/kg of morphine."
Oh yeah, PAIN perception, that's like, TOTALLY not affected by PLACEBOS!!!!

This guy is really reaching here, cause SALINE can produce reliable analgesia similar to that induced by morphine!

(hope I'm not pissing in your wheaties there, Phil! I can't help but be sarcastic when I'm forced to evaluate a lot of crap, like the papers I have to read this week!)

Anyhoo, here's a bit of brain trivia that might not be well know to all: Two perceptual processes that are MOST susceptible to placebo effects are mood and pain. Easy to make suggestions about either. It is also relatively easy to make suggestions about levels of awareness and sensory perceptions. (yawn!)


Hence the power of hypnosis.


Did you know that pharmaceutical companies are trying to discover everything they can about placebo responders? Guess why?

They want to be able to identify them so they can eliminate them from drug trials, because placebo responders tend to reduce the likelihood of finding significant effects of antidepressant meds. And they can't pass FDA regs to market their drugs if they can't show that the drugs are more effective than placebos.

Yep. Good science at work there.
.
Well we all have the ability to produce certain chemicals and cure our bodies also to control pain ( to a certain extend) just by using our brains, IOW, a form of self hypnosis. Buddhist monks do it all of the time and so do I. It is fascinating how a placibo works. One could say the Christ-psychotics ( this happen in any religious-psychotics person with deep faith) use the Jesus-placibo effect. This placibo is effective on some people, but we still do not know why. Ahh, the mysteries of our command post, the brain. I suspect one can cure oneself just by thinking about it, using the proper command....

Ahhh.....if I only was 18 again, instead of LXIV so I could study neurology....the study of the universes within! *sigh*...

Christians and other folks infected with delusional beliefs think and reason like schizophrenics or temporal lobe epileptics. Their morality is dictated by an invisible friend called Jesus.
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Old 03-13-2006, 11:29 PM   #5
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Here is an interesting item related to Persinger experiments and my postulated religious-psychosis that I saw few years back assuring me I was on the right track.

http://www.psychminded.co.uk/news/ne...%20illness.htm

Christians and other folks infected with delusional beliefs think and reason like schizophrenics or temporal lobe epileptics. Their morality is dictated by an invisible friend called Jesus.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:28 AM   #6
Philboid Studge
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Quote:
scathach wrote
Do you think god really wears a helmet ? Like the kids on the short bus?
I picture god as the bus driver -- think Otto on the Simpsons -- with all the theists, Salty, Carico, MansSavant, etc wearing the placebo crash helmets. They think those will save them when Otto drives them all off the cliff. [/metaphor]

I did not know that about placebo responders. The drug companies have the perfect built-in rationale though: they can always argue that identifying/removing the pr's is the best way to measure the efficacy of a trial drug -- it's like removing background noise (I grasp why this is horseshit, but I imagine this is the story they're sticking with)

Thanks for posting; and definitely hit us with some brain trivia.


P.S. You can piss on my Wheaties anytime (except after eating asparagus).

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Old 03-14-2006, 06:43 AM   #7
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Hey Scat.... a little armchair diagnosis needed here...

Why can I not control my anger very well, and why does it flare up more often now that I'm in the first days of living nicotine-free?

I want to fucking punch someone. There's a guy at work who's all about it. He likes being punched. His nickname is Pork Rind. But that doesn't seem right, 'cause he's cool and I have no reason to hit him.

However, if I have one more soccer mom in an SUV or title attorney in a Jaguar pass me at 40 in a school zone, my actions will not be under my control. ;)

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:49 AM   #8
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Shit Ten. Sounds rough. I don't want this to sound trite coming from someone who's never smoked, but I know a lot of people who have tried to give up in many different ways. Most times it's the hardest damn thing to do but people can quit - it is possible - I've seen the evidence. ;)

Are you trying it cold turkey?

Invisibility and nothingness look an awful lot alike.
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Old 03-14-2006, 08:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Cal wrote
Well we all have the ability to produce certain chemicals and cure our bodies also to control pain ( to a certain extend) just by using our brains, IOW, a form of self hypnosis. Buddhist monks do it all of the time and so do I. It is fascinating how a placibo works. One could say the Christ-psychotics ( this happen in any religious-psychotics person with deep faith) use the Jesus-placibo effect.
I think you're right, Cal: there might be a nexus between placebo effect, monkish mind/body control, and Jeebus-psychosis. The common denominator is in the strength of the belief, I suppose.

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Old 03-14-2006, 08:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
The Judge wrote
Shit Ten. Sounds rough. I don't want this to sound trite coming from someone who's never smoked, but I know a lot of people who have tried to give up in many different ways. Most times it's the hardest damn thing to do but people can quit - it is possible - I've seen the evidence. ;)

Are you trying it cold turkey?
I'm beginning to wonder if the nicotine was masking this anger I feel. Yes, I'm quitting cold turkey. I do not want to be beholden to cigarettes, checking my watch to see if it's time for the next one, or feeling frustrated while driving because I can't have one for another hour.

I also am doing this without substitution. No gum (that stuff SUCKS anyway), no patches. Why spend more money on transdermal nicotine while simply trading one source for another?

No candy, either. Well, an occasional "Nips". Wellbutrin seems to be helping. As does the PSSMNH* I take twice daily. ;)

But I have these anger flareups, usually set off by inconsequential events. My family is aware that if I go off on them, it's not me.. it's the chemical adjustment my brain's going through. I do my best to control it, but those first thirty seconds are the hardest - I'm not violent in any way... but I am easily 'royally pissed off' by the simplist things.

I like to understand things from the inside. Advice on maintaining my cool is obviously appreciated, but I really want to know why the reduction in nicotine has released this monster inside me.

(edit: PSSMNH is Philboid Studge Self Medicating Nugs of Happiness)

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:03 AM   #11
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Knowing the grisly, clinical details of how tobocco affects the system(s) helps me stay off cigars, for the most part. Irritability is indeed a withdrawal symptom, as you well know. Let us know if you get any further on why this is so. I don't know if you swing this way, but I've found that opoids like Vicodin or codeine can tame the monster within. Also, there's little risk of addiction: I've been pounding Vicodin every day for years, and I'm not addicted.

Interestingly, I've really cut back on herbal smoking -- but not on delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol intake. I have a new vaporiser and I also like the bake-to-get-baked option, via either brownies or bread rolls. As the eponymous author of PSSMNH, I would recommend you get off the smoke as well (lots of tar is released when combusting that delightful weed, for one thing).

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Old 03-14-2006, 10:02 AM   #12
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Interesting... must check out the vaporizer. I won't use bongs because I have things to do..... the higher efficiencies make me toooo wasted.

Baking is an option, but the quantities involved are too rich for my wallet.... unless you have a high-efficiency method which allows usage of amounts less than 5 grams.

BTW, this is all hypothetical, since it is obvious that we don't talk about illegal drugs in a public forum.

The Alprazolam I take is addictive - but I only take 500mcgs, and never more than two days in a row.

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:15 AM   #13
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With the talk of Persinger's work, I remembered some stuff I had collected - which I should get back to looking into on religious experiences and the like and the brain science which addresses it:

From a thread over at my forums - http://atheistcoalition.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17

I've posted this a few places on the net and so I may as well post it here too.

I've run across some psychiatric research into the neurological/biological causes or origins of spirituality. Such research is sparse but I think it can help shed light on why people believe such wacky things. There are other than just biological items but that's what I'll start with. Any information anyone can share will be most helpful in my quest for knowledge on this area of research.

Borg, Jacqueline et tal. "The Serotonin System and Spiritual Experiences." American Journal of Psychiatry 160:11 (2003): 1965-1968.

Quote:
A role for the serotonin system was suggested early on from subjective experiences induced by mind-altering drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin.
Central serotonergic neurons originate from the raphe nuclei in the brainstem and innervate major brain regions, such as the hypothalamus, the limbic system, the striatum, and the neocortex. Fourteen serotonin receptor subtypes have thus far been identified in the human brain.
A specific autoreceptor seems to be the active one in this study and proposed to be the active one affecting spiritual experience.

Quote:
Presynaptic 5-HT 1A autoreceptors are highly concentrated on cell bodies in the raphe and mediate the inhibition of cell firing and serotonin release in all projection areas. Thus the 5-ht 1A receptor may have a role as general regulator of serotonergic activity.
Quote:
The values for binding potential correlated significantly with the self-transcendence dimension but not with any of the other six Temperament and Character Inventory dimensions. The self-transcendence dimension is a composite of three distinct subscales that describe aspects of spirituality.
Scores for spiritual acceptance versus material rationalism correlated significantly with 5-HT 1A binding potential for all three regions.
The appearence of the correlation on the one scale shows a concentration and therefore a link to the activity.

Quote:
The self-transcendence dimension consists of three subscales representing several aspects of religious behavior, subjective experience, and individual worldview...we found that the correlation of self-transcendence was shown to be fully dependent on the spiritual acceptance scale.
Oddly enough, hallicnogenic drugs seem to promote the same response.

Quote:
...such pharmacological effects induced by hallucinogens resemble the extrasensory perception and ideation endorsed by subjects scoring high on the spiritual acceptance scale.
So what the hell does it all mean?

Quote:
These observations support the hypothesis that the physiological role of the serotonin system includes inhibition of sensory stimuli and arousal...One interpretation of the present finding is that subjects with low 5-HT 1A receptor density have sparse serotonergic innervation and thereby a weaker filtering function, allowing for increased perception and decreased inhibition.
Found this in the International Journal of Neuroscience:

Kurup, R. K. and Kurup, P. A. “Hypothalamic digoxin, hemispheric chemical dominance, and spirituality.” International Journal of Neuroscience 113, no.
3 (Mar 2003): 383-93.

Quote:
The isoprenoid pathway was assessed in atheistic and spiritually inclined individuals. The pathway was also assessed in individuals with differing hemispheric dominance to assess whether hemispheric dominance has a correlation with spiritual and atheistic tendency. HMG CoA reductase activity, serum digoxin, RBC membrane Na+-K+ ATPase activity, serum magnesium, and tyrosine/tryptophan catabolic patterns were assessed in spiritual/atheistic individuals and in those differing hemispheric dominance. In spiritually-inclined individuals, there was increased digoxin synthesis, decreased membrane Na+-K+ ATPase activity, increased tryptophan catabolites (serotonin, quinolinic acid, and nicotine), and decreased tyrosine catabolites (dopamine, noradrenaline, and morphine). The pattern in spiritually-inclined individuals correlated with right hemispheric chemical dominance. In atheistic individuals there was decreased digoxin synthesis, increased membrane Na+-K+ ATPase activity, decreased tryptophan catabolites, quinolinic acid, and nicotine), and increased tyrosine catabolites (dopamine, noradrenaline, and morphine). This pattern in atheistic individuals correlated with that obtained in the left hemispheric chemical dominance. Hemispheric chemical dominance could regulate the predisposition to spirituality or atheism.
Interesting enough, okay what are they getting at? Well:

Quote:
Spirituality is one of the most evolved of human emotions. Spiritual tendencies have been related to temporal lobe epileptic phenomena. Previous studies have demonstrated Na+-K+ ATPase inhibition and elevated levels of an endogenous inhibitor of membrane Na+-K+ ATPase in seizure disorder. Digoxin is as steroidal glycoside and is reported to be synthesized by the human hypothalamus via the isoprenoid pathway. Digoxin can modulate the neuronal membrane transport of amino acids and can regulate synaptic transmission. Therefore, it was considered pertinent to study the digoxin synthesis and neurotransmitter patterns in individuals who are spiritually inclined or atheistic. Since digoxin can regulate multiple neurotransmitter systems, it could also play a role in the genesis of cerebral dominance.
So....

Quote:
Digoxin can inhibit membrane Na+-K+ ATPase activity. Membrane Na+-K+ ATPase inhibition can lead to an increase in intracellular calcium and a reduction in intracellular magnesium. Inhibition of Na+-K+ ATPase can also result in defective neuronal membrane repolarization and a paroxysmal deplarization shift resulting in epieptogenesis. Temporal lobe epileptic phenomena have been documented in spiritually inclined individuals...The low levels of dopamine and morphine in spiritually-inclined individuals leads to a detached behavior important in spiritual evolution. The increased serotonin levels documented here is also significant, as serotonin is a positive modulator of the excitotoxic NMDA receptor and could contribute to temporal lobe epileptogenesis.
While all this is interesting, the problem is in the small group. Only 15 individuals were utilized for this research. A larger group study would be in order and with other variables such as cultural differences represented but the basis of spiritual or non-spiritual maintained. I will continue to be on the lookout for other studies that might validate or contradict this.

Some information on temporal lobe epilepsy:

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/epi...porallobe.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon...nbrainqa.shtml

From the BBC link:
Quote:
How does Dr Persinger induce artificially religious experiences in his patients?

Dr Persinger has designed a helmet that produces a very weak rotating magnetic field of between ten nanotesla and one microtesla over the temporal lobes of the brain. This is placed on the subject's head and they are placed in a quiet chamber while blindfolded. So that there is no risk of 'suggestion', the only information that the subjects are given is that they are going in for a relaxation experiment. Neither the subject nor the experimenter carrying out the test has any idea of the true purpose of the experiment. In addition to this, the experiment is also run with the field switched both off and on. This procedure Dr Persinger claims will induce an experience in over 80% of test subjects.

What sort of experiences do subjects report?

This is very dependent on the belief system of the individual subjects. Dr Persinger talks about his subjects feeling a 'sensed presence' - feeling that somebody was in the chamber with them. Subjects who are strongly religious are likely to interpret this presence as god. Whereas, atheists may also report a 'sensed presence' but attribute the phenomena to a trick of brain chemistry, perhaps comparable to when they have taken drugs in the past.
Interesting other tidbits:
http://home.christianity.com/ministr...ies/45617.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q..._uids=76087047

Quote:
The interictal behavior syndrome of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Waxman SG, Geschwind N.

A distinct syndrome of interictal behavior changes occurs in many patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. These changes include alterations in sexual behavior, religiosity, and a tendency toward extensive, and in some cases compulsive, writing and drawing. The concomitants of abnormal limbic acitivity therefore include behavior alterations as well as manifest seizures. The demonstration of interictal spike activity in temporal structures provides a pathophysiologic basis for this syndrome. The constellation of behavioral changes may be of great diagnostic value. In addition, it provides an example of a human behavioral syndrome assocaited with dysfunction at specific anatomic loci. The behavior syndrome of temporal lobe epilepsy may prove to be a useful model in studies on the neural substrates for behavior.
The Islamic prophet Mohhamed most likely also suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy as well according to religious historians. I think neuroscience/psychology/psychiatry will become more and more effective in pinpointing behavior origins and why they are that way but the research into religion and neuroscience is sparse and meets with much animosity...how dare we want to know... :roll:

Here's something in a different area of research:

D’Onofrio, M., Eaves, L., Murrelle, L., Maes, H., Spilka, B. Journal of Personality 67:6,
December 1999:

Quote:
Although the transmission of religiousness has been assumed to be purely cultural, behavior genetic studies have demonstrated that genetic factors play a role in the individual differences in some religious traits.
In the layman world, it is mostly assumed to be purely a product of environment whether or not certain religious behaviors are adopted. On the most part as for: what denomination, religious or spiritual, etc (the smaller deviance), environment showed to be the dominant determinant.

In a 1986 study of two large samples of adult twins:

Quote:
...found that significant contributions to social attitudes related to observance of the Sabbath, divine law, authority of the church, and truthfulness of the Bible were made by both additive and genetic effects and the shared environment. Heritability estimates ranged from .22
to .35 and estimates for the influence of the shared environment ranged from .18 to .34 for the individual items, illustrating that familial correlations in these domains are influenced by genetic
factors as well as the environment.
As for the section of religious behavior and salience:

Quote:
Although slight genetic component is found in females, genetic factors do not play a role in the church attendance of males.
and in summary:

Quote:
...family resemblance in religious affiliation appears to be primarily cultural as might be expected, whereas religious attitudes and behaviors seem to be influenced by additive genetic effects as well as the shared and unshared environment. Sociological and behavior research on
the transmission or inheritance of religious beliefs and practices can no longer ignore genetic influences.
So this might lead one to suppose that such religious tendencies might be part of a certain personality, however:

Quote:
The correlations with personality are all small, mostly less than 0.1. Thus there is very little reason to suppose that church attendance reflects personality much, in so far as Eysensck’s measures capture the essentials contours of the human personality.
Although one correlation did stand out:

Quote:
...the Religious Right factor is more strongly associated with these factors – a moderate negative correlation (-0.23 and -0.23) with “unselfish” fiscal attitudes related to issues of taxation, a moderate positive correlation with promilitary attitudes (0.33 and 0.35), and a
moderate negative correlation with Democratic versus Republican political ideology (-0.20 and - 0.19), meaning that they are more likely to espouse those tenets associated with being Republican
Which tells us empirically what we’ve known for a while socially.

Also, the findings see that:
Quote:
...it is obvious that religion is, at most, only partly a function of the personality dimensions..
In summation:
Quote:
Religious behaviors and attitudes...such as church attendance and the tendency to espouse more conservative religious values, including some of those normally espoused by the Religious Right, show varying degrees of genetic inheritance beyond that provided by the family
environment and assortative mating...the largest single component of variance is that due to the environmental differences among members of the same family...there is a larger genetic component contributing to church attendance and Religious Right social attitudes in women,
driven mostly by the nonadditive genetic effects...the larger correlations between relatives for religious behaviors and attitudes display a much greater nongenetic component...the correlations between mates for religious behavior and attitudes are among the largest known, comparable to and even exceeding those for monozygotic twins. This correlation significantly adds to the genetic component of church attendance and the Religious Right factor.
The study was conducted utilizing a sample of 14,781 twins (in Virginia) and their family members, including their parents, spouses, children, and siblings. Almost all were Caucasian (99.8%). Of those, most were Protestant (65.8%) followed by Catholic, Jewish and finally by the
“unspecified”. Their personality domains were based on short scales using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire with the help of Dr. Eysenck.

Found some other interesting views into the neurofunctioning of the 'religious' mind. From the European Journal of Neuroscience*:

The subjects tested were of the "Free Evangelical Fundamentalist Community" in Germany. They all had supposedly had a documented religious experience. They also all interpret biblical text literally. Anyway, here's a synopsis of the findings:

Quote:
We studied a group of self-identified religious subjects, who attributed their religious experiences to a biblical psalm, in order to explore for the first time using functional neuroimaging the brain areas involved in religious experience. While the view that religious experience is a preconceptual feeling would predict the activation of limbic brain areas engaged by emotion, attribution theory would predict brain areas mediating reasoning to be activated. We show that, during religious recitation, religious subjects activated a frontal-parietal circuit composed of the dorsolateral prefrontal, drosomedial frontal and medial parietal cortex, suggesting that religious experience may be a cognitive process.
And furthermore:

Quote:
Recent neuropsychological and functional imaging studies suggest that the prefrontal cortex holds representations of knowledge structured in the form of cognitive schemas. Cognitive schemas are mental representations containing organized prior knowledge about specific domains, inclusive of specifications of the causal relations among the attributes therein. Religious attributions are made in accordance with religious schemas, which consist in organized knowledge about religion and religious issues, and include reinforced structures for inferring religiously related causality of experience events.
Contrary to what others have found surrounding the activation of the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain, these researchers found:

Quote:
...the religious experience was not an emotional experience, nor an arousal comparable to that of the happy state which we observed in the non-religious subjects [when the participates were read from a children's book]...A challenge for the future work will be to explore transient religious states and the evolution of other varieties of religious experience. It may turn out that 'religious experience' can be divided eventually into a variety of subprocesses as has been, for example, with memory.
I tend to agree with their last speculation. Although, further research is needed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Nina P. Azari et tal. "Short Communication: Neural correlates of religious experience" European Journal of Neuroscience Vol. 13 2001.

Source: Center For The Advancement Of Health
Date:
2002-03-14

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0314080021.htm

Evidence Behind Claim Of Religion-Health Link Is Shaky, Researchers Say
Popular claims that religious activity provides health benefits have virtually no grounding in the medical literature, according to an article in the March issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

This conclusion sharply contradicts assertions that a large body of evidence indicates that religious people enjoy better physical and mental health.

Belief in the health benefits of religious and spiritual activities is so widespread that many think these activities should be incorporated into clinical practice.

“Nearly 30 U.S. medical schools now include courses on religion, spirituality and health for medical students,” notes lead author Richard P. Sloan, Ph.D., professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University. “One Denver-based HMO offers spiritual counseling,” he adds.

Sloan and his colleague, Emilia Bagiella, Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, analyzed the medical literature to determine if, indeed, religion provides a health benefit.

Sloan and Bagiella first tested the claim that hundreds of articles address the possible impact of religion on health. They evaluated every article listed in a medical database that was written in English, published in the year 2000 and responsive to the search term “religion.”

The authors found that 83 percent of the 266 articles that they found were “irrelevant to claims of a health advantage associated with religious involvement,” Sloan reports, because these studies, while about religion, had nothing to do with an effect of religion on health.

For example, he notes, some studies examined only the association between health and the lifestyle practices -- not the beliefs -- of certain denominations, such as the dietary habits of Seventh-Day Adventists. Other studies examined how health problems influence religious practices, not vice versa.

Sloan and Bagiella then examined two previous reviews of the literature, both citing broad support for the religion-health link. The authors scrutinized only those studies investigating religion’s impact on cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Again, the authors found that little of the evidence claimed to link religious practice to better health withstands close scrutiny. “About half of the articles cited in [these] reviews ...were irrelevant,” Sloan reports.

“Of those that actually were relevant, many … had significant methodological flaws,” he adds. Others were cited as evidence that that religion benefits health when, in fact, their findings were inconclusive.

Overall, Sloan concludes, “There is little empirical support for claims of health benefits deriving from religious involvement. To suggest otherwise is inconsistent with the literature.”

Quote:
Organ music 'instils religious feelings'
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff, in Salford

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3087674.stm

People who experience a sense of spirituality in church may be reacting to the extreme bass sound produced by some organ pipes.

Many churches and cathedrals have organ pipes that are so long they emit infrasound which at a frequency lower than 20 Hertz is largely inaudible to the human ear.
But in a controlled experiment in which infrasound was pumped into a concert hall, UK scientists found they could instil strange feelings in the audience at will.

These included an extreme sense of sorrow, coldness, anxiety and even shivers down the spine.

Sound 'gun'

Infrasound has become the subject of intense study in recent years. Researchers have found that some animals, such as elephants, can communicate with low-frequency calls.

Infrasound can be detected at volcanoes and may provide a way to predict eruptions.


INFRASOUND STUDY
Lies in the range 10-20 Hz
On the cusp of our hearing
Can vibrate internal organs
Volcanoes emit infrasound
Elephants and whales use it


And recent work by some of the scientists involved in this latest study found that hauntings - the feeling that something or someone else unseen is in a room or building - may also be explained by the presence of infrasound.
To test the impact on an audience of extreme bass notes from an organ pipe, researchers constructed a seven-metre-long "infrasonic cannon" which they placed at the back of the Purcell Room, a concert hall in South London.

They then invited 750 people to report their feelings after listening to pieces of contemporary music intermittently laced sound from the cannon, played a 17 Hz at levels of 6-8 decibels.

Feel the bass

The results showed that odd sensations in the audience increased by an average of 22% when the extreme bass was present.

"It has been suggested that because some organ pipes in churches and cathedrals produce infrasound this could lead to people having weird experiences which they attribute to God," said Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from University of Hertfordshire.


"Some of the experiences in our audience included 'shivering on my wrist', 'an odd feeling in my stomach', 'increased heart rate', 'feeling very anxious', and 'a sudden memory of emotional loss'.
"This was an experiment done under controlled conditions and it shows infrasound does have an impact, and that has implications... in a religious context and some of the unusual experiences people may be having in certain churches."

Sarah Angliss, an engineer and composer in charge of the project, added: "Organ players have been adding infrasound to the mix for 500 years so maybe we're not the first generation to be 'addicted to bass'."

Details of the organ infrasound study are being presented to the British Association's annual science festival, which this year is in Salford, Greater Manchester.
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Old 03-14-2006, 02:11 PM   #14
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Tenspace wrote
I'm beginning to wonder if the nicotine was masking this anger I feel. Yes, I'm quitting cold turkey....I like to understand things from the inside. Advice on maintaining my cool is obviously appreciated, but I really want to know why the reduction in nicotine has released this monster inside me.
I covered substance abuse last year and the neurobiological substrates of addiction are probably what you're after. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia does have quite a good article on addiction and how the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and endogenous ligands are implicated in maintaining addiction and the hell you go through when you quit. These systems work in essentially the same way regardles of substance when dealing with physical dependence.

I can offer you consolation that it is possible and I have serious doubts that the nicotine was masking the monster within. This is a predictable psycho/physiological reaction to withdrawal from chemical dependency. Scant consolation it may be but I have had many friends try to give up and many have succeed. You will regain your level-headedness in time and your family sounds like they are very understanding - a BIG plus in successful quitting.

Keep up the good work it will take time but it is worth it. ;)

Invisibility and nothingness look an awful lot alike.
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Old 03-14-2006, 03:42 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info. I was really surprised at how quickly my anger would flare. If it isn't a deeper problem - it's just a side effect of the nicotine addiction - that makes me feel much better. I was getting ready to contact my doctor...

Of course, I now see the reinforcement. Every time I tried to quit, I assumed the anger thing was unrelated to quitting, and I ended up truly believing that I was smoking to curtail my anger. Now, I can see that the anger is nothing but the addiction's survival mechanism. How fucking clever of it. :)

Thanks again.... I'll dig deeper into the systems you mention.

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor." - Justin's Dad
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