Monday, 31 August 2015
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A balancing pendulum, a soothing voice and a pair of starry, deep and focused eyes are amongst the common elements imagined when attempting to get into a hypnotic state. Can technology help?
Reaching a state of hypnosis seems to be much simpler with the use of an app or computer. Personally, I have to say that I have used some self-hypnosis techniques which seemed to work. But there does not seem to be any scientific evidence to support their efficacy.
Mystique and debate
Hypnosis is one of those mysterious states of human consciousness known to be the subject of much debate. Some critical views support the idea that it is nothing more than a relaxation technique or a state of heightened suggestibility highly shaped by the existing expectations of the “hypnotised” subject.
According to a range of studies, there is no strong scientific evidence to support the use of hypnosis and this is why it is often spoken of in terms of the placebo effect.
A complementary tool
However, according to many hypnotherapists and proponents of the practice, hypnosis can be a rich resource as well as a popular complementary tool in the treatment of a range of medical conditions and day to day challenges such as stopping smoking, losing weight, overcoming traumas, pain and anxiety and even giving birth naturally with minimum pain relief.
It has also been used to be a complementary therapy in the treatment of skin conditions, irritable bowel syndrome and sleep related conditions.
Hypnosis procedures involve a series of instructions and suggestions which can help us to focus and concentrate in order to then follow further instructions usually designed to help us to achieve a specific goal.
Hypnosis in a gadget
Self-hypnosis techniques can involve the use of gadgets, apps or computers. On the internet we can find a huge range of resources such as written texts, music, videos and audio tracks with instructions, all of which are supposed to be resources which lead us in to a hypnotic state.
Often these materials are supported by other resources such as books and one-to-one or group live courses. It is also possible to find a large number of apps for iPhone and Android on this topic.
According to a recent study which unearthed an astounding 1,455 apps designed for hypnosis for sale on iTunes, it is necessary for users to be aware of issues in responsible app development and use, since none of these apps had been tested for efficacy, or had any evidence offered in support of their functionality.
However, the researchers in this study did conclude that using such apps can be potentially a tool for achieving hypnotic states. It is just that again, technological experimentation and production is racing ahead of the supporting scientific and social science fields surrounding its use, and the popularity of apps designed for a certain function is booming even while the field of related study is itself languishing somewhat.
Marc I, Toureche N, Ernst E, Hodnett ED, Blanchet C, Dodin S, & Njoya MM (2011). Mind-body interventions during pregnancy for preventing or treating women’s anxiety. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews (7) PMID: 21735413
Sucala, M., Schnur, J., Glazier, K., Miller, S., Green, J., & Montgomery, G. (2013). Hypnosis—There’s an App for That:
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 61 (4), 463-474 DOI: 10.1080/00207144.2013.810482
Webb AN, Kukuruzovic R, Catto-Smith AG, Sawyer SM. Hypnotherapy for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005110. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005110.pub2.Read More Here..
Expert gives tips on avoiding and dealing with injury
Source: HealthDay via Exercise and Physical Fitness New Links: MedlinePlus RSS Feed Read More Here..
Expert gives tips on avoiding and dealing with injury
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Agency advises users with such symptoms to contact their doctor
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People should have emergency communication plan in place, stock up on essential supplies
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Voicing concerns, helping with homework may increase child's fear, study finds
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Mental health expert says some kids get anxious about returning to the classroom, but parents can help
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No reason to keep females from combat, researchers say
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Only association was seen, and older women shouldn't take the pill to treat symptoms, experts say
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Sunday, 30 August 2015
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Some say it’s the most complex object in the universe, but just how difficult is it going to be to finally understand how the human brain works?
If we take a purely anatomical view, the numbers become a little daunting. The brain is made up of maybe a hundred billion neurons, 100 trillion connections (synapses), and a 100 billion non-neuronal cells (glia). Our knowledge of the human brain is so sparse that even these numbers have to be taken with a pinch of salt. This is without mention of what’s going on inside the cells with its different neurotransmitters, synaptic vesicles, transport proteins and the unbelievable number of other proteins that allow neurons to function normally.
This complexity is what drives neuroscience research and hints at why treatments for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia lag so far behind that of other conditions: Without understanding how the normal brain is wired we can never know how it can go wrong. The sheer scale, intricacy and complexity of the brain is one of the main reasons why large initiatives like the White House’s BRAIN Initiative are so important – but the magnitude of the task at hand can be daunting.
A recent study from researchers at Harvard University demonstrates just how complicated, densely packed and intricate mammalian brains are, but provides hope that these problems one day may become tractable. The Lichtman lab took an area of the mouse neocortex, the most recently evolved and arguably most complex part of the brain, measuring just 1500 cubic microns and set out to reconstruct every 3-dimensional object in this area.
To do this, the piece of tissue was cut into impossibly thin sections measuring of 29 nanometres. To put this into context, a standard piece of paper of paper is around 100 microns (or 0.1 millimeters) thick, you would have to slice that piece of paper into about 3,448 sections to get slices of the same thickness. Each of these brain sections was then imaged with a scanning electron microscope, which blasts a beam of electrons at the sections measuring how they are scattered when they come into contact with the sample.
2,250 sections later, the tiny piece of mouse brain was digitally reconstructed. For this reconstruction the authors had to design new ways to analyze the imaging data, and they have made these techniques freely available to other researchers. This means other groups will now be able to tackle similar problems on a larger scale.
This is not to say that this was a mere proof of principle study, even understanding tiny area can give us important information about how the brain works. Just by looking at the roughly 1,600 fragments of neurons and 1,700 connections, they were able to solve a fundamental problem in neuroanatomy. They showed that when neurons form connections with each other, they do not just make contact with whoever happens to be their neighbor, they can ignore those cells closest to them and seek out a more appropriate wiring partner somewhere else.
What about mapping the whole brain though, is all lost, is it just too large and complicated to tackle? Indeed, it would take an incredible amount of time to reconstruct an entire mouse brain – it took six years for this tiny fragment, and the mouse brain is obviously much smaller than that of a human. But there are several reasons for hope.
First, the technology used in this study is advancing all the time, meaning that future investigations can advance more quickly. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it’s likely not necessary to reconstruct the entire brain in such exquisite detail. The principles of connectivity and structural features that this study unveiled will likely be applicable to many other parts of the brain – meaning that future studies can take a broader look at neuroanatomy.
It may have only been 1,500 cubic microns, but it represents a great chunk of progress in understanding brain connections.
Abbott, A. (2015). Crumb of mouse brain reconstructed in full detail Nature, 524 (7563), 17-17 DOI: 10.1038/nature.2015.18105
Kasthuri, N., Hayworth, K., Berger, D., Schalek, R., Conchello, J., Knowles-Barley, S., Lee, D., Vázquez-Reina, A., Kaynig, V., Jones, T., Roberts, M., Morgan, J., Tapia, J., Seung, H., Roncal, W., Vogelstein, J., Burns, R., Sussman, D., Priebe, C., Pfister, H., & Lichtman, J. (2015). Saturated Reconstruction of a Volume of Neocortex Cell, 162 (3), 648-661 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.06.054
Ostroff, L., & Zeng, H. (2015). Electron Microscopy at Scale Cell, 162 (3), 474-475 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.031Read More Here..
via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..
It takes 6 months to train a dog to detect prostate cancer. According to the report, trained dogs can detect prostate tumors in urine in 93 percent of cases.
"These dogs have the ability to screen hundreds of samples in a day; it's something they find very easy, they enjoy their work. To them it's a hunt game - they find the cancer."
The alternative, "electronic nose" sensitivity is well below the one of a dog. A dog can find 1 part per trillion. An electronic nose is unable to find anything below 1 per million.
Cancer sniffing dogs to aid British doctors. Reuters. http://buff.ly/1PWNrOL
Friday, 28 August 2015
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