Tag Archive | self awareness

Your Brain is not a Computer*

Your Brain is not a Computer*

By Robert Epstein

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.

To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s. It prefers the sound of voices to non-speech sounds, and can distinguish one basic speech sound from another. We are, without doubt, built to make social connections.

A healthy newborn is also equipped with more than a dozen reflexes – ready-made reactions to certain stimuli that are important for its survival. It turns its head in the direction of something that brushes its cheek and then sucks whatever enters its mouth. It holds its breath when submerged in water. It grasps things placed in its hands so strongly it can nearly support its own weight. Perhaps most important, newborns come equipped with powerful learning mechanisms that allow them to change rapidly so they can interact increasingly effectively with their world, even if that world is unlike the one their distant ancestors faced.

Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.

But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.

We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not.

Computers, quite literally, process information – numbers, letters, words, formulas, images. The information first has to be encoded into a format computers can use, which means patterns of ones and zeroes (‘bits’) organised into small chunks (‘bytes’). On my computer, each byte contains 64 bits, and a certain pattern of those bits stands for the letter d, another for the letter o, and another for the letter g. Side by side, those three bytes form the word dog. One single image – say, the photograph of my cat Henry on my desktop – is represented by a very specific pattern of a million of these bytes (‘one megabyte’), surrounded by some special characters that tell the computer to expect an image, not a word.

Computers, quite literally, move these patterns from place to place in different physical storage areas etched into electronic components. Sometimes they also copy the patterns, and sometimes they transform them in various ways – say, when we are correcting errors in a manuscript or when we are touching up a photograph. The rules computers follow for moving, copying and operating on these arrays of data are also stored inside the computer. Together, a set of rules is called a ‘program’ or an ‘algorithm’. A group of algorithms that work together to help us do something (like buy stocks or find a date online) is called an ‘application’ – what most people now call an ‘app’.

Forgive me for this introduction to computing, but I need to be clear: computers really do operate on symbolic representations of the world. They really store and retrieve. They really process. They really have physical memories. They really are guided in everything they do, without exception, by algorithms.

Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will. Given this reality, why do so many scientists talk about our mental life as if we were computers?

In his book In Our Own Image (2015), the artificial intelligence expert George Zarkadakis describes six different metaphors people have employed over the past 2,000 years to try to explain human intelligence.

In the earliest one, eventually preserved in the Bible, humans were formed from clay or dirt, which an intelligent god then infused with its spirit. That spirit ‘explained’ our intelligence – grammatically, at least.

The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and mental functioning. The hydraulic metaphor persisted for more than 1,600 years, handicapping medical practice all the while.

By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. By the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry led to new theories of human intelligence – again, largely metaphorical in nature. In the mid-1800s, inspired by recent advances in communications, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph.

The mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’, drawing parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain

Each metaphor reflected the most advanced thinking of the era that spawned it. Predictably, just a few years after the dawn of computer technology in the 1940s, the brain was said to operate like a computer, with the role of physical hardware played by the brain itself and our thoughts serving as software. The landmark event that launched what is now broadly called ‘cognitive science’ was the publication of Language and Communication (1951) by the psychologist George Miller. Miller proposed that the mental world could be studied rigorously using concepts from information theory, computation and linguistics.

This kind of thinking was taken to its ultimate expression in the short book The Computer and the Brain (1958), in which the mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’. Although he acknowledged that little was actually known about the role the brain played in human reasoning and memory, he drew parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain.

Propelled by subsequent advances in both computer technology and brain research, an ambitious multidisciplinary effort to understand human intelligence gradually developed, firmly rooted in the idea that humans are, like computers, information processors. This effort now involves thousands of researchers, consumes billions of dollars in funding, and has generated a vast literature consisting of both technical and mainstream articles and books. Ray Kurzweil’s book How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (2013), exemplifies this perspective, speculating about the ‘algorithms’ of the brain, how the brain ‘processes data’, and even how it superficially resembles integrated circuits in its structure.

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge.

Just over a year ago, on a visit to one of the world’s most prestigious research institutes, I challenged researchers there to account for intelligent human behaviour without reference to any aspect of the IP metaphor. They couldn’t do it, and when I politely raised the issue in subsequent email communications, they still had nothing to offer months later. They saw the problem. They didn’t dismiss the challenge as trivial. But they couldn’t offer an alternative. In other words, the IP metaphor is ‘sticky’. It encumbers our thinking with language and ideas that are so powerful we have trouble thinking around them.

The faulty logic of the IP metaphor is easy enough to state. It is based on a faulty syllogism – one with two reasonable premises and a faulty conclusion. Reasonable premise #1: all computers are capable of behaving intelligently. Reasonable premise #2: all computers are information processors. Faulty conclusion: all entities that are capable of behaving intelligently are information processors.

Setting aside the formal language, the idea that humans must be information processors just because computers are information processors is just plain silly, and when, someday, the IP metaphor is finally abandoned, it will almost certainly be seen that way by historians, just as we now view the hydraulic and mechanical metaphors to be silly.

If the IP metaphor is so silly, why is it so sticky? What is stopping us from brushing it aside, just as we might brush aside a branch that was blocking our path? Is there a way to understand human intelligence without leaning on a flimsy intellectual crutch? And what price have we paid for leaning so heavily on this particular crutch for so long? The IP metaphor, after all, has been guiding the writing and thinking of a large number of researchers in multiple fields for decades. At what cost?

In a classroom exercise I have conducted many times over the years, I begin by recruiting a student to draw a detailed picture of a dollar bill – ‘as detailed as possible’, I say – on the blackboard in front of the room. When the student has finished, I cover the drawing with a sheet of paper, remove a dollar bill from my wallet, tape it to the board, and ask the student to repeat the task. When he or she is done, I remove the cover from the first drawing, and the class comments on the differences.

Because you might never have seen a demonstration like this, or because you might have trouble imagining the outcome, I have asked Jinny Hyun, one of the student interns at the institute where I conduct my research, to make the two drawings. Here is her drawing ‘from memory’ (notice the metaphor):

And here is the drawing she subsequently made with a dollar bill present:

Jinny was as surprised by the outcome as you probably are, but it is typical. As you can see, the drawing made in the absence of the dollar bill is horrible compared with the drawing made from an exemplar, even though Jinny has seen a dollar bill thousands of times.

What is the problem? Don’t we have a ‘representation’ of the dollar bill ‘stored’ in a ‘memory register’ in our brains? Can’t we just ‘retrieve’ it and use it to make our drawing?

Obviously not, and a thousand years of neuroscience will never locate a representation of a dollar bill stored inside the human brain for the simple reason that it is not there to be found.

The idea that memories are stored in individual neurons is preposterous: how and where is the memory stored in the cell?

A wealth of brain studies tells us, in fact, that multiple and sometimes large areas of the brain are often involved in even the most mundane memory tasks. When strong emotions are involved, millions of neurons can become more active. In a 2016 study of survivors of a plane crash by the University of Toronto neuropsychologist Brian Levine and others, recalling the crash increased neural activity in ‘the amygdala, medial temporal lobe, anterior and posterior midline, and visual cortex’ of the passengers.

The idea, advanced by several scientists, that specific memories are somehow stored in individual neurons is preposterous; if anything, that assertion just pushes the problem of memory to an even more challenging level: how and where, after all, is the memory stored in the cell?

So what is occurring when Jinny draws the dollar bill in its absence? If Jinny had never seen a dollar bill before, her first drawing would probably have not resembled the second drawing at all. Having seen dollar bills before, she was changed in some way. Specifically, her brain was changed in a way that allowed her to visualise a dollar bill – that is, to re-experience seeing a dollar bill, at least to some extent.

The difference between the two diagrams reminds us that visualising something (that is, seeing something in its absence) is far less accurate than seeing something in its presence. This is why we’re much better at recognising than recalling. When we re-member something (from the Latin re, ‘again’, and memorari, ‘be mindful of’), we have to try to relive an experience; but when we recognise something, we must merely be conscious of the fact that we have had this perceptual experience before.

Perhaps you will object to this demonstration. Jinny had seen dollar bills before, but she hadn’t made a deliberate effort to ‘memorise’ the details. Had she done so, you might argue, she could presumably have drawn the second image without the bill being present. Even in this case, though, no image of the dollar bill has in any sense been ‘stored’ in Jinny’s brain. She has simply become better prepared to draw it accurately, just as, through practice, a pianist becomes more skilled in playing a concerto without somehow inhaling a copy of the sheet music.

From this simple exercise, we can begin to build the framework of a metaphor-free theory of intelligent human behaviour – one in which the brain isn’t completely empty, but is at least empty of the baggage of the IP metaphor.

As we navigate through the world, we are changed by a variety of experiences. Of special note are experiences of three types:

(1) we observe what is happening around us (other people behaving, sounds of music, instructions directed at us, words on pages, images on screens);

(2) we are exposed to the pairing of unimportant stimuli (such as sirens) with important stimuli (such as the appearance of police cars);

(3) we are punished or rewarded for behaving in certain ways.

We become more effective in our lives if we change in ways that are consistent with these experiences – if we can now recite a poem or sing a song, if we are able to follow the instructions we are given, if we respond to the unimportant stimuli more like we do to the important stimuli, if we refrain from behaving in ways that were punished, if we behave more frequently in ways that were rewarded.

Misleading headlines notwithstanding, no one really has the slightest idea how the brain changes after we have learned to sing a song or recite a poem. But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions. When called on to perform, neither the song nor the poem is in any sense ‘retrieved’ from anywhere in the brain, any more than my finger movements are ‘retrieved’ when I tap my finger on my desk. We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.

A few years ago, I asked the neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University – winner of a Nobel Prize for identifying some of the chemical changes that take place in the neuronal synapses of the Aplysia (a marine snail) after it learns something – how long he thought it would take us to understand how human memory works. He quickly replied: ‘A hundred years.’ I didn’t think to ask him whether he thought the IP metaphor was slowing down neuroscience, but some neuroscientists are indeed beginning to think the unthinkable – that the metaphor is not indispensable.

A few cognitive scientists – notably Anthony Chemero of the University of Cincinnati, the author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (2009) – now completely reject the view that the human brain works like a computer. The mainstream view is that we, like computers, make sense of the world by performing computations on mental representations of it, but Chemero and others describe another way of understanding intelligent behaviour – as a direct interaction between organisms and their world.

My favourite example of the dramatic difference between the IP perspective and what some now call the ‘anti-representational’ view of human functioning involves two different ways of explaining how a baseball player manages to catch a fly ball – beautifully explicated by Michael McBeath, now at Arizona State University, and his colleagues in a 1995 paper in Science. The IP perspective requires the player to formulate an estimate of various initial conditions of the ball’s flight – the force of the impact, the angle of the trajectory, that kind of thing – then to create and analyse an internal model of the path along which the ball will likely move, then to use that model to guide and adjust motor movements continuously in time in order to intercept the ball.

That is all well and good if we functioned as computers do, but McBeath and his colleagues gave a simpler account: to catch the ball, the player simply needs to keep moving in a way that keeps the ball in a constant visual relationship with respect to home plate and the surrounding scenery (technically, in a ‘linear optical trajectory’). This might sound complicated, but it is actually incredibly simple, and completely free of computations, representations and algorithms.

we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace, and we will never achieve immortality through downloading

Two determined psychology professors at Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. – Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka – include the baseball example among many others that can be looked at simply and sensibly outside the IP framework. They have been blogging for years about what they call a ‘more coherent, naturalised approach to the scientific study of human behaviour… at odds with the dominant cognitive neuroscience approach’. This is far from a movement, however; the mainstream cognitive sciences continue to wallow uncritically in the IP metaphor, and some of the world’s most influential thinkers have made grand predictions about humanity’s future that depend on the validity of the metaphor.

One prediction – made by the futurist Kurzweil, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the neuroscientist Randal Koene, among others – is that, because human consciousness is supposedly like computer software, it will soon be possible to download human minds to a computer, in the circuits of which we will become immensely powerful intellectually and, quite possibly, immortal. This concept drove the plot of the dystopian movie Transcendence (2014) starring Johnny Depp as the Kurzweil-like scientist whose mind was downloaded to the internet – with disastrous results for humanity.

Fortunately, because the IP metaphor is not even slightly valid, we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace; alas, we will also never achieve immortality through downloading. This is not only because of the absence of consciousness software in the brain; there is a deeper problem here – let’s call it the uniqueness problem – which is both inspirational and depressing.

Because neither ‘memory banks’ nor ‘representations’ of stimuli exist in the brain, and because all that is required for us to function in the world is for the brain to change in an orderly way as a result of our experiences, there is no reason to believe that any two of us are changed the same way by the same experience. If you and I attend the same concert, the changes that occur in my brain when I listen to Beethoven’s 5th will almost certainly be completely different from the changes that occur in your brain. Those changes, whatever they are, are built on the unique neural structure that already exists, each structure having developed over a lifetime of unique experiences.

This is why, as Sir Frederic Bartlett demonstrated in his book Remembering (1932), no two people will repeat a story they have heard the same way and why, over time, their recitations of the story will diverge more and more. No ‘copy’ of the story is ever made; rather, each individual, upon hearing the story, changes to some extent – enough so that when asked about the story later (in some cases, days, months or even years after Bartlett first read them the story) – they can re-experience hearing the story to some extent, although not very well (see the first drawing of the dollar bill, above).

This is inspirational, I suppose, because it means that each of us is truly unique, not just in our genetic makeup, but even in the way our brains change over time. It is also depressing, because it makes the task of the neuroscientist daunting almost beyond imagination. For any given experience, orderly change could involve a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain, with the pattern of change different in every brain.

Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it. This is perhaps the most egregious way in which the IP metaphor has distorted our thinking about human functioning. Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear. What’s more, as the neurobiologist Steven Rose pointed out in The Future of the Brain (2005), a snapshot of the brain’s current state might also be meaningless unless we knew the entire life history of that brain’s owner – perhaps even about the social context in which he or she was raised.

Think how difficult this problem is. To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. (In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.)

Meanwhile, vast sums of money are being raised for brain research, based in some cases on faulty ideas and promises that cannot be kept. The most blatant instance of neuroscience gone awry, documented recently in a report in Scientific American, concerns the $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, E.U. officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down.

We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key.

Source*

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Trauma and the Lineage of Illness*

Trauma and the Lineage of Illness*

Delphinium staphysagria

By Carina Lopez

Tolle Totum

Hahnemann writes in paragraph 78 of the Organon of Medicine that “true natural chronic disease arises from a chronic miasm.” A miasm is a series of reactions to abuses in life. These include dietary passions, habits, and environmental factors that affect generations of families through chronic illness.

Inherited and Suppressed Anger

“The women in my family are the martyrs for the men in my family,” Teresa stated, after recounting the generations of sexual and physical abuse the women in her family had suffered silently. Teresa had come to my office for help with her frequent panic attacks and debilitating anxiety and depression, from which she had suffered for as long as she could remember. She had already tried anxiety and depression medications, but they caused her to feel even more apathetic and disconnected from the world around her.

On the surface, Teresa had a very sweet and happy disposition. She smiled all the time, she was warm, and her coworkers adored her; however, she found it difficult to stand up for herself and remained a pushover on the job until a number of transgressions occurred, at which time she would explode.

Teresa was born with jaundice. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ideology, jaundice relates to a perturbation of the liver, the organ considered “the seat of anger.” An unhealthy liver spurs an angry human being, and excessive anger damages the liver further, creating a vicious cycle. In addition, when Teresa became anxious, her heart fluttered away with palpitations. In TCM, the heart relates to joy. A morose, anxious person, according to ancient medical traditions as far back as Hippocrates, bears an unhealthy heart.

From a homeopathic perspective, the trauma endured by Teresa’s mother and earlier generations of women in her family was now ingrained in Teresa’s very being, perpetuating early and chronic illness. Teresa had developed a miasmatic reaction due to the sustained abuse of her ancestors and herself.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes five common experiences of grief that may occur in any order after trauma:

  • Denial, or shock and disbelief, regarding the trauma
  • Anger, often misplaced onto anything and everyone nearby
  • Bargaining as a way to negotiate, find excuses, and displace blame
  • Depression, a deep despair of overcoming the trauma
  • Acceptance occurs when a sufferer comes to terms with her trauma.

These aspects of grieving are multi-faceted and manifest differently in every individual. Teresa’s inability to appropriately express her anger at work, leading to panic and explosive anger, indicated an urgent need to process her response to her grief and trauma.

I chose the homeopathic remedy Delphinium staphysagria, a beautiful purple flower that has been used medicinally for centuries. To many people, the color purple represents congealed blood, as when our blood boils from anger. The flower is toxic in its whole form, but has been used homeopathically to treat depression and hysteria with much success. William Boericke, MD, in his Homeopathic Materia Medica, describes Staphysagria as “necessary for those showing violent outbursts of passion.”

Teresa took a 200C potency BID along with herbs such as mimosa (Mimosa pudica), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) and hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha). She changed her diet based on her TCM constitution, received frequent acupuncture treatments, and had the time and safe space during consultations to express herself and be fully heard.

Soon enough, Teresa’s anxiety decreased markedly, and she described feeling more centered, more calm and more in control. In social interactions, she found she was more readily speaking up for herself and not losing her temper. Alternative medicine had touched her miasm and triggered her progression through her underlying grief, shining a light toward her healing.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Teresa then brought in her mother, who suffers from a depression she attributed to many years and generations of abuse. Her mother told me that, during countless years of abuse, she never once cried. She was stuck in a depressed state, and even after leaving the abusive situation, she had not been able to cry or come to a place of acceptance.

Four days after a single dose of Natrum muriaticum, 200C, she called me from the emergency room. She had begun crying the day after taking the remedy and had not stopped, which made her scared that something was wrong with her. I explained that crying was pivotal to freeing herself from suffering and that she was now moving toward acceptance. I could hear the smile in her voice even as her tears rolled down.

As time passes and Teresa and her mother move closer to their healing, I pause and wonder if Teresa has averted the passing on of family trauma to the next generation. Only time will tell, but my hopes are high. It is beautiful to see a mother and daughter working on their grief together in unity

The Intergeneration Impact of Trauma

The young field of epigenetics has linked cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and autoimmune conditions in offspring with environmental exposures in the parent. Working with the adult offspring of Holocaust survivors, researcher Rachel Yehuda demonstrated the trans-generational transmission of cortisol dysregulation and the increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those born to mothers who experienced PTSD compared to those born to mothers without PTSD.

This leads me to speculate whether the Holocaust had an epigenetic impact on genes associated with breast cancer and high breast cancer susceptibility in Ashkenazi Jews, and whether the historic trauma of slavery and Jim Crow terror have a role in the higher prevalence of hypertension among African Americans. I watch with interest as research in this field develops.

A Happy Ending

Today I received a call from Elsie, a young woman I saw quite some time ago, who was abandoned as an infant and has since suffered extended abuse. She came to see me for her horrible dysmenorrhea and uncontrollable anger. Staphysagria really moved her case, too. She cried for 6 months and was debilitated by the crying for 3 of them.

Today, she was concerned that her remedy had gotten old sitting in the sun. She hadn’t touched it in months but wondered if she needed a new bottle. Since our visits, Elsie has developed the strength to leave a dead-end job and move to California. She established healthier boundaries in her relationships and began to pursue a vocation as a spiritual healer, living on a ranch and using the healing power of horses. She called me happy, spirited and free. I told her she was fine now and not to worry about needing the remedy at this point. We both laughed in agreement. She has worked through her stages of grief, and my job with her is done. I look forward to the possibility of seeing her healthy children one day.

Source*

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How to Tune Your Endocrine System*

How to Tune Your Endocrine System*

By Azriel Re’Shel & Tanja Taljaard

Shining the Light on the Forgotten System

It’s not usually a topic of conversation around the dinner table or something you’d choose to read up on, as most people would consider the functioning of the endocrine system to be a tad dry. Yet, understanding the basics of this vital and fascinating system of the body can make a huge difference to your life.

Our endocrine glands can impact every area of our health. The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones. It is responsible for the hormonal functions in the body, with the 30 hormones produced each having a very specific job to do. We all know the impact of whacky hormones, and it’s fair to say, it’s not good!

If one gland’s function is out of balance, it can affect the health of all the others, and the glands affect the function of the entire body. Not only does the endocrine system work on the physical realm, but also on the emotional and energetic realms. It is highly beneficial and empowering to understand how we can nurture our own bodies and support the optimal functioning of these glands.

With a few simple tricks, you can easily keep your body in tune and enjoy greater happiness and balance.

A Basic Guide to the Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a major, yet sometimes overlooked, component of your body. While it has many physical functions, such as regulating sleep, heart rate, metabolism, the immune system, and so much more, it is vital to mental functionality and mood.

Looking at the important gland centres of the body – the hypothalamus, the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, the adrenals, pancreas, pineal gland, ovaries and testes – we begin to understand why this system is so important. But the liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, kidneys, and the placenta are all also part of the endocrine system. So if you’re feeling a little down, touchy, or just plain grouchy, perhaps your endocrine system is suffering.

Together, the hypothalamus and the pituitary regulate all processes related to survival in general, such as hunger, thirst, sexual activity, body temperature, stress, and fight or flight. The hypothalamus tells the pituitary what to do, and then the pituitary tells the other endocrine organs what to do. You can imagine it like a control centre with a chain of command and if anything falls apart in this chain of command, the body’s balance can go awry. The endocrine organ hormones feed back to the hypothalamus, telling it when to turn on or off. The hypothalamus is the go-between of the endocrine system, nervous system, and the immune system. There is a powerful relationship between the endocrine system and the central nervous system and the two systems are synergistic. Most illness is caused by imbalance and stress, and we all know that if your nervous system is optimal you will deal with stress better, and have optimum wellbeing.

The hormone secretions are a language; a dance, that keeps us energetically stable, balanced and feeling supported. When it is not in equilibrium we feel tired, heavy and unsupported. Stress plays a big part in destabilising our endocrine function and, consequently, our nervous system too.

Chinese Medicine and the Endocrine System

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the endocrine system is closely tied to the internal balance of Yin and Yang energies in the body. Although imbalance between the Yin and Yang energy is the basis of any human disease, the most important element for endocrine disorder treatment is centered on the kidney meridian.

Meridians are channels of energy that run throughout our bodies.

 

Western physiology and anatomy limits its description of the kidney to the actual organ itself, while TCM assigns it major significance with the ‘kidney’ as the home of the ‘ancestral chi’ (inherent constitution) and the root of yin and yang for the entire body. TCM also recognises the prominent hormone regulating role played by the adrenals, which are two endocrine glands attached to the superior surface of the kidneys, and just how important they are in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system.

The kidney meridian is known as the root of life and the reservoir of energy; the seat of courage and willpower.

The Chakras and the Endocrine System

The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, saw the spinal energy centres, or chakras, as being the subtle organs of the soul in establishing dominion over the mind and body. Plato said that the soul manifested in three forms.

The highest level of soul expression he called the logos, psyche or immortal soul. It’s found in the eyebrow centre and associated with the endocrine gland, the pituitary and Hypothalamus or master gland of the endocrine system. He called the middle level of soul expression thymos, the mortal soul, the aspect that is in charge of the body and its vital expression, and its associated endocrine gland is the thymus gland. The third or lowest level epithymia, is concerned with our basic survival instincts and is at the root centre, associated with the endocrine glands, the adrenals. So embedded in the chakra system is the endocrine glands, with perhaps the most important endocrine glands – the adrenals – and the base chakra forming the basic energetic support or foundation for the entire organism.

Hermeticists and other esoteric philosophers noticed that every chakra is linked to an endocrine gland: the crown chakra with the pineal, the brow centre with the pituitary and hypothalamus, the throat centre with the thyroid gland, the heart centre with the thymus gland, solar plexus with pancreas, sacral chakra with the reproductive organs and the base chakra with adrenals.

The chakras are said to correlate with the different glands of the endocrine system

 

They then reasoned that the function of the associated endocrine gland must have something to do with the spiritual, psychological, psychosomatic and physiological functions attributed to the chakra, or energy centre.

Endocrine Disruptors

Stress, infection and inflammation, sleep, exercise and diet – especially minerals and fluid balance – all have an impact on hormone levels. Synthetic organic chemicals have a negative impact on the human endocrine system and they place stress on human reproduction, growth and/or development.

The endocrine disruptors mimic or block hormones and disrupt the way the body normally works through the functional impairment of the endocrine glands.

Typical symptoms of the endocrine disorders include low immunity, fatigue, weight gain, depression, digestive issues, hair loss, arthritis, and feeling chilled regardless of the temperature.

Creating Endocrine Balance

The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout your body, and if one or more hormones are even slightly imbalanced, it can cause widespread and major health problems.

Healthy, unprocessed fats promote optimal endocrine function

 

There are some simple ways we can balance our hormones naturally. Eating healthy fats, like coconut oil and avocados, go a long way to supporting hormonal balance. Supplementing your diet with adaptogen herbs – a unique class of healing plants that promote hormone balance, boost immune function and protect the body from diseases, especially those caused by excess stress – such as Ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, Rhodiola and Holy Basil, can have a powerful effect on the body. Dairy is a big no-no for taking care of your hormones because dairy contains numerous natural hormones that weren’t meant to be combined with our own.

Reducing the impact of chemicals on the body, by eating wholesome natural food, and eliminating toxic kitchen, beauty and body care products go a long way to supporting hormonal health.

Of course, exercise is vital for hormonal balance too. For people with hormonal imbalances, the key with exercise is to be careful not to overdo it. Reducing stress and ensuring you get enough sleep are vital to happy hormones. Cortisol, the primary ‘stress hormone’, is regulated at midnight. So people who go to bed late never truly get a break from their sympathetic flight/fight stress response.

Balancing Hormones with Yoga

Yoga is one of the best ways to balance the endocrine system. Practices like Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep, are a great way to control stress and emotion through encouraging the autonomic nervous system and the digest, rest response which is so nourishing to our entire system. Yogic breathing supports the hypothalamus and other glands, helping to balance the endocrine system. And of course, yoga asana (or poses) have a direct action on the endocrine organs, through twists, inversions and other poses which massage and stimulate the organs such as the kidneys, liver and pancreas, encouraging hormone production and flow. The chakras and endocrine glands align and communicate in important ways, and by practising yoga we can support greater hormonal balance through harmonised chakras.

Yoga asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), and Nidra (sleep) also balance our hormones

 

The endocrine network ‘talks’ to the other systems within the body to control everything from growth and development to how energetic a person feels. It controls the process of hormonal balance, special chemicals produced, stored, and distributed by glands and organs within the body.

Many yoga poses stimulate and/or activate certain glands and organs, maintaining hormone balance and consistent production and distribution. Specific yoga poses include all twists, rabbit pose, forward bends and shoulder stand.

We can easily improve our health and vitality by taking care of this amazing regulatory system of the body, the endocrine system. When our hormones are balanced we feel happy and able to go out into the world and live our purpose with enthusiasm and joy. Our relationships are improved and life flows.

Source*

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Spirit Science ~ Milk, Dairy and Health*

The Effects of Fluoride on Consciousness and the Will to Act*

Chakra Tune-Up

The Self Control Gland and Fasting

Scientists Find Fluoride Causes Hypothyroidism Leading To Depression, Weight Gain, and Worse…*

Eight Ways to Safely Take Charge of Your Health While Avoiding Toxic Vaccines*

Scientists Discover what Traditional and Alternative Health Practitioners Know, the Immune System is Connected to the Brain*

Sowing Seeds of Health, Hope and Humanity*

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Nine Ancient Maps that SHOULD NOT exist in Western Eyes*

Nine Ancient Maps that SHOULD NOT exist in Western Eyes*

Among numerous findings throughout the years, researchers around the globe have stumbled upon certain discoveries that should have never been made. Some of these discoveries directly contradict the beliefs and ‘tales’ set forth by mainstream scholars about mankind, its origins and ancient civilizations that inhabited our planet in the distant past.

It has become a popular belief that ancient civilizations across the globe were in fact much more advanced than what mainstream researchers are crediting them for. Numerous maps discovered in the past are clear indications that the story told today by scholars is incomplete, and there are numerous missing links in our history. These ‘missing links’ are being put together by these incredible ancient maps that prove mankind inhabited our planet much longer than what mainstream scholars believe.

However, the existence of these incredible maps proves that in the distant past, ancient explorers had an extremely well-developed cartography system comparable in precision with the one we have today. The maps are also evidence that ancient mankind knew the exact shape and size of the Earth, contrary to popular beliefs, and used spherical trigonometry, and precise and elaborate mathematical calculations, as if thousands of years ago, an unknown civilization undertook a global-scale project of mapping the entire planet like no one has ever done before.

A reproduction of the Zeno map from a 1793 book. Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

One of the most intriguing maps is the Zeno Map. Published around 1380, the enigmatic maps accurately depicts the coasts of modern-day countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Scotland. Mysteriously, this ancient map also depicts the EXACT latitude and longitude of a number of islands on our planet. This is a huge enigma since the device necessary to measure the longitude, the chronometer, was not invented until 1765. If this isn’t mysterious enough, the Zeno map also depicts Greenland free of glaciers, meaning that somehow, someone charted it prior to the Ice Age.

The Camerio map. Created in 1502, this map does not depict unusual features as other maps do but it has one very strange detail. The Camerio map uses a spherical grid, even though people in the Middle Ages still believed our planet was in fact… flat.

Map of Ibn Ben Zara (1487) Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Another mind boggling map is without a doubt the Iehudi Ibn ben Zara map. Created in 1487, the map displays remnants of glaciers in Britain, but also extremely detailed depictions of islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Today, these islands still exist, but due to rising water levels, these are now underwater.

Hacı Ahmet’s Map of the World: A complete and perfect map describing the whole world Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

The Hadji Ahmed map, published in 1559, shows incredibly accurate delineations of the western coast of Northern America and Antarctica. What is even more incredible is the fact that this ancient map shows a land bridge connection Siberia and Alaska, indicating it originated from a time when the bridge was still present.

Published in 1737 by Philippe Buache, the Buache map is believed to have been created with the use of much more ancient maps. This chart displays Antarctica well before the ‘icy’ continent was in fact discovered. Interestingly, like many other ancient maps, this too accurately depicts Antarctica with no ice. The Bouche Map also accurately positioned the Canary Island. The map issued in 1737 also displays the correct outline of the underwater plateau on which the islands are located. This means that the source of the map used to create it is based on a survey of the shape before glaciers melted and ocean levels rose. Even more interesting is the fact that the Buache Map depicts the waterway which divides the continent of Antarctica into two landmasses.

Created in 1502, the Harry King Chart displays northern Siberian rivers emptying into the Arctic ocean which is now under ice. Interestingly, it also depicts glacial remains in the Baltic countries and accurately depicts the ancient Suez Canal. This incredible map also depicts what today are huge islands in Southeastern parts of Asia, but joined together by land, indicating that geologically speaking, the maps were created when the Earth looked much differently.

The Map of the North by Ptolemy depicts glacial sheets moving across south-central Greenland. It also depicts glaciers retreating from modern-day Germany (north) and parts of southern Sweden. Another map indicating a different time on Earth.

Another interesting map is the King Jaime World Chart. It was created in 1502, and accurately depicts parts of the Sahara Desert displaying it much differently than it is today: with fertile land, huge lakes rivers and what appear to be ancient cities. In fact, Sahara was, in the distant past, a fertile land filled with animal life and forests.

The Oronce Finé World Map created in 1534, is an early cordiform chart which displays features of Antarctica when the continent was not covered by Ice. While it is yet another map which shows the continent before it was officially ‘found’, the chart also shows continent rivers, valleys, and coastlines while also depicting the approximate location of what is the South Pole today.

Source*

Related Topics:

Ancient Pyramids in Antartica’s Landscape and the Piri Reis Map*

“Deadly Facts”: How So-Called “Objectivity” Created a Culture of Conformity*

How History Dies in the Syllabus*

Hidden Human History*

Global Power and the History of Trusts

Why the West is Terrified of Muslims Reading History…*

Secret History of the British People*

Erasing a People from History: Australian Pygmies*

When Lies about your People are Taught to you in History Class*

The Hidden History of the Human Race*

Re-writing European History for the Classroom*

Kenya: No Matter How Much ‘they’ Re-write History Evidence Says It Ain’t Necessarily So*

Censorship of History Curriculum: Students Employ Civil Disobedience*

An Escalation in the Fight against Censorship of History*

When the Sahara was Green*

The Link between Patience, Willpower and Imagination*

The Link between Patience, Willpower and Imagination*

By April McCarthy

How often do you act impulsively without considering the consequences? What if you could learn how to be more patient?
By using functional MRI (fMRI) to look inside the brain, neuroscientists Adrianna Jenkins, a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher, and Ming Hsu, an associate professor of marketing and neuroscience at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, found that imagination is a pathway toward patience. Imagining an outcome before acting upon an impulse may help increase patience without relying on increased willpower.

Scientists call this technique, “framing effects,” or making small changes to how options are presented or framed. And the method may increase a person’s ability to exercise patience.

The findings can be found in Jenkins and Hsu’s study, “Dissociable contributions of imagination and willpower to the malleability of human patience,” forthcoming in Psychological Science.

The authors’ approach stands in contrast to previous research, which has mostly focused on the exertion of willpower to positively affect a person’s patience.

“Whereas willpower might enable people to override impulses, imagining the consequences of their choices might change the impulses,” Jenkins says.

“People tend to pay attention to what is in their immediate vicinity, but there are benefits to imagining the possible consequences of their choices.”

Hsu and Jenkins conducted two experiments to explore the role of imagination and willpower on patience. In the studies, participants made choices about when to receive different amounts of money depending on how the offer is framed. The actual reward outcomes were identical, but the way they were framed differed.

For example, under an “independent” frame, a participant could receive $100 tomorrow or $120 in 30 days. Under a “sequence” frame, a participant had to decide whether to receive $100 tomorrow and no money in 30 days or no money tomorrow and $120 in 30 days.

The first experiment replicated past research, which found that framing outcomes as sequences promotes patience. 122 participants saw both independent and sequence framed options and expressed stronger preferences for the larger, delayed reward when choices were framed as sequences.

The second experiment involved 203 participants who had to make a choice based on one frame: 104 people had to choose under an independent frame; the other 99 had to choose under a sequence frame.

The result: participants in the sequence frame reported imagining the consequences of their choices more than those in the independent frame. One participant wrote,

“It would be nice to have the $100 now, but $20 more at the end of the month is probably worth it because this is like one week’s gas money.”

In contrast, participants exposed to the independent frame demonstrated less imagination. One participant commented,

“I’d rather have the money tomorrow even if it’s a lesser amount. I can get the things I need instead of waiting. Why wait a month for just $20 more?”

By framing the options in the second experiment, the researchers found that the participants escalated their use of imagination. The more participants imagined the consequences of their choices, the more they were able to be patient in order to receive the greater reward.

In the fMRI portion of the experiments, Jenkins and Hsu measured participants’ brain activation while the participants made a series of choices in both frames. They found the areas of the brain that process imagination became more active when participants were more patient during sequence framing. In contrast, in the independent framing, the researchers found patience more strongly linked to brain regions associated with willpower.

“There is a long tendency of behavioral interventions, ranging from promoting healthy eating to reducing drug dependence, to appeal to willpower. For example, ‘commit to be fit’ or ‘don’t do drugs’,” Hsu says. “Our findings highlight the potential benefits of interventions that change the nature of the impulses themselves by encouraging people to imagine the consequences of their choices.”

The researchers acknowledge that using brain scans to study human cognition has its limitations because it relies on certain assumptions about the links between brain regions and their functions. This is why the experiments combined several methods, which all converge on a similar conclusion.

“We know people often have difficulty being patient,” Jenkins says.

“Our findings suggest that imagination is a possible route for attaining patience that may be more sustainable and practical than exerting willpower.”

Source*

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Modern Parenting is Preventing Brain Development*

Working and Staying Sane in Ramadhan*

Love in a Time of Lack*

Alchemy of the Heart

Researchers Discover a Gigantic Ring of Galaxies That Could Bring Einstein’s Gravity into Question*

Researchers Discover a Gigantic Ring of Galaxies That Could Bring Einstein’s Gravity into Question*

By Alexa Erickson

Einstein’s theory of gravity explains gravity as a distortion of space that’s caused by the presence of matter or energy. This has long been considered the genius that changed science’s perception of gravity. However, researchers at the University of St Andrews may be giving Einstein a run for his money, having found a gigantic ring of galaxies darting away from us much quicker than predicted.

The 10 million light year-wide ring is made up of small galaxies that are expanding rapidly like a mini Big Bang. According to the researchers, at some point in time our neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, flew past our own galaxy at close range, sling-shotting off several small galaxies in the process.

“If Einstein’s Gravity were correct, our Galaxy would never come close enough to Andromeda to scatter anything that fast,” explains one of the team, Hongsheng Zhao from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

The discovery, if proven correct, would create a whole new understanding of gravity and our cosmos, considering a galactic flyby is only plausible if, as galaxies move away from one another, gravity weakens more slowly than Einstein’s theory suggests.

“The ring-like distribution is very peculiar. These small galaxies are like a string of raindrops flung out from a spinning umbrella. I found there is barely a 1 in 640 chance for randomly distributed galaxies to line up in the observed way. I traced their origin to a dynamical event when the Universe was only half its present age,” says Indranil Banik, the PhD student who led the study.

“The high galactocentric radial velocities (GRVs) of some Local Group galaxies must have been caused by forces acting on them that our model does not account for,” the researchers say in their paper.

Furthermore, these galaxies exist on the same plane of the Universe as the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, which the researchers argue is unlikely to be a coincidence.

The tsunami-like wake in the sky, then, was likely the result of a near-miss of the speeding Andromeda galaxy with the Milky Way. Orbiting each other in a plane, the the two galaxies would have pushed aside dwarf galaxies in their trails. This may reveal why the speeding dwarfs are in a plane with the Milky Way and Andromeda.

“In Einstein’s gravity paradigm, hypothetical dark matter is always invoked. Such a high speed requires 60 times the mass we see in the stars of the Milky Way and Andromeda. However, the friction between their huge halos of dark matter would result in them merging rather than flying 2.5 million light years apart, as they must have done.,” Banik says.

Though we’ll have to see where this study leads, the possibilities it opens up for theoretical physics are exciting.

“Science progresses through challenges,” says Marcel Pawlowski, a Hubble Fellow at the University of California, Irvine, who elicited Banik’s discovery.

“Together with two other known planes of closer-in satellites, this gigantic ring forms a serious challenge to the standard paradigm.”

Source*

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Evolution: God’s Game

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

A Universal Shift in Reality!

The Big Bang is Just a Theory, as New Equations Point to Infinity*

Earth Shift and Shift of the Ages

Earth’s Axis Has Changed*

Is the Sun and Earth Synchronizing?*

U.S. Sky Will Be Sprayed in Geoengineering “Experiment,”Blocking Sun for ‘Climate Change’*

Panic Grips Self-Inflicted U.S. NSA Shuts-down as Russia as all Clinton Phone-calls*

Climate Change in the Universe unravels another Structure*

The Connected Universe*

The Connected Universe

With Nassim Haramein

Through nearly 30 years of research in physics and writing multiple papers, Haramein has come to a deep understanding of the underlying mechanics of our universe, using his equations and theory to calculate the most accurate prediction of the charge radius of the proton to date.

Bringing in evidence from fundamental physical principles and leading research, he is able to show that we live in a connected universe with an inherent feedback network in the structure of space, which has led to pioneering insights in our interpretation of cosmological, quantum, and biological scale systems.

Nassim Haramein is a physicist, public speaker, inventor, educator, and the Director of Research at Resonance Science Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to delivering knowledge and technology to the world which is based on a holistic and complete view of the dynamics and forces of nature, addressing the critical and systemic challenges humanity faces today

The one thing that connects all things is SPACE.
Perhaps the greatest error in the standard model of physics is the fact that they ignore the fact that the vacuum of space is not empty – it’s actually completely full with energy.

When we look at the vacuum at the smallest scales possible we see that it is highly energized with what are called “vacuum fluctuations”, also known as,

  • the aether
  • the plenum
  • the zero point field
  • the quantum foam
  • space
  • the vacuum

Regardless of what you call it, the fact is we have measured the emptiness of space as not empty at all.

Yet in the standard model they simply sweep this number under the rug using a mathematical trick called “renormalization”.

Then proceed about their business writing their field equations as if it was not significant, despite the fact that the measured value of the vacuum energy present in a cubic centimeter of space is 39 orders of magnitude denser than all of the regular matter of the entire universe squashed into a cubic centimetre!

Source

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/imagenes_ciencia2/fisica133_02_small.jpg

 

Source*

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Russian Space Agency Reveals the Sounds of the Universe*

Unified Field of Consciousness*

A Field View of Reality to Explain Human Interconnectedness*

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

99.9999999% of Your Body is Empty Space*

The Space In-between: A Journey through Solitude to Spiritual Growth*

Similarities between the Brain and the Universe*

Climate Change in the Universe unravels another Structure*

Hope Unleashing in the Universe

Heavenly Signs: We are a Part of the Universe