Where Is Your Brain Taking You (Part II) ?

http://whyriskit.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/2012-10-23-karen-bee.jpgWhat is the point about living our lives?

Today  I want to expand on a previous post – Is there an end point to us becoming more human or the fulfilment of its potential? As a neuroscientist who has studied the origins of learning and memory it has become obvious to me that the more we learn and remember the better we can predict the future.

This question can be now be answered in the context that every single human being on
the planet is unique because they posses a uniquely complex brain. In fact, the brain is so
complex that in all of human history no two brains were the same. Furthermore, this unique
combination of about 100 trillion tiny connections grows and changes through life – a work in progress from conception to death. In this way we each evolve as we journey through life.

Neurodiversity is the key to our success

The term ‘neurodiversity’ has been coined to extend the finding that every single human being is neurologically different, to view those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Asperger syndrome, dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome, and others as just another variation of human brain wiring, rather than a disease – and that these differences in brain wiring are authentic forms of communication, self-
expression and being.

Vive la différence!

Rather than focus on the need for a ‘cure’ what we actually need to do is to promote support- systems that allow those who are neurologically different to live their lives as they are, rather than attempting to conform to some clinical ideal – because it is these very individuals that give the rest of us unique insights and solutions by viewing the world in a different way. Take for example Albert Einstein – considered by many to have had Asperger syndrome – who single-handedly worked out the relationship between space and time and went on to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

To bee or not to bee

The advantages of neurodiversity can be seen elsewhere in nature for instance in the thermoregulation in honey bee nests. The temperature in the nest ranges between 32 and 36 degrees. If it is getting warmer the bees ventilate with their wings until the set point is reached again. However in genetically uniform colonies the bees tend to start with ventilation about the same time – causing even greater instability by producing more temperature fluctuations, whereas the nest temperature in genetically diverse colonies is more stable.

Who is in the spotlight?

Despite what some like to think – humankind is not the centre of the world but rather a very actively growing branch of the evolutionary tree. We are not destined to ‘lift ourselves above nature’ – but rather to dramatically raise the intelligence and complexity of this thing we call ‘life’ through our intellectual and spiritual evolution.

So what’s the answer?

The evolution of the human race is not going to proceed by trying to transcend it – rather we will move forward as a race by making room for each and every individual to express their personalities to the full. In this way the evolution of the human race has everything to do with our own personal development.

In short, personality equals evolution.

Weekly Neuroscience Update


Composite of the scans of 20 individuals. Regions in yellow and red are linked to the parietal lobe of the brain’s right hemisphere.

Scientists say they have published the most detailed brain scans “the world has ever seen” as part of a project to understand how the organ works.

Psychologists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have discovered that changes in patterns of brain activity during fearful experiences predict whether a long-term fear memory is formed.

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal in the field Pain, by National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that suppression of pain during times of fear involves complex interplay between marijuana-like chemicals and other neurotransmitters in a brain region called the amygdala.

Some of the dramatic differences seen among patients with schizophrenia may be explained by a single gene that regulates a group of other schizophrenia risk genes. These findings appear in a new imaging-genetics study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Research published in the March 2013 journal GENETICS explains a novel interaction between aging and how neurons dispose of unwanted proteins and why this impacts the rising prevalence of dementia with advancing age.

The brain adds new cells during puberty to help navigate the complex social world of adulthood, two Michigan State University neuroscientists report in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The first large, population-based study to follow children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder into adulthood shows that ADHD often doesn’t go away and that children with ADHD are more likely to have other psychiatric disorders as adults. They also appear more likely to commit suicide and to be incarcerated as adults.

The infant brain does not control its blood flow in the same way as the adult brain, researchers have discovered.

Hypnosis has begun to attract renewed interest from neuroscientists interested in using hypnotic suggestion to test predictions about normal cognitive functioning. To demonstrate the future potential of this growing field, guest editors Professor Peter Halligan from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and David A. Oakley of University College London, brought together leading researchers from cognitive neuroscience and hypnosis to contribute to this month’s special issue of the international journal, Cortex.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

New research from Weizmann Institute, published in Nature Neuroscience has discovered that people can actually learn during sleep, which can unconsciously modify their behavior while awake.

Studies have shown that listening to music can soothe hospital patients, improve stroke outcomes and promote the releaseof the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain sending pleasure signals throughout the body. Now findings recently presented at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness suggest that playing familiar music could enhance cognitive response among patients with brain damage.

In a major development  Bionic Vision Australia researchers have successfully performed the first implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes.

Researchers have discovered two gene variants that raise the risk of the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma. Using automated technology to perform genome-wide association studies on DNA from thousands of subjects, the study broadens understanding of how gene changes may make a child susceptible to this early childhood cancer, as well as causing a tumor to progress.

In a study published in the Journal of Neurology, researchers claim that because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) each involve ocular control and attention dysfunctions, they can be easily identified through an evaluation of how patients move their eyes while they watch television.

A new study by researchers at NYU School of Medicine reveals for the first time that metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with cognitive and brain impairments in adolescents and calls for pediatricians to take this into account when considering the early treatment of childhood obesity.

People whose blood sugar is on the high end of the normal range may be at greater risk of brain shrinkage that occurs with aging and diseases such as dementia, according to new research published in the September 4, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.