Friday, March 1, 2013
Lately the brain is "hot" - especially since Obama announced a boost in brain research.
In Amsterdam I attended two scientific lectures for the general public this week, both on the brain, but from a different perspective.
The first one was a lecture by Prof. Dr. Herman Philipse about neurophilosophy, or: do we have a free will or not? Several Dutch scientists have published about this in the last couple of years and Prof.Dr.D.F. Swaab and Prof.Dr.V. Lamme are convinced that the brain is in charge and we do not have free will.
Prof. Philipse tried to convince us that the research of Prof. Lamme was not leading to a conclusion that we do not have free will. Apparently in science these days it is enough not to do research yourself, but to just make up a theory of why something a real scientist has indeed explored himself, could not be true. If you read Dutch, you may take a look at Victor Lamme's website yourself.
The entire concept of "free will" needs an explanation of "whom" or "what" has this free will in my view. From spirituality we know that there is no "me" (see Tony Parsons). Also physics comes to that conclusion as everything is vibration and we are all one.
If you do not know where thoughts are coming from and you do not know what exactly defines the "I" or "me" we can safely say that this is not science.
I would say it's the mystery of life ... enjoy! :-)
The second lecture was a lot more interesting, as it was about new developments in brain research and Prof. dr. P.J. (Paul) Lucassen actually knew what he was talking about. This lecture was about Alzheimer's and possible causes (it turns out not to be hereditary in most cases) and stem cell research and how the brain can actually still form new cells. This latter has been known for several years now and can be considered very good news indeed.
Most interesting is of course: is there anything we can do to prevent Alzheimer's? And there is some cute research with mice that reveals that in mice that run, the brain can clear out ameloyd plaques and tangles and restore the cell structure that is damaged in Alzheimer's. The bad news is that mice do run for hours and hours and we do not know whether this clearing is also true for humans ...
Another study focused on training memory and spatial orientation and the role of the hippocampus. If the hippocampus does not function properly, this results in memory loss.
The hippocampus is also the area where the stem cells live that can create new neurons or glia cells. Turns out training spatial orientation indeed causes the hippocampus to "grow", but if that actually leads to a diminished risk to get Alzheimer's is not known.
Then food: it is known that vitamin B plays an essential role in the nerve system. As far as I know, the levels of vitamin B that are needed according to orthomolecular medicine are a lot higher than those believed to be optimal in general medicine. For many vegetarians it may be worth while to have their vitamin B12 level checked, as it is very easy to get a shortage if you do not eat meat.
Personally, if I look at the brain of an Alzheimer's patient I see a "shrunken" brain that looks like it is "dried out". If I combine that with the fact that most elderly people do not drink enough, I cannot help but thinking that this may play an important role. Water is needed by the body to get rid of toxins and if there is not enough water, the body cannot release toxic waste. Which may very well be the cause of plaques to form in the brain ...
I did a brief research on water and Alzheimer's on the internet and it turns out that patients with Alzheimer's lack the thirst sensation and therefore tend to not drink enough.
As you can see I added one of my latest designs at the head of this post, which is a combination of leopard print and a violin pattern ... assuming you know the influence of music on the brain ... :-) (cat song or otherwise ... :-))