Archive for January 2017

Qualities of Nature Are Human Construct



The accepted view of reality holds that human beings exist in the context of a vast physical universe “out there.” I doubt this description because there are no color, sound, textures, patterns, scent, and beauty – nothing of this kind in the natural world. All these qualities from the fragrance of jasmine to the sting of a honey bee and the taste of honey are produced by human beings, essentially the same as photon quanta of light has no color, such qualities are only in the biology of perception and the organs or capacities for perception that are subtle and, in a sense, invisible. There are capacities for inner seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and so on that have to do with the perception of the inner realm. There are capacities for intuition, direct cognition, synthesis, discrimination, and so on. All of these capacities are fueled by the substance of essence…These organs or capacities are connected to various energetic centers in the body that animate both the body and the human mind.

The existence of the physical universe “out there” and our participation in such a universe must be seriously questioned!


Neuroscience Perspectives-Yoga and Energy Centers Called Chakras

If you have gone to a yoga class more than once, chances are, the word “chakra” has crossed your path. Chakras are psychic energy centers that govern the human body. Chakra in Sanskrit means “wheels”. Chakras are supposedly located in seven different parts of human brain anatomy beginning from the medulla going up to the right and left cerebral hemispheres.

Doctors will tell you that there is no scientific basis for the chakras. There are no actual wheels of light rotating inside human body. Sages might have been talking about circulations than actual wheels. That said, it is safe to interpret the chakras as seven circulations of vital activities within human brain.

Dr. Alfred Penfield identified the functions of specific parts of the brain that run our bodies. He called this body map. Neuroscience knows which part of the brain thinks of certain things. We now can see which part of the brain lights up (MRI flares) when we think of food, sex, or religion. There are the parts of the brain consistent with the thought processes of the chakra groupings and the exact anatomical equivalents of the human body.

The seventh chakra is the connection to the divine. The location is in the pre-frontal cortex, a feature of the human brain more developed than our ape cousins is the command center. The higher states of concentration, free will, feelings of “oneness” and altruism are found in this region. The pre-frontal cortex is the crown of the brain and is located on the forehead, but not on the crown. As a chakra, the crown is where we connect with the Divine. If you are connected to a higher power, you feel “one” with the universe resulting in altruism and harmony.

The sixth chakra which is the center that governs foresight is in between the eyebrows. Next to the pre-frontal cortex is the rest of the frontal brain that is divided into two hemispheres, namely, the left and the right hemispheres, each governing visual and verbal inputs. Information from the eyes and ears, namely, sound and sight perception of the outside world is integrated and interpreted within a thin membrane between the right and left cerebral hemispheres known as the corpus callosum. The pineal gland that lies right below the corpus callosum has been linked to third eye experiences. The sixth chakra also known as the third eye governs sight and perception. It is the chakra that is responsible for seeing within the mind’s eye. It is further described as the channel where Ida, the female nadi and Pingala, the male nadi meet. Descriptions of nadis in various yoga texts depict it as a kind of vessel of consciousness. A “female” and “male” in esoteric terms pertain to negative and positive energies. To be more scientific, the force that gathers is associated with the female and the force that gives or focuses is considered male. These are traits that could aptly describe the hemispheres, with the right brain governing the left side of the body and the left brain governing the right side of the body.

The fifth chakra is the domain of self-expression located in the region of the throat. Broca’s area is a small portion in the frontal brain, right below the frontal eye field. It is the region of the brain that helps us produce speech. It works with Wernicke’s area situated at the bottom of the parietal lobe to produce speech and decode language. The throat Chakra is associated with communication and expression.

The fourth chakra governs love and harmony and is located in the heart. Beyond Broca’s area, deep in the medial brain is the thalamus region where the hypothalamus is situated. The hypothalamus is the heart of the brain. It is the conductor of the orchestra of the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for the circulation of hormones, the way heart circulates the blood all around the body. This area connects with all parts of the brain; the front with the bottom and the left with the right together. The hypothalamus is enabler of all deliberate movements and the thermostat or body temperature regulator of the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for the generation of emotions. Below the throat chakra is the heart chakra that rules commitment and relationships.

The third chakra is the seat of courage that is located in the solar plexus. Below the medial brain are the three lobes called the parietal, occipital and temporal lobes. This area governs and orchestras the limbic system that part of the brain which mediates emotions and memory. The parietal, occipital and temporal lobes perceive sensation of time and space. With the help of memory, spatial and emotional associations influence action. We know where we are and who we are in relation to the world. The body has a mind of its own. The parietal, occipital and temporal lobes’ capability to interpret reality or what we call facts, gives these lobes power to influence our perception. We literally become what we think we are, not what we are in actuality. The third chakra found below the heart and the stomach is associated with self identity. It is also the seat of courage. In the human brain, the amygdala is found within the temporal lobe and the amygdala is where flight or fight responses are decided.

The second chakra is the center of human creativity and power that is situated in the reproductive area. Below the parietal, occipital and temporal lobes and separated from the cerebrum is the cerebellum, also called the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain is responsible for the desire for social dominance, lust and other unpleasant human traits. The pons is the part that connects the two halves of the cerebellum just as in the way the thalamus region connects the right and the cerebral hemispheres. Pons is responsible for self-protection and the meeting of bodily needs. The second chakra is where primal energy is derived from. In fact, the kundalini, a powerful primal force in yoga, is found here. Usually portrayed as a coiled serpent, it is believed that when the kundalini rises to the crown, mastery and awareness is achieved. Neurologically speaking, the reptilian brain is in charge of body memory. Driving a car, riding a bike, playing the piano becomes an automatic thing in this part of the brain. Perhaps, when altruism and forward thinking becomes an automatic process in your brain that is when you have achieved the awakening of the kundalini.

The first chakra is body’s connection to the earth and is the energy center for survival that is located at the base of the spine and the feet. The last part of the brain is the part that connects the brain to the spinal column. It is called brain stem. The brain stem regulates involuntary functions of the brain that keep brain and the body going. It also controls sleep-wake cycles, respiration, heart rate, and excretions. The first or the root chakra is also the chakra of survival. When your basic needs are met, root chakra will be healthy. Food and shelter problems weaken the first chakra and cause bodily pains and diseases.

Exercise and brain are directly connected. To be mentally fit one has to be physically fit. Healthy mind cannot live in a disease-ridden body. The actions of the body change the wiring of the brain, clinically substantiated in patients overcoming mental disability. Through persistent exercise, the brain can heal itself. This has been said before by mystics from the Upanishad period, thousands of years ago. This gave rise to the practice of yoga and the knowledge of the energy centers called the chakras. Science and ancient wisdom are converging. How was it possible for the ancient mystics to arrive at the same conclusions we are only beginning to observe today!? Perhaps the answer is; consciousness knows its own nature. If you bother to ask your consciousness the question, it will give you the answer in the language that you can understand.

Posted January 24, 2017 by dranilj1 in Buddha

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Low Back Pain

If you are experiencing low back pain, which is muscle tension or stiffness localized below the rib margin and above the inferior gluteal folds, with or without sciatica, you are not alone. Low back pain can be debilitating and painful.

The human lower back consists of 5 vertebrae in the lower part of the spine between the ribs and the pelvis. The bones that form the spine in your back are cushioned by small discs. These discs are round and flat, with a tough, outer layer that surrounds a jellylike material called the nucleus. Located between each of your vertebra in the spinal column, discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones. Thick band of tissues attached to the vertebrae hold the disc in place. Of the 31 pairs of spinal nerves and roots, 5 lumbar and 5 sacral nerve root pairs connect beginning in the area of your lower back.

Low back pain can be due to herniated disc, lumbar spinal narrowing or osteoarthritis. Identifying the nature of the cause of low back pain is made by a neurosurgeon based on your history, sensation or change in bodily function experienced by you, physical examination and the results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. Some low back pain can be treated conservatively and then undergo imaging studies if medication and physical therapy are ineffective.

Diagnostic studies include, computed tomography scan, discography, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, magnetic resonance imaging, myelogram, selective nerve root block, and x-rays.

Nonsurgical treatment options include physical therapy, back exercises, weight reduction, epidural steroid injections, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, rehabilitation and limited activity. These treatments are aimed at relieving the inflammation in the back and irritation of nerve roots. Usually 4 to 6 weeks of conservative therapy is recommended before considering surgery.

If low back pain occurs after a recent injury such as a car accident, a fall or sports injury, you should seek medical care immediately. If there are no neurological problems like numbness, weakness, bowel and bladder dysfunction, you will benefit by beginning conservative treatment at home for 2 to 3 days. You are given anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen and are asked to restrict strenuous activities for a few days.

If low back pain gets worse or does not improve after 2 to 3 days of home treatment, get evaluated through thorough neurological exam done by the neurologist to determine which nerve root is being irritated, as well as rule out other serious medical conditions. If there are clear signs that the nerve root is being compressed, medications can relieve the pain, swelling and irritation. Limitation of activities is advised, in the beginning. If these options do not provide relief within 2 weeks, it is time to consider diagnostic studies.

Surgery is necessary when conservative treatment for low back pain does not provide relief. You may be a candidate for surgery if, back and leg pain limits your normal activity or impairs your quality of life, if you develop progressive neurological deficits, such as leg weakness and/or numbness. If you experience loss of normal bowel and bladder functions you need surgery. If you have difficulty standing or walking, surgery must be given a thought. If medication and physical therapy are ineffective, surgery is indicated.

If surgery is a must, neurosurgeons have a variety of options available to help relieve pressure on the nerve roots. If there are several nerve roots and discs compressing the nerve roots and causing the pain or if there is degeneration and instability in the spinal column, the neurosurgeon may opt to fuse the vertebrae together with bone grafts and stabilize the vertebrae with instrumentation, including metal plates, screws, rods and cages. A successful fusion will prevent the disc from bulging or herniating again. Following a fusion procedure, you can gain mobility in the back, including the ability to bend over. One is more likely to experience more mobility after surgery than before. In addition, you may require postoperative physical therapy.

The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against its risks. Although a large percentage of low back pain patients report significant pain relief after surgery, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual.

Posted January 23, 2017 by dranilj1 in Art Of Medicine

Neuroscience Skepticism

Neurology and psychiatry are related fields, because neurological disorders often manifest as, and get misdiagnosed as, psychiatric disease. What is the borderline between neurology and psychiatry? What makes one disease neurological and another mental? Are some psychiatric disorders more neurological than others?

This is a philosophical question and you could discuss it for as long as you wanted. Rather than doing that, try to see which disorders are, at the moment, considered to fall into each category.

To mention a few, schizophrenia is considered the most neurological psychiatric disorder and is in fact the least talked about in Neurology. Depression is top amongst the psychiatric disease. Autism occupies a middle ground, discussed by psychiatrists and neurologists, but ADHD is almost as neurological as autism. Mental retardation is also intermediate, though it is 30:70 in favour of neurology. Whether autism is really less neurological than mental retardation, is a good question.

Out of the disorders with a known neuropathology, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and dementia overlap with Alzheimer’s are a bit psychiatric while headache and epilepsy is almost one hundred percent neurological. Why this is, is not entirely clear, since both dementia and epilepsy are caused by neurological damage, and they can both cause psychiatric symptoms.

I think the difference is that it is just much harder to treat Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and dementia. With epilepsy or meningitis, neurologists have a very good chance of controlling the symptoms and few patients will be left with ongoing psychiatric problems, but with the neurodegenerative disorders, neurologists can’t really do much, leaving a large pool of people for psychiatrists to study it.

Someone once said that neurologists take all of the curable diseases and leave psychiatrists with the ones they cannot help. These observations suggest that there may be truth in this.

Posted January 22, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Biases

What ‘Brain-Dead’ Means

Brain death is defined as complete and irreversible cessation of brain activity. Absence of apparent brain function is not enough. Evidence of irreversibility is also required. Brain death is often confused with the state of vegetation.

Traditionally, death is cessation of all body function, including respiration and heartbeat. Since it is possible to revive some people after a period without respiration, heartbeat, or other visible signs of life, as well as to maintain respiration and blood flow artificially using life support treatments, an alternative definition of death is needed.

In recent decades, the concept of brain death has emerged. By brain death criteria, a person can be pronounced legally dead even if the heart continues to beat due to the life support measures. The first nation in the world to adopt the brain death as a definition of legal death was Finland in 1971.

Brain-Dead individual has no brain electrical activity, no clinical evidence of brain function. On physical examination, there is no response to pain. Cranial nerve reflexes, for example, pupillary response, oculocephalic reflex, corneal reflex and spontaneous respiration are absent.

It is very important to distinguish between brain death and states that mimic brain death like the state of brain due to barbiturate intoxication, sedative overdose, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, coma or chronic vegetative states. The concept that death can be defined as the irreversible cessation of brain function is universally recognized through judicial decisions or regulations. A physician who makes a determination of death in accordance with these criteria and accepted medical standards is not liable for damages in any civil action or subject to prosecution in any criminal proceedings for his acts or the acts of others based on that determination.

Studies indicate that a patient will not survive with irreversible coma, apnea, absence of brain stem reflexes, and an isoelectric electroencephalogram that persists for more that 6 hours after the onset of coma and apnea. The patient in coma with some remaining brain-related bodily function is not dead. Presence of any behavioral responses or brainstem reflexes indicates that brain death has not occurred and therefore is not dead. A patient in chronic vegetative state may remain in a prolonged coma indefinitely, yet the patient will not meet criteria for brain death and therefore cannot be pronounced dead. Two physicians, namely, a neurologist or a neurosurgeon and an intensive care specialist should together pronounce the clinical assessment of brain death. The international clinical guidelines for this assessment are absence of cerebral functions and absence of brain stem functions.

Absence of cerebral functions for the purpose of diagnosis of brain death is the cause of coma is known. The patient must be in deep coma without any response to verbal or painful stimuli. All reversible causes of coma must be ruled out including hypothermia, that is, core body temperature less than 33 degree Centigrade, drug intoxication, hypotension, neuromuscular blockade, and sedating medicines. Confirmatory tests that have to be performed for concluding absence of cerebral functions are: Electroencephalogram, cerebral angiography, isotope angiography. Electroencephalogram alone could not be used because electroencephalogram is influenced by hypothermia and drugs, so an isoelectric electroencephalogram is very mandatory for diagnosis of brain death.

Clinical examination must confirm absence of brain stem reflexes including pupillary size and reactivity, corneal reflex, oculovestibular reflex, gag reflex, and cough reflex. Apnea test must demonstrate absence of all spontaneous respiratory drive. These examinations must preferably be conducted by physicians who are familiar with performance of these tests. The test of absent breathing should be performed following hyperoxygenation on 100% oxygen on mechanical ventilation and adequate circulation should be maintained during the entire apnea test.

The pupillary signs include round, oval, or irregularly shaped pupils are compatible with brain death, and most pupils are midsize about 4-6 mm. The pupillary light reflex must be absent to pronounce brain death. Although, many drugs influence pupillary size, pupillary light reflex remains intact only in the absence of brain death. Atropine administered intravenously does not markedly affect pupillary response; similarly, neuromuscular blocking agents do not markedly influence pupillary size; however, topical administration of drugs and ocular trauma influence pupillary size and reactivity. Any preexisting ocular anatomic abnormalities may also confound pupillary assessment in brain death.

Ocular movements tests include both oculocephalic “doll’s eye;” and vestibulo-ocular “caloric test” reflexes are absent in brain death. Contraindications to testing for oculocephalic reflexes include suspected fracture or instability of the cervical spine. Likewise, contraindications to testing of vestibulo-ocular reflexes include impaired integrity of tympanic membranes. Oculocephalic reflex is elicited by rapidly and vigorously turning the head to 90 degrees laterally on both sides. The normal response is deviation of the eye to the opposite side of the head turning. In brain death, oculocephalic reflexes are absent, and no eye movements occur in response to head movements. The vestibulo-ocular reflex is elicited by elevating the head 30 degrees and irrigating both tympanic membranes with 50 milliliters of iced saline or water. In brain death, vestibulo-ocular reflexes are absent, and no deviation of the eyes occurs in response to ear irrigations.

Can a person who has been declared brain-dead be revived? No. Brain death is death, plain and simple.

Posted January 22, 2017 by dranilj1 in Neuroscience

Psychology of Communication

Communication involves an exchange of information, feelings, and meanings by the verbal and non-verbal message between 2 or more individuals. Interpersonal relationship is vital for creating a learning environment. No matter how hard you work or how brilliant you are, if you cannot connect with those around you, you are a professional failure. There is no ‘I’ in interpersonal interaction.

To work effectively, relating and communication with others is a must. Empathy and respect for feelings and views of others are a necessity. Accurate self-evaluation of our performance, the relationship with our surroundings, managing conflicts using active listening skills and exercising empathy is essential for productive communication. A healthy communication skill, maintaining a cordial relationship, and avoiding competition is a requisite for good interpersonal interaction.

It takes a combination of self-awareness, self-confidence, positive personal impact, outstanding performance skill, communication skills, and personal competence to dare to establish a successful relationship in life.

Our behavior is natural for us, but we are not aware of the impact of our behavior on others around us. This creates a blind spot in us that we do not want others to mention to us our behavior which seems so natural to us is doing to others. We do not want to be hurt and we just do not care for others reactions to our natural behavior. Through self-awareness we learn what impact our behavior; both positive and negative, have on others around us. This knowledge helps us become effective in our interaction with others.

Certainly, one’s self-worth and capabilities must be effectively and scientifically evaluated. We impact on others through our opinions. It is an altogether different issue if someone is allergic to even a good or positive opinion about them. Silence when intelligently incorporated is more eloquent, but being silent as the grave, leads others to grave.

Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and might, outstanding performance is a key to success in life. Active listening, giving and receiving criticism, interacting with different personalities competently is a hallmark of perfect communication. A competent individual is self-aware, uses this awareness to better understand others and adapt to their behavior, build and nurture strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationship, and will resolve a conflict in a positive way.

You just require a few interpersonal skills to handle any situations. Firstly, analyze the situation, establish a realistic objective, select a correct social way of behaving, control your own natural behavioral tendencies to shape other people’s behavior, and finally monitor your own and other people’s behavior.

All of us want to be understood and accepted. This is achieved when you listen and acknowledge other people’s thoughts and feelings, and finally, you express your own thoughts and feelings openly and directly in a comprehensible way.

Our communication styles can be passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive. Passive communication is an inability or unwillingness to express thoughts and feelings. In this style of communication, we either do something we do not want to do or make up an excuse rather than do things in the way we want to do. An aggressive communication entails overreaction, blaming and criticizing. This sort of communication intimidates and may even be physically violent. This style will not pay any heed to consider the right of others. The passive-aggressive style of communication avoids confrontations but will manipulate to get things done their own way. This sort of communication often resorts to smiling when they are boiling and angry inside. The assertive way of communication entails saying what they want to say and stand up to substantiate what they believe without hurting others.

Any conflict occurs when there is opposition. Opposition occurs when a solution cannot be found about the disagreement. A conflict is a disagreement through which we perceive a threat to our needs, well-beings, interests, or concerns. The main cause of conflict is miscommunication and conflict is healthy and a normal part of the human relationship. To resolve a conflict, identify areas of agreement and areas of compromise so that a solution to the prevailing conflict can come through.

Please remember, aggression breeds aggression. To handle any conflict, you can run away from the conflict, oblige to the one you are in conflict, defeat the opposite party, or cooperate.

If you want to resolve conflict stay calm, speak non-provocatively, quietly, slowly, and very calmly. Listen carefully without interruption and prejudice. Respect the other person when voicing your opinion or point of view. Try to use humor if possible. Let the other person know that you understand fully their opinion by asking pertinent questions for better understanding of the prevailing conflict. Just say what you want to say in a clear, direct, and simple way. Do not take it as an insult on the self of what the angry person is saying, probably they do not mean what they are saying. When resolving conflicts, make sure you are not alone. Save emotions and opinions for another place and time, if you become argumentative. Make sure to convey you do not want a fight, but desperately want a solution to the prevailing conflict in a friendly way. If you have offended the other, do not hesitate to apologize sincerely.

Improve interpersonal competence, reduce conflict, and increase productivity by acquiring fantastic communication skills!

Posted January 21, 2017 by dranilj1 in Cognitive Psychology

Chair Yoga: An Effective Way to Treat Osteoarthritic Pain


Chair Yoga

With osteoarthritis–associated pain, there is interference in everyday living, limiting functional and social activities as well as diminishing life enjoyment. The effect of pain on everyday living is most directly captured by pain interference. The chair yoga reduces pain interference in everyday activities.

Regular exercise help relieve osteoarthritis pain; however, the ability to participate in exercise declines with age, and many dropout before they can even receive benefits. Although the Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga to reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and balance, and reduce stress and tension, many older adults cannot participate in standing exercises because of lack of muscle strength, pain and balance as well as the fear of falling due to impaired balance. Chair yoga is practiced sitting in a chair or standing while holding the chair for support, and is well suited to older adults who cannot participate in standing yoga or exercise.

The effect of chair yoga on pain and physical function in older adults with osteoarthritis is a proven effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life. For the millions of older adults who suffer from osteoarthritis in hip, knee, ankle or foot, chair yoga is an effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life while avoiding pharmacologic treatment and its adverse reactions. Study conducted at Florida Atlantic University examined the effects of chair yoga on pain and physical function in older adults with osteoarthritis.

Sit N Fit Chair Yoga program developed by Kristine Lee practiced for 45 minutes twice a week improved balance, gait speed, fatigue and functional ability, before, during and after the sessions. There was reduction in pain and pain interference. The reduction in pain interference lasted for about 3 months after the 8 weeks of chair yoga program. There was also reductions in fatigue and improvement in gait speed.

Currently, the only treatment for osteoarthritis, which has no cure, includes lifestyle changes and pharmacologic treatments that are not without adverse reactions. Chair yoga decreases pain and improve physical and psychosocial functions of elderly individuals with osteoarthritis who are unable to participate in other exercise and yoga programs.

Posted January 20, 2017 by dranilj1 in Art Of Medicine

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