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Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

When I was a child about nine years old or so, I embarked on a mission to discover the barrier between waking and sleeping. I believed that if I concentrated each night before falling asleep, I would recognize the moment I slipped out of consciousness and into dream. I never found the precise line — although I did, unintentionally, teach myself to lucid dream.

But now there is research showing that the brain does have an on/off switch that triggers unconsciousness. Mohamad Koubeissi at the George Washington University in Washington DC and his colleagues describe for the first time a way to switch off consciousness by electrically stimulating a part of the brain called the claustrum.

Simulating The Human Brain

Their accidental discovery could lead to a deeper understanding of a fundamental mystery of the human brain; that is, how conscious awareness arises.

The discovery came while the researchers were studying a woman who has epilepsy. During a procedure, they used deep brain electrodes to record signals from different parts of her brain in order to determine where here seizures were originating. One electrode was place next to the claustrum, a thin, sheet-like structure underneath the neocortex. Although this area has never been electrically stimulated before, it had been implicated in the past as a possible control center for consciousness by neuroscientist Francis Crick, who identified the structure of DNA, and his colleague Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

Koubeissi and his team found that Crick and Koch might have been on to something. When they stimulated the area with electrical impulses from the brain electrodes, the woman stopped reading, stared blankly into space and didn’t respond to auditory or visual commands. Her breathing slowed as well. She had lost consciousness. When the scientists turned off the electrical stimuli, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of blanking out. Additional attempts were tried over two days and each time, the same thing happened.

New Scientist reported on the results and in the article Koubeissi says he thinks the claustrum indeed plays a vital role in triggering conscious. “I would liken it to a car,” he told New Scientist reporter Helen Thompson.

“A car on the road has many parts that facilitate its movement – the gas, the transmission, the engine – but there’s only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together. So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks – we may have found the key.”

Project To Map The Human Brain

One researcher, Anil Seth, who studies consciousness at the University of Sussex, UK, pointed out that the woman in the study had had part of her hippocampus removed earlier as a way to treat her epilepsy, so she doesn’t represent a “normal” brain.

Additional research is needed. But the results could open wide a door on one of the most mysterious aspects of existence. We could determine once and for all what living creatures are aware of themselves and the world around them.

Source: Discovery

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Exactly what happens when people wake up from anesthesia or a coma has long baffled scientists, but now new research on rats suggests the path the brain takes to regain consciousness may be even more sophisticated than thought.

“It is commonly assumed that waking from anesthesia is a simple thing: The drugs leave the brain, and the effects they produced in the brain get washed out, and the brain somehow recovers,” said Dr. Alex Proekt, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “But that ‘somehow’ part is poorly understood.”

The researchers looked at the brain’s activity patterns, hypothesizing that the activity follows a structured path, changing in a specific way as the brain moves toward consciousness. The researchers wanted to know whether the brain moves from one activity state to the next, in a stepwise fashion, or whether the brain can go from any given state to a number of other states, and therefore, that there are multiple routes to consciousness.

Brain Activity Shows Basis of Near-Death ‘Light’

As technology has changed, so has our definition of “dead.” Laci gives a brief history and ponders the delicate boundary between dead and alive.

To examine the brain’s trajectory while recovering consciousness, Proekt and colleagues recorded the electrical activity of certain brain regions in anesthetized rats. They slowly lowered the concentration of anesthetic vapor that the animals were breathing, until they eventually woke up.

The analysis of the rats’ brain activity suggested that the brain passes through several distinct activity states to become conscious. The researchers found that only certain transitions between activity states are possible, and some states do form hubs that connect groups of otherwise disconnected states. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]

“Although many paths through the network are possible, to ultimately enter the activity state compatible with consciousness, the brain must first pass through these hubs in an orderly fashion,” the researchers wrote in their study published today (June 9) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Trapped in a coma

The researchers said the new findings could one day be used to help people in a coma. The brains of people under anesthesia as well as comatose patients show an electrical pattern known as burst suppression, which is characterized by periods of spikes in activity, alternating with periods of silence.

Both general anesthesia and coma are major perturbations to brain’s normal activity, and in some cases, the brain cannot find its way back to consciousness.

“Some people, after injury, will remain in some minimally conscious state forever, but some people can recover years after the injury,” Proekt said.

“One interesting possibility is that perhaps the injury can act to remove some of these loops, so in a sense you are trapped in one of these states,” Proekt told Live Science.

In order to help comatose patients, scientists will first have to examine whether the same phenomenon they observed in rats also exists in the human brain, and then explore how it may be possible to push the brain out of one state so it can proceed further toward recovery, Proekt said.

‘Clinically Dead’ Woman Alive and Well

Awake during surgery

Although anesthesiologists have long been able to successfully put people to sleep, they still can’t be 100 percent sure that a patient is truly unconscious, rather than just unable to respond.

Understanding the transitions between activity states that happen during the brain’s recovering from anesthesia may be the first step to finding a way to detect when someone is on the verge of waking up, Proekt said.

“It’s not a common problem, but it is a petrifying scenario to imagine — being paralyzed and awake for surgery,” he said.

Studies have suggested that a very small number of patients experience awaking during surgery, but it is also possible that a larger number of people have some awareness during surgery but don’t recall afterwards, Proekt said.

Source: Discovery

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We now know what happens at death:

PinealBlueResting comfortably in the recessed center of your brain, encased snugly within the corpus colossum, wrapped tightly between the dual-hemispheres of spongy nerve bundles, encased in the quarter-inch-thick armor-plating of skull, finally surrounded by your main and expressive organs with which you face the world, exists a tiny gland, long considered vestigial (serving little to no function), that holds the key to our interpretation of existence as we know it.  I’m speaking of the pineal gland. This minute spec, roughly the size of a grain of rice, is more heavily protected than even the heart with its literal cage of protection, because if something happens to your heart you die, but if something happens to your pineal, you can’t go to heaven.

Never heard of it?

This pineal gland has influences on both melatonin and pinoline, but our interest is in the gland’s role in the creation of dimethyltriptamine, or DMT. This chemical, DMT, may well be the reason we, as a species, are capable of sentience itself.

I’m not a chemist; break it down.

First, DMT is a narcotic, schedule 1. It’s scheduled as a highly illegal substance all over the planet, largely because DMT is one of the most potent psychedelics known to man. Intensely powerful. Yet, every day your pineal produces this stuff.

Secondly, DMT is the chemical that elicits dreams. That’s right. Each night as you drift to slumber-land, not only are you tripping on a psychedelic, but you’re also premeditatedly committing a federal offence; possession or consumption of DMT could land you a felony charge.

And third, this illegal gateway to dreamland is released in massive amounts at the moment of death. When I say massive, if a water glass of DMT evokes a dream, at death, an equivalent river excretes into your system. Any druggies reading this?

How have I not heard of this before?

Well, the pineal’s significance is neither a new idea, nor an unfounded one. Spanning the expanse of human civilization runs an undercurrent of worshipful adoration to the almighty pineal, more widely known as the inner eye, all-seeing eye, or the like – considered the body’s gateway to the soul.

www.magicdinero.com Egypt had its Eye of Horus (now emblazoned on the US dollar bill). Hindu culture has its bottu (the familiar forehead dot). Even the ancient art of yoga recognizes the brow chakra, or ajna, as blossoming at the pineal, or third eye. That’s only to name a few.

The hell you say! The truth behind the cult of the pineal has gone largely unnoticed collectively, though the symbols themselves have been downright ubiquitous. Tibetan Buddhists, as well, have long carried a belief that the soul enters the fetus precisely 49 days after conception. Likely, reading this, you are not a Tibetan Buddhist – their numbers fall less than 20 million – and whether you subscribe to an eternal soul or not isn’t the point, because day 49 is the moment the pineal is formed in a fledgling brain.

Great, so what does all this have to do with death?

Well, on an experiential  level, shrooms distort perception, coke smacks you with raw energy, ecstasy grants superpower orgasms (ladies), and most notably, weed slows time – time distortion seems to go hand in hand with most psychedelics as well – so time passage then is totally subjective. Ask Einstein.

Meanwhile, among DMT smokers, out of the macrocosm of potential experiences, two major themes emerge nearly universally:

1) A stretching of time – they experience the hectic 6 or 7 minutes as a near eternity or lifetime. Imagine Cobb’s 50 year night in Inception.

2) They experience religious incarnations with a tilt toward whatever sect the subject is affiliated with.

Here’s the clincher: after death, while this massive psychedelic dose courses through the brain, there is this mysterious several minutes where the brain still functions. With our new perspective, however, we at last understand what these minutes are…

These few minutes after death, subjectively, are experienced as an eternity, engrossed in the DMT universe. Also, the trip itself is a highly personal experience dictated by the deepest realms of the subconscious.

Therefore, whatever at your deepest core you expect to happen when you die… Congratulations, that’s what’ll happen… Every religion was right.

Mystery solved. Peace on earth.

If you’re resourceful, you can find this stuff and try it. The bigger question now is: do you really want to know where you’ll be spending eternity?

Source: Wondergressive

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