Thursday, February 26, 2004

Circular patterns.

Studies Suggest the Mind Makes, Breaks Its Misery "Brain research indicates that people are hard-wired for empathy, and that faith affects the experience of their own agony and that of others. By Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer.

Pain, like beauty, is in the mind's eye.

It is altered by empathy and tempered by faith, three new brain-imaging studies suggest.

The bewitching effect of belief can alter directly how strongly people feel pain, causing measurable changes in brain cells and synapses whether the torment is theirs or a loved one's.

The new findings, made public today by independent research teams at the University of Michigan, Princeton University, UCLA, and University College London, offer the strongest evidence yet of how the brain thinks about pain. ..."

Unfortunately for anyone wishing to read the rest of this article, The Los Angeles Times requires that one register (it is free). The studies look interesting, which is why I included the part about which universities so I can find them later. The Times article was mentioned in a Science newsletter I receive.

The description of the studies sends me off in various directions on a night when most everything that is uppermost in my thoughts can't really be written here. But the directions are only bounced from, not focused destinations, so I decided to write about the circles of thought.

It was an odd coincidence finding this article. I was trying to think of a new blog post, instead of finishing one of the many sitting in the file, and my mind was wandering mountains, hills, forests (thanks to Older and Growing and Brain Crayons); which sent me to thinking about the brain/body neurochemical/neurotransmitter connections and feedback loops described in "Molecules of Emotion", by Candice Pert, and elsewhere; which led me to thinking about the smile study briefly mentioned in several psych classes (researchers studied the neurotransmitters of people putting on fake smiles versus spontaneous ones- and found that smiling in any form, increases the exact same neurotransmitters - suggesting that putting on a smile, even when you aren't feeling like smiling will produce the exact same mood altering chemicals. Google terms: "fake smile neurotransmitter study", also think there may be one on fake laughter with same results).

And then I ran across this Times article- which was quite a roundabout journey demonstrating my inability or unwillingness to settle down and focus-- or the strange process in which I think.

These new studies would be likely be included in a review of the lit, if I were attempting to figure out a study about the brain/body/thought/feeling connection, including the reaction and connection to certain places.

We think of all of this as one directional at any one time instead of actually what it is- a multi-directional feedback loop- a system- and apparently not only is that body and mind, and I think (though not proven) places, but includes people who are close to us. It doesn't surprise me that the studies show this people connection, rather that it wasn't studied in this way long before now.

.... Which leads me to thinking about systems theory, which sends me to a long ago dropped conversation (or maybe just explored in different dimensions?) about patterns, connections and the like.. Which sends me pretty much back where I really started... !!

A week or two ago, I was headed up into the mountains for some of that quiet and sense of connection to source, but got sidetracked, so I never went. It becomes obvious I should have. I have an abundance of all the happy neurotransmitters, but I need the centering sort of places to put everything in some perspective.

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