Not a vacation exactly; house and dog sitting while friends are away. My dog and theirs are buddies. Compared to my 95 year-old “cabin” their house is a 5 Star hotel. Notably a DOG DOOR, a “vast screen TV” for NHL playoffs, plus Netflix. I’m marathoning not-historically-accurate historical docuseries. Lots of magazines arrive in the mail each day: Women’s Magazines, with instructions for EVERYTHING. Reminds me of the poster above. I tried scanning a couple of select “neurotypical” advice pieces, but my friends’ computer lacks almost any useable apps.
Here’s a favorite:Topic? Tricks for not thinking about work while on vacation.
“Before going on vacation, I write down what my intentions are for going on the trip.”
I might write, “I desire this to be a really rejuvenating time.” Or “I hope to be at ease when going through check-in.” I meditate on those intentions and put them on an altar in my house, which is where I put all the things I want to come to fruition. I also take crystals and stones with me. Rose quartz for love, citrine for happy energy, and carnelian, because it’s grounding. Anytime things happen on vacation that agitate me, I take out my crystals and hold them to help me stay in a restful state.” –by a “business attorney”
Other “essential” advice that warrants wasting paper, printing ink, fuel costs for delivery and USPS manpower?
How to maintain sneakers:Don’t bleach your dirty white sneaker laces. It may damage the fibers and lead to breaking. Instead, soak laces in warm water with an all-purpose bleach alternative (like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover, $8.00; Target.com)
How to maintain a stand mixer:“Pay special attention to the nooks and crannies where bits of food and batter can get lodged….”
Gifts for grads: Whether or not her career path involves chemistry, give her a trio of scented candles in quirky chemistry lab beakers. $75.00 for 3.
Are you putting on enough sunscreen?Find out at stupidpeople.com/sunscreen
Freeing oneself from “phone addiction” – Investigate the Impulse(ACTUAL title)
According to a study by the research firm xxx, the average smartphone user touches her phone 2,617 times a day. Troolie Bonkers, a mindfulness and meditation teacher and author of “Stupid People Need to Buy My Book” advises: “Before you reach, take a deep breath. How do you feel? What is leading you to reach for the phone? Is it just habit? Loneliness? A desire to escape a particular feeling?” Taking that pause offers a sense of freedom and empowerment, so we can be more intentional about checking our phones…
“When uncomfortable feelings arise, acknowledge the emotion but accept it as normal and healthy, suggests psychiatristThreeHundredBucks PER30Mins, MD, author of “DIY: Fix Your Child’s Brain using Simple Electrical Kitchen Gadgets,” $39.95 Amazon.com
“You should feel good about the fact that you’re letting your brain stretch, rest, resolve a problem or work through an emotion every time you resist using your phone.”
Two things are true: 1. the American Empire is being destroyed from within by the Psych/Psych Industry. 2. There is something terribly wrong with the NT brain.
Let’s end with a feature labeled “Lists I’ve Been Meaning to Make” I KID YOU NOT:
Things to do with avocados before they go bad.
Things to do with rotten avocados.
Reasons I need to let things go.
Witty come backs I didn’t think of in time.
Ways celebrities really are just like us.
Ways they are totally not.
Vacations I will never take but like to plan.
Bikinis vs. One pieces: Pros and Cons
Gyms offering discounts for the first three visits
This debate is just one more “Catholics vs. Protestants” type religious war over “who owns the hearts, minds and fates of children” – and their $$ insurance coverage. I wish for once that genuine scientific thinking – and compassion – had some influence on reproduction and the health of fetuses, infants, children, young adults and their families. (We adults are on our own in this NT – produced nightmare of irrational – supernatural thinking) LOL
Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding appropriately to information that comes in through the senses.
One of the most mind-boggling aspects of Autism research is the insistence that ASD /Asperger types have “defective sensory systems” because they “react negatively” to “toxic” modern social environments: This is so backwards!“Autism experts” expect human fetuses, infants and children to develop “normally” in what are ANTI-LIFE artificial environments. This is simply ignorant “social blindness” to the fact that “toxic environments” are wreaking havoc on human physiology, which evolved over millions of years in Nature, and not in polluted, unhealthy and high stress “concentration camps” of millions of people, denied clean air and water, nutritious food, privacy and autonomy and self-preservation. Attempts are made to “drug” and medically intervene in the catastrophic so-called “mental illness” epidemic and the failing health of millions; drastic medical intervention is resorted to, in order to “artificially adapt” Homo sapiens to killer environments. Not even the cascade of species extinctions caused by modern human degradation of the environment can “penetrate” the ignorance of social humans.
Internal and external environmental factors, like gender and temperature, influence gene expression.
The expression of genes in an organism can be influenced by the environment, including the external world in which the organism is located or develops, as well as the organism’s internal world, which includes such factors as its hormones and metabolism. One major internal environmental influence that affects gene expression is gender, as is the case with sex-influenced and sex-limited traits. Similarly, drugs, chemicals, temperature, and light are among the external environmental factors that can determine which genes are turned on and off, thereby influencing the way an organism develops and functions.
Sex-Influenced and Sex-Limited Traits
Sex-influenced traits are those that are expressed differently in the two sexes. Such traits are autosomal, which means that the genes responsible for their expression are not carried on the sex chromosomes. An example of a sex-influenced trait is male-pattern baldness. The baldness allele, which causes hair loss, is influenced by the hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, but only when levels of the two hormones are high. In general, males have much higher levels of these hormones than females, so the baldness allele has a stronger effect in males than in females. However, high levels of stress can lead to expression of the gene in women. In stressful situations, women’s adrenal glands can produce testosterone and convert it into dihydrotestosterone, which can result in hair loss.
Sex-limited traits are also autosomal. Unlike sex-influenced traits, whose expression differs according to sex, sex-limited traits are expressed in individuals of only one sex. An example of a sex-limited trait is lactation, or milk production. Although the genes for producing milk are carried by both males and females, only lactating females express these genes.
Drugs and Chemicals
The presence of drugs or chemicals in an organism’s environment can also influence gene expression in the organism. Cyclops fish are a dramatic example of the way in which an environmental chemical can affect development. In 1907, researcher C. R. Stockard created cyclopean fish embryos by placing fertilized Fundulus heteroclitus eggs in 100 mL of seawater mixed with approximately 6 g of magnesium chloride. Normally, F. heteroclitus embryos feature two eyes; however, in this experiment, half of the eggs placed in the magnesium chloride mixture gave rise to one-eyed embryos (Stockard, 1907).
A second example of how chemical environments affect gene expression is the case of supplemental oxygen administration causing blindness in premature infants(Silverman, 2004). In the 1940s, supplemental oxygen administration became a popular practice when doctors noticed that increasing oxygen levels converted the breathing pattern of premature infants to a “normal” rhythm. Unfortunately, there is a causal relationship between oxygen administration and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), although this relationship was unknown at the time; thus, by 1953, ROP had blinded approximately 10,000 infants worldwide. Finally, in 1954, a randomized clinical trial identified supplemental oxygen as the factor causing blindness. Complicating the issue is the fact that too little oxygen results in a higher rate of brain damage and mortality in premature infants. Unfortunately, even today, the optimal amount of oxygenation necessary to treat premature infants while completely avoiding these complications is still not clear.
How much devastating and life long damage continues to be suffered by infants due to the “promotion” of premature birth as the new normal?
Yet another example of the way in which chemicals can alter gene expression involves thalidomide, a sedative, antiemetic, and nonbarbiturate drug that was first manufactured and marketed during the mid-1950s. While thalidomide has no discernable effect on gene expression and development in healthy adults, it has a profoundly detrimental effect on developing fetuses. When the drug was first created, however, its impact on fetuses was not known. Moreover, because of its apparent lack of toxicity in adult human volunteers, thalidomide was marketed as the safest available sedative of its time and rapidly became popular in Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America for countering the effects of morning sickness. (In the United States, the drug failed to receive Food and Drug Administration approval because its side effects included tingling hands and feet after long-term administration, which led to concerns that the drug might be associated with neuropathy.) Not until 1961 did Australian researcher William McBride and German researcher Widukind Lenz independently report that thalidomide was a teratogen, meaning that its use was associated with birth defects. (How many of today’s medical drugs and treatments will be / are being “discovered” to be dangerous, due to ignorance and lack of diligent testing, when “rush to market” profitability is the motivation, not human benefit) Another study associated thalidomide use with neuropathies. Sadly, the drug was withdrawn too late to prevent severe developmental deformities in approximately 8,000 to 12,000 infants, many of whom were born with stunted limb development. Interestingly, despite the fact that thalidomide is dangerous during embryonic development, the drug continues to be used in certain instances yet today. For example, it has therapeutic potential in treating leprosy, and in recent years, it has also been used to treat cancers and enhance the effectiveness of cancer vaccines (Bartlett et al., 2004; Fraser, 1988).
Nature is packed full with evidence for the wide-ranging and specific effects of environment! Why do “researchers” cling to the socio-religious fantasy that humans, as “special creations” are somehow “exempt” from the consequences of animal reality?
In addition to drugs and chemicals, temperature and light are external environmental factors that may influence gene expression in certain organisms. For example, Himalayan rabbits carry the C gene, which is required for the development of pigments in the fur, skin, and eyes, and whose expression is regulated by temperature (Sturtevant, 1913). Specifically, the C gene is inactive above 35°C, and it is maximally active from 15°C to 25°C. This temperature regulation of gene expression produces rabbits with a distinctive coat coloring. In the warm, central parts of the rabbit’s body, the gene is inactive, and no pigments are produced, causing the fur color to be white (Figure 1). Meanwhile, in the rabbit’s extremities (i.e., the ears, tip of the nose, and feet), where the temperature is much lower than 35°C, the C gene actively produces pigment, making these parts of the animal black.
Light can also influence gene expression, as in the case of butterfly wing development and growth. For example, in 1917, biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan conducted studies in which he placed Vanessa urtica and Vanessa io caterpillars under red, green, or blue light, while other caterpillars were kept in the dark. When the caterpillars developed into butterflies, their wings showed dramatic differences. Exposure to red light resulted in intensely colored wings, while exposure to green light resulted in dusky wings. Blue light and darkness led to paler colored wings. In addition, the V. urtica butterflies reared under blue light and V. io butterflies reared in the dark were larger than the other butterflies.
As these examples illustrate, there are many specific instances of environmental influences on gene expression. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a very complex interaction between our genes and our environment that defines our phenotype and who we are.
And yet “autistic” children areblamed for physical effects that originate in unhealthy human-created and imposed toxic environments. Which, not surprisingly, are also negatively impacting ALL HUMANS.
OMG! I will never apologize for being Asperger or Atheist. This is how “normal neurotypicals” see the world; the universe is a supernatural monstrosity.
Evil exists,but not in Nature; it is the consequence of the beliefs and behavior of Modern Social Homo sapiens. Why isn’t this dangerous “mental derangement” not featured in the DSM, and yet Autism is?
God, Can You Please Make it Rain Turkey and Gravy?
If God is all-powerful, then can’t He make it rain turkey and gravy from heaven to feed all the starving kids in the world? The answer is that of course God can do thatif that’s what He wanted to do. But since God doesn’t make it rain turkey and gravy upon the starving kids around the world, then we have to ask, ”Why doesn’t He?”
If you’re not able to answer this question, then one of two things is going to happen to you. You’re going to struggle with your faith because you’re going to have doubts that God is a good God. Or you’re never going to find out the truth about God, and you’ll make the mistake of thinking that God doesn’t exist.
This article is for you if:
1. You’ve ever wondered why God doesn’t feed starving kids around the world, and you struggle with the answer.2. You’re skeptical of the Christian God or other gods. 3. You want to be able to answer this question when it’s asked of youin an accurate and positive way.
Why The “Strange But True” Title? The reason I call these reasons that I’m about to share with you “strange” is because if I were God, I would do things differently. But thank goodness, I’m not God. (OMG!)
What may be strange to one person may not be considered strange to another. So depending on how familiar you are with this subject, (NT insanity?)you may agree with me that these reasons are “strange but true”, or you may not. Either way, I hope this will spark a good dialog about this topic.(Totalitarian demand for obedience to supernatural hallucinations is a really good jumping off point for “good dialog”!)
I’ve thought of three different reasons why God doesn’t feed the starving children of the world.
Reason #1 – It Isn’t God’s Responsibility to Feed the Starving Children of the World
Every year, I have the privilege of going through the one-year Bible plan. That means that I will read the entire Bible in one year. I don’t share this to impress you. But I do share it to establish that I’m quite familiar with the Bible. Of all the times that I have read the Bible from cover to cover, I can’t think of a single Bible verse in which God makes a promise to feed all the starving children in the world. (But there are threats that “God” will make people eat their own children!)So when somebody accuses God of being unjust because He has the capability to feed starving children, and He doesn’t, then it’s that person that has a misunderstanding of God. (No misunderstanding here: your imaginary master is a true psycho-sociopath)
GOD: “Hey, it’s not MY JOB to control the vicious uncaring assholes I made in my image. LOL!”
If God Isn’t Responsible For Feeding Starving Children, Then Who Is?
The answer is you and me. I can think of numerous Bible verses in which God instructs His children to feed the poor people of the world.
And Christians are doing such a great job of it! Bomb entire nations into a state that can only be called “Hell on Earth”, and then send “missionaries of democracy” with bags of leftover “dog food”. Take photos: lie, brag about how “empathetic” and compassionate you and your “god” are. And of course, “profit” from the crimes.
Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” James 2:15-16 says, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” So if you’re one of those people that thinks God should feed the starving kids around the world, then you are shifting the responsibility.
God isn’t responsible for feeding starving children, you and I are. Then why not demonstrate ethical behavior by refraining from creating mass suffering by committing predatory wars, practicing profitable poverty as “economics” and enforcing starvation?
Reason #2 – God Isn’t Like Humans
Atheists make a mistake when they say things like, “If I saw a starving child and had the power to feed him and I don’t, then I am evil.(Uh-yeah! That logically is cruel uncaring behavior) That’s the same thing with God, He is evil because He has the power to feed starving children and He doesn’t.” (You said it! Why not believe your own “instincts” about all this Christian “we’re the good guys” social evil?)
The mistake that atheists make here is that they compare themselves to God, or they compare God to themselves. They put themselves in God’s shoes.(This is utterly BONKERS. God does not exist, and he certainly wouldn’t wear shoes if he did)
God’s goals are different than our goals. His purposes are different than our purposes. His way of justice is different than the human way of justice. But here’s the lesson that’s to be learned: any time you blame God for not doing something that you would do, you’are making an idol in your own image. (Christianity IS a religion of “idols”)
What does that mean? It means that you’re making up your own concept of how God is supposed to act, which is something the Bible warns us about.(My, my – mustn’t use what little intelligence humans have to realize that religion is a con game)
Reason #3 – God’s Justice is Coming Soon For All
You and I want to see justice have its way immediately. Think about all the hate crimes in the world, the rapes, and the murders. You and I want to see those people(Christians commit hate crimes, rape, murder and a long list of heinous behaviors, as a matter of religious and political policy) get what they deserve.
But while we judge others for their heinous crimes, we overlook the sins that we commit in God’s eyes. While God does see hate crimes, rapes, and murders as sins, He also sees lying, cheating, and hating peopleas sins too. (Your god hates human beings and other living things)
So since God is a just God, then He’s going to have to give justice to all if He were to judge the world today. That means that there would be a lot of people who would receive punishment for eternity for breaking God’s standards. (And how LOW these are!) So instead, God is saving His judgment for Judgment Day. That’s when everyone is going to get judged for what they did on earth.
Those who broke God’s standards and did not receive His son Jesus for salvation will end up going to hell.
This is deranged thinking by any standard; it expresses rage and hatred for all human beings; it’s sick, sadistic and “loves” torture. Why is “religious psychopathy” not in the DSM?
But those who do put their faith and trust in Christ will end up going to heaven. So when you don’t see justice taking place immediately, it’s because God is giving everyone a chance to repent, and put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
How About Other Reasons?
I have to admit, I’m not a know it all. That’s where you come in. Can you think of any other reasons why God doesn’t feed the starving kids around the world? (“He” is a hallucination: “He” doesn’t exist. Thank God!)
Share them in the comments below.
I leave you to read the comments: I need to spend some time in Nature, where evil does not exist…
(This is one of three “main theories” presented in the paper)
Autism as the result of a reptile brain
A different perspective on the evolution of autism is provided by the Polyvagal theory (24). Polyvagal theory postulates that through three stages of phylogeny, mammals, especially primates, including humans, have evolved a functional neural organization that regulates emotions and social behavior. The vagus, i.e., the 10th cranial nerve is a major component of the autonomic nervous system that plays an important role in regulating emotions and social behavior. The three stages of phylogeny reflect the emergence of three distinct parts of the autonomic nervous system, each with a different behavioral function. In the first evolutionary stage, the unmyelinated vagus emerged, which regulates immobilization for death feigning and passive avoidance. (supposedly an autism symptom – you know, when lizards flop over and play dead to fool a predator)
Autistic child playing dead.
These are typical responses to dangerous situations in reptiles, but atypical in mammals, including humans. In the second stage, the sympathic- adrenal system emerged, which is characterized by mobilization as a response to dangerous situations. In the third stage, the myelinated vagus emerged, which is involved in social communication, self-soothing and calming. It is proposed that people with autism minimize the expression of the mammalian response, i.e., social communication. (Autistics are social failures, therefore not “real” mammals) Rather, they rely on the defensive strategies that include both mobilization and immobilization. (That is, we’re reptiles!)
While normally primates and humans have a well-developed ability to shift adaptively between mobilization and social engagement behaviors, individuals with autism lack this ability. The resulting behavioral features lead to adaptive benefits in focusing on objects, while minimizing the potentially dangerous interactions with people. Without a readily accessible social engagement system, the myelinated vagus is unable to efficiently inhibit an autonomic state and is poised for flight and fight behaviors with the functional outcomes of frequently observed emotional outbursts or tantrums. The combination of a nervous system that favors defensive behaviors, and the inability to use social communication with people, places the autistic individual outside the realm of normal social behavior. Thus, due to the inability to engage the myelinated vagus to calm and dampen the defensive system (through social interactions), the nervous system of the autistic individual is in a constant state of hypervigilance or shutdown. These are generally adaptive responses in reptiles, but are severely maladaptive in mammals.
Despite our best intentions, scientists sometimes make a very basic mistake: we look for what makes humans unique. Certainly, humans are not just unique, but extraordinary. Nothing else in the known universe has produced art, science, technology, or civilization. But, our history of searching for how, precisely, we came to be exceptional has often led to bad science – and to popular acceptance of bad science.
There are the familiar old examples, such as the insistence that the earth is at the center of the universe or that humans couldn’t possibly have evolved from other animals. But our search for what makes us special leads to popular acceptance of unfounded theories even today, and even among those who are otherwise extraordinarily well-informed. Nowhere is that clearer than in the hugely popular – and entirely wrong – theory called the Triune Brain Hypothesis.
You may have heard of it as the proposal that we have “lizard brains.”
The triune brain hypothesis, developed by the neuroscientist Paul MacLean between the 1960s and 1990s and widely popularized by the astronomer Carl Sagan, asserts that we have a “lizard brain” under our “mammal brain,” and that our “mammal brain” is itself under our primate/human brain. Under this hypothesis, brain evolution is an additive process: new layers of brain tissue emerge on top of old layers, leading to a tenuous but effective coexistence between the “old brain” and the “new brain.”
MacLean proposed his (incorrect) theory after he made some curious observations about the effects of cutting out what he called the “reptilian complex” of a monkey’s brain (so named because he thought it looked similar to the tissue that made up most of a reptile’s brain). When MacLean took out this part of a male monkey’s brain, the monkey stopped aggressively gesturing at its own reflection (which it thought was another male monkey). This behavioral change seemed to fit MacLean’s hunch that he had taken out a “reptile”-like part of the monkey’s brain, since he thought that aggressive gesturing is a typical example of “reptilian behavior.”
It’s unclear why cutting out this part of the monkey’s brain made the monkeys stop showing aggressive displays, but this brain area, more commonly called the globus pallidus, is known to be involved in an enormous variety of processes. Also, to my knowledge, MacLean’s original observations have not been replicated. What’s more, MacLean’s claim about the prominence of the globus pallidus in the reptilian brain is false: it forms just one part of reptiles’ brains, exactly as it does in the monkey brain.
Based on these loose observations, MacLean argued that we might have a “lizard” brain inside of our brain. In other words, he thought that we never got rid of the “reptilian” brain we inherited from our reptile ancestors, but instead evolved new brain structures on top of our old reptile brain.
Based on these shaky foundations, together with other loose observations regarding what he considered to be uniquely mammalian behavior, MacLean went on to develop a full-blown theory of human brain evolution. The theory held that inside our brains there is a primitive reptilian complex, which is surrounded by an “old” mammalian structure called the limbic system, which is itself surrounded by a “new” mammalian structure called the neocortex. The neocortex was, MacLean asserted, the crowning jewel of brain evolution – the structure, in other words, which made humans (and perhaps other intelligent mammals) unique.
Over the last few decades, MacLean’s theory has become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Clickbait articles bashing the “basic ‘lizard brain’ psychology” of an opponent political group appear on mainstream news websites. Articles with headlines like “Your Lizard Brain” and “Don’t Listen to Your Lizard Brain” get featured on Psychology Today, a magazine whose sales have soared to the top 10 in the nation. The triune brain theory has even been featured prominently in a blog article on Scientific American, an award-winning and massively popular science magazine. Except perhaps for the political clickbait, these are all publications that make an honest and serious attempt to get the scientific facts right. And this popularity can’t just be pinned on major media: I’ve seen the triune brain theory pop up in college psychology textbooks (e.g this one, this one, and this one), and a search for #triunebrain on Twitter yields a litany of casual references to the idea that we have a lizard brain.
But MacLean’s triune brain theory is completely wrong – and neuroscientists have known it’s wrong for decades.
The theory is wrong for a simple reason: our brains aren’t fundamentally different from those of reptiles, or even from those of fish. Every mammal has a neocortex (not just the really intelligent ones), and all vertebrates, including reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish, have analogues of a cortex.
In fact, the very idea that new brain structures emerge on top of old ones is fundamentally at odds with how evolution usually works: biological structures are typically just modified versions of older structures. For example, the mammalian neocortex isn’t a completely new structure like MacLean thought it was, but instead is a modification of the repitilian cortex. As the evolutionaryneuroscientist Terrence Deacon explains: “Adding on is almost certainly not the way the brain has evolved. Instead, the same structures have become modified in different ways in different lineages.” This fact is illustrated quite nicely in this figure:
Notice that the cortex and its analogues (colored here in blue) are found in all vertebrates, and isn’t unique to mammals. What’s more, all the major structures of the mammal brain can also be found in the reptile brain, and even in the fish brain.
So what’s gone wrong here? Why is the triune brain theory widely believed, even among psychologists, while evolutionary neuroscience abandoned the theory decades ago (and never took it very seriously in the first place)?
The problem starts, of course, with MacLean. I think it’s fairly clear that MacLean wanted to find what makes humans (and mammals more broadly) unique. And that desire to identify our uniqueness led him to judge his available evidence poorly. MacLean should have considered alternative hypotheses, such as the possibility that differences between our brains and those of other vertebrates are a matter of degree, rather than kind. And he should have asked whether those alternative hypotheses could explain his evidence as well as his own theory could. This sort of self-questioning is key to doing good science: we need to work especially hard to try to prove ourselves wrong. Fortunately, science is structured such that if we can’t (or won’t) prove ourselves wrong, our colleagues most certainly will. And other scientists did prove MacLean wrong, as detailed thoroughly in Terrence Deacon’s paper on what’s known about mammalian brain evolution.
But the evidence that MacLean’s theory was wrong never seemed to make it out of the small world of evolutionary neuroscience.
And for that, I think that some of the blame lies with one of my heroes, Carl Sagan.
The triune brain theory played a starring role in Carl Sagan’s bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner,The Dragons of Eden. In The Dragons of Eden, Sagan drew on MacLean’s theory to account for how humans evolved to produce science, art, math, and technology – the features of our mind, in other words, which make us unique. Underneath our thinking neocortex, Sagan wrote, is a sea of primitive mammal emotions and even more primitive reptilian proclivities toward hierarchy and aggression. But, he argued, humans are special because our neocortex is particularly well-developed, and so, unlike other animals, we can reason our way out of our primitive instincts.
To be fair, Sagan was honest and careful in his writing about the triune brain theory, and peppered his explanations with qualifying and cautious language (e.g. “if this theory is correct…”). He also stressed that the model is “an oversimplification” and that it may be nothing more than “a metaphor of great utility and depth.” But Sagan’s enthusiasm for the theory was clear in both his writing and television programs, which were, as always, beautiful and captivating – and had a huge audience. It should therefore come as no surprise that, partly by way of Sagan’s eloquence and popularity, MacLean’s faulty ideas made their way into the cultural mainstream.
It’s unclear how to undo the damage done, except through honest communication of what’s known. Evolutionary neuroscientists guessed from the start the the triune brain theory probably wasn’t right, and now they know it’s not right. But the word hasn’t gotten around. And that’s where you and I come in.
For my part as a neuroscientist, all I can do is point out what we do have good evidence for: that new brain structures are typically just modified versions of old brain structures, and that we don’t have a lizard brain inside our mammal brain.
But you have a part to play in this too, since now you also know that our brain is simply a vertebratebrain, just like that of every fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal. Help make that astounding and beautiful fact part of our cultural zeitgeist.
A new study analyzing over 21,000 participants found that differences in activation of brain regions in different psychological “disorders” may have been overestimated, and confirms that there is still no brain scan capable of diagnosing a mental health concern.
A new study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, questions previous findings that specific brain regions are implicated in particular mental health conditions. Instead, according to the researchers, biased study design and the difficulty of publishing negative findings may have led to inaccurate results. While the researchers did find some differences in brain activation between people with mental health conditions and people without mental health conditions, they were not able to discriminate between specific diagnoses. The current study suggests that there are few, if any, differences in brain regions activated by specific mental health conditions. That is, there is still no brain scan that can tell whether a person has depression, social anxiety, or schizophrenia, for example.
Researchers have theorized that the different symptom clusters that form mental health diagnoses are linked to specific regions of the brain. If confirmed, such a finding would suggest that mental health diagnoses have biological components that could be targeted medically. However, the finding of the current study undermines this theory. Instead, the results indicate that while there is a general tendency for large parts of the brain (such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus) to be activated in a number of mental health conditions (as well as when humans are under stress in a number of ways), there is little difference between the varying diagnoses—even for diagnoses as seemingly different as social anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
The researchers were led by Emma Sprooten (Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City). They used statistical tests to combine the results from 547 studies, which enabled them to analyze the data from 21,692 participants. The studies compared the brain scans of healthy participants with participants who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The studies in question used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a common type of brain scan which creates images based on blood oxygenation levels within the brain. Higher blood oxygenation levels are assumed to indicate areas involved in more activity. Thus, an fMRI result is theorized to indicate which areas of the brain are activated or deactivated for particular tasks or states of being.
Importantly, fMRI has endured its own questions of bias. A recent article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirmed a previous finding that up to 70% of the results in fMRI studies may actually be “false positives”—that is, finding a result when there actually is none. Nikos K. Logothetis wrote, in a 2008 article in Nature, that the fMRI “is an excellent tool for formulating intelligent, data-based hypotheses, but only in certain special cases can it be really useful for unambiguously selecting one of them, or for explaining the detailed neural mechanisms underlying the studied cognitive capacities.” That is, fMRI results can inform the questions we ask, but they can rarely answer those questions. Unfortunately, the neuropsychiatric literature is riddled with fMRI studies that purport to do just that.
Another recent study attempted to showcase just how much fMRI results rely on subjective interpretation. The researcher, Joshua Carp of the University of Michigan, examined a single fMRI event and found that there were 34,560 different results that could be reached by following different analysis procedures. He argues that the choice of analysis procedure is a subjective one, and researchers may try numerous procedures in order to achieve a positive result. He suggests that in the future, researchers must clearly specify which procedure they will use in order to reduce this extraordinary bias.
Sprooten and her colleagues framed their results as addressing the common practice of “reverse inference,” which has been challenged by other researchers as well. In reverse inference, researchers pre-select which brain regions (ROIs) they are going to study in order to maximize potential results—rather than examine the whole brain to determine which areas are activated. Put simply, if you study a particular area, then you will never see if there is activation in other brain regions during your test. You will only find activation in your pre-selected area. This result is often taken to indicate that particular disorders are associated with activation in particular regions—but this conclusion rests on the assumption that researchers would not have found other areas had they examined the whole brain.
The strength of the current study was its ability to compare ROI studies (studies that focused on only specific regions of the brain) with the results from whole-brain studies. The ROI studies tended to find differences in which brain regions were activated by different mental health conditions. However, once the whole-brain studies were factored in, these findings disappeared. When all studies were included, there were no differences between the diagnoses.
Notably, the researchers only included studies that found significant results—that is, those that purported to find differences between those with mental health diagnoses and those without. Their results would likely be even more striking if they factored in the studies with negative results—studies that did not find differences.
“The pre-selection of ROIs, possibly in combination with the difficulty of publishing negative results, seems to bias the literature and may indirectly lead to oversimplification and over-localization of neurobiological models of behavior and symptoms.”
Choosing a brain region to examine, rather than examining the whole brain, appears to lead to biased, oversimplified results. Likewise, the conclusion that Logothetis reaches in his Nature article is that “the limitations of fMRI are not related to physics or poor engineering, and are unlikely to be resolved by increasing the sophistication and power of the scanners; they are instead due to the circuitry and functional organization of the brain, as well as to inappropriate experimental protocols that ignore this organization […]The magnitude of the fMRI signal cannot be quantified to reflect accurately differences between brain regions, or between tasks within the same region.”
The study conducted by Sprooten and her colleagues suggests that many fMRI studies misrepresent the abilities of brain scans. As Logothetis argues,
using fMRI results to confirm pre-existing theories of brain region activation in mental health diagnoses is in direct contradiction of the abilities of the fMRI technology.(It’s FRAUD!)
In short, brain scan research is of limited use in explaining the complex psychological states of human beings. If a neurological answer seems clear and easy, it may be being misrepresented and oversimplified.
Sprooten, E., Rasgon, A., Goodman, M., Carlin, A., Leibu, E., Lee, W. H., & Frangou, S. (2016). Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders. Human Brain Mapping. doi:10.1002/hbm.23486 (Abstract)
This post started as, “What is it with Asperger types and weather?” Lots of Aspies post / chat about weather sensitivities (me too), and the term “metabolism” often creeps in to the accounts. It’s apparent that few people know what metabolism is. I think that Aspies can benefit from “knowing how the body works” – I read all the time that everything from choice of breakfast cereal to what breed of cat to adopt is somehow linked to Asperger’s. Really?
Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories
Find out how metabolism affects weight, the truth behind slow metabolism and how to burn more calories.
You’ve probably heard people blame their weight on a slow metabolism, but what does that mean? Is metabolism really the culprit? And if so, is it possible to rev up your metabolism to burn more calories? It’s true that metabolism is linked to weight. But contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although your metabolism influences your body’s basic energy needs, how much you eat and drink along with how much physical activity you get are the things that ultimately determine your weight.
Metabolism: Converting food into energy
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Even when you’re at rest, your body needs energy for all its “hidden” functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate — what you might call metabolism.
Several factors determine your individual basal metabolism, including:
Your body size and composition. People who are larger or have more muscle burn more calories, even at rest.
Your sex. Men usually have less body fat and more muscle than do women of the same age and weight, which means men burn more calories.
Your age. As you get older, the amount of muscle tends to decrease and fat accounts for more of your weight, slowing down calorie burning.
Energy needs for your body’s basic functions stay fairly consistent and aren’t easily changed.
In addition to your basal metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many calories your body burns each day:
Food processing (thermogenesis). Digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing the food you consume also takes calories. About 10 percent of the calories from the carbohydrates and protein you eat are used during the digestion and absorption of the food and nutrients.
Physical activity. Physical activity and exercise — such as playing tennis, walking to the store, chasing after the dog and any other movement — account for the rest of the calories your body burns up each day. Physical activity is by far the most variable of the factors that determine how many calories you burn each day.Scientists call the activity you do all day that isn’t deliberate exercise nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This activity includes walking from room to room, activities such as gardening and even fidgeting. NEAT accounts for about 100 to 800 calories used daily.
The Total Crap that passes as American Wisdom. “Leo” Buscaglia PhD, also known as “Dr. Love,” was an American author and motivational speaker, and a professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Southern California. Wikipedia
Metabolism and weight
It may be tempting to blame your metabolism for weight gain. But because metabolism is a natural process, your body has many mechanisms that regulate it to meet your individual needs. Only in rare cases do you get excessive weight gain from a medical problem that slows metabolism, such as Cushing’s syndrome or having an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Unfortunately, weight gain is a complicated process. It’s likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, diet composition and the impact of environment on your lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress.
All of these factors result in an imbalance in the energy equation. You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn — or burn fewer calories than you eat. (Yes, it really is that simple!)
While it is true that some people seem to be able to lose weight more quickly and more easily than others, everyone loses weight when they burn up more calories than they eat. (Yes, it really is that simple.) To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories or increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity or both.
A closer look at physical activity and metabolism
While you don’t have much control over the speed of your basal metabolism, you can control how many calories you burn through your level of physical activity. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. In fact, some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active — and maybe fidget more — than others.
You can burn more calories with: (Yes, it really is that simple)
Regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories and includes activities such as walking, bicycling and swimming. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine.If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase the time you spend on physical activity even more. If you can’t set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the greater the benefits.
Strength training. Experts recommend strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, at least twice a week. Strength training is important because it helps counteract muscle loss associated with aging. And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.
Lifestyle activities. Any extra movement helps burn calories. Look for ways to walk and move around a few minutes more each day than the day before. Taking the stairs more often and parking farther away at the store are simple ways to burn more calories. Even activities such as gardening, washing your car and housework burn calories and contribute to weight loss.
No magic bullet
Don’t look to dietary supplements for help in burning calories or weight loss. Products that claim to speed up your metabolism are often more hype than help, and some may cause undesirable or even dangerous side effects.
Dietary supplement manufacturers aren’t required by the Food and Drug Administration to prove that their products are safe or effective, so view these products with caution and skepticism. Always let your doctors know about any supplements you take.
There’s no easy way to lose weight. The foundation for weight loss continues to be based on physical activity and diet. Take in fewer calories than you burn, and you lose weight. (Yes, it really is that simple.)
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends cutting calories by 500 to 700 calories a day to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds (0.5 to 0.7 kilograms) a week. If you can add some physical activity to your day, you’ll accomplish your weight-loss goals even faster.
Google “Asperger’s and metabolism” or “Autism and metabolism” – you’ll find a load of blah, blah, blah … none of it conclusive; studies merely “suggest” an “association”, but no cause. All the weasel words so common in autism research are relied on for vague results and conclusions. Some people (a very tiny percentage of those designated as “autistic”) MAY have a metabolic problem, but this is usually connected to EPILEPSY. The usual backwards connections are made:some “thing” known as autism “causes” physiologic and behavioral problems, which are in fact, genetic or epigenetic changes, or known results of problem pregnancies; premature birth or disease / toxic conditions in the pregnant mother, or even damage to the fetus during botched deliveries. The vast majority (90-95%) of “autism cases” have no known cause, and yet, sweeping generalizations are emphatically made that “autism is a genetic, inherited disorder” Proof? NONE. Autism is not a disease, developmental disorder, genetic mutation, curse of god, ‘bad seed’ etc; it is a wildly incoherent list of symptoms (many are social judgements) cobbled together in a dreadfully prejudicial condemnation of “different” human behavior as “socially dangerous”.
For a table of truly inherited genetic disorders, go to: