Sound can blunt pain

A fascinating new study has shed light on the phenomenon of using sound for pain relief. Using state-of-the-art brain-imaging techniques an international team of researchers has uncovered the neural mechanism by which sound reduces pain sensitivity, and surprisingly, low volumes were more effective than turning the music up loud.

Sound can blunt pain in an unexpected way

play it low and play it slow…

Neurodiversity

A Key Concept for Neurodiversity: Niche Construction
When I suggest that neurodiverse individuals, such as those with autism or ADHD, might have been labeled gifted in other times and in other cultures, the quick retort is: “Well, we don’t live in other times or cultures. People have to adapt to the culture they’re in right now.” So what does the person who is a round peg have to do to fit into a square hole? Answer: Shave off enough of its wood to fit, uncomfortably, usually, into the square hole. That’s one solution. The other solution is to round off some of the square hole so that the round peg can stay a round peg and still fit in. That’s niche construction. In other words, I’m saying that people with neurodiverse brains can create special niches for themselves where they can be their unique selves. An example would be a person with ADHD in a job that requires novelty, thrills, and creativity. Instead of suffering in a 9 to 5 desk job (an example of poor niche construction), they create a career for themselves that allows them to be who they are. Another example: a person on the autistic spectrum who has keen mathematical skill working as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, instead of wasting away in a group home somewhere. Niche construction is what animals have done for eons: the bird building a nest, the beaver building a dam. They’re modifying the environment to suit their unique needs. We need to make niche construction a key tool in improving the lives of individuals with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other neurological conditions. Yes, there will always be the need to adapt to the way the world is, and there are medications, behavior modification programs, and other adaptational programs that can help accomplish this. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we can also help neurodiverse individuals be who they are and still fit in.
(Via Neurodiversity – The Book)

Temple Grandin spoke brilliantly on that theme at TED. Check this out:

Slowness

Slowness, writing and comprehension | Pop Wuping
Through-out grade school I was repeatedly taught to write notes on whatever I was reading and to rewrite any other notes as a means to comprehend the material I was studying. I think I read somewhere since, that writing involves higher level cognitive processes that aid in memory (I don’t have time to find the source). Even my Mandarin teacher forced me to write ad nauseam pinyin, and later characters, on the white board as a means to remember and to help keep me warm in winter.

And ends with:

Online reading is part of this as are newer formats like RSS. We try to ‘see’ as much data as possible. Notice how much of the productivity software developed lately is about ‘tasks’ and concerns small snippets of text?

What effects does this have on the ability to concentrate? When I told a doctor I was having trouble focusing he advised to read real books slowly.

I wonder if there is anyway to actually slow down the process and still use digital tools? I’m not convinced I ever truly read anything onscreen as well as in a book. It’s more scanning and collecting.

Slow is the way to go.
The brain wants pleasure and excitement, and it gets more of that from scanning and letting many snippets wash over the receptors… learning something by heart or reading a long text or writing by hand is a drag, but very good for you. Last year the BBC had an article about brain development in kids and that it was discovered that learning to remember long poems by heart actually triggered important devepment in little minds.

We humans are incredibly short-sighted, aren’t we.

Slow is the way to go.

There is also Slowfood.

Zen Brain

Upaya Institute | Zen Center: ZEN BRAIN, SELFLESS INSIGHT
Instructors: James Austin, M.D., Roshi Joan Halifax, Al Kaszniak, Ph.D., Neil Theise, M.D., Jason Buhle

Description: Scientific interest in the relationships between Buddhism and neuroscience has dramatically increased, accompanied by the publication of both theoretical proposals and new laboratory investigations relating Buddhist practice to the brain. In this retreat/seminar, Roshi and four scientists who have contributed to this growing field of research and are each long-term Zen practitioners, will share with participants perspectives on what has been learned about Zen practice and the brain, how this research is relevant for practice, and how experienced practitioners can help sharpen the research questions being asked. During the retreat, discussion and presentations are integrated with Zazen practice.

January 16-20, 2008, at Upaya in Santa Fe. Click here for a PDF with more info.

Brain Activity

Brain Activity Differs For Creative And Noncreative Thinkers
A new study led by John Kounios, professor of Psychology at Drexel University and Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University answers these questions by comparing the brain activity of creative and noncreative problem solvers. The study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, reveals a distinct pattern of brain activity, even at rest, in people who tend to solve problems with a sudden creative insight — an “Aha! Moment” – compared to people who tend to solve problems more methodically.

This program on the “Zen Brain” at Upaya looks very interesting.