People suffering from schizophrenia may hear “voices” – auditory hallucinations – differently depending on their cultural context, according to new Stanford research.
In the United States, the voices are harsher, and in Africa and India, more benign, said Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford professor of anthropology and first author of the article in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The experience of hearing voices is complex and varies from person to person, according to Luhrmann. The new research suggests that the voice-hearing experiences are influenced by one’s particular social and cultural environment – and this may have consequences for treatment.
In an interview, Luhrmann said that American clinicians “sometimes treat the voices heard by people with psychosis as if they are the uninteresting neurological byproducts of disease which should be ignored. Our work found that people with serious psychotic disorder in different cultures have different voice-hearing experiences. That suggests that the way people pay attention to their voices alters what they hear their voices say. That may have clinical implications.”
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Leo Burnett created an optical illusion ad campaign for Jeep in France with the motto, “See whatever you want to see”. Each image can be viewed as a different animal depending on which direction you view it from, and these two coexist without interfering with each other.
“Nothing like poetry when you lie awake at night. It keeps the old brain limber. It washes away the mud and sand that keeps on blocking up the bends. Like waves to make the pebbles dance on my old floors. And turn them into rubies and jacinths; or at any rate, good imitations.”
"One of the by-products of car production was Fordite, also known as Detroit agate. The colorful layered objects take their name from agate stones for their visual resemblance. But instead of forming from microscopically crystallized silica over millions of years, Fordite was formed from layers of paint over several tens of years." [via.]
In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego erased and then reactivated memories by stimulating neurons in the brains of genetically engineered rats with a series of light pulses that have been previously shown to strengthen or weaken the connections between brain cells. This is the first study to be able to directly show that the strengthening or weakening of these connections, called synapses, is the underlying basis for memory. The study has been published in Nature.
Neurons communicate with each other via synapses, which are the tiny gaps between cells that permit the flow of information in the form of a chemical or electrical signal. Early research found that repeated electrical stimulation of neurons within a brain region called the hippocampus enhanced the ability of these cells to communicate with neighbors. This process is called long-term potentiation (LTP), and it has long been suspected that this is the underlying basis of memory formation. Despite decades of research, however, no one has unequivocally demonstrated that this is the case.
For this study, a team of researchers led by UCSD neuroscientist Roberto Manilow first engineered rats so that their brain cells produced a light sensitive protein which could be activated by a pulse of light delivered by an optical fiber implanted into the brain. They then used this optogenetics to condition the rats to associate pain with optical stimulation by delivering light pulses to certain neuronal populations and then shocking the rats. The rats quickly began to associate the optical stimulation with pain and displayed fear responses when the neurons were stimulated. The scientists were able to demonstrate telltale signs of LTP by looking at chemical changes in the neurons.
Next, the team stimulated the same neurons but with a different, low-frequency sequence of light pulses that had been previously demonstrated to reverse LTP by weakening the synaptic connections, which is known as long-term depression (LTD). When the mice were given the optical stimulation that they originally associated with pain they no longer elicited a fear response, suggesting that the original memory was erased. The team was able to then reactivate the memories by delivering high-frequency light pulses that triggered LTP, and then erase them again. “We were playing with memory like a yo-yo,” Manilow said in a news-release.
The results of this study are therefore finally able to demonstrate a causal link between LTP, LTD and memory. “We can cause an animal to have fear and then not have fear and then to have fear again by stimulating the nerves at frequencies that strengthen or weaken the synapses,” said lead author Sadegh Nabavi in a news-release.
This discovery may also have applications in the field of Alzheimer’s research since, according to Manilow, the beta-amyloid protein fragment that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients also weakens synapses in a similar manner to how the low-frequency stimulation in this study removed memories. “So this line of research could suggest ways to intervene in this process,” he added. [via.]