follow the white rabbit
Saturday, June 30, 2018
The receptor that psychedelic drugs target (the Serotonin 2A receptor) helps regulate the production of a molecule called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF, for short). BDNF helps regulate neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Using genetic techniques to increase BDNF expression can enhance neurogenesis in certain brain regions as well. Activate the receptor, and the brain secretes more BDNF. Psychedelic drugs can enhance learning and memory capabilities by, at least partially, increasing the amount of BDNF (and related growth-factors) in the brain through activation of the Serotonin 2A receptor.
Neurogenesis in the hippocampus may be a key part of the acquisition of new behaviors and pattern recognition. The balance of evidence suggests that exposure to psychedelics can, in fact, enhance neurogenesis in this region.
In 2016, the Beckley Foundation, working with scientists at the Sant Pau Institute for Biomedical Research in Spain announced findings that two of the key components in Ayahuasca, harmine and tetrahydroharmine stimulate the differentiation of stem cells into healthy neurons.
In 2013, a group of scientists published the results of their experimental brain research using psilocybin (PSOP). Their report was titled, "Effects of psilocybin on hippocampal neurogenesis and extinction of trace fear conditioning." In the abstract, they concluded -- "PSOP facilitates extinction of the classically conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions."
Full Report Available from: Researchgate
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Now You See It Now You Don't
How many times do we see something, hear a suggestion, encounter something new, and quickly process it as if we understand? We make these snap judgments all the time. We believe we know what's entailed, being offered, implied, and we move on, confident in our assessment.
Perhaps our attention spans have been entrained to believe the 30-second TV-commercial summary of reality, as if all we need to know and all that's possible to care about can be contained in quick cuts, a catchy jingle, and a few catch-phrases sung by a shapely model with a glint in her eye.
While in Peru, I enjoyed exploring museums, especially ones that featured Inca artifacts. Lima has great museums for this. While marveling over everything on display, I appreciated but in hindsight gave minor notice to a series of colorful, knotted-string wall hangings arranged in what appeared to be loosely-gathered curtains. Nice, intricate artwork I thought. They reminded me of the old beaded, room-divider curtains once favored by hippies and New Age artsy-fartsy types. Occupied more with my internal reference to hippie curtains than what I was actually looking at, I glanced up and down the display then strolled on.
Now I find how woefully cursory my consideration of these artifacts had been. How wrong I was to assume I knew what I was looking at. It demonstrates how easily we see but don't see. We think we know and don't look any deeper, thereby missing the richest and depth available to us. As it turns out, the colorful string-objects adorned with knots weren't art pieces at all, at least that wasn't their primary function to the Incas. I was surprised to discover what I had casually enjoyed and strolled by was complex 3D code, one that scientists still haven't figured out.
I have to admit I didn't discover this by questioning my first assumptions on my own. Oh no, why would I ever do that! Ha Ha! Instead, by chance, I found an article online that set me straight. The article leads with a photo of one of the beaded wall hangings, which caught my eye. I then read the following:
"The Inca Left Behind a Strange, 3D Code That Scientists Still Can't Figure Out / They communicated in multiple dimensions.
MANUEL MEDRANO & GARY URTON, AEON 16 JUN 2018
The Inca Empire (1400-1532 CE) is one of few ancient civilisations that speaks to us in multiple dimensions. Instead of words or pictograms, the Incas used khipus – knotted string devices – to communicate extraordinarily complex mathematical and narrative information.
But, after more than a century of study, we remain unable to fully crack the code of the khipus. The challenge rests not in a lack of artifacts – over 1,000 khipus are known to us today – but in their variety and complexity.
We confront tens of thousands of knots tied by different people, for different purposes and in different regions of the empire. Cracking the code amounts to finding a pattern in history's knotted haystack.
Using locally available materials such as camelid fleece and cotton, the khipukamayuqs (Quechua for 'knot-makers/animators') encoded administrative data such as census figures and tax allocation in the twisted strings of these ancient spreadsheets.
The Inca bureaucrats used these data to keep tabs on the largest empire in the pre-Columbian Americas. We have known for about a century that the accounting khipus follow a base-10 knot scheme (imagine an abacus made out of string).
However, these quantitative khipus account for only about two-thirds of the samples remaining today.
The remaining third of these devices – the so-called narrative khipus – appear to contain encoded non-numerical, narrative information, including names, stories and even ancient philosophies. For those who love puzzles, the narrative khipus are a godsend..."
You can read the whole article by clicking here
Much of our rationale in judging and dispensing with things with passing regard comes from all the stuff we already think we know and believe, our existing worldview. But by definition, what we already know doesn't contain what we don't. Unless we are deluded enough with certainty that we've obtained a full grasp of the universe and everything in it, there may be more to consider. We may be missing a lot by approaching reality in this quick-to-judge, assuming from surface detail way. Perhaps the world is much more involved and interesting, multi-various and dimensioned in surprising ways, with many more shades of grey and sprays of colors than we give it credit for. Of course, somewhere inside we all know this and yet it's odd how often we fall into the lazy trap of thinking we know after only a passing and superficial consideration.
And so...besides discovering something new and interesting, quite accidentally, this has also been a great reminder to me. Next time an idea passes my way, I see something that appears all too apparent, or I hear of something going on, I'm challenged to stop and take some time to look below the surface before walking on past. There's always more to it than what we think we know.