Towards a Talmudic Ontology of Consensus (by way of demons)

Jerusalem Talmud ma...

‘In his 1978 essay, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later“, Philip K. Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” This ontology is challenged by a syndrome recently brought to my attention in a recent post on boingboing.net, “Hallucinations brought on by eye disease,” wherein David Pescovitz writes,

In recent days, both the Daily Mail and Wired.com looked at Charles Bonnet Syndrome [CBS], a disease characterized by bizarre and vivid visual hallucinations. Interestingly, people who suffer from CBS aren’t mentally ill but have visual impairments such as macular degeneration. Even weirder is that the hallucinations often involve characters or things that are much smaller in size than reality.

Read the whole post and follow the link to this article at the Daily Mail on Charles Bonnet Syndrome, and this interview at Wired with neurologist Oliver Sachs. Together, they provide an insight for understanding a particularly fascinating method given in the Talmud for seeing Mazikin (lit. harmful spirits, ie. demons)…’ via Aharon’s Omphalos.

Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal

A diagram of the forces on the brain in concussion

“Head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass — Patton and McIntosh 337: a2825 — BMJ (Abstract):

Objective To investigate the risks of mild traumatic brain injury and neck injury associated with head banging, a popular dance form accompanying heavy metal music.

Design Observational studies, focus group, and biomechanical analysis.

Participants Head bangers.

Main outcome measures Head Injury Criterion and Neck Injury Criterion were derived for head banging styles and both popular heavy metal songs and easy listening music controls.

Results An average head banging song has a tempo of about 146 beats per minute, which is predicted to cause mild head injury when the range of motion is greater than 75°. At higher tempos and greater ranges of motion there is a risk of neck injury.

Conclusion To minimise the risk of head and neck injury, head bangers should decrease their range of head and neck motion, head bang to slower tempo songs by replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock, only head bang to every second beat, or use personal protective equipment.”

via British Medical Journal.

The coming neurological epidemic

“Biochemist Gregory Petsko makes a convincing argument that, in the next 50 years, we'll see an epidemic of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's, as the world population ages. His solution: more research into the brain and its functions. He also shares a few simple things we can do for ourselves to keep our brains healthy. (Recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 3:46.)”

via TED.

An impact he could never appreciate

‘Henry G. Molaison, 82, of Windsor Locks, CT died on Tuesday. He is known in the medical and scientific literatures as “the amnesic patient, H.M.” He was born in Manchester, CT and graduated from East Hartford High School. In 1953, he underwent an experimental brain operation at the Hartford Hospital to relieve his seizure disorder. Immediately after the operation, Mr. Molaison showed a profound amnesia, which became the topic of intense scientific study for more than five decades. From age 27 on, he was unable to establish new memories for events in his everyday life and to acquire general information about the world in which he lived. His memory impairment was “pure” and not accompanied by intellectual or personality disorders. For this reason, and because the operation has not been repeated, he is the most widely studied and famous case in the neuroscience literature of the 20th and 21st centuries. Mr. Molaison's contributions to knowledge about memory have been groundbreaking, and researchers worldwide are in his debt.’

via Vivienne Ming, Ph.D..

I think, therefore I am.

//anatomy.yonsei.ac.kr/LWT/images/Homunculus.JPG' cannot be displayed] Interesting findings in neural plasticity, from the weblog of neuroscientist Michael Merzenich. He describes the current status of our understanding of cortical representations of the surface of the body (what has been known as Penrose’s homunculus since its discovery several decades ago), emphasizing findings that show it is plastic in realtime. [thanks, Joel] He finishes with what might be considered to be the neuroscientist’s equivalent of the get-a-bigger-penis spam-mails.

The Disorder Is Sensory…

…The Diagnosis, Elusive: “No one has a standard diagnostic test for these sensory integration problems, nor any idea of what might be happening in the brain. Indeed, a diagnosis of such problems is not yet generally accepted. Nor is there evidence to guide treatment, which makes many doctors, if they have heard of sensory problems at all, skeptical of the diagnosis.Yet in some urban and suburban school districts across the county, talk of sensory integration has become part of the special-needs vernacular, along with attention deficit disorder and developmental delays. Though reliable figures for diagnosis rates are not available, the number of parent groups devoted to sensory problems has more than tripled in the last few years, to 55 nationwide.And now this subculture wants membership in mainstream medicine. This year, for the first time, therapists and researchers petitioned the American Psychiatric Association to include ‘sensory processing disorder’ in its influential guidebook of disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Official recognition would bring desperately needed research, they say, as well as more complete coverage for treatment, which can run to more than $10,000 a year.” (New York Times )
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