Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bobby Kennedy on LSD

A quote from the article, When Bobby Kennedy defended LSD.  Kennedy was a voice of reason in opposition to the sensationalist anti-drug conservatives.

“I think we have given too much emphasis and so much attention to the fact that it can be dangerous and that it can hurt an individual who uses it… that perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that it can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness

Couple of interesting interviews with Jeffrey Martin, The Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness and The End of Self-Referencing on Buddhist Geeks.  Martin has tested and interviewed in depth many people who are experiencing persistent non-symbolic states.  His dissertation shows that such people are fairly ordinary in many ways, at least psychologically, and they do report high scores on scales of mystical experience.  While psychologically normal in many ways, they seem to be happy, and free of anxiety and depression.

A couple of youtube links featuring Jeffrey Martin:

Neurological and Psychological Correlates of Enlightenment
Hacking Your Enlightenment

fMRI Biofeedback for No Self

I was taking another look at Judson Brewer's research (showing that meditation changes the default mode network, decreasing it's activity).  A number of his subjects have reported on the "feedback" he was experimenting with for the condition of no-self or non-symbolic consciousness.  I came across the Go Blue project whose ultimate goal would be to create a low cost neurofeedback device to help everyday people experience this state.  I took another look after listening to the interview on Buddhist Geeks, Mapping The Mindful Brain.

This would appear to be feedback based on decreased activation of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which would be roughly the area of Pz on a 10-20 brain map.  I'm not sure that EEG feedback can reach this quite in the same way the fMRI can, and I've seen mixed results for studies correlating fMRI with EEG amplitudes in that area, some saying alpha is positively correlated, others negative.  Not sure there is a clear path there yet.

It does seem logically, that we want to quiet the brain in that area, and alpha-theta training at Pz would seem to be something along those lines.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Psychedelic Sacrament in early Tibetan Buddhism

Mike Crowley, following on the heels of Gordon Wasson's book Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality, lays out the case for various psychedelics, but mainly mushrooms, being the Amrita sacrament referred to in old Tibetan Buddhist texts, in a lengthy article Secret Rites of Buddhism.

Meditation and White Matter

In "Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation" researchers found significant changes in white matter with about 5 hours of meditation.  Increased axonal density, and increased myelin (fatty tissue around the axons) were found particularly in the anterior cingulate.

The meditation was a form of mindfulness called IBMT, or Integrative Body-Mind Training, and produced significant changes in comparison with a group that did sequential muscle relaxation.

Covered in more detail by Reality Sandwich, Fox Detroit, and ProHealth.