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« Reply #15 on: Aug 06, 2015, 07:40 AM »

(here essential brain anatomy is explained and EA given correlations and a few others are given. In itself, this can be useful for those who want to get into this stuff)  

Essential Brain Anatomy and relevant EA correlations

The brain as an on organ is part of the nervous system, which correlates as a whole with Uranus, Mercury, and Pluto, and which can be simply described as the part of the organism that coordinates voluntary and involuntary actions and transmits signals between different parts of the organism. The nervous system is made up of the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The peripheral nervous system consists mainly of nerves, which are enclosed bundles of the long neural fibers or axons, connecting the Central Nervous System to every other part of the body. The PNS includes motor neurons, mediating voluntary movement; the autonomic nervous system, comprising the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulate involuntary functions, and the enteric nervous system, which functions to control the gastrointestinal system. The autonomic nervous system correlates with Uranus, Mercury and the Moon. The central nervous system (CNS) contains the brain and the spinal cord. The central nervous system correlates as a whole with Uranus and Mercury.  

The brain as a whole correlates with Uranus and Neptune. This correlation refers to the whole brain and all of its parts in general. Different parts and components of the brain have their own correlations. We will look at the anatomy of the brain from the point of view of its embryonic development, and also from the point of view of phylogenetic development.

From the point of view of the embryonic development, the brain has three main subdivisions or parts which are the hindbrain or rhombencephalon, the midbrain and the forebrain.

The hindbrain or rhombencephalon includes the medulla, the pons and the cerebellum. It is the lowermost or rearmost region of the brain, which bridges the brain with the spinal cord, with axons running through the spinal cord to the hindbrain, and integrating the incoming sensory signals and coordinating motor responses. The hindbrain consists of two parts: the myelencephalon, including the medulla oblongata, and the metencephalon, including the pons and the cerebellum. The hindbrain correlates with Uranus and Pluto.

The medulla or medulla oblongata is the lower half of the hindbrain and together with the spinal cord contains various small nuclei involved in a series of sensory and motor functions. The medulla contains cardiac, respiratory, vomiting, and vasomotor centers and deals with autonomic or involuntary functions such as breathing rate depending on blood acidity, heart rate, blood pressure, and basic reflexes such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, or vomiting. Trauma to this area can affect survival of the organism. Lesions resulting from trauma can cause pulmonary edemas because of the medulla is connected with pulmonary function. Also, lesions to the medulla affecting vasomotor function can result in ischemia or restriction of blood supply. The medulla correlates with Uranus.

The medulla, together with the pons and the midbrain, are also referred to as the brainstem.
The pons lies in the brainstem directly above the medulla and below the midbrain. It contains nuclei that control sleep, breathing, swallowing, bladder function, equilibrium, eye movement, hearing, facial expressions, facial sensation and posture. The pons regulates breathing through particular nuclei acting on the breathing center of the medulla. It also contains a nucleus that regulates the change from inhalation to exhalation.  The pons is involved in sleep paralysis, and also plays a role in dreams.

The cerebellum, located to the rear of the brain stem, is also part of the hindbrain. It is involved in muscle tone and posture, influences motor control, and helps a person to perform smooth, controlled movements. The cerebellum is also important in coordinating the movements that people make without thinking or concentrating first, such as walking forward. The cerebellum does not initiate movement, but contributes to coordination, precision, and accurate timing, receiving input from sensory systems of the spinal cord and from other parts of the brain, and integrating these inputs to fine tune motor activity. It is critical in fine movement, equilibrium, posture, and motor learning. It appears it is also involved in cognitive functions such as attention and language, and in regulating fear and pleasure responses. Removal or damage to the cerebellum does not prevent an animal from doing anything in particular, but it makes movement hesitant and clumsy. Precision in movement is not built-in, but instead it is learned by trial and error. Learning motor skills such as those involved in riding a bicycle is an example of a type of neural plasticity that occurs largely within the cerebellum.

The midbrain or mesencephalon is considered part of the brainstem and it is placed near the center of the brain, sitting above the pons, below the cortex and next to the thalamus and hypothalamus on its front or rostral side. The midbrain operates as a type of relay station for auditory and visual information. It contains cranial nerves that regulate the muscles controlling eye movement, lens shape, pupil diameter and visual and auditory reflexes such as moving the head and eyes to orient to auditory stimuli. The cerebral peduncle in the anterior part of the midbrain is a massive bundle of axons traveling from the cerebral cortex through the brain stem which are important for voluntary motor function. In the adult brain, all the brainstem nuclei are contained in the midbrain. Sections of the midbrain are very important parts of dopamine circuits. These are the substantia nigra, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the periaqueductal grey (PAG), to which we will refer later. These circuits play a fundamental role in motivation, seeking behavior, reward and habituation. The midbrain correlates the Moon and Uranus.

The forebrain is the largest part of the brain, which includes the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the part of the brain containing the cortex which is divided in the two brain hemispheres), and several subcortical structures, including the hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, olfactory bulb, and the limbic system. The embryonic telencephalon is the structure from which the cerebrum develops from its dorsal telencephalon, or pallium, while the ventral telencephalon, or subpallium, develops into the basal ganglia. The cerebrum divides into the two cerebral hemispheres which are connected by a mass of white matter known as the corpus callosum, and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal.

The cortex is made up of grey matter which is highly folded to increase cortical surface area. The cortex controls or participates in organized perception, memory, all higher cognitive functions, concentration, reasoning and abstract thought, all voluntary and executive functions, etc. White matter located beneath the cortex contains structures as the basal ganglia, olfactory bulb, hippocampus and many others. The forebrain correlates with Uranus and Saturn.

From an evolutionary point of view, following the ideas of Paul MacLean about the ‘triune brain’ the brain can be divided in three parts or distinct complete systems which evolved along great lengths of evolutionary time, one over the other: the primary brain, the limbic system and the neo-cortex.

MacLean, taking an evolutionary approach to neurobiology, proposed that the human brain has three distinct parts or layers, corresponding to different stages of evolutionary development, which he described as reptilian, paleomammalian and neomammalian brains. MacLean’s model has received considerable criticism based mostly on the accuracy of the structures he included in each of the three brains. Jeffrey Wolf Green’s model of the brain is consistent with MacLean’s theory, with some differences though.

The primary brain or reptilian complex

In MacLean’s model of the ‘triune brain’, the reptilian complex is composed of the most primitive or ancient structures of the brain. It regulates the organism daily routines and behaviors including basic territorial and mating displays, and contains primitive systems related to fear, anger ad basic sexuality, that enable the organism to survive and procreate. Automatic fight/fly or freeze reactions to danger are also part of the reptilian brain, although not exclusively. In general terms, the reptilian brain, first to develop from an evolutionary perspective, governs arousal and homeostasis of the organism, and also loosely relates to the sensorimotor level of information processing, including sensation and programmed movement impulses. According to MacLean, the primary brain comprises the lower brain regions of the brainstem, ie. the hindbrain (medulla, pons and cerebellum), the midbrain, parts of the olfactory system, the reticular formation which is a set of nuclei that are interconnected with the brainstem, and the basal ganglia in the lower forebrain. In Jeffrey Wolf Green’s anatomical system of correlations, the reptilian brain or primary brain is considered the same as the hindbrain. The primary brain correlates with Mars, the Moon, Uranus and Pluto. Jeffrey Wolf Green also taught that consciousness as such emanates from the primary brain, specifically the medulla. Abundant findings of neuroscientific research are consistent with this idea, contrary to some mostly cognitive researchers who believe that consciousness as a ‘higher’ brain function would emanate from the human neocortex. This implies as we shall see that the basis of both affective and emotional states and cognition are dependent on these lower, ancient, structures, that humans share with most of vertebrates, which provide the fuel so to speak that is elaborated and refined by upper, evolutionarily more recent, developments of the brain, which allow for more complex forms of cognition and emotion.

The basal ganglia, striatal complex, or the corpus striatum, which MacLean considered a part of the reptilian complex and which is connected with the brainstem lower brain areas in turn correlate with Jupiter and Uranus.  

In combination, the primary brain and the basal ganglia coordinate basic aspects of instinctual motor behavior in animals, such as posture and movement patterns, elimination activities, seeking shelter, cycles of hunting and inactivity, basking in the sun, and various social displays and rituals including courtship, aggressive challenges, and submissive displays. The basal ganglia or striatum are composed of many substructures, including the caudate nucleus, globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens, entopeduncular nucleus, ventral tegmental area (VTA), and substantia nigra. The basal ganglia were originally thought about as an extension of the cortical motor system, serving to transmit messages to the body. However it has been found that the functions of this structure are far more complex. It appears that the basal ganglia and its connections serve to elaborate a primitive feeling of ‘motor presence’. Higher brain regions must still rely on this system as a final output pathway for behavior.

The Limbic System.

The limbic system, or paleomammalian brain, comprises a complex set of anatomical structures that surround the reptilian brain. Located on both sides of the thalamus, right under the cerebrum, it resembles a fringe around the cerebral hemispheres that mushroom from each side of the upper brain stem.  It includes structures belonging to the telencephalon, diencephalon, and mesencephalon. The limbic system primarily elaborates ancient “family values” (Panksepp) and other emotional tendencies which are specific to mammals. It interacts intimately with the visceral organs. Because of the backward rotation of the brain hemispheres inside the cranium, the intermediate limbic region is endowed with several arching pathways, most prominently the fornix and stria terminalis, which connect the hippocampus and amygdala to the hypothalamus which are part of the limbic system. Other major areas part of the limbic system are the septal area, preoptic area, and central gray of the mesencephalon. These structures are essential for a variety of emotional processes of all mammalian species, providing modulation and control over behaviors emanating from the reptilian brain, and contributing to generate basic emotions that mediate various social behaviors, such as maternal nurturance, separation distress, playfulness, and forms of competition and gregariousness. The limbic system has become a synonym for ‘emotional brain’, even though different emotional circuits include parts of the lower reptilian brain and/or are mediated or regulated by upper brain structures. The limbic system is also fundamental in memory processes.

Siegel points out that as a general property, limbic structures directly or indirectly connect with the hypothalamus or the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG). As a result, the limbic system modulate functions of these structures. In general, limbic structures receive input signals from at least two different types of sources: from one or more sensory systems, either directly or indirectly through interneurons in the cerebral cortex, and from brainstem monoaminergic systems. Limbic neurons then connect directly or indirectly to the hypothalamus (and/or the midbrain PAG). These projections allow limbic structures to modulate the outputs of the hypothalamus and PAG directed on somatic motor and autonomic neurons of the lower brainstem and spinal cord for the integration of specific forms of visceral response. Feedback signals can also reach the limbic system from the hypothalamus. In a similar way, limbic structures can send feedback signals to the cerebral cortex, providing the cortex with visceral signals that are contiguous with other sensory signals that initially caused excitation of limbic areas.

The limbic system as a whole correlates with the Moon, Neptune and Pluto. Different parts of the limbic system have their own correlations. We shall mention and briefly describe some of the most important structures within the limbic or mammalian brain and their individual astrological correlations when they exist, which we will need to keep in mind when we look at specific emotional systems or circuits further in this chapter.

The hypothalamus is an integrative center located just above the brainstem, in the ventral part of the diencephalon within the forebrain, and right below the thalamus (hypothalamus means ‘below the thalamus’ in Greek). Roughly the size of a pearl, the hypothalamus controls a wide range of fundamental functions in the body and is a control center for the autonomic nervous system. Through its connections with structures of the endocrine and nervous systems, the hypothalamus plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. The hypothalamus has various different nuclei which connect with many other parts of the brain and among themselves, by means of neural connections or through endocrine secretion. It has complex connections with, and controls the pituitary gland, which is a master gland that in turn controls all endocrine glands in the body. Thus, the hypothalamus is key for connecting the endocrine system and the nervous system, and thus, plays a crucial role in the physiology of emotions and behavior. The hypothalamus is involved in several functions of the body including autonomic function and endocrine activity, overall homeostasis, motor function control, water levels in the organism, ie. thirst, urine, sweat, etc., regulation of sleep-wake cycle and circadian cycles in connection with the pineal gland, through specialized cells which are sensitive to light; hunger, body temperature, and fatigue are under the control of the hypothalamus too. It also controls fundamental aspects of reproductive behavior and sexual motivation, maternal behavior, and aggression through the release of hormones or neurotransmitters as gonadotropin releasing factor (GRH), oxytocin, vasopressin, histamine, norepinephrine and others. The fear and stress fight or flight response is also mediated by the hypothalamus as a part of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA). The HPA system becomes activated in response to a perceived threat, resulting in a cascade of hormone release. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressine (AVP) are secreted from neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. These in turn stimulate the synthesis and release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), or corticotropin, in the anterior pituitary. ACTH then induces the release of Glucocorticoids (GCs), mainly cortisol, from the adrenal cortex. Cortisol increases blood sugar availability through gluconeogenesis, suppresses the immune system and inflammatory reaction, and aids in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, thus serving to face the threatening or stressing situation. Cortisol exerts negative feedback on the hypothalamus and pituitary to inhibit the synthesis and secretion of CRH and ACTH, respectively, in order to maintain a homeostasis of circulating GCs. The hypothalamus is also involved in memory processes in various ways.

The hypothalamus correlates with Uranus, Neptune and the Moon.

The thalamus is a midline large, dual lobed mass of grey matter placed deep within the brain between the neocortex and the midbrain, which is part of the diencephalon in the forebrain. It plays many different roles. It is a fundamental structure for the relay of signals to the cerebral cortex coming from motor, sensory, autonomic and emotional areas of the brain. Every sensory system, except for the olfactory system, has a nucleus within the thalamus that receives, processes and relays these sensory information to the associated primary cortical area. As an example, in the visual system, inputs from the retina are sent to the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, which in turn projects to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe. In the same way, the medial geniculate nucleus within the thalamus is a key auditory relay between the inferior colliculus of the midbrain and the primary auditory cortex. The ventral posterior nucleus is a key somatosensory relay, sending touch and proprioceptive information to the primary somatosensory cortex. Also, the thalamus contributes to regulation of sleep and wakefulness, and plays an important function in regulation of arousal and awareness. It is also fundamental in motor activity because of its connections with motor systems, including specific channels from the basal ganglia and cerebellum to the cortical motor areas. The thalamus is connected with the hippocampus and thus is relevant for spatial memory and spatial sensory information that are also important for some types of memory, including episodic memory.

Because of the importance of the thalamus for motor and sensory systems, it also mediates emotional responses and systems which involve high levels of motor activity, and motor learning, such as playing and competition activities, panic as connected with separation distress, and by extension, social displays and primary social bonding.  Thus, and given that motor and sensory preparedness are essential from a biological point of view to adaptively face threats, the thalamus is also connected with fear and stress circuitry through connections between the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus, which becomes activated by physical or psychological stressors, and the central amygdala, which is fundamental in fear learning and expression.

The thalamus correlates with Uranus and Neptune.

The amygdala is a bilateral almond-shaped structure composed of various nuclei which are located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain. The amygdala has a primary role in memory processing and emotional reactions based on prior knowledge or memories, especially those which are connected with a fear response or what is called fear conditioning, in combination with the hypothalamus.  
The amygdala sends nervous fibers to the hypothalamus, the dorsomedial thalamus, the thalamic reticular nucleus, the nuclei of the trigeminal and the facial nerves, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the locus coeruleus, and the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus. Its medial nucleus is involved in the sense of smell and pheromone-processing, receiving input from the olfactory bulb and the olfactory cortex. The lateral amygdala sends impulses to the rest of the basolateral complexes and to the centromedial nuclei, and receives input from the sensory systems. The centromedial nuclei are the main outputs for the basolateral complexes, and are involved in emotional arousal.

In fear conditioning, sensory stimuli reach the basolateral and lateral nuclei of the amygdala, forming associations with memories of the stimuli which then induce fear behavior through neuronal connections with the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). The axon terminals from sensory neurons form synapses with dendritic spines on neurons from the central nucleus, which participate in creating various fear responses such as freezing or flight, autonomic nervous system responses including changes in blood pressure and heart rate, and neuroendocrine responses through stress-hormones release. The amygdala is also involved in appetitive or positive conditioning.

By means of massive interconnections with the brainstem, thalamus, hypothalamus, septal nuclei, hippocampus, cingulate gyrus, medial forebrain bundle and the temporal, occipital, parietal and frontal lobes, the amygdala is able to sample auditory, somesthetic, and visual stimuli and to scrutinize this information for emotional salience. This includes the ability to discern and express even subtle social emotions such as friendliness, fear, love, anger, or threat.

The amygdala can also promote emotional and mood congruent behavior, including flight or fight. It becomes highly active when subjects think about or are presented with traumatic stimuli and helps mediate the stress response. In response to stress, the amygdala (in addition to other limbic areas) will secrete massive amounts of opiate-like substances (enkephalins) and will induce the secretion of corticosteroids. The amygdala is in fact rich in cells containing enkephalins, and opiate and corticosteroids receptors can be found throughout the amygdala.

The amygdala is involved in the generation of intense pleasure, or it can induce analgesic-opiate numbing if the organism is injured during the course of fight or flight. Intense fear is the most common emotional reaction elicited with direct electrode stimulation of the human or non-human amygdala. The pupils dilate and the subject cringes, withdraws, and cowers. This cowering reaction may give way to extreme panic. Likewise, abnormal activity originating in the amygdala and/or the overlying temporal lobe can evoke overwhelming, terrifying feelings of “nightmarish” fear that may not be tied to anything specific, other than perhaps the sensation of impending death. With amygdala activation the EEG becomes desynchronized (indicating arousal), heart rate becomes depressed, respiration patterns change, the galvanic skin response significantly alters, the face contorts, the pupils will dilate, and the subject looks anxious and afraid
Further, the amygdala is involved in memory consolidation, the process that allows short-term memories to be stored at different brain structures and to become long-term memories. It also has a role in emotional modulation of memories by which the strength of the memory for an event increases with greater–though within normal boundaries-emotional arousal following the event.

The amygdala correlates with the Moon, Pluto, Uranus and Mercury.

The hippocampus is a bilateral structure placed within the medial temporal lobes adjacent to the amygdala. Its shape resembles that of a seahorse, thus its name hippocampus. It is a key structure in various memory processes, as it participates in encoding and organization of memories, in storing, indexing and retrieving memories to or from the cerebral cortex. Long-term potentiation by which short-term memories become long-term memories, has been studied mainly in the hippocampus. It also plays a special role in special memory, place memory, and special navigation. Specialized neurons in the hippocampus respond as ‘place cells’ which fire bursts of action potentials when identifying known places within the environment as the organism moves around. Within memory processes, the hippocampus is especially involved in declarative memory, ie. memories that can be verbalized, and in autobiographical or episodic memory.  Hippocampal damage can prevent the formation of new memories (anterograde amnesia), and can also affect memories formed before the damage took place (retrograde amnesia). Damage to the hippocampus, though, does not impair ability to learn new motor or cognitive skills and does not affect implicit memory, ie. memories that operate without need for conscious awareness.

The hippocampus is generally the first brain area which is affected by Alzheimer disease, thus impairing the formation of new memories.  

The hippocampus has multiple connections with the entorhinal cortex (EC), which is the main source of hippocampal input and target of hippocampal output. The entorhinal cortex in turn has multiple connections with many other parts of the cerebral cortex, thus serving as an interface between the hippocampus and other cortical brain regions. Other important output pathways from the hippocampus reach the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the lateral septal area. The hippocampus receives modulatory input from the nucleus reuniens of the thalamus and from the medial septal area. The cortical region lying just next to the hippocampus is known collectively as the parahippocampal gyrus. It includes the entorhinal cortex and also the perirhinal cortex. The parahippocampal gyrus in its connection with the hippocampus is important in memory and in visual recognition of complex objects and environmental or topographical scenes. It appears it also has a relevant specialized role in context recognition, and specifically in social context recognition, such as paralinguistic elements of verbal communication. The entorhinal cortex has massive interconnections with all multi-modal association areas in the neocortex and with various areas within the limbic system, ie. amygdala, hippocampus, septal nuclei, olfactory bulb, etc. In turn it appears to have no direct connections with primary sensory areas. Thus, the entorhinal cortex appears to have a unique and fundamental role in memory and cognitive processing.

The hippocampal formation consists of the hippocampus, dentate gyrus, and subicular cortex.
The hippocampus and the hippocampal formation correlate with Uranus. The parahippocampal gyrus correlates with Uranus and Saturn.

The periaqueductal grey, also known as central grey, is a formation of grey matter located around the cerebral aqueduct within the midbrain tegmentum. This brain region has a fundamental role in analgesia. Its stimulation activates enkephalin-releasing neurons projecting to the raphe nuclei in the brainstem. Serotonin released by the raphe nuclei descends to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where it forms excitatory connections with inhibitory interneurons which release endogenous opioid neurotransmitters, which bind to mu opioid receptors on the axons of incoming C and A-delta fibers that carry pain signals from activated nociceptors from the periphery. Activation of the mu-opioid receptor inhibits the release of substance P from incoming neurons and inhibits the activation of second-order neurons that transmit the pain signal up the spinothalamic tract to the ventroposteriolateral nucleus (VPL) of the thalamus. The nociceptive signals are thus inhibited before they are able to reach cortical areas that produce the pain response. Electrical stimulation of the PAG results in deep and immediate analgesia.

When the periaqueductal grey is stimulated in its dorsal and lateral parts defensive responses are elicited characterized by freezing immobility or fight/flight preparation through increased heart rate, blood pressure, muscular tone and motor agitation. On the other side, stimulation of the caudal ventrolateral areas of the PAG can result in an immobile and relaxed posture or ‘quiescence’, while its inhibition leads to increased motor activity.

The PAG plays a role in female copulatory behavior in mammals. It induces what is called ‘lordosis behavior’ via an incoming pathway from the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus.
The PAG is specifically involved in maternal behavior, containing a high density of receptors to vasopressin and oxytocin which are involved in maternal love and parental behavior.
Being a part of the midbrain, the periaqueductal grey correlates with the Moon and Uranus.

The septal area within the forebrain consists of nuclei that are merged with the cortex directly in front of the anterior commissure, beneath the corpus callosum. It is a main relay for the hippocampal formation to the hypothalamus, and a feedback system to the hippocampal formation from the hypothalamus. Like the hippocampal formation, it is involved in the control of functions normally attributable to the hypothalamus, such as aggression, rage, autonomic functions, self-stimulation, and drinking behavior. Direct connections between the septal area and the hypothalamus also account for modulatory effects of septal area on the endocrine system via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. For example, stimulation of the septal area suppresses ACTH secretion and adrenal activity. It also has connections with the amygdala. The septal area is an important pleasure area of the brain. Laboratory animals eagerly press levers that produce electrical stimulation to this brain area. Sexual arousal in humans manifests neuronal spiking or ‘action potentials’ in the septal area. Stimulation of the septal area can inhibit the autonomic nervous system, including cardiac deceleration. Activity in the septal area inhibits aggression response triggered at the amygdala.  
Septal nuclei act as an interface between the reticular formation in the primary brain and the hippocampus and contributes to the phenomenon of theta waves neuronal firing by modulating hippocampal arousal, involved in learning and memory.

The septal area is directly involved in the stress response and can be damaged by prolonged stress, which also results in the loss of theta activity and long-term potentiation.

Being a part of the forebrain, the septal area correlates with Uranus and Saturn. It also correlates with Pluto, Neptune.

The fornix is a bundle of axons connecting the hippocampus with the septal nuclei and with the mammillary bodies of the hypothalamus. It also connects with the thalamus.  The fornix correlates with Uranus and Saturn.

The stria terminalis is a main efferent pathway of the amygdala, connecting with the medial hypothalamus and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) receives fundamental imput from the amygdala and outputs to the hypothalamus, the periaqueductal gray and autonomic centers at the brainstem. Thus, it operates as a parallel pathway by which the amygdala modulates visceral functions of the hypothalamus and the PAG, and is active in various autonomic, endocrine, and emotional processes.

As a part of the limbic system, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) correlates with Pluto, Neptune and the Moon.

The nucleus accumbens is a bilateral structure placed in the basal forebrain rostral to the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. The nucleus accumbens together with the olfactory tubercle form the ventral striatum, which is part of the basal ganglia. The nucleus accumbens receives large dopaminergic projections from the brainstem and other inputs from the amygdala and parts of the hippocampal formation. In turn, it projects its axons to the ventral tegmental area, the substantia innominata, and the substantia nigra. The nucleus accumbens integrates aspects of motor responses linked with emotional processes. It plays a significant role in motivation, pleasure, reward and reinforcement, and addition. It is also involved in fear, impulsivity, and motor learning.

The nucleus accumbens correlates with Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.

The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a group of neurons that lie close to the midline on the floor of the mesencephalon. Its projections form part of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine systems, which are involved in motivation and reward circuitry of the brain. It is also important in addiction, orgasm, intense emotional states relating to love, some specific cognitive processes, and is involved in various psychiatric disorders. The ventral tegmental area has projections to different areas of the brain, from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to the caudal brainstem, and various areas in between, like the Raphe nucleus, locus coeruleus, amygdala, cingulate gyrus, hippocampus, and the olfactory bulb. Most of these areas in turn project back to the VTA. It also has feedback loops with the hypothalamus. The VTA is implicated in processing of various emotional states through its connections with the amygdala. Its neurons respond to novel stimuli, unexpected reward, reward-predictive sensory cues, and ‘reward expectancy error’. The ventral tegmental dopamine neurons exhibit anticipatory learning during appetitive conditioning, where the mesolimbic dopamine system shows massive release of dopamine during the anticipatory phase of behavior. This brain area also has GABAergic neurons that fire with gap junctions, and further, receives glutamaergic imputs.  

As a part of the midbrain, the VTA correlates with Uranus and the Moon. It further correlates with Neptune and Jupiter.

Parts of the neocortex have been considered as belonging to the limbic system, because of their prominent role in affective and memory processes, such as the insular cortex, the cingulate gyrus, the parahippocampal gyrus, and the dentate gyrus, and even the prefrontal cortex. However, these brain regions are part of the neocortex, and we shall refer to them when talking about the Neomammalian brain.  

(... continues)
« Last Edit: Aug 06, 2015, 07:51 AM by Gonzalo » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 07, 2015, 02:18 AM »

Hi Gonzalo,

Thanks for sharing all of this. There is a lot to assimilate!

All the best
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 07, 2015, 02:40 AM »

Hi Gonzalo,

Me too ~ I'd like to say thanks so much

for your incredible work!


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« Reply #18 on: Aug 07, 2015, 03:46 PM »

(.... continuation)

The Neomammalian Brain or neocortex.

Surrounding the limbic system is the neocortex. It receives sensory information through specific thalamic relays and processes incoming information into neural representations of the world. This is the brain area most involved in what is called ‘rational mind’ and its ability to generate ‘ideas’. The structure of the neocortex is relatively uniform. Neocortical areas have six layers of neurons, structured in cylindrical columns. However, there are many exceptions to this. As an example, the motor cortex lacks layer IV. Each area of the cortex is specialized in processing specific types of information, and each layer of neurons within a column has specific interactions with other brain regions. As examples, pyramidal neurons in the upper layers II and III send their axons to other neocortical areas, and while those in the deeper layers V and VI project primarily out of the cortex to areas such as the thalamus, brainstem, or the spinal cord. Neurons in layer IV receive all of the synaptic connections from outside the cortex (mostly from the thalamus), while making short-range, local connections to other cortical layers. Thus, layer IV receives all incoming sensory information and distributes it to the other layers for further processing.

In general, each column typically responds to sensory stimuli relating to specific a certain body part or region of sound or vision. These columns are similar, and can be thought of as the basic repeating functional units of the neocortex. In humans, the neocortex consists of about a half-million of these columns, and each of them contains some 70,000 neurons. The human cortex, if unfolded, would have a surface area of about 2,430 cm2. The cortex is organized in lobes: frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes. There are two hemispheres, right and left, which include not only cortex but also subcortical structures.  

The neocortex is disproportionately large in humans as compared with any other species. It is critically involved in behaviors that are considered to be distinctly human. From an evolutionary perspective, many of the complex information-processing capacities of the neocortex are fundamentally dependent, most of the times unconsciously, on instinctive or affective/emotional processes emanating from much ancient and deeper brain strata. Conscious, rational processing operates at the level of already well processed perceptual information, elaborated in unconscious computations by deeper layers of the brain. However, the neocortex aims to provide an ever-increasing behavioral flexibility for the more primitive emotional and motivational systems.

The frontal lobe is the largest of the cerebral lobes, extending from the central sulcus to the frontal pole of the brain. Inferiorly it extends to the lateral sulcus. The frontal lobe also extends onto the medial surface of the brain, where it borders the corpus callosum inferiorly. Within posterior portion of the frontal lobe, the precentral gyrus is concerned with integration of motor function signals coming from various brain regions, thus serving as the primary motor cortex for control of contralateral voluntary movements. Neurons within the precentral gyrus are somatotopically organized. This means that that different parts of the precentral gyrus are associated with distinct parts of the body, at functional and anatomical levels. Outputs from the precentral gyrus to the brainstem and contralateral spinal cord follow a similar functional arrangement, thus forming an ‘homunculus’ figure based on the cortical representation of body parts.

The premotor area or premotor cortex within the frontal lobes exercises control over movements associated with the contralateral side of the body by playing an important role in the initiation and sequencing of movements. The frontal eye fields controls the movements of both eyes in concert, and the supplementary motor cortex controls postural movements involving groups of muscles on both sides of the body.

A part of the inferior frontal gyrus of the dominant hemisphere is Broca’s motor speech area, which is important for the motor components of speech. If this area is damaged a form of language impairment occurs in which it is difficult to name objects or repeat words, while comprehension is not affected (Broca’s aphasia or motor aphasia).  

Other important areas within the frontal lobe is the prefrontal cortex which is concerned with agency and control of socially appropriate behavior. The orbitofrontal cortex within the prefrontal cortex is involved in evaluation of sensory information, emotion and reward expectancy in decision making. Both the prefrontal cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex have many other specialized functions and are highly relevant in cognitive processes, problem solving and complex social appraisal, and how they relate with emotional or affective basis arising from lower brain areas. For example, the most caudal part of the orbitofrontal cortex forms strong connections with the amygdala and thus serves to control aggressive impulses and to soothe intense emotional states that manifest from the amygdala. We will refer to some of these functions later, when we talk about some of the systems in which these brain areas are part.

At the depths of the lateral (Sylvian) sulcus, a portion of cortex called the Insula is visible when the temporal lobe is pulled away from the rest of the cortex. This area serves for the convergence of the temporal, parietal, and frontal cortices and is associated with the reception and integration of taste sensation, reception of viscerosensations, processing of pain sensations, and vestibular functions. The insula is involved in awareness or interoceptive awareness which is connected with the embodied experience of self and is linked to emotion and homeostasis. Its functions include aspects of perception, motor control, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience. The anterior portion of the insula is involved in disgust response both to smells and to the sight of contamination and mutilation which occurs even when the experience is just imagined. In social experience, the insula takes part in emotions connected with norm violations, empathy. It is also involved in orgasm.

The frontal lobe correlates as a whole with Venus, Uranus and Neptune. The prefrontal cortex correlates with Mercury, Saturn and Uranus, and the orbitofrontal cortex correlates with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Broca’s area placed within the frontal lobe within the dominant hemisphere correlates with Mercury and Uranus. The insula correlates with Uranus, Venus and Neptune.  

The parietal lobe is placed posteriorly from the central sulcus to its border with the occipital lobe. It deals fundamentally with perception and processing of somatosensory events. The postcentral gyrus is the primary receiving area for somesthetic, ie. kinesthetic and tactile input coming from the contralateral trunk and extremities. Just like the motor cortex, the postcentral gyrus is somatotopically organized in the way of a sensory homunculus. The inferior parietal lobe receives information from auditory and visual cortices and are involved in aspects of complex perceptual discrimination and integration. Wernicke’s area is also located here. This area is essential for comprehension of spoken language. Damage to this area results in another form of aphasia, Wernicke’s aphasia, also called sensory aphasia, in which there is an impairment of comprehension and repetition, while speech remains fluent. The superior parietal lobe serves for integration of sensory and motor functions and contributes to programming complex motor functions associated with the premotor cortex. Deep within the temporal lobe lies the limbic cortical hippocampal formation.

The parietal lobe correlates with Uranus, Venus and Neptune. Wernicke’s area correlates with Uranus and Jupiter.

The occipital lobe is the smallest lobe within the cerebral cortex. It is located in the most posterior portion of the skull, underneath the occipital bone. The occipital lobe houses the primary visual cortex and the visual association cortex. It contains specialized areas that deal with the perception of color, motion and form. Visual information coming from the retina pass through a ‘station’ in the thalamus before reaching the cortex. Neurons on the posterior aspect of the occipital lobe are arranged as a spatial map of the retinal field.

The occipital lobe correlates with Uranus and the Moon. The retina correlates with the Moon.

The temporal lobe is located inferior to the lateral sulcus. It is involved in the processing of sensory input in order for meaning association to occur, as necessary for retention of visual memories, language comprehension, and emotional processes. Within the temporal lobe, the transverse gyri of Heschl constitutes the primary receiving area for auditory input. The middle and inferior temporal gyri are associated with perception of moving objects in the visual field, and the recognition of faces.

Structures within the medial temporal lobe, together with other brain areas, are fundamental for declarative and long-term memory. These structures include the hippocampus and the surrounding hippocampal area consisting of the perirhinal, parahippocampal, and entorhinal neocortical regions.
Specific areas within in the superior, posterior, and lateral parts of the temporal lobe are involved in complex aspects of auditory processing, and also auditory perception, at the primary auditory cortex. Primary auditory cortex receives sensory information from the ears and secondary areas, and translates this input into meaningful units such as speech and words.

Areas associated with vision in the temporal lobe interpret the meaning of visual stimuli and establish object recognition. The fusiform gyrus and the parahippocampal gyrus are involved in complex visual processing relating to face recognition and place or scenes recognition, respectively. Other close areas deal with object perception and recognition.

The left primary auditory cortex is involved in comprehension, naming, and the formation of verbal memories.

The medial temporal lobe which contains the hippocampus is critically involved in the encoding of short-term memories into long-term memories. Damage to this area can prevent the formation of new memories, ie. what is called anterograde amnesia.

The temporal lobe correlates with Mercury and Uranus. The parahippocampal gyrus correlates with Uranus and Saturn. The fusiform gyrus correlates with Mercury and the Moon.

Brain Hemispheres and lateralization of functions

Brain hemispheres contain the cerebral cortex covering the surface of the brain, and deeper structures which include the diencephalon, the basal ganglia, and limbic structures.

In general, brain functions involve both sides of the brain. However, hemispheric specialization exists by which the right and brain hemispheres participate differently in some specific functions. For some given functions, one side of the brain plays a more active role and has more neurons dedicated to that function than the other side (Siegel).

Communication between the hemispheres exists which connects the same brain locations on each side. This occurs through different bundles of fibers, and the most important of them is by far the corpus callosum. However, some brain areas are relatively independent from the contralateral hemisphere and the information processing of those areas remains within the relevant hemisphere. An example of this is the sensorimotor processing of information coming from distal musculature. On the overall, though, most brain functions involve communication between hemispheres. Within this, again, there is hemispheric specialization relative to different types of functions, ie. lateral dominance of one or the other hemisphere. Speech and language in general, and mathematical ability, are processed and generated within the left hemisphere. Memory for shapes, musical ability, and recognition of forms, faces and body image, are located within the right hemisphere.  Cognitive abilities are different on one and the other side of the brain. Left brain information processing is rather linear or sequential, and tends to focus on the parts and details.

Right brain information processing serves to perceive holistic patterns, to create a complete gestalt.
Right brain is more prominent in emotional processing than its counterpart on the left. Early development has a deeper impact on the right brain, and this hemisphere appears as the main source of intense emotions and feelings, both positive and negative. Brain structures and connections developed in early attachment are prominent in the right hemisphere, before left brain connections and structures mature in the left brain than will serve to modulate or ‘control’ the resulting emotional states. Thus, developmental trauma more severely impacts directly on the right hemisphere. Left brain hemisphere in turn tends to me more ‘light’ and more capable to take distance from emotional states, negative or positive. Left hemisphere is thought to serve process the intensity of the right hemisphere emotional processes, by means of language forms, as an obvious example. Thus, it provides means to access those contents in more manageable ways. Right brain deep emotional processes, and their conditioning by early life circumstances, are fundamental for emotional regulation. Conditions such as depression involve the state of the right brain, and its connectivity with frontal lobe structures such as the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices, more to the left side of the brain. The right hemisphere is considered the relevant neural substrate for the subconscious or unconscious.

We will speak some more about lateralization in brain functions when describing specific brain circuitry in emotional processes in next pages.

There is an idea that was put forward by a biologist called Julian Jaynes, and that connects with the Daemon archetype which is quite relevant in Evolutionary Astrology. He proposed that the left hemisphere became more relevant for human cognition and for the sense of being a separate self, only recently. Before this occurred, the right hemisphere was totally dominant in his view, and it operated as an experienced interphase with something larger that the self, which more or less ‘dictated’ the individual actions to follow, operating as a ‘voice’ heard emanating from the right hemisphere. Through the analysis of texts from the Old Testament, and specially the difference between The Iliad and the Odyssey, he proposed that this change in brain dominance occurred around 3000 years ago. This is more or less the time when the North Node of Uranus entered in Gemini, on 1423 BC. We will speak further about this collective evolutionary transition or intentions for the species, reflected in the said nodal shift, in chapter … The ideas put forward by Jaynes have not been accepted within the scientific community, but show some consistency with some EA postulates and insights.

The right hemisphere correlates with Jupiter and Uranus, and the left hemisphere correlates with Mercury and Uranus. The corpus callosum correlates with Uranus.
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2015, 06:05 PM by Gonzalo » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 11, 2015, 07:56 AM »

Man goes to hospital for leg pain, finds out he only has half a brain

Medical Daily
10 Aug 2015 at 14:34 ET       

In 2007, a perfectly healthy 44-year-old man complaining of minor leg weakness baffled doctors in France when a medical exam revealed that most of his brain was missing. Although researchers can explain why he lost his brain, figuring out how he managed to live so long without it is more difficult. However, a recent study may shed light on the man’s survival, proposing that brain size and brain function are largely unrelated.

The middle-aged father of two, whose identity was not revealed for privacy concerns, visited his doctor after suffering with mild weakness in his left leg for two weeks. According to the 2007 study on the bizarre case published in the scientific journal The Lancet, a more thorough medical examination revealed the patient was missing a significant amount of brain matter. Although it was difficult to measure exactly how much of the brain was absent, according to Lionel Feuillet, a co-author of the study, the doctors estimated that the patient was missing between 50 to 75 percent.

“The whole brain was reduced — frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes — on both left and right sides. These regions control motion, sensibility, language, vision, audition, and emotional, and cognitive functions,” Feuillet told New Scientist.

Despite the handicap, the married father of two held a full-time job as a civil servant and showed no other signs of his missing body part other than a slightly below average IQ.
Further Investigation

A further investigation of the patient’s medical history revealed a possible cause for the strange condition. At 6 months old, the patient was diagnosed with postnatal hydrocephalus, New Scientist reported. Hydrocephalus, which is Greek for “water on the head,” is a condition that occurs when fluid build up in the skull and causes the brain to swell. The cause of the patient’s hydrocephalus was listed as unknown, but according to the National Health Institute most cases of postnatal hydrocephalus, or hydrocephalus which occurs after birth, are spurred by infections of the central nervous system, bleeding in the brain caused by injury or during birth, or even tumors.

After his diagnosis, the patient received shunts in his brain to help drain the excess fluid. When untreated, hydrocephalus can cause brain damage and impaired developmental, physical, and intellectual functions. At age 14 the shunts were removed. Unfortunately, according to the study, removing the shunts allowed more fluid to gradually build up in the patient’s brain. Over the next 30 years, this build-up slowly condensed and consumed the actual brain matter until it only remained on the outer areas of the skull, much similar to a shell.

The weakness in the man’s leg subsided after doctors reinserted a shunt into his brain via a procedure known as neuroendoscopic ventriculocisternostomy. While the cause of the patient’s initial concern had been addressed, how he remained fully functional despite missing the majority of his brain remained less clear.

The French patient may be the most extreme case of an individual functioning without a large percentage of his brain, but he is by far not the only example. According to Dr. Donald Forsdyke in his paper recently published in Biological Theory, these examples are proof that the brain size has little correlation with what it’s capable of accomplishing. Because those missing large amounts of their brains are able to function nearly the same as those with full brains, Fosdyke proposes “it would seem timely to look anew at possible ways our brains might store their information.”
Brain Plasticity

Experts believe the concept of brain plasticity may explain how the Frenchman was able to function despite missing so much brain matter. Our brains are made up of different sections designed to undertake specific tasks. For example, the frontal lobe is associated with speech, movement, and problem solving, while the cerebellum is associated with coordination of movement and balance.  Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, describes how the brain is able to reorganize its neural pathways to allow areas of the brain to undertake other tasks other than those intended.

“If something happens very slowly over quite some time, maybe over decades, the different parts of the brain take up functions that would normally be done by the part that is pushed to the side,” Dr. Max Muenke, a pediatric brain defect specialist at the National Human Genome Research Institute, who was not affiliated with the study, told New Scientist.

Other examples of brain plasticity are found in individuals with hearing loss. Researchers have observed that without auditory stimulation, the area of the brain associated with hearing, the auditory cortex area, adjusts to help the patient enhance their remaining senses. Recent research has also revealed that brain plasticity may play a role in helping the brains of those with autism improve their overall brain function.

Source: Forsdyke DR. Wittgenstein’s Certainty is Uncertain: Brain Scans of Cured

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« Reply #20 on: Aug 17, 2015, 11:57 AM »

Turning on happy memories can reverse depression
19 June 2015

Scientists have cured the symptoms of depression in mice by using optogenetics to artificially activate neurons associated with positive memories.

This suggests a potential treatment pathway for depression through the manipulation of the brain cells where memories are stored.

Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and principal investigator of the study, said: "Once you identify specific sites in the memory circuit which are not functioning well, or whose boosting will bring a beneficial consequence, there is a possibility of inventing new medical technology where the improvement will be targeted to the specific part of the circuit."

This approach should have fewer side effects than current antidepressants, whose functions affect multiple areas across the whole brain. Although optogenetic intervention is a long way from being used in treatments for humans, the type of analysis that this research gives us helps inform where to target therapies for certain disorders.

Manipulating Memories

Professor Tonegawa and his colleagues at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics have previously shown that they can label and reactivate brain cells that store specific memories, plant false memories and switch the emotional associations of a particular memory. In the recent research, they wanted to see if they could exploit these abilities to treat depression.

To do this, the researchers gave the mice a pleasurable experience (all of the mice were male and were given time to spend with a female). At the same time, the cells in the hippocampus that were storing the memory of this experience were labelled with a light-sensitive protein which when activated causes the neurons to fire.

They then induced depression-like symptoms (e.g. giving up quickly when faced with a difficult situation or being unable to enjoy activities that are usually pleasurable) in the mice by exposing them to chronic stress.

Mice that were placed in conditions to test for these symptoms had dramatically improved responses after activation of the neurons that stored the enjoyable memory. They behaved similarly to mice who had never been depressed.

To begin with this only happened as long as the memory stayed activated. However, further investigation found that with repeated activation over time (15 minutes, twice per day, for days) a comparable effect could be achieved.

Memories beat the real thing

Incredibly, this false activation of their memory was much more effective than allowing the mice to experience the pleasurable situation again.

If there were a way to stimulate specific brain circuits in humans, then it might be possible to achieve the same effects seen in this study. A more targeted form of deep-brain stimulation might accomplish this.

Deep-brain stimulation is currently used as a treatment for depression, Parkinson's disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder among other diseases, but is crude and activates large chunks of the brain.

Steve Ramirez, lead author of the paper, said: "You could imagine in the future that if you could target deep-brain stimulation not to patches of brain but to specific sets of cells that we think are holding onto a positive memory, then it offers a new therapeutic avenue."

Paper Reference

Ramirez S, Liu X, MacDonald C J, Moffa A, Zhou J, Redondo R L, Tonegawa S (2015) Activating positive memory engrams suppresses depression-like behaviour Nature 522:335-339 doi: 10.1038/nature14514
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« Reply #21 on: Aug 17, 2015, 12:02 PM »

Study: Psilocybin Mushrooms Stimulate Growth Of New Brain Cells
28 May 2015

Psychedelic mushrooms already have a reputation for helping people open their minds and broaden their perspective on the world. They have shown an ability to combat mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Now, research is showing that the magic mushrooms can actually help physically rebuild a damaged brain.

In a study conducted by the University of South Florida and published in 2013 in theExperimental Brain Research journal, researchers measured the effects of mushrooms on mice that had been conditioned to fear certain stimuli.

The results were striking: Not only could psilocybin, the main active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, help them get over their fear, it promoted cell growth and regeneration in their brains.

During the experiment, mice were exposed to an auditory tone while receiving an electric shock, training them to fear the noise even when the shock was not administered.

Mice that received low doses of psilocybin, however, were quickly able to shed their aversion to the tone, while mice that did not take the substance took longer to return to normal. “They stopped freezing; they lost their fear,” study co-author Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos said to Live Science.

What’s more, the psychedelic mice showed growth in new brain cells, perhaps erasing memories of the fear response. Researchers think that the psilocybin is binding to brain receptors that stimulate growth and healing, acting on the hippocampus, a small part of the brain that is essential to learning and forming memories. Since PTSD is thought to result from a similar response in which patients cannot separate a stimulus from a traumatic event, psilocybin could perhaps help them heal their brains just like it did for the mice.

“Memory, learning, and the ability to relearn that a once threatening stimuli is no longer a danger absolutely depends on the ability of the brain to alter its connections,” study leader Dr. Briony Catlow of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development said to Real Clear Science. “We believe that neuroplasticity plays a critical role in psilocybin accelerating fear extinction.”

“It is highly possible that in the future we will continue these studies since many interesting questions have come up from these experiments,” Catlow said. “The hope is that we can extend the findings to humans in clinical trials.”

Psychedelics work, in part, by overriding the “default mode network” in the brain, which is thought to be responsible for wandering minds, self-criticism and an inability to focus on the outside world. Instead, the substances help people focus on living in the moment, similar to many Eastern meditation practices. That can also help with PTSD as well as other mental disorders like depression.

“People with depression have overactive default mode networks and so ruminate on themselves, on their inadequacies, on their badness, that they are worthless, that they have failed — to an extent that is sometimes delusional,” David Nutt, of the Imperial College London’s Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, said to Natural News.
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« Reply #22 on: Aug 18, 2015, 10:02 AM »

Kriya Yoga Changes Your Brain Cells
(From Yogananda’s talks and writings)

Your greatest enemies are your bad habits. They will follow you from one incarnation to another until you overcome them. In order to free yourself from fate, you must cure yourself of bad habits. How? Good company is one of the best medicines. If you have a tendency to drink, mix with people who do not. If you are suffering from ill health, be with people who have positive minds, who don’t think about sickness. If you have the consciousness of failure, associate with those who have the consciousness of success. Then you will begin to change.

Each of your habits creates a specific “groove,” or pathway, in the brain. These patterns make you behave in a certain way, often against your wish. Your life follows those grooves that you yourself have created in the brain. In that sense you are not a free person; you are more or less a victim of the habits you have formed. Depending on how set those patterns are, to that degree you are a puppet. But you can neutralize the dictates of those bad habits. How? By creating brain patterns of opposite good habits. And you can completely erase the grooves of bad habits by meditation. There is no other way. However, you can’t cultivate good habits without good company and good environment. And you can’t free yourself from bad habits without good company and meditation.

Kriya Yoga Changes Your Brain Cells.

Every time you meditate deeply on God, beneficial changes take place in the patterns of your brain. Suppose you are a financial failure or a moral failure or a spiritual failure. Through deep meditation, affirming, “I and my Father are one,” you will know that you are the child of God. Hold on to that ideal. Meditate until you feel a great joy. When joy strikes your heart, God has answered your broadcast to Him; He is responding to your prayers and positive thinking. This is a distinct and definite method:
First, meditate upon the thought, “I and my Father are one,” trying to feel a great peace, and then a great joy in your heart. When that joy comes, say, “Father, Thou art with me. I command Thy power within me to cauterize my brain cells of wrong habits and past seed tendencies.” The power of God in meditation will do it. Rid yourself of the limiting consciousness that you are a man or a woman; know that you are the child of God. Then mentally affirm and pray to God: “I command my brain cells to change, to destroy the grooves of bad habits that have made a puppet out of me. Lord, burn them up in Thy divine light.” And when you will practice the Self-Realization techniques of meditation, especially Kriya Yoga, you will actually see that light of God baptizing you.

I will tell you a true story of the effectiveness of this technique. In India, a man who had a bad temper came to me. He was a specialist in slapping his bosses when he lost his temper, so he also lost one job after another. He would become so uncontrollably irate that he would throw at whoever bothered him anything that was handy. He asked me for help. I told him, “The next time you get angry, count to one hundred before you act.” He tried it, but came back to me and said, “I get more angry when I do that. While I am counting, I am blind with rage for having to wait so long.” His case looked hopeless.
Then I told him to practice Kriya Yoga, with this further instruction: “After practicing your Kriya, think that the divine Light is going into your brain, soothing it, calming your nerves, calming your emotions, wiping away all anger. And one day your temper tantrums will be gone.” Not long after that, he came to me again, and this time he said, “I am free from the habit of anger. I am so thankful.”

I decided to test him. I arranged for some boys to pick a quarrel with him. I hid myself in the park along the route where he used to pass regularly, so that I could observe. The boys tried again and again to goad him into a fight, but he wouldn’t respond. He kept his calmness.
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« Reply #23 on: Aug 19, 2015, 10:04 AM »

Brain connectivity. Basic Neurotransmitters and relevant EA correlations

The human brain is a very complex system or ‘system of systems’. Different parts of the brain are connected between each other and communicate between themselves and with other parts of the organism at various levels. There are different ways in which communication occurs at different levels within brain processing, even though some levels are better understood than others.

Genetic material (DNA) in each neuron within the 10 billion neurons that exist in the brain, shapes the nature of ongoing processes that occur in each neuron. Many neural functions are modulated by inherited genetic thresholds, and epi-genetic changes modify the functioning of the neuron and how it communicates with other neurons. Each individual neuron has multiple dendrites which carry incoming signals received from other neurons. Within the neuron body the incoming signals trigger action potentials, which travel at constant speed down the neuron’s axon, at the end of which stored neurotransmitters are released.
Neurotransmitter molecules flow or diffuse across a tiny gap or synapse and reach specialized structures called receptors in the membrane of other neuron or neurons. The electric and chemical message will either excite or inhibit the messaging activity of the target neuron or neurons. Drugs like antidepressants act on this level. All information that is processed in the brain is ‘made of’ these electrical and chemical messages, and all brain activity is dependent on the shifting balance between excitatory and inhibitory synapses.

Given that the speed and intensity of the action potentials within neurons are constant, the rate of firing serves as a code for communication between neurons. The frequency ranges from 1–40 Hz. Multiple interconnected neurons, ie. neurons that form synapses between them, define overlapping neural networks. Many of these neural networks are systems that belong to the biological design of the species and have been inherited from our mammalian and even more ancient ancestors. These are relatively closed systems, in that they are shaped genetically, are formed of their main connections already at work at birth time in order to allow early adaptive behavior or action programs, and thus, operate in essentially subconscious ways which normally are independent of the conscious will of the individual. Deep structures part of the mammalian and the reptilian brains are involved fundamentally in this type of neural networks.

The brain is a highly interconnected system of systems, functionally and anatomically. Coherence of its functions depends on the interaction between specialized networks such as reflex, sensory, motor, language processing, various emotional circuits, etc., and non-specialized integrative networks.  Specialized networks in the body’s autonomic nervous system are also connected with higher brain functions. As an example, Porges’ ‘Polyvagal Theory’ shows that the earliest autonomic nervous system was controlled by an unmyelinated visceral vagus (or tenth cranial nerve) that induced immobilization behaviors in response to threat. A second stage evolved with the sympathetic nervous system allowed ‘fight or flight’ response. A third stage is the myelinated vagus, which is found only in mammals, that regulates heart output and allows engagement and disengagement with the environment in a more flexible manner in order to consider social variables to regulate defensive response, and which is connected with the regulation of facial expression and the larynx and pharynx, ie. speech. The biggest part of the human brain is, however, non-specialized association cortex, in charge of putting together or integrating information in potentially more flexible or variable ways. Association cortices are integrated in varying degrees, shaped developmentally, with the limbic system lower brain structures. These networks involve types of programs that are not so closed, and can be modified in varying degrees by development, conscious experience, or learning. At a neuronal level, these systems are formed through simple mechanisms in learning, memory and conditioning, such as the reinforcement of connections between neurons that fire simultaneously, known as Hebb’s rule (ie. ‘neurons that fire together wire together’) or long-term potentiation. Other network mechanisms involve the strengthening of connections between neurons through the action of a third neuron which stimulates the pre-synaptic neuron, as in sensitization, which provides a means for feedforward synchronization for processing sensory events (which is required for phenomena like the apparent continuity of the individual visual world of objects), or ‘corollary discharges’ in sensory-motor processes by which the result of the movement intended is compared with a an ‘efference copy’ created by the brain (a reason why it is difficult to tickle oneself), serving to correct errors in motor activities. Further, there are mechanisms that involve synchronization of the frequency of firing patterns of neurons and neuronal networks through ‘neural oscillation’, which also serves a means of information storage. Another specific way the brain uses to shape its networks and connectedness, is what is called neuronal pruning. This means that at key periods in brain development or functioning, neuronal connections and networks that are not in use or that have been adaptively displaced by new connections/networks, will be pruned or eliminated.
We can see that there are various levels of communication and integration between neurons, brain areas and neural networks, possibly involving various conversions between amplitude modulation codes and frequency modulation codes. This involves various levels in how the brain ‘makes sense’ of embodied experience, including complex systems and ‘emergent properties’.

If we focus on the neuronal level of brain functioning, the most important way in which neurons communicate is chemical in nature. Other means include electrical synaptic transmission, by which neurons very close together or forming ‘gap junctions’ directly communicate through electrical messages in the fastest possible way, as in defensive reflexes. In ephaptic interactions, near unmyelinated neurons communicate through the interaction of their electrical fields, or through the coupling of adjacent nervous fibers which exchange ions between them. In autocrine, paracrine, and long-range signaling, communication occurs by means of molecules produced by both neural and nonneural cells, ie. hormones. Hormonal signaling is the nonsynaptic mode of communication with the longest range or distance from the cells originating the signal and the receptor cell. Molecules that are released from neurons are also part in forms of messaging that do not involve synapses. Thus, there are many substances or molecules secreted by neurons or other cells which diffuse passively, ranging from conventional neurotransmitters to gases such as nitric oxide, that act through autocrine mechanisms by activating receptors on the same cell that releases them, or paracrine pathways to influence nearby cells. Some of these molecules further contribute to synaptic transmission between neurons. On the overall, however, synaptic chemical messaging between neurons, occurring through specialized molecules called neurotransmitters or neuromodulators, is the most relevant form of communication between neurons.

In this type of transmission, neurotransmitters or neuromodulators are released from the axons of a pre-synaptic neuron into the synaptic cleft between the axon and the dendrites of the post-synaptic neuron or neurons. Membranes in the dendrites of the post-synaptic neurons contain specialized proteins called receptors, which become activated or bound by the neurotransmitter. This induces chemical and electrical changes within the post-synaptic neuron. At the post-synaptic neuron, the two main electrical messages received are ‘fire more’ ie. excitation, or ‘fire less’, ie. inhibition. There are, however, different neurochemical ways in which this is achieved.

Neurotransmitters can act as ‘first messengers’ when interacting between neurons, and they can also trigger the action of other molecules within the post-synaptic neuron or ‘second messengers’ that that will participate in further processes at the cytosol or the nucleus, contributing to the neural transmission.    

The strength of the postsynaptic signal is dependent on several factors, such as the quantity of neurotransmitter released at each synapse, and the number of receptors at the membrane of the post-synaptic neuron. Once sufficient excitatory synapses occur, the signal reaches a certain threshold at which a sensitive area on the nerve cell begins to fire. This means that the electrical charge around the membrane rapidly shifts from negative to positive, in a process called depolarization, which is mediated by ions. Inhibition, on the contrary, implies that the post-synaptic neuron becomes resistant to excitatory influence. When a neuron fires, a positive sodium (Na) current enters the cell, and later, the resting membrane potential is reestablished by a positive potassium (K) current flowing out of the cell. Ionic shifts occur in a small area surrounding the membrane, and they occur through specific ion pores, or channels.

These changes occur hundreds of times per second in some types of neurons in the sensory and thalamic-neocortical brain areas, while other neurons fire just a few times per second in limbic brain areas, or in some areas of the reptilian brain, some types of neurons fire only when the specific stimulus is presented.  
Most neurons contain several types of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Many times, a primary neurotransmitter controls neuronal firing in the way described above, while neuromodulators such as neuropeptides influences the flow and patterning of neural transmission.

Messaging within the brain, or within the brain and other parts of the organism, correlates with Uranus and Mercury. Hormones correlate with Pluto. Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators correlate with Neptune, Uranus and Mercury. Synapses correlate with Uranus. Axons and the sacs containing the neurotransmitters within the pre-synaptic neuron correlate with Uranus. Receptors in general correlate with Venus and Neptune, and receptors within the brain correlate with Neptune, Uranus and Venus. Proteins correlate with Pluto, and the cell nucleus correlates with Pluto.    

The production of neurotransmitters, and their modifications, and destruction, are the result of the action of specialized enzymes. Enzymes correlate with Pluto. Enzymes are involved in three types of biochemical changes that serve to produce neurotransmitters and neuromodulators (Paanksepp). First, many neurotransmitters are short proteins called neuropeptides, which are clipped from larger “mother proteins” by specific cleavage enzymes. Second, anabolic enzymes serve to bind together several molecules, to create a larger molecule, as occurs with acetylcholine (ACh). Third, many transmitters are simply amino acids that have been modified in minor ways by the action of enzymes, as occurs with dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Further, most neurotransmitters are destroyed soon after their release by specific catabolic enzymes, if not by a reuptake process by which the neurotransmitter is removed from the synapse. There are hundreds of substances that have been identified as neurotransmitters. However, only some of these substances are well understood.  

« Last Edit: Aug 19, 2015, 06:53 PM by Gonzalo » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: Aug 21, 2015, 05:25 AM »

August 20, 2015

How our brain hides (and retrieves) horrifying memories

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Our brains have a built-in mechanism for hiding traumatic and emotionally distressing memories in the recesses of our minds, and now a new study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers has shed new light on how this process works.

The paper, published earlier this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience, pulls back the curtain on a process known as state-dependent learning, which is believed to help us form memories that are inaccessible to normal consciousness, protecting us from events such as childhood abuse.

While this method protects us from the pain of recalling specific events, they can also lead to an array of different issues, including anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Though they are inaccessible in most situations, memories formed in a particular mood or state can be retrieved when the brain is returned to that state, as demonstrated by the researchers through mouse experiments.

In those experiments, Dr. Jelena Radulovic, professor of bipolar disease at the Feinberg School, and colleagues discovered the mechanism through which state-dependent learning renders these fear-related memories inaccessible to a person’s consciousness for the first time.

Amino acids responsible for this phenomenon

In a statement, Dr. Radulovic said that the findings “show there are multiple pathways to storage of fear-inducing memories, and we identified an important one for fear-related memories.” Their work “could eventually lead to new treatments for patients with psychiatric disorders for whom conscious access to their traumatic memories is needed if they are to recover.”

As the authors explained, it is hard for therapists to help these patients because those individuals themselves are unable to recall the traumatic events at the core of their symptoms. The best way to access these hidden memories is to return the brain to the same state of consciousness as when the memory was encoded, and the new research reveals exactly why this is the case.

A pair of amino acids, glutamate and GABA, are at the center of this phenomenon. The Feinberg School researchers explained that these substances are essentially the brain’s yin and yang. They direct the brain’s emotional tides and control if nerve cells are excited or inhibited. The system is balanced under normal conditions, but when a person becomes hyper-aroused and vigilant, there is a surge in glutamate, the chemical primarily responsible for storing memories.

When glutamate stores memories, they do so in a way that is easy to remember, while GABA blocks the action of this substance, calming us and helping us sleep. Benzodiazepine, a common tranquilizer, activates GABA receptors in our brains, including one set which encodes memories of fear-inducing events, storing them so that they are hidden from consciousness.

GABA receptors change how stressful events are encoded

As part of their new study, Dr. Radulovic’s team infused the hippocampus of mice with a drug known as gaboxadol, which stimulates extra-synaptic GABA receptors. The rodents were then placed in a box and given a brief, mild electrical shock. The next day, when the mice were put back in the same box, they moved about freely and showed no signs of fear.

These observations appeared to indicate that the mice didn't recall the earlier shock that had taken place in that location. However, when the mice were put back on the drug and in the box, they appeared to be anticipating another shock. In short, once the mice were returned to the state in which they received the shock, they remembered the experience.

The findings reveal that when extra-synaptic GABA receptors were activated with the drug, they altered the way that the stressful event was encoded in the brains of the mice. When in the drug-induced state, their minds used completely different molecular pathways and neuronal circuits to store the memory than those utilized when they weren’t inebriated.

This system is regulated by a small microRNA, miR-33, and according to the authors, it may be the brain’s protective mechanism to deal with extremely stressful experiences. The results of this new study appears to indicate that some individuals will respond to traumatic stress by activating the extra-synaptic GABA system to store memories, thus making them essentially inaccessible.

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« Reply #25 on: Aug 22, 2015, 05:25 AM »

August 21, 2015

No longer just for memory: The hippocampus has a new function!

by Susanna Pilny
Red Orbit

The hippocampus is known to be the long-term memory section of the brain, but scientists from the Ruhr-University Bochum believe they have found a separate, new function for it: conflict resolution.

Conflict resolution sounds like the job of hostage negotiator, but it’s a daily occurrence in human life. In this case, conflict resolution signifies when one is confronted with a conflict of which decision to make—like trying to decide if you can make a left turn in spotty traffic and not get hit by oncoming cars. Another (fun to test) example involves the Stroop Effect, which often is where a viewer is asked to say that the color of a word, instead of the word that is written. (Like “RED” written in green, where participants are looking to say green.)

Deciding fast in situations of conflict

In the experiment, the researchers tested conflict resolution with an auditory form of the Stroop test. Participants reacted to the words “high” and “low”—but these words were said variably in a high or low tone. The participants were tasked with stating what the tone of the word was, while ignoring what the word meant. And if the word and the tone didn’t correspond—like if “low” was said in a high-pitch voice—a conflict was generated, forcing the participants to make a decision on how to react.

As these conflicts unfolded, the scientists measured hippocampus activity via two methods. Some epilepsy patients have EEG electrodes implanted in their brains in order to plan surgeries; 9 of these patients allowed them to measure the brain activity in the hippocampus directly, co-author Nikolai Axmacher told redOrbit via email. In 27 non-epileptic patients, a functional MRI (fMRI) was used.

“Both methods revealed converging evidence that the hippocampus is recruited in a regionally specific manner during response conflict,” the authors wrote in their paper, which is featured in Current Biology. Or in other words: It seems that the hippocampus is not only for memory, but to help resolve conflicts.

“Our data show first of all a completely new function of the Hippocampus -- processing of activity conflicts,” Carina Oehrn from the Department of Epileptology at the University Hospital of Bonn said in a press release. “However, in order to answer the question how that function interacts with memory processes, we will have to carry out additional tests.”

Dr. Axmacher speculated further on how memory could play a role in decision making: “Perhaps the memory system becomes particularly active if a conflict has been successfully resolved. Permanently unsolved conflicts can't be used for learning helpful lessons for the future. According to our model, the brain works like a filter. It responds strongly to resolved conflicts, but not to unsolved conflicts or standard situations. However, we have to verify this hypothesis in additional studies.”
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