Archive for the ‘Clinical Symptoms’ Category

That Fish You Caught Was in Pain

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Boy with FishThis week we were treated to the news that in addition to his other exotic and high-living habits, the esteemed leader of North Korea likes his sashimi cut from living fish. And this week also the topic of whether fish feel pain graced our newspaper. Elizabeth Braithwaite, a behavioral biologist at Edinburgh University, wondered why that question had not arisen before now. Perhaps anglers really don’t want to know. I thought it was because the question had already been answered.

Braithwaite points out that fish have the same architecture for nociception that we do: A-delta and c-fibers. It would be remarkable indeed if fish so equipped did not have the rest of the alarm system we call pain also in the repertoire of their nervous system. Indeed, fish react aversively under noxious stimuli, just as one would expect. And if they are then given pain-killing medication, they respond to that in the expected fashion as well. (more…)

Autism: The Integration Deficit Disorder

Friday, September 29th, 2006

The story on autism is at once highly promising and depressingly grim. The promising part is that the condition is coming to be understood and so remedies are forthcoming. The grim part has to do with the recognition that this is entirely a man-caused disease. Nature did not conspire against our children in this case. We did so inadvertently, but the mistakes we made are being propagated forward by default and also by design. And therein lies the scandal. We can lay the blame for continuing autism epidemic at the feet of the Centers for Disease Control, of the Food and Drug Administration, of the National Institutes of Health, and of Big PhRMA. Even the Environmental Protection Agency does not entirely escape blame.

Some decades ago an autistic child was brought to the Harvard Medical School and the Chair summoned the class of medical students and urged them all to become acquainted with this case. He said to them: “You may never have a chance to see another case like this in your entire career.” Decades later, the incidence of autism in male children has risen to 1% in this country, and a recent paper in the premier Journal Lancet reported incidence to be 2% among boys in Great Britain. That’s the country that tried to discredit Roger Wakefield, MD for suggesting that the country’s vaccination policy was a contributing cause in the epidemic. (more…)

A Program for Migraines

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Aging is not what it used to be. I have the impression that in some significant respects my own health is actually improving over the years, and that has mainly to do with my increasing understanding of self-regulation in the context of a general growth in awareness of alternative health. The same is true most likely for anyone who has committed some time and energy to that enterprise, whether it be through meditation, attention to nutrition, the adoption of an exercise regimen, taking time for biofeedback/neurofeedback, or even just an accommodation of the need for sleep. This may or may not have much to do with the fundamental risk of disease, but it has a lot to do with perceived quality of life.

This is happening among an increasingly aware public in the face of a continuing effort by the pharmacological/medical/university complex that matters of health should be left to the professionals. Life is increasingly being defined as a medical condition, with every important life transition from conception to organ harvesting after death being attended by the medical priesthood. The tribute paid to this enterprise is already at the level of 15% to 18% of our total personal expenditures in this country (depending on what all gets counted), and this fraction is still rising briskly. Medical dependency promotes yet greater dependency, in a progressive spiral that likely ends in the person being maintained on life support in a nursing home, at the same time heart-healthy and brain-dead. Nevertheless, I write as someone who has had his life saved a number of times by “real” medicine (as opposed to lifestyle or boutique medicine), and I have reason to be very grateful. (more…)

Autism and Emotionality

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

The March 12 issue of Science News previews an article about to be published in Nature Neuroscience which proposes that autistic children actually experience intense emotional reactions when looking at faces, and hence avoid eye contact. In a controlled fMRI study comparing autistic children with normals, they found as expected that the autistic children averted their gaze from images of faces presented to them in the chamber, but in the event of familiar faces, or of those with obvious emotional expressions, their amygdalas registered a strong response. No such activations were observed among normals. At the same time, the brain regions associated with facial perception showed minimal activity in the autistics.

As it happens, a strikingly evocative story was just told by a home-NF-user parent of a PDD child on the autism list server:

“It is interesting how the level of awareness on a child manifests in the weirdest ways…
N has been progressively getting more aware, and the last three weeks he was angry. This is a sweetie 6-year-old boy, and the more aware he was getting, the more aggressive and angry he became… A few days ago, he walked up to me and punched me in the eye… Then he cried his eyes out, begging for forgiveness and saying over and over he did not know why he did it… (more…)


Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

Making a Case for the Exercise Model

We have just submitted a paper to the JNT in support of the proposition that inter-hemispheric training can remediate attentional deficits irrespective of the presenting complaints. In the back-and-forth with the editors that has by now taken some months, their frustration is apparent that we never seem to come up with the kind of data that simply nails it. If this technique is indeed as effective as we say, then why not just show some EEG data which makes this obvious. The reason we don’t show such EEG data is that we don’t wish to promote the wrong conclusion. If we showed EEG data that proved our hypotheses, then an EEG criterion or EEG litmus test would follow, which would be a mistake in our view.

Rarely do we have the chance to prove this to the world, since we don’t bother taking a lot of EEG data any more. However, when Sue and I were writing our book chapter on pain a few months ago, we were asked specifically for EEG data, so we requested of Richard Soutar to send us a case with EEG data that we could include. (more…)

“Artistes and Autistes”

Monday, March 17th, 2003

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein

The debate continues on the various lists about the value of QEEG-based information to drive protocols. Whereas the fissures in the field are not as severe now as they once were, a divide still clearly exists, with people encamped comfortably on one side or the other. Each side claims to have science on its side, but if truth be told, we are each reinforced in our approach by what amount to a succession of dramatic case histories, plus a sprinkling of supportive studies.

What matters in determining which side of the divide we are most comfortable with is not simply the accumulating data, however, but who we are as scientists or clinicians. It is our personal style in confronting new information that determines which kind of evidence we will attend to. When this orientation is then graced with clinical success, it is continually reinforced. With a technique as powerful as neurofeedback, such reinforcers are plentiful. (more…)


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