Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

The Attachment Conference

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

We just attended the sixth annual attachment conference here in Los Angeles. A similarly themed conference will be held later in Boston. Attendance is growing rapidly from year to year, indicating that Attachment Theory is on a path to becoming one of the central organizing schema for mental health. Presentations at this conference were highly congenial to our worldview. The theme of the conference was “The Embodied Mind,” with an emphasis on the role of the body. So talks variously took up the topics of self-regulation strategies, movement-based therapies, and mindfulness very respectfully.

The impetus for this theoretical preoccupation traces back to the traditional psychoanalytic concern with infant and early childhood development as setting the stage for the quality of adult functioning. The themes here are unabashedly grand and encompassing, a worthy antidote to the highly compartmentalized thrusts of modern psychopharmacology. Admixed to this fundamentally psychodynamic perspective are now the findings of modern neuroscience, through the work of people such as Dan Siegel and Allan Schore. (more…)

Reflections on the Winter Brain Conference

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

We just returned from the 14th annual Winter Brain Conference in Palm Springs. I can give only a partial perspective on it since it is impossible for any one person to take it all in. Conference attendance was impacted both by the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe Conference, which drew away some of the usual key contributors to Winter Brain, and some felt that the Super Bowl kept folks at home. Those folks should get acquainted with TiVo so that they can get their life back.

Joe Kamiya was here in fine form, and he contributed his perspective also to the Foundations Course. Every time I hear him, he fills in more of the early history of his research. On this occasion, I learned more about the precursors to his initial alpha experiments. The objective was to ascertain the degree to which people are aware of their own states and behavior, leading possibly to means toward heightening self-perception about their own behavior.

The setup was as follows. Students were to walk from the back of the room up to a blackboard in front, and place a checkmark either in the left or right spaces as they were moved to do. Kamiya, sitting off on the side, would then inform them as to whether they were right or wrong. As they approached the blackboard, he would randomly tap his pencil lightly on the desk as they planted either the left foot or the right. The taps were infrequent enough that the subject could not detect any kind of cadence. Subjects required a mere ten or fifteen minutes to get it right: they were to match their checkmark to the side that corresponded with Kamiya’s irregular tapping. (more…)

Biofeedback Society of California Conference

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

The BSC is the strongest of the local biofeedback organizations, unsurprising perhaps in the birthplace of the national biofeedback organization. Nevertheless, it is a small organization, and for its size put on quite a conference. There were some 80 attendees.

I attended Naras Bhat’s workshop on reversing heart disease. Naras Bhat is one of the pioneering cardiologists who is looking at heart disease from a systems perspective. Known risk factors are associated with only half of cardiac events at best, so much of coronary artery disease must be due to dynamic factors. Beyond the plumbing preoccupation that just deals with the pumps and pipes, there is the world of body chemistry, and finally the realm of the emotions. All are manageable, and all should be managed before there is a crisis. Even after a crisis we are back into a steady-state management regime, so that a person may at worst die with heart disease rather than from it. (more…)

The DAN Conference, Continued

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Last week I did not really finish in reporting on the DAN Conference, so the newsletter agenda will just have to be pushed back, including my review of the BSC Conference (Biofeedback Society of California) this past weekend.

This year’s Think Tank heard from the advocates of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the first time. So Dr. Michael Uszler was in attendance, with whom Hershel Toomim has worked with regard to SPECT data, and also Dr. Gunnar Heuser, who was one of the first neurologists to look favorably upon Margaret Ayers’ work for TBI many years ago. The clinical questions around this technique parallel neurofeedback remarkably: How many sessions per week (3)? How long should the sessions be (1 hour)? How many before effects might be expected (20)? How long in total (40, based on TBI work)? What about booster sessions (may be necessary)? The answers largely parallel our own. (more…)

The DAN Conference

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

Last week Sue and I were invited to attend the “Think Tank” meeting of the medical brain trust behind the “Defeat Autism Now” (DAN) movement. The group wanted to hear about neurofeedback. We were there at the invitation of Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless, psychiatrist and author of the book “Children with Starving Brains.” DAN was started in 1994, probably before we had our initial successes in working with autistic children. Bernard Rimland was the motive force, along with Sidney Baker, MD, and Jon Pangborn, a chemical engineer and parent of an autistic child. The first meeting of docs trying to make sense of autism attracted some 35 participants. The current Think Tank had more than sixty invitees, but this was only a precursor to the main conference that attracted some 1200 people to Long Beach, CA.

DAN has emerged as a powerful axis between a large cadre of activist parents and committed docs who are not blinkered in their vision. There is no question that this all moves forward on a virtual army of parental foot soldiers, guided by some skilled organizational talent at the top. The Autism Research Institute under Rimland now has some significant resources that it can pour into critical research that the larger medical community has been neglecting. (more…)

ISNR Conference Review, Part II

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Frank Deits and his wife Mary happened to be driving through the Denver area at the time of the conference, so they came to the exhibit hall and made their rounds. Frank has a new pacemaker installed, and thereby hangs a tale. Fortunately I have not yet had reason to become acquainted with the jargon of the field of cardiology, so my description must remain superficial. Frank had reason to believe that the demand-driven pacemaker was at times putting his heart into tachycardia, so he wired up some monitors and watched the heart signal along with the pacemaker signal. He convinced himself that there was a problem, so he took all his data to the electrical engineer associated with the project. “There would have been no point in taking it to my cardiologist,” said Frank.

Together they sat down and monitored his heart function at different drive levels of the pacemaker. The drive voltage had been set at five volts. (It is sometimes set as large as nine.) On experimenting it was found that a mere 1.5 volts was quite adequate to do the job. Throw in fifty percent on top for margin, and all is well.

This illustrates what is surely a quite general trend within medicine, and that is the increasing technical “intensity” of medical procedures. No ordinary mortal could hope to stay on top of it all. What will it come to mean to be a medical expert in such an environment? The doc on the front lines will come to serve a kind of integrating role, weighing different pieces of information to form a coherent understanding of the issues. The doc himself may be an expert on very few of the underlying procedures. (more…)


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