Archive for the ‘Paradigm’ Category

Bioelectrical Remedies in Psychiatry

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

The lead article in the current issue of the electrical engineer’s magazine, IEEE Spectrum, appears under the heading of “Psychiatry goes Electric” and is titled, “Psychiatry’s Shocking New Tools.” The article is remarkable not so much for what it covers as for the fact that it exists at all in this forum. The article covers vagal nerve stimulators, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), dc current stimulation, and finally deep brain stimulation.

The article illustrates the process by which bio-electrical therapeutic techniques will come to be accepted. Each of these procedures will contribute its piece to the growing realization that the brain must be understood in its bioelectrical functioning, and that such understanding will have important therapeutic implications. The article does dwell at length on the level of scientific evidence that supports each technique, but the cumulative weight of evidence–though individually fragmentary–may well carry the day before any one of the techniques independently reaches technical maturity. (more…)

The Upside of Small Indiscretions

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Some while ago I came across a study that blacks in this country were suffering major depression and perhaps other major mental disorders at lower rates than might be expected on the basis of known risk factors. These risk factors included obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse, plus indices of social pathology such as social isolation and breakdown of the family.

One working hypothesis is that the very factors that may over the long-term lead to higher mortality could be playing a positive role in the short term to maintain people at a level of decent functioning, forestalling descent into major depression. If this is the case, then the person at risk would respond biologically only to these short feedback loops. The long-term implications only assert themselves through rational/intellectual feedback loops, and these don’t compete well against immediately felt biological needs. (more…)

A Tribute to Richard O. Lawrence

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

Over the years we have been following the technique of using music-based auditory challenges to help with auditory processing deficits, the work that arose out of Tomatis’ original research in France. It is apparently still a much smaller field than our own, and it has had its own growth pains along the way. The field is still small enough that when a key figure dies, it affects nearly everyone in the field because it is likely that he was be known by them all. Richard Lawrence was most recently the Music Director at Advanced Brain Technologies, which authors The Listening Program that we use in our work.

We never met Richard Lawrence, but he has left quite a vacuum among his colleagues. He succumbed to a recurring cancer after more than a year of treatment. Members of his family will continue the work he was involved in with Alexander Doman and Advanced Brain Technologies. (more…)

Investment in Beliefs

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

The other day I was buying a shirt for myself, and because mine is a popular size, I often encounter the “donut hole” in the selection, namely that my size is in short supply. I rummaged at length and found my size at the very bottom of the pile. Just at that moment, my eye was drawn to the shirts on the adjacent pile, and I decided at once that I actually liked the new one better. Not only that, but my size was right on top. I was done with my male shopping experience–beeline for the goods and get out. But then a surprising thing happened. I walked off to the sales counter with the shirt that I had spent some effort in locating. It already had my name on it more than the one I had just discovered. I had made an investment of time with this shirt, and the return on that investment lay in the purchase.

This relatively trivial vignette might not even have gotten my own attention were it not for the fact that I am enjoying the book “Blink” at the moment, which speaks about such “instant” judgment formations. But I am not going where Malcolm Gladwell went with “Blink,” which is perhaps grist for another newsletter. Yes, the decision was made in the “blink”-ing of an eye, and its basis was obscure at that moment. However, what really interests me here is the role of that sense of investment in our decision-making. Consider some other examples. (more…)

Women in Science

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

When Larry Summers casually interjected his by-now famous comments into a discussion of women in science, he found out that the President of Harvard University cannot just shed his label and make off-the-cuff remarks without it gaining notice. Summers suggested that a shortage of native ability might be one of the reasons that women did not populate the upper reaches of the fields of mathematics and the hard sciences.

The flood of commentary that rippled forth from this discussion exposed an issue that was still festering in our society. It also brought back memories on the milestones of progress out of our own lives. Exemplar #1 was the fact that Sue was the only female physics student in her class at Cornell back in 1962. When Sue then turned out to be consistently the first or second in her class, behind only the son of a Cornell physics professor who had gotten physics along with his mother’s milk, her classmates had a choice of regarding her as competent in physics, or as a girl, but not both. In the classrooms and the laboratory courses, Sue had in their eyes become “one of the boys.” (more…)


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