Lumbini-Kapilvastu Day Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Brain Science’

How to Inspire Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 4, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, Co-author, ‘Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being’; founder, The Chopra Foundation

 GYI0000667336.jpgWe’ve entered a golden age for brain research, but all these new findings haven’t trickled down to the individual. Yet there are broad discoveries that make it possible to everyone to improve their brains. Let me state these succinctly:

• Your brain is constantly renewing itself.
• Your brain can heal its wounds form the past.
• Experience changes the bran every day.
• The input you give your brain causes it to form new neural pathways.
• The more positive the input, the better your brain will function.

In a new book, Super Brain, I and my co-author, Prof. Rudolf Tanzi of Harvard Medical School, expand upon the neuroscience behind these broad findings. The old view of the brain as fixed for life, constantly losing neurons and declining in function, has been all but abolished. The new brain is a process, not a thing, and the process heads in the direction you point it in. A Buddhist monk meditating on compassion develops the brain circuitry that brings compassion into reality. Depending on the input it receives, you can create a compassionate brain, an artistic brain, a wise brain, or any other kind.

However, as Prof. Tanzi and I see it, the agent that makes these possibilities become real is the mind. The brain doesn’t create its own destiny. Genetics delivers the brain in a functioning state so that the nervous system can regulate itself and the whole body. It doesn’t take your intervention to balance hormone levels, regulate heartbeat, or do a thousand other autonomic functions. But the newest part of the brain, the neocortex, is where the field of possibilities actually lies. Here is where decisions are made, where we discriminate, worship, assess, control, and evolve Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddha Nature and the Divided Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 9, 2012

By John Stanley and David Loy

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a world that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.
–Albert Einstein

Except in the light of brain hemisphere lateralization, nothing in human psychology makes any sense.
–neuroscientist Tim Crow

An Old Tale

There’s a traditional Buddhist story about a statue of incomparable value, which is lost and then forgotten. For generation after generation, various kinds of human rubbish and debris accumulate to bury it. Nobody ever suspects that anything important lies under the ground. Eventually a clairvoyant person happens by who comments: “If you dig here, and clean up what you find, you will discover something invaluable.” But who would follow such advice?

Our Divided Brain

In his remarkable book, “The Master and his Emissary,” neurological psychologist Iain McGilchristprovides a wealth of scientific evidence to support his contention that two opposed realities are rooted in the bi-hemispheric structure of the human brain.

Although each hemisphere is specialized, neither functions as an “independent brain.” They integrate their activities to produce physical movements, mental processes and behaviors greater than, and different from, their individual contributions. With functional NMR scanners, real-time brain imaging is now routinely used to determine the functional effects of all kinds of strokes and brain injuries, and in that way we can observe how the hemispheres act together as “opponent processors.”

Basically, the right hemisphere is mute, perceives in a holistic Gestalt manner and synthesizes over space. The left hemisphere, the seat of language, analyzes over time. The right hemisphere codes sensory input in terms of images, the left in terms of words and concepts. Specialization of function offers all kinds of advantages, but integrating those functions is a special point of vulnerability. When it comes to the large and complex human mind-brain, harmony can easily be lost. Read the rest of this entry »

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Good News: You Are Not Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Director, Genetics and Aging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Like a personal computer, science needs a recycle bin for ideas that didn’t work out as planned. In this bin would go commuter trains riding on frictionless rails using superconductivity, along with interferon, the last AIDS vaccine, and most genetic therapies. These failed promises have two things in common: They looked like the wave of the future but then reality proved too complex to fit the simple model that was being offered.

The next thing to go into the recycle bin might be the brain. We are living in a golden age of brain research, thanks largely to vast improvements in brain scans. Now that functional MRIs can give snapshots of the brain in real time, researchers can see specific areas of the brain light up, indicating increased activity. On the other hand, dark spots in the brain indicate minimal activity or none at all. Thus, we arrive at those familiar maps that compare a normal brain with one that has deviated from the norm. This is obviously a great boon where disease is concerned. Doctors can see precisely where epilepsy or Parkinsonism or a brain tumor has created damage, and with this knowledge new drugs and more precise surgery can target the problem.

But then overreach crept in. We are shown brain scans of repeat felons with pointers to the defective areas of their brains. The same holds for Buddhist monks, only in their case, brain activity is heightened and improved, especially in the prefrontal lobes associated with compassion. By now there is no condition, good or bad, that hasn’t been linked to a brain pattern that either “proves” that there is a link between the brain and a certain behavior or exhibits the “cause” of a certain trait. The whole assumption, shared by 99 percent of neuroscientists, is that we are our brains.

In this scheme, the brain is in charge, having evolved to control certain fixed behaviors. Why do men see other men as rivals for a desirable woman? Why do people seek God? Why does snacking in front of the TV become a habit? We are flooded with articles and books reinforcing the same assumption: The brain is using you, not the other way around. Yet it’s clear that a faulty premise is leading to gross overreach. Read the rest of this entry »

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