Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Could symptoms of autism be ERASED by stimulating the brain? Magnets could boost social skills

This is a very small study over a very short time period so is of tentative significance only

A clinical trial revealed magnetic brain stimulation can help people with autism with social interaction.

The treatment can boost the part of the brain that is underactive in people with autism, the researchers found.

Dr Lindsay Oberman, a neurologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist that the findings are an ‘excellent start’.

Researchers at Monash University, in Melbourne, drew on previous research that showed the brain’s dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) is less active in people with autism.

They used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a technique which sees magnetic pulses delivered into the brain, to try and boost the activity of the dmPFC.  This is also the part of the brain which allows people to comprehend other people’s feelings and thoughts.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Enticott, and his team, carried out the trial with 28 adults who have Asperger’s syndrome.

They gave some of the volunteers 15 minutes of rTMS every day for 10 days. The other participants were told they might be having the treatment and had coils placed on their heads, but were not given the magnetic pulses.

Before and after the treatment, the volunteers took part in a range of tests of their social skills – the results of these tests showed the patients who had been given rTMS had significantly improved social skills.

The researchers said that in one case, a patient started making tea for her sibling who was revising for an exam.  The researchers say this was a dramatic improvement as it showed the woman understood her sibling’s needs and that she wanted to help.

Dr Enticott told New Scientist: ’As far as her family were concerned, this was completely foreign to her. She had never shown any inclination toward that sort of activity in her life.’

The team also found the volunteers who had been given rTMS experienced reduced anxiety levels.  In contrast, people who had been given placebo therapy did not experience any improvement.

Despite the improvements seen in the participants’ social skills, they showed no improvement in their ability to understand other people’s mental states.

Dr Enticott told New Scientist: ‘It surprises me. We are stimulating the region of the brain that is most closely associated with these tasks.’

Dr Oberman believes this could be because the dmPFC is buried deep within the brain meaning it is hard to target with rTMS.

The researchers say the next step is to establish how long the improvements last for.


A Christian perspective on vegetarianism

If one wants to look to someone superior and follow him or her as to what or what not to grub, then I think we should not look to anyone currently schlepping the third rock from the sun; especially the freaks at PETA.

I know for me and my casa, instead of eying a Hollywood skank’s food choice, we’re going to look to God’s special son and what he dined on for our life’s culinary glide path. Call us crazy.

Which brings me to this enquiry: What did Jesus grub on when he donned an earth suit 2000 years ago? Boy, that sure would be interesting to find out, eh?

When it comes to talking about someone being superior in the purest/ultimate sense of the word, well … Jesus leaves us all in the dust, right? Seeing that he never sinned in word or deed, which includes what he ate and drank, I wonder what he banqueted on when he sat down at Denny’s way back in the day?

Did he order barbecued aubergine on lentil polenta patties with a black bean sauce? Or was it a “Best in Class” Tomato Tart? I know, it was Chinese tea eggs with a noodle salad. Dee-Lish! No, wait. It had to be the sassy and crunchy Red Lentil Kofte.

How can we ever know what he masticated upon? Oh, wait. Maybe the Bible documented what he ate? Let us now turn to the holy text to see shall we?

According to the New Testament, we know Jesus definitely dug on fish because huge chunks of the Gospel are taken up with him both eating and supernaturally aiding and abetting the mass slaughter of thousands of fish (see Lk.5:1-10; Mk.6:35-44; Jn.6:1-14).

Matter of fact, in John’s recounting of the proliferation of fish fillets that act equated a divine attestation to those lucky enough to watch that phenomenon go down. Indeed, that little ditty equated to that audience that Jesus was no normal Nazarene. They sure as heck didn’t see it as a sin. Oh, no. On the contrary, they saw that paranormal provision of meat as proof that Jesus was sent from Jehovah. Boom.

I know, some folks are probably thinking, “Okay, smart-ass. Jesus enabled his disciples to slay and eat fish. Big whoop. A lot of vegetarians are cool with eating fish. However, the referenced passages said squat about Jesus eating actual meat, meat.”

You’re right. You got me. It said fish and not beef. I’m so busted.

Even though I still don’t get how the anti-hunters and anti-meat eaters make a distinction between slaughtering a pretty fish and grubbing it being okay and shooting, killing and eating a four legged animal is not; but … whatever.

I guess I lose. You guys win. I’m such a dork.

Oh, wait. I forgot about the Passover. You remember, the famous Last Supper in Mark 14:12-18, don’t you?

The Passover, to those not hip to it, is a holy event Jesus partook in that entailed the slaughter of a lamb. Not only did they kill that little rascal, they also grilled it and ate it.

Please note in Mk.14:14 Jesus said he’s going to eat it, the lamb, with his disciples and again in v.18 Jesus said the one who betrays me is eating with me.

It’s pretty clear to this C-student that Jesus not only was cool with consuming fish, but he also was down with meat consumption; so much so that it was his last meal. Yep, before his execution Jesus loved him some tasty lamb chops, thereby blowing all to hell the vegans’ being able to use Jesus as an example of vegetable quiche eating only.

One more note of importance. Y’know, just to rub it in that Jesus was no vegan: In his post-resurrection, pre-ascension person, Jesus proved to his doubting disciples in John 21 that he was the risen Christ, not by hugging them and singing to them “Friends are Friends Forever When the Lord’s the Lord of Them”, but by allowing them to catch 153 humongous fish and then personally grilling the fish and eating them with his boys.

Check it out: the catching and killing of another mind-blowing haul of fish, and then cooking and consuming their succulent flesh, was all the proof his disciples needed to know that that man on the beach was no casual clod, but the risen Son of God.

Oh, and by-the-way, in probably one of the most amazing stories of redemption that Jesus ever parlayed on the public’s noggin was the parable of the prodigal son.

In this familiar narrative, we have a rich look inside the father’s heart towards lost causes who’re squandering their lives away on vice. Please note, fair reader, in one of the most stunning stories of redemption, reconciliation and restoration there’s a big ol’ Texas BBQ in the big middle of it. Yep, the father showed his joy, love and acceptance by giving his repentant boy a nice ring, a wardrobe upgrade, some killer sandals and then ordering his posse to kill and grill their fattened calf.

Pretty telling what the Bible thinks about eating meat is that in one of its most touching tales of salvation it entails the father (God) ordering a massive meat platter to celebrate this son who was once lost, but now is found.

And lastly, for the coup de grace, the end all to being able to use Jesus as an anti-meat killing/eating hippie, I offer you Mark 7:14-19…

"Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

So, in conclusion, I guess Jesus is okay with eating fish and meat and, as stated above, I’d rather follow his lead than a screechin’ vegan any old day.


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