Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 12th 2017 Contents A26 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Friday, May 12, 2017
Scientific evidence of a 'higher'
state of consciousness has been
found in a study led by the University
of Sussex. Neuroscientists observed
a sustained increase in neural signal
diversity---a measure of the complex-
ity of brain activity---of people under
the influence of psychedelic drugs,
compared with when they were in a
normal waking state.
The diversity of brain signals provides
a mathematical index of the level of con-
sciousness. For example, people who are
awake have been shown to have more
diverse neural activity using this scale
than those who are asleep.
This, however, is the first study to
show brain-signal diversity that is
higher than baseline, that is higher than
in someone who is simply 'awake and
aware'. Previous studies have tended to
focus on lowered states of conscious-
ness, such as sleep, anaesthesia, or the
so-called 'vegetative' state.
The team say that more research is
needed using more sophisticated and
varied models to confirm the results
but they are cautiously excited.
Prof Anil Seth, co-director of the
Sackler Centre for Consciousness
Science at the University of Sussex,
said: "This finding shows that the
brain-on-psychedelics behaves very
differently from normal.
"During the psychedelic state, the
electrical activity of the brain is less
predictable and less 'integrated' than
during normal conscious wakefulness---
as measured by 'global signal diversity'
"Since this measure has already shown
its value as a measure of 'conscious
, we can say that the psychedelic
state appears as a higher 'level' of con-
sciousness than normal." For the study,
Michael Schartner, Adam Barrett and
Prof Seth reanalysed data that had previ-
ously been collected by Imperial College
London and the University of Cardiff in
which healthy volunteers were given one
of three drugs known to induce a psy-
chedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine and
LSD. Using brain imaging technology,
they measured the tiny magnetic fields
produced in the brain and found that,
across all three drugs, this measure of
conscious level---the neural signal di-
versity---was reliably higher.
This does not mean that the psyche-
delic state is a 'better' or more desirable
state of consciousness, the researchers
stress; instead, it shows that the psy-
chedelic brain state is distinctive and
can be related to other global changes
in conscious level (eg sleep, anaesthesia)
by application of a simple mathematical
measure of signal diversity.
Dr Muthukumaraswamy who was in-
volved in all three initial studies com-
mented: "That similar changes in signal
diversity were found for all three drugs,
despite their quite different pharmacol-
ogy, is both very striking and also re-
assuring that the results are robust and
The findings could help inform dis-
cussions gathering momentum about the
carefully-controlled medical use of such
drugs, for example in treating severe de-
pression. As well as helping to inform
possible medical applications, the study
adds to a growing understanding of how
conscious level (how conscious one is)
and conscious content (what one is con-
scious of) are related to each other.
(University of Sussex)
Women at the highest genetic risk for fracture
benefit the most from hormone therapy, accord-
ing to a first-of-its-kind study led by researchers
at the University at Buffalo.
The study included nearly 10,000 participants from
the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a national US,
long-term study of more than 150,000 women.
"We found that women who are genetically at the
highest fracture risk can enjoy the greatest protection
from fracture when they use hormone therapy," said
Heather Ochs-Balcom, associate professor of epide-
miology and environmental health in UB's School of
Public Health and Health Professions, who led the
As women age, their bone mineral density (BMD)
decreases, leaving them at greater risk of breaking
bones from falling, which also increases as they age.
But some women also are more genetically prone to
fractures. "Our study represents a first look at how
inherited predisposition to fracture is related to hor-
mone therapy use," said Ochs-Balcom.
The findings were published online ahead of print
in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabo-
lism. The paper's first author, Youjin Wang, conducted
the research as a doctoral candidate in epidemiology
and environmental health at UB. The study uses the
largest set of known genes linked to fracture risk from
a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies.
(University at Buffalo)
An upper arm fracture in a 77-year-old woman.
Women at the highest genetic risk for fracture
benefit the most from hormone therapy, a recent
Neuroscientists have observed an increase in neural signal
diversity in people under the influence of psychedelic drugs,
compared with when they were in a normal waking state.
Of genetics and
Evidence of a 'higher' state of consciousness?
Links Archive May 11th 2017 May 13th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page