Summary: Study reveals how psychedelic drug-induced changes in subjective awareness are rooted in specific neurotransmitter systems.
Source: McGill University
Psychedelics are now a rapidly growing area of neuroscience and clinical research, one that may produce much-needed new therapies for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Yet there is still a lot to know about how these drug agents alter states of consciousness.
In the world’s largest study on psychedelics and the brain, a team of researchers from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and Department of Biomedical Engineering of McGill University, the Broad Institute at Harvard/MIT, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, and Mila—Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute have shown how drug-induced changes in subjective awareness are anatomically rooted in specific neurotransmitter receptor systems.
The researchers gathered 6,850 testimonials from people who took a range of 27 different psychedelic drugs. In a first-of-its-kind approach, they designed a machine learning strategy to extract commonly used words from the testimonials and link them with the neurotransmitter receptors that likely induced them.
The interdisciplinary team could then associate the subjective experiences with brain regions where the receptor combinations are most commonly found—these turned out to be the lowest and some of the deepest layers of the brain’s information processing layers.
Using thousands of gene transcription probes, the team created a 3D map of the brain receptors and the subjective experiences linked to them, across the whole brain. While psychedelic experience is known to vary widely from person to person, the large testimonial dataset allowed the team to characterize coherent states of conscious experiences with receptors and brain regions across individuals. This supports the theory that new hallucinogenic drug compounds can be designed to reliably create desired mental states.
For example, a promising effect of some psychedelics for psychiatric intervention is ego-dissolution—the feeling of being detached with the self. The study found that this feeling was most associated with the receptor serotonin 5-HT2A.
However, other serotonin receptors (5-HT2C, 5-HT1A, 5-HT2B), adrenergic receptors Alpha-2A and Beta-2, as well as the D2 receptor were also linked with the feeling of ego-dissolution. A drug targeting these receptors may be able to reliably create this feeling in patients whom clinicians believe might benefit from it.
“Hallucinogenic drugs may very well turn out to be the next big thing to improve clinical care of major mental health conditions,” says Professor Danilo Bzdok, the study’s lead author
“Our study provides a first step, a proof of principle that we may be able to build machine learning systems in the future that can accurately predict which neurotransmitter receptor combinations need to be stimulated to induce a specific state of conscious experience in a given person.”
The Facts: A landmark paper published in 2018 showing high amounts of aluminum in autistic brains has now been downloaded more than 1 million times.
Reflect On: Why is it taboo to present science that calls into question and threatens the safety profile of certain medicines? Can science be openly practiced today with the enormous control the industry has over federal health regulatory agencies as well as academia?
In 2018, Professor of Bioinorganic Chemistry at Keele University Christopher Exley, who is considered one of the world’s leading experts in aluminum toxicology, published a paper in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine & Biologyshowing very high amounts of aluminum in the brain tissues of people with autism.
Exley has examined more than 100 brains, and the aluminum content in these people is some of the highest he has ever seen and raises new questions about the role of aluminum in the etiology of autism. Five people were used in the study, comprising of four males and one female, all between the ages of 14-50. Each of their brains contained what the authors considered unsafe and high amounts of aluminum compared to brain tissues of patients with other diseases where high brain aluminum content is common, like Alzheimer’s disease, for example.
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It’s now been downloaded by more than 1 million people. Below is an Instagram post Exley shared in 2020, but he has since deleted his account.
Here is a summary of the study’s main findings:
-All five individuals had at least one brain tissue with a “pathologically significant” level of aluminum, defined as greater than or equal to 3.00 micrograms per gram of dry brain weight (μg/g dry wt). (Dr. Exley and colleagues developed categories to classify aluminum-related pathology after conducting other brain studies, wherein older adults who died healthy had less than 1 μg/g dry wt of brain aluminum.)
-Roughly two-thirds (67%) of all the tissue samples displayed a pathologically significant aluminum content.
Aluminum levels were particularly high in the male brains, including in a 15-year-old boy with ASD who had the study’s single highest brain aluminum measurement (22.11 μg/g dry wt)—many times higher than the pathologically significant threshold and far greater than levels that might be considered as acceptable even for an aged adult.
-Some of the elevated aluminum levels rivaled the very high levels historically reported in victims of dialysis encephalopathy syndrome (a serious iatrogenic disorder resulting from aluminum-containing dialysis solutions).
-In males, most aluminum deposits were inside cells (80/129), whereas aluminum deposits in females were primarily extracellular (15/21). The majority of intracellular aluminum was inside non-neuronal cells (microglia and astrocytes).
-Aluminum was present in both grey matter (88 deposits) and white matter (62 deposits). (The brain’s grey matter serves to process information, while the white matter provides connectivity.)
-The researchers also identified aluminum-loaded lymphocytes in the meninges (the layers of protective tissue that surround the brain and spinal cord) and in similar inflammatory cells in the vasculature, furnishing evidence of aluminum’s entry into the brain “via immune cells circulating in the blood and lymph” and perhaps explaining how youth with ASD came to acquire such shockingly high levels of brain aluminum.
Following up this paper, Exely published a paper titled “The role of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines raises issues that deserve independent, rigorous and honest science.”In their publication, they provide evidence for their position that “the safety of aluminium-based vaccine adjuvants, like that of any environmental factor presenting a risk of neurotoxicity and to which the young child is exposed, must be seriously evaluated without further delay, particularly at a time when the CDC is announcing a still increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, of 1 child in 54 in the USA.”
A paper where Exely was lead author, published in Nature titled “Aluminium in human brain tissue from donors without neurodegenerative disease: A comparison with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism”shows aluminum content in brain tissue of patients with these diseases is significantly higher than healthy controls.
In the interview below, Exley answers a lot of questions, but the part that caught my attention was the following,
We have looked at what happens to the aluminum adjuvant when it’s injected and we have shown that certain types of cells come to the injection site and take up the aluminum inside them. You know, these same cells we also see in the brain tissue in autism. So, for the first time we have a link that honestly I had never expected to find between aluminum as an adjuvant in vaccines and that same aluminum potentially could be carried by those same cells across the blood brain barrier into the brain tissue where it could deposit the aluminum and produce a disease, Encephalopathy (brain damage), it could produce the more severe and disabling form of autism. This is a really shocking finding for us.
The interview is quite informative with regards to aluminum toxicology in general, but if you’re interested in the quote above, you can fast forward to the twelve minutes and thirty second mark. Here he address whether or not there’s a difference between ingested aluminum and injected aluminum.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ju4-lKwQ4ak?feature=oembed
Is there a difference between ingested aluminum and injected aluminum?
There are many concerns being raised about aluminum in vaccines, and where that aluminum goes when it’s injected into the body. Multiple animal studies have now shown that when you inject aluminum, it may not exit the body and instead travel to distant organs and eventually ends up in the brain where it’s detectable 1-10 years after injection. When we take in aluminum from our food however, the body does a great job of getting rid of it.
This is key.
Dr. Christopher Shaw, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada explains,
When you inject aluminum, it goes into a different compartment of your body. It doesn’t come into that same mechanism of excretion. So, and of course it can’t because that’s the whole idea of aluminum adjuvants, aluminum adjuvants are meant to stick around and allow that antigen to be presented over and over and over again persistently, otherwise you wouldn’t put an adjuvant in in the first place. It can’t be inert, because if it were inert it couldn’t do the things it does. It can’t be excreted because again it couldn’t provide that prolonged exposure of the antigen to your immune system.
A study published in BioMed Central (also cited in the study above)in 2013 found more cause for concern:
Intramuscular injection of alum-containing vaccine was associated with the appearance of aluminum deposits in distant organs, such as spleen and brain where they were still detected one year after injection. Both fluorescent materials injected into muscle translocated to draining lymph nodes (DLNs) and thereafter were detected associated with phagocytes in blood and spleen. Particles linearly accumulated in the brain up to the six-month endpoint; they were first found in perivascular CD11b+ cells and then in microglia and other neural cells. DLN ablation dramatically reduced the biodistribution. Cerebral translocation was not observed after direct intravenous injection, but significantly increased in mice with chronically altered blood-brain-barrier. Loss/gain-of-function experiments consistently implicated CCL2 in systemic diffusion of Al-Rho particles captured by monocyte-lineage cells and in their subsequent neurodelivery. Stereotactic particle injection pointed out brain retention as a factor of progressive particle accumulation…
The study went on to conclude that “continuously escalating doses of this poorly biodegradable adjuvant in the population may become insidiously unsafe.”
These authors followed up and published a study in 2015 that emphasized:
Evidence that aluminum-coated particles phagocytozed in the injected muscle and its draining lymph nodes can disseminate within phagocytes throughout the body and slowly accumulate in the brain further suggests that alum safety should be evaluated in the long term.
Furthermore, federal health regulatory agencies have not appropriately studied the aluminum adjuvants mechanisms of action after injection, it’s simply been presumed safe after more than 90 years of use in various vaccines.
These days, science is not science, and the industry has a big influence on what science gets attention, and what science remains unacknowledged. We’ve seen this happen with COVID, for example. Cardiologist and NHS consultant Dr. Aseem Malhotra appeared on GBN News speaking about an American Heart Association study. The study found an increase risk of heart problems after COVID vaccinations. He mentions that another study found the same issue, but the researchers won’t publish it in fear of losing funding from drug companies.
Summary: A growing body of evidence suggests psychedelics including psilocybin and LSD show promise in providing lasting relief from symptoms for those suffering some mental health disorders. Researchers found DOI, a similar drug to LSD, reduced negative behavioral responses following fear triggers in mouse models of anxiety.
Source: Virginia Tech
One in five U.S. adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health. But standard treatments can be slow to work and cause side effects.
To find better solutions, a Virginia Tech researcher has joined a renaissance of research on a long-banned class of drugs that could combat several forms of mental illness and, in mice, have achieved long-lasting results from just one dose.
Using a process his lab developed in 2015, Chang Lu, the Fred W. Bull Professor of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering, is helping his Virginia Commonwealth University collaborators study the epigenomic effects of psychedelics.
Their findings give insight into how psychedelic substances like psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, and similar drugs may relieve symptoms of addiction, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The drugs appear to work faster and last longer than current medications—all with fewer side effects.
The project hinged on Lu’s genomic analysis. His process allows researchers to use very small samples of tissue, down to hundreds to thousands of cells, and draw meaningful conclusions from them. Older processes require much larger sample sizes, so Lu’s approach enables the studies using just a small quantity of material from a specific region of a mouse brain.
And looking at the effects of psychedelics on brain tissues is especially important.
Researchers can do human clinical trials with the substances, taking blood and urine samples and observing behaviors, Lu said. “But the thing is, the behavioral data will tell you the result, but it doesn’t tell you why it works in a certain way,” he said.
But looking at molecular changes in animal models, such as the brains of mice, allows scientists to peer into what Lu calls the black box of neuroscience to understand the biological processes at work. While the brains of mice are very different from human brains, Lu said there are enough similarities to make valid comparisons between the two.
VCU pharmacologist Javier González-Maeso has made a career of studying psychedelics, which had been banned after recreational use of the drugs was popularized in the 1960s. But in recent years, regulators have begun allowing research on the drugs to proceed.
In work by other researchers, primarily on psilocybin, a substance found in more than 200 species of fungi, González-Maeso said psychedelics have shown promise in alleviating major depression and anxiety disorders. “They induce profound effects in perception,” he said. “But I was interested in how these drugs actually induce behavioral effects in mice.”
To explore the genomic basis of those effects, he teamed up with Lu.
In the joint Virginia Tech—VCU study, González-Maeso’s team used 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine, or DOI, a drug similar to LSD, administering it to mice that had been trained to fear certain triggers. Lu’s lab then analyzed brain samples for changes in the epigenome and the gene expression. They discovered that the epigenomic variations were generally more long-lasting than the changes in gene expression, thus more likely to link with the long-term effects of a psychedelic.
After one dose of DOI, the mice that had reacted to fear triggers no longer responded to them with anxious behaviors. Their brains also showed effects, even after the substance was no longer detectable in the tissues, Lu said. The findings were published in the October issue of Cell Reports.
It’s a hopeful development for those who suffer from mental illness and the people who love them. In fact, it wasn’t just the science that drew Lu to the project.
For him, it’s also personal.
“My older brother has had schizophrenia for the last 30 years, basically. So I’ve always been intrigued by mental health,” Lu said. “And then once I found that our approach can be applied to look at processes like that—that’s why I decided to do research in the field of brain neuroscience.”
González-Maeso said research on psychedelics is still in its early stages, and there’s much work to be done before treatments derived from them could be widely available.
Prolonged epigenomic and synaptic plasticity alterations following single exposure to a psychedelic in mice
Exposure to the psychedelic drug DOI results in enduring molecular adaptations
Post-acute DOI unveils phenotypes akin to antidepressant adaptations
Concurrent occurrence of synaptic plasticity mediated via 5-HT2AR
Clinical evidence suggests that rapid and sustained antidepressant action can be attained with a single exposure to psychedelics. However, the biological substrates and key mediators of psychedelics’ enduring action remain unknown.
Here, we show that a single administration of the psychedelic DOI produces fast-acting effects on frontal cortex dendritic spine structure and acceleration of fear extinction via the 5-HT2A receptor.
Additionally, a single dose of DOI leads to changes in chromatin organization, particularly at enhancer regions of genes involved in synaptic assembly that stretch for days after the psychedelic exposure. These DOI-induced alterations in the neuronal epigenome overlap with genetic loci associated with schizophrenia, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Together, these data support that epigenomic-driven changes in synaptic plasticity sustain psychedelics’ long-lasting antidepressant action but also warn about potential substrate overlap with genetic risks for certain psychiatric conditions.
When Elon Musk presented his creepy Neuralink brain implant in a streamed product update on YouTube on Friday, he said he believed that billions of people will be clamoring for it – but real scientists have expressed serious skepticism.
The stated goal of Neuralink is to “implant wireless brain-computer interfaces that include thousands of electrodes in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.”
Other issues it claims to address include seizures, extreme pain, addiction, insomnia, strokes and brain damage.
Musk presented a pig named Gertrude who he claims has had a Neuralink computer chip in her brain for the last two months. Musk said the coin-sized chip was like “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires” and would connect to a person’s phone over Bluetooth to be charged wirelessly overnight.
In a critique published in MIT Technology Review, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were quick to point out the absurdity of the entire spectacle, calling it “neuroscience theater.” They said that promises like being able to see radar with superhuman vision, playing symphonies in your head, and healing deafness, blindness, mental illness and paralysis are going to be difficult to keep.
The article says that none of the advances mentioned are even close to becoming a reality, and some are extremely unlikely to happen. They also called Musk out for his noncommittal language and lack of firm timelines. They even shrugged off the pig demonstration, saying that it was decades-old technology that some researchers have been using for years.
They also showed that Musk isn’t quite as innovative as he might think, pointing out that researchers have been putting probes in paralyzed people’s brains since the 1990s to show how signals can allow them to move robotic arms or cursors on counters.
In addition, the MIT researchers took issue with the fact that Neuralink and Musk haven’t committed to any of the potential medical applications they touted. They did not disclose any plans to carry out clinical trials, which many believed would be the next logical step. They added that it’s not clear just how serious they are about treating diseases. That’s unfortunate because the presentation has already given some people who are desperate to find solutions to their ailments a degree of false hope.
Robots will perform surgery to implant the chips in people’s brains
Neuralink is working on a robot that will carry out the entire surgical installation process, which entails opening up a person’s scalp, removing a part of their skull, inserting the computer chip and thread electrodes, and then closing the incision. It will somehow be able to dodge blood vessels to prevent bleeding, they claim.
The criticism from the experts at MIT comes not long after the medical industry news website Stat exposed serious turmoil within Neuralink. In the piece, five former employees described a “chaotic internal culture” and an environment akin to a “pressure cooker.”
They recounted how a strong push to move the technology forward led to failures in animal experiments, with one former worker saying that the company moved from rodent experiments into those with primates quicker than one would expect in medical science.
Even if Neuralink is ultimately able to help alleviate some of the health concerns they claim they can address, getting people on board will be another big hurdle. Who would be willing to have a robot drill a hole into their head to remove part of their skull and place a chip inside their brain?
Besides the risk of infection and the potential need for follow-up surgeries to adjust the positioning of the electrodes or install newer versions of the chips, the long-term effects are very much unknown and could be catastrophic. Needless to say, there’s also the potential for hackers to cause serious harm. And when the person behind all this is someone as erratic and untrustworthy as Elon Musk, it’s hard to imagine anyone in their right mind will be signing up.
A study revealed that a rhythmic stimulation during sex alters brain activity and can produce a trance-like state. One must actively engage in being present during sex to experience this result. Are your sexual connections simply primal? Or are they present and spiritual in nature? If achieving an altered state of consciousness is an experience you’d like to have, follow some of the advice below. Connection is key.
When it comes to sex and sexual pleasure, it seems like there is always something new to be learned. The realm of sex has perplexed humans for many decades, probably due to the growing evidence of a deeper connection being made with ourselves and our partner.
The desire for a deeper connection provides further proof to our obsession to know more about how the functions of sex affect our connectedness with self, and others.
What Happened: Neuroscientist Adam Safron of Northwestern University explains, “sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it’s actually an altered state of consciousness.“
In an article published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, Victoria Klimaj and Adam Safron delve into unlocking the mystery of the orgasm. “The conditions shaping sexual climax may be particularly complex in humans, whose sexual behaviour is characterized by cultural shaping, abstract goals, and frequent non-reproductive motivations.”
They concluded their research with the help of a number of scientists who are experts in the study of the orgasm. These contributors are evolutionary psychologists, animal behaviour experts, fMRI researchers, and investigators specializing in the analysis of large-scale surveys.
Dr. Safron has learned that a rhythmic stimulation alters brain activity. When we are sexually stimulated, our neurons focus in a particular way that it’s hypnotizing, and we block out everything we are usually conscious of like noises, feelings and smells, and concentrate intensely on sensation alone.
This level of concentration cannot be achieved through any other natural stimulation. Our self-awareness is essentially gone in that moment.
“Sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it’s actually an altered state of consciousness,” Dr. Safron explains.
Dr. Safron investigated this trance by creating a europhenomenological model that displayed which rhythmic sexual activity likely influences brain rhythms. The model showed that our neurons can be focused by stimulating particular nerves in a particular way at a particular speed.
When they begin to synchronize their activity, neural entrainment is achieved and if stimulation proceeds for a longer length of time, the synchronization spreads throughout the brain enabling us to become more focused than ever.
“Before this paper, we knew what lit up in the brain when people had orgasms, and we knew a lot about the hormonal and neurochemical factors in non-human animals, but we didn’t really know why sex and orgasm feel the way they do,” Dr. Safron said.
Why Rhythm Plays A Crucial Role: The study revealed a common theme: sexual climax, seizures, music, and dance all flood the brain’s sensory channels with rhythmic inputs. Dr. Safron believes that because sexual activity is so similar to music and dance, the rhythm-keeping ability may serve as a test of fitness for potential mates.
“Synchronization is important for signal propagation in the brain, because neurons are more likely to fire if they are stimulated multiple times within a narrow window of time,” says Dr. Safron.
This led Dr. Safron to hypothesize that “rhythmic entrainment is the primary mechanism by which orgasmic thresholds are surpassed.”
“The idea that sexual experiences can be like trance states is in some ways ancient. Turns out this idea is supported by modern understandings of neuroscience,” says Dr. Safron.
This constant rhythmic stimulation is very similar to the practices preached by 46-year-old Nicole Daedone of OM or Orgasmic Meditation. The technique is a sequenced practice in which one partner gently strokes the other partner’s clitoris for 15 minutes. The result is said to be therapeutic, rather than sexual. The “stroking” allegedly activates the limbic system and releases a flood of oxytocin.
This whole practice reiterates the idea that in order to fully achieve orgasm (or anything else of substance in life) you must actively engage in being present and release the pressure we allow society to instil within us. When we surrender to the universe and in this instance, our feeling, we enter into a world of bountiful possibility.
In order to describe the neuroanatomy of emotions, Paul Broca first described the limbic system in 1878. It wasn’t until later, in the 1930s, that James Papez finally named it the limbic system, and suggested that it participated in the neural circuit of emotional expression (Kolb and Whishsaw, 2003).
The limbic system corresponds to a functional concept including several neural structures and networks, which play a prominent role in emotional aspects. And since it involves emotional manifestations, it’s also related to motivation. More concretely, it’s related to action, learning, and memory-oriented motivation. In fact, it’s easier to remember or learn something that has a high emotional value (Cardinali, 2005).
The neuroanatomy of emotions: beyond brain structures
Several authors suggest that emotional responses not only involve the nervous system. In fact, experts believe that other systems, such as the immune and endocrine systems, participate in this process. For instance, Damasio (2008) introduced the somatic marker hypothesis, which states that what makes an experience valuable isn’t just cognitive evaluation but a certain somatic state as well.
A somatic state is a result of the activation of complex subcortical neurohumoral circuits that give emotional value and relevance to a certain thought.
The limbic system and other command systems
Some important research studies have defined more specific systems than the limbic system. For example, in his studies on affective neurosciences, Jaak Panksepp (2001) conceptualized systems based on primary emotions: sadness, fear, and rage, among others. The main ones are:
This system motivates the pursuit of pleasure; it activates a person’s interest in the world. It’s circuits run on dopamine. Furthermore, some neuroscientists believe it’s similar to Freudian libido and lust (Bleichmar, 2001; Solms and Turnbull, 2005).
The expectancy system is part of the mesolimbic/mesocortical system, which operate simultaneously and affect each other, forming the so-called extended amygdala (Cardinali, 2005).
Natural pleasurable stimuli (such as food or sex) and addictive drugs promote dopamine release, which takes place in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) neurons. These send projections to the nucleus accumbens and finally translate into euphoria and behavior reinforcement. When this system is highly stimulated, an individual will seek pleasurable sensations (Leira, 2012).
Originates due to frustration toward an object, person, or situation.
Physical manifestations include “fight” motor programs, such as jaw clenching or yelling.
In addition, the activity originates in the amygdala toward the stria terminalis and the hypothalamus.
It mainly involves the amygdala.
Responses such as “fight” and “escape” stem from the amygdala’s lateral and central nuclei, which respectively send projections to the medial and anterior part of the hypothalamus.
It’s seemingly related to social interactions and bonding and especially with the maternity process and attachment behaviors.
Endogenous opioids take part in this system. Separation or loss of something with affective value leads to reduced concentration of the endogenous opioids, which determine a painful experience.
Biological foundation. The anterior cingulate gyrus and its projections to the thalamus and hypothalamus toward the ventral tegmental area.
Inhibition and regulation of the prefrontal cortex emotional responses
The previous command systems need experiences in order to develop. Thus, with voluntary actions, the external world information coming through association areas goes to the prefrontal cortex, which then connects with the motor system. As per involuntary actions in which there are emotional reactions, subcortical areas mediate actions (such as the command systems we mentioned above).
In the neuroanatomy of emotions, the prefrontal cortex regulates emotional responses. It takes place in the ventral medial area, acting as an inhibitor, and in the lateral area. The latter has more of a controlling function of conscious thoughts. It’s the protagonist in the learning, planning, and decision-making processes.
A notable characteristic of several well-known neurodegenerative diseases—such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s—is the formation of harmful plaques that contain aggregates of amyloid proteins, also known as fibrils. Unfortunately, even after decades of research, getting rid of these plaques has remained a herculean challenge, so treatments for these patients have not been very effective.
Now, scientists are revealing the results from experiments that show how resonance with an infrared laser, when it is tuned to a specific frequency, actually causes amyloid fibrils to disintegrate from the inside out.
Their findings open doors to new therapeutic possibilities for amyloid plaque-related brain diseases that have thus far been incurable.
In recent years, instead of going down the chemical route using drugs, some scientists have turned to alternative approaches, such as ultrasound, to destroy amyloid fibrils and halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, a research team led by Dr Takayasu Kawasaki (IR-FEL Research Center, Tokyo University of Science, Japan) and Dr Phuong H. Nguyen (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), including other researchers from the Aichi Synchrotron Radiation Center and the Synchrotron Radiation Research Center, Nagoya University, Japan, has used novel methods to show how infrared-laser irradiation can destroy amyloid fibrils.
In their study, published in Journal of Physical Chemistry B, the scientists present the results of laser experiments and molecular dynamics simulations. This two-pronged attack on the problem was necessary because of the inherent limitations of each approach, as Dr Kawasaki explains:
“While laser experiments coupled with various microscopy methods can provide information about the morphology and structural evolution of amyloid fibrils after laser irradiation, these experiments have limited spatial and temporal resolutions, thus preventing a full understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms. On the other hand, though this information can be obtained from molecular simulations, the laser intensity and irradiation time used in simulations are very different from those used in actual experiments. It is therefore important to determine whether the process of laser-induced fibril dissociation obtained through experiments and simulations is similar.”
The scientists used a portion of a yeast protein that is known to form amyloid fibrils on its own. In their laser experiments, they tuned the frequency of an infrared laser beam to that of the “amide I band” of the fibril, creating resonance. Scanning electron microscopy images confirmed that the amyloid fibrils disassembled upon laser irradiation at the resonance frequency, and a combination of spectroscopy techniques revealed details about the final structure after fibril dissociation.
For the simulations, the researchers employed a technique that a few members of the current team had previously developed, called “nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations.” Its results corroborated those of the experiment and additionally clarified the entire amyloid dissociation process down to very specific details. Through the simulations, the scientists observed that the process begins at the core of the fibril where the resonance breaks intermolecular hydrogen bonds and thus separates the proteins in the aggregate. The disruption to this structure then spreads outward to the extremities of the fibril.
Together, the experiment and simulation make a good case for a novel treatment possibility for neurodegenerative disorders. Dr Kawasaki remarks, “In view of the inability of existing drugs to slow or reverse the cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, developing non-pharmaceutical approaches is very desirable. The ability to use infrared lasers to dissociate amyloid fibrils opens up a promising approach.”
The team’s long-term goal is to establish a framework combining laser experiments with NEMD simulations to study the process of fibril dissociation in even more detail, and new works are already underway.
All these efforts will hopefully light a beacon of hope for those dealing with Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases.
The goal of binaural beats therapy is to reduce stress, anxiety, or insomnia through an auditory phenomenon that occurs when you hear a slightly different frequency tone in each ear. However, does it really have any positive effect?
Some define binaural beats as the new “technological drug“. The goal of this auditory phenomenon is to create a sensation of three-dimensionality in your brain. You can achieve this effect by generating two types of slightly different sound frequencies in each ear through headphones. Thus, you end up perceiving a third sound, one that, in turn, leads to a series of sensations.
These sensory stimulation feelings range from peace, well-being, and tickling. What this type of experience produces varies a lot from person to person. However, it does seem clear that people are seldom indifferent to it.
Binaural beats are all the rage, to the point that sound wave therapy emerged as an alternative approach to treating anxiety and stressful states.
No 100% conclusive studies support its results, meaning that binaural beats therapy is currently in the experimental phase. This doesn’t keep thousands of people from practicing it daily to relax, reduce insomnia, improve their concentration, or simply for pleasure.
An example, on the I-Doser website, created by a psychologist specialized in audio and music, defines binaural sounds as something addictive that produces enormous pleasure. Hence, they define it as the new digital drug. However, experts agree it can improve mood; although it’s due to mere suggestions in some cases.
Binaural beats, a phenomenon with a historical background
Binaural beats stem from the fact that the right and left ears receive a slightly different frequency tone, but the brain perceives them as a single more accelerated, and uniquely pleasurable, tone. For example, hearing a frequency of 120 Hertz (Hz) in one ear and 132 in the other would produce a 12 Hz binaural beat.
This may seem rather sophisticated but it isn’t new to the world of science. Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, a Prussian physicist, discovered it in 1839. He realized that something as simple as hearing constant tones reproduced at slightly different frequencies in each ear makes a person perceive a different overall sound. Dr. Dove defined this as “binaural beat”.
Since then, people have been experimenting with it in clinical settings. They’ve made attempts to improve a person’s quality of sleep while also reducing their anxiety. The results over several decades are highly variable, as this method works for some but others are indifferent to it.
Binaural beats to reduce anxiety and physical pain sensation
Some people use binaural beats with the idea of reducing their own anxiety. Other people who suffer pain due to injuries, joint problems, or even migraines also resort to this type of therapy.
Thus, a study conducted at the Department of Behavioral Sciences of the National Distance Education University, Dr. Miguel García found an average degree of effectiveness. This is because binaural beats were only effective in a limited number of patients. After two weeks of listening to binaural beats for 20 minutes, these only reduced 26% of the level of anxiety and pain perception of the sample.
Binaural beats therapy for insomnia
Research papers on binaural beats applied to patients with insomnia problems are more significant. Studies such as the one conducted at Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca support its effectiveness in a very specific way, as it can help you fall asleep faster.
There are no conclusive data to this date regarding frequent awakenings or if the quality of sleep is more restorative and deep. Once again, there are emerging differences, as it helped some improve their quality of life by promoting night rest while others don’t show improvement.
Relaxation and mood improvement
Listening to binaural beats for 10 minutes every day, at a frequency of 6 Hz, can improve your mood. It does this by generating a sensation that’s similar to a meditation session in your brain. A person, therefore, feels more relaxed and receptive to their environment. Also, they get a sense of serenity and balance capable of enhancing motivation and positivity.
This outlines a series of improvements that may seem very interesting to you. However, we must emphasize what much of the research reveals: the results vary a lot. Therefore, researchers need to further investigate to understand what the actual changes it produces at the brain level are. This way, people can significantly benefit from this type of therapy.
The fact that the data isn’t conclusive doesn’t detract from its interest. Furthermore, one can test it to discover the specific sensations it causes in you. All you need is a good pair of headphones and then play any of the videos on YouTube on this subject. It’s always fun to immerse yourself in the fun sound universe!
Mario Beauregard, PhD., is a neuroscientist currently affiliated with the Department of Psychology, University of Arizona. He has received a bachelor degree in psychology and a doctorate degree in neuroscience from the University of Montreal. He has also underwent postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Texas Medical School (Houston) and the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University.
Dr. Beauregard is the author of more than 100 publications (articles, essays, book chapters) in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. He was the first neuroscientist to use neuroimaging to investigate the neural underpinnings of voluntary control in relation to emotion. Because of his research into the neuroscience of consciousness, he was selected (2000) by the World Media Net to be one of the “One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century.”
In the episode below, Collective Evolution founder Joe Martino and Dr. Beauregard sit down to discuss what transhumanism, AI, near death experiences and our current events have in common, which is consciousness. They all stem from what level of consciousness we are creating these things out of. Joe explores this topic with Dr. Beauregard in a recent episode of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV.
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