Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Weirdest, Wildest News of 2004 (Part 3)

If you haven't read every single issue of Mind Power News you've probably missed at least one of these amazing stories from 2004. From telepathic parrots to a dream-control machine to proof that the force is with us. And who knew we had a second brain in our stomachs or that plants can think or that our species is evolving towards telepathy. This year also brought remarkable new proof of the mind-body connection in medicine, proof that hypnosis definitely works, and much more research into near-death experiences. Thanks for reading and here's to another mind-bending year ahead!


The following are rich and famous people who risked it all to tell the world about their near-death experience.
Read more here...

The pain of severe burns may be the most excruciating pain a person can experience. But the August issue of Scientific American describes how the ultimate in pain may be eased by the ultimate in high-tech distractions.
Read more here...

Science can't figure out why, but hypnosis works.
Read more here...

For those who laughed at the idea of the Barbarella-type "orgasmatron," Dr Lomas says the film is closer to science fact than fiction.
Read more here...

Individuals with higher levels of well-being have lower cardiovascular risk, lower levels of stress hormones and lower levels of inflammation, which serves as a marker of the immune system.
Read more here...

If successful, the artificial brain prosthesis could replace its biological counterpart, enabling people who suffer from memory disorders to regain the ability to store new memories.
Read more here...

Cosmetic neurology could one day mean not just sharpening intelligence, but also elevating other dictates of the brain - reflexes, attention, mood and memory.
Read more here...

Life expectancy is increasing in the developed world. But Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey believes it will soon extend dramatically to 1,000. Here, he explains why.
Read more here...

For a limited time, readers of Mind Power News can purchase 3 excellent Mind Power e-books for the price of one. Read more here: New Year's Deal


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Weirdest, Wildest News of 2004 (Part 2)

"Beyond Coincidence," a new book by Martin Plimmer and Brian King, includes some very bizarre and unusual tales.
Read more here...

An estimated 7 million people have reported hauntingly similar "near-death" experiences. And a new study in the British medical journal Lancet gives credence to such accounts, concluding they are valid.
Read more here...

A lengthy review of scientific achievements in the field of genetics compiled by a team of experts indicates that life evolved from spiritual, more than physical, forces.
Read more here...

One of the most controversial interpretations of the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics implies that a conscious being, once alive, can never cease to exist.
Read more here...

A five-year test at the Scottish Society for Psychical Research claims that mediums really can receive psychic information.
Read more here...

When the focus is your own pain, substances with no pharmaceutical value sometimes provide relief. The “active ingredient” in placebo treatments is your brain. Read more here...

Researchers have found that lucky charms work but only in the minds of those who carry them.
Read more here...

There are many things modern science cannot explain, and yet they occur anyway. This includes phenomena in the "hard sciences" as well as in the paranormal.
Read more here...

For a limited time, readers of Mind Power News can purchase 3 excellent Mind Power e-books for the price of one. Read more here: New Year's Deal


Monday, December 27, 2004

The Weirdest, Wildest News of 2004 (Part 1)

Embedded within the wall of the gut is a self-contained, self-regulating nervous system that can function on its own, without the help of the brain or the spinal cord.
Read more here...

It seems a veritable certainty that we are destined to become a species capable of mind-to-mind communication.
Read more here...

BBC's Wildlife magazine reports on a remarkable parrot which makes up words, has a great sense of humour, and seems to be able to read his owner's mind.
Read more here...

Cleve Backster was an American expert on lie detectors. In 1966, using a lie detector, he accidentally discovered that plants have high-level emotional activities that were similar to those of human beings. He then conducted a series of studies that amazed the world.
Read more here...

The ideas behind Star Wars, The X-Files and an assortment of other psychic films and shows may not be so far-fetched after all. According to a new study on visual perception, the "force" is possibly inherent in all of us, although we can't see it
. Read more here...

A Japanese toy manufacturer claims to have created the first device which will help you create and control your dreams.
Read more here...

For a limited time, readers of Mind Power News can purchase 3 excellent Mind Power e-books for the price of one. Read more here: New Year's Deal


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Hypnosis 'reduces cancer pain'

By Paul Rincon
BBC News Online

Childhood cancer patients suffer less pain when placed under hypnosis, scientists have claimed.

Children who had been hypnotised in trials reported they had less pain from medical procedures as well as cancer-related pain.

Dr Christina Liossi, from University of Wales, Swansea, suggested there was even tentative evidence that hypnosis prolonged the lives of cancer patients.

In one study, 80 children were placed in four groups: two experimental groups who were treated with an anaesthetic and hypnosis.

Two control groups were just given the anaesthetic.

"All [40] children who used hypnosis with a local anaesthetic felt much less pain than children who were just given the local anaesthetic," said Dr Liossi.

The children, aged six to 16, were placed under hypnosis by experts and then taught to hypnotise themselves before they underwent procedures.

Children not treated with hypnosis were talked to and counselled instead.

Other evidence presented at the festival also supports the idea that hypnosis is a genuine physical state and that people are not simply deceiving themselves into thinking they are hypnotised.

Read the full article here BBC

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The Scientific Proof of the Power of Belief

By Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler

You've heard the expression, "We are what we think."

But is this old saying really true in a scientific sense? Do our thoughts "really" control what we accomplish in life?

I recall a classic study from many years ago. Picture this: A teacher comes into a primary-level classroom, and tells her students that a new scientific study proved blue-eyed children are a lot smarter than brown- or green-eyed children.

The results are both immediate and dramatic.

The blue-eyed children immediately began to outperform their brown and green-eyed classmates in all aspects of their studies.

Then two months later the teacher calls a special class-room meeting. She tells the students she'd made a serious mistake. She apologized, and said the study had actually proven that brown- and green-eyed children are the most intelligent.

Again the results are dramatic and immediate.

The blue-eyed children lost their edge and began to under perform. The brown- and green-eyed children's grades, on the other hand, immediately soared to the "superior" range!

What does this prove? Simply this:

If you "believe" you're smart, you act smart.

If you "believe" you're creative, you act creative.

If you "believe" you're a success, you act successful.

If you "believe" you're excellent at something, you act (and therefore become) excellent.

We each live up (or down) to the image we hold of our self.

Read the full article here

Thursday, December 16, 2004

How to Get a Money-Friendly Mind

By Jessica Kiddle
The Scotsman

Five years ago, Nicola Cairncross was broke. She was unemployed, unable to pay her rent, and struggling with huge debts. Today, the 42-year-old mother-of-two has investments totalling almost £1 million and counts a boutique hotel among her property portfolio. To do this she did more than change her spending habits - first she had to change her money mind-set.

"Instead of being scared of money we have to make it our friend - by overcoming our fear of it, believing we can achieve the financial situation we want and creating the confidence to go for it," says Cairncross, who realigned her life by getting a job, consulting a range of money management guides and becoming a "wealth coach".

Freedom from financial anxieties is something most of us dream of, but rarely achieve. A recent Norwich Union survey found that 57 per cent of people regularly worry about their monetary situation, with over a third wishing they could reduce their debts. With the festive season looming, money worries are about to soar.

However, before you make an appointment with your bank manager, why not invest some time in developing an attitude to money which can help set you on the track to your own idea of financial freedom - whether that involves becoming rich or not.

Read the full story here The Scotsman

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Blind Man Uses 'Sixth Sense' to Detect Emotion

Yahoo News UK

A completely blind British man has been shown to possess an apparent "sixth sense" which lets him recognise emotions on people's faces, British scientists said in research.

The 52-year-old was able to react to pictures of human faces showing emotions such as anger, happiness or fear, the researchers said.

The man, identified only as "patient X", has suffered two strokes which damaged the brain areas that process visual signals, leaving him completely blind.

However his eyes and optic nerves are intact, and brain scans showed that he appeared to somehow use a part of the brain not usually used for sight to process visual signals linked to some emotions.

When researchers from the University of Wales showed the man images of shapes such as circles and squares, he could only guess what they were, and had a similar lack of success determining the gender of emotionless male and female faces.

But when presented with angry or happy human faces, his accuracy improved to 59 percent, significantly better than what would be expected by random chance, with similar results for distinguishing between sad and happy or fearful and happy faces.

Read the full story here: Yahoo News UK

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

India Has Success Using Psychic Spies

By Sudhir Chadda,
India Daily

RAW, India's equivalent of the CIA, has advanced quite a lot in recent days. Sources close to New Delhi reports that RAW is using advanced satellite technologies and remote viewing techniques to look into foreign intelligence activities within India. Remote viewing is the paranormal activities with psychics that can sense into the future and unknown. CIA in America has used remote viewing for many years. Many times remote viewing has worked very well for CIA and Russian intelligence.

In recent days India has seen a massive amount of Pakistan's ISI agents arrested all over the country. The situation has gone so bad for Pakistan and Al-Queda that they are looking for reasons what is really happening. Taking clue for CIA, RAW Indian counterpart started remote viewing techniques many years back. They also tried to correlate the readings with high tech feedbacks like satellite sensing. This is being further validated with in the field agents' report. The net results for RAW and CBI (Central Bureau of Intelligence - equivalent of FBI) are astounding.

Sources say India has locked in close surveillance over most of foreign agencies within the country. RAW has recently expanded the efforts for strategic intelligence. This include spying over Pakistan, China and the Western nations.

The reason for the success is attributable to traditional Indian cultural richness over spirituality and paranormal activities.

The remote viewing activities are notthing new for India. Indians traditionally have been doing it for thousands of years. But now India is doing it for a reason.

Read the full story here: India Daily

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Unleash the Mind-Altering Power of Fantasy

By Ruth Ostrow
The Australian

For years I have been practising a technique for getting my hormones and chemicals moving that I thought was unique, only to discover that my private motivational tool has been the subject of much scientific exploration over the decades.

Whenever I have felt down or depressed I've gone into a sort of daydream and created a situation which immediately seemed to change my physiology, either inventing a challenging scenario which has amped up adrenalin, or a pleasurable one.

The other day I had a chance to see the direct impact of my thinking. While standing on a treadmill, my gym instructor got me to hold some fancy device in my hand that he claimed would register heart-rate. He said I had to maintain a certain level in order to get fit.

Not happy with the rate I was achieving, he told me to walk faster and try to get the rate up to a number he recommended. I was too tired to go faster and decided to test the power of my mind instead. Shutting my eyes, I thought of a wickedly enjoyable situation. I felt myself flush and my heart-rate rise a little. But I was absolutely amazed to hear the instructor's voice: "Yes. That's it, wow! Keep going, your heart-rate has leapt right up. Great."

When I was a sex and relationships writer and radio broadcaster, I spoke to several experts on the subject of the power of the mind.

The academics and psychologists I interviewed for a 1999 feature were unanimous in their belief that when we fantasise, we go into a hypnotic state that triggers memory and leads to arousal. If it is a sexual fantasy then the arousal is sexual; if it is of being eaten by a lion, then the physiological reaction is fight-or-flight. So powerful is the mind, that it can even override physical deficiency.

Apparently, there has been interesting research done in recent years which has shown that women with spinal cord injuries can still create feelings of sexual desire by using their minds and imaginations.

One biochemist explained that the mind often cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, therefore certain thoughts trigger the same chemical reactions we have to real events. Sexual or romantic fantasy helps flood the bloodstream with opiates which produce a euphoric effect and amphetamines which act like the drug Speed. Our fantasies can give us very real feelings and can be quite addictive.

They are also arguably part of nature's plan to dose us up with extra feel-good hormones – those wonderful rose-coloured glasses we humans seem to need to get us down the aisle and procreating.

So too with other forms of fantasy. Thinking of someone who makes us angry will certain make the blood boil. But by using this technique, I was able to turn my body into a ball of adrenalin which provided me with superhuman power and strength during a recent kick-box class.

Later I noticed the sweat I produced actually smelled quite different, more acrid, which my gym instructor explained was the scent of fear and anger.

It isn't just imagined "emotions", rather all sorts of thoughts and visualisations, that can aid performance. Sports coaches have been using mind control for years. I recently heard a story about a trainer who was working with swimmers who couldn't get up to speed. He asked them to shut their eyes and visualise their feet and hands as big flippers. The results were apparently quite stunning with the swimmers surpassing their best records.

Meanwhile, there is a clear correlation between muscle and mind. A friend who teaches yoga says she always gets her students to sit with their legs out and try to touch their toes. Then she gets them to lie back and imagine themselves going further than they ever believed possible. When they return to do the exercise a second time, with the visualisation in their heads, they all extend beyond their original limits. This is how she teaches them that the greatest muscle to exercise is the human brain.

Using this premise, it is obvious to see how important mind is to total health. As the cliche goes: "We are what we think".

But perhaps more important is to be aware of how much damage we can do to our bodies each day when we unknowingly think negative, fearful, or angry thoughts which deplete our adrenal glands and organs, and demeaning thoughts which trigger stress reactions and lower immunity.

Latest research on meditating monks shows that when we think compassionate, loving and calming thoughts we can settle the heart-rate, create feel-good hormones, and oxygenate the bloodstream. All of which leads to increased wellbeing. With this being my last column for 2004, I can't conceive of a more perfect way to say: "Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" than to remind all my valued readers to think in a way that makes their lives more blissful. Joy is the best health tonic.

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Is Life All Just A Dream?

Jonathan Leake, Science Editor
London Times

DEEP THOUGHT, the supercomputer created by novelist Douglas
Adams, got there first, but now the astronomer royal has
caught up. Professor Sir Martin Rees is to suggest that
“life, the universe and everything” may be no more than a
giant computer simulation with humans reduced to bits of

The possibility that what we see around us may not actually
exist has been raised by philosophers many times dating
back to the ancient Greeks and appears repeatedly in
science fiction.

However, many scientists have always been dismissive,
saying the universe was far too complex and consistent to
be a simulation.

Despite this, the idea has persisted, popularised in films
such as Tom Cruise’s Vanilla Sky and The Matrix, starring
Keanu Reeves.

It was also the basis for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
Galaxy, written by Adams, who died in 2001. In the book,
Deep Thought creates the Earth and its human inhabitants as
a giant calculating device to answer the “ultimate

The BBC’s rerun of the radio version of Hitchhiker finished
recently, just as Rees was putting together his
contribution to the debate in which he will concede that
the depictions by Adams, Cruise and Reeves might have been
right after all.

In a television documentary, What We Still Don’t Know, to
be screened on Channel 4 next month, he will say: “Over a
few decades, computers have evolved from being able to
simulate only very simple patterns to being able to create
virtual worlds with a lot of detail.

“If that trend were to continue, then we can imagine
computers which will be able to simulate worlds perhaps
even as complicated as the one we think we’re living in.

“This raises the philosophical question: could we ourselves
be in such a simulation and could what we think is the
universe be some sort of vault of heaven rather than the
real thing. In a sense we could be ourselves the creations
within this simulation.”

Rees will emphasise that this is just a theory. But it is
being increasingly discussed by other eminent physicists
and cosmologists.

Among them is John Barrow, professor of mathematical
sciences at Cambridge University. He points out that the
universe has a degree of fine tuning that makes it safe for
living organisms.

Even a tiny alteration in a fundamental force or a constant
such as gravity would make stars burn out, atoms fly apart,
and the world as we know it become impossible. Such fine
tuning, he has said, could be taken as evidence for some
kind of intelligent designer being at work.

“Civilisations only a little more advanced than ourselves
will have the capability to simulate universes in which
self-conscious entities can emerge and communicate with one
another,” he said.

The idea that life, the universe and everything in it could
be an illusion dates back more than 2,000 years. Chuang
Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, who died in 295BC, wondered
whether his entire life might be no more than a dream.

René Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher, raised
similar questions. But he famously came down in favour of
existence, saying: “I think, therefore I am.”

The idea was resurrected last century, notably by Bertrand
Russell, who suggested that humans could simply be “brains
in a jar” being stimulated by chemicals or electrical
currents — an idea that was quickly taken up and developed
by science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov.

However, some academics pour cold water on the notion of a
machine-created universe. Seth Lloyd, professor of quantum
mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, said such a computer would have to be
unimaginably large.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide is a great book but it remains
fiction,” he said.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

How To Program Your Mind For Wealth

I have just finished a seven lesson e-course designed specifically to help you learn to use the power of your mind to attract money into your life. The course is called "Mind Over Money: Program Your Mind For Wealth," and is based on the teachings in my e-book "Money Making Secrets of Mind Power Masters."

This course draws on the wisdom of the world's greatest mind power experts who teach you precisely how to think in order to attract wealth easily and effortlessly.

"Mind Over Money: Program Your Mind For Wealth" is specifically designed for newbies to the field of Mind Power, but if you've already studied my e-book, this brief course will be a great reminder of the most important principles for attracting wealth.

You can sign up for this absolutely free course at

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

While I'm Away

I will be in Asia for a few weeks and I may or may not have time to update the blog. In the meantime, you can get tons of great information by checking out past issues of Mind Power News at

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ancient Warrior Secrets for the Modern Entrepreneur

By Hirini Reedy Print Version

The words you see onscreen trigger subconscious responses. Dark images penetrate your mind. Your heartbeat increases slightly. Your muscles tighten. Like a warrior advancing to combat, you prepare to engage with your market. Ready, aim, fire. You send an email! Everyday, military metaphors are projected across our computer screens. Guerrilla marketing. Market penetration. Global domination. Competitive intelligence and more. How do you approach your marketing, your business? At the end of the day, do you feel like you have been in battle? Suffering battle fatigue.

War is just metaphor for the application of force. By understanding the nature of war, you can apply this understanding to business. You can apply the principles of war with elegance or with crudeness. It is like knowing the difference between a charging gladiator and a meditating warrior-monk.

Here are some warrior secrets that have been derived from traditional Maori martial arts and modern military tactics. Adapt and apply some of these principles into your life and business.

The Power of Oneness. When tracking and observing, you need to become one with your environment. The trees, the insects, the wildlife become your eyes and ears. The forest becomes part of your body. In order to reach this level of feeling, you need to become one with yourself. This power of oneness begins with the point of stillness. You need to slow down your thinking and relax into yourself. Slow down your thoughts so that you can sense your own body. Tense muscles. Nervous responses. Stressed breathing. Just slow down and take time out from your busy work environment. Spend an hour of slow thinking each day. Do nothing during this hour then move when you are ready. The modern entrepreneur is like a scout, silently observing then moving with swift, efficient actions.

Know Yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes it takes honesty to admit your own weaknesses. Your partner, your children or close friends can all be good mirrors. They reflect back both your good and ugly features. The ego of a mighty entrepreneur can be easily pricked by the honest opinion of his 4-year old daughter. Your results are also another good indication. What results are you getting? Look around you for 360 degree feedback. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions so that you can stretch and grow.

Know Your Enemy. I said know your enemy, not kill your enemy. Sometimes your worst enemy can be yourself. Sometimes your enemy is called your competitor. Try this. Look at your competitors as potential allies. Study them. Think like them. Talk to them. Understand them. They very much want the same things in life as you do. Yet be like an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. Negotiate and operate from a position of strength and honour rather than weakness and deceit. The energy of your values and beliefs radiate out from you like a force-field. What energy are you sending out?

Think 3 Times Beyond Your Current Capability. Some warrior races such as the Maori of New Zealand used to train so that one warrior was equal to three or more opponents. Their smallness in numbers was compensated for by the quality of the warriors. Find a way to leverage your current capability so that you achieve a 300 percent improvement in your results. You could be three times faster in delivering your product to the customer. Or your product could be three times more reliable. Why stop at a ratio of three? Perhaps you could achieve a 10, 20 times improvement ratio on your current capability.

Focussed Relaxation in High Stress Situations. Stress is the number one cause of reduced work efficiency. When teaching martial arts I encourage people to consciously laugh when in high stress situations. This relaxes the body and allows natural reflexes to emerge. Imagine a bloodstained maniac running at you with an axe. Your body starts to tense up. Your mind panics. Now imagine the same axe maniac running straight into an invisible concrete wall three metres in front of you. He is completely knocked unconscious and thrown backwards onto the floor. You laugh. Now slow this moving image down, frame-by-frame. Bring the invisible concrete wall a little closer each time. Laugh as the maniac gets knocked out. Now speed up the frame sequence. Charging axe maniac. Bang! Knock out! Hahaha! Repeat several times. The concrete wall becomes a metaphor for the power of your focussed mind. The next stage is to learn and apply defensive shock-actions so that you have the equivalent physical impact of an invisible concrete wall. Use this same mind process when encountering negative or hostile customers. Put up an invisible barrier to block their negative energy. Use laughter to disarm the tension. Be in control of your own mind and space.

Find ways to activate the warrior energy within you. Use it as a force for good. This is the challenge for the modern entrepreneur. To serve the common good while creating several successful businesses.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Brain Cells in Petrie Dish Fly Fighter Plane

By Celeste Biever
New Scientist

An array of rat brain cells has successfully flown a virtual F-22 fighter jet. The cells could one day become a more sophisticated replacement for the computers that control uncrewed aerial vehicles or, in the nearer future, form a test-bed for drugs against brain diseases such as epilepsy.

Enzymes were used to extract neurons from the motor cortex of mature rat embryos and cells were then seeded onto a grid of gold electrodes patterned on a glass Petri dish. The cells grew microscopic interconnections, turning them into a “live computation device”, explains Thomas DeMarse, a biomedical engineer at the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, who carried out the research.

“This is novel work,” says Mandayam Srinivasan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who used electrodes implanted in a monkey’s brain to move a robotic arm. He says that in future living systems could be combined with traditional computers to solve problems more efficiently.

“There are certainly things that biological systems can accomplish that we haven’t been able to do with electronics,” he says. For example animals have no problem recognising different textures or telling the difference between two different pieces of furniture, whereas computers find this very difficult.

This is probably because the way neurons process information and interconnect is much more complex than in modern electronics, says Srinivasan. Billions of neurons - rather than the millions of transistors on a computer chip - make a biological system “fail safe”, he adds.

With this in mind, Steven Potter, a biomedical engineer at the University of Georgia, US, and DeMarse’s former supervisor, created in 2002 the Hybrot - or “hybrid robot” - a cup-sized robot controlled by an array of rat neurons grafted to silicon electrodes. The robot moves around in response to infrared signals that it converts into movement using a combination of its sensors and its “living” brain.

But until now, no one had written algorithms that harnessed neuronal responses to fly a plane. The ultimate aim is to put arrays of neurons into unmanned planes - or other dangerous situations - where only living brain cells can be relied upon to make the right decisions.

DeMarse’s array of 25,000 interconnected neurons were able to convert signals that indicated whether the simulated plane is experiencing stable conditions or hurricanes into a measurement of whether the plane is flying straight or tilted and then correct the flight path by transmitting signals to the airplane’s controls.

But a brain in a dish that can fly a real plane is a long way off, warns Potter. Instead he says: “The clear advantage is that you can put these things under a microscope and hold them still while you take a picture.” It is a unique opportunity to monitor neurons in a Petri dish while they are actually performing calculations.

For example, the neurons in a brain undergoing an epileptic seizure all fire in synchrony, and this pattern is commonly replicated by neurons grown in a Petri dish. So strategies for preventing epileptic fits could be tested on these in vitro neuron arrays, says Potter.

Although the work may sound spooky, Potter says that the array of cells is far from resembling a real brain, as it lacks the complex structure and contains only thousands, rather than billions, of neurons.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Optimism May Help You Live Longer

Having an Optimistic Outlook May Lower the Risk of Heart Disease, Other Risks of Death

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Medical News

Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty may pay off in terms of a longer, healthier life, according to new research.

The study shows that older people who described themselves as highly optimistic have a lower risk of heart disease or death from any cause over nearly 10 years compared with people who are very pessimistic.

Researchers say depression has long been known to increase the risk of death due to heart disease, but less is known about the effects of an optimistic attitude.

The results of the study appear in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Optimism Prolongs Life

In the study researchers surveyed about 1,000 men and women aged 65-85 about their health, morale, optimism, self-respect, and relationships. Based on the participants' answers about optimism, researchers divided them into four groups according to their level of optimism.

After nearly 10 years of follow-up, researchers found that compared with people who reported a high level of pessimism, those who were very optimistic had a 55% lower risk of death from all causes and a 23% lower risk of heart-related death.

The study also showed that optimism's protective effect was stronger in men than in women for reducing the risk of death due to any cause except heart-related death.

Researchers say there are several factors that may explain the link between optimism and longer life. For example:

* Optimism is associated with more physical activity, moderate alcohol use in women, and less smoking.

* Optimism is associated with better health in general. People in poor health tend to report more pessimism.

* Optimists may cope with stress differently and more effectively than pessimists do.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Scientists Scan Brains for Political Clues

Associated Press

Applying some of the same brain-scan technology used to understand Alzheimer's and autism, scientists are trying to learn what makes a Republican's mind different from a Democrat's.

Brain scanning is moving rapidly beyond diseases to measuring how we react to religious experiences, racial prejudice, even Coke versus Pepsi. This election season, some scientists are trying to find out whether the technology can help political consultants get inside voters' heads more effectively than focus groups or polls.

Already, the scientists are predicting that brain scanning -- known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI -- will be a campaign staple four years from now, despite ethical concerns about "neuromarketing."

Brain scans measure blood flow. When brain cells start firing in a part of the brain that governs a particular emotion or activity, they need more oxygen, which is carried by the blood. During an fMRI, active regions of the brain can be seen lighting up on a computer monitor.

Last month, Drs. Joshua Freedman and Marco Iacoboni of the University of California at Los Angeles finished scanning the brains of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Each viewed images of President Bush, John Kerry and Ralph Nader.

When viewing their favorite candidate, all showed increased activity in the region implicated in empathy. And when viewing the opposition, all had increased blood flow in the region where humans consciously assert control over emotions -- suggesting the volunteers were actively attempting to dislike the opposition.

Nonetheless, some differences appeared between the brain activity of Democrats and Republicans. Take empathy: One Democrat's brain lit up at an image of Kerry "with a profound sense of connection, like a beautiful sunset," Freedman said. Brain activity in a Republican shown an image of Bush was "more interpersonal, such as if you smiled at someone and they smiled back."

And when voters were shown a Bush ad that included images of the September 11 attacks, the amygdala region of the brain -- which lights up for most of us when we see snakes -- illuminated more for Democrats than Republicans. The researchers' conclusion: At a subconscious level, Republicans were apparently not as bothered by what Democrats found alarming.

"People make tons of decisions and often they don't know why," Iacoboni said. "A lot of decision-making is unconscious, and brain imaging will be used in the near future to perceive and decide about politicians."

Freedman came to political brain scanning through his brother Tom, who served as a consultant to President Clinton. Tom Freedman asked his neuroscientist brother if the technology could improve on how campaigns woo voters.

"No one had done fMRI with politics," Dr. Freedman said. "So we decided to see what we could find."

The UCLA researchers said they have not been contacted by any political consultants other than Freedman's brother and a collaborator, though they expect that to change after the election.

Already, some companies are dabbling in neuromarketing.

DaimlerChrysler used MRIs to gauge interest in different makes of cars. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology are scanning brains for reaction to movie trailers. Baylor University scientists just published brain scans suggesting preference for Coke or Pepsi is culturally influenced, and not just a matter of taste.

"This is a story of the corruption of medical research," warned Gary Ruskin, who runs a Portland, Oregon, nonprofit organization called Commercial Alert. "It's a technology that should be used to ease human suffering, not make political propaganda more effective."

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Electric Currents Boost Brain Power

By Jim Giles

Connecting a battery across the front of the head can boost verbal skills, says a team from the US National Institutes of Health.

A current of two thousandths of an ampere (a fraction of that needed to power a digital watch) applied for 20 minutes is enough to produce a significant improvement, according to data presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego. And apart from an itchy sensation around the scalp electrode, subjects in the trials reported no side-effects.

Meenakshi Iyer of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland, ran the current through 103 initially nervous volunteers. "I had to explain it in detail to the first one or two subjects," she says. But once she had convinced them that the current was harmless, Iyer says, recruitment was not a problem.

The volunteers were asked to name as many words as possible beginning with a particular letter. Given around 90 seconds, most people get around 20 words. But when Iyer administered the current, her volunteers were able to name around 20% more words than controls, who had the electrodes attached but no current delivered. A smaller current of one thousandth of an amp had no effect.

Iyer says more work needs to be done to explain the effect, but she speculates that the current changes the electrical properties of brain cells in the prefrontal cortex, the brain region through which it passes. She believes that the cells fire off signals more easily after the current has gone by. That would make the brain area, a region involved in word generation, generally more active, she suggests.

Iyer's group, which is led by Eric Wassermann, was prompted to run the tests after considering problems facing researchers who were studying the effect of magnetic fields on the brain. Some neuroscientists hope that magnetic fields could have a therapeutic effect, perhaps by boosting activity in areas of the brain that have suffered cell loss owing to dementia. But magnetic fields can cause seizures and also require bulky equipment to generate them.

Iyer hopes that low electric currents will offer a safer and more portable alternative. After running further safety tests, she plans to test the effect of the current on patients with frontal temporal dementia, a brain disease that causes speech problems. "This won't be a cure," Iyer cautions. "But it could be used in addition to drugs."

The idea of using electrical current to boost brain activity dates back to experiments on animals in the 1950s. The early work showed some potential, but fell from favour because of a perceived link to electroconvulsive therapy, a controversial technique in which patients with depression are treated by having short but intense pulses of electricity applied to the brain.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Intent to Have Children Increases Men's Testosterone


Wanting to be a dad can be enough to help conception, researchers say.

They found testosterone levels surged when men were trying for a baby.

The research in New Scientist magazine looked to see if there was any link between men's testosterone levels and their sexual behaviour.

Scientists at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Lisbon, Portugal, led by Katherine Hirschenhauser, asked 27 men to measure the testosterone in their saliva every morning for 90 days.

The men were also asked to record their sex lives in intimate detail, including the "intensity" of each encounter, whether or not it was with their regular partner.

In all the men tested, researchers saw peaks and troughs in testosterone levels.

But in those men who were trying for a baby, peaks in testosterone levels coincided far more often with periods of intense sexual activity.

This makes biological sense, as rises in testosterone also trigger hormonal changes which increase the production of sperm, making conception more likely.

Katherine Hirschenhauser, an expert in sex hormones, suggests men can subconsciously influence their hormone levels.

"Males can be responsive to their partners, but only if they want to be."

But it may not simply be that men who want to become fathers have sex when their testosterone levels are high.

Other researchers say the explanation could be connected with the previous findings that women are more receptive to sex around the time of ovulation - and that women who live together have their periods at the same time - thought to be due to pheromones.

Jim Pfaus, an expert in sexual neurobiology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada suggests men hoping to be fathers respond to their partner's pheromones and synchronise their testosterone levels to the mid point of their partner's cycle, the time when they are most likely to conceive.

The research has also been published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How to Increase the Flow of Money Into Your Life

"The Fastest Way I Know To Dramatically
Increase The Flow Of Money Into Your Life"

By Bob Scheinfeld
Ultimate Lifestyle Academy

Just about everyone who subscribes to this newsletter wants
to make more money, no matter how much they make now.

You too? If so, pay special attention to this article, read
with an open mind, be honest with yourself, and then take
immediate action after you finish it.

To begin, I'd like to define a few terms. For our discussion
here, let's compare money to electricity and your life to a

Suppose you're building a new house. You'd want to have
electricity in it, wouldn't you? Well,to have electricity in
your house, you've got to first tie into the main power
grid of your city or town, A "power line" has to be
installed that connects your house to the main power

Having access to the main power grid isn't enough, however.
You've also got to have "wiring" installed and running
through your house that allows the electricity to flow
through your house to the "outlets" so you can "plug in" and
use the power.

If raw power ran to your house but it couldn't flow in and
through your house to the outlets, it wouldn't do you any
good, would it?

So, to have electricity available in your house, you have to
think ahead and plan for how and where you want it to flow.
Does that make sense?

OK. Let's bring this back to money and your life. If you
want to increase the flow of money into your life, two
things must be in place:

1. You must be linked up to the main money "power grid"

2. You must have the correct wiring in place to allow the
flow to flow into and through your life

All of us, including you, are already connected to the main
power grid that supplies money. We all have equal access
to the raw potential to earn money. You already know that.

What you may not be clear on, however, is that we don't all
have the proper wiring in our houses to allow money to flow
to us in the amounts we prefer. When I say "wiring," I mean
the ability to effectively direct and manage the money/power
when it starts flowing to us.

Suppose you're a parent and two of your children came up to
you and say, "Mom/Dad, can I please have $100?"

Suppose you said to the first child, "What do you want the
money for?" And he/she replied, "I'm not sure. I'd just like
it." Or, "I'd like it to buy a bunch of toys and candy." How
likely would you be to give him/her the money? Not likely,

Suppose you asked your other child the same question and
he/she said, "I'd like $30 to invest for my future, $30 to
by flowers for my teacher to thank her for helping me after
hours with my science project, and $40 to buy some books so
I can study several subjects that interest me and would help
me in school."

How likely would you be to give him/her the $100? Much more
likely, right? Why? Because they knew exactly what they'd do
with the money, their intentions were solid, and you'd
'approve" of their proposed use of the money, right?

Well the same thing goes for money and you. Why should the
Universe (or your Director/Inner CEO in my work) give YOU
more money if you don't know exactly what you'll do with it,
and if your intentions aren't truly solid or "approved" too?

Think about that for a minute.

Most people I know who want more money have never really
thought through exactly what they'd do with it if they got
it. Or, if they do have plans for the increased money flow,
it's for things that haven't been thought through either,
especially as it relates to alignment with their life
mission and purpose.

I've got to be brutally honest with you now for a minute.
You can bitch, moan and complain about not having enough
money all you want. But until you get the correct wiring
in place, the flow isn't likely to happen. You'll just be
like the first kid in the example I just gave you.

Here's what getting the correct wiring in place means:

1. Getting crystal clear on exactly what you'd do with the
increased money flow if you got it

2. Making sure your clarity on what you'd do with the money
is resting on a foundation of Truth and total alignment
with your life purpose and mission (versus your own fantasy
wish list)

3. Getting your act together on managing money (which
includes having plans in place for saving, investing,
planning for your future, being organized and on top of
all the financial details in your life, etc.)

As my friend Dr. John Demartini says, "Until You Manage
Money Wisely, Don’t Expect More Money To Manage."

When you can show The Universe (or your Director/Inner CEO
in my work) that increased money flow will be used in a wise
way, the flow will increase and not before. The only
exception to this, as I discuss in my Invisible Path to
Success and 11th Element work, is if an increased flow of
money at this moment is part of your mission and purpose and
your Director/Inner CEO is taking steps to increase it
independently of your personal desire for it.

So, based on what you've just discovered, here are the
5 action steps I suggest taking right now:

1. Take a brutally honest look at your life and see if you
have the proper "wiring" installed in your "house."

2. If the answer is "Yes," then be patient and know that the
increased money flow will come at the best time and in the
best way for you.

3. If the answer is "No," then take steps to get the help
you need to run new wiring through your house. If you
already have an Invisible Path to Success or 11th Element
book or course, use the System to ask for help to do that.
If not, consider purchasing an 11th Element book or course
(see below) and getting started right away with the System.
It's the quickest way I know to get the job done

4. Run your new wiring

5. Use the System to ask for help to increase the flow of
money once the new wiring is in place

If you follow these 5 steps, and if an increased flow of
money at this time is in alignment with your mission and
purpose, it will flow. That's guaranteed.

Go get 'em tiger!

Bob Scheinfeld,
Ultimate Lifestyle Academy

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Memory Upgrade With Brain Chip

Wired Magazine

In this era of high-tech memory management, next in line to get that memory upgrade isn't your computer, it's you.

Professor Theodore W. Berger, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California, is creating a silicon chip implant that mimics the hippocampus, an area of the brain known for creating memories. If successful, the artificial brain prosthesis could replace its biological counterpart, enabling people who suffer from memory disorders to regain the ability to store new memories.

And it's no longer a question of "if" but "when." The six teams involved in the multi-laboratory effort, including USC, the University of Kentucky and Wake Forest University, have been working together on different components of the neural prosthetic for nearly a decade. They will present the results of their efforts at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting in San Diego, which begins Saturday.

While they haven't tested the microchip in live rats yet, their research using slices of rat brain indicates the chip functions with 95 percent accuracy. It's a result that's got the scientific community excited.

"It's a new direction in neural prosthesis," said Howard Eichenbaum, director of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neurobiology at Boston University. "The Berger enterprise is ambitious, aiming to provide a prosthesis for memory. The need is high, because of the prevalence of memory disorder in aging and disease associated with loss of function in the hippocampus."

Forming new long-term memories may involve such tasks as learning to recognize a new face, or remembering a telephone number or directions to a new location. Success depend on the proper functioning of the hippocampus. While this part of the brain doesn't store long-term memories, it re-encodes short-term memory so it can be stored as long-term memory.

It's the area that's often damaged as a result of head trauma, stroke, epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Currently, no clinically recognized treatments exist for a damaged hippocampus and the accompanying memory disorders.

Berger's team began its research by studying the re-encoding process performed by neurons in slices of rat hippocampi kept alive in nutrients. By stimulating these neurons with randomly generated computer signals and studying the output patterns, the group determined a set of mathematical functions that transformed any given arbitrary input pattern in the same manner that the biological neurons do. And according to the researchers, that's the key to the whole issue.

"It's an impossible task to figure out what your grandmother looks like and how I would encode that," said Berger. "We all do a lot of different things, so we can't create a table of all the things we can possibly look at and how it's encoded in the hippocampus. What we can do is ask, 'What kind of transformation does the hippocampus perform?'

"If you can figure out how the inputs are transformed, then you do have a prosthesis. Then I could put that into somebody's brain to replace it, and I don't care what they look at -- I've replaced the damaged hippocampus with the electronic one, and it's going to transform inputs into outputs just like the cells of the biological hippocampus."

Dr. John J. Granacki, director of the Advanced Systems Division at USC, has been working on translating these mathematical functions onto a microchip. The resulting chip is meant to simulate the processing of biological neurons in the slice of rat hippocampus: accepting electrical impulses, processing them and then sending on the transformed signals. The researchers say the microchip is doing exactly that, with a stunning 95 percent accuracy rate.

"If you were looking at the output right now, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the biological hippocampus and the microchip hippocampus," Berger said. "It looks like it's working."

The team next plans to work with live rats that are moving around and learning, and will study monkeys later. The researchers will investigate drugs or other means that could temporarily deactivate the biological hippocampus, and implant the microchip on the animal's head, with electrodes into its brain.

"We will attempt to adapt the artificial hippocampus to the live animal and then show that the animal's performance -- dependent in these tasks on an intact hippocampus -- will not be compromised when the device is in place and we temporarily interrupt the normal function of the hippocampus," said Sam A. Deadwyler, "thus allowing the neuro-prosthetic device to take over that normal function." Deadwyler, a professor at Wake Forest University, is working on measuring the hippocampal neuron activity in live rats and monkeys.

The team expects it will take two to three years to develop the mathematical models for the hippocampus of a live, active rat and translate them onto a microchip, and seven or eight years for a monkey. They hope to apply this approach to clinical applications within 10 years. If everything goes well, they anticipate seeing an artificial human hippocampus, potentially usable for a variety of clinical disorders, in 15 years.

Overall, experts find the results promising.

"We are nowhere near applicability," said Boston University's Eichenbaum. "But the next decade will prove whether this strategy is truly feasible."

"There is a big gap in making the microchip work in a slice preparation and getting it to work in a human being," added Norbert Fortin, a neuroscientist from the Cognitive Neurobiology Lab at Boston University. "However, their approach is very methodical, and it is not unreasonable to think that in 15 to 20 years such a chip could help, to some degree, a patient who suffered from hippocampal damage."

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Monday, October 25, 2004

How to Get People to Buy Anything

By Joe Vitale

How do you sell a T-shirt, anyway?

I mean, nobody really needs one. Many places give them away as promotional items. And there isn't a shortage of them in the world. They aren't food, water, or shelter. They aren't essential. No one will die without one.

So why would anyone buy one of mine?

Those were the thoughts I wrestled with after artist Andy Dooley created a beautiful T-shirt design to celebrate my book, "Spiritual Marketing," becoming a number one best-seller on Amazon June 4th and 5th, 2002.

Now that I have a shirt, how do I sell it?

I rummaged through my brain as well as my library and stumbled across Aristotle. You may remember him. He was an ancient Greek rhetorician who created a four-point system for persuasion. That system has never been improved on in the last 2,000 years. In brief, his logical 4-step "arrangement" (as Aristotle called it) looks like this:

1. Exordium. A shocking statement or story to get attention.
2. Narratio. You pose the problem the reader/listener is having.
3. Confirmatio. You offer a solution to the problem.
4. Peroratio. You state the benefits of action on the solution.

This should look a little familiar to you. It's very similar to the classic advertising formula known as AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Because of both of those formulas, most of my sales oriented writing follows along the easy path of answering these questions:

1. Are you getting attention with your opening?
2. Are you stating a problem the reader cares about?
3. Are you offering a solution that really works?
4. Are you asking the reader to take action?

Okay. You got that. But how does it help me sell T-shirts?
Well, let's see.

1. My opening has to grab attention. So what if I said something like, "How can you wear a painting that will increase your sex appeal?" Food, sex, and money are notorious attention-getters.

2. Now I have to state a problem. So maybe I can ask, "Are you tired of wearing ratty T-shirts from the local pub or grill? Wouldn't you like to wear something that makes you feel great---that reminds you---as well as the people who are attracted to you---to go for your dreams?"

3. Now I have to explain my solution. "Famous artist Andy Dooley, who has designed T-shirts sold at Disney World and around the world, has just created an original work of art. This art is beautiful, colorful, and charged with the feelings that attract prosperity, love, and healing---all the things you loved in the book, Spiritual Marketing."

4. To wrap up, I need to now ask for action. "You can only get this limited-edition, original work of art directly from me. Just see my website at and you'll see the T-shirt design. For every 3 shirts you buy, I'll send you one free. Sizes are Large and X-Large only."

Wow! I did it!

I spontaneously created a sales piece by following Aristotle's 2,400 year-old 4-step plan.
You can do this, too. For anything you want to sell, simply ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you getting attention with your opening?2. Are you stating a problem the reader cares about?3. Are you offering a solution that really works?4. Are you asking the reader to take action?

Now go and make Aristotle proud!

Dr. Joe Vitale is author of way too many books to list here, including the #1 best-selling book "Spiritual Marketing," the best-selling e-book "Hypnotic Writing," and the best-selling audioprogram, "The Power of Outrageous Marketing." His training on Hypnotic Selling and Hypnotic Writing is at

Monday, October 18, 2004

Wake Up and Create Something

By Bob Doyle
Wealth Beyond Reason

It's time for the "mainstream" to WAKE UP. The alarm clock is ringing, they keep hitting snooze, and in the meantime, the life they could be living is passing them by.

Day after day, millions of people go through their lives wishing and hoping and dreaming that things could be better, with absolutely no knowledge that it is they themselves that perpetuate their own dissatisfaction.

It is not the "gifted few" who create their realities. It's not just for those in the metaphysical community. It is all of us. Every single one. However, there are a few who have awakened to this knowledge, and make creating their reality a daily event...manifesting whatever it is they want in their life with seemingly no effort!

Meanwhile the rest of the world looks on in wonder and disbelief. They assume that these "fortunate few" are among the cosmically lucky.

To be honest, the whole thing generates some anger in me. The problem is that we are "dumbed down" by society throughout our whole lives under the pretense that we are actually being intellectualized. The "scholarly" tell us that metaphysical topics like reality creation are pure fantasy. Science insists on measurable evidence of everything before it will acknowledge such claims as fact.

However, it's really not that difficult to comprehend. Even the most skeptical people should be able to grasp a few simple concepts like:

Everything in the Universe is composed of Energy, including you and me. Even our thoughts are Energy.

Through Energy, everything in the Universe is connected.

You ARE a part of the Universe and through the power of thought, have the same creative power that manifests everything you see. The only thing that limits your potential is your own belief system!

The Universe creates without effort, and in abundance. Just look around you. Trees, rocks, air, planets, etc. all were created without stress, effort, or over-analyzation. The Force you choose to believe initiated the creative process doesn't matter. They are all there and were created effortlessly.

Everything that occurs in your life is interpreted BY YOU. You add the meaning, you add the emotional response, you add EVERYTHING. It is your thoughts that literally take the energy "data" and transpose it into your reality. What you consider "real" is nothing more than an agreement that you've made with yourself (and no doubt many others in some cases).

This is how our reality has been shaped. This is how we have learned what is possible, and what is impossible. We learned it from OTHER PEOPLE. The problem is, these other people (family and friends perhaps?) have their OWN limiting belief systems which they ALSO consider "real".

So human limitations spread like a virus, and we don't even realize what's happening.

As discouraging as this is, many of us ARE waking up. I personally feel it my sacred duty to shake people out of this "intellectual trance" that limits them and show them what is truly possible.

So what IS the difference between those who cruise through life in a seemingly perpetual state of bliss, with everything they want coming to them with no effort, and the rest of the population working at jobs they hate for the sake of doing the "responsible" thing, hoping that SOME DAY they can live the lives they hope for?

The difference is that these people know their purpose, know WHY they absolutely HAVE to fulfill that purpose, and commit themselves to never stopping until they realize their dream. They may or may not have thrown the accepted definition of "responsibility" out the window. The only thing that matters ultimately is that they now live lives they love, following their passions.

You see it is our PASSIONS in life that tell us precisely what we are to do. When we follow our passions, our life lights up. We give off incredibly powerful energy which attracts our desires to us. That means people, money, objects, careers...whatever we want that is in line with our purpose. The Universe WANTS to provide those things we want most. It is only our own limiting belief systems that stop fulfillment from occurring.

Learn more here: Wealth Beyond Reason

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Wealthy New Lab Aims to Capture Dreams, Literally

By Maggie Fox
Reuters Health and Science Correspondent

Gerald Rubin is looking for someone who can take a picture of a thought.

To do it, he and colleagues are harnessing the powerful force of cold, hard cash -- Howard Hughes' cash, to be exact.

They are building a new $400 million laboratory in the green countryside outside Washington, D.C., and hope to attract the brightest and most unconventional minds in science to find a way to look into a person's brain and see what it is doing.

And they want to take their time doing it. "In a 100-year timeframe we want to understand human consciousness," said Rubin.

Rubin and colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute -- one of the world's richest philanthropies with an endowment worth $11.3 billion -- are approaching this ticklish problem backwards. They have bought a 280-acre farm in Ashburn, Virginia, and are building a new kind of research campus.

Only now, halfway through its construction, are they settling on what kind of research they want to do and looking for the people to do it.

"We are (like) a biotechnology company whose product is new knowledge and which has infinitely patient investors," Rubin told reporters on a recent tour, comparing the foundation to a corporation.

How did they settle on imaging thought?

"We wanted to pick an important biomedical problem but we wanted to pick a problem that wasn't easily addressed at academic campuses."

One area that might meet these criteria was the question of how brain cells store and process information.

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Paralyzed Man Sends E-mail by Thought

By Roxanne Khamsi
Nature Magazine

A pill-sized brain chip has allowed a quadriplegic man to check e-mail and play computer games using his thoughts. The device can tap into a hundred neurons at a time, and is the most sophisticated such implant tested in humans so far.

Many paralysed people control computers with their eyes or tongue. But muscle function limits these techniques, and they require a lot of training. For over a decade researchers have been trying to find a way to tap directly into thoughts.

In June 2004, surgeons implanted a device containing 100 electrodes into the motor cortex of a 24-year-old quadriplegic. The device, called the BrainGate, was developed by the company Cyberkinetics, based in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Each electrode taps into a neuron in the patient's brain.

The BrainGate allowed the patient to control a computer or television using his mind, even when doing other things at the same time. Researchers report for example that he could control his television while talking and moving his head.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Medical News

People who are bilingual have an advantage over the rest of us, and not just in terms of communication skills. The bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills, according to new research.

Researchers Andrea Mechelli of London's Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience and colleagues, including experts from the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome, looked at brain densities of bilingual people.

First, they recruited 25 people who speak one language, 25 who learned a second European language before age 5, and 33 who became bilingual between ages 10 and 15.

All the participants spoke English as their primary language. Those who had learned a second language later in life had practiced it regularly for at least five years.

Bilingual Brains Do Better

The brain has two types of tissue visible to the naked eye, termed gray and white matter. Gray matter makes up the bulk of nerve cells within the brain. Studies have shown an association with gray matter density (or volume and intellect), especially in areas of language, memory, and attention.

Brain imaging showed that bilingual speakers had denser gray matter compared with monolingual participants.

The difference was especially significant in the brain's left side -- an area known to control language and communication skills. The right hemisphere of bilingual speakers also showed a similar trend.

The researchers say that although language is thought to be mediated by functional changes in the brain, they show that being bilingual structurally changes the brain. Their study shows the effect was strongest in people who had learned a second language before age 5.

In a second test, the researchers studied 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between ages 2 and 34.

Those who had learned English at a young age had greater proficiency in reading, writing, talking, and understanding English speech.

As in the first test, increases in gray matter density in the brain's left region were linked to age at which a person became bilingual. The earliest second language learners had the densest gray matter in that part of the brain.

Of course, while it might seem easier to pick up a second language as a child, it's still possible to do so as an adult.

"Our findings suggest that the structure of the human brain is altered by the experience of acquiring a second language," write the researchers in the October issue of the journal Nature.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Power of a Super Attitude

Positive thinking and a positive attitude may indeed have power.

That belief has long been conjecture, but in recent years scientists studying the mind-body connection are finding that an optimistic outlook can improve more than just mental health.

Christopher Reeve's death this week, nine years after being paralyzed in a horseback riding accident is, to some researchers, an example of just how Reeve's positive attitude during his post-accident life surely contributed to an improved physical state.

"There is no doubt in my mind his positive attitude extended his life — probably dramatically. The fact that it didn't allow him to recover function of all limbs is besides the point," said Carol Ryff, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has been studying whether or not high levels of psychological well-being benefit physical health.

"There is a science that is emerging that says a positive attitude isn't just a state of mind," she says. "It also has linkages to what's going on in the brain and in the body."

Ryff has shown that individuals with higher levels of well-being have lower cardiovascular risk, lower levels of stress hormones and lower levels of inflammation, which serves as a marker of the immune system.

Her research on positive mental states is among 44 current grants funded by the National Institutes of Health evaluating optimism. Most research in this area has focused on negative feelings, such as how stress, anxiety and depression affect physical health.

"Science in this area is at the very beginning," Ryff said. "For a long period of time, you couldn't even get funding to do research like this because there was such a preoccupation with illness and dysfunction."

Hard to measure happiness

It's clear that stressors produce abnormal changes in the immune system, said Ronald Glaser, director of Ohio State University's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Glaser and his wife, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a clinical psychologist also at Ohio State, studied the mind-body connection and found that chronic stress and psychological stress can impede wounds from healing, may impair the effectiveness of vaccines and can weaken the immune system of caregivers.

Kiecolt-Glaser says there is less definitive work on the benefits of a positive outlook because clearly defined scales, such as those used for measuring depression, don't exist for studying happiness. That makes a positive attitude much more difficult to quantify.

"In laboratories, there are lots of easy ways to make people depressed or anxious for a long period of time. It's harder to make people happy," she says. "The whole distress, anxiety, depression part matters more, from everything we know, than positive emotions. It's not as easy to see a positive effect."

The scientific recognition of a mind-body connection in health is gathering steam. Once the purview of new-age books that claim to show the path to healing, the evidence is in the rise in clinical trials: The NIH last year funded $143 million of mind-body research, with estimates of $149 million for 2004 and $153 million for 2005.

"Mind-body medicine is now scientifically proven," says Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is considered a pioneer in the field. "There are literally thousands of articles on how the mind and brain affect the body."

Benson, author of 10 books, is founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston, a non-profit organization devoted to studying interactions between mind and body. He says Reeve's focus on improving the plight of others with disabilities, like Michael J. Fox's work with Parkinson's disease, in some ways may help them personally more than they realize.

"When a person can focus on something other than illness, it allows the body to take advantage of our own healing capacity," says Benson. "Hope in something beyond the illness and dedicating oneself to cures for the illness" rather than dwelling on oneself and one's illness "gives purpose to life," and helps prevent the negative effects of stress while medical science does its work.

Feel-good alternatives

Medical science also is taking note of alternative medicine. Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., has worked with the Reeve Paralysis Foundation to benefit those with spinal cord injuries. Terry Chase, the hospital's coordinator of patient and family education, has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunken driver while riding her bicycle 16 years ago. She says the hospital's alternative medicine program provides acupuncture, massage and aromatherapy to help patients feel better and stay positive.

She says they do "whatever we can to put people in a better place for their own healing — whatever healing they're going to have," she said. "We can't say it will cure them, but it may help them feel better and be more relaxed."

Perhaps one of the most vocal advocates for the power of a positive attitude is Bernie Siegel, a surgeon, author and motivational speaker known for such books as Love, Medicine & Miracles and Peace, Love & Healing.

"When people are willing to make an effort to cure what's incurable, I'll work with them," he says. "What goes on in your head affects your body."

But the message of well-intentioned morale-boosters such as Siegel sometimes is misunderstood by those who expect too much from the power of the mind and mistakenly think positive thoughts will bring about miraculous physical healing.

Ryff says people need to think not in terms of a cure, but of a better life.

"It's putting an impossible burden on the power of positive thinking to say in all cases, if this stuff really works, people should be cured. The right way to think is that this positive attitude orientation can actually keep life worth living and can possibly extend the period of life you have," she says. "It won't make the disease go away."

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