Archive for the ‘Biotech’ Category

Neuroscience 2008: Nature/Nuture and Neuro-Plasticity!

November 18, 2008

The Twitter Nurture your Nature!

The Big Idea: Neuro-Plasticity is critical to neurogenesis (But when and how?)

Allow me to start with a question:  How many of you really believe that “exercise” can change your brain?  How many of you have already adapted yourselves to a non-fast food diet of low fat, low sugar, low volume eating lifestyle? And how many of you take a nap to replenish memory of all those nifty concepts and technical skills you learned in the early a.m.?

Well if you were a fly on the wall in any of the Neuroscience 2008 sessions (rather than submitted to a lab of brain probe research!), you would detect a consistent pattern in neuroscience research: Nature and Nurture are inextricably linked — so much so as to push us to think why did we ever think otherwise? Or to put it another way, news from the brain labs reinforces what we’ve learned from cardiac research and training grounds, namely: Lifestyle can make or break one’s future in obtaining a clear mind and good and healthy longevity!

Having the opportunity to meet and listen to neuroscientists who are paving the way to our understanding of both the normal and diseased brain and body has pointed up to some insights worth sharing:

1. Scaling the practice of Brain Mapping:  When it comes to neuroscience as a research area of biotechnology, the bio here means both neuroanatomical, neurochemical and neurogenetic levels of inquiry and analysis.  For the lay reader, this means brain research is scaled and mapped from the macro to the micro levels of network analysis.

2.  Neuro-Plasticity, like comedy is all about timing! Different levels of circuit analysis open doors to understanding the phenomenon of neuro-plasticity — best periods, best practices, and the conditions when “too much plasticity” appears implicated as in cases of schizophrenia.   Given the trendiness that has brought neuro-plasticity into critical mass awareness, scientists at this conference were quite clear if not humble in making claims for the play-doh capacity of the brain.  Today’s press conference on the developing brain drove home this message in this way:

Animal studies, such as the songbird studies run by Dr. Allison Doupe (see previous blog), point to a critical period for neuro-plasticity to express itself in learning and memory.

Dr. Takao Hench* reinforces Doupe’s perspective, noting if the critical period is disturbed in embryonic development, then plasticity is interrupted.   Hench studies proteins in embryonic head development, finding their importance in developing visual function and spinal chord development.

No doubt, the evidence for embryonic and childhood neuro-plasticity opens new doors to asking how and when new neuronal landscapes are formed in later periods of life.  The aging brain question on the table?  Does the brain recapitulate earlier strategies for neuroplasticity in the adult stage and to what degree?  (All you meditators out there: Think cultivating beginner’s mind.)

3.  Nurture your Nature: With the advent of genetics,  neuroscience has leaped into a new age of epigenetic studies:  This may be one of the areas that speaks directly to how we as non-scientists can make sense of brain science in terms of our own daily lives.   To give you a quick brief, think of the old nature/nurture argument, seemingly put to rest by the genome mapping project and the insights scientists have had regarding the role “environment” plays in shaping the genetic expression.

At Neuroscience 2008, several scientists were on hand to discuss their epigenetic research highlighting the effects of lifestyle and cultural habit on the brain as seen at the level of genetic expression.  Let’s be clear here, the expression is not seen at the level of change in DNA structure but in the level of “gene expression.”  For you genomic neophytes out there, I came to understand this by way of a great explanation offered by Dr. Quincy LaPlant who noted his use of microray analysis to distinguish between DNA sequence and sequence organization.

The long and short of this:  The implications of lifestyle cannot be under-estimated:  Stress, early childhood abuse and neglect, high-fat diets all manifest as modifers the brain at the level of genetic organization, the level of brain function, and the level of human experience!!!!!

Epigenetics — keep your eye on that term!

More tomorrow….

Until then, conference tip for brain fitness:  “We remember to sleep so that we can sleep to remember!” (William Fishbein)

*Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard University

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Beyond Frankenstein: Breaking News on Neural Stimulation

September 13, 2008

The Platform:  www.physorg.com

The Twitter: Neural Stimulation rocks the Brain!

The Big Idea:  Brain Stimulation Therapy pinpoints and stimulates change in areas of the brain damaged by disease and injury.

 

 

 

Remember the brain stim scenes in FRANKENSTEIN and in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST?

Well brain-frying may soon become a thing of the past with the progressive improvements made in neural-stimulation.  A case in point: Breaking news from physorg.com reveals the ways in which “deep” neural stimulation is advancing the field of treating neurological disorders that have stumped the research community for years: Parkinsons, Alzheimers, TBI, and Chronic Depression.  With increased knowledge of knowing where and how to pinpoint areas of our “neural landscape,” the possibilities of treatment are opened up considerably.

Here’s the link to the article:http://www.physorg.com/news140412075.html

As a child who watched her grandmother waste away from early 20th century “shock” treatments for what was then called “manic-depression,”  the future of neural stimulation will no doubt change family lives as well as movie scripts!

Here’s to the good efforts of scientific research!

May the Breath and Brain be with You!

Dr. G.

Designer Genes?

May 30, 2007

Designer Genes — you’ve heard the term and no doubt encountered the myths and ignorance that abound in the general public. Worth a read to clear up your own thoughts? Any recent books by Matt Ridley, well respected science editor. (There are others, please write for a suggestion). As well, check out the Edge edition on Ridley’s perspectives on genetic science:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/ridley.html

Or check out the recent online edition of EDGE, which includes statements by star architects and theorist of our genetic futures

http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge211.html

Zoom zoom,

Dr. G.

http://www.spacesuityoga.com

Ray Kurzweil on the future of biotechnology

May 21, 2007

21 May 2007

Hey there Somanauts!

Where ever you are in the biotech discussion, may I suggest you tune into the recent keynote speech given by inventor and forecaster Ray Kurzweil at the Killer APP Expo in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Author of THE AGE OF SPIRITUAL MACHINES, Kurzweil is a “pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition, health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, technological singularity and futurism.” The Killer App speech outlines the future of biotechnology, from remote 3-d representations of “self” to predictive genetics for the Baby Boom. I leave it to your imagination and curiosity to figure out how somatic education fits into the biotech picture.

One can access the speech by going to Kurzweil’s website and click on

http://www.kurzweilai.net/news/frame.html?main=/news/news_single.html?id%3D6816

or type into the url space the following link:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid900737897/
bclid900672292/bctid900644733

Zoom Zoom!

Dr. G.

What is Spacesuit Yoga?

March 9, 2007

What is SpaceSuit Yoga? Dr. M. A. Greenstein, founder, explains:

In a vast sea of yoga for the everywo/man, I launched SPACESUIT YOGA in a city famous for unfettered artistic imagination, self-absorbed excess and a well-charted mystical history – no other than the myth-making City of the Angels (L. A.). With a group of smart, sophisticated artists who desired to learn about inhabiting their body/minds and about the generosity embedded in their hearts, I embarked upon a path of teaching contemplative movement inspired by an extraordinary synthetic, West Coast education in somatic and contemplative movement: Masters studies in Movement Therapy, doctoral research on the pioneering somatic work of Emilie Conrad Da’oud and Barbara Dilley, Buddhist meditation training in Zen, Vajrayana and Theravadan traditions, BMC Yoga studies with Donna Farhi , and Tantric approaches to Hatha Yoga (that’s Kundalini and Anusura lineages for you yoga novices!). With years of being Rolfed and needled for assorted dancer’s aches and pains, and my good fortune to study a cybernetic or a systems approach to the internal dynamics of “the moving body,” I was convinced that the teaching of yoga had to include up to date research gathered in the areas of human physiology, evolutionary neuroscience and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Call me lucky, but my students, who were researchers and teachers in their own right, joined me in exploring yogic practice marinated in progressive ideas. And what’s more progressive than to rethink the aesthetics of yoga in terms of space exploration and biotech? The picture was clear in my mind: we were investigating the floating, fluid body that gravitates to the pull of Planet Earth.

The result? For a child who grew up on Ray Bradbury’s MARTIAN CHRONICLES, Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE and John Glenn’s flight to the moon, the synergistic method took on futuristic proportions. As an Art Center College of Design instructor in conversation with cyborg artist Stelarc and with cutting-edge scientists from JPL and Cal Tech, the biotech possibilities of extending life beyond our body boundaries challenged me to fully think yoga anew. More a lab for restorative movement practice than a prescription for idealized athletics, SPACESUIT YOGA grew into an approach or an attitude, if you will, that emphasized the time-tested wisdom of initiating low-impact, contemplative breath and micro-movement experience in order to address real time, bio-med issues; e.g., heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary and autoimmune disorders as well as the age related issues of menopause, weakened joints and stress-induced lifestyles.

SpaceSuit Yoga, in other words, honors the healing and meditative arts of the past as well as respects the stunning research conducted in the fields of somatics, neuro-aesthetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biotechnology. It is a regenerative yoga portal into the neuroplastic possibilities of training our brains, our bodies, our minds to live with a penchant for eco-adaptability, self-respect and wonder.

Now relocated to Boulder (and catapulted into cyberspace), the vision for SPACESUIT YOGA has grown from a living room teaching practice into one of the courses offered in a forum for progressive, wholebrain/whole body /whole mind education: The George Greenstein Institute for the Advancement of Somatic Arts and Science (See ABOUT on my website).

May the Breath Be With You!

Zoom Zoom!

Dr. G.

M. A. Greenstein, Ph.D., R.Y.T.
Founder and Director, The George Greenstein Institute for the Advancement of Somatic Arts and Sciences
Adjunct Assoc. Prof., Art Center College of Design
303 440 8813; 2docgee@gmail.com
www.spacesuityoga.com