Saturday, November 28, 2009

Multiple sclerosis and news buzz about it

I must admit that as a young PT student and newly minted PT who thought I was coming down with whatever new thing I learned about, or had the opportunity of meeting/treating people who had x or y condition, MS probably freaked me out the most. Of late, a very nice massage therapist I know personally, ended up with this diagnosis.

How wonderful that this ailment is currently being highlighted as a condition which could be, potentially at least, reversible with a simple surgical procedure. Who'd have thunk? After all these decades?

Here are the news stories I've come across so far:

CTV W5 The Liberation Treatment
Medpage Radical MS Theory Stirs Interest
BBC: Multiple sclerosis 'blood blockage theory' tested

Nov. 30/09
Edit: I'm back in this post to add a link to Dr. Zamboni's website, Fondazione HILARESCERE.
Some of his papers can be found there. At least for now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ego tunnels, conscious entities, virtual bodies and so on.

I have yet to read the book by Thomas Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel, but it's in the cart. Meanwhile I came upon a blog post, two in fact, by Peter Hankins at Conscious Entities blog, that set off a little speculative burst in my own brain.

Part I, and Part II.

In particular, this got my attention;
"There are many interesting details in this account, quite apart from its value as part of the overall argument. Metzinger briefly touches on four varieties of autoscopic (self-seeing) phenomena, all of which can be related to distinct areas of the brain: autoscopic hallucination, where the subject sees an image of themselves; the feeling of a presence, where the subject has the strong sense of someone there without seeing anyone; the particularly disturbing heautoscopy, where the subject sees another self and switches back and forth into and out of it, unsure which is ‘the real me’; and the better-known OBE."

It makes sense to me that multiple self-constructions/constructions of self would exist, given that there are many different body representations all throughout the brain, not just the big S1 map stretched over the top of the cortex, the famous one Wilder Penfield mapped out, and I didn't realize there were names already ascribed to the elicitation of their specific distortions..

A body misperception can be the absence of a familiar body sense just as well as it can be one that's displaced onto a mannequin or onto someone or something else entirely, or floating above.. in each case there will be a corresponding shift in neural traffic flow, the brain not operating in its own familiar manner, and part of it noticing that shift and confabulating predictive perceptual fantasies as to possible reasons why. As in the Charlie Rose Brain Series Part II, in which all the various visual perceptual distortions were touched on, body sense is subject to perceptual distortion. The science on this is younger, but is definitely happening, mostly in Europe, mostly referred to as research of virtual bodies, rubber hand illusions, etc etc. discussedmany times on this blog. It's all very fascinating, and likely to have a lot to do with learning to handle human pain issues much more adeptly with fewer drugs at some point.

Meanwhile, it won't be a bad idea to practice feeling your own normal body better, practice using normal brain pathways, strengthen them so that your brain maps don't get all out of whack some day, and in some misguided attempt at trying to locate body parts, make them spasm or make them hurt to be able to find them more easily - the neurological equivalent of lighting flares to see along a dark path.

Other reading:
1. Book review at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moving a humanantigravity suit around

I confess that my usual perspective on the nervous system is from outside in - I consider what happens when I put my hand on someone else's body part, and consider ensuing movement output as a consequence, as a nervous system's direct response.. there's almost always that idea of my inputting some sort of talented (or not) sensory input - first. That's how my treatment brain works - it uses the "operator"/"interactor" model, by default, usually, and my conceptualizations end up being informed by it.

I've been away from clinical work for over 4 months now, and my brain is learning to think in different ways. So, when I think of "movement" now, I'm seeing it in more abstract terms. Lately several papers and blogposts about movement have come to my attention. I don't know how they synthesize, yet.. but I'm paying attention to the process, at least. I'd like to outline a few thoughts about them, bearing in mind the role of the brain as predictor, oscillator, simulator. First though, I'm going to just link them here.

1. The Brain in its Body: Motor Control and Sensing in a Biomechanical Context The Hournal of Neuroscience

2. Podcast interview of Barrett Dorko by Rod Henderson, May '09

3. A sensory source for motor variation Nature

4. Physiologically impossible movement of phantom limbs explained at Body in Mind blog (Lorimer Moseley)

5. Tiny Laser-scanning Microscope Images Brain Cells In Freely Moving Animals Science Daily

6. Two Wrongs Make a Right – Abnormal Brain Circuitry May Stop Abnormal Movement BrainBlogger

7. A head of time: For the first time, neuroscientists find brain cells that keep track of time with extreme precision. MIT - Everything gets a timestamp.

8. NOI Notes on Movement as Antigen David Butler's blog/newsletter

9. Primate anterior cingulate cortex: where motor control, drive and cognition interface. 2001