Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gary Zukav as been featured on Oprah Super Soul Sunday. Now, you can enjoy a free call with 4-time New York Times best-selling author and consciousness pioneer Gary Zukav.

Together with his spiritual partner, Linda Francis, Gary will engage in a timely teaching about a new paradigm for power called “authentic power”. Authentic power is a new way of being in command of your life unlike anything you’ve experienced before, and it’s reshaping our world. It’s an emerging global consciousness of compassion and wisdom, and it calls you to act from love rather than fear.

In this enlightening LIVE 60-minute online seminar, Gary and Linda will guide you through the 5 Essential Keys to unlock your authentic power and show you how to live aligned with your soul’s true purpose including:
Expanding Your Emotional Awareness
Creating Conscious Intentions
Making Empowered Choices
Accessing The Wisdom of Your Intuition
Cultivating Spiritual Partnerships

Register for free on:

PS: This essential call on the new paradigm of “authentic power” will be recorded so even if you can’t make it live, sign up and receive the recording!

Oprah and Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul, tackle some of life’s biggest questions: What is the soul? What is Gary’s definition of God? Find out now.

Soul to Soul with Gary Zukav

Oprah and Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul, tackle some of life’s biggest questions: What is the soul? What is Gary’s definition of God? Find out now.

Can you picture a world of oneness? A world where you – and everyone – feels welcomed and wanted… a world where the interconnectedness of life is recognized, honored and allowed to flourish?

How do we bring a new foundation of oneness into the world? By shifting our focus from the negativeand putting it on our deep connection with all of life, we can then experience the underlying truth that we really are all ONE! We can then activate this oneness in our lives, in our families, in our communities and throughout the entire world.
That’s why I’m thrilled to let you know abouta very special event called Global Oneness Day (

There is a stellar lineup of luminaries including Ken Wilber, Jack Canfield, Lynne McTaggart, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Michael Beckwith, don Miguel Ruiz, Jean Houston, Joan Borysenko, Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, special video messages from Yoko Ono, Desmond Tutu and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and many more coming together on Wednesday, October 24th to celebrate our oneness.

Click here for more details and to sign up for free:

This full day of inspiring, informative talks, dialogues, meditations, music, prayers and celebrations of oneness is completely free. It’s your chance to connect deeply with your global family and experience the feeling of oneness with all of life!

Plus, when you register, you’ll have the opportunity to add your signature to the Global Oneness Day Declaration. Our goal is to send more than 100,000 signatures to the UN on October 24th!

Over the last two years more than 50,000 people have participated in Global Oneness Day. Come join us and the tens of thousands of people from all over the world on

Yours in oneness,


Abstract: The subjective nature of pain makes its communication from one person who is suffering to another who is observing quite a challenge. Accurate perception of others’ pain relies on different behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms, which can vary depending on individual, relational and contextual factors. This talk will discuss evidence showing how the perception of pain in other individuals is related to patterns of brain response similar to those found when people are in pain. While this ‘shared representation’ of pain, which can automatically trigger an aversive response in the observer leading to avoidance, has likely played a key role in the species’ survival, we posit that other regulatory mechanisms can override this response to allow for concern and prosocial behaviour to emerge towards the person in pain. This conscious act of empathy has no doubt contributed to our social nature.

Decety, J. & Jackson, P.L. (2006). A social neuroscience perspective on empathy. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, 15, 54-58
Voisin, J.I.A., Mercier, C., Canizales, D.L., Marcoux, L.-A. & Jackson, P.L. (2011). I am touched by your pain: Limb-specific modulation of the cortical response to a tactile stimulation during pain observation. The Journal of Pain, 12(11), 1182-1189.
Coll, M.P., Gregoire, M., Latimer, M., Eugene, F., & Jackson, P.L. (2011). Perception of pain in others: implication for caregivers. Pain Management, 1(3), 257-265.

Dr Bernard Baars -The Biological Basis of Conscious Experience: Global Workspace Dynamics.. Dr. Baars’ talk at the Evolution and Function of Consciousness Summer School (“Turing Consciousness 2012”) held at the University of Montreal as part of Alan Turing Year. All videos can be found here:

Courtesy of Richard Brown.

Placebo response occurs at non conscious level, say researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. New findings demonstrate the unconscious mind plays a key role in pain experiences

With the discovery that the unconscious mind plays a key role in the placebo effect, researchers have identified a novel mechanism that helps explain the power of placebos and nocebos.

Described in the September 10 on-line issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the new findings demonstrate that the placebo effect can be activated outside of conscious awareness, and provide an explanation for how patients can show clinical improvement even when they receive treatments devoid of active ingredients or of known therapeutic efficacy.

“In this study, we used a novel experimental design and found that placebo and nocebo [negative placebo] effects rely on brain mechanisms that are not dependent on cognitive awareness,” explains first author Karin Jensen, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Program in Placebo Studies (PiPS) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School.

“A person can have a placebo or nocebo response even if he or she is unaware of any suggestion of improvement or anticipation of getting worse.”

It has long been believed that placebo responses are related to conscious beliefs or thoughts and that when given an inert pill or therapy, patients get better because they have the expectation that they will get better, or in the case of nocebos, get worse because they anticipate that they will get worse.

However, more recently, scientists have recognized that humans learn to expect either reward or threat quickly and automatically without needing to consciously register the idea in their brains.

As the authors write, neuroimaging studies of the human brain have suggested that certain structures, such as the striatum and the amygdala, can process incoming stimuli before they reach conscious awareness, and, as a result, may mediate non-conscious effects on human cognition and behavior.

The scientists set out to determine whether placebo and nocebo responses might be activated outside of a person’s conscious awareness, even if he or she has no expectation of either improving or declining.

Jensen, together with the study’s senior author Jian Kong, MD, also of MGH and the PiPS, studied 40 healthy volunteers (24 female; 16 male, median age 23).

Two experiments were conducted: In the first, researchers administered heat stimulation to participants’ arms while simultaneously showing them images of male human faces on a computer screen. The first face was associated with low pain stimulations and the second image with high pain.

Patients were then asked to rate their experience of pain on a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being no pain and 100 being the worst imaginable pain, but without the patient’s knowledge that all heat stimulations would have the same moderate heat intensity.

As predicted, the pain ratings correlated with the previously learned associations, with a pain rating of 19 when the subjects saw the low pain face while the high pain face resulted in subjects’ mean reports of 53 on the pain scale (nocebo effect).

Then, in the second experiment, the participants were administered the same levels of thermal heat stimulation.

Once again, the facial images were projected on the computer screen – but this time, they flashed by so quickly that subjects could not consciously recognize them.

The participants once again rated their pain, and despite a lack of consciously recognizable cues, the participants reported a mean pain rating of 25 in response to the low pain face (placebo effect) and a mean pain rating of 44 in response to the high pain face (nocebo response) even though they did not consciously recognize the faces on the screen.

“Such a mechanism would generally be expected to be more automatic and fundamental to our behavior compared to deliberate judgments and expectations,” explains Kong.

“Most important, this study provides a unique model that allows us to further investigate placebo and nocebo mechanisms by using tools such as neuroimaging.”

As PiPS Director and study coauthor Ted Kaptchuk notes, “It’s not what patients think will happen [that influences outcomes] it’s what the nonconscious mind anticipates despite any conscious thoughts. This mechanism is automatic, fast and powerful, and does not depend on deliberation and judgment. These findings open an entirely new door towards understanding placebos and the ritual of medicine.”

Courtesy of Ken Pope

Omega-3 supplements may slow a biological effect of aging, says the Ohio State University in a news release.

Taking enough omega-3 fatty acid supplements to change the balance of oils in the diet could slow a key biological process linked to aging, new research suggests. The study showed that most overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults who took omega-3 supplements for four months altered a ratio of their fatty acid consumption in a way that helped preserve tiny segments of DNA in their white blood cells.

These segments, called telomeres, are known to shorten over time in many types of cells as a consequence of aging.

In the study, lengthening of telomeres in immune system cells was more prevalent in people who substantially improved the ratio of omega-3s to other fatty acids in their diet.

Omega-3 supplementation also reduced oxidative stress, caused by excessive free radicals in the blood, by about 15 percent compared to effects seen in the placebo group.

“The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” said Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study.

In another recent publication from this study, Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues reported that omega-3 fatty acid supplements lowered inflammation in this same group of adults.

“Inflammation in particular is at the heart of so many health problems. Anything that reduces inflammation has a lot of potentially good spinoffs among older adults,” she said.

Study participants took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are considered “good fats” that, when consumed in proper quantities, are associated with a variety of health benefits.

Participants on the placebo took pills containing a mix of oils representing a typical American’s daily intake.

The researchers say this combination of effects suggests that omega-3 supplements could represent a rare single nutritional intervention that has potential to lower the risk for a host of diseases associated with aging, such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published online and scheduled for later print publication in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Participants received either the placebo or one of the two different doses of omega-3 fatty acids.

The supplements were calibrated to contain a ratio of the two cold-water fish oil fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), of seven to one.

Previous research has suggested that EPA has more anti-inflammatory properties than DHA.

In the case of fatty acids, omega-3 supplementation alone doesn’t tell the whole story of how this dietary change can affect health, explained Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State and a co-author of the study.

Also important is the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids that are present in a person’s blood.

Omega-6 fatty acids come from vegetable oils, and since the 1960s, research has suggested that these oils, too, can help protect the cardiovascular system.

However, the typical American diet tends to be heavy on omega-6 fatty acids and comparatively low in omega-3s that are naturally found in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.

While the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids averages about 15-to-1, researchers tend to agree that for maximum benefit, this ratio should be lowered to 4-to-1, or even 2-to-1.

The long chains – or bigger molecules – that make up EPA and DHA fatty acids are believed to be the secret to their effectiveness, Belury said.

Both groups of participants who took omega-3 supplements showed, on average, lengthening of telomeres compared to overall telomere effects in the placebo group, but the relationship could have been attributed to chance.

However, when the researchers analyzed the participants’ omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in relationship to telomere lengthening, a lower ratio was clearly associated with lengthened telomeres.

“The idea we were looking at with the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was an increase in the denominator to make the ratio smaller. In the United States, we need to focus on the omega-3 part because we don’t get enough of those,” Belury said.

The researchers also measured levels of compounds called F2-isoprostanes to determine levels of oxidative stress, which is linked to a number of conditions that include heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders.

Both omega-3 groups together showed an average overall 15 percent reduction in oxidative stress compared to effects seen in the placebo group.

When the scientists revisited their earlier inflammation findings, they also found that decreases in an inflammatory marker in the blood called interleukin-6 (IL-6) were associated with telomere lengthening.

In their earlier paper on omega-3s and inflammation, they reported that omega-3 supplements lowered IL-6 by 10 to 12 percent, depending on the dose.

By comparison, those taking a placebo saw an overall 36 percent increase in IL-6 by the end of the study.

“This finding strongly suggests that inflammation is what’s driving the changes in the telomeres,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Telomeres are a hot topic in science, and their tendency to shorten is associated with such age-related problems as heart disease and early mortality.

These short fragments of DNA act as caps at the end of chromosomes, and can be likened to the protective plastic at the end of a shoelace.

“If that plastic comes off, the shoelace unravels and it doesn’t work anymore,” said study co-author Ron Glaser, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR) at Ohio State.

“In the same way, every time a cell divides, it loses a little bit of its DNA at the ends, and over time, that can cause significant problems.”

Kiecolt-Glaser noted that this population was disease-free and reported very little stress.

The study included 106 adults, average age 51 years, who were either overweight or obese and lived sedentary lives.

The researchers excluded people taking medications to control mood, cholesterol and blood pressure as well as vegetarians, patients with diabetes, smokers, those routinely taking fish oil, people who got more than two hours of vigorous exercise each week and those whose body mass index was either below 22.5 or above 40.

“People who are less healthy than this group, and especially those who experience chronic stress, may gain even more benefits from omega-3 supplementation,” she said.

Courtesy of Ken Pope

From the “Sunday Review” section of the *New York Times*: “It’s Not Me, It’s You” by Annie Murphy Paul.

[begin excerpts]

WE’VE all been there: you feel especially smart and funny when talking to a particular person, only to feel hopelessly unintelligent and inarticulate in the presence of another.

You’re not imagining things.

Experiments show that when people report feeling comfortable with a conversational partner, they are judged by those partners and by observers as actually being more witty.

It’s just one example of the powerful influence that social factors can have on intelligence.

As parents, teachers and students settle into the school year, this work should prompt us to think about intelligence not as a “lump of something that’s in our heads,” as the psychologist Joshua Aronson puts it, but as “a transaction among people.”

Mr. Aronson, an associate professor at New York University, has been a leader in investigating the effects of social forces on academic achievement.

Along with the psychologist Claude Steele, he identified the phenomenon known as “stereotype threat.”

Members of groups believed to be academically inferior — African-American and Latino students enrolled in college, or female students in math and science courses — score much lower on tests when reminded beforehand of their race or gender.

The pair’s experiments in the 1990s, and the dozens of studies by other researchers that followed, concluded that the performance of these students suffered because they were worried about confirming negative stereotypes about their group.

In a 1995 article in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Professors Steele and Aronson found that black students performed comparably with white students when told that the test they were taking was “a laboratory problem-solving task.”

Black students scored much lower, however, when they were instructed that the test was meant to measure their intellectual ability.

In effect, the prospect of social evaluation suppressed these students’ intelligence.

Minorities aren’t the only ones vulnerable to stereotype threat.

We all are.

A group of people notably confident about their mathematical abilities — white male math and engineering majors who received high scores on the math portion of the SAT — did worse on a math test when told that the experiment was intended to investigate “why Asians appear to outperform other students on tests of math ability.”

And in a study published earlier this year in the journal Learning and Individual Differences, high school students did worse on a test of spatial skills when told that males are better at solving spatial problems because of genetic differences between males and females.

The girls were anxious about confirming assumptions about their gender, while the boys were anxious about living up to them.

The evolving literature on stereotype threat shows that performance is always social in nature.

Even alone in an exam room, we hear a chorus of voices appraising, evaluating, passing judgment.

And as social creatures, humans are strongly affected by what these voices say.

In a 2002 study led by Roy F. Baumeister, a psychologist now at Florida State University, participants were given an I.Q. test and then a personality inventory.

Some of the participants were randomly selected to receive false feedback from the personality inventory, informing them that they were “the sort of people who would end up alone in life.”

The participants then took another test.

Those who had been told they would be loveless and friendless in the future answered significantly fewer questions correctly than on the earlier test.

If the threat of social exclusion can decrease the expression of intelligence, so can a perceived threat to physical safety.

This research has important implications for the way we educate our children.

For one thing, we should replace high-stakes, one-shot tests with the kind of unobtrusive and ongoing assessments that give teachers and parents a more accurate sense of children’s true abilities.

We should also put in place techniques for reducing anxiety and building self-confidence that take advantage of our social natures.

And we should ensure that the social climate at our children’s schools is one of warmth and trust, not competition and exclusion.

Professor Aronson calls the doltishness induced by an uncomfortable social situation “conditional stupidity.”

We should use that insight to create the conditions for brilliance.

[end excerpts]

Courtesy of Ken Pope. Full article available on:

The Nantz National Alzheimer Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, TX, issued the following news release:

Know Your Risk Factors to Help Prevent Dementia

Research shows that managing and treating vascular disease risk factors are not only beneficial to preventing heart disease and stroke, but also common forms of dementia.

Dr. Gustavo C. Roman, director of the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, summed up decades of dementia-related research in a review paper in Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders.

Roman said although more definitive research is needed, focusing on the following risk factors can go a long way to helping reduce the risk of vascular dementia and mixed dementia (the combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease).

By 2050, 11 to 16 million Americans will suffer some form of dementia.

Hypertension: Controlling blood pressure reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. Studies are also beginning to show that hypertension increases the likelihood that people with mild cognitive impairment will eventually have dementia later in life.

Hyperlipidemia: Epidemiological studies show that in addition to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, high blood cholesterol is an important risk factor for dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Smoking: Not only is smoking associated with increased risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and emphysema, but it also adversely affects blood flow to the brain which can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.

Diabetes: Studies have already linked the obesity epidemic to increased risk of high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, stroke, renal failure, peripheral vascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. In fact, people with this form of insulin resistant diabetes are two-to-three times more likely to face an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, in part because of vascular complications.

Diet and Exercise: An overall healthy lifestyle decreases risk of dementia as people age, particularly vascular dementia. Here, the focus is on a low body mass index (25 or lower), healthy diet (based on such factors as the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat), and aerobic exercise.

Hyperhomocysteinemia: Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood, and high blood levels are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer disease. People who already exhibit signs of dementia and test positive for high levels of homocysteine are more likely to respond well to large doses of B vitamins. Research has proven that taking large doses of B-complex vitamins can reduce the rate of brain shrinkage by half in elderly people with memory problems and slow the progression of dementia.

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