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Consciousness: new thermodynamically inspired theory tries to explain what it is

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What does consciousness depend on and how does it originate? This is one of the most fascinating questions but also one of the most inexplicable of all science also because studying conscience itself often poses problems related to the sector from which to start in order to lay the foundations for a study. New research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, tries to answer this question referring to what can be considered a new theory inspired by thermodynamics.

If in the past it has been hypothesized that consciousness can derive from a highly coordinated activity between neurons, the researchers behind this study believe instead that the key to awareness is an energy flow and reflux: when neurons connect to each other for processing the information, the patterns of these activities tune in like ocean waves.

According to the authors of the study, this would be a process intrinsically related to that of thermodynamic principles.

The latter would be at the base of the same neural connections and therefore of consciousness. Furthermore, interruptions of this process of energy flow and reflux would lead to the interruption of communication between neural networks and would give rise to the most common neurological disorders we know, such as epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia.

This is a study that, as reported in the article on Medium presenting the study (see the link below), combines classical physics (essentially the laws of thermodynamics) with everything we know about neural activity today: it follows a general framework in which changes in free energy help to temporarily synchronize activity in neural networks.

The study was produced by researcher Jose L. Perez Velazquez affiliated with the Ronin Institute of Montclair who worked together with colleagues Diego M. Mateos and Ramon Guevara Erra.

Medium article: https://medium.com/@novela_neurotech/a-new-theory-of-brain-organization-takes-aim-at-the-mystery-of-consciousness-e9ee6e24233a

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
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Medical Research

Tobacco also linked to worse mental health according to a new study

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Often, when reference is made to the damage of cigarette smoking, mental health is hardly ever thought about, and yet cigarettes are also bad for you. This is suggested by a study by Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published in PLOS ONE.

Levine and colleagues carried out a survey of 2000 Serbian university students from different social and economic backgrounds. The researchers found that students who smoked showed higher rates of clinical depression than their non-smoking peers, two to three times.

Taking into consideration only the students of the University of Pristina, the researchers found that 14% of the smoking students suffered from depression compared to 4% of the non-smoking peers, while for the University of Belgrade the percentages were 19% compared to 11% respectively.

The same students who smoked also showed lower mental health scores than non-smokers. According to Levine, this study adds further evidence that smoking and depression may be linked; although there is no direct evidence yet that smoking causes depression, it can be said that tobacco seems to have a non-positive effect on mental health.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

Medical Research

One can evaluate hearing quality by analyzing pupil dilation according to researchers

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It may prove to be a new and effective hearing test developed by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Oregon. According to a statement on the university’s website, it is possible to assess a person’s hearing level by measuring pupil dilation.

According to the same statement, this approach could be useful to understand the quality of hearing in infants, young adults with disabilities and adults with stroke or other diseases and in general in those people for whom direct responses are not possible. The researchers performed experiments on 31 adults by monitoring the size of their pupils with eye detection technology. The detection took place while the same people performed a hearing test and while staring at an object at a monitor.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otorhinolaryngology, explains that this system is inspired by a discovery made by the main author of the study, Avinash Singh Bala, 10 years ago when he noticed changes in the pupils of barn owls in response to unexpected noises in their natural environment.

“What we discovered was that pupil dilation was as sensitive as the button-press method,” Bala explains. “We had presented the first data analyses at the conferences and there was a lot of resistance to the idea that by using an involuntary response we could get results as good as the button-pressing data.”

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading

Medical Research

New peanut butter with probiotics developed by scientist

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A new peanut butter that allows you to acquire probiotic positives was developed by researcher Dan Perlman. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the digestive system that help to promote digestion, produce important hormones and vitamins and generally strengthen the immune system.

For years, Perlman has been looking for new ways to “pack” probiotics into food to allow people to acquire them without using pills or third-party capsules. Probiotics need to be ingested alive to take advantage of their positive characteristics but if there is not enough water or other energy sources in the food to support these bacteria, they die quickly and are therefore useless once ingested.

Walnut butters seem to be unsuitable for cramming live probiotics as they contain very little water. However, the researcher noted that when freeze-dried peanut butter bacteria come in, the bacteria themselves remain “suspended” in a sort of deep sleep, still alive but ready to get back to work and “wake up” once they are ingested by people.

This is because they remain trapped in the structure of the fat matrix of these foods, a rather crystalline fat.

In the new peanut butter developed by the researcher, there are 500 million to one billion bacteria in a two-spoon portion, the amount of a probiotic pill.

Now the researcher himself is looking for a way to make this new peanut butter with probiotics for commercial use.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading
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