“Just talking about it” has been shown by Hungarian researchers to produce clear changes in the size of the hippocampus and medial orbitofrontal cortex, as well as the expression of certain genes.
They were studying PTSD patients, for whom a past traumatic experience had done all sorts of nasty things to their thinking. But the implications of this are much more wide ranging.
Normally we think of the phyiscal layer as immutable, influencing thoughts but not really being influenced by them. (Apart from certain strange and little-known cases of physical changes happening under hypnosis and similar states.)
Now it turns out that even “talk therapy” can increase the size of certain brain regions and change gene expression?
Somewhere out there the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard is feeling entirely too happy for my comfort level. (*dons Guy Fawkes mask* That’s better.)
But more seriously, the implications of this are significant in all kinds of ways.
For one, it suggests there’s no such thing as a really fixed human behavior, even in the same person over time. Yes there are habits, but the phrase “past performance is no guarantee of future results” takes on whole new meaning when simply re-structuring your thinking can change the underlying physical structures.
Milton Waddams and Peter Gibbons, in other words, are not necessarily fixed in their roles. A bit of clever mind work could, perhaps, rescue Milton from the basement — and in the inverse inspire a “straight shooter with upper management written all over him” to burn down the building.
Second, it suggests we have to re-evaluate the conventional model of biological causality. It is evidently not a one-way street, where physical attributes like genes produce structures and nerves and senses which produce thoughts. Evidently the thoughts can do plenty of producing, too.
(This has all kinds of implications for the MKULTRA set, putting the odds in favor of those of us who don’t like the idea.)
One question, though — by what mechanism do thoughts influence the physical?
Since an error robbed you of your previous “Facebook being unbelievably creepy” fix, here’s an article on Facebook’s AI to make up for it. If you don’t feel like maggots are crawling through your brain after reading this, check your maggot detector for tampering. http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/12/facebook-yann-lecun-qa/
Cell tower dumps are routine. JMA has talked about this capability being accessible to even private parties. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/12/massive-domestic-monitorning/
NSA bullshit. Using innuendo to ride the #badBIOS wave and try and make themselves look good. The rule of “whatever the spies complain about others doing is what they themselves are guilty of” almost certainly applies here. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/16/nsa_alleges_bios_plot_to_destroy_pcs/
“A new paper published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) not only reduces symptoms but also affects the underlying biology of this disorder.[…]
Before therapy, compared with the control group, patients had lower FKBP5 gene expression and smaller hippocampal and medial orbitofrontal cortex volumes, important brain regions involved in learning, memory, and emotion regulation.
At the follow-up appointment 12 weeks later, the PTSD patients showed higher expression of FKBP5 and increased hippocampal volume. More importantly, these changes were directly associated with clinical improvement among the patients. The increased FKBP5 expression, and to a lesser degree the increased hippocampal volume, actually predicted improvement in their PTSD symptoms.
“The results show that structural changes in the brain, such as the shrinkage of the hippocampus, are reversible in trauma victims. Talk therapy may help normalize these alterations and improve symptoms,” explained Kéri. “Furthermore, the regeneration of hippocampus correlated with the expression of a gene that balances the activity of the stress hormone cortisol at the level of cells.”
“This study helps to link the alleviation of PTSD symptoms to improvement in stress-related alterations in the body and brain,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
Why are these results important? The findings suggest that talk therapy may modulate fundamental biological factors: changes in gene expression, brain structure, and psychological improvement may be closely interrelated. “