Friday, November 23, 2018

The thermodynamics of brain computation


Join experts at the European Neurology Congress in Venice Italy. Speakers who are doing creative approaches, advancing the technology and understanding share their knowledge and expertise and can help your professional development. Networking with experts and like-minded people attending the conference gives you an opportunity to develop vital connections. 

Read my abstract for the conference: 
The brain’s regulation is based on its high entropy resting state, which is maintained by an energy requiring process. Recurrent energy-information exchange allows the examination of brain activity based on thermodynamic considerations. The brain’s self-regulation ensures a readiness to respond to stimulus and forms the basis of discrete processing of stimuli (Figure 1). In the neural tissue electromagnetic activity inversely moves energy and information between the cortex and the limbic brain. High frequencies, triggered by a stimulus, compress data and build an evoked potential. In the cortex, neuronal activation extinguishes the oscillations but accumulates an electric potential. The reversal of information flow via low-frequency oscillations expands the area of activation. Thus, fast and slow frequencies form the polarity effects of the brain’s electrical activities. Stimulus represents spatial information, whereas the brain’s activation cycle as well as human physiology, thoughts, speech is structured in time. Therefore, sensory processing is an orthogonal transformation. Repeated activation changes the energy need and weight of synaptic connections, forming favored activation patterns. Improving responses to stimulus form a mental abstraction of the environment and lead to memory and learning, which maximizes the system’s potential to respond intelligently to future changes. The state of the observer, i.e., the brain, determines the information value of the signal, leading to holographic computation. Perception has a distinctly subjective quality, which is projected forward to anticipate the future. Analyzing neural computation based on physical principles can improve our understanding of brain operation in both health and disease.

Figure 1.  Changes of the brain energy balance due to the stimulus. The brain frequencies change from high, on the left (#1), to low, toward the right (#3), determining the direction of information flow in the brain (shown by a thin line). The resting state of is relatively energy neutral before stimulus (#1) and after a response (#3).  The evoked potential is illustrated by 2. The high energy need of enhanced brain frequencies induces urgency, whereas the high amplitude of the lowest frequencies coalesces into the overarching coherence of the resting state (#3).

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

The power of placebo

Modern medicine has transformed how we think about disease. The success of operations and pills gave the false hope of completely eliminating diseases. However, the side effects of illness and the human condition, such as depression, chronic pain, anxiety, and fatigue, have been challenging for traditional medicine to address. These conditions are rooted in complex brain states, conditioning, individual beliefs, expectation, and social environment. 

Doctors and nurses often can tell whether the patient will get better or succumb to the disease at the first meeting. The conditions of the medical treatment are responsible for a substantial part of the healing. Effects that do not come from direct therapy are called a placebo. Placebo responses can be significant. Recent evidence suggests that genetic variation also plays a role in the placebo response. A large part of the overall therapeutic response to drugs, surgery, psychotherapy, and other treatments may be due to how the medication is administered and the patient’s views about it, rather than the specific treatment itself.

Considering placebo effects is crucial because drug effects interfere with internal psychological and brain processes. Individuals with reduced brain activity in areas associated with pain and negative emotion but greater activation in the frontal cortex and brain stem produce the most significant drug effects. Significant placebo responses seem to arise from openness toward emotional and physical experiences, well-being, but some detachment from pain and discomfort. Thus, the effectiveness of treatments depends on the psychological or social support of the patient as well.

The promise of treatment is already a powerful physiological remedy.

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