Friday, June 15, 2018

Marvin D. Mangus: Polar Bear Painting

I was pleased to win this polar bear painting by my dad, Marvin D. Mangus. Judging by the signature style, I estimate this work to be c. 1961. I'm very happy to add it to my collection.

Cognitive Reframing: An Ambiguous Figure

"Ambiguous images" or "reversible figures" are optical illusion images which exploit graphical similarities and other properties of visual system interpretation between two or more distinct image forms. These are famous for inducing the phenomenon of "multistable perception." Multistable perception is the occurrence of an image being able to provide multiple, although stable, perceptions. Classic examples of this are the "rabbit-duck" and the "face or vase."

"Cognitive reframing" is a psychological technique that consists of identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts. Reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives. In the context of cognitive therapy, cognitive reframing is referred to as "cognitive restructuring." Cognitive reframing, on the other hand, refers to the process as it occurs either voluntarily or automatically in all settings.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mini Book Review: Michael Pollan's "How to Change Your Mind"

I want to read this, but I don't want to spend much money. Since I don't read ebooks, a trip to the Loussac Library may be in order...

"The value of psychedelics is not the experience of them -- the grooviness of the moment -- but the sediment the experience leaves behind.

It’s possible these effects can be chalked up, in part, to the drug’s effect on the brain’s so-called 'default mode network,' especially the part associated with 'self-referential thought.' Pollan grants, if briefly, that turning off the network --truly 'getting over yourself' -- might also be achieved through 'certain breathing exercises,' or through 'sensory deprivation, fasting, prayer, overwhelming experiences of awe, extreme sports, near-death experiences, and so on.'

Pollan doesn’t give a lot of prime real estate to psychedelics’ naysayers. But given that those on LSD can appear to be losing their minds, and that the drug leaves one feeling emotionally undefended (a potential benefit as well as a profound risk), he does strongly recommend having an experienced guide in a proper setting when you trip. With those safeguards in place, he believes usage could be on the verge of more widespread acceptance, pointing out that plenty of other once widely-derided practices redolent of the 1960s, like yoga and natural birth, are now common."

Among other things, Pollan discusses the ways that psychedelics 'dissolve our sense of self,' and the potential mental health benefits they bestow as a result. “Psilocybin gives you such a powerful psychological experience that it kind of reboots your brain, your mind,” he says. “A lot of depression is a sort of 'self-punishment,' as even Freud understood. We get trapped in these 'loops of rumination' that are very destructive, and the stories that we tell ourselves: you know, 'that we’re unworthy of love, that we can’t get through the next hour with a cigarette,' whatever it is. And these deep, deep 'grooves of thought' are very hard to get out of. They disconnect us from other people, from nature, from an earlier idea of who we are. The 'mystical experience,' as it’s sometimes called, or the 'experience of the dissolution of the ego,' gets us 'out of those grooves' and gives us a break from 'the tyranny of the ego,' which can be a very 'harsh ruler.'”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Neuroscience: Default Mode Network

From yee Wiki: In neuroscience, the default mode network (DMN), also default network, or default state network, is a large scale brain network of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other networks in the brain.

The default mode network is most commonly shown to be active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering. But it is also active when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future. The network activates "by default" when a person is not involved in a task. Though the DMN was originally noticed to be deactivated in certain goal-oriented tasks and is sometimes referred to as the task-negative network,mit can be active in other goal-oriented tasks such as social working memory or autobiographical tasks.The DMN has been shown to be negatively correlated with other networks in the brain such as attention networks.

Evidence has pointed to disruptions in the DMN of people with Alzheimer's and autism spectrum.

The default mode network is known to be involved in many seemingly different functions:

It is the neurological basis for the self:

Autobiographical information: Memories of collection of events and facts about one's self
Self-reference: Referring to traits and descriptions of one's self

Emotion of one's self: Reflecting about one's own emotional state

Thinking about others:

Theory of Mind: Thinking about the thoughts of others and what they might or might not know

Emotions of other: Understanding the emotions of other people and empathizing with their feelings

Moral reasoning: Determining just and unjust result of an action

Social evaluations: Good-bad attitude judgments about social concepts

Social evaluations: Good-bad attitude judgments about social concepts

Social categories: Reflecting on important social characteristics and status of a group

Remembering the past and thinking about the future:

Remembering the past: Recalling events that happened in the past

Imagining the future: Envisioning events that might happen in the future

Episodic memory: Detailed memory related to specific events in time

Story comprehension: Understanding and remembering a narrative

The default mode network is active during passive rest and mind-wandering. Mind-wandering usually involves thinking about others, thinking about one's self, remembering the past, and envisioning the future.

Electrocorticography studies (which involve placing electrodes on the surface of a subject's scalp) have shown the default mode network becomes activated within a fraction of a second after participants finish a task.

Studies have shown that when people watch a movie, listen to a story, or read a story, their DMNs are highly correlated with each other. DMNs are not correlated if the stories are scrambled or are in a language the person does not understand, suggesting that the network is highly involved in the comprehension and the subsequent memory formation of that story. The DMN is shown to even be correlated if the same story is presented to different people in different languages, further suggesting the DMN is truly involved in the comprehension aspect of the story and not the auditory or language aspect.

The default mode network has shown to deactivate during external goal-oriented tasks such as visual attention or cognitive working memory tasks, thus leading some researchers to label the network as the task-negative network. However, when the tasks are external goal-oriented tasks that are known to be a role of the DMN, such as social working memory or an autobiographical task, the DMN is positively activated with the task and correlates with other networks such as the network involved in executive function.

A hitherto unsuspected possibility is that the default network is activated by the immobilization inherent in the testing procedure (the patient is strapped supine on a stretcher and inserted by a narrow tunnel into a massive metallic structure). This procedure creates a sense of entrapment and, not surprisingly, the most commonly reported side-effect is claustrophobia. This alternative view is suggested by a recent article that links theory of mind to immobilization.

Fred Machetanz Lithographs

Mood Elevators