After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Thursday, 4 July 2013
Links on Avoiding Pain

This week, as I have before in this blog, I am posting a set of new links to other web sites that discuss a subject covered in The Brain from Top to Bottom. The subject this week is the sub-topic “Avoiding Pain”, under the topic “Pleasure and Pain”. For each link, I also provide a brief description of the content on the site in question.

Molecular Level

i_rec UCSD Guestbook: Solomon Snyder

A video interview with Solomon Snyder, famous for his research on neurotransmitters and their receptors, in particular endorphins and their receptors, which are involved in controlling pain.

i_lien Un effet de l’acupuncture expliqué

Neurologists in the U.S. have discovered that acupuncture appears to relieve muscle pain by promoting the release of adenosine, a natural molecule with analgesic effects.

a_exp Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture

The original article about the study described in the French article to which the preceding link points.

Psychological Level

i_lien Why do humans have headaches?

Interesting thoughts by a neurologist on the origin of headaches and migraines, and in particular the theory involving the brainstem, calcium channels, and glial cells.

Social Level

i_lien Emotional contagion without conscious awareness

An experiment done with people who were blind in a part of their visual field but still sensitive to certain emotional stimuli in that area suggests that the phenomenon of emotional contagion may be mediated by a visual pathway of old evolutionary origin that bypasses the visual cortex.

i_lien Nature’s lessons for a more kind society

A review of the book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by primatologist Frans de Waal describes it as a major contribution to our understanding of the biological bases of empathy, and hence of morality. The reviewer does, however, find that de Waal underestimates the incompatibility of empathy with capitalist ideology, which places little value on social solidarity.

i_lien Compassion Meditation Changes The Brain

A brain-imaging study suggests that people who meditate with the specific goal of cultivating compassion modify circuits in their brains that are involved in detecting emotions in other people, thus making themselves more empathic and sensitive toward others.

a_lien La manipulation mentale des points de vue, un des fondements de la tolérance

The text of a lecture given by Alain Berthoz at the Collège de France offers rich insights into his theory of empathy, according to which the manipulation of spatial viewpoints plays an important role in human empathy (something he considers very different from sympathy).

a_lien No evidence for mirror neurons in humans?!

Many scientists believe that mirror neurons are involved in the empathic response in humans. But this post discusses an article that questions the very existence of mirror neurons in our species, on the basis of criteria defined by the authors.

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