DNA Monthly (Vol. 15, No. 2)

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March-April 2019 (Vol. 15, No. 2)

SURFACING: PAINTINGS BY SOL LUCKMAN This April at Karis Art Gallery


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SURFACING: PAINTINGS BY SOL LUCKMAN
Karis Art Gallery
The Village at Wexford
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
April 1-30, 2019
Artist’s Reception: Friday, April 12, 5:30-8:00 PM


A prolific Lowcountry artist whose work has been featured on the covers of several bestselling books, Sol Luckman has a fascination with what he calls “surfacing.”


This term, as it plays out in Luckman’s expressionistic and experimental paintings, can refer to many things of a universally human nature: rebirth, leaving the nest, taking a risk, rising above.


But to paraphrase renowned philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, we are not merely humans on a spiritual journey; we are equally spiritual creatures engaged in a human experience.

Surfacing by Sol Luckman

With this notion in mind, surfacing in much of Luckman’s work takes on a more transcendent aspect having to do with becoming conscious, awakening, receiving enlightenment, and co-creating reality with something greater than our individual selves.


Surfacing can also be taken at face value. In Luckman’s paintings creatures and objects fly, suns and moons rise, waves swell. Here a mysterious figure surfaces from underwater; there another boldly rides the surf.


Last but not least, surfacing refers to the literal surfaces of Luckman’s intricately patterned and highly textured paintings. Whether working with brush and ink, painting knife and acrylic or another technique, Luckman’s primary goal is to render a lively surface that invites a deeper look at what else of intrigue might be surfacing.



ABOUT THE ARTIST

Sol Luckman is a pioneering ink and acrylic painter and international bestselling and multi-award-winning author. In his bold, colorful compositions, three of which have been featured on the covers of Itzhak Beery’s acclaimed books on shamanism, Sol is committed to exploring and depicting energy. His vision of the world could be called shamanic in its appreciation of the underlying conscious vibrancy of all things visible. Purchase Sol’s original paintings and learn more about his work at www.CrowRising.com.


FEATURED IN THE MARCH-APRIL 2019 ISSUE OF DNA MONTHLY

1. Scientists Are Rethinking Animal Cognition as More Evolutionary Behaviors Emerge” by Alex Pietrowski

2. Spending Time Outdoors Reduces the Risk of 6 Different Ailments” by Mae Chan

3. More Than 1,000 Scientists Sign ‘Dissent from Darwinism’ Statement” by Brittany Slaughter

4. If You Were Chief of CIA Consciousness Ops” by Jon Rappoport

5. Can We Unlearn the Fear That Creates Our Reality? Josh Richardson

Featured Videos ... David Wilcock: Ascension Through the Ages & The Truth about Alexandria Ocasio-Corez with David Icke


1. Scientists Are Rethinking Animal Cognition as More Evolutionary Behaviors Emerge

Alex Pietrowski, Waking Times


Humans have always considered ourselves much different animals, and we look at our apparent superior intellect, analytical mind, self-awareness, and expanded consciousness as the dividing line between us and them. Primates for example, have always been considered our closest cousins, and while we do credit them with being intelligent, our understanding of how they experience the world has never included the notion that they may be just as conscious as we are.

Orangutans, after all, will even fight for their land, just as we would, when threatened with total destruction.

Scientists today are rethinking all of this, however, in light of some interesting behaviors we’ve seen in the animal kingdom, which suggest an evolutionary process of increasing mental faculties, or expanding consciousness, may be taking place. Either that or human consciousness is evolving to include greater possible realities in which animals play a role. Or perhaps, both.

This idea that animals are conscious was long unpopular in the West, but it has lately found favor among scientists who study animal cognition. And not just the obvious cases—primates, dogs, elephants, whales, and others. Scientists are now finding evidence of an inner life in alien-seeming creatures that evolved on ever-more-distant limbs of life’s tree. In recent years, it has become common to flip through a magazine like this one and read about an octopus using its tentacles to twist off a jar’s lid or squirt aquarium water into a postdoc’s face. For many scientists, the resonant mystery is no longer which animals are conscious, but which are not. [Source]

Indeed, many stories follow this greater trend. As we reported on in 2017, a number of remarkable new behaviors have been documented, and studies are also revealing that fish feel pain and even capable of deception, perhaps even faking orgasms.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have caught New Calendonian crows carrying two items at once using a stick—a feat normally only seen in the human race. First one crow slipped a wooden stick into a metal nut and flew away, and just a few days later another crow conducted a similar behavior, carrying a large wooden ball with a stick.

Octopuses exhibit amazing abilities, including short and long-term memory. They’ve even been known to sneak aboard fishing vessels and pry open crabs caught be fishermen—no tools needed. They are also such great escape artists, they can squeeze through openings no bigger than their eyeballs.

Scientists also have documented monkeys called Serra da Capivara capuchins making stone “tools” that bear a striking resemblance to early human implementations for digging, cutting meat, or opening nuts. The sharp rock “tools” made when the moneys bang one rock on top of another are so similar to ancient tools made by early humans, that archeologists are having to rethink giving credit to previous human civilizations.

Chimps in Bakoun, Guinea recently stunned scientists when they were found using long twigs like fishing poles, dragging the rods in water to scoop up algae that they could then eat. The footage is an affront to the notion that people are the only intelligent creatures with an ability to consciously evolve.

Even bees are exhibiting more complex behaviors. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have discovered that bumblebees can learn how to carry out complex instructions, and then pass that knowledge along to other bees in the hive.

Scientists set up an experiment with three artificial flowers containing sugar-water and attached pieces of string to each flower. They were then placed inside a clear, Plexiglas panel with just the strings poking out. Researchers were curious to see if the bees could problem-solve and get the “nectar” from the fake flowers.

Out of a control group of 110 bees, only two figured out how to pull the strings to get to the nectar. They did this with no training. A second group was then ‘trained’ by gradually moving the flowers out of reach gradually. This group did much better. 23 out of 40 learned to pull the strings to get the reward.

Amazingly, when a new group of bees was introduced to the problem, 60 percent were able to pick up the new skill simply by observing the other “trained” bees access the reward.  —Christina Sarich

Since then, we’ve seen primates use a ladder to escape a zoo enclosure, Crows are particularly interesting in this regard …

Crows are among the most sophisticated avian technologists. They have long been known to shape sticks into hooks, and just last year, members of one crow species were observed constructing tools out of three separate sticklike parts. In Japan, one crow population has figured out how to use traffic to crack open walnuts: The crows drop a nut in front of cars at intersections, and then when the light turns red, they swoop in to scoop up the exposed flesh.

Crows recognize individual human faces. They are known to blare vicious caws at people they dislike, but for favored humans, they sometimes leave gifts—buttons or shiny bits of glass—where the person will be sure to notice, like votive offerings. [Source]

An interesting experiment in Seattle sheds light on the social nature of crows and how they share information among themselves to warn each other of danger and hostile actors.

Final Thoughts

You have to wonder, though, if this process could in some way be a natural survival mechanism kicking in as animals across the globe are facing new threats of extinction due to poaching, industry, and environmental disaster. The following thoughts from Christina Sarich speak to the heart of what this all means to us as human beings on a planet shared with literally trillions of other conscious creatures.

As we move through these challenging times, we can lose sight of the fact that an ever-increasing level of energetic momentum is supporting our own movement out of lower-level consciousness. While those on the political stage continue to war, collaboration is a new norm. We are becoming more compassionate.

As we outgrow old relationships, new ones emerge to support us at a higher level of consciousness. Imagine poor Rocky trying to converse with the other apes after learning multiple human languages. We, too will learn new ways to communicate with others.

Even our modes of transportation are dying, but we can celebrate the uncoupling of the US dollar to the petro-banking, usury-based system, and embrace new technologies that will give us clean fuels and what before would have seemed to be outrageous ways to move both here on earth and in the skies above.

Soon, we’ll be talking to the animals, and sharing tool-building skills with the birds. All of us are in it together, growing toward a more expanded understanding of what it means to be alive. —Christina Sarich

This article (Scientists Are Rethinking Animal Cognition as More Evolutionary Behaviors Emerge) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.

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2. Spending Time Outdoors Reduces the Risk of 6 Different Ailments

Mae Chan, PreventDisease.com


Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits—according to new research from the University of East Anglia. “The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes” is published in the journal Environmental Research.

“Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” he says.

It’s an essential component for good health, according to University of Illinois environment and behavior researcher Frances “Ming” Kuo.

The health benefits of greenspaces have demanded the attention of policymakers since the 1800s. Although much evidence suggests greenspace exposure is beneficial for health, there exists no systematic review and meta-analysis to synthesize and quantify the impact of greenspace on a wide range of health outcomes.

A new report published today reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.

Populations with higher levels of greenspace exposure are also more likely to report good overall health—according to global data involving more than 290 million people.

Lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood.

“We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.”

The research team studied data from 20 countries including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan—where shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is already a popular practice.

“Green space” was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban greenspaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.

The team analyzed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure.

“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.

“People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol—a physiological marker of stress.

“This is really important because in the UK, 11.7 million working days are lost annually due to stress, depression or anxiety.

“Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan—with participants spending time in the forest either sitting or lying down, or just walking around. Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea!

“Although we have looked at a large body of research on the relationship between greenspace and health, we don’t know exactly what it is that causes this relationship.

“People living near greenspace likely have more opportunities for physical activity and socializing. Meanwhile, exposure to a diverse variety of bacteria present in natural areas may also have benefits for the immune system and reduce inflammation.

“Much of the research from Japan suggests that phytoncides—organic compounds with antibacterial properties—released by trees could explain the health-boosting properties of forest bathing.”

Study co-author Prof Andy Jones, also from UEA, said: “We often reach for medication when we’re unwell but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognized as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact.”

The research team hope that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in greenspace and natural areas.

Twohig-Bennett said: “We hope that this research will inspire people to get outside more and feel the health benefits for themselves. Hopefully our results will encourage policymakers and town planners to invest in the creation, regeneration, and maintenance of parks and greenspaces, particularly in urban residential areas and deprived communities that could benefit the most.”

Copyright © PreventDisease.com. All Rights Reserved.

This article, republished with permission, originally appeared here.


Mae Chan is a writer for PreventDisease.com.


3. More Than 1,000 Scientists Sign “Dissent from Darwinism” Statement

Brittany Slaughter, The College Fix


Earlier this month, a long kept list of PhD scientists who “dissent from Darwinism” reached a milestone—it crossed the threshold of 1,000 signers.

“There are 1,043 scientists on the ‘A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism’ list. It passed the 1,000 mark this month,” said Sarah Chaffee, a program officer for the Discovery Institute, which maintains the list.

“A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism” is a simple, 32-word statement that reads: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Launched in 2001, the list continues to collect support from scientists from universities across America and globally. Signers have earned their PhDs at institutions that include Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. Others on the list earned their doctorates at Clemson, UT Austin, Ohio State, UCLA, Duke, Stanford, Emory, UNC Chapel Hill and many other universities. Still other signers are currently employed as professors across the nation.

Those who sign it “must either hold a Ph.D. in a scientific field such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computer science, or one of the other natural sciences; or they must hold an M.D. and serve as a professor of medicine,” according to the institute.

The group points out that signing the statement does not mean these scholars endorse “alternative theories such as self-organization, structuralism, or intelligent design,” but rather simply indicates “skepticism about modern Darwinian theories central claim that natural selection acting on random mutations is the driving force behind the complexity of life.”

According to Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Klinghoffer, the signers “have all risked their careers or reputations in signing.”

“Such is the power of groupthink,” he wrote. “The scientific mainstream will punish you if they can, and the media is wedded to its narrative that ‘the scientists’ are all in agreement and only ‘poets,’ ‘lawyers,’ and other ‘daft rubes’ doubt Darwinian theory. In fact, I’m currently seeking to place an awesome manuscript by a scientist at an Ivy League university with the guts to give his reasons for rejecting Darwinism. The problem is that, as yet, nobody has the guts to publish it.”

In interviews with The College Fix, some of the list’s signers explained why they were willing to go public with their skepticism.

“[Darwin’s theory] claimed to explain all major features of life and I think that’s very unlikely. Nonetheless, I think Darwinism has gotten to be kind of an orthodoxy, that is it’s accepted in the scientific community unthinkingly and it’s taught to kids unthinkingly,” said Michael Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University.

“Getting a list of scientists who point out that they don’t believe the orthodoxy can kind of open up some minds hopefully,” he said.
 
“It is clearly a growing trend with biology to think that Darwin missed a whole lot of biology and cannot explain a good deal of evolution,” Behe added.

Regarding how his colleagues view the list, Behe said, “Most of my peers are unaware of it, but those who are aware of it don’t like it one bit. They think that anybody who would sign such a list has to have a dishonorable motive for doing so.”

Taking a stand comes with a risk. Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, said he has many times been accused of being “anti-science.”

“I signed this list when it first came out because of this intellectual deep skepticism I have that the random unintelligent forces of nature can produce systems that outstrip our own intellectual capacity,” he told The Fix.

Minnich went on to quote the writer C. S. Lewis: “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Law Giver.”

David Dewitt, chair of the Department of Biology and Chemistry at Liberty University, told The College Fix in an email interview he signed the list because “I don’t believe that Darwinism accounts for all living things. Natural selection doesn’t produce new information and can’t.”

Dewitt said he’s not alone.

“I think more scientists are realizing the limitations to Darwinism, specifically in regard to the origin of life and the complexity of the cell. So much of how cells actually work reveal how impossible it is that life arose from mutation and natural selection. As we have learned more and more about molecular and cellular biology, more scientists doubt Darwinism although they may not admit it for fear of repercussions,” Dewitt told The Fix in an email interview.

Shun Cheung, an associate professor of computer science at Emory University, referred The College Fix to his website to outline his concerns.

“When Darwin formulated his ‘evolution theory,’ [he] did not have good microscopes and the cell was a blob to him without any structure. Darwin thought that a cell was simple and without structure. We now know that a cell is like a complex factory consisting of many different components—each with a distinct function. Each part/component is necessary in the entire operation of the cell,” Cheung writes.

Copyright © The College Fix. All Rights Reserved.

This article, republished with permission, originally appeared here.


Brittany Slaughter is a sophomore at Liberty University studying journalism with a minor in criminal justice. She has worked as an editor and writer for Odyssey, and has also been published in the Washington Examiner. She was previously nominated for the Network of Enlightened Women’s Writer of the Year award.


4. If You Were Chief of CIA Consciousness Ops

Jon Rappoport


There is an obsession to say that everything is made out of something.

Who knows where it started? With the Egyptian pyramid builders? The Sumerians?

In the modern era, the fervor has reached a high point.

Physicists, biologists, and chemists are relentless in their pursuit of consciousness as a function of the brain. It has to be the brain. All those synapses and neurons and chemicals … and underneath them, the atoms and the subatomic particles … somehow these tiny particles conspire to produce consciousness and awareness.

Yet these same scientists deny that a sub-atomic particle carries any trace of awareness. The particles flow. They obey laws. That’s all.

So the experts are painted into a corner. They then speculate: “Well, you see, the increased ability to process information, the complexity of structure—naturally, this implies consciousness.”

No it doesn’t.

A Ferrari is complex. So is the Empire State Building. So is the IBM’s best computer. And? Where is the consciousness?

You, sitting there right now, reading these words—you understand the words; you KNOW you’re reading them; you’re not just processing information. YOU ARE CONSCIOUS.

If a physicist wants to say that you, knowing you’re reading, are just a phenomenon of atoms in motion, let him try, let him explain. Let him do more than bloviate.

Imagine you were the chief of a CIA section called Consciousness Covert Ops. What would you try to do, given that your motive, as always, is control?

You would try to convince the population that consciousness isn’t free and wide-ranging and powerful and independent. You would try to narrow the popular belief about consciousness.

What better way than to focus on the brain as the seat of all awareness?

“The brain functions according to laws. We’re discovering more and more about those laws. We can determine when the brain is malfunctioning. We’re learning how to correct those malfunctions.”

Indeed.

You’re spinning a narrative about the brain as if it were a car that has to visit the shop. That’s what you want. You want to make people believe their brains need fixes, because, after all, you come out of the long tradition of CIA MKUltra mind control.

When the brain comes into the shop, you can try to reprogram it. You can experiment. You can apply the latest technology. You can attempt to insert controls. You can place monitors in the brain, in order to observe it in real time.

At a more basic, yes, philosophic level, you want to eliminate any sort of movement claiming that consciousness is separate from the brain. You want to snuff that idea out. It’s counter-productive, to say the least. It could give rise to a renaissance of an old outmoded notion called: freedom.

What could be more free, more independent, more unique, more creative than individual consciousness that has a non-material basis?

You want to do everything you can to equate consciousness with the brain and, thus, the modern idea of the computer. Yes, the computer. Perfect.

“Consciousness is a computer operating at a very high level.”

“All computers can be improved.”

“All computers can malfunction. They can be repaired.”


And then, the ultimate coup:

“Consciousness? A very old idea that, in light of the progress of technology, has no merit. It’s really information processing. The brain handles that. The brain is a computer. We’re learning how to build a better brain …”

You’re shifting the focus of the old 1950s MKULTRA program, which mainly involved drugs and hypnosis, to a new arena. You’re coming at the territory inside the skull from a number of angles. You’re the next generation of Brave New World.

And right across town, the Pentagon and its research branch, DARPA, is deeply involved in a number of allied research projects. For example, the cortical modem, a little piece of equipment that costs about $10.

The gist? Insert proteins into neurons, and then beam photons into those proteins, thus creating image displays that bypass the normal channels of perception.

Virtual reality with no headset. The project is still in its early stages, but the direction is clear: give the “user” an image display beyond his ability to choose.

It’s touted as an overlay. The person, walking down the street, can still see the street, but he can also see what you give him, what you insert into his visual cortex. Of course, as the technology advances, you could take things further: block out physical reality and immerse the person in the virtual.

DARPA’s enthusiasm about this project, as usual, exceeds its current grasp, but its determination to succeed is quite genuine. And the money is there.

Think about this. Which way is a bright college student going to go? He can study ancient philosophy, in the least popular department on campus. He can read the Vedanta, and plow through its explications of consciousness. Or he can study biology and physics, and then try to land an entry job with the Pentagon, where he can fiddle with the human brain for fun and profit. This student has been thoroughly immersed in computers since he could crawl. He understands what they do and how they work. He’s been taught, over and over, that the human brain (consciousness) is a computer. So what path will he take?

Over and above everything I’m pointing out in this article, there is a human capacity called imagination. It’s the wild card in the deck. It’s the greatest wild card ever known. It is, in fact, the cutting edge of consciousness. It invents new realities. It releases gigantic amounts of buried energy. And it’s entirely an individual proposition.

I built my second collection, Exit From the Matrix, on that basis: the liberation and expansion of imagination. Not just in theory, but in practice. There are dozens of imagination techniques to work with.

Brain = computer = consciousness is the greatest covert op on the planet. It’s supported with major money and labs and journals and armies of psychiatrists and neurological professionals and physicists and the military.

And the op is completely false, because, again, the very scientists who push it are saying the brain is composed of sub-atomic particles THAT CONTAIN ZERO CONSCIOUSNESS.

Think about that.

They’re saying consciousness arises out of particles that have no consciousness.

Copyright © Jon Rappoport. All Rights Reserved.

The author of three explosive collections, The Matrix Revealed, Exit From the Matrix and Power Outside the Matrix, Jon Rappoport was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for thirty years, writing articles on politics, medicine and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, SPIN Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com. To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From the Matrix, click here.

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5. Can We Unlearn the Fear That Creates Our Reality?

Josh Richardson, PreventDisease.com


Imagination is a wonderful thing. Emotions are often a result of the mind telling us stories without our direction over the outcome. When we imagine any fear repeatedly in a safe environment, soon our phobia, and our brain’s response to it, begin to subside.

That’s the takeaway of a new brain imaging study led by CU Boulder and Icahn School of Medicine researchers, suggesting that imagination can be a powerful tool in helping people with fear and anxiety-related disorders overcome them.

“This research confirms that imagination is a neurological reality that can impact our brains and bodies in ways that matter for our wellbeing,” said Tor Wager, director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at CU Boulder and co-senior author of the paper, published in the journal Neuron.

Being afraid of the unknown is not a new concept. From birth to death we’ve been trained to fear everything for a very long time. The dangers of modern life have a stranglehold on people’s imaginations. Sociologists call the phenomenon a risk society, describing cultures increasingly preoccupied with threats to safety, both real and perceived, but most definitely imagined.

Our ability to judge risk is sophisticated, and instinctual decisions often serve us well. But when something doesn’t quite seem to sync up, gut to head, then it’s time to pause and at least question what’s causing the discrepancy.

Neurolinguistic programming, emulating psychosis, television, advertising, the illusion of terrorism and several other remarkable concepts affect every facet of our lives and our world at the expense of our health, safety and security.

About one in three people in the United States have anxiety disorders, including phobias, and 8 percent have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since the 1950s, clinicians have used “exposure therapy” as a first-line treatment, asking patients to face their fears—real or imagined—in a safe, controlled setting. Anecdotally, results have been positive.

But until now, very little has been known about how such methods impact the brain or how imagination neurologically compares to real-life exposure.

“These novel findings bridge a long-standing gap between clinical practice and cognitive neuroscience,” said lead author Marianne Cumella Reddan, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at CU Boulder. “This is the first neuroscience study to show that imagining a threat can actually alter the way it is represented in the brain.”

Measuring the Mind’s Eye

For the study, 68 healthy participants were trained to associate a sound with an uncomfortable, but not painful, electric shock. Then, they were divided into three groups and either exposed to the same threatening sound, asked to “play the sound in their head,” or asked to imagine pleasant bird and rain sounds—all without experiencing further shocks.

The researchers measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Sensors on the skin measured how the body responded.

In the groups that imagined and heard the threatening sounds, brain activity was remarkably similar, with the auditory cortex (which processes sound), the nucleus accumbens (which is associated with reward learning) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (associated with risk and aversion) all lighting up.

After repeated exposure without the accompanying shock, the subjects in both the real and imagined threat groups experienced what is known as “extinction,” where the formerly fear-inducing stimulus no longer ignited a fear response.

Essentially, the brain had unlearned to be afraid.

“Statistically, real and imagined exposure to the threat were not different at the whole brain level, and imagination worked just as well,” said Reddan.

Notably, the group that imagined birds and rain sounds showed different brain reactions, and their fear response to the sound persisted.

“I think a lot of people assume that the way to reduce fear or negative emotion is to imagine something good. In fact, what might be more effective is exactly the opposite: imagining the threat, but without the negative consequences,” said Wager.

Unlearning Fear

Previous research has shown that imagining an act can activate and strengthen regions of the brain involved in its real-life execution, improving performance. For instance, imagining playing piano can boost neuronal connections in regions related to the fingers. Research also shows it’s possible to update our memories, inserting new details.

The new study suggests that imagination may be a more powerful tool than previously believed for updating those memories.

“If you have a memory that is no longer useful for you or is crippling you, you can use imagination to tap into it, change it and re-consolidate it, updating the way you think about and experience something,” said Reddan, stressing that something as simple as imagining a single tone tapped into a complex network of brain circuits.

She notes that there was much more variance in brain activity in the group that imagined the tone versus the ones who really heard it, suggesting that those with a more vivid imagination may experience greater brain changes when simulating something in their mind’s eye.

As imagination becomes a more common tool among clinicians, more research is necessary, they write.

For now, Wager advises, pay attention to what you imagine.

“Manage your imagination and what you permit yourself to imagine. You can use imagination constructively to shape what your brain learns from experience.”

Or, as writer and philosopher Mary Baker Eddy put it, “Stand porter at the door of thought.”

Copyright © PreventDisease.com. All Rights Reserved.

This article, republished with permission, originally appeared here.


Josh Richardson is a writer for PreventDisease.com.

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