Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Mind-Brain problem gets an EEG

Despite my old-school, Christian-Platonic presuppositions about the mind and soul, I'm realizing just how much we are predisposed (not predetermined) to certain traits due to the wiring in our brains.

And yet there is hope for some of the problems through neurofeedback.

My daughter, like both of her parents to some extent, has met the diagnostic criteria for having attention-deficit disorder (ADHD) and probably its incumbent dyslexia.

We gave neurofeedback a try. Our daughter improved dramatically in matters of mood as well as attention. My wife was also going to neurofeedback sessions, but her assessment, not to get myself in trouble, hasn't meant as much as my observations of my daughter. My daughter is 6, and six-year-olds don't have agendas and presuppositions in clinical settings. Adults will either be skeptical or wholesale believers or something in between, and their beliefs will impact their assessments of their clinical experiences. A child is less self-conscious of her behavior, and in my daughter's case, her moods and abilities to concentrate improved.

The idea behind neurofeedback is that people will self-correct the unproductive concentrations of electrical currents in the brain. My own recent, personal experience with neurofeedback went like this. I had a wire clipped to each ear lobe, and another wire stuck on my head. I looked at a TV screen that displayed a race car on a race track, like a video game. When my attention was relaxed and focused on the screen, the car began to move. The more focused, the faster the car moved around the track. When I was distracted, or became self-conscious, or my thoughts turned inward, the car stopped.

University researchers in Germany have recently added to the research that suggests neurofeedback is highly effective in addressing ADHD. This apparently was the first study of neurofeedback in which the researchers tracked progress with electroencephalographic brain imaging (EEG). Read about their findings here:

Perhaps neurofeedback will increasingly become the cure for the kid about whom it has been said: "He's got a good mind. Why doesn't he use it?" Maybe many kids just need a little help in moving more of their brains' electrical activity into their frontal lobes.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hearts & philosophies

The philosopher Charles S. Peirce wrote, "Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts."

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his Nobel Lecture on Literature, wrote, "It is in vain to affirm that which the heart does not confirm."

So what do we make of our hearts?

Blaise Pascal so famously said the following, it's almost cliche to bring it up: "The heart has reasons that Reason cannot know."

The evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias wants to reverse Pascal's flow: "What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind," Zacharias once said.

The problem here might just be the idea of a flow between heart and mind. What if the human being was intended to be an integrated whole, not an assembly of competing parts?

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