mercredi 18 mai 2011
PLASTICITY AND THE BRAIN: A BASIS FOR YOGA CURE
PLASTICITY AND THE BRAIN: A BASIS FOR YOGA CURE?
Brain was viewed as a static organ in the body until as recent as the 1980s. We can now say with confidence that the brain is an extraordinarily plastic biologic system that is in a state of dynamic equilibrium with the external world, says Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, author of an interesting book published in 2011.
The Tell Tale Brain
A Neuro-Scientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human?
This plasticity plays the evolutionary role in the human brain and makes it unique. The sages of Yoga must have recognized it in their time: How Yoga, especially Raja Yoga, can modify certain sensations and thoughts when placed on the platform of its philosophy.
In the western minds, there is a hankering for order while most of the western philosophy has elements of chaos. The Anatomy and the Neuroanatomy that we study at the Medical Schools in the west (and thus copied in the East) had been mapped by the westerners. They had the tools to do so at the time of enlightenment, but let us say, that they lacked the insight, into the philosophical aspects of what they were seeing, and labeled it static. As such, Diseases and Suffering have been left at the time of beginning of the Enlightenment and closure of the Dark Ages. A concrete mathematical model is proposed and followed, allowing for very little variation and plasticity. The medical practitioners in Miami or Kuala Lumpur are still under the influence of Descartes (16th Century) whose Cartesian dualism of Mind and Body we follow and not allow for an integration of Mind and Body in every day medical practice.
Are the medical practitioners and their allies in the Pharmaceutical Industries indirectly responsible for the current neglect of the relationship between the Mind and Body among the patients? Most overweight people do not recognize the gravity of their overweight or the necessity to follow any particular form of exercise and the necessity to eat healthy food rather than the packaged food. The Mind’s power over the Body is demonstrated by recent studies, which shows that Immigrants whether to USA or Malaysia, in their eagerness to “modernize” prefer to eat “bad food” rather than good food of their home countries. Such is the power of the psychology that they are willing to sacrifice the health of themselves for “acceptance” by the host societies.
Motivating patients with the old fashioned carrot and stick method of rewards have failed and that what we need to do is to stress on Internal Motivation which would translate into Cognitive changes in behavior.
Can you think of a better form of motivator than Raja yoga? Experiencing the sensation of Asanas (postures) and Pranayamas ( regulation of breathing) and other external means to modify our ways of thinking, which eventually make us a better HUMAN?
If you adopt this Plasticity of Brain in the practice of Medicine (or Health Care or Prevention of Diseases or General Wellbeing), you would see your patients getting better. Not only in their concepts of their bodies and Pre Diabetes not becoming full-blown diabetes and even such simple cases of environmentally induced Hypothyroidism when the dosages prescribed and the laboratory tests are not congruent.
It is nice for me to think that only South India could have produced a scientist of the curiosity of Ramachandran, it will become clearer to you when you read his biography, occasionally I meet potential Ramachandrans of India, not only in the field of Medicine or Science but recently in Malaysia in the field of Creative Arts. (A friend of mine from Lucknow working at Astro Entertainment Sdn Bhd keeps on winning international awards one after another; I joked that he might have to charter a flight to take all his trophies back home!).
Dr V.S. Ramachandran of Chennai/Madras is currently a Professor in California and it is nice to think of an ancient philosophical environmental connection of his native India, home of Yoga, to his brain and the brains he studies. I highly recommend his book.
Working in the field of prevention of Diseases, the idea of a changing brain is highly motivating for me.