Monday December 11, 2017

Science behind why monks and sanyasis have a shaved head

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

Baldness gives unhappiness to a person. People feel it as a sign of getting old and the person feels that because of his baldness his looks suffer. People will do anything and go to any length to get a good crop of hair on their head. Worldwide hair loss treatment industry is worth $ 3.5 billion/year.

However, new scientific evidence suggests that infrared (IR) radiation in solar energy is transmitted through bald head and may help in repair of neurons, their generation, and stop or reduce the ravaging affects of Parkinson’s disease.

In all ancient civilizations whether Greek, Egyptian, Indian etc. and in various religions, baldness or shaven head was identified with philosophers, monks and priests. Some say that it was done to differentiate such people from common folks. Thus a person with shaven head wearing an ochre robe is normally identified as a Buddhist monk or a Sanyasi.

The  ancients understood the power of solar energy on the bald head and hence the practice developed. Thus it is possible that our ancient tradition of invoking Gayatri Mantra and practicing Surya Namaskar could be traced to the understanding of beneficial effects of solar energy radiation on human body.

Bald human skull allows 10% of incident IR radiation to pass through it. IR radiation which has wavelength of 750-1500 nanometers is not visible to the naked eye and is the source of heat. On the other hand visible radiation has wavelengths in the range of 450- 750 nanometers.

Around 50% of solar radiation falling on earth is in the IR range. Nature uses this radiation very effectively since it helps in producing wind, evaporating sea water to form clouds and produce rain and to help the neurons function effectively in brain.

How the IR radiation helps in neuron repair and regeneration is still not fully understood. Some scientists say that IR, since it is mostly heat, helps in increasing the brains temperature and hence the activity of neurons while others say that the mitochondria, the engine which provides energy to cells gets repaired and energized by it leading to neuron repair and generation. Nevertheless the beneficial effect of IR on brain is evident and has been shown in human and animal trials.

Infrared light therapy nowadays is also being used and promoted as a powerful and noninvasive treatment for patients suffering strokes, head injuries and as an eye treatment.

The penetration of IR radiation into human brains is quite shallow and attenuates within 2-3 cms of entering the brain tissue but the blood flow in the brain allows the regenerated and repaired brain cells to be transported to different parts of brains.

Why are neurons affected by IR radiation? A possible explanation could be that during their firing they produce a feeble radiation in the IR range and by principle of equivalence they react positively to it.

So bald people, rejoice that nature and especially solar energy will help you in improving your brain and provide happiness since a supple and powerful brain is necessary for creating happiness. The main thing is to sit in the sun for 10-15 minutes everyday. Not only will your brain become better but you will also get much needed vitamin D.

(The author is the Director and Hon. Secretary Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). He could be reached at  anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)

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Contagious yawning: Why we yawn when someone else does? Read to find out

The findings of Research on why is yawning so so contagious?

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Why we yawn when someone else does?
Why we yawn when someone else does? Pixabay
  • Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn, it is a common form of Echophenomena
  • The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning
  • Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Ever wondered why even if we are not tired, we yawn if someone else does? Why is yawning so contagious?

It is because the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in a brain area responsible for motor function, a research suggests.

Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn – it is a common form of Echophenomena -the automatic imitation of another’s words (echolalia) or actions (echopraxia).

The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning. And no matter how hard we try to stifle a yawn, it might change how we yawn but it won’t alter our propensity to yawn.

Also Read: Ever wondered why you Itch when another person scratches in front of you?

“This research has shown that the ‘urge’  is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning,” said Georgina Jackson, a Professor at the University of Nottingham.

“The findings may be important in understanding the association between motor excitability and the occurrence of Echophenomena in a wide range of conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilepsy, dementia, autism, and Tourette syndrome,” added Stephen Jackson, a Professor at the University.

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to analyze volunteers who viewed video clips showing someone else yawning and were instructed to either resist yawning or to allow themselves to yawn.

“If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them. We are looking for potential non-drug, personalized treatments, using TMS that might be effective in modulating imbalances in the brain networks,” Jackson said.

Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too. (IANS)

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This is How Your Brain Works When You are on Meditation!

Researchers have found out how the brain operates on different levels of meditation

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There is more room for thoughts and memories in non directive meditation. Wikimedia
  • There are two types of meditation techniques- Concentrative and Nondirective
  • A team of Norwegian researchers studied fourteen people’s meditation by MRI scan
  • They have found out how the brain operates in different techniques

July 17, 2017: The Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi mentioned about the latest research in Oslo. MRI scans of 14 people were studied in three different states- Resting, Nondirective meditation and Concentrative meditation. The research sought to find out how meditation affects the brain activity.

Nondirective and Concentrative are the two main groups of meditation techniques. The concentrative meditation, as the name suggests, is when you suppress all other thoughts by focusing intensely on one specific thought. For many, that one specific thought is breathing. In Nondirective meditation, your mind is allowed to wander to all sorts of places beyond reality while the body still balances and focuses on breathing, mentioned ANI report.

Researchers from the University of Oslo, University of Sydney, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied to brain scans to determine how the brain was functioning under different states.

ALSO READ: Engaging in Meditation for 10 minutes a day can reduce Anxiety Disorders in Anxious Individuals: Study

The part of the brain responsible for self-thoughts and feelings was more active in the nondirective method as compared to the state of resting. However, in concentrative meditation, the brain activity was the same as resting. Jian Xu, one of the researchers, observed how “the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused.”

The research concludes that there is more room for thoughts and emotions to process in nondirective meditation.

Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Grey Matter Volume generally Decrease with Age, its density actually Increases during Adolescence: Study

Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development

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Representative Image, Wikimedia

New York, May 26, 2017: While grey matter volume generally decrease with age, its density actually increases during adolescence, new research has found.

Grey matter is found in regions of the brain responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control.

For years, the common narrative in human developmental neuro-imaging has been that grey matter in the brain declines in adolescence, a finding derived mainly from studies of grey matter volume and cortical thickness –the thickness of the outer layers of brain that contain grey matter.

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Grey matter density, a measure often assumed to be highly related to volume, has not been systematically investigated in development.

Th new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that while volume indeed decreases from childhood to young adulthood, grey matter density actually increases.

“We now have a richer, fuller concept of what happens during brain development,” said Ruben Gur, Professor at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, US.

Since it has been well-established that larger brain volume is associated with better cognitive performance, it was puzzling that cognitive performance shows a dramatic improvement from childhood to young adulthood at the same time that brain volume and cortical thickness decline.

The new findings can help solve this puzzle. The study also showed that while females have lower brain volume, proportionate to their smaller size, they have higher grey matter density than males, which could explain why their cognitive performance is comparable despite having lower brain volume.

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Thus, while adolescents lose brain volume, and females have lower brain volume than males, this is compensated for by increased density of grey matter.

In the study, the researchers evaluated 1,189 youth between the ages of 8 and 23 who completed magnetic resonance imaging as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a community-based study of brain development.

The study includes rich neuroimaging and cognitive data, to look at age-related effects on multiple measures of regional grey matter, including gray matter volume, gray matter density, and cortical thickness.

Neuroimaging allowed the researchers to derive several measures of human brain structure in a noninvasive way.

Observing such measures during development allowed the researchers to study the brain at different ages to characterise how a child’s brain differs from an adult’s.

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The study may better explain the extent and intensity of changes in mental life and behavior that occur during the transition from childhood to young adulthood.

“If we are puzzled by the behavior of adolescents, it may help to know that they need to adjust to a brain that is changing in its size and composition at the same time that demands on performance and acceptable behavior keep scaling up,” Gur added. (IANS)