August 23rd, 2007

So comfortable

Oh wow

I've always had this weird fascination with temporal lobe epilepsy (sometimes abbreviated as TLE). I don't know why. I think it comes from reading up on migraine activity, it's connection to epilepsy, and then from that finding out about things like hypergraphia. It's always been this thing with me. I'm at once really drawn toward and sort of just-under-the-skin freaked out by neurological disorders. For example, look up Geschwind syndrome. It's not officially named that and there's no real consensus on whether it's a valid syndrome or just a convenient label for something that still needs looking into. Its symptoms include "circumstantiality (excessive verbal output, stickiness, hypergraphia), altered sexuality (usually hyposexuality), and intensified mental life (deepened cognitive and emotional responses) is present in some epilepsy patients. There has also been recent suggestions to extend the list of symptoms to include things such as guilt and paranoia for example."
Part of it is that having something different in your brain wiring or chemistry can so drastically change not only your perceptions of the world but your emotional life, your sexuality, your deeply held beliefs, and a huge swath of other cognitive experiences that are generally held to make "us" who we are... make us all "unique". But they're all just these minute electrical connections living in a tiny portion of the huge lump of fat we carry around in our heads. It's amazing and awesome and scary as fuck. It kind of makes you feel magical and fragile at the same time. Or it does for me anyway.

I just found this snippet of info that I hadn't really thought about before but which makes perfect sense given the things triggered in the temporal lobe.

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Neurotheology and Paranormal Experience

The first researcher to note and catalog the abnormal experiences associated with TLE was neurologist Norman Geschwind, who noted a constellation of symptoms, including hypergraphia, hyperreligiosity, fainting spells, mutism and pedantism, often collectively ascribed to a condition known as Geschwind syndrome.[2] Vilayanur S. Ramachandran explored the neural basis of the hyperreligiosity seen in TLE using galvanic skin response, which correlates with emotional arousal, to determine whether the hyperreligiosity seen in TLE was due to an overall enhanced emotional response, or if the enhancement was specific to religious stimuli (Ramachandran and Blakeslee, 1998). By presenting subjects with neutral, sexually arousing and religious words while measuring GSR, Ramachandran was able to show that patients with TLE showed enhanced emotional responses to the religious words, diminished responses to the sexually charged words, and normal responses to the neutral words. These results suggest that the medial temporal lobe is specifically involved in generating some of the emotional reactions associated with religious words, images and symbols.

UFO Researcher Albert Budden and cognitive neuroscience researcher Michael Persinger assert that increases in local electromagnetism, triggering the temporal lobe can stimulate TLE and trigger hallucinations of apparent paranormal phenomena, for example ghosts and UFO's. Persinger has even gone as far as to create a "God helmet" to apparently demonstrate how stimulation of the parietal and temporal lobe can evoke altered states of consciousness. Quite possibly, as neurotheologians have speculated, then, individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy, who have a natural aptitude for "religious" states of consciousness (such as euphoria or samadhi) have functioned in human history as religious figures or as shamans. Persinger's theories, however, remain controversial.

GOD HELMET! HOLY SHIT! How awesome is that?!
  • Current Music
    Erasure - How Many Times? (acoustic - Live in Nashville)
Pretty Martin Gore

Erasure - On The Road to Nashville

By the way, this is an incredibly good album.

Doesn't matter if you don't like synth pop. This is an acoustic live album. The songs have been arranged by Vince Clark and Steve Walsh (from the band Kansas) into steel guitar/country/western/bluegrass acoustic tracks. They hold up. They hold up incredibly well. You don't need to already have affection for or a connection to the source material. At no point does Andy Bell camp it up in any way shape or form. It doesn't come across as gimmicky or as a pointless re-do. The songs are honestly just *good*. Vince Clark has always been a little cheesy or broadly romantic in his lyrics. But it's part of the charm, I think. And I HATE your typical pop love song shit.

If you *despise* country western music then give it a pass, you'll hate it. Otherwise I would highly recommend it. I'm just pretty surprised at how good it is and that I didn't know about it.
  • Current Music
    Erasure - Stop! (Live in Nashville)