Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Myoclonus

Definition:
Myoclonus refers to a sudden, involuntary jerking of a muscle or group of muscles. In its simplest form, myoclonus consists of a muscle twitch followed by relaxation. A hiccup is an example of this type of myoclonus. Other familiar examples of myoclonus are the jerks or “sleep starts” that some people experience while drifting off to sleep.  These simple forms of myoclonus occur in normal, healthy persons and cause no difficulties. When more widespread, myoclonus may involve persistent, shock-like contractions in a group of muscles.  Myoclonic jerking may develop in people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Myoclonic jerks commonly occur in persons with epilepsy, a disorder in which the electrical activity in the brain becomes disordered and leads to seizures.  Myoclonus may develop in response to infection, head or spinal cord injury, stroke, brain tumors, kidney or liver failure, lipid storage disease, chemical or drug poisoning, or other disorders.  It can occur by itself, but most often it is one of several symptoms  associated with a wide variety of nervous system disorders.

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Myoclonic jerks may occur alone or in sequence, in a pattern or without pattern. They may occur infrequently or many times each minute. Most often, myoclonus is one of several signs in a wide variety of nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), serotonin toxicity, and some forms of epilepsy. Some researchers indicate that jerks persistently may even cause early tremors.

In almost all instances in which myoclonus is caused by central nervous system disease it is preceded by other symptoms; for instance, in CJD it is generally a late-stage clinical feature that appears after the patient has already started to exhibit gross neurological deficits.

Anatomically, myoclonus may originate from lesions of the cortex, subcortex or spinal cord. The presence of myoclonus above the foramen magnum effectively excludes spinal myoclonus, but further localisation relies on further investigation with electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG).

Types:
In juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, seizures usually involve the neck, shoulders, and upper arms. These seizures typically occur shortly after waking up. They normally begin between puberty and early adulthood. They can usually be controlled with medication, but it must be taken for life.

In rare cases, myoclonic seizures can be symptomatic of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, beginning in early childhood and usually involving the face, neck, shoulders, and upper arms. In these cases, the seizures tend to be strong and difficult to control.

Progressive myoclonic epilepsy includes both myoclonic and tonic-clonic seizures. Treatment is not normally successful for any extended period of time.

Classifying the many different forms of myoclonus is difficult because the causes, effects, and responses to therapy vary widely. Listed below are the types most commonly described:

*Action myoclonus is characterized by muscular jerking triggered or intensified by voluntary movement or even the intention to move. It may be made worse by attempts at precise, coordinated movements. Action myoclonus is the most disabling form of myoclonus and can affect the arms, legs, face, and even the voice. This type of myoclonus often is caused by brain damage that results from a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain when breathing or heartbeat is temporarily stopped.

*Cortical reflex myoclonus is thought to be a type of epilepsy that originates in the cerebral cortex – the outer layer, or “gray matter,” of the brain, responsible for much of the information processing that takes place in the brain. In this type of myoclonus, jerks usually involve only a few muscles in one part of the body, but jerks involving many muscles also may occur. Cortical reflex myoclonus can be intensified when patients attempt to move in a certain way or perceive a particular sensation.

*Essential myoclonus occurs in the absence of epilepsy or other apparent abnormalities in the brain or nerves. It can occur randomly in people with no family history, but it also can appear among members of the same family, indicating that it sometimes may be an inherited disorder. Essential myoclonus tends to be stable without increasing in severity over time. Some scientists speculate that some forms of essential myoclonus may be a type of epilepsy with no known cause.

*Palatal myoclonus is a regular, rhythmic contraction of one or both sides of the rear of the roof of the mouth, called the soft palate. These contractions may be accompanied by myoclonus in other muscles, including those in the face, tongue, throat, and diaphragm. The contractions are very rapid, occurring as often as 150 times a minute, and may persist during sleep. The condition usually appears in adults and can last indefinitely. People with palatal myoclonus usually regard it as a minor problem, although some occasionally complain of a “clicking” sound in the ear, a noise made as the muscles in the soft palate contract.

*Progressive myoclonus epilepsy (PME) is a group of diseases characterized by myoclonus, epileptic seizures, and other serious symptoms such as trouble walking or speaking. These rare disorders often get worse over time and sometimes are fatal. Studies have identified at least three forms of PME. Lafora disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder, meaning that the disease occurs only when a child inherits two copies of a defective gene, one from each parent. Lafora disease is characterized by myoclonus, epileptic seizures, and dementia (progressive loss of memory and other intellectual functions). A second group of PME diseases belonging to the class of cerebral storage diseases usually involves myoclonus, visual problems, dementia, and dystonia (sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting movements or abnormal postures). Another group of PME disorders in the class of system degenerations often is accompanied by action myoclonus, seizures, and problems with balance and walking. Many of these PME diseases begin in childhood or adolescence.

*Reticular reflex myoclonus is thought to be a type of generalized epilepsy that originates in the brainstem, the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord and controls vital functions such as breathing and heartbeat. Myoclonic jerks usually affect the whole body, with muscles on both sides of the body affected simultaneously. In some people, myoclonic jerks occur in only a part of the body, such as the legs, with all the muscles in that part being involved in each jerk. Reticular reflex myoclonus can be triggered by either a voluntary movement or an external stimulus.

*Spinal myoclonus is myoclonus originating in the spinal cord, including segmental and propriospinal myoclonus. The latter is usually due to a thoracic generator producing truncal flexion jerk. It is often stimulus-induced with a delay due to the slow conducting propriospinal nerve fibers.

*Stimulus-sensitive myoclonus is triggered by a variety of external events, including noise, movement, and light. Surprise may increase the sensitivity of the patient.

*Sleep myoclonus occurs during the initial phases of sleep, especially at the moment of dropping off to sleep. Some forms appear to be stimulus-sensitive. Some persons with sleep myoclonus are rarely troubled by, or need treatment for, the condition. However, myoclonus may be a symptom in more complex and disturbing sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, and may require treatment by a doctor.

Symptoms:
Myoclonic seizures can be described as “jumps.” They are caused by rapid contraction and relaxation of the muscles. People without epilepsy can suffer small but similar jerks in the form of hiccups or brief twitches. These are perfectly normal.

In someone with epilepsy, myoclonic seizures cause abnormal movements on both sides of the body at the same time. In reflex epilepsies, myoclonic seizures can be brought on by flashing lights or other environmental triggers (see photosensitive epilepsy).

Familiar examples of normal myoclonus include hiccups and hypnic jerks that some people experience while drifting off to sleep. Severe cases of pathologic myoclonus can distort movement and severely limit a person’s ability to sleep, eat, talk, and walk. Myoclonic jerks commonly occur in individuals with epilepsy. The most common types of myoclonus include action, cortical reflex, essential, palatal, progressive myoclonus epilepsy, reticular reflex, sleep, and stimulus-sensitive.

People with myoclonus often describe the symptoms as “jerks,” shakes” or “spasms” that are:

*Sudden
*Brief
*Involuntary
*Shock-like
*Variable in intensity and frequency
*Localized to one part of the body or all over the body
*Sometimes severe enough to interfere with eating, talking or walking

Causes:
Myoclonus may be caused by a variety of underlying problems. Doctors often separate the types of myoclonus based on their causes, which helps determine treatment. Types of myoclonus include the following categories.

Physiological myoclonus

This is the type that occurs in normal, healthy people and rarely needs treatment. Examples include:
*Hiccups
*Sleep starts
*Infant muscle twitching during sleep or after a feeding

Essential myoclonus
Essential myoclonus occurs on its own, typically without other symptoms and without being related to any underlying illness. The cause of essential myoclonus is often unexplained (idiopathic) or, in some cases, hereditary.

Epileptic myoclonus
This type of myoclonus occurs as part of an epileptic disorder. Muscle jerks may be the only symptom or one of many.

Symptomatic (secondary) myoclonus

This is a common form of myoclonus. Muscle jerks occur as a result of an underlying medical problem, such as:
*Head or spinal cord injury or infection
*Stroke
*Brain tumor
*Kidney or liver failure
*Chemical or drug poisoning
*Prolonged oxygen deprivation
*Medication reaction
*Huntington’s disease
*Alzheimer’s disease
*Parkinson’s disease
*Metabolic problems

Treatment:
Discontinuation of drugs suspected of causing myoclonus and treatment of metabolic derangements may resolve some cases of myoclonus.  When pharmacological treatment is indicated anticonvulsants are the main line of treatment. Paradoxical reactions to treatment are notable. Drugs which most people respond to may in other individuals worsen their symptoms. Sometimes this leads to the mistake of increasing the dose, rather than decreasing or stopping the drug.  Treatment of myoclonus focuses on medications that may help reduce symptoms. Drugs used include sodium valproate, clonazepam and some other anticonvulsants such as piracetam and levetiracetam.  Dosages of clonazepam usually are increased gradually until the patient improves or side effects become harmful. Drowsiness and loss of coordination are common side effects. The beneficial effects of clonazepam may diminish over time if the patient develops a tolerance to the drug.

Many of the drugs used for myoclonus, such as barbiturates, phenytoin and primidone, are also used to treat epilepsy. Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system and cause tranquilizing or antiseizure effects. Phenytoin and primidone are effective antiepileptics drugs, although phenytoin can cause liver failure or have other harmful long-term effects in patients with PME. Sodium valproate is an alternative therapy for myoclonus and can be used either alone or in combination with clonazepam. Although clonazepam and/or sodium valproate are effective in the majority of patients with myoclonus, some people have adverse reactions to these drugs.

Some studies have shown that doses of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) leads to improvement in patients with some types of action myoclonus and PME. These differences in the effect of 5-HTP on patients with myoclonus have not yet been explained, but they may offer important clues to underlying abnormalities in serotonin receptors.

The complex origins of myoclonus may require the use of multiple drugs for effective treatment. Although some drugs have a limited effect when used individually, they may have a greater effect when used with drugs that act on different pathways or mechanisms in the brain. By combining several of these drugs, scientists hope to achieve greater control of myoclonic symptoms. Some drugs currently being studied in different combinations include clonazepam, sodium valproate, piracetam, and primidone. Hormonal therapy also may improve responses to antimyoclonic drugs in some people.
Prognosis:
Although myoclonus is not a life-threatening condition, it may result in serious, debilitating impairments. Action myoclonus, with its positive and negative myoclonus components, is generally considered the most serious. It varies from person to person as to whether it is life-long.

Research:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research relating to myoclonus in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country. Scientists are seeking to understand the underlying biochemical basis of involuntary movements and to find the most effective treatment for myoclonus and other movement disorders. Researchers may be able to develop drug treatments that target specific biochemical changes involved in myoclonus. By combining several of these drugs, scientists hope to achieve greater control of myoclonic symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/myoclonus/myoclonus.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/myoclonus/DS00754
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myoclonus

http://insomnia.ygoy.com/2011/04/28/sleep-myoclonus/

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/palatal-myoclonus.html

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Child Epilepsy

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Definition:
Epilepsy is a nervous system condition that causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire. These disruptions cause temporary communication problems between nerve cells, leading to seizures. One seizure is not considered epilepsy — kids with epilepsy have multiple seizures over a period of time.

Epilepsy affects people in all nations and of all races. The onset of epilepsy is most common during childhood and after age 65, but the condition can occur at any age. Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system that affects 2.5 million Americans. More than 180,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every year. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. These physical changes are called epileptic seizures Seizures occur when there’s a sudden change in the normal way your brain cells communicate through electrical signals. Seizures can be triggered in anyone under certain conditions, such as life-threatening dehydration or high temperature. Other types of seizures not classified as epilepsy include those caused by an imbalance of body fluids or chemicals or by alcohol or drug withdrawal. A single seizure does not mean that the person has epilepsy. EEGs and brain scans are common diagnostic test for epilepsy.

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Epilepsy:

* is not the only cause of childhood seizures
* is not a mental illness
* does not usually affect intelligence
* is not contagious
* does not typically worsen over time

Causes of Epilepsy

In about half the cases of epilepsy, there is an identifiable cause.The common Causes are:-

*Injury to baby during delivery

*Hydrocephalus-excessive fluid in the brain

*Delay in delivery with decreased oxygen supply to brain.

* infectious illness (such as meningitis or encephalitis)
* brain malformation during pregnancy
* trauma to the brain (including lack of oxygen) during birth or an accident
* underlying metabolic disorders

* brain tumors,tuberculosis, parasites in the brain

*Drugs e.g. pencillin chloroquine, medicines for depression, angina.

* blood vessel malformation
* strokes
* chromosome disorders

The other half of epilepsy cases are idiopathic (the cause is unknown). In some of these, there may be a family history of epilepsy — a child who has a parent or other close family member with the condition is more likely to have it too. Researchers are working to determine what specific genetic factors are responsible.

Symptoms :

Some Symptoms of Epilepsy :

* Seizures

*Fainting.

*Memory loss.

*Changes in mood or energy level.

*Dizziness.

*Headache.

*Confusion.
Understanding Seizures
Seizures vary in severity, frequency, and duration (they typically last from a few seconds to several minutes). There are many different kinds of seizures, and what occurs during one depends on where in the brain the electrical signals are disrupted.

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The two main categories of seizures are generalized seizures, which involve the whole brain, and partial seizures, which involve only part of the brain. Some people with epilepsy experience both kinds.

Seizures can be scary — a child may lose consciousness or jerk or thrash violently. Milder seizures may leave a child confused or unaware of his or her surroundings. Some seizures are so small that only an experienced eye could detect them — a child may simply blink or stare into space for a moment before resuming normal activity.

During a seizure, it’s very important to stay calm and keep your child safe. Be sure to:

*Lay your child down away from furniture, stairs, or radiators.
*Put something soft under his or her head.
*Turn your child on his or her side so fluid in the mouth can come out.
*Never stick anything in your child’s mouth or try to restrain him or her.

Do your best to note how often the seizures take place, what happens during them, and how long they last and report this to your doctor. Once a seizure is over, watch your child for signs of confusion. He or she may want to sleep and you should allow that. Do not give extra medication unless the doctor has prescribed it.

Children who suffer from partial seizures may be frightened or confused by what has happened. Offer plenty of comfort and reassure your child that you’re there and everything is OK.

Most seizures are not life-threatening, but if one lasts longer than 5 minutes or your child seems to have trouble breathing afterward, call 999 for immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis
Talk to your doctor if your child has seizures, staring spells, confusion spells, shaking spells, or unexplained deterioration of school performance. The doctor can refer you to a paediatric neurologist, who will take a patient medical history and examine your child, looking for findings that suggest problems with the brain and the rest of the neurologic system.

If the doctor suspects epilepsy, tests will be ordered, which may include:

1) electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain via sensors secured to the scalp while the child lays on a bed. It is a painless test, which takes about 1 hour.
2) a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test
3) a computerised tomography (CT) scan, both of which look at images of the brain

Treating Epilepsy
Your doctor will use the test and exam results to determine the best form of treatment. Medication to prevent seizures is usually the first type of treatment prescribed for epilepsy management. Many children can be successfully treated with one medication — and if the first doesn’t work, the doctor will usually try a second or even a third before resorting to combinations of medications.

Although medications often work, if your child is unresponsive after the second or third attempts, it’s less likely that subsequent medications will be effective. In this case, surgery to remove the affected part of the brain may be necessary. Epilepsy surgery is done in less than 10% of seizure patients, and only after an extensive screening and evaluation process.

Additional treatments can be used for epilepsy that is unresponsive to medications. The doctor may implant a vagus nerve stimulator in the neck, or recommend a ketogenic diet, a high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can be very successful in helping to manage seizures.

Even people who respond successfully to medication sometimes have seizures (called “breakthrough seizures”). These don’t mean your child’s medication needs to be changed, although you should let the doctor know when they occur.

Click to see Suppliment recomendations for Epilepsy

Living With Epilepsy
To help prevent seizures, make sure your child:

* takes medication(s) as prescribed
* avoids triggers (such as fever and overtiredness)
* sees the neurologist as recommended — about two to four times a year — even if responding well to medication

Keeping your child well-fed, well-rested, and non-stressed are all key factors that can help manage epilepsy. You should also take common-sense precautions based on how well-controlled the epilepsy is. For example:

* Younger children should have only supervised baths.
* Swimming or bike-riding alone are not good ideas for kids with epilepsy. A helmet is required for cycling, as for all kids.

With some simple safety precautions, your child should be able to play, participate in sports or other activities, and generally do what other children like to do. Teenagers with epilepsy will probably be able to drive with some restrictions, as long as the seizures are controlled.

It’s important to make sure that other adults who care for your child — family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc. — know that your child has epilepsy, understand the condition, and know what to do in the event of a seizure.

Offer your child plenty of support, discuss epilepsy openly, and answer questions honestly. Children with epilepsy may be embarrassed about the seizures, or worry about having one at school or with friends.

Epilepsy (children) – newer drugs

Epilepsy – a parent’s guide

Seizures and Epilepsy

Helping Your Child Cope With Epilepsy

Fears over child epilepsy drugs

Parents to deal with Epilectic Chield

Resources:
http://www.charliebrewersworld.com/page4.htm
http://www-epilepsy.com/

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Dream

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Definition:Dreams are the images, thoughts and feelings experienced while sleeping, particularly strongly associated with rapid eye movement sleep. The contents and biological purposes of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is known aoneirology.

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Our brains are in constant activity. Different states of consciousness (like awake, asleep alert, drowsy, excited, bored, concentrating or daydreaming) cause different brain wave activity. Our conscious mind, or the part we think with, our “window” into life, only takes up a very small portion of our brain activity. (some say this is only 10%) Other areas control things like breathing, heartbeat, converting light to vision, sound to hearing, balance when we walk, etc. etc. This too has it’s own percentage (small). Another area controls imagination. This area is widely an undiscovered frontier. Imagination is more then dreaming of a new car or picturing someone with their cloths off! When you look at clouds and see shapes, or wood grain and see images, this is the “order from chaos” part of your imagination. The mind cannot deal with chaos very well, in fact it will resist it and sometimes manufacture order. (very important to the dreaming process.)This too occupies a small percentage of brian activity. Then there is memory. Memory is vast!

Neurology of sleep and dreams:-

There is no universally agreed biological definition of dreaming. General observation shows that dreams are strongly associated with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, during which an electroencephalogram shows brain activity to be most like wakefulness. Participant-nonremembered dreams during non-REM sleep are normally more mundane in

comparison. During a typical lifespan, a human spends a total of about six years dreaming (which is about 2 hours each night). It is unknown where in the brain dreams originate, if there is a single origin for dreams or if multiple portions of the brain are involved, or what the purpose of dreaming is for the body or mind. It has been hypothesized that dreams are the result of naturally occurring dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in the brain.

During REM sleep, the release of certain neurotransmitters is completely suppressed. As a result, motor neurons are not stimulated, a condition known as REM atonia. This prevents dreams from resulting in dangerous movements of the body. Studies show that various species of Mammals and Birds experience REM during sleep.

Discovery of REM

In 1953 Eugene Aserinsky discovered REM sleep while working in the surgery of his PhD advisor. Aserinsky noticed that the sleepers’ eyes fluttered beneath their closed eyelids, later using a polygraph machine to record their brain waves during these periods. In one session he awakened a subject who was wailing and crying out during REM and confirmed his suspicion that dreaming was occurring. In 1953 Aserinsky and his advisor published the ground-breaking study in Science.

Dream theories

Activation-synthesis Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley proposed a new theory that changed dream research, challenging the previously held Freudian view of dreams as unconscious wishes to be interpreted. The activation synthesis theory asserts that the sensory experiences are fabricated by the cortex as a means of interpreting chaotic signals from the pons. They propose that in REM sleep, the ascending cholinergic PGO (ponto-geniculo-occipital) waves stimulate higher midbrain and forebrain cortical structures, producing rapid eye movements. The activated forebrain then synthesizes the dream out of this internally generated information. They assume that the same structures that induce REM sleep also generate

sensory information.

Hobson and McCarley’s 1976 research suggested that the signals interpreted as dreams originated in the brain stem during REM sleep. However, research by Mark Solms suggests that dreams are generated in the forebrain, and that REM sleep and dreaming are not directly related. While working in the neurosurgery department at hospitals in Johannesburg and London, Solms had access to patients with various brain injuries. He began to question patients about their dreams and confirmed that patients with damage to the parietal lobe stopped dreaming; this finding was in line with Hobson’s 1977 theory. However, Solms did notencounter cases of loss of dreaming with patients having brain stem damage. This observation forced him to question Hobson’s prevailing theory which marked the brain stem as the source of the signals interpreted as dreams. Solms viewed the idea of dreaming as a function of many complex brain structures as validating Freudian dream theory, an idea that drew criticism from Hobson. Unhappy about Hobson’s attempts at discrediting him, Solms, along with partner Edward Nadar, undertook a series of traumatic-injury impact studies using several different species of primates, particularly howler monkeys, in order to more fully understand the role brain damage plays in dream pathology. Solms’ experiments provedinconclusive, however, as the high mortality rate associated with using an hydraulic impact pin to artificially produce brain damage in test subjects meant that his final candidatepool was too small to satisfy the requirements of the scientific method.

Dreams and memory

Eugen Tarnow suggests that dreams are ever-present excitations of long-term memory, evenduring waking life. The strangeness of dreams is due to the format of long-term memory,reminiscent of Penfield & Rasmussen’s findings that electrical excitations of the cortex give rise to experiences similar to dreams. During waking life an executive function interprets long term memory consistent with reality checking. Tarnow’s theory is a reworking of Freud’s theory of dreams in which Freud’s unconscious is replaced with the long-term memory system and Freud’s “Dream Work” describes the structure of long-term memory

Hippocampus and memory

A 2001 study showed evidence that illogical locations, characters, and dream flow may help the brain strengthen the linking and consolidation of semantic memories. These conditions may occur because, during REM sleep, the flow of information between the hippocampus and neocortex is reduced.[10] Increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol late in sleep (often during REM sleep) cause this decreased communication. One stage of memory consolidation is the linking of distant but related memories. Payne and Nadel hypothesize that these memories are then consolidated into a smooth narrative, similar to a process that happens when memories are created under stress.

Functional hypotheses:
There are many hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:

*During the night there may be many external stimuli bombarding the senses, but the mindinterprets the stimulus and makes it a part of a dream in order to ensure continued sleep.The mind will, however, awaken an individual if they are in danger or if trained to respond to certain sounds, such as a baby crying.

*Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.

*Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.

*Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.

*Ferenczi proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.

*Dreams are like the cleaning-up operations of computers when they are off-line, removing parasitic nodes and other “junk” from the mind during sleep.

*Dreams create new ideas through the generation of random thought mutations. Some of these may be rejected by the mind as useless, while others may be seen as valuable and retained. Blechner calls this the theory of “Oneiric Darwinism.”

*Dreams regulate mood.

*Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by “making connections in a safe place” and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.

*More recent research by Griffin has led to the formulation of the ‘expectation fulfillment theory of dreaming’, which suggests that dreaming metaphorically completes patterns of emotional expectation and lowers stress levels.

*Coutts hypothesizes that dreams modify and test mental schemas during sleep during a process he calls emotional selection, and that only schema modifications that appear emotionally adaptive during dream tests are selected for retention, while those that appear maladaptive are abandoned or further modified and tested.

*Dream is a product of “dissociated imagination”, which is dissociated from conscious self and draws material from sensory memory for simulation, with sensory feedback resulting in hallucination. By simulating the sensory signals to drive the autonomous nerves, dream can effect mind-body interaction. In the brain and spine, the autonomous “repair nerves”, which can expand the blood vessels, connect with pain and compression nerves, and are grouped into many chains called meridians by the Chinese. Dream also exploits the chain-reacting meridians to repair body by sending out very intensive movement-compression signals when the level of growth enzyme goes high.

Dreams and psychosis

A number of thinkers have commented on the similarities between the phenomenology of dreamsand that of psychosis. Features common to the two states include thought disorder, flattened or inappropriate affect (emotion), and hallucination. Among philosophers, Kant, for example, wrote that ‘the lunatic is a wakeful dreamer’. Schopenhauer said: ‘A dream is a short-lasting psychosis, and a psychosis is a long-lasting dream.’In the field of psychoanalysis, Freud wrote: ‘A dream then, is a psychosis’,and Jung: ‘Let the dreamer walk about and act like one awakened and we have the clinical picture of dementia praecox.’

McCreery has sought to explain these similarities by reference to the fact, documented by Oswald, that sleep can supervene as a reaction to extreme stress and hyper-arousal. McCreery adduces evidence that psychotics are people with a tendency to hyper-arousal, and suggests that this renders them prone to what Oswald calls ‘microsleeps’ during waking life. He points in particular to the paradoxical finding of Stevens and Darbyshire that patients. suffering from catatonia can be roused from their seeming stupor by the administration of sedatives rather than stimulants.

Cultural history:

Dreams have a long history both as a subject of conjecture and as a source of inspiration. Throughout their history, people have sought meaning in dreams or divination through dreams. They have been described physiologically as a response to neural processes during sleep, psychologically as reflections of the subconscious, and spiritually as messages from God or predictions of the future. Many cultures practiced dream incubation, with the intention of cultivating dreams that were prophetic or contained messages from the divine.

Judaism has a traditional ceremony called hatovat chalom – literally meaning making the dream a good one. Through this rite disturbing dreams can be transformed to give a positive interpretation by a rabbi or a rabbinic court.

Dream content

From the 1940s to 1985, Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream reports at Western Reserve University. In 1966 Hall and Van De Castle published The Content Analysis of Dreams in which they outlined a coding system to study 1,000 dream reports from college students. It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. Hall’s complete dream reports became publicly available in the mid-1990s by Hall’s protégé William Domhoff, allowing further different analysis. Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams.

Emotions:

The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety. Negative emotions are more common than positive ones.The U.S. ranks the highest amongst industrialized nations for aggression in dreams with 50 percent of U.S. males reporting aggression in dreams, compared to 32 percent for Dutch men.

Sexual content

The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10 percent of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid teens. Another study showed that 8% of men’s and women’s dreams have sexual content. In some cases, sexual dreams may result in orgasm or nocturnal emission. These are commonly known as wet dreams.

Recurring dreams

While the content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams—that is, the same dream narrative is experienced over different occasions of sleep. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males report recurrent dreams.

Common themes
Content-analysis studies have identified common reported themes in dreams.

These include: situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly in place, sexual experiences, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, teeth falling out, flying, embarrassing moments, falling in love with random people, failing an examination, not being able to move, not being able to focus vision and car accidents. Twelve percent of people dream only in black and white

Relationship with mental illness

There is evidence that certain medical conditions (normally only neurological conditions) can impact dreams. For instance, people with synesthesia have never reported black-and-white dreaming, and often have a difficult time imagining the idea of dreaming in only black and white.

Therapy for recurring nightmares (often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder) can include imagining alternative scenarios that could begin at each step of the dream.

Dream interpretation:

Dreams were historically used for healing (as in the asclepieions found in the ancient Greek temples of Asclepius) as well as for guidance or divine inspiration. Some Native American tribes used vision quests as a rite of passage, fasting and praying until an anticipated guiding dream was received, to be shared with the rest of the tribe upon their return.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung identified dreams as an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious. They also assert together that the unconscious is the dominant force of the dream, and in dreams it conveys its own mental activity to the perceptive faculty. While Freud felt that there was an active censorship against the unconscious even during sleep, Jung argued that the dream’s bizarre quality is an efficient language, comparable to poetry and uniquely capable of revealing the underlying meaning.

Fritz Perls presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy. Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed. Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams.

Perls expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer. The dreamer may therefore be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer’s personality.

Other associated phenomena:-

Lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming is the conscious perception of one’s state while dreaming. In this state a person usually has control over characters and the environment of the dream as well as the dreamer’s own actions within the dream.The occurrence of lucid dreaming has been scientifically verified.

“Oneironaut” is a term sometimes used for those who explore the world of dreams. For example, dream researcher Stephen LaBerge uses the term. It is often associated with lucid dreaming in particular.

Dreams of absent-minded transgression
Dreams of absent-minded transgression (DAMT) are dreams wherein the dreamer absentmindedly performs an action that he or she has been trying to stop (one classic example is of a quitting smoker having dreams of lighting a cigarette). Subjects who have had DAMT have reported waking with intense feelings of guilt. One study found a positive association between having these dreams and successfully stopping the behavior.

Dreaming and the “real world”
Dreams can link to actual sensations, such as the incorporation of environmental sounds into dreams such as hearing a phone ringing in a dream while it is ringing in reality, or dreaming of urination while wetting the bed. Except in the case of lucid dreaming, people dream without being aware that they are doing so. Some philosophers have concluded that what we think as the “real world” could be or is an illusion (an idea known as the skeptical hypothesis about ontology). The first recorded mention of the idea was by Zhuangzi, and was also discussed in Hinduism; Buddhism makes extensive use of the argument in its writings.It was formally introduced to western philosophy by Descartes in the 17th century in his Meditations on First Philosophy.

Recalling dreams
The recall of dreams is extremely unreliable, though it is a skill that can be trained. Dreams can usually be recalled if a person is awakened while dreaming. Women tend to have more frequent dream recall than men. Dreams that are difficult to recall may be characterized by relatively little affect, and factors such as salience, arousal, and interference play a role in dream recall. A dream journal can be used to assist dream recall, for psychotherapy or entertainment purposes. Ingesting large amounts of magnesium can help to make dreams more vivid, and therefore easier to recall.

Déjà vu
One theory of déjà vu attributes the feeling of having previously seen or experienced something to having dreamt about a similar situation or place, and forgetting about it until one seems to be mysteriously reminded of the situation or place while awake

Dream pre-programming
Dream pre-programming is a hypnotic practice used among some medical and stage hypnotists. It allows the hypnotist to control (or let the patient control) their own dreams. One way that a hypnotist will use this is by telling the person that when they fall asleep that they see a button. And that if they want to enter “DreamScape” that they should press that button. Then they will enter a world just like Earth, but they will have complete control. They will control things with their mind. Dream pre-programming can also help someone for a test or a big event in life. The hypnotist would make the subject dream that event as occurring perfectly, so the subject will get a level of confidence.

Dream incorporation
In one use of the term, “dream incorporation” is a phenomenon whereby an external stimulus, usually an auditory one, becomes a part of a dream, eventually then awakening the dreamer. There is a famous painting by Salvador Dalí that depicts this concept, titled “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” (1944).

The term “dream incorporation” is also used in research examining the degree to which preceding daytime events become elements of dreams. Recent studies suggest that events in the day immediately preceding, and those about a week before, have the most influence


Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream
http://www.sleeps.com/basics.html

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Brain’s Role in Autism Probed

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A psychology researcher has pinpointed regions of the brain that are linked to “ritualistic repetitive behavior” in autistic children — the insatiable desire to rock back and forth for hours or to tirelessly march in place.

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Keith Shafritz, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University on Long Island, compared brain images of autistic children with those of neurologically normal youngsters. He and collaborators at Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill used a form of magnetic resonance imaging to explore sites in the brain.

They reported their findings in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Repetitive behavior is one of autism’s core traits. It has driven parents to extremes as they try to distract a child to engage in other activities.

Mapping the brain constitutes a journey into the inner labyrinths of a three-pound cosmos where countless frontiers have yet to be explored.

In children with autism, Shafritz found deficits in specific regions of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of gray matter linked to all higher human functions, including repetitive behavior. He also mapped deficits in the basal ganglia, a region deep below the cerebral hemispheres.

“We like to think about the research process as discovering clues why people engage in certain behaviors,” Shafritz said. “We were able to identify a series of brain regions that showed diminished activity when people were asked to alter certain behaviors and were not able to do so.”

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is becoming a major public policy issue. Federal health officials estimate that it afflicts 1 in every 150 children, which affects not only families but communities.

School systems don’t have enough appropriately trained teachers. Social services departments are overwhelmed by parents who need support and respite care.

For clues to the disorder, some scientists are scanning the human genome for suspect DNA.

Others, like Shafritz, are exploring the geography of the brain.

Edward G. Carr, a psychology professor at Stony Brook University in New York, said Shafritz’s discovery was important because it helped demystify repetitive behavior.

“Repetitive behavior is sometimes called self-stimulatory behavior. A very common form of it is body-rocking. A child will do it for hours,” Carr said. “Another child may wave his or her hands back and forth in front of their eyes. This is very common, and it’s called hand-flapping. They extend their arms forward and wave their hands in front of them. It’s like a light show.”

Shafritz said the brain areas associated with repetitious behavior were not associated with another autism problem, self-injury. Some children repeatedly slam their heads against a wall, for instance.

Still, Shafritz found a relationship between the newly identified brain areas and overlapping regions linked to schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Dr. Anil K. Malhotra, director of psychiatric research at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said he was not surprised. He too is studying links between autism and schizophrenia, and autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Sources:Los Angles Times