Neurosciences - A neurosurgeon's perspective.
The advancements in the field of science in the past fifty years have highlighted the need to integrate all fields of human endeavours and have emphasised interdependency of various disciplines. The separation of humanities, therefore, from neurosciences is a preposterous practical joke on all thinking men. With the human genome project on the anvil, biotechnology is making significant headway holding out promise for organ regeneration. Macro evolution is over, but micro-evolution continues in the brain. Neural Darwinism thus, continues to evolve as long as individual remains conscious and has memory. In the milieu of widely varying internal physiological mechanisms and external stimuli, an alternative theory to preprogrammed directionalism is proposed by three mechanisms namely developmental variation and selection, experiential selections and reentrant signalling. Reentrant signalling reorients and correlates the external inputs leading to psychic development preceding the development of consciousness. The cholinergic and aminergic neuro-modelling systems are well suited to serve as value systems. The main achievement of consciousness is to bring together the many categorizations involved in perceptions into a SCENE. Another part of evolution involved capacity of reentrant signalling to be guided by a value system where it is provided with a lot of choices. With 10(13) neurons and 10(16) connections, freedom of choice may manifest into a 'Buddha' or a 'Hitler'. As part of the evolutionary process, it was interesting how capacity to categorize the need to worship by referring to environment outside evolved into a search within our minds. As the next stage of evolution, neuroscience may, thus, serve as the next gateway to understanding the mind and soul. (+info)
Words of Tohkaku Wada: medical heritage in Japan.
The origins of Japan's medical ideas, which are deeply rooted in its religion, culture and history, are not widely understood in medical societies of other countries. We have taken up the task of summarising this tradition here so that some insight can be gained into the unique issues that characterise the practice of medicine in Japan. We borrow from the sayings of Tohkaku Wada, a medical philosopher of late eighteenth-century Japan, for a look at Japanese medical tradition. Wada's medical thought was very much reflective of the Buddhism, Zen, and swordsmanship that informed eighteenth-century philosophy in Japan. His central concepts were "chu" and "sei", that is, complete and selfless dedication to the patient and the practice of medicine. This paper explores Wada's thought, explaining it mainly from the standpoint of Japanese traditional culture. (+info)
Religious beliefs and practice, and alcohol use in Thai men.
Buddhism, the Thai state religion, teaches that use of intoxicants should be avoided. Nonetheless, many Thai people drink alcohol, and a proportion are alcohol-dependent or hazardous or harmful drinkers. This study examines the relationship between Buddhist upbringing and beliefs and alcohol use disorders in Thai men. Three groups, comprising 144 non/infrequent/light drinkers, 77 hazardous/ harmful drinkers and 91 alcohol dependents were interviewed regarding their early religious life and current religious practices and beliefs. No protective association was shown between early religious life and later alcohol use disorders; indeed, having lived as a boy in a temple for a period was commoner in those with adult alcohol problems. Few subjects reported frequent involvement in current religious activities (9, 8 and 6% in the non/infrequent/light drinkers, hazardous/harmful drinkers, and alcohol dependents respectively). Hazardous/harmful drinkers [odds ratio (OR) = 0.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.2-0.9] and alcohol dependents (OR = 0.5, 95% CI = 0.2-0.9) were less likely to report being moderately to strongly religious, than were non/infrequent/light drinkers. Understanding the association between religious beliefs and drinking behaviour can potentially assist in the development of prevention and treatment programmes. (+info)
Bhutan: the world's most advanced tobacco control nation?
Significant achievements in the area of tobacco control have been made in the kingdom of Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas, following the initiation of several tobacco control activities. (+info)
Chinese and South Asian religious institutions and HIV prevention in New York City.
Religious institutions in Asian immigrant communities are in a unique position to confront the challenges of the HIV epidemic for the populations they serve. However, there has been little research on whether these institutions are willing or able to take a role in HIV prevention. This article reports on findings from a qualitative study of three Asian immigrant religious institutions in New York City (a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, an Islamic center/mosque) that are part of a larger study of Asian immigrant community institutions and their response to the HIV epidemic. Several prominent themes arose that formed the basis of a preliminary theoretical framework describing the way Asian immigrant religious institutions may evaluate their role in HIV prevention. The interview data indicate that the institutions take a stance of "conservative innovation," weighing their role as keepers of morality and religious tradition against the changing needs of their communities and then adjusting their practices or positions incrementally (to varying degrees) to stay responsive and relevant. (+info)
Therapeutic perspectives of human embryonic stem cell research versus the moral status of a human embryo--does one have to be compromised for the other?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells able to divide and produce copies of themselves and having the potential to differentiate, i.e. to produce other cell types in the body. Because of the latter ability, the scientists investigate their possible use in regenerative medicine. Especially embryonic stem cells have huge therapeutic potential because they can give rise to every cell type in the body as compared to stem cells from certain adult tissues which can only differentiate into a limited range of cell types. For this reason scientists stress the importance of embryonic stem cell research. However, this research raises sensitive ethical and religious arguments, which are balanced against possible great benefit of such research for the patients suffering from so far incurable diseases. The objective of this literature review is to present the main arguments in favor and against human embryonic stem cell research. Since the sensitivity of the latter issue to a large extent stems from the position of predominant religions in a given society, the positions of the main religions regarding embryo research are also presented. CONCLUSION: There is no consensus regarding ethical aspects of human embryonic stem cell research. The article presents both the arguments supporting human embryonic stem cell research and the arguments opposing it. (+info)
Thailand's unsung heroes.
The success of primary health care programmes in Thailand over the past three decades can be attributed not only to medical advances but to the role of community health volunteers. Buddhist monks and their temples have been strongly involved in health promotion and education, particularly in remote, rural communities. (+info)
Interoceptive awareness in experienced meditators.