Sunday, February 24, 2008

Call with your question

Late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, I'll be interviewed by George Noory for his syndicated nighttime show, Coast To Coast AM. Call me with your question! Coast to Coast is very unusual, and has guests ranging from Buzz Aldrin to Pamela Anderson to Michael Shermer. Here on the East Coast it airs from 2 to 5 AM (!). To find an AM radio affiliate near you, click here. The show broadcasts all over the US and Canada.


odw said...

On the radio, please touch on depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The World Health Org. projects depression to be a leading cause of worldwide disability. A LOT of people suffer from these. WHY is our brain SO subject to the wide variety of mental disorders ? What is your opinion on best treatments, or possible future fixes. WHY don't animals seem to suffer from this WIDE VARIETY of sufferings ? Why don't animals commit suicide due to intolerable mental suffering? If YOU have never had this kind of "dis-ease", it WILL be hard to relate to the reality of mental illness, but if you ever get it, you will understand how bad it is. How does one live in peace with a fragile and changing brain ?

Sam Wang said...

odw, thanks for writing. I hope you'll call in with this important question. We write about it in the book. Diagnosed depression has been on the rise for the last hundred years, while many changes in society have been happening. In general our brains are very sophisticated and, as a species with technology and civilization, we attempt to do a lot with our brains.

In fact, animals do get depressed. This is studied quite a bit by scientists in an effort to understand human depression better. Treatments have improved, though they aren't perfect: they include behavioral therapy, medication, and several forms of direct electrical stimulation to the nervous system. This last treatment is often effective even though it's not known why.

thailandchani said...

I hope you will be interviewed in the first hour. :)

If you would be willing, it would be interesting to hear about the differences in eastern thinking and western thinking, which one is the healthiest and most consistent with the way our brains are wired.

Sam Wang said...

On the air now. I am told we'll be taking questions in about an hour. That's 4:00AM Eastern time, 1:00AM Pacific time, and so on...

Ellie said...

Will you be talking about Alheimers? I just checked my husband into a hospital and they are pumping full of drugs.
Thank you,

Ellie said...

What is the phone number to call you? Long Beach Ca.

Sam Wang said...

The number depends on where you're calling from:

Western US: 1-800-618-8255 (toll free)
Eastern US: 1-800-825-5033 (toll free)
First time caller: 1-818-501-4721
Wild Card line: 1-818-501-4109 (anyone can call)

This and other information, is at too.

garry mcclelland said...

I listen to you on coast you sound like a very smart person,so how come your a fool, by leaveing god out your a fool in your own wisdom.

johny-five said...

If we only use 5 to 10% of our brains is the other
95% used for storage?
I can remember things from when i was 2yrs old and onward!
how can we save all this information of our lives without running out of space?

MH-Orlando said...

My husband heard you mention the Vagus nerve on last nite's Coast2Coast show. About 25 yrs ago I had a thoracotomy to remove a tumor which had the vagus nerve wrapped around it. The nerve was severed in order to remove the tumor. At that time I was a healthy, active, 35 yr old female with no symptoms from the tumor (although I did have PMS/mood swings). After the surgery it was apparent that my digestion changed, for the worse.

The doctors didn't give me any info at that time about the Vagus nerve or the effects of my surgery. Recently I read that the vagus nerve is significant in the body's self-defense against cold/flu bugs. That was astonishing since for 20+ years I seem to have gotten every cold/flu out there!

Currently I'm a healthy 60 year old who takes absolutely no pharmaceuticals at all but do take vitamins/minerals/amino acids daily. I would greatly appreciate any direction you can provide to books and/or websites that would have info about the effects of a severed Vagus nerve. Thank you!

Sam Wang said...

Johny-five - as I told George Noory, we use all of our brains. In the book we describe the origins of the 10% myth, which may have originated started with the inspirational writings of Dale Carnegie.

Two years of age is approximately when we begin to be able to remember events. Before that age, our brain structures for transferring experience into long-term storage are not yet mature. One thought is that shorter-term storage happens in the hippocampus, which is then transferred into the cortex.

Sam Wang said...

mh-orlando, I'm sorry to hear about your problem. The vagus nerve carries neural signals between brain and the heart and gut. If it is cut, this can have bad effects on your digestion because your brain is now out of the loop. Our book describes this, but more important, you should go to a good neurologist at an academic hospital (a medical school).

Sounds from the Past affecting the Future said...

Unknown orbs appeared on download of a christmas scene photo taken in Glenville NY, Dec. 24th, 2007. No snow or rain, took what I felt would only require one shot with my digital Omega palm 3.0 MP camera. Has a small distance of 4 ft. in light range. I hoped to get the scene it was pretty four stalls and a few farmers dancing. Check it out: left click on the photo of Dec. 24th on
just one of many instances that while wide awake have not been visible but noticible later. Like the perfect Halo on a six month old little child. It was not visible when I took the photo, Just when it returned from the developer. My nephew of 24 was awake and laying down much like I was when suddenly feeling a heavy weight like a horse or burlap bag weighing one down. Unable to move and just struggle to whisper "Uncle do you see anything one me? I can't move!" ( at 11 a.m.)- I heal with thought, you can feel the energy move through you. I feel the energy wave flow across us as I or you yawn. I have seen the energy come down the sidewalk like a wave of water foaming as the entities attack one. I have felt the cannon ball hit and make me feel like Dick Tracy, a huge hole in my left side from my hip to my navel. Fortuneately, my teacher was able to repair me. I felt disorder in my mind dis-eased after that until repaired. I walked into a house in Queens, NY where I saw two red eyes dangling above the stairway. I walked up to them and though they were apart and as large as tiger eyes, I was unafraid. Then they blinked. I thought to see it's body. It was grey and wormy looking like the wrinkled dog of China and no hair or fur. I remember dusting off my fingers although, I had not touched it. And went on about my way.

Stella said...

I caught your C2C program this morning on streamlink. Glad you mentioned you have a family member with autism. A lot of us do. Ever look into the bad cholesterol gene RELN theory? or when did the mitochondria/autism discussion peter out? I'll check your book out

Stella said...

I listened to you this morning on C2C streamlink. I am glad you touched briefly on your sib's autism. A lot of us can relate. Do you cover autism in your book?

Mémé said...

Dear Dr. Wang,
I thoroughly enjoyed the program on Coast-to-Coast last night, and hope you will be on again. Can't wait to get your book!

I tried to fast-blast a question to you, but I don't believe you received it. I wanted to know if you had ever heard of Prof. Michael Persinger.

On PBS last year they were doing programmes about 'our best professors" He was selected as one of the best, but, unfortunately, I do not know if he won.
His CV is:
2007 | Psychology - Laurentian University | Michael Persinger was born in Jacksonville Florida, and grew up primarily in Virginia, Maryland and Wisconsin. After attending Carroll College (1963-1964), he was graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1967), selecting Psychology ("Psychochemistry") as a major because it was the interface between the social and physical sciences. He obtained an M.A. (Physiological Psychology) from the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba (1971).

Dr. Persinger is currently a full professor of Biology and Psychology at Laurentian University, (Sudbury, ON) where he is the coordinator of the Behavioural Neuroscience Program. During this period he has published more than 200 technical articles in referred journals, and has written six books. He integrates the concepts of physics, chemistry, and biology with those of psychology, anthropology, and history in order to show the fundamental patterns of all human experiences. To challenge the basic beliefs of his students, he employs colourful metaphors, data, and the individual application of the scientific method of inquiry. Dr. Persinger emphasizes total dedication to research and teaching that are the inseparable twins of inquiry.
During the 1980s Persinger stimulated people's temporal lobes artificially with a weak magnetic field to see if he could induce a religious state (see God helmet). He found that the field could produce the sensation of "an ethereal presence in the room".

Persinger has also come to public attention due to his 1975 Tectonic Strain Theory (TST) of how geophysical variables may correlate with sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Persinger argued that strain within the earth's crust near seismic faults produces intense electromagnetic (EM) fields, creating bodies of light that some interpret as glowing UFOs. Alternatively, the EM fields generate hallucinations in the temporal lobe, based on images from popular culture, of alien craft, beings, communications, or creatures. (Debated by Chris Rutkowski, advocated by UK's Paul Devereux.)
"His work raises the prospect that we are programmed to believe in god, that faith is a mental ability humans have developed or been given. And temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) could help unlock the mystery." ...quoted from BBC 'Science and Nature' in regards to the fact that many epileptics report having religious visions.
I wanted to aquanit you with some of his theories, if you had not been aware of him,as you seemtohave very similare ideas.
By the way, for myself, I would love to be one of your research projects!! I have a very unsual brain, so I have been told. I have very clear memories of my life, since my 10th month. My memories run like video tapes, and I once had an eidetic memory. In 1969, I was in an auto accident, resulting in rt. frontal lobe epilepsy for 10 years, that "went away".
In 1989, I experienced a huge emotional trauma that "short-circuited" my brain, causing me to lose my eidetic abilities, and for many years, I could not read without having to go over the page again, and again. Where I was once able to read a book in a day, took months. My short-term memory was blown, and is still affected to this day.
I am a genealogist, and have discovered my family are genetic casebooks for familial depression, OCD and even schizophrenia! We also tend to have IQ's over 140, if you are looking for a case study, here I am!
YT - Ms S - Toronto, Canada

Sam Wang said...

Stella, hi. Yes, we cover autism in the book. Autism has a stronger genetic component than most neurological diseases. However, there's more than one gene, and could be up to several dozen. So the one you mention would be only one of many. There also may be environmental factors, though there isn't good evidence for any one toxin.

Unknown said...

I listened to the show last night. It is an heroic effort and performance of Dr. Wang to stay firm on the science. There were temptations, offers to compromise with psuedo-science, and at times some mild threat... But, Dr. Wang's perfore was superb. Thanks for the courage and staying truth to science.

Unknown said...

Hello Dr. Wang !
I didn't hear your interview on C2CAM last night, nor have I read your book. I do plan to do both in the near future, however, by replaying the show via podcast and purchasing your book. The brief recap of last night's show on the C2CAM website mentions that you discussed the difference in brain scans between amateur and professional musicians.

I'm an active amateur musician who is always striving to improve my instrumental talents. Is there anything I can do ( other than practice more, of course ) to make my brain operate more like a professional musician's ?

I apologize in advance for the naiveness of my question. I obviously have picked up comments you've made out of a discussion I haven't yet listened to. I'm just seeking constructive suggestions on how I can train/change my brain. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

What about the belief that a person has a "photographic memory", meaning that the individual "remembers everything seen or heard and can recall it immediately."

Don't we all have somewhat of a "photographic memory?"

I heard of a simple example of this. Let me know if it's right.

When you hear the word "hamburger" you don't necessarily or firstly think of the individual letters that make up the word "hamburger", you think of the word in a picture in your mind: a hamburger bun with the meat pattie and the fixings that go with it.

So, in a sense, we all have a photographic memory.

How do those with the capability of recalling "everything" do it? What's in the brain causing this to happen?


Unknown said...

Can you give your opinion on what causes Tinnitus and possible remedies?

Sam Wang said...

Johnsonsix, tinnitus (ringing sounds that you hear continuously) is often triggered initially by injury to hair cells in your inner ear, the cells that pick up sound vibrations and then transmit them to the brain. Damage to these cells takes away the normal signal to brain structures that process sound, which then compensate in ways that you perceive as ringing. The damage can come from a lifetime of exposure to loud sounds, ear infections, allergies, or other causes. Because the ringing sensation is generated in your brain, it can co-exist with near-normal hearing.

Treatment of tinnitus is difficult, and one of the better therapies is behavioral training, which is basically a program that teaches you to not mind the sensation so much. There are new therapies under development, but they are considered experimental.

There are also other causes of tinnitus, such as infection of the ear. To read more about tinnitus, see this article and this article.

randyc707 said...

so 3 glasses of red wine a day is good for the brain for a man?

Sam Wang said...

randyc707, that's correct - and 2 glasses of red wine a day for women. Less than that has also been observed to be beneficial. We discuss this in the book, and will soon post references to the scientific literature to this site.

Since we haven't posted on this topic before, does this mean you have the book? Have you seen it in a store?

Sam Wang said...

frank, Practice alters brain function. The activity in professional musicians' brains while they play occurs in more focused patterns than in amateurs, whose brain activity is spread over widespread regions. There is even evidence that practice can alter the structure of the brain. However, unfortunately there is no substitute for practice, and the best use of what I've described is that it gives you something to visualize while you play.

Musical performance is a topic we don't cover in the book, but at some future date we may turn your question into a post on this site. Thanks for writing.

hawaiianlika said...

My husband said he heard you say on C2C this past week that people should drink 3 glasses on red, granache, or a white zinfindel wine on a daily basis to protect thier hearts. The American Heart Assoc. suggests one 4 oz glass per day. Why the difference?

Thank you so much for responding.

Sam Wang said...

Lisa, thanks for writing. That's not exactly what I said. As we describe in the book, moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages do not have long-term ill effects on brain structure or cognitive ability. The consensus of many studies is that men can have up to three drinks a day, and women can have two.

In addition, if your alcoholic beverage of choice is red wine, this reduces the long-term risk of dementia. The smallest dose that seems to help is one glass, three or four days a week. That may be the reason for the American Heart Association recommendation. Note that white zinfandel is not red wine!

In general, a good rule of thumb to remember is that what's good for your heart is good for your brain.

Unknown said...

Dr. Wang !
THANK YOU for your authoritative response.
I realize that there is no substitute for practice...but in my case practice has simply never been "enough". I was looking for some suggestions on "brain changing" techniques to use as an adjunct to regular practice.
I found your comments helpful. If I understand you correctly, the process of "overlearning" should be sufficent to create some of the brain change I seek.
I already rely on beta blockers to eliminate involuntary performance nerves that I have no control over. The successful use of this medication has generated such positive reinforcement that I now only take the meds for public concerts, as a "security" measure.
You've suggested a different way to think about practicing, and I'll hope for equally beneficial results.
I look forward to future discussions on this site concerning the topic of musical performance.
Respectfully submitted,