Translating EEG into Music

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Wu D, Li C, Yin Y, Zhou C, Yao D. Music composition from the brain signal: representing the mental state by music. Comput Intell Neurosci. 2010:267671. Epub 2010 Mar 11. PubMed PMID: 20300580; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2837898.

Fascinating. Investigators at University of Electronic Science and Technology of China and Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences propose a method to translate human EEG into music, “so as to represent mental state by music.”

From the Discussion and Conclusion:

“There is growing interest in the relation between the brain and music. The approach to translate the EEG data into music is an attempt to represent the mind world with music… The above results show that the approach is advisable and effective and that the music pieces of different sleep stages are of distinct music features corresponding to the different levels of arousal…. Though individual EEG data is different from one subject to another, the basic features of sleep EEG with different mental states are quite steady, such as the characteristic waves of different sleep stages. That means, for the same sleep stage, that the music of different subjects would be different in details, but the main patterns would be similar…. This method might be used potentially in an assistant sleep monitor in clinical applications because the music of different sleep stages can be identified easily and more comfortably…. Furthermore, this method can be utilized as a unique automatic music generation system, which enables those people who have no composition skills to make music through using their brainwaves. Therefore, it can be utilized as a bio-feedback tool in disease therapy and fatigue recovery.”

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Complementary Therapies in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Pirotta M. Irritable bowel syndrome – The role of complementary medicines in treatment. Aust Fam Physician. 2009 Dec;38(12):966-8. PubMed PMID: 20369148.

A brief but comprehensive survey of complementary therapies for this difficult condition. Reviews evidence
for use of probiotics, peppermint oil, and dietary changes such as increasing fibre intake and various eastern medicines and psychological treatments.

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

A Call for International Collaboration on Cancer

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Gospodarowicz MK, Cazap E, Jadad AR. Cancer in the world: a call for international collaboration. Salud Publica Mex. 2009;51 Suppl 2:s305-8. PubMed PMID: 19967286.

Doctors in Toronto, Geneva, and Argentina collaborated on this call to improve cancer control globally. From the introduction:

“Almost 70% of all deaths in the world from cancer occur in the low- and middle-income countries…. While over 40% of all cancers in the Western world are due to tobacco consumption and poor diet, in sub Saharan Africa the most common cancers are those related to infection.”

The authors make specific reference to The International Union Against Cancer or Union Internationale contre le Cancer (UICC – www.uicc.org), a 70-year-old non-governmental organization purely dedicated to the fight against cancer.

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Surgical Treatment of Cancer in Ancient Greece and Rome

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Papavramidou N, Papavramidis T, Demetriou T. Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman methods in modern surgical treatment of cancer. Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Mar;17(3):665-7. PubMed PMID: 20049643; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2820670.

Medical historians at the Democritus University of Thrace and AHEPA University Hospital describe ancient surgical methods and correlate them with modern medical practice. Their survey encompasses Hippocratic physicians, Archigenes of Apamea, Galen, Leonides of Alexandria, and Paulus Aegineta.

From the conclusion:

“Taking into consideration the possible explanations provided in the ancient references to surgical treatment of cancer, one can only admire ancient medical practice. Even if most of the explanations were found in modern years, ancient physicians managed to use surgery with skills acquired through observation and experimentation in animals. Poor postoperative results taught the ancient physicians what they were able to do and what not, blaming though the nature of the tumor for any unfortunate prognosis.”

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Yoga for Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

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Tüzün S, Aktas I, Akarirmak U, et al. Yoga might be an alternative training for the quality of life and balance in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2010 Mar;46(1):69-72. PubMed PMID: 20332729.

In a small study of 26 postmenopausal osteoporotic women, investigators at Istanbul University evaluated the effect of yoga exercises on balance and life quality in comparison with a classic osteoporosis exercise program. They found that yoga education had a positive effect on pain, physical functions, social functions, and balance and concluded that yoga appears to be an alternative physical activity for the rehabilitation of osteoporosis patients.

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Clinical Trial of Qigong in Cancer Patients

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Oh B, Butow P, Mullan B, et al. Impact of medical Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Oncol. 2010 Mar;21(3):608-14. Epub 2009 Oct 30. PubMed PMID: 19880433; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2826100

Investigators at the University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, Notre Dame University, and Dana-Faber Cancer Institute undertook randomized controlled trial of Qigong in 162 adult patients diagnosed with cancer.

From the Introduction:

“One CM therapy that is frequently used by cancer patients, but is yet to be thoroughly evaluated, is Medical Qigong (MQ). Qigong, a mind–body practice first developed over 5000 years ago, is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. MQ is a mind–body practice that uses physical activity and meditation to harmonize the body, mind and spirit. It is on the basis of the theory that discomfort, pain and sickness are a result of blockage or stagnation of energy flow in the energy channel in the human body. According to this theory, if there is a free flow and balance of energy, health can be improved and/or maintained and disease can be prevented. Within western medicine, MQ can be understood within the mind–body medicine model, developed after the scientific discovery of the ‘relaxation response’ and the development of the theory of psychoneuroimmunology. Within this model, the efficacy of MQ is seen as having its source in an integrated hypothalamic response, resulting in homeostasis of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This in turn causes reduced emotional and physical tension and improved immune function.”

In this possibly first randomized controlled trial with adequate statistical power to measure the impact of Qigong in patients with cancer, the authors reported evidence for the impact of Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood status and inflammation in patients with cancer.

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Systematic Review of Biofield Therapies

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Jain S, Mills PJ. Biofield therapies: helpful or full of hype? A best evidence synthesis. Int J Behav Med. 2010 Mar;17(1):1-16. Review. PubMed PMID: 19856109; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2816237.

Investigators from UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, conducted a quality assessment and best evidence synthesis approach to examine evidence for biofield therapies (such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, and healing touch) in relevant outcomes for different clinical populations.

From the Introduction:

“The concept of subtle energy and methods of its use for healing has been described by numerous cultures for thousands of years. These vital energy concepts (which include the Indian term prana, the Chinese term ch’i, and the Japanese term qi) all refer to so-called subtle or nonphysical energies that permeate existence and have specific effects on the body-mind of all conscious beings. Similar concepts in the West are reflected in the concepts of Holy spirit, or spirit, and can be dated back to writings in the Old Testament as well as the practice of laying on of hands.”

The authors’ review examined 66 clinical studies with a variety of biofield therapies in different patient populations, including cancer patients, hospitalized and postoperative patients, dementia patients, and cardiovascular patients.

From the Discussion:

“In conclusion, this best evidence synthesis of proximally practiced biofield therapies suggests that they are promising complementary interventions for reducing pain intensity in numerous populations, reducing anxiety for hospitalized populations, and reducing agitated behaviors in dementia, beyond what may be expected from standard treatment or nonspecific effects. Effects on longer term clinical outcomes are less clear, and more systematic research is needed to clarify findings on fatigue and autonomic nervous system activity. Future suggested research directions include a more thorough assessment of cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune variables, particularly those that are clinically relevant to the disease population. Finally, comparisons of biofield interventions with empirically supported treatments for particular disorders is warranted to determine whether these therapies provide any benefits over and above those from other relaxation-response providing interventions. It is hoped that behavioral medicine clinicians and researchers will continue to examine the research in the area of biofield-based therapies, in order to determine whether these interventions may be a helpful tool in our arsenal to alleviate suffering within patient populations.”

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The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Open Society Report – Muslims in Berlin

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Muslims in Berlin
At Home in Europe Project
New York: Open Society Institute, 2010

[Read the report]

The second of 11 city reports to be produced this year by the Open Society Institute At Home in Europe Project, based on research undertaken on the integration of Muslims in cities across Europe.

Muslims in Berlin examines the political, social, and economic participation of Muslim communities living in Berlin, focusing on the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The 212-page report examines the experiences of Muslims in a broad range of areas including education, employment, health, housing and social protection, political participation, policing and security, and media.

From the Executive Summary:

  • The inhabitants of Kreuzberg in Berlin perceive their neighbourhood as a place in which the people living there have very diverse sets of values. Yet it is also a place in which people get on well together, work to improve the neighbourhood, and help each other. This important finding runs counter to the dominant belief that shared values are necessary for successful integration.
  • The overwhelming majority of Muslim and non-Muslim respondents said that Kreuzberg is an enjoyable and safe place to live. The study of the district of Kreuzberg highlights the success of an integrated structure and approach by citizens and policymakers to create a socially diverse environment. It is a part of Berlin in which individuals of differing ethnic and religious affiliations are able to successfully live together. The district’s experiences offer lessons to European cities with large minority groups on how to meaningfully adapt and accommodate the needs and concerns of their inhabitants. For a long time, Kreuzberg has perceived its multicultural character as an asset, and has encouraged the participation in public life of all different social groups, including Muslims from various ethnic backgrounds and communities.
  • For many Muslim respondents, Kreuzberg offers not only safety, but also refuge from other parts of the city (as well as the country as a whole), where they often feel alienated and excluded. The attribute that gives their district this safe character is its highly diverse nature. This creates a more welcoming feeling of multiculturalism and belonging than monocultural environments elsewhere. In Kreuzberg, unlike in other districts of Berlin, Muslim organisations have a strong presence within various political bodies. Local-government funding is distributed to Muslim groups, and district authorities and religious associations cooperate on local projects. This is particularly encouraging given the widely perceived stigmatisation and marginalisation of many religious Muslim associations in Germany.
  • Muslim inhabitants of Kreuzberg are not immune from discrimination. Respondents report difficulties in finding housing outside the district, gaining meaningful employment and apprenticeships, and, at times, obtaining culturally sensitive health care. The perception of unequal treatment is by no means restricted to religious affiliation. Muslims often perceive the multicausal experience of exclusion as anti-Muslim. Being labelled a Muslim does not only affect those who identify with Islam and are visible Muslims. It also affects those who may be non-religious and non-Muslim, yet whose skin colour, ethnic background, and perceived origin are viewed as signs of belonging to the Islamic faith.
  • The strategies and policies deployed in Kreuzberg offer an inspiring example that could help transform other cities even as Kreuzberg continues to learn from positive practices initiated elsewhere.

Download the full report, which includes recommendations and a comprehensive bibliography.