Article, blindness

Blind people don’t suffer from schizophrenia — and the reason could help us find a treatment

Blind people don’t suffer from schizophrenia — and the reason could help us find a treatment

Author: Mihai Andrei

Date Written: Oct 23, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 10/24/19, 9:10 PM

Source: https://www.zmescience.com/medicine/mind-and-brain/blind-schizophrenia-connection-14102019/

In February 2019, an intriguing study made the rounds. Researchers from the University of Western Australia found conclusive evidence that congenital blindness is protective against schizophrenia.

The unusual discovery offered new insights into the inner workings of schizophrenia, a condition which still has many unknowns, despite decades of research.

“This leads us to think there is a link that must be explored,” said Professor Vera Morgan from the UWA Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Research Unit, lead author of the study.

Now, a new study sheds new light on that phenomenon and could help us better understand how schizophrenia works — as well as how we build a mental model of the world around us.

The mind’s eyes

The relationship between vision and psychosis is complex. While congenital visual loss appears to be protective against psychotic disorders, gradual visual loss can give rise to hallucinations or even psychotic episodes.

The age at which vision loss happens appears to be a crucial factor. The absence of vision at birth or very early in life appears to have a protective effect, whereas later-life visual loss appears to predispose one to the development of psychotic symptoms. This is particularly unusual as there are very few medical disorders that may be protective against psychosis (the already-notorious example is rheumatoid arthritis).

Researchers suspect that it’s not just the loss of sight that is at work here — it’s also the way the other senses and the brain are rearranged after vision loss. For instance, the brains of blind people adapt to sharpen the other senses, which they are also better at processing.

When something interferes with a person’s vision, it can also send all kinds of confusing signals to the brain. If a person with functioning eyesight is blinded, the auditory and tactile information that he or she receives will be chaotic, confusing, and potentially overwhelming. For a blind person, that just doesn’t happen, as the brain is used to processing this sort of information. Simply stated, their internal model of the world is simpler and more resilient to malfunctions.

“In simple terms, we argue that when people cannot see from birth, they rely more heavily on the context they extract from the other senses,” the researchers write. They also add that this can also explain the
relationship between later visual loss and other psychotic
symptoms, as well as the effects of visual deprivation and
hallucinogenic drugs on psychosis and schizophrenia.

While this is still somewhat speculative, this hypothesis would explain the effect. If this is true, then it would mean that congenitally blind people have overall lower psychosis susceptibility than the sighted population. There are also ways to test this, researchers say.

Congenitally blind individuals will show fMRI prediction error responses during causal learning, unlike people with psychosis whose prediction error is aberrant. In addition, they will experience reduced psychoactive effects from drugs such as ketamine

The study has been published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

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Article, Personal Responsibility

Why your ballot will be doubly important in Monday’s vote

Why your ballot will be doubly important in Monday’s vote

Author: Martin Regg Cohn

Date Written: Oct 18, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 10/20/19, 10:29 AM

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2019/10/19/why-your-ballot-will-be-doubly-important-in-mondays-vote.html

If you are still trying to decide which party to support in Monday’s election, take a bow for doing your democratic duty.

But if you are still undecided about whether to vote at all — or if you have already decided against casting a ballot — take a minute to think about how you are undoing democracy by doing nothing on voting day.

Canada’s democracy complacency is a perennial affliction, with only an occasional cure. Every few elections, voters are vexed enough to cast their ballots in a “change election” that rattles our political landscape.

The good news about our last federal election: After a steady democratic drought, Canadians turned out in larger numbers, perhaps motivated to “throw the bums out” or legalize cannabis.

The bad news about this campaign: No active ingredient, whether in marijuana or incumbency hostility, has turned people on in a big way — which could inhibit voter turnout yet again on election day.

Too often in our democracy, the best antidote to apathy is antipathy — anger, fear, desperation. But you can’t rely on resentment to run a country, or win the next campaign, because it is ultimately self-defeating.

Bitterness doesn’t just deepen the divide. It is also a notoriously unreliable way to deepen attachments to our democratic system.

Just ask our neighbours to the south, who are still trying to undo what they did in the vote that made Donald Trump their president. To be sure, Trump successfully rallied his base to supposedly “drain the swamp,” which he only made deeper and murkier.

But the bigger failure was that so many anti-Trump Americans didn’t bother voting for his opponent, Hillary Clinton. They didn’t think their votes counted, or that the election mattered, and in the aftermath Trump won by a razor-thin margin that no one predicted.

We seem more polarized than ever — not just in the U.S. but in the U.K. and around the world, most recently in Israel’s deadlocked election. Paradoxically, it’s not just the vast differences between opposing sides, but the narrow margins of victory that separate the two camps.

It is precisely that equation — the high stakes and the close vote counts — that makes every individual vote doubly important today, in Canada as around the world.

Most public opinion polls show a dead heat between the two leading parties, Liberal and Conservative, with a strong possibility of a minority parliament. But those survey results also tell a different story of unpredictability in every way.

First, voters are more mercurial than ever, deciding at the last moment or refusing to confide in pollsters in a representative sample the way they once did. Second, transposing national polling trends onto the map of 338 ridings — where the election will be won or lost — is more art than science, making it difficult to foretell the makeup of a minority parliament.

All the more reason to recognize that you cannot minimize the impact of an individual vote. Even in so-called “safe seats” that seem predestined to favour the incumbent MP, every ballot contributes to the national popular vote tallies that are very much taken into consideration, historically, by a governor general in deciding which party (or combination of parties) has a mandate to govern.

Don’t be swayed by pollsters or politicians who claim to know the unknowable —or that they are predestined to become prime minister.

Decide for yourself who to vote for but whatever your decision, do not persuade yourself that your vote doesn’t matter. Nothing is more corrosive than cynicism at a time when so many citizens around the world crave the certainty and stability of our democracy.

Think of the citizens of Hong Kong who are protesting in the streets for a semblance of democratic rule that Canadians take for granted. Consider the people in the Middle East who dreamed of an Arab Spring, only to see it fade away. I lived in both places for a decade, covering the human rights movements where people risked bullets for ballots, and were prepared to die for democracy, then as now.

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Ever since I returned home, it has broken my heart to hear people here claim that their votes don’t count (you won’t know until they are tallied up); that there are no good politicians to choose from (then you must choose the least worst, of course); or that our electoral system is imperfect (then do the democratic thing and persuade your fellow Canadians to change it, rather than boycott it).

On election day, we Canadians should count our blessings — and make our ballots count. For a vote is a terrible thing to waste.

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Personal Responsibility

“The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894”

‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’

 

There was a time not so long ago when the people crowded into the world’s largest Cities like London and New York worried for their survival, and it was Henry Ford and his ability to derive a means of cheaply mass-producing the automobile that saved them. Now that the motor vehicle, motor vessels, airplanes and dirty manufacturing processes are plunging the world into climate and environmental chaos with threats of mass extinction we’re once again forced to seek some level of salvation. That dear friends are where I think we are right now in history. I fear we’re being buried under tons of BS and it’s affecting our mental and physical health, not to mention the health and well-being of all living things sharing the Earth with us. The solutions are right in front of us, and sadly the political and individual will to adopt them in meaningful and real ways still escapes us as we argue over whether or not it’s real, or if we should shift some existing jobs for long term sustainable jobs and industries.

 

Check out the quote I pasted below from a larger piece of written history to which I will point to in its entirety with the below link.

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/

 

“This became known as the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’.

The terrible situation was debated in 1898 at the world’s first international urban planning conference in New York, but no solution could be found. It seemed urban civilization was doomed.

However, necessity is the mother of invention, and the invention in this case was that of motor transport. Henry Ford came up with a process of building motor cars at affordable prices. Electric trams and motor buses appeared on the streets, replacing the horse-drawn buses.

By 1912, this seemingly insurmountable problem had been resolved; in cities all around the globe, horses had been replaced and now motorized vehicles were the main source of transport and carriage.”

 

The belief in 1894 was that in 50 years London would be buried under 9 feet of manure, not to mention all the sickness caused by such an extreme amount of exhaust. Now to come back to today and the stories told in the oil and gas industries about the attacks they are living under and how they have only worked hard all their lives to bring us the life style we all wanted and appreciated. I dare say the horsemen and women of the late 1800’s would have told the same stories, as would the wheelwrights, carriage builders, horse breeders, harness makers, manure scoopers and wagon drivers. Although I understand the fear with which those folks lived at the time and the fear our fellow citizens are now experiencing, I never-the-less believe we owe ourselves, our children and grandchildren the responsibility to do the right thing and begin in earnest a move to cleaner sources of energy, and two of the ways we can start to shift our habits is to reduce the amount of tax subsidy the petroleum industry receives and to dramatically increase tax incentives to individuals and companies who develop the way to a better future. More importantly though, we must stop buying into the rhetoric used by the profit-addicted corporations and their puppet governments to divide us as friends, neighbours and fellow citizens, and we must seek ways to work together toward the better day we all need and want. If we vow to hear each other’s feelings and needs, and to cooperate in the development of solutions the only thing that will break out is peace.

 

“Let’s Give Peace a Chance”.

 

 

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Advocacy, Article, Disability, Independence

Accessibility Or Luxury? It’s a Matter of Perspective. | mssinenomineblog

What if your luxury is my accessibility? What if the things you deem extras are essentials to me?
— Read on mssinenomineblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/accessibility-or-luxury-its-a-matter-of-perspective/

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Advocacy, Disability, Independence

Thoughts About Disability Discourse – A Thread that Got Too Long For Twitter | mssinenomineblog

I want to talk a bit about how disability issues get discussed and addressed but first I want to specify that I am a white disabled woman who became disabled – the reasons why those things matter will hopefully become clear.
— Read on mssinenomineblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/thoughts-about-disability-discourse-a-thread-that-got-too-long-for-twitter/

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