Category Archives: psychedelics

A Buddhism critic does a week-long retreat

Some excerpts in Scientific American from John Horgan’s experience. The retreat cost was $1800, plus a teacher donation, an expensive lesson.

“But enlightenment, I decided by the end of the retreat, is banal. It means simply appreciating each moment, no matter how mundane and annoying, as an end in itself, not as a means to another end, like making money or impressing others. Like, be here now, Dude.”

“Is it worth devoting weeks, months, years, decades to cultivating hyper-attentiveness? Is that the best thing to do with life? No. There is no best thing to do with life, and Buddhism errs in implying otherwise. The exaltation of enlightenment makes us vulnerable to abuse by sleazy gurus. And seeking enlightenment is pretty self-indulgent. The world isn’t all fireflies and goldfinches. It has problems that need fixing, as I was reminded whenever I looked across the Hudson at the West Point Military Academy.”

LSD produces new type of harmonic order in the brain

See this study. The blurb:

“New brain published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds new light on how LSD produces its psychedelic effects. The drug resulted in the ’emergence of new type of order in the brain,’ the researchers found. The study used a new mathematical method to analyze brain activity, known as connectome-harmonic decomposition, to examine how LSD caused alterations in consciousness. A connectome is a distinctive pattern of neural connections — like a wiring diagram of the brain.”

Future discussion topic recommendations

Several of us met on Labor Day with the goal of identifying topics for at least five future monthly meetings. (Thanks, Dave N, for hosting!) Being the overachievers we are, we pushed beyond the goal. Following are the resulting topics, which will each have its own article on this site where we can begin organizing references for the discussion:

  • sex-related influences on emotional memory
    • gross and subtle brain differences (e.g., “walls of the third ventricle – sexual nuclei”)
    • “Are there gender-based brain differences that influence differences in perceptions and experience?”
    • epigenetic factors (may need an overview of epigenetics)
  • embodied cognition
    • computational grounded cognition (possibly the overview and lead-in topic)
    • neuro-reductionist theory vs. enacted theory of mind
    • “Could embodied cognition influence brain differences?” (Whoever suggested this, please clarify.)
  • brain-gut connection (relates to embodied cognition, but can stand on its own as a topic)
  • behavioral priming and subliminal stimuli (effects on later behavior)
  • incremental theory – “The Dark Side of Malleability”
  • creative flow as a unique cognitive process
  • Eastern philosophies and psychology – a psychology of self-cultivation
  • neuroscience of empathy – effects on the brain, including on neuroplasticity (discussed October 2017)
  • comparative effects of various meditative practices on the brain
  • comparative effects of various psychedelics on the brain
  • effects of childhood poverty on the brain
  • neurocognitive bases of racism

If I missed anything, please edit the list (I used HTML in the ‘Text’ view to get sub-bullets). If you’re worried about the formatting, you can email your edits to cogniphile@albuquirky.net and Mark will post your changes.