Leaky gates, anxiety, and grocery store trips without buying list items

An interview with Jeff Link, the editor of Dr. Arthur Janov’s 2011 book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” with Ken Rose:

Even further confirmation for some of the views of Janov, that maybe weren’t widely accepted for a time, it’s new research now being done into memory and what a lot of scientist are seeing, a lot of different studies is that memory reactivates the same neuroimpulses that were initially firing off when the event happened.

So a traumatic event when you remember it, the act of remembering it is actually creating a neuromirror of what went on initially.

In a lot of ways that is what Primal Therapy is attempting to do; is to go back to that place and reconnect, or as it’s sometimes referred to, reconsolidate the brain state so that real healing can take place.

Transcript (part 4 of 6): http://cigognenews.blogspot.com/2015/09/ken-rose-on-life-before-birth-part-46.html

MP3: http://www.pantedmonkey.org/podcastgen/download.php?filename=2011-12-15_1300_what_now_jeff_link.mp3

A mixed bag of findings about oxytocin, its receptor, and autism

This 2014 Stanford human study found:

“No empirical support for the OXT [oxytocin] deficit hypothesis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], nor did plasma OXT concentrations differ by sex, OXTR [oxytocin receptor] SNPs [single nucleotide polymorphisms], or their interactions.”

Apparently, there was a:

“Prevalent but not well-interrogated OXT deficit hypothesis of ASD.”

The researchers followed up this worthwhile finding with three weak findings. The first, as stated by one of the study’s lead researchers, was:

“It didn’t matter if you were a typically developing child, a sibling or an individual with autism: Your social ability was related to a certain extent to your oxytocin levels.”

The second weak finding was that, regarding OXTR SNPs:

“The minor allele of rs2254298 predicted global social impairments on the SRS [Social Responsiveness Scale] and diagnostic severity on the ADI-R [Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised]. In contrast, the major allele of rs53576 predicted impaired affect recognition performance on the NEPSY [A Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment].”

This was at odds with other relevant research, leading the researchers to state:

The functional significance of these two intronic variants remains unknown.”

The third weak finding irked me:

“Plasma OXT concentrations were highly heritable.”

because the researchers didn’t attempt to differentiate the contribution of the environment for the observed blood oxytocin levels, as did the similar How epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene affects the perception of anger and fear study.

I wonder what the reviewer’s feedback was about these weak findings. Did he make the researchers insert specific language into the lengthy paragraph about the study’s limitations, or did he give them a pass?

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/33/12258.full “Plasma oxytocin concentrations and OXTR polymorphisms predict social impairments in children with and without autism spectrum disorder”

A missed opportunity to research the oxytocin receptor gene and autism

This 2013 study:

“Examined whether genetic variants of the OXTR [oxytocin receptor] affect face recognition memory in families with an autistic child.

We investigated whether common polymorphisms in the genes encoding the oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptors influence social memory for faces.”

I feel that the researchers missed an opportunity to improve their assessment of the autism-related genetic contribution to the study’s findings by separating the degree of environmental influence on the oxytocin receptor gene expression, as did the How epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene affects the perception of anger and fear study.

An assessment of epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene may have been even more compelling because the researchers genetically sampled one non-autistic sibling in each of the autistic children’s families. I hope the study’s samples are still available, because they may offer the possibility of evaluating the contribution of the autistic children’s historical environment with potential confirmation from their siblings.

Both studies gave their subjects similar facial emotion recognition tests, with the current one deriving from findings about autism, and the second from findings about the amygdala. The studies also had common references, such as a 2010 study, A common allele in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) impacts prosocial temperament and human hypothalamic-limbic structure and function.

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/5/1987.full “Common polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with human social recognition skills”

Epigenetic DNA methylation and demethylation with the developing fetus

This extremely dense and informative 2014 UK summary study provided details about genomic imprinting:

“An unusual epigenetic process in that it is heritable and results in autosomal gene expression according to parent of origin.”

Several notes of interest:

  • Figure 3 had a fascinating sketch of how the fetus caused the mother’s hypothalamus to:

    “Determine forward maternal planning by directing/orchestrating maternal physiology and postnatal maternalism to synchronize with the development of the fetus.”

  • Figure 4 followed up with a flowchart of how – with a female fetus – the coexistence of three matrilineal generations in the pregnant female (her, the fetus, and the grandmother’s influence on the developing fetus’ ovarian oocytes) enabled intergenerational forward planning.
  • The study briefly noted the significance of genomic imprinting on male sexual behavior, where, if the processes didn’t proceed normally at this early stage of the male fetus’ development, could result in suboptimal adult behavior that didn’t change with experience.

F4.large

I’ll quote a few other unrelated passages that caught my eye.

“The reproductive success of mammals also places a considerable burden on matrilineal time and energy, with some 95% of mammalian female adult life committed to pregnancy, lactation, and maternal care.

Offspring that receive optimal nourishment and improved maternal care will be predisposed to develop a hypothalamus that is both genetically and epigenetically predisposed to this same type of good mothering.

The fetus controls its own destiny in times of acute starvation, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy, by short-term sacrifice of its placenta to preserve resources critical for brain development.”

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/22/6834.full “Genomic imprinting, action, and interaction of maternal and fetal genomes”


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Epigenetic DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene affected the perception of anger and fear

This 2015 Virginia human study:

“Reveals how epigenetic variability in the endogenous oxytocin system impacts brain systems supporting social cognition and is an important step to better characterize relationships between genes, brain, and behavior.”

The researchers did a lot of things right:

  • They studied a priori selected brain areas, followed by whole brain analyses;
  • Their subjects were carefully selected

    “Because methylation levels have been shown to differ as a function of race, we restricted our sample to Caucasians of European descent”

    but they didn’t restrict subjects to the same gender;

  • They acknowledged as a limitation:

    “A lack of behavioral evidence to reveal how these epigenetic and neural markers impact the overt social phenotype.”


One thing on which I disagree with the researchers is their assessment of what needs to be done next. Their news release stated:

“When imagining the future possibilities and implications this DNA methylation and oxytocin receptor research may have, the investigators think a blood test could be developed in order to predict how an individual may behave in social situations.”

Nice idea, but the next step should be to complete the research. The next step is to develop evidence for how the oxytocin receptor gene became methylated.

The subjects had a wide range of DNA methylation at the studied gene site – from 33% to 72% methylated!

Why?

At the same gene site:

“There was a significant effect of sex such that females have a higher level of methylation than males.”

Why?

Given these significant effects, why was there no research into likely causes?

Aren’t early periods in people’s lives the most likely times when the “Epigenetic modification of the oxytocin receptor gene” that “influences the perception of anger and fear in the human brain” takes place?

Wouldn’t findings from research on the subjects’ histories potentially help other people?

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3308.full “Epigenetic modification of the oxytocin receptor gene influences the perception of anger and fear in the human brain”

Oxytocin blocks alcohol intoxication symptoms

This joint 2015 Australian/German rodent study found that oxytocin bound to the brain receptors that cause loss of motor control with alcohol intoxication, and prevented rats from displaying these symptoms:

“While oxytocin might reduce your level of intoxication, it won’t actually change your blood alcohol level,” Dr Bowen said. “This is because the oxytocin is preventing the alcohol from accessing the sites in the brain that make you intoxicated, it is not causing the alcohol to leave your system any faster.”

Vasopressin didn’t have the same effect.

The level of alcohol used to produce this finding was roughly equivalent to a human drinking a bottle of wine over a few hours. Oxytocin didn’t prevent loss of motor control when the equivalent of a bottle of vodka was administered because the excess ethanol found its way into other brain receptors and put the rats to sleep.

The study showed oxytocin acting in its original functionalities such as water regulation rather than with its evolved social functions as described in How oxytocin and vasopressin were repurposed through evolution to serve social functions.

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/10/3104.full “Oxytocin prevents ethanol actions at δ subunit-containing GABA-A receptors and attenuates ethanol-induced motor impairment in rats”

Using expectations of oxytocin to induce positive placebo effects of touching

This 2013 Scandinavian study detailed which brain structures were involved when fooling oneself about actual sensations in favor of expected sensations.

It was hilarious how the researchers used studies of oxytocin to create expectations in the subjects:

“To induce expectation of intranasal oxytocin’s beneficial effects on painful and pleasant touch experience, participants viewed a 6-min locally developed video documentary about oxytocin’s putative prosocial effects such as involvement in bonding, love, grooming, affective touch, and healing. As all of the material was based on published research, there was no deception. The video concluded that a nasal spray of oxytocin might enhance the pleasantness of:

  • (i) stroking and
  • (ii) warm touch, and
  • (iii) reduce the unpleasantness of pain.”

Other items:

  • Only the placebo effects for the warm and pain-reducing touches were statistically significant, not the stroking touch;
  • The a priori brain areas monitored in the “sensory circuitry” included the thalamus and were all in the right brain hemisphere;
  • The a priori brain areas monitored in the “emotional appraisal circuitry” included the amygdala.

One way the researchers summarized the study was:

“Pain reduction dampened sensory processing in the brain, whereas increased touch pleasantness increased sensory processing.”

This finding demonstrated how the thalamus part of the limbic system actively controls and gates information to and from the cerebrum, similar to the Thalamus gating and control of the limbic system and cerebrum is a form of memory study.


There was a terminology problem in the study, evidenced by statements such as:

“We induced placebo improvement of both negative and positive feelings (painful and pleasant touch).”

Touch is a sensation, not a feeling or emotion. This placebo study created expectations of sensations in the subjects’ cerebrums, not expectations of emotions.

Also, including parts of the limbic system such as the amygdala in the “emotional appraisal circuitry” didn’t mean that the researchers studied feelings or emotions. We know from research summarized in the Conscious mental states should not be the first-choice explanation of behavior study that:

“Neither amygdala activity nor amygdala-controlled responses are telltale signatures of fearful feelings.

The current study cast additional light on the dubious Problematic research on human happiness study. Those researchers were fooled by a positive placebo effect!

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/44/17993.full “Placebo improves pleasure and pain through opposite modulation of sensory processing”

Hypothalamic oxytocin and vasopressin have sex-specific effects on pair bonding, gregariousness, and aggression

This 2014 bird study showed the complementary effects of neurochemicals vasopressin and oxytocin in the hypothalamus.

Oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamus promote pair bonding and gregariousness in females.

Vasopressin neurons in the hypothalamus promote maternal care, social recognition, and gregariousness in both males and females, and aggression in males toward females.

Vasopressin and oxytocin released generally and in other parts of the brain have different effects. For example:

“Central administration of oxytocin also attenuates stress-induced effects on the brain and reverses stress-induced social avoidance.”

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/16/6069.full “Hypothalamic oxytocin and vasopressin neurons exert sex-specific effects on pair bonding, gregariousness, and aggression in finches”

Do researchers have to be cruel to our fellow primates to adequately research oxytocin?

This 2014 primate study found:

“Oxytocin increased infants’ affiliative communicative gestures and decreased salivary cortisol, and higher oxytocin levels were associated with greater social interest.”

One would have to take an anti-evolutionist stance and believe that primates do not feel what humans feel to consider this process to NOT be cruel:

“To test these macaques, we took advantage of ongoing experiments requiring infants to be separated from their mother on the day of birth. Infants were nursery-reared, housed individually, with a cloth surrogate mother. They could see and hear other infants, but could not touch them.”

We know that primate infants, like humans, need nourishment, transportation, warmth, protection, and socialization from their mothers. What level of findings about oxytocin can a research study make that would justify this deprivation?

It surely wasn’t the findings this study made. We knew without doing the study that getting oxytocin from a nebulizer would be nowhere near an acceptable substitute for a mother’s touch and care.

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/19/6922.full “Inhaled oxytocin increases positive social behaviors in newborn macaques”

Problematic research on oxytocin: If the study design excludes women, its findings cannot include women

This 2014 study’s findings that “the hormone oxytocin promotes group-serving dishonesty” can’t apply generally to humans because its subjects were ALL men.

Regarding oxytocin, the researchers certainly knew or should have known previous studies’ findings about sex differences, as did Is oxytocin why more women than men like horror movies? which cited:

“Oxytocin modulates brain activity differently in male and female subjects.”

Regarding differing reciprocal behaviors, the researchers also knew or should have been better informed about associated brain areas through studies such as Reciprocity behaviors differ as to whether we seek cerebral vs. limbic system rewards and its references.

And how could the study produce reliable, replicable evidence of:

Dishonesty to be plastic and rooted in evolved neurobiological circuitries”

when the researchers performed NO measurements of “neurobiological circuitries” that supported that finding?

What was the agenda in play here? What did the female Princeton reviewer see in this study that advanced science?

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/15/5503.full “Oxytocin promotes group-serving dishonesty”


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