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Entries in TED Talks (2)


Placebo research by Ted Kaptchuk

Very exciting research this past year by Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk, author of a primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine called The Web That Has No Weaver. He has identified the Placebo Spot in the brain--a region of the frontal lobe--and mapped genetic variations in neurotransmitter pathways that affect individuals' responsiveness to placebos--a system referred to as the placebome. Placebo is a complex neuro response by an individual, involving one's dopamine and/or opioid reward centers, to a caretaker's loving attention. It seems that some people are genetically predisposed to be responsive to loving attention, causing a healing cascade due to changes in neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and opioids. This calls into question decades of research that pulled small sample sizes, perhaps flawed by genetic bias as it is unknown what percentage of the population is prone to placebo effect. While we have always known that placebo works (much to the disappointment of the western medical establishment), its mechanisms have been shrouded in mystery.

Here's a TED Talk that Kaptchuk did on Placebo in 2014.


Egregious Deficit in American Culture

I have become aware that even people with whom I associate regularly are glaringly unaware of some basics of American culture--TED Talks and carrot-ginger soup. 

I urge you to check out TED--he's become my late-night companion for intellectual stimulation.  In his own words he's:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year's TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

TED has compiled the presentations from the conferences on his website.  These talks are about 20 minutes in length (some are only five) by people who are on the cutting edge of their fields and most of them are fascinating. 

As to the problem with the carrot-ginger soup, I have two solutions. First is to get it at MayDay Cafe.   However they make it seldom so you really need to go every afternoon until you happen to be there on a day they make it.  Second, you can try making it yourself (doesn't seem to come out as well, I find).  Here is a recipe. For any of the recipes you find, I suggest quadrupling the ginger--it never seems potent enough.