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Nor would this pose be viewed well in Arab cultures, which consider it an insult to show the bottoms of shoes.Backed by solid research in molecular biology and fueled by consumer interest, the role of the mind in bodily health is entering the arena of serious scientific consideration.
Despite the widely differing nature of these disorders, there is evidence that, in each case, neurodegeneration could be due to the toxic effects of cytokines released from inflammatory cells. Sparked by antigens or inflammatory stimuli, they can activate neuronal pathways that regulate the immune system.
And they can stimulate such characteristic stress responses as anxiety or the lethargy of "sickness behavior" that is associated with illness.
“By simply changing physical posture, an individual prepares his or her mental and physiological systems to endure difficult and stressful situations,” the paper concluded.
In another study that year in the same journal, people who assumed open body positions (the ankle of one leg resting on the thigh of the other leg, and an arm resting on the back of a chair) were more likely to take action (pick a card) during a blackjack game and reported a higher sense of power than those in constricted positions (legs together, shoulders dropped, hands under thighs).
"I think there's always been a split between clinical medicine or the art of medicine, which doesn't necessarily require knowing how a system works, and the science of medicine, which does require knowing how it works," adds Sternberg.
"But understanding more about one or the other side shouldn't be mutually exclusive.
Evidence of communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system at the molecular level is gaining acceptance in the research community, as work with animal models continues to explore how these pathways function.
A next step is to determine if an individual's state of mind or emotions alter this network to affect human health.
"Within the last few years, there's been a great deal more acceptance and coming together of both sides," she believes.
"As more and more research shows the molecular and neuroanatomical connections that modify, exacerbate, or correct diseases, the field has become more and more credible, particularly among neurobiologists and immunologists." She thinks endocrinologists have been relatively easy to convince, because hormonal factors have always been "real" to them.