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Cognitive Science of Acupuncture & Qi (1) BBC 'Science of Acupuncture'

When it comes to conduct my research on mechanism of intution and thought process of acupuncture doctors (or masters of acupuncture), there is an inescapable topic: 'What is Qi (some people pronounce 'Chi')?'

Pscyhologists, brain-neuroscientists, information technologists, and researchers in any other fields cannot answer this simple question: 'What is mind?' Moreover, they don't have any idea about the concept of Qi. The reason is they cannot prove the exsistence of Qi scientifically. Therefore, they often neglect the story of Qi or regards it as a relgion or cult.

As a matter of fact, well-experienced acupuncture doctors can feel Qi while they are treating their patients. They can find out right acupuncture points (so-called 'acupoints') and insert the needles into them. People all over the world including myself accept the fact that acupuncture really works and cures many diseases.

This time, I introduce a BBC documentary programme, 'Science of Acuouncture'. I was eager to learn about how people outside Japan recognize acupuncture. Then, I found out this programme via YouTube.

The anchor of this programme is Prof. Kathy Sykes, OBE, of Bristol University. She stayed in China to observe treatment and experience acupuncture herself.

During her stay in China, she was astonished several times. When she visited a hospital in Shanghai, a 21-year-old female factory worker was about to go under the knife. She had a cardiovascular problem. Instead of the anesthesia, a doctor inserted needles into her wrist. Although the patient was still conscious, surgical treatment was going on. However, she never feel any pain.

Much more surprisingly, she could recover after surgery much earlier than surgery with typical anesthesia. In fact, she could leave the hosptical two days after surgery. Sykes observed this process from the beginning to the end.

After back to the UK, Sykes realised the fact that the essence of acupuncture is to control Qi. To verify this fact, she and her colleagues made their plan to conduct a scientific experiment.

The experiment was that they examined the effect of acupucnture with MRI. A research participant receive the acupuncture treatment. Then, the researcher scanned the body to observe how Qi flew throughout the body. Their expectation was betrayed. They could just learn about the fact that some parts of the participant's brain was stimulated (or activated). However, it didn't mean they could see the flow of Qi thoughout the body.

After all, Sykes and her peers could not find out the answer of the question, 'What is Qi?'.

Modern scientists still cannot answer this question. It's a simplistic answer you deny everything about acupuncture just because we cannot prove how acupuncture works scientifically.

However, in my point of view as a cogntive psychologist, 'How can the acupuncture doctor make sense of invisible and subtle abnormalities of the patient and treat diseases with a single needle' is a big research topic and worth trying.

I'm also considering how I can contribute to the patients with difficult diseases even western medicine cannot cure through my cognitive training progarmme for acupuncture doctors. If I successfully develop the programme, they can improve their skills in much shorter period.

Indeed, the following questions, 'What is Qi?' 'How much do experienced acupucnture doctors work their intuition to make sense of their patients' abnormalities?' and 'How can less experienced acupuncture doctors improve their skills much faster through the training programme?', are intriguing topics for me.

Watch this BBC programme if you have your time. The length of the programme is 57:57.

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