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What Causes Fear (and What to Do About It) I had an epiphany this morning. In fact, it is for just such mornings as these that I don’t mind being my own lab rat, studying my emotions, my choices, my habits and preferences, as if the survival of the human race (or at least one sole representative sample of...
This is your brain on meditation: Brain processes more thoughts, feelings during meditation, study shows Meditation is more than just a way to calm our thoughts and lower stress levels: our brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing, a coalition of researchers has found. "The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation," says a co-author of the study.
Studying behavior using light to control neurons Some of the neurons responsible for behavioral decisions in rats have been identified in a new study. Using a technique that employs light to control nerve cell activity, researchers inactivated a region of the brain and showed that it caused the rats to behave more flexibly while trying to get a reward. The technique, called optogenetics, allows researchers to “show that the firing or inhibition of certain neurons has a causative relationship with a given behavior, whereas previous methods only allowed us to correlate neuronal activity with behavior,” says one researcher.
Uniqueness is Beyond Comparison In my work with perfectionists I often ask: “Are you unique?”  Clients typically nod: “Yes.” And then I say: “To be unique is to be one of a kind, right?  Right.  If you are one of a kind, then no one is like.  Right?  Right.  If so, then what is the...
Primates and patience — the evolutionary roots of self control A chimpanzee will wait more than two minutes to eat six grapes, but a black lemur would rather eat two grapes now than wait any longer than 15 seconds for a bigger serving. It’s an echo of the dilemma human beings face with a long line at a posh restaurant. How long are they willing
Medications can help adults with alcohol use disorders reduce drinking Several medications can help people with alcohol use disorders maintain abstinence or reduce drinking, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The work, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), provides additional options for clinicians to effectively
Only a Fool Pursues Happiness While I’m sure our Founding Fathers were well-intentioned, the “pursuit of happiness” is not really something one should consciously work toward. “How can I be happier?” is a question I often get. But people who ask this are really pursuing the wrong thing. You can’t “catch” happiness like some sort...
Unsure memories of murder The BBC News site has a special multimedia feature on a case of false confession to murder that has been been troubling Iceland from the 1970s and has recently erupted again. The Beeb have clearly gone a bit ‘Scandinavian detective drama’ on the whole thing but it is a gripping story, not least because it […]
How Do External Rewards Impact Your Behavior? When you want to get someone to do something, such as getting your kids to do their homework, what is the best way to motivate them? Many people might start by offering some type of reward like a special treat or toy. This is a great example of what is known in psychology as extrinsic motivation, since the behavior is motivated by a desire to gain an external reward. Unlike intrinsic motivation, which arises from within the individual, extrinsic motivation is focused purely on outside rewards....Read Full Post
Your Life as an Experiment (and the tools you   So you decided to change your life for the better. You have resolved to become more positive, more connected, or more resilient, perhaps to become healthier or to have a stronger sense of meaning and purpose.  Motivated and determined to transform your life, you start to read and to...
Sense of Obligations Lead to Trusting Strangers, Study Says Guilt may be a contributing factor
Be 10% Kinder British author Aldous Huxley, most famous for his book Brave New World, spent his life digging into the world’s problems and through that experience inevitably became quite a spiritual man. I guess it rings of Rumi’s quote, “Don’t turn your gaze. Look toward the bandaged place, that’s where the light...
What is Complicated Grief?  In order to understand what complicated grief is, it is important to understand what “normal grief” is and the four tasks a grieving person should address in order to adapt to the loss. According to a book published by Worden in 2009, the four tasks a grieving person should address...
Possible new plan of attack for opening and closing the blood-brain barrier Like a bouncer at an exclusive nightclub, the blood-brain barrier allows only select molecules to pass from the bloodstream into the fluid that bathes the brain. Vital nutrients get in; toxins and pathogens are blocked. The barrier also ensures that waste products are filtered out of the brain and whisked away. The blood-brain barrier helps
‘Smart drugs’ pose special risks to the developing brain of young people Over a million American students misuse prescription drugs or take illegal stimulants to increase their attention span, memory, and capacity to stay awake. Such “smart drugs” become more and more popular due to peer pressure, stricter academic requirements, and the tight job market. But young people who misuse them risk long-term impairments to brain function,
Study examines effectiveness of medications to treat alcohol use disorders An analysis of more than 120 studies that examined the effectiveness of medications to treat alcohol use disorders reports that acamprosate and oral naltrexone show the strongest evidence for decreasing alcohol consumption, according to a study in the May 14 issue of JAMA. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are common, cause substantial illness, and result in 3-fold
People with mental health conditions more likely to use e-cigarettes Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that people living with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are twice as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and three times as likely to be current users of the controversial battery-powered nicotine-delivery devices, as people without mental health disorders. They are also more
Researchers identify genetic marker linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder A group of researchers led by Johns Hopkins scientists say they have identified a genetic marker that may be associated with the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), whose causes and mechanisms are among the least understood among mental illnesses. The results of the research are published online May 13 by the journal Molecular Psychiatry. “If this
Human learning altered by electrical stimulation of dopamine neurons Stimulation of a certain population of neurons within the brain can alter the learning process, according to a team of neuroscientists and neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania. A report in the Journal of Neuroscience describes for the first time that human learning can be modified by stimulation of dopamine-containing neurons in a deep brain structure known
#95 Finding Yourself   Mohammed Buqurais via Compfight When our youngest son David also decided to perform missionary service for our church, the transition again was difficult, but I had been through it and knew somehow I would survive. We took him to the airport, one week before 9-11. The tears flowed for...