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Drug war violence in Mexico connected with desensitization in social media Amid times of crisis, citizens often turn to social media as a method to share information, make observations and vent. But as a professor's research into social media use amid the Mexican drug war shows, posts can reveal growing numbness, or desensitization, during times of protracted violence and stress.
Off with your glasses: Visual crowding linked to retina, brain processing Middle-aged adults who suddenly need reading glasses, patients with traumatic brain injuries, and people with visual disorders such as "lazy eye" may have one thing in common -- "visual crowding," an inability to recognize individual items surrounded by multiple objects. Visual crowding makes it impossible to read, as single letters within words are rendered illegible. And basic cognitive functions such as facial recognition can also be significantly hampered. New evidence has been found that correlates visual crowding in a small part of the retina to the brain's processing speed. These findings could greatly alter earlier models of visual crowding, and for many adults lost without reading glasses, this could improve vision significantly.
New evidence confirms link between IQ, brain cortex Rate of change in the thickness of the brain's cortex is an important factor associated with a person's change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries. The cortex is the thin, outermost layer of nerve cell tissue of the brain, typically measuring a few millimeters in thickness. The cortex contains nerve cell bodies and is critical for cognitive functions such as perception, language, memory and consciousness. The cortex begins to thin after the age of five or six as part of the normal aging process. This study is the first to show the association between cortical thickness and development in full scale IQ, and has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant's IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.
Anger may be bad for us – but on the other hand it has its uses | David Webster News that anger makes you five time more likely to have a heart attack may be a worry, but without it we lose our political instinctIn the misanthropic fug of early morning, I woke to the radio reporting news that getting angry makes people five times more likely to have a heart attack in the following two hours.Great. Just what I needed to hear. Not only am I subject to endless media provocation to be angry about immigration, corruption, dredging, etc, but that this very anger is putting my life at risk.Of course, this dovetails with a persistent contemporary narrative in which one fears to open a Sunday newspaper magazine without someone banging on about mindfulness and its panacea status. In a country beset by road rage, idiots drunk on their own bile on Twitter, a tabloid media addicted to an outrage-cycle news agenda, and where many of us can't bear to watch Question Time for fear of our own anger (it can't just be me) – surely we need all the calm we can get.Not only the contemporary advocates of mindfulness, but also the meditative traditions of Buddhism are right in that anger is not as involuntary as it can feel: we can take steps that over time chip away at the mental conditions that lead to the arising of anger within our consciousness.If you've got so much rage that it's killing you, and it's futile, impotent fury where you just scream at the television/cat/wall, then some mindfulness might not be that bad an idea. It seems that today's evidence adds to the notion, which we might all share, that there is an awful lot of "being angry" going on, and a fair portion of it is bad for us medically as well as socially.However, we need to be wary here. Anger is in danger of being demonised, and that's troubling. Outrage seems an entirely appropriate response to injustice and the needless infliction of pain and suffering on sentient beings.As the middle-aged among us descend into a yearning for tranquillity, followed by a sit-down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, we need younger generations to emerge angry and shocked at the world we've left them. In a context where young people could sit in endless refresh-cycles on social media, we need them to be shocked into action.And for those of us resisting a connection between ageing and lack of interest, anger can be the fire that keeps us alight. If we see hard-won rights or social progress under threat, our indignation is what keeps us engaged, active and concerned: it is what keeps us political.Our wariness also needs to extend to just how keen on pacification (I mean "calming") of the masses the corporate world is. Concerns about McMindfulness (and meditation's wrenching from its ethical context) have animated many with a serious interest in meditation.The Wisdom 2.0 conference recently in San Francisco saw protesters interrupt the Google talk on corporate mindfulness. But these are exceptions. The genuine health concerns need to be balanced with an avoidance of coming to see anger, upset and overt concern as psychological failings. The postmodern, corporate-friendly suspicion of grand political narratives is already keen enough to paint the campaigner, the activist full of passion, as an oddball.Perhaps what we need here is some subtlety. We need to avoid the blunt and clumsy condemnation of outrage, recognising its value as a seed of social change, while seeing the futility of pointless shouting at pedestrians from our cars. Perhaps, taking a slight lead from the complex psychological typologies of many forms of Buddhist thought, we don't need to prevent our rage but improve the quality of our outrage. Not less anger: better anger.MeditationPsychologyMedical researchDavid Webstertheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Muscle-controlling neurons know when they mess up, according to research Whether it is playing a piano sonata or acing a tennis serve, the brain needs to orchestrate precise, coordinated control over the body's many muscles. Moreover, there needs to be some kind of feedback from the senses should any of those movements go wrong. A team of researchers has now begun to unravel the decades-spanning paradox concerning how this feedback system works.
Motion-sensing cells in eye let brain 'know' about directional changes How do we "know" from the movements of speeding car in our field of view if it's coming straight toward us or more likely to move to the right or left? In a detailed study of the neurons linking the eyes and brains of mice, biologists discovered that the ability of our brains and those of other mammals to figure out and process in our brains directional movements is a result of the activation in the cortex of signals that originate from the direction-sensing cells in the retina of our eyes.
Could New Thinking About Relationships Help Yours? A new theory of long-term committed relationships proposes that the ability to seek self-expression predicts the greatest chances of its success. The process of achieving self-expression may make the stakes higher, but the potential rewards much more satisfying in the long term.read more
Cigarette smoking may cause physical changes in brains of young smokers, study shows Young adult smokers may experience changes in the structures of their brains due to cigarette smoking, even with a relatively short smoking history, a study of adolescents suggests. It also suggests that smoking during this critical time period and the neurobiological changes that result may explain why adults who begin smoking at a young age stay hooked on cigarettes. By measuring cortical thickness of the insula in both groups, the researchers found that the amount of "pack-years" -- the time of cigarette exposure -- was negatively related to the thickness in the right side of the insula. That is, the more someone smoked, the thinner that part of the insula. The relationship also held true for the participants' level of dependence on cigarettes and the urge to smoke.
Protein identified linked to most common movement disorder, essential tremor A team of researchers identified unusually high levels of a certain protein in the brains of people suffering from essential tremor, a movement disorder that affects 4 percent of the adult population. The discovery could lead to an effective treatment for this neurological condition, which is 10 times more prevalent than Parkinson's disease.
Doggy agility: are emotions thwarting performance? With Crufts fast approaching, and canine agility in the spotlight, researchers ask if right and left-sided brain function and stimuli affect canine performance. There is a long established and debated human right brain/left brain theory: does lateralization of brain function affect dogs too? Their study reveals fascinating insights into workings of the canine brain.
Stuck in a Rut? 5 Mind-Changing Strategies to Get You Out Is it just the winter doldrums or have you realized that you're going nowhere fast? Are you desperate to change up your life but don't have a clue where to start? This is what you can do to get yourself unstuck.read more
Short Yoga Session Stimulates Brain Function Immediately Afterwards 20 minutes of yoga out-performed moderate to vigorous exercise in stimulating brain function.A single 20-minute session of yoga sharpens the mind more than a comparable amount of walking or jogging, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study recruited 30 participants who were either.... Continue reading - - > → Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Angry outbursts may raise risk of stroke and heart attack Study finds people who experience severe anger outbursts are more at risk for cardiovascular events in the two hours following the outbursts compared to those who remain calm.
A good sex life can help older couples cope with illness and other difficulties Study finds sexual intimacy can make older couples feel positive even while facing problems.
Suicidal tendencies are evident before deployment Researchers report that most of the Army's enlisted men and women with suicidal tendencies had them before they enlisted.
Blasts may cause brain injury even without symptoms: Veteran study Veterans exposed to explosions who do not report symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) may still have damage to the brain's white matter comparable to veterans with TBI, according to researchers. Veterans of recent military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan often have a history of exposure to explosive forces from bombs, grenades and other devices, although relatively little is known about whether this injures the brain. However, evidence is building – particularly among professional athletes – that subconcussive events have an effect on the brain.
The 8 Hour Sleeping Myth Yet, the assumption that an 8-hour continuous block of sleep as the ideal or norm may be a myth. read more
Can You Tell When You're Fooling Yourself? A reply to a reader's inquiry about self-deceptionread more
How Can We Know Whether We Are Deceiving Ourselves? Last week, I received a question from one of the readers of this blog. read more
Origins of Language: Neanderthals May Have Been Able to Talk New micro x-ray imaging study suggests Neanderthals had vocal apparatus for speech.→ Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"