|Causal link found between vitamin D, serotonin synthesis and autism in new study
||Serotonin and vitamin D have been proposed to play a role in autism, however, no causal mechanism has been established. Now, researchers show that serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior related to autism, are all activated by vitamin D hormone. Supplementation with vitamin D and tryptophan would be a practical and affordable solution to help prevent autism and possibly ameliorate some symptoms of the disorder.
|Understanding Narcissistic Rage
||In order to define narcissistic rage, we must first determine narcissistic injury. A perceived threat to the self esteem of a narcissist is categorized as an episode of narcissistic injury. When symptoms of anger or irritation are expressed in response to a narcissistic injury, it results in narcissistic rage. But what makes someone a narcissist […]
|Exercise, surgically removing belly fat improves cognition in obese, diabetic mice
||Cognitive decline that often accompanies obesity and diabetes can be reversed with regular exercise or surgical removal of belly fat, scientists report. A drug already used to treat rheumatoid arthritis also helps obese/diabetic adult mice regain their ability to learn and comprehend, while transplanting belly fat to a normal mouse reduces those abilities. Studies in humans and animals indicate that obesity and diabetes -- which often go hand in hand -- essentially triple the risk of mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer's.
|How New Ideas Change Your Brain Cells
||Our ability to remember and learn is powered by a crucial molecular change.A new study has identified an important molecular change which takes place in the brain when we learn and remember...
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â†’ Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
|Why it's Okay to Take Things for Granted (Sometimes)
||Taking life for granted once in awhile isn't necessarily something we should feel bad about. It may even be essential to our mental health.read more
|The Little-Known Secret to Longer Life
||I was very surprised when I discovered that putting away your camera is one of the secrets to health, happiness, and well-being.read more
|Integrated Health Care Requires Unified Code of Ethics
||APA executive calls for transdisciplinary professionalism statement
|Brain cell activity regulates Alzheimer's protein
||Increased brain cell activity boosts brain fluid levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. Tau protein is the main component of neurofibrillary tangles, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. It has been linked to other neurodegenerative disorders, including frontotemporal dementia, supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration. The regular patterns of tau spread through brain networks have led scientists to speculate that dysfunctional tau travels to different brain regions via synapses -- the areas where individual nerve cells communicate with each other.
|Brainstem discovered as important relay site after stroke
||After a stroke, sufferers are often faced with the problem of severe movement impairment. Researchers have now discovered that the brainstem could play a major role in the recovery of motor functions. The projection of neurons from this ancient part of the brain into the spinal cord leads to the neural impulses needed for motion being rerouted. The brain does have a "considerable capacity for regeneration" explains the lead author.
|Increasing brain acidity may reduce anxiety
||Increasing acidity in the brain's emotional control center reduces anxiety, according to an animal study. Anxiety disorders, which are characterized by an inability to control feelings of fear and uncertainty, are the most prevalent group of psychiatric diseases. At the cellular level, these disorders are associated with heightened activity in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), which is known to play a central role in emotional behavior. Many cells in the BLA possess acid-sensing ion channels called ASIC1a, which respond to pH changes in the environment outside of the cell. Researchers have found that activating ASIC1a decreased the activity of nearby cells and reduced anxiety-like behavior in animals
|Problem Children, Problem Parents
||Parenthood in our society is more an idea of how to "raise kids." There are problem children, but not problem parents. Yet the truth and reality of the matter is, parenthood needs to be more the growth and development of parents.
|Music as therapeutic intervention can relieve anxiety, depression in older people
||Using music and singing in health care can improve quality of life for older people by easing pain, anxiety and depression. A literature review of articles related to anxiety and the use of music as a therapy for people over the age of 65 found it has a positive influence on wellbeing by providing enjoyment, social interaction, improved memory and social inclusion.
|Chivalry makes men nervous: the subtle art of male-on-male emasculation
||Holding the door open for another man is a gesture he might not thank you for, according to researchers at an Indiana university. So which other acts of kindness should men take care to avoid?You'd never guess to look at us, of course, but men are sensitive. When researchers at Purdue University, Indiana, asked a man to open a door for a random sample of men and women, they found that the men who'd had the door opened for them reported lower confidence and self-esteem. The women, being presumably not so touchy about these things, were unaffected.Bearing this in mind, there are several other acts of loaded kindness that men should take care not to inflict on one another. Or, if you want to emasculate somebody, here's the manual.Buy him drinksAn old favourite, exploiting two things all right-thinking men would like to be: wealthy and heavy drinkers. Begin by buying the first round, then make sure you finish your drink well before he does. Let him stew for a minute staring at your empty glass, then, perhaps under cover of a trip to the toilet, buy the next round also. Now he is both a lightweight and a scrounger, with two drinks in front of him – the pub equivalent of being lapped. (Note: in doing this, do not become so drunk you begin crying.)Call him "my friend"This phrase came into the language, I suspect, from foreigners translating their own perfectly neutral terms, such as amigo. In English, however, it is loaded. While "mate" can be used freely on both sides of a conversation, when someone says "my friend" to you, you can't call them "my friend" back without making it sound like you want a duel. (That "my", expressing ownership, is perhaps at the heart of this.) In Scotland, "pal", "big man" or Gordon Ramsay's "big boy" have a similar function. Or that may just be the accent.Admire his thingsWomen, men gather, like compliments. True men on the other hand choose their cars, phones, power tools, caulk etc on functional qualities alone. Try telling your victim, therefore, that his workbench has "a lovely patina". Or ask whether he spent all weekend hunting for a length of coaxial cable with that high-gloss finish? He'll scoff and deny it, of course, at which you need only shrug. The important thing is that you've told him he's the kind of guy who might.Lend him a novelThere's always been something suspect about novels. It is hard to refuse a kind gesture without looking paranoid, however, so approach your victim, press a novel into his hand and tell him you think he'd like it. Make it something really good by a female author. Doris Lessing, perhaps, or Virginia Woolf. He won't read it, but thenceforth if he ever needs taking down a peg just ask him publicly: "How are you getting on with The Golden Notebook?" Or: "What do you make of Mrs Dalloway so far?"Do the extra touch when you shake handsYou know the touch I mean. You approach and grasp hands in the usual way – painfully hard – but in the same moment you take another half-step forwards and cup his forearm with your other palm. In some contexts, such as him visiting your new home after a long separation, this can be a warm, hostly gesture. In other contexts it says the same thing not so warmly: "This territory is mine."PsychologyGenderLeo Benedictustheguardian.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
|Why almost winning is just as good for some gamblers
||A new study has pinpointed the changes in the brain that lead gamblers to react in the same way to near-misses as they do to winning. The research shows that near-misses are underpinned by increases in the brain's electrical activity, particularly in the theta frequency range -- known to be involved in processing win and loss outcomes. They found that these increases in theta are linked to both how severe someone's gambling history is and how susceptible they might be to developing a future gambling problem.
|Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?
||Philosophers, researchers, spiritual leaders—they’ve all debated what makes life worth living. Is it a life filled with happiness or a life filled with purpose and meaning? Is there even a difference between the two?
Think of the human rights activist who fights oppression but ends up in prison—is she happy? Or the social animal who spends his nights (and some days) jumping from party to party—is that the good life?
These aren’t just academic questions. They can help us determine where we should invest our energy to lead the life we want.
Recently some researchers have explored these questions in depth, trying to tease apart the differences between a meaningful life and a happy one. Their research suggests there’s more to life than happiness—and even calls into question some previous findings from the field of positive psychology, earning it both a fair amount of press coverage and criticism.
The controversy surrounding it raises big questions about what happiness actually means: While there may be more to life than happiness, there may also be more to “happiness” than pleasure alone.
Five differences between a happy life and a meaningful one
“A happy life and a meaningful life have some differences,” says Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He bases that claim on a paper he published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford.
Baumeister and his colleagues surveyed 397 adults, looking for correlations between their levels of happiness, meaning, and various other aspects of their lives: their behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, work lives, creative pursuits, and more.
They found that a meaningful life and a happy life often go hand-in-hand—but not always. And they were curious to learn more about the differences between the two. Their statistical analysis tried to separate out what brought meaning to one’s life but not happiness, and what brought happiness but not meaning.
Their findings suggest that meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one.
Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth, and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning.
Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them. In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer.
Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others—for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness.
Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.
Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.
One of the more surprising findings from the study was that giving to others was associated with meaning, rather than happiness, while taking from others was related to happiness and not meaning. Though many researchers have found a connection between giving and happiness, Baumeister argues that this connection is due to how one assigns meaning to the act of giving.
“If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.”
Baumeister’s study raises some provocative questions about research in positive psychology that links kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—activity to happiness and well-being. Yet his research has also touched off a debate about what psychologists—and the rest of us—really mean when we talk about happiness.
What is happiness, anyway?
Researchers, just like other people, have disagreed about the definition of “happiness” and how to measure it.
Some have equated happiness with transient emotional states or even spikes of activity in pleasure centers of the brain, while others have asked people to assess their overall happiness or life satisfaction. Some researchers, like Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, have tried to group together these aspects of happiness under the term “subjective well-being,” which encompasses assessments of positive and negative emotions as well as overall life satisfaction. These differences in definitions of happiness have sometimes led to confusing—or even contradictory—findings.
For instance, in Baumeister’s study, familial relationships—like parenting—tended to be tied to meaning more than happiness. Support for this finding comes from researchers like Robin Simon of Wake Forest University, who looked at happiness levels among 1,400 adults and found that parents generally reported less positive emotion and more negative emotions than people without kids. She concluded that, while parents may report more purpose and meaning than nonparents, they are generally less happy than their childless peers.
This conclusion irks happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, who takes issue with studies that “try too hard to rule out everything related to happiness” from their analysis but still draw conclusions about happiness.
“Imagine everything that you think would be great about parenting, or about being a parent,” says Lyubomirsky. “If you control for that—if you take it out of the equation—then of course parents are going to look a lot less happy.”
In a recent study, she and her colleagues measured happiness levels and meaning in parents, both in a “global” way—having them assess their overall happiness and life satisfaction—and while engaged in their daily activities. Results showed that, in general, parents were happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-parents, and parents found both pleasure and meaning in childcare activities, even in the very moments when they were engaged in those activities.
“Being a parent leads to all of these good things: It gives you meaning in life, it gives you goals to pursue, it can make you feel more connected in your relationships,” says Lyubomirsky. “You can’t really talk about happiness without including all of them.”
Lyubomirsky feels that researchers who try to separate meaning and happiness may be on the wrong track, because meaning and happiness are inseparably intertwined.
“When you feel happy, and you take out the meaning part of happiness, it’s not really happiness,” she says.
Yet this is basically how Baumeister and his colleagues defined happiness for the purpose of their study. So although the study referred to “happiness,” says Lyubomirsky, perhaps it was actually looking at something more like “hedonic pleasure”—the part of happiness that involves feeling good without the part that involves deeper life satisfaction.
Is there happiness without pleasure?
But is it ever helpful to separate out meaning from pleasure?
Some researchers have taken to doing that by looking at what they call “eudaimonic happiness,” or the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness”—the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment.
A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure.
Similarly, a 2008
|Flow States and Creativity
||Creativity has become the most important skill to have in the 21st century"”but we still don't know how to train people up on it. Until now...read more
|America: Happiest and Saddest States
||Data from over 178,000 Americans in 2013 reveals the happiest and saddest states in the US.Most adults can't remember much, if anything, from before the age of three.
It's what Sigmund Freud first termed "˜childhood amnesia'.
Continue reading - - >
â†’ Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
|The 'science of dating' and why it should make you angry | Girl on the Net
||Girl on the Net: Relationship advice seems to get a free pass from criticism when it comes to using dubious or pseudoscientific arguments or claimsGirl on the Net
|Internet trolls are also real-life trolls | Jordan Gaines Lewis
||Jordan Gaines Lewis: Why do some people find so much pleasure in harassing others online? A
new study attempts to shed light on the behaviour of Internet trollsJordan Gaines Lewis
|White matter disease exacts heavy toll, increasing risk of stroke, Alzheimer's, dementia
||More evidence has been accumulated that damage to cognitive areas is widespread from white matter disease. White matter disease is responsible for about a fifth of all strokes worldwide, more than doubles the future risk of stroke, and is a contributing factor in up to 45% of dementias. Unlike Alzheimer's disease, which shrinks the hippocampus causing progressive memory loss, white matter disease is a more diffuse mind-robbing condition that targets small blood vessels deep within the brain's white matter. The disease hardens the tiny arteries, gradually restricting nutrients to white matter -- the connections between brain regions involved in executive abilities such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, and attention.