|Brain circuits multitask to detect, discriminate the outside world
||A new study found that neural circuits in the brain rapidly multitask between detecting and discriminating sensory input, such as headlights in the distance. That's different from how electronic circuits work, where one circuit performs a very specific task. The brain, the study found, is wired in way that allows a single pathway to perform multiple tasks.
|England's new psychologist will not help us score goals, says Roy Hodgson
||England coach Roy Hodgson says the team's new psychologist can help with mental preparation
|Alzheimer's toll may rank with cancer, heart disease
||A new study suggests Alzheimer's may be the third-leading U.S. cause of death.
|Ultra-high-field MRI may allow earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's disease
||Ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides detailed views of a brain area implicated in Parkinson's disease, possibly leading to earlier detection of a condition that affects millions worldwide. Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by shaking, stiffness, and impaired balance and coordination. With no radiologic techniques available to aid in diagnosis, clinicians have had to rely on medical history and neurological examination. It is often difficult to distinguish Parkinson's disease from other conditions using these methods alone.
|Memory: 10 Fascinating Quirks Everyone Should Know
||Why we remember and why we forget: it's context, fading emotions, deep processing, the 'Google effect', the reminiscence bump and way more...Many people say they have bad memories, but the majority are wrong.
The way memory works can be unexpected, frustrating, wonderful, and even quirky "” but not necessarily "˜bad'...
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"
|Wealthier people are more musical, report suggests
||Those living in richer postcodes had better melodic memory and beat perception, according to new analysis by researchers George Arnett
|Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids
||Research has shown that gratitude plays a major role in an adult’s well-being and success, but there has been little corresponding research addressing its development and enhancement in children’s lives.
In fact, until 2005, we know of no studies that examined gratitude and well-being in young children. Then, in 2006, psychologists Nansook Park and Christopher Peterson conducted an analysis of parents’ descriptions of their children’s strengths—and found that gratitude had the strongest relationship to life satisfaction.
In more recent years, two long-term studies have shown why gratitude may be particularly beneficial to youngsters.
One study linked gratitude to greater social support and protection from stress and depression over time. A second study, involving gift-giving in sororities, showed that beneficiaries (new pledges) were most grateful when they felt understood, valued, and cared for by a benefactor (veteran sisters), and that this predicted a sense of connection to each other and to the sorority overall.
These results suggest that gratitude not only helps people form, maintain, and strengthen supportive relationships, but it also helps people feel connected to a caring community.
Evidence from our own research suggests that grateful young adolescents (ages 11-13), compared to their less grateful counterparts, are happier and more optimistic, have better social support, are more satisfied with their school, family, community, friends, and themselves, and give more emotional support to others. We’ve also found that grateful teens (ages 14-19) are more satisfied with their lives, use their strengths to better their community, are more engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, have higher grades, and are less envious, depressed, and materialistic.
Knowing the benefits that practicing gratitude bestows on kids begs the question: How can we foster more gratitude in children? From our experience as researchers and as parents ourselves, we believe that gratitude is born of a loving connection and grows from a loving connection. When parents tune into an infant’s needs and curiosities and satisfy the infant patiently with love, they’re planting the seeds for gratitude to grow.
Our book, Making Grateful Kids, contains 32 concrete, scientifically-based strategies for encouraging gratitude in children—that is, appreciation for when somebody has done something kind or helpful for them or recognition of the good things and people they have in their lives. While each strategy is important in isolation, here are seven essential themes that underlie the strategies.
1. Model and teach gratitude
Our children want to be like us. We provide the blueprint for what to say and what to do and in what contexts. Expressing gratitude through words, writing, and small gifts or acts of reciprocity are all ways to teach children how to become grateful. Doing this will help make your appreciation for the goodness in your life more public, showing your kids that blessings abound and that being thankful is a valued attitude. Adults can promote gratitude directly in children by helping them appraise the benefits they receive from others—the personal value of those benefits, the altruistic intention of people providing them, and the cost to those people. This helps kids think gratefully.
2. Spend time with your kids and be mindful when with them
Another way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Believe it or not, children and, yes, even adolescents, like being with their parents. Giving a child a lot of quality time with you teaches them the language of love—life’s greatest gift. Savor every moment together, big and small, and rid yourself of distractions at such times, including your smartphone. Being mindful helps you maintain empathy toward a child, and this provides important modeling of empathy, the most important emotion for developing gratitude and moral behavior. It will also give you and your child a heightened sense of appreciation for the things both of you love and for your relationship.
3. Support your child’s autonomy
Using an authoritative or democratic parenting style, which is firm, yet flexible, sup- ports children’s autonomy. This will enhance family relationships, improve the atmosphere at home, and help bring out their strengths and talents, all good for making grateful kids. By taking ownership over their skills and talents and being responsible for developing them, children gain things to appreciate in life and make it easier to attract support from others, thus inviting gratitude into their daily life. Also, limiting children’s media consumption and guiding them to use media in prosocial ways protects them from commercial influences that discourage the development of the authenticity, self-development, and social interaction necessary to grow into positive, purposeful, grateful individuals.
4. Use kids’ strengths to fuel gratitude
After you’ve identified your children’s top strengths and you know their unique strengths profile, you should encourage and help them to use those strengths whenever possible. Not only does this open up opportunities for others to contribute to the things your children love, but it also enables your children to strengthen their ability to be helpful and cooperative toward others, which will make them more grateful. To directly promote gratitude, encourage and help your children to use their strengths to thank and be kind to others.
5. Help focus and support kids to achieve intrinsic goals
It’s very easy for people, especially youth, to pursue extrinsic—or materialistic—goals such as desiring or having possessions that show wealth, status, or convey a certain image. This usually leads to less fulfilling social relationships and forecloses prospects for developing deep connections with others and genuine gratitude. It’s our job to steer them away from pursuing extrinsic goals and toward pursuing intrinsic goals, such as engaging in activities that provide community, affiliation, and growth. Not only will successfully achieving these goals fulfill children’s fundamental human needs of competency, belongingness, and autonomy, but their personal development, happiness, success, and gratitude depend on it. To amplify their gratitude even more, remember to savor their accomplishments with them along the way, and encourage them to thank those who’ve helped them meet their goals.
6. Encourage helping others and nurturing relationships
Helping others and being generous are two key ingredients for making grateful kids. When children lend a hand, especially while using their strengths, they feel more connected to those they’re helping, which helps them to develop and nurture friendships and social relationships. A great way to do this is by teaching them through your actions that other people matter and that tending to relationships should be a priority. To help children strengthen their relationships, you should encourage them to be thoughtful of others, to thank others regularly, and to be cooperative, helpful, and giving.
7. Help kids find what matters to them
Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life. As adults, it’s our job to help kids discover their passions and to find a path to purpose that resonates with them— with their values, interests, and dreams. This starts with feeding their interests in the social issues they care about and pushing them to learn as much as they can about those issues and discover ways they can make a difference. The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.
Trying to make grateful kids isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for society as well. Society desperately needs to harness the power of gratitude. As our world becomes more culturally diverse and digitally connected, and as complex societal problems mount, gratitude may help catalyze the motivation and skills youth need to succeed not just academically but in the “life test” too. We must all do our part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. But, while there’s no quick fix for cultivating gratitude in young people, the more we remain committed to it, the more rewards we’ll reap. Indeed, by bringing out the best in our kids, we can only imagine what blessings Generation Grateful could bring. Anything worthwhile takes a lot of time and effort. It’s up to all of us to make it happen.
|Four Organizations Receive APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, Three Honored for Best Practices
|Exposure to bomb blasts may cause brain injury in vets -- without symptoms
||Veterans exposed to intense explosive blasts are still at risk of damage in their brain's white matter – even when symptoms do not present.
|The Personality Profile That Makes Leaders Make War
||Leaders who have a personality profile which includes a high need for power are more likely to take their countries to war. After more than 15 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing many of the symptoms of the "hubris syndrome""”a set of personality changes which afflict most leaders who hold power for more than ten years. read more
|One in five US soldiers had mental illness before enlisting, report finds
||Army initiative to research suicides in the US military released its first three studiesAmanda Holpuch
|What bat brains might tell us about human brains
||Could a new finding in bats help unlock a mystery about the human brain? Likely so, say researchers who have shown that a small region within the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brains of all mammals, is responsible for producing emotional calls and sounds. They say this discovery might be key to locating a similar center in human brains.
|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.