Bad Karaoke Experiment Explains How Embarrassment Keeps You Up at Night

Shame lives on in the brain.
“Hearing a recording of one’s own voice can be a cringe-worthy experience. Scientists took advantage of that uncomfortable truth, turning up the notch with a karaoke experiment. The goal was to ignite feelings of embarrassment and shame — all in the good name of helpful sleep science.”

People with insomnia have a hard time shedding the distress caused by bad emotional experiences.

That suffering can last weeks — even years — and the researchers wanted to find out exactly why. They had two major questions: What is it about sleep that underlies the problem, and what brain circuits are involved?

So the researchers set out to cause some embarrassment. “To do this, 29 people performed karaoke sessions that were recorded. The catch was that they had to wear headphones that muffled out the sound of their own voice — that way, the scientists could impede pitch correction and promote out-of-tune singing. The participants were not diagnosed with any psychiatric disorders, and they covered a wide range of experiences with insomnia; some had never experienced it, while others were very familiar.”

“Scientists used karaoke to create distressing memories for study participants.
The participants later heard the recordings of their singing while an fMRI machine scanned their brains. They were also exposed to a scent intended to boost their memory of listening to the recordings the next time they smelled it.”

“When asked to choose which emotions they felt after hearing the recording, the most frequent and intense feelings reported were embarrassment and shame. The initial fMRIs confirmed those emotions: As they listened to their out-of-tune singing, the participants’ amygdalae lit up with higher than normal activity. This almond-shaped structure in the brain is involved in processing emotions and is known to activate during emotionally distressing experiences.”

Subsequently, the participants spent the night in the lab hooked up to electroencephalogram monitors. While they slept, the scientists wafted in their trigger smell, curious to see whether it would disrupt their sleep.

“When the participants were brain scanned and exposed to the same song recordings the next morning, a trend emerged: The amygdalae of people who experienced fewer interruptions during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep reacted less strongly than they did the first time around. They felt less embarrassed than they did before. Meanwhile, the people who had fragmented REM sleep ended up feeling more embarrassed than they did on the first go.”

“As for the smells, when compared to the good REM sleepers and control subjects (people in the experiment who were not exposed to a smell), the embarrassment felt by the poor REM sleepers was exacerbated by experiencing the scent.”

“The research team believes that the continuation of embarrassment stems back to the fact that fragmented REM sleep harms the amygdala’s ability to process emotional memories overnight.”

“Processing emotional memories requires synaptic connections to change — some have to be weakened, others strengthened. A chemical called noradrenaline strongly affects the balance between this weakening and strengthening. REM, van Someren explains, is a “very special state” because it is the “only state we have that provides a ‘time-out’ from noradrenaline.”

“People with very restless REM sleep may never enjoy this state anymore. “It is likely that this has repercussions for the balance between weakening and strengthening of synapses, and thus affects overnight emotion regulation.

“In other words, for the majority of people, a night of good REM sleep helps alleviate whatever shame or distress was felt the day before. That doesn’t happen as efficiently when REM sleep is fragmented, and it can become a perpetuating issue. If distress doesn’t dissolve overnight, that can lead to another night of bad sleep, creating a cycle of poor sleep and feeling bad.”

“That state of existence describes the profile of people with insomnia, which van Someren hopes his research can help. He says that instead of focusing on examining sleep-regulating systems in the brain that have been derailed, his team’s study suggests that the better way to help insomniacs is to look for mechanisms in circuits that regulate emotional memory.”

“We also hope that people start to realize that sleep is not always ‘the more the better,’ but that a maladaptive kind of sleep [one with bad REM] can exist,” he explains.

“Restoring REM sleep through novel treatments could be one way of helping to halt this maladaptive sleep. Healthy sleep is central to overall health — and some distressing memories need help being scooted away from the foremost of your thoughts.”

https://www.inverse.com/article/57942-neuroscience-embarrassment-karaoke-study

When “Old Dogs” Won’t Perform Their “New Tricks” (NOT a post by Freddie)

A simple lack of confidence may present the biggest barrier – particularly for older learners, past retirement, who may have already started to fear a more general cognitive decline.

Through a string of recent experiments, Dayna Touron at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has shown that older adults (60 and over) frequently underestimate the power of their own memories, leading to some bad habits that fail to make the best use of their minds.

“In one (deliberately tedious) study, Touron’s participants had to compare a reference table of word pairings (like ‘dog’ and ‘table’) with a second list, and then identify which words had not appeared in the original table. The word pairings were not difficult to learn, and by the end most people – of all ages – would have been able recite them. But the older adults – aged 60 and over – were more reluctant to rely on their memory, preferring instead to laboriously cross-reference the two tables, even though it took significantly more time. For some reason, they weren’t confident that they had learnt the pairs accurately – and so took the more cautious, but time-consuming, strategy.”

“In another experiment, the participants had to work through a list of calculations, with many of the sums appearing repeatedly through the list. The younger participants soon started to recall their previous answers, while the older subjects instead decided to perform the calculations from scratch each time.  Again, this did not seem to reflect an actual hole in their memory – many could remember their answers, if they had to, but had simply chosen not to. “We do see some adults who come into the lab and who never shift to using their memory,” says Touron. “They say they know the information, they just prefer not to rely on it.”’

Memory Avoidance

“By asking her participants to keep detailed diaries of their routine, Touron has shown this habit of “memory avoidance” may limit their cognitive performance in many everyday activities. Older people may be more likely to rely on GPS when driving, for instance – even if they remember the route – or they may follow a recipe line by line, rather than attempting to recall the steps.”

“Eventually, that lack of confidence may become a self-fulfilling prophecy – as your memory skills slowly decline through lack of use.”

“Break through those psychological barriers to learning, and you may soon see some widespread and profound benefits, including a sharper mind overall. As evidence, Touron points to research by Denise Park at the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas.”

“Park first divided her 200 participants into groups and assigned them to a programme of different activities for 15 hours a week for three months. Some were offered the opportunity to learn new skills – quilting, digital photography, or both – that would challenge their long-term memory and attention as they followed complex instructions. Others were given more passive tasks, such as listening to classical music or completing crossword puzzles, or social activities – such as field trips to local sites of interest. At the beginning and the end of the three months, Parks also gave the participants a memory test.”

“Of all the participants, only the subjects learning the quilting or the photography enjoyed a significant improvement – with 76% of the photographers showing a higher score at the second memory test, for instance. A later brain scan found that this seemed to be reflected in lasting changes to circuits in the medial frontal, lateral temporal, and parietal cortex – areas associated with attention and concentration.”

Overall, the more active pastime of learning a new skill led to the more efficient brain activity you might observe in a younger brain, while the passive activities like listening to music brought no changes. Crucially, these benefits were long-lasting, lingering for more than a year after the participants had completed their course.”

“Park emphasises that she still needs to replicate the study with other groups of participants. But if the results are consistent with her earlier findings, then the brain boost of taking up a new hobby may trump so-called “brain training” computer games and apps, with study after study finding that these programs fail to bring about meaningful benefits in real life.”

“Although the specific activities that Park chose – photography or quilting – may not appeal to everyone, she suspects the same benefits could emerge from many other hobbies. The essential point is to choose something that is unfamiliar, and which requires prolonged and active mental engagement as you cultivate a new set of behaviours.”

“it’s important that the task is novel and that it challenges you personally. If you are a pianist, you might find greater benefits from learning a language say, than attempting to pick up the organ; if you are a painter, you might take up a sport like tennis.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170828-the-amazing-fertility-of-the-older-mind

Who Knew? What is Octopamine and how do you get it?

The Secret to Motivation eludes me – that’s obvious from all the research on motivation we’ve posted!  I probably have a bit of attention deficit since I tend to swing wildly from interest to interest.  Put that together with my reverence for octopuses I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. (jw)

People take it octopamine to keep focus and energy (like Ritalin, but weaker). It enhances motivation, alertness and focus, and stimulates fat loss while keeping muscle. It stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine and this may account for its effects. (This is how caffeine works). 

An Italian scientist, Vittorrio Erspamer found octopamine in the salivary glands of the octopus, hence its name.

Octopamine is related to the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It comes from the amino acid Tyramine, which can be found in a wide array of foods such as liver and tomatoes. You can get it in supplements. Isolated, it is a stimulant and also burns fat.

However it may be that Octopamine prevents the breakdown of protein for energy, rather promoting fat burning for energy.

Octopamine has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because of its stimulatory properties.  If you are sensitive to stimulants, or have high blood pressure, or a heart condition, don’t use Octopamine.

Read all about OCTOPUSes, how they have BLUE blood and

brains in their arms, click HERE!!!

https://redcon1online.com/octopamine-legal-ephedra-alternative/

Bet you didn’t know your brain still craves “breast milk”

Almost everyone has that one food craving that can tempt them to consume more than they planned. Experts have revealed the one thing that all addictive food has in common – they all contain a ratio of two parts carbohydrate to one part fat – the same ratio as breast milk.

The Study

Researchers from the University of Michigan took 120 students, offered them a choice of 35 different foods, and asked them to fill in the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a measure of how addictive you find a particular food. The foods were then ranked from 1 to 35 by the students.

Top of the list of ‘most addictive foods’ was chocolate, followed by ice cream, French fries, pizza, biscuits, crisps, cake, buttered popcorn and cheeseburgers. At the bottom were salmon, brown rice, cucumber and broccoli.

Experts from The Fast 800 programme, a weight loss plan devised by Micheal Mosely, have uncovered that, despite appearing to have little in common, each of the foods has approximately 2g carbs to 1g fat – the exact same ratio of fat to carbohydrate in human breast milk.

The similarity between favorite addictive food:

  1. Milk chocolate – 30g fat, 58g carbs
  2. Ice cream – 12g fat, 24g carbs
  3. Chips – 15g fat, 32g carbs
  4. Pepperoni pizza – 10g fat, 30g carbs
  5. Crisps – 30g fat, 50g carbs
  6. Sponge cake – 26g fat, 50g carbs
  7. Buttered popcorn – 30g fat, 56g carbs
  8. Cheeseburger – 14g fat, 30g carbs

The urge to give in to cravings of any kind – whether for food, nicotine, alcohol or gambling – is closely linked to a set of reward pathways forming part of the mid-brain. Signals from these pathways, however, can be given a ‘veto’ by another set of neurons, closer to the front of the brain, within the ‘prefrontal cortex’ or PFC.

Breast milk is one of the very few natural foods that contains high amounts of fat and carbs all mixed together.

The infant brain is super-sensitive to experiences during early years, laying down neural reward pathways that last for life.

It is not surprising, then, that the food that gives us our first feelings of reward lays the foundation for our later food cravings.

https://apple.news/Aj7GqDd9kRa6akJ0UqJVokw

Bet you didn’t know . . . Tickling slows down aging process

NOW HEAR THIS!

This tickling does not lead to spastic body movements and laughter. It’s Ear tickling.

Researchers ‘tickled’ participants’ ears with a tiny electric current to influence the nervous system and slow down some of the effects of aging. 

Oops, wrong kind of tickle

It is a painless procedure where custom-made clip electrodes are placed on a part of the ear called the tragus. The therapy, known as transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, sends tiny currents of electricity into the ear that travel down to the body’s nervous system. There’s no pain, just a slight tingling which is referred to as “tickling”.

Here’s how it works:

The autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions that don’t require thought, such as breathing, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.

Within the autonomic nervous system, there are two branches: parasympathetic (for resting activity) and sympathetic (for stress activity). The two branches work together to allow healthy levels of bodily activity.

The balance changes as people age, and the sympathetic branch can start to dominate. That domination can create an unhealthy imbalance in the automatic nervous system.

As a result, it can leave the body more vulnerable to other diseases and deterioration of bodily functions. 

Researchers hoped the therapy would improve the balance of

the autonomic nervous system.

After 15 minutes of daily therapy for two weeks, they brought the participants – 26 people over the age of 55 back into the lab and measured factors such as heart rate and blood pressure to judge the success rate of their trial.

They found that tickling helped re-balance the body’s autonomic nervous system.

There were improvements in self-reported tension, depression, mood disturbances and sleep.

The researchers believe that the therapy could be used to reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.

The next step is to take the study to a larger group to get a more comprehensive look at the benefits of tickle therapy.

Are you up for a tickle?  

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/08/02/tickle-therapy-new-therapy-could-slow-down-aging-process/1891544001/

Susan Deuchars, lead author on the study and director of research at the University of Leeds’ School of Biomedical Sciences