Dopamine and Me (you too)

My dopamine is awack (my non-scientific term).  I know its so because every medication I’ve tried for fibromyalgia that impacts the dopamine system has affected my feelings and actions.  

Many years ago I tried a medication that enhanced dopamine receptors and thought I’d found the holy grail.  For the first time in decades I remembered what I had felt like BF (before fibro) . . .  It was wonderful for a few years until I developed insatiable cravings for sweets, especially cinnamon rolls.  I MEAN CRAVING which I was hard pressed to control for more than a few days at a time.  I periodically told colleagues and doctors that something was wrong – my obsessional craving for all things sweet checked off all the boxes on the classic addition list (including hiding my sweet loot).

Everyone either dismissed my “confessions” or told me to eat more protein.  It’s a long, long story but I started Googling, and finally discovered research showing the medication I was on created addictive behavior in 25% of people taking it.  I stopped the meds, my cravings vanished and my fibromyalgia symptoms reappeared.

I’m now on another dopamine enhancer and am on alert for when I start hiding ice cream under the mattress or moving to Mexico where churros are considered patriotic.

judy

This research got my attention . . . obviously . . . .

UC Berkeley researchers have discovered that the brain neurotransmitter dopamine has a yin-yang personality, mediating both pleasure and pain. Credit: Christine Liu.

“For decades, psychologists have viewed the neurotransmitter dopamine as a double-edged sword: released in the brain as a reward to train us to seek out pleasurable experiences, but also a “drug” the constant pursuit of which leads to addiction.”

“According to a new study from UC Berkeley, that’s only one face of dopamine. The flip side is that dopamine is also released in response to unpleasurable experiences, such as touching a hot tea kettle, presumably training the brain to avoid them in the future.”

“The yin-yang nature of dopamine could have implications for treatment of addiction and other mental disorders. In illnesses such as schizophrenia, for example, dopamine levels in different areas of the brain become abnormal, possibly because of an imbalance between the reward and avoidance circuits in the brain. Addiction, too, may result from an imbalance in reactions to pleasure and pain.”

“Spaced-out” Learning

“What we know about how memories are made at a neuroscience level is that it’s not just important to repeat a stimulus, but it is important to leave spaces in between,” . . . “There are changes that happen to the genes and proteins on a neuron that help fix the memory if there are spaces between learning something.”

The latest neuroscience shows students who took part in spaced learning, where lessons are broken up by activities such as juggling, improved their attainment.

Training teachers to break up lessons with 10 minute “distractions”, such as juggling or model making, has been found to significantly boost pupils’ learning, early research has shown.

“A study involving 2,000 pupils revealed that information is more easily learnt if it is delivered in intense 12-minute bursts and broken up by 10 minute periods of an unrelated activity. The project, called SMART Spaces, is based on the latest neuroscience, which shows that information is better absorbed and more easily recalled when it is repeated a number of times, but spaced out with distractions.”

Whoops . . . wrong “space”

Spaced learning

“In Sheffield England technique as part of their revision lessons ahead of students’ GCSEs. Pupils had an intense 12 minute Power Point lesson in chemistry, then juggled for 10 minutes. After that they had 12 minutes of physics before another 10 minutes of juggling. The lesson was then finished with 12 minutes of biology. This was then repeated over two more days. Other schools broke up their lessons with plasticine model making and games of Simon Says. Mr Gittner said the study led to some significant gains in learning, and there are plans to implement a full-scale randomised controlled trial involving up to 50 schools.”

“The idea for the project came after Monkseaton High School in Newcastle made headlines in 2009 for teaching its pupils to pass a GCSE after just three days of learning. They were able to pass a sixth of a GCSE in just 60 minutes. Distractions boost results Mr Gittner said such approaches were not to counteract shrinking attention spans, adding that the techniques were backed up by the latest developments in neuroscience.

“It fits with the generally accepted views that people can only really focus for 20 minutes, even adults. Students that took part in our trial were able to concentrate fully because they new in 15 minutes they were going to get to to juggle,” 

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/education/juggling-lessons-boosts-learning/

For the latest Curious to the MAX post, click on this picture

 

Frankly Freddie – It’s a bird, it’s a plane, It’s Our SECRET

It’s coming . . . it’s in the works . . . it’s a new . . .

. . . can’t tell you more as I’m sworn to secrecy.  So I’m learning the art of the “tease” which is hard for us canines since we are rather a shoot straight from the tail breed.

I’m swearing YOU to secrecy even though it’s causing me “EMOTIONAL BURDEN”:  Don’t tell anyone . . . Peggy & Judy are creating a new blog banner, a new blog URL, a new blog concept . . . a new name for this blog.

During the past two years Peggy, Judy and I have been blogging partners.  Peggy draws, schedules, writes and keeps Judy on track.  Judy writes, draws and gets off track.  As the fan favorite I maintain relationships, editorial rights and INSPIRE you.

We are now Bi-Bloggers – revamping, revitalizing and combining forces on both this blog and Curious to the Max*.

Peggy and Judy originally named this blog CatNip in tribute to Maui, Peggy’s real life cat, who regained the use of his paralized back legs by repatterning his brain.  I’ve always thought it a bit unfair that Curious to the Max is dedicated to another dog (Max), this blog to a cat and there are no blogs dedicated to me.

Maui is still the muse but FINALLY Peggy and Judy are renaming it.  I’m voting for FREDDIE and the MIND.

Remember!  It’s our secret . . .

*P.S. Curious to the Max will continue to focus on the “creative”, the “curious” and lotsa stuff that make Peggy & Judy learn and laugh. (I don’t think they care if you laugh, as long as they are having fun . . .don’t tell them I told you . . . it’s our secret).

 

Pawsitively Tuesday – “Back to the Future” was a movie

“You can’t go back and change the beginning,

but you can start where you are and

change the ending.”

C.S. Lewis

It’s “that” time year – Isolation, Not Loneliness, Shortens Life

We often believe that during holidays everyone, except us, is having a wonderful festive time, surrounded by loving family, caring friends, filled with fun, festivity and happiness.

At the risk of “bah humbug” what I most often heard from clients was holidays were filled with stress, trepidation, family feuds or deep pain at being alone while everyone else seemingly was partying.  

Coupled with studies which suggest that the Christmas/New Year’s holidays are a risk factor for cardiac and noncardiac mortality.* the United Kingdom study on loneliness and isolation of 6,500  had an interesting conclusion:

Loneliness hurts, but social isolation can kill you. 

“The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person’s life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.”

“We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk,” says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.”

“To find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those people over the next seven or eight years.”

“And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. “Both social isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a greater risk of dying,” he says. “But it was really the isolation which was more important.”‘

‘”At first, it looked like people who reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.”‘

“But people who spent very little time with friends and family, or at social events, were more likely to die regardless of income or health status the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“It’s not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.”

Do Facebook friends count? How about texting?

“Other researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the new study, even though they say it’s large and well-done.”

‘”It doesn’t negate the loneliness work that’s been done to date,” says Bert Uchino, a University of Utah psychology professor. He says this study may have reached a different conclusion than earlier ones because people’s definition of loneliness is changing in the Internet age.”‘

‘”People … may think that they’re connected to other people because they’re on Facebook,” Uchino says. So they may not report feeling lonely. But that sort of connection, he says, may not have the health benefits of direct contact with other people.”

*https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.cir.0000151424.02045.f7   (There are multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes.)

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/03/26/175283008/maybe-isolation-not-loneliness-shortens-life

Pawsitively Tuesday – Rx for Gratitude

Guaranteed* to decrease moping, malcontent and feeling blue. Gratitude is now available over-the-counter, but should not be used off-label for conditions other than dysphoria.

Rx for Gratitude by Peggy

WARNING!

Adverse Side effects

  • Only take as directed, no more than 100 gratitudes a day, or may induce euphoria, resulting in dancing nude on the beach which can lead to skin cancer.
  • Can cause lightheartedness in individuals with pre-existing conditions of joy
  • May impair balance and equilibrium with danger of falling in love with yourself or others.

*Disclaimer:  

Any and all information, directions, inferences, enticements, and/or opinions on this site are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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