Buying Happiness: How to get the Most Bang for your Buck

There’s a lot of press on the misery that comes from winning the lottery and a lot of research showing that having more money doesn’t make you happier (if you can afford necessities like food and shelter).  Along comes happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky who maintains that money CAN buy happiness. It turns out it is all in how you spend it. There is also a catch.

How money CAN make you happier*

1. Develop yourself; pay to get a new skill, or to master an old skill or ability.


2. Connect with others; celebrate achievements of friends and family or take some one on a trip.


3. Buy things that relate to mastery or goals; buy new musical instruments, sports gear or software to advance a project.

4. Donate to worthy causes. 

5. Buy time with your money; relieve yourself from long work hours or chores that consume your time.

 Here’s the catch:

Money spent on other people brings the most happiness. A study by Elizabeth Dunn and others at U of British Columbia found a bonus raised happiness to the degree it was spent on others.

Spending your money on OTHER PEOPLE instead of on yourself gets you the most happiness for the buck.

*“The Myths of Happiness”by Sonja Lyubomirsky

8 Ways to Meditate without Sitting Down

Practicing meditation regularly has legitimate health advantages, especially for the brain. Studies suggest meditation can do it all: reduce anxiety and sensitivity to pain, make us smarter, ward off sickness, and prevent stress to name just a few . . .

If sitting on a cushion for an hour hurts more than just your rear-end, there are other ways to meditate.  With any form of meditation, begin with a short period of time—like five minutes – to try which work best for you:

1. Standing Meditation: Standing to meditate can relieve lower back pain and promote a greater sense of internal stability.  Stand in a comfortable, straight posture with the feet pointing straight forward, about shoulder width apart. After settling into the position, do a quick full-body “scan,” releasing tension and bringing awareness to every part of the body.

2.  Walking Meditation:  Move slowly and continuously while staying aware of the body and mind. Have good posture, take deep breaths, and experience the motions of the body. The walking movement should be continuous, so pick a safe place with space to roam around, like a large park or field.  I like to combine this with walking Freddie who doesn’t need a reminder for good posture.

3.  Sinking Meditation:  Lay on the floor, close your eyes and imagine you are SINKING into the floor.  Be aware of what parts of your body sink more easily. One of my favorites to do when I’m in bed and ready to fall sleep.

4.  Dance Meditation: Get ready to boogie! If you, at one time or another, have put on some tunes and cut the rug do it with abandon.  Let go of your ego, forget how you look and surrender to the rhythm. Some classes encourage yelling, jumping, and even hooting.  Not only can this be a great way to release tension but get in touch with your inner exhibitionist.

Meditate anywhere, anytime: while washing dishes, taking a shower, walking down the subway steps…

5. Daily Life Practice Meditation: Bring meditation to a more reasonable pace with daily life practice meditation, which is also called Samu work meditation in the Buddhist Zen tradition. In this style of meditation, practitioners slow down daily activities to half-speed and use the extra time to be mindful and focus on thoughts.

6. Hand Movement Meditation: For many people, the toughest part of meditation is sitting without moving for an extended period of time. It’s hard to resist the urge to scratch  (scratching activates areas of the brain that control pain and compulsive behavior). So a good solution is to try hand movement meditation.  Focus on moving your hands slowly and mindfully.

7. Gazing Meditation:  Try Trataka or fixed-gazing meditation. Focus inward by staring at a fixed object while sitting or standing.  Outdoors – fix your gaze on a natural object like a stone, tree, or even the moon. Indoors – try looking at the center of a lit candle or a moving computer screen saver.  Trataka can be intense, so start very slowly—stare for just 15 to 20 seconds, with lots of rest time. Then work up to 10 or 15 minutes.

8. Breathing Meditation:  Also called yogic breathing or Pranayama, this meditation style is all about controlling the inhales and exhales.  Dr. Jeffrey Rubin explains, “Longer exhales tend to be calming, while longer inhales are energizing. For meditative purposes either the ratio of exhale to inhale is even or the exhale is longer than the inhale for a calming effect.” Breathing meditation can be done anywhere, anytime (except underwater).

 

http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-ways-to-meditate

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/6-alternative-forms-meditation-for-people-who-hate-doing-nothing.html

“1/4 of a second secret” to stop anger in its tracks

I met some remarkable people working as a therapist in a hospital psychiatric ward.  One of the most memorable was a Vietnam veteran who flew into rages.  He’d lost his lower left leg in battle. But the war or being severely injured were not what made him rageful. He had always raged, even as a child. His father raged as well.

His wife was the main target of his rages.  He would become uncontrollably angry at the smallest of things like forgetting where she left her keys, or spilling a beverage . . .  until he learned the “1/4 second secret” to controlling unwanted anger.

To understand the 1/4 of a second secret you need to understand the fight or flight reaction.

We have an ever vigilant watchdog,  a small almond shaped organ in our midbrain called the amygdala (amygdala from the Greek word for almond) that looks out for us 24/7 and alerts us to any POSSIBLE threat.  

When our brain receives a threat-cue, sounds, sights, smells, touches or even our imagination, our brain wants FAST action. No waiting around for a sign of safety, no thinking things through just FLEE or stay and FIGHT (there is also a “freeze” response but that’s another post).

Our amygdala floods the cells in our body with neurochemical signals to increase blood pressure, raise heart rate, send blood away from major organs to your muscles, constrict capillaries near the skin, increase breathing, and tamper down anything that isn’t crucial to fight or flee for survival. 

Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t discriminate between real threats, imagined threats, conditioned or potential threats.  That’s why things that are, in reality, not threatening can become threat-cues.

Luckily, many people tend to go with flight more easily than fight. But for those whose brain directs them to fight here’s the “1/4 second secret” that stopped the vet’s rages:

Purple brains

The thinking part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, can STOP the fight or flight response. We have 1/4 of a second to interrupt the signal from the threatening stimuli (sounds, sights, smells, touches or our imagination).  In that 1/4 split second tell the amygdala “Stop” or “I’m safe” and take a deep breath.

If we don’t “catch it” in 1/4 of a second a neurochemical cascade will  flood our cells.  Once the cells are flooded it takes 15 – 20 minutes for the neurochemicals to metabolize out of our body (provided no new information saying the threat continues to exist is received).

This is what the vet learned to do:

  • First, he identified the triggers that sent him into a rage.
  • Second, when he anticipated a trigger he used his pre-frontal cortex to say “stop” to the amygdala.
  • Third, if he failed to anticipate the trigger and felt the stress response building he would take a 20 minute walk to speed up  metabolizing out the stress response.

I admired his remarkable determination.  It took him 1/4 of a minute at a time to stop his rage response, change his marriage and improve his life.

Do you have a “secret technique” to control your stress response?

Take this quiz! How to stay vibrant as you age (parenthetically speaking)

pillmousepng

True or false ?

  1. Old dogs may not be able to learn new tricks, but old people can have a pet dog.
  2. We think of older people as doddering – because when they run marathons they walk.
  3. You can make a difference in how you age by how you live, how you eat, sleep and move. (see #2, #10, #13)
  4. It’s not recommended for old people to  exercise, you could get hurt-so do not do it! (see #14)
  5. Mental disorders are hard to treat in older people because they refuse to believe they are disordered.
  6. If you hire an older worker, you often get more for less, more or less . . . 
  7. Older people often use retirement as an excuse (to sleep in and watch day-time TV).
  8. You do not think as well when you are older (you have long ago learned that critical thinking is not appreciated).
  9. Watch out for old drivers, they cause accidents, accidentally
  10. Older people have great sex with abandon (they have no worry about ending up with more kids).
  11. Older people, who still use crayons to draw, are not creative.
  12. If you are tech savvy you were born after 2000.  (Prior to 1999  horses were ridden to deliver H-messages)
  13. Don’t bother losing weight or quitting smoking  (if you are older, it won’t help, nor do you care cuz you are already old).
  14. Older people can’t recover from injury, so they better eat as much as they want smoke whatever they want (after sex) and color outside the lines with crayons.

age (1)mice

The Truth About Older People*

Send these FACTS to your children, grandchildren and anyone born after 2000!

1. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

FACT: There are many positive cognitive changes in older age and there are many techniques to support lifelong learning. In fact, our brains experience new growth of neurons in response to challenges throughout the life span..  Older persons can benefit from the same memory strategies that young persons use to improve recall. (young people don’t think they need to improve their memory until they are old) 

2. All older persons experience dementia.

FACT: Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Most older persons do not experience dementia. Only about 3.6 percent of US adults aged sixty-five to seventy-five have dementia. Further, there is evidence that dementia rates have been declining over time. (this isn’t the only thing that declines . . )

3.  Older persons’ health is entirely determined by biology.

FACT: Our team has found that culture, in the form of age beliefs, can have a powerful influence on the health of older persons. For instance, positive age beliefs can benefit their health in multiple ways, such as reducing cardiovascular stress and improving memory. In contrast, negative age beliefs can have a detrimental impact on these aspects of health. We also found that positive age beliefs amplified the beneficial impact of APOE ε2, a gene that often benefits cognition in later life.  

4. Older persons are fragile, so they should avoid exercise.

FACT: Most older persons can exercise without injury. The World Health Organization recommends that older persons regularly exercise because this can benefit cardiovascular and mental health, as well as lead to stronger bones and muscles. (does vigorously rocking in rocking chairs count as exercise?)

5.  Most older people suffer from mental illness that can’t be treated.

FACT: Most older persons do not suffer from mental illness. Studies show that often happiness increases, whereas depression, anxiety, and substance abuse decline in later life. Further, older persons usually benefit from mental health treatment including psychotherapy.

6.  Older workers aren’t effective in the workplace.

FACT: Older workers take fewer days off for sickness, benefit from experience, have strong work ethics, and are often innovative. Teams that include older persons have been found to be more effective than teams that do not. (all reasons to retire early?)

7. Older persons are selfish and don’t contribute to society.

FACT: Be verrrrrry kind to older people because . . . .

They are the age group that is most likely to recycle and make philanthropic gifts. In older age, altruistic motivations become stronger, while narcissistic values wane in influence. Older persons often engage in legacy thinking, which involves wanting to create a better world for future generations. Also, in most families, there is a downward flow of income with more funds going from older adults to grown children than from grown children to older adults.

8.  Cognition inevitably declines in old age.

FACT: A number of types of cognition improve in later life, among them: metacognition or thinking about thinking; taking into account multiple perspectives; solving interpersonal and intergroup conflicts; and semantic memory. Other types of cognition tend to stay the same, such as procedural memory, which includes routine behaviors like riding a bike. Further, I have found that strengthening positive age beliefs can successfully improve the types of memory that are thought to decline in later life.

9. Older persons are bad drivers.

FACT: The absolute number of crashes involving older drivers is low. They are more likely to use seat belts and follow speed limits. Also, they are less likely to drive while texting, while intoxicated, or at night (possibly comes from horses and donkeys being their only mode of transportation while growing up?).

10. Older persons don’t have sex.

FACT: Most older persons continue to enjoy a physically and emotionally fulfilling sex life. A survey found that 72 percent of older adults have a romantic partner and, of those, most are sexually active.(28% of older people are possibly scrolling through dating apps looking for young, virile partners?)

11.  Older persons lack creativity.

FACT: Creativity often continues and even increases in later life. Numerous artists, including Henri Matisse, are credited with producing their most innovative works at an older age. Successful start-ups are more likely to be run by entrepreneurs over fifty than under thirty. Older persons are often leaders in innovation and use it to revitalize communities. (since they can’t revitalize themselves, they do it to communities?).

12.  Older persons are technologically challenged.

FACT: Older persons possess the ability to adapt to, learn, and invent new technology. Three-quarters of those fifty and older use social media on a regular basis; 67 percent of those sixty-five and older use the internet and 81 percent aged sixty to sixty-nine use smartphones.45,46 Some older persons have led advances in technology, including MIT professor Mildred Dresselhaus, who innovated the field of nanotechnology in her seventies.

13.  Older persons don’t benefit from healthy behaviors.

FACT: It is never too late to benefit from healthy behaviors. For example, older persons who quit smoking show improvement to their lung health within a few months. Similarly, older persons who overcome obesity show improvement to cardiovascular health. (no mention of healthy sex?) 

14 Older persons don’t recover from injury.

FACT: Most older people who become injured show recovery, and older persons with positive age beliefs are significantly more likely to fully recover . . . . (so they have more time to spend all their money and not leave it to those who don’t appreciate them). 

Positive age beliefs can keep you vibrant as you age.

*From “Breaking the Age Code” by Becca Levy (except for everything printed in RED which must be blamed on Judy who is, by all measures, an expert on being old)

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You are now in the KNOW!

October 2022
Critters with 4 legs and more
We are in process of processing our new process.  In short, we are are streamlining our focus from doing 3 blogs and a newsletter to a monthly (if you’re really lucky and/or we have the energy – bi-monthly) PeggyJudyTime. 

You’ll find the same scintillating, informative and timely content  you’ve read in our blogs MAXyourMIND and CURIOUStotheMAX, with a bit of The HeART of Spirituality: Information about mind-body-spirit with emphasis on neuroscience research and self-help wellness; What’sUp with our lives, interests and; whatever else we are curious about.


Since we are still in process you can send us your e-mail at PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com and we’ll personally add you to our subscribers.
So tell your friends to subscribe with their e-mails so they too will be “in the KNOW . . .  and can stay your friend and become ours.

Groov’n with Gracie (Gracie’s story appeared in the November PeggyJudyTIme CURIOUS Newsletter – to get your copy e-mail us at PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com)

unnamed-27

Gracie Allen Westerfield

To all Human-beings: ORANGE-ALERT. (Halloween level above RED-alert)

 This Halloween
Don’t be mean
dressing, stressing up
your precious pup

Don’t you dare

make others stare

Please be fair!
let us wear
our own hair.
Example of suspicious clothing

Dear Canine Cousins:

Be on the look-out for your human coming back from the store with suspicious articles of clothing and paraphernalia that is NOT THEIR color, style or size.  If they start sweet-talking you or offering you treats RUN & HIDE.

Unite to stop Canine Anthropomophism!

What amuses humans is not for me to understand.  I don’t know about you but I never caninemorphism humans.  Maybe our Humans aren’t as smart  as we give them credit.  I love my human and I don’t want to entertain the possibility humans are insensitive creatures with no regard for our feelings.  Just in case –  BEEEEE AWAAAAARE

 https://www.zazzle.com/collections/halloween_kitty_and_witches-119280600703337771

and Kittys & Witches

zazzle.com/…/halloween_kitty_and_witches-119280600703337771
Halloween and candy are synonymous.
It’s PeggyJudyTime for WILLPOWER!
Peggy’s Pick

I’m reading a book called Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney.  There’s lots to share from the book but here’s some fascinating  information in the first few chapters.

Researchers found willpower has a physical basis and is not lack of character.  Willpower is fueled by glucose – who knew!  Essentially, we have a store of glucose energy in the brain. Sometimes I’ve lamented that I didn’t have more willpower whether it’s something I want to do, like hike or something I don’t, like clean when my brain’s glucose storehouse is depleted.  Diminished glucose erodes willpower and cravings for things to restore the glucose (carbohydrates, sugar,) are stronger than ever.

For months I’ve had neck pain and for months I’ve been binge watching streaming tv shows.  I’ve have less and less willpower to stop binging and go to bed at my usual earlier time.  Experiments have shown chronic physical pain leave people  with a perpetual shortage of will power because the brain’s glucose is depleted by the focused struggle to ignore the pain.

When we exercise any type of self control whether of our thoughts, emotions, impulses or behavior our brains use up its glucose and impulses take over.  Good to know.

Stay tuned for the next insights I got from reading Willpower . . . It may take bit of your willpower to wait so we’re providing you with a way to snack to increase your brain’s glucose.

TASTY Spider Oreo Treats for Hungry Spiders
  • Double Stuf Oreos work the best because there’s more filling to help keep the spider legs in. If you don’t have Double Stuf and you find the top is falling off of your normal Oreo when you add the legs, just use a little of the icing to glue the top of the cookie back on. Works like a charm.
  • You could use cute candy eyes if you’d like in place of the M&M’s.
  • You can find “shoestring” licorice at most well-stocked grocery stores or drug stores like Walgreens. It comes in red too, but I like black the most.
  • 1 package of shoestring licorice is about enough for 2 dozen spiders. I normally get 2-3 packages so I don’t run out – my kids tend to snack a lot while making these and it’s really inexpensive.
  • Oreo cookies, traditional or Double Stuf
  • black shoestring licorice
  • tube of store-bought icing
  • M&M candies

  1. Cut the shoestring licorice into 2 to 2 ½ inch pieces (scissors work great for this).
  2. Push the cut licorice pieces into the Oreo filling, 4 on each side, to look like spider legs.
  3. Place two small dots of icing at the top of the Oreo and then stick two M&M candies of the same color onto the icing to look like eyes (the icing is the glue to stick the candies on).
  4. Repeat with remaining cookies and candies.

https://www.blessthismessplease.com/easy-oreo-spider-halloween-snacks/


Little Miss Moffet
Sat on a tuffet
eating Oreos.
Along came a spider
who sat down beside her
making her froze
from head to her toes.

“I’m not here to fright
just want a bite
I came for flies
but now I spys
with 8 of my eyes
a better treat
to nibble and eat”

“Heaven knows
I’m not here to impose
just fill up my silk
with a bit of milk
and a bag of Oreos
And I promise to goes.”

Shari P,  Rick C, James G., Karin C., Wendy H. Tom T., Ramesh S., Rick Y.,  Caprice D.  YOU are on our PREFERRED e-mail list!  Thank you!

Congratulations Rick C.,!!!!!!!!
We have elevated you to PRESIDENT of the PeggyJudyTime FAN CLUB.
“Keep me on your list. I am a member of your fan club,  Anon”, Rick C.
You too can be a fan member.  Contact Rick C. . . .
. . . as soon as he agrees to provide a way to contact him.
Copyright © *2022, Peggy Arndt & Judy Westerfield|

Our mailing address is:
PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com

Your Brain Has a “DELETE” button

I always explained to the patients I worked with in the hospital there was one important thing to understand about how to maximize their brain’s potential which can lead them to be more positive, motivated, understand what it takes to learn new skills and  be in control of how they respond to life’s events:

“What fires together, wires together”*

Brain neurons that fire together wire together. What this means is that the more often you use a specific neuro-pathway in your brain, the stronger the connections along that pathway become. It is like making a path through a field:  Walk through once and there may be a suggestion of where you went; Walk the same path many times, it becomes a clear trail, and the easiest way to go.

When the same neurons fire in your brain, it means you brain will find it easy to use this path, and will get “good” at taking it. The more you practice the easier, quicker and more automatic a new skill, learning language or responding to others with compassion becomes.

Your brain also works in “reverse”, unlearning old connections.

Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button 

“Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you grow synaptic connections between neurons. These are the connections that neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin, and others travel across.”

“Glial cells” are the gardeners of your brain–they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, pulling up weeds, killing pests, raking up dead leaves. Your brain’s pruning gardeners are called “microglial cells.” They prune your synaptic connections. The question is, how do they know which ones to prune?”

“Researchers are just starting to unravel this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells detect that mark, they bond to the protein and destroy–or prune–the synapse.”

“This is how your brain makes the physical space for you to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.”

A lot of this pruning happens when you sleep, which is one reason sleep is so important, especially when you are learning new things. This pruning leaves your brain ready to make new connections. This pruning also happens during naps. A 10- or 20-minute nap gives your microglial gardeners the time to clear away unused connections and leave space to grow new ones.

Thinking with a sleep-deprived brain is like hacking your way through an overgrown jungle with overlapping paths and no light getting through . . . slow-going, exhausting.  Thinking on a well-rested brain is like strolling through a well-groomed park . . . the paths are clear, connect at distinct junctions, you can see where you’re going.

How To Use Your Brain’s Delete Button

Be Mindful Of What You’re Mindful Of

You actually have some control over what your glial-cell brain gardeners decide to prune while you sleep – the synaptic connections you don’t use while awake get marked for recycling.  Those you focus on get “watered and oxygenated”. So be mindful of what you’re thinking about.

To take advantage of your brain’s natural gardening system, think about the things that are important to you. Your “glial-gardeners” will strengthen those connections and prune the ones that are not important.

(PA)

*Sigrid Lowell coined the phrase“What fires together, wires together”.

References:

Judah Pollack, co-author of The Chaos Imperative, and Olivia Fox Cabana, author of The Charisma Myth.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it

Sugar Shun (Parenthetically yours) 8 Steps to Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb. OUCH!

 Halloween and Sweet Season is upon us 

My “editorial” comments below are in RED.  (Take them with a spoonful of sugar)

“Craving — and eating — sugar is not simply about willpower or emotions. (That’s true because I’ve not had willpower for a long time and I was a therapist I am inherently in COMPLETE control of my emotions . . . ) We now understand that there may be several underlying physiologic causes feeding what feels like a desperate desire for sugar. For one thing, it can affect our brains in the same ways drugs and alcohol can, making it addictive.”

Sugar Roller Coaster

“Can’t lose weight — no matter what you do?

Extra sugar and carbohydrates that aren’t being used by the body are generally stored in the liver as glycogen. If the liver is full, your body will make fat from the extra sugar and store it in existing fat deposits around your body, (AROUND my body like a bloated hula-hoop) which is why there is such a direct link between sugar and weight gain.”

“Sugar can also directly affect you hormonally by turning off a gene that controls your sex hormones. Without this sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) gene, levels of testosterone and estrogen can become unregulated, leading to symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and more.(MORE, there’s MORE?!)

So here’s what you can do to stop your sugar cravings and all the corresponding health effects:

Bob Blobfish sez: "Here she goes . . .again"Bob Blobfish sez: “Here she goes . . .again”

“Step 1: Balance your hormones. Just before menstruation, when estrogen is low and progesterone is on its way down, beta-endorphin levels in your brain are at their lowest. These cyclical hormonal and neurotransmitter fluctuations may explain why many women who experience PMS and perimenopause also have sugar cravings and the accompanying serotonin–endorphin bursts that high-sugar foods can provide.”  (Hormones? – at my age there aren’t any left to balance)

“Step 2: Add nutrients. Specific micronutrients like zinc, vitamin C and the B vitamins are particularly helpful in calming sugar cravings by influencing serotonin production. Equally important are omega-3’s, which are crucial for regulating mood and inflammation — factors that are both associated with cravings.”

“Step 3: Mix protein (or fiber) with pleasure. Combining treats with a stick of cheese, a few nuts, a glass of milk, or some vegetables will help balance the sugar and insulin surge and allow a gentler increase in blood sugar and insulin. Protein shakes make great snacks, too.”

“Step 4: Investigate intestinal yeast. (Investigate?  Sounds like yet another TV show – Intestinal Yeast Miami) Yeast thrives on sugar. If your intestinal (and vaginal) bacteria are out of balance, they are more likely to welcome yeasts like Candida.(Isn’t Candida is one of the stars on the TV show Mistresses?) An overgrowth of yeast in the intestine (or system-wide) can lead to extremely intense cravings for sugar, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and digestive issues.  Going on a yeast-free diet is the first step to eliminating these sugar-hungry cells because they can’t live without sugar and refined carbohydrates. Take away their food and they go away.”

The BOOT

“Step 5: Avoid acid-forming foods. Red meat is high in a pro-inflammatory molecule called arachidonic acid. Eating a lot of meat and refined carbohydrates tends to increase inflammation and acidity, causing the body to crave sweet foods in an attempt to maintain balance. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as those that are alkalizing and antioxidant-rich, such as fruits and vegetables, can offset the damage and the cravings associated with this dynamic.”sensitivities

“Step 6: Explore food sensitivities. Food are more and more common these days and they can lead to extra sugar intake by leaving us foggy-headed and fatigued. These symptoms logically drive many of us to a sugar pick-me-up to feel better or complete our daily tasks. (ah it is logical why  I drive to Ben & Jerry’s to pay a social visit) The most common food allergies are to gluten and dairy, but others to explore are corn, eggs, soy, peanuts, and citrus.

“Step 7: Lower your stress. Any stressful situation can lead to less than optimal eating habits, but stress itself increases cortisol levels, which eventually increases hunger hormones. This can push many women with stressful jobs and lifestyles into a pattern of nighttime cravings, over-eating, and unwanted weight gain. (Tell me about it . . . ) Over time, these women reach adrenal imbalance and extreme exhaustion. And they find the only way to get through the day is to drink lots of caffeine and consume sugar for quick energy bursts.” (not to mention the only way to get through the night)

“Step 8: Refrain from sugar for 3-5 days in a row.We know how hard it can be to do, but avoiding sugar for just three days can make a huge difference for some women. Trust us on this one! For others, it may take longer for their cravings to diminish. But eliminating the cyclical crash-and-burn bursts of serotonin and beta-endorphin from sugar and refined carbohydrates can help your body normalize its receptors and neurotransmitters. This way, your brain isn’t constantly sending the message that it needs more sugar.”  (I’m blessed that even with a completely fogged-out brain the message I need sugar still gets through)

Woman’s Health Network –  For the entire unedited article click here: 8 Steps to Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb

Calm your brain – 5 Questions

For those of you with no time, no desire to read here’s the InfoGram we explained in detail on our September CURIOUS Newsletter.

Scroll down for link to download a PDF version.

Missed the Newsletter?  Send us your e-mail:  PeggyJudyTime@gmail.com

anxquest

Questions for calming downPDF

 

 

 

How to Stop Super Worries

Paragraph

Mind races.  Unsettling worry or concern repeats itself over and over.  No solution.  No relief.  Can’t sleep.  Can’t concentrate on anything other than your SUPER WORRY

It doesn’t feel like it but your brain is doing this for your benefit – Relentlessly focus your attention on a potential (albeit imagined) threat to help you stay safe.  Three parts of you brain start firing in lockstep:

  • The orbital frontal cortex gives you the feeling you made a mistake or there is danger.
  • It signals the cingulate gurus which generates the neurochemistry of anxiety.
  • The caudate nucleus usually allows thoughts to flow from one to another, but it stops doing this.
  • These 3 parts together keep person locked into worry, an obsession with something thy fear.

You may even realize that the worry is not rational, or the fear is not imminent.  It’s your brain locked into a feed-back loop and won’t let you escape from the worrying thoughts.Mousey Worry by Peggy

You can rewire your SuperWorry into SuperRelief

Talk to your brain – silently or outloud:

  1. Thank your brain for doing what it was created to do.  Don’t be mad or upset with your brain. It’s a good brain.
  2. However, relabel the problem as a brain problem, not an imminent threat. The real problem is not what you fear, it is the brain is getting locked into a position and isn’t moving on.
  3. Pick something positive or neutral to focus on instead.  Ideally something pleasurable.
  4. Repeat this as often as necessary.  It takes time for your brain to understand it doesn’t have to protect you in this way.

Here’s an example:  Thank you brain.  You don’t need to keep reminding me that (an earthquake will happen, someone will break into the house, I will get fired).  I’m safe right this minute.

When brain focuses on something over and over, it strengthens the brain neuro-connections. When you stop the thinking the connections are weakened.  Think of it like a wilderness trail – The more the trail is traveled the path gets wider and the dirt gets more and more compacted.  Stop walking on the trail and it becomes overgrown, impassable and no longer used.

Use it or lose it 
Any deviation from the neuro-connection path weakens it.  Every time you interrupt and then stop the thought about the fear and redirect your thoughts it gets easier. The more you  practice the more the neural links to the worry weaken and new positive neutral pathways are generated.

PET scans have shown that the brain pathways actually change when you perform the four steps.

Use this process for small worries, not just big ones.  

Sources:

Norman Dodgie,  “The Brain that Changes Itself” 

Jeffrey M Schwartz, “Brain Lock”  

Originally posted in 2017

Is pleasure is the key to losing weight?

“Losing weight” and “pleasure” are not intrinsically linked in my mind.  This short 4 minute video explains that our beliefs influence the way our body responds to food . . . Who knew?

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“Do you associate chocolate cake with guilt or celebration? Your answer will have surprising consequences for the success of your diet, says David Robson, author of The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life.”

He explains how our thoughts can powerfully shape our body’s responses to food and how enjoyment and indulgence are essential ingredients of any healthy diet.

Click here and Watch this!

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/the-science-of-fitness?vpid=p0brtrbm

How people (meaning you & me) “fall apart”

Yale faculty discuss the impact of burnout on the brain

Understanding the neuroscience behind burnout could help people accept their resulting behavior and thought patterns as natural responses of the brain.

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“Burnout can make one feel helpless, incompetent, emotionally exhausted, isolated and cynical. Yale faculty provided insight into the neurobiological basis behind symptoms of burnout — and what can be done to reverse it.”

“Professor of neuroscience and psychology Amy Arnsten’s decades of research on the effects of stress on the brain were inspired by seeing “how people fall apart,” she said. When her father was very ill, Arnsten witnessed the process by which people who are normally “very rational” can suddenly become “emotional tornadoes.” Through volunteering in her local state psychiatric hospital, she further witnessed how even small stressors had immediate effects on thought patterns. Arnsten found that understanding the effects of stress on the brain would provide vital clues as to how higher brain functioning is regulated.”

“A lot of my own research is on how uncontrollable stress affects the prefrontal cortex, which is the most recently evolved part of our brains,” Arnsten said. “It does higher cognition, abstract thought, working memory, the executive functions — so being able to concentrate, multitask, plan and organize, all these things you ideally need to thrive at Yale, for example.”

“Arnsten highlighted that a person’s perceived ability to control a stressor is a key determinant of its effect on their brain. For example, if someone is overwhelmed by what is being asked of them, believing it to be beyond their capabilities even if it is not, they will view the task as something to be afraid of and such fear will prevail. The stress signaling pathways engaged will then weaken the prefrontal cortex and strengthen more primitive parts of the brain. According to Arnsten, this phenomenon may have had survival value over the course of human evolution.”

“Arnsten recounted walking in the woods in Vermont, when suddenly along the path, a bear appeared in front of her. Luckily, the bear was facing the other way. Rather than consciously reasoning that most mammals lack a ventral stream, and therefore would not be able to recognize a still object, she froze. In this moment of fear, her reflex of freezing was engaged. When the bear turned around, it did not notice her because of her lack of movement, and ended up wandering off.”

“Freezing is a reflex that can be mediated by the brainstem,” Arnsten explained. “So you can see that there are many instances where having this rapid switch to more primitive brain circuits can save your life. But there are others where the stressor really demands that you need your prefrontal cortex online. For example, during COVID, being able to imagine an invisible virus, you can’t see it the way you see a bear.”

“Human neuroimaging can help researchers study the prefrontal cortex’s specific response to stress, such as the stress students experience before an important exam. Arnsten pointed to a Cornell study that analyzed the brains of medical students after a month of preparation for a major board exam.”

“The month of study for the exam can be characterized as “psychosocial stress,” an imbalance between adverse life situations and one’s ability to cope with them. Brain imaging revealed that the stressor of studying for the major exam weakened the connectivity of the prefrontal network, leading to impaired prefrontal function and impaired attention regulation.”

“We can see symptoms of breakdown when we

  • Begin to lose our ability to concentrate

  • “We have the tip of the tongue phenomenon, we lose things easily — these are both from working memory breaking down

  • Our emotions escape their confines into harsh speech.

Eventually the system will break down and we will need to rest to focus at all.”

“The Cornell study found that after a month of reduced stress, these effects disappeared. In healthy individuals, the plasticity of the prefrontal cortex allowed for such cognitive impairments from stress to be reversed. However, this cycle could threaten long-term mental health.”

“In Rego’s book “Frontal Fatigue” he hypothesized that if this cycle of mentally breaking down and resting is repeated enough, the prefrontal cortex can become vulnerable to dysfunction, possibly leading to mental disorders. Rego terms this vulnerability “frontal fatigue,” defining it as a background condition caused by the “unique pressures of modern life” overwhelming the prefrontal cortex.”

“Rego said that if frontal fatigue represents a state of vulnerability, then burnout is the next step before stress overwhelms an individual into a state of depression. Rego quoted Arnsten’s conclusion that if something is deemed “mental illness,” then it likely involves the prefrontal cortex.”

“The prefrontal cortex] does not function well under stress,” Rego said. “Virtually all imaging and injury studies have found that mental illness always involves the [prefrontal cortex].  Change the [prefrontal cortex] and changes in personality and behavior follow.”

“According to Rego, without the prefrontal cortex, humans would be unable to control any action compelled by emotion. The prefrontal cortex’s numerous connections to the limbic system, where emotions form, explain its vital role in dealing with “our emotional lives,” he explained.”

“Professor of psychology Laurie Santos said that burnout consists of three different phases.

  1. The first is emotional exhaustion, characterized by feeling worn out and drained, with not even a good night’s sleep seeming to help.

  2. The second phase is known as depersonalization or cynicism. This stage causes a person to be annoyed with others, have a shorter fuse, become more cynical of people’s intentions and become more distant with people.

  3. The final feature is a reduced sense of personal accomplishment “You never feel like you’re doing things effectively and so you feel ineffective and like the work you do doesn’t matter. If you notice signs like this, it’s important that you pay attention early on and make some changes in order to feel better.”

“Because it is the prefrontal cortex that helps control emotions and thereby avoid panicking, this continual stress cycle can cause a person to spiral downwards. Meanwhile, primitive circuits like the amygdala are strengthened, becoming enlarged as a result of burnout.”

“The amygdala’s job is to look for threats,” Arnsten said. “And it’s something called the aversive lens, where people who are depressed, their amygdala actually views neutral faces as sad or threatening. So, yes, by being in chronic stress, you’re setting up your brain to be concentrating on the negative and interpreting things in a negative way.”

“Arnsten advised people to have a low threshold for reaching out for help. She observed that many students may not be aware that help is available, and may view asking for help as a personal sign of weakness. She noted the importance of a balanced diet, deep breathing, exercise and good sleep.”

“Rego emphasized the need to lean into life “with your hands, senses and via others.” To allow the prefrontal cortex to rest, he suggested doing hands-on activities, such as arts and cooking, and indulging the senses — especially in nature — and talking to people often. Rego also recommended quieting the mind, whether through sports, long walks or yoga.

“Understanding the neuroscience can give you perspective to say ‘it’s not that I’m stupid or weak,’” Arnsten said. “This is how our neurobiology is built. This is a natural response of my brain, and I need to do things that will help me feel more in control.”

Article by Kayla Yup.  She is a first year majoring in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and History of Science, Medicine & Public Health.

Predicting Which Relationships Will End

What predicts divorce is a complicated subject.  However, a few themes have borne out in repeated studies. Here they are from lest to most predictive:

6.  Age:  Couples that marry later tend to have relationships that last longer. The earlier the couple gets together, the greater the risk of later divorce. That holds if couples move in together while they’re younger (as in teen years), too.
 

5.  Education and religion: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are both powerful predictors of lasting or dissolving unions.

“Women with a bachelor’s degree have a 78 percent chance of having their marriages lasting 20 years, compared with 41 percent for those with a high school education, while it’s respectively 65 percent and 47 percent for men. Identifying as religious also gave a similar bump versus being nonreligious.”
 
 
Wedding cake
 
 
3.  Neuroticism or emotional instability, a personality trait that measures how sensitive you are to perceived threats, and how likely you are to ruminate about them:  It’s been implicated in anxietyand depression disorders, and,has been shown repeatedly to predict divorce. ( Lehmiller)
 
2. Infidelity.  No surprise here. When people cheat on each other, As documented in a 17-year longitudinal study following nearly 1,500 people, cheating leads to lower marital happiness, a greater feeling of “divorce proneness,” or the chance you might split up, and a higher occurrence of actually doing so.

1.  Contempt:  The number one killer – things that signal you’re disgusted with your partner are all super toxic for a relationship, like hostile humor, name-calling, eye-rolling.

(John Gottman relationship research)

But there’s hope: if you want a relationship to last, be kind to the person you’re with. It could be that simple.

Justin Lehmiller, Ball State associate professor, Sex & Psychology blog.

It’s important to note that all of these things are correlations, even in the case of infidelity. these studies can’t say definitely what causes divorce.

(This post originally appeared in 2018)
 
 
 

This little trick will help you meet goals, even if they aren’t for fitness.

Our visual and mental focus are connected, who knew?

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“”Ever wondered why you can’t meet your fitness goals?   Behavioural scientist Emily Balcetis turned to elite runners to find the answer. She proposes a strategy that consists of changing your visual focus.”
Running time is only 6 minutes and to learn this Ingenious Way .  Click below:

https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p09r61yk/an-ingenious-way-to-run-faster?xtor=CS1-12-[Reel_X__house_ads]-[GNL]-[_]-[Reel_house]

5 Ways to Weaken a Relationship, 5 Ways to Strengthen It

Terry Real is an innovative family therapist and author of books about relationships, including “The New Rules of Marriage”. In that book he gives 5 ways to weaken relationships, and 5 ways to strengthen them. Here is a look at part of what the book has to offer.

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5 ways to weaken a relationship

  1. Need to be right: needing to be right leads to endless arguments about who is more valid, who is correct. It promotes self righteous indignation and  results in fighting. Do you want to be right or be married?
  2. Control your partner: directly controlling your partner or using manipulation or coercion may get some benefits for a bit, but people do not like to be controlled and will respond negatively -possible by “getting you back”.
  3. Uncontrolled self expression: thinking that you have a “right” to share whatever you are feeling whenever you want, with no thought for the circumstances, rarely results in closeness (at one time there were psychologists promoting the idea that we should “let it all out”, this quickly resulted in worsening relationships). 
  4. Retaliation: think you can offend your partner because you were a victim? trying to “show them how it feels”?  Either using outright aggression or passive aggression will not get you closer or create a loving relationship
  5. Withdrawal: coming from resignation or a way to retaliate ( as opposed to creating a little distance), this can look like you are accepting something you are not accepting.

mango

5 ways to strengthen a relationship

  1. Make a request rather than a complaint: this is forward looking whereas a complaint focuses on the past.It brings the focus to what you want to have happen, and being specific helps.
  2. Speak with love: before you speak, give yourself a moment to connect with your feelings of love for your partner in order to repair problems. Say what you saw, thought, felt, would like, and let go of the outcome.
  3. Be generous: listen in order to understand the other person, acknowledge what they have to say and agree with what you can agree with-even if it is something small. Give what you can.
  4. Empower your partner: see what they give as a gift and acknowledge it, ask how you can help, accept what you can and give what you can.
  5. Cherish: give time and energy to the relationship , give specific feedback, use your own talents, give to the world.

If you can’t remember all 5 just think of the GOLDEN RULE: 

Treat others as you would like others to treat you 

A Cat’s Guide to Feeling Better

There’s more than one way to feel better….

Here are a few from a cat’s viewpoint :

Get a new perspective. Climb a tree.

Get your feet wet. Literally.

Click here to learn how water lifts your mood

Catch some rays.

Click here to learn how sunshine lifts your mood

Move about.

Click here to learn to lift your mood in 10 minutes

Play with whatever is at paw . . .  or hand.

Originally posted on Curious to the Max

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain

“Mindfulness meditation interrupted communication between brain areas involved in processing pain sensations and areas that produce the sense of self. This resulted in reduced pain as individuals lost ownership of the sensation.”

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For centuries, people have been using mindfulness meditation to try to relieve their pain, but neuroscientists have only recently been able to test if and how this actually works.

In the latest of these efforts, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine measured the effects of mindfulness on pain perception and brain activity.

The study, published July 7, 2022 in Pain, showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pain sensation and those that produce the sense of self. In the proposed mechanism, pain signals still move from the body to the brain, but the individual does not feel as much ownership over those pain sensations, so their pain and suffering are reduced.

“One of the central tenets of mindfulness is the principle that you are not your experiences,” said senior author Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “You train yourself to experience thoughts and sensations without attaching your ego or sense of self to them, and we’re now finally seeing how this plays out in the brain during the experience of acute pain.”

On the first day of the study, 40 participants had their brains scanned while painful heat was applied to their leg. After experiencing a series of these heat stimuli, participants had to rate their average pain levels during the experiment.

“On the final day of the study, both groups had their brain activity measured again, but participants in the mindfulness group were now instructed to meditate during the painful heat, while the control group rested with their eyes closed.”

Researchers found that participants who were actively meditating reported a 32 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 33 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.

“We were really excited to confirm that you don’t have to be an expert meditator to experience these analgesic effects,” said Zeidan.

“This is a really important finding for the millions of people looking for a fast-acting and non-pharmacological treatment for pain.”

When the team analyzed participants’ brain activity during the task, they found that mindfulness-induced pain relief was associated with reduced synchronization between the thalamus (a brain area that relays incoming sensory information to the rest of the brain) and parts of the default mode network (a collection of brain areas most active while a person is mind-wandering or processing their own thoughts and feelings as opposed to the outside world).

One of these default mode regions is the precuneus, a brain area involved in fundamental features of self-awareness, and one of the first regions to go offline when a person loses consciousness.

Another is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which includes several sub regions that work together to process how you relate to or place value on your experiences. The more these areas were decoupled or deactivated, the more pain relief the participant reported.

“For many people struggling with chronic pain, what often affects their quality of life most is not the pain itself, but the mental suffering and frustration that comes along with it,” said Zeidan.

“Their pain becomes a part of who they are as individuals—something they can’t escape—and this exacerbates their suffering.”

“By relinquishing the self-referential appraisal of pain, mindfulness meditation may provide a new method for pain treatment.”

Mindfulness meditation is also free and can be practiced anywhere. Still, Zeidan said he hopes trainings can be made even more accessible and integrated into standard outpatient procedures.

“We feel like we are on the verge of discovering a novel non-opioid-based pain mechanism in which the default mode network plays a critical role in producing analgesia. We are excited to continue exploring the neurobiology of mindfulness and its clinical potential across various disorders.”

Author: Press Office
Source: UCSD
Original Research

Don’t Do These Things When You First Wake Up (parenthetically speaking)

However, some sleep specialists say there are certain morning mistakes that can set the stage for an unproductive rest of the day. 
Here are 7 suggestions scientists and other experts say about making the most (and the least) of the first few minutes after you wake up. 

1. Don’t Hit the Snooze Button

Sometimes your alarm goes off and you are just not ready to face the day yet. Resist the temptation to put off the inevitable by five or 10 minutes.  (I can hit the snooze button multiple times, and fall back asleep multiple times. My solution is never set the alarm since my body is never ready to face the day.)

“Most sleep specialists think that snooze alarms are not a good idea.”  That’s partly because, if you fall back into a deep sleep after you hit the snooze button, you’re entering a sleep cycle you definitely won’t be able to finish. So you’ll likely wake up groggy instead of refreshed.  It’s best to figure out how much sleep you need on a nightly basis and make sure to get that amount.

2. Don’t Stay Curled up

So you avoided the snooze and now you’re lying awake in bed. Use this time to make yourself as big as possible — physically.  According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, stretching out wide is a way to build confidence as you launch into your day.

Though it’s hard to say whether people feel good because they stretch out or vice versa, Cuddy explained  that the people who wake up with their arms in a V “are super happy, like annoyingly happy.”  (Since I can’t feel my arms until noon I am just plain annoying in the morning.  Peggy is never annoying)

By contrast, she said there’s some preliminary evidence that people who wake up in a fetal ball “wake up much more stressed out.”

3. Don’t Check Email

If you sleep near your phone  it’s easy to roll over and start mindlessly scrolling through your inbox. (Peggy is a roll over- scroller but she’s still not annoying)  As Julie Morgenstern, author of the book “Never Check Email in the Morning,”if you start your morning this way, “you’ll never recover.”

“Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless,” she said. “There is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.”

Instead, Morgenstern suggests that if you’re going to do some work, make it a project that requires considerable focus. (I don’t focus until 10 pm.  Maybe I should start checking email first thing in the morning?”)

4. Don’t Leave your Bed Unmade

Why make your bed? You’re just going to mess it up when you sleep in it later.  But according to Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” and “Smarter Faster Better,” making your bed is associated with increased productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Chicken or egg?  I put my money on super-organized people who are more likely to make their bed to begin with rather than neatness creates productivity.  (Peggy is organized and I’m “less so”. Yet she doesn’t make her bed and I make mine.  If I don’t make my bed I’m unable to find it in the evening.)

But Duhigg writes that making your bed is a “keystone habit” that can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”  (So far, other good habits elude me . . . maybe I’ll try reverse psychology and leave my bed unmade)

5. Don’t Drink Coffee

Your body naturally produces higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which regulates energy, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. So for most people, the best time to drink coffee is after 9:30 a.m.

If you consume caffeine before then, your body will start adjusting by producing less cortisol in the early morning — meaning you’ll be creating the problem you fear.  (neither of us are prone to fearfulness . . . bottoms up!)

6. Don’t Get Ready in the Dark

“Your internal body clock is designed to be sensitive to light and darkness”, said Natalie Dautovich of the National Sleep Foundation.  So getting ready in the dark could signal to your body that it’s still nighttime and could make you feel even groggier.  (Maybe that’s my problem – I get ready in the dark because my eyes are at half mast until noon)

If it’s still dark outside when you wake up, Dautovich recommends turning on a strong light, like the ones used to treat seasonal affective disorder.

(Peggy goes outside, sits in the sun and drinks her morning coffee.  She knows that morning sunlight resets our internal clock so we will be ready to get up the next day.  HER eyes however are always wide-open in the morning)

7. Don’t Play it by Ear

It’s best if you incorporate your initial morning activities into some kind of routine.  Scientists say our willpower is limited, and when we expend it early on in the day trying to decide what to do next, we have less left later in the day when we need to concentrate on work.  Instead, let your brain run on automatic in the morning and conserve those mental resources for when you really need them.

(Maybe that’s why I’m not awake until 10 pm.  Since my eyes are half-shut and my brain is still sleeping the only two organs left in my control are my mouth that drinks coffee in the dark and my ears which I play by)

How Do YOU sabotage your day before it starts?

(jw)

Source: Business Insider, by 

How to keep optimistic in face of reality

This was of personal interest to me given that the last several days I wasn’t feeling very optimistic.  Seems my brain’s left inferior frontal gyrus was not gyrating. (jw)

P.S.  Be patient while the video loads.  If you don’t like what Tali says you will like how she looks (certainly not like a stereo-type neuroscientist).

 https://www.ted.com/talks/tali_sharot_the_optimism_bias

“Optimism bias is the belief that the future will be better, much better, than the past or present. And most of us display this bias. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot wants to know why: What is it about our brains that makes us overestimate the positive?

Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain.

In the book, Sharot reviewed findings from both social science and neuroscience that point to an interesting conclusion: “Our brains aren’t just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.”

In her own work, Sharot is interested in how our natural optimism actually shapes what we remember, and her interesting range of papers encompasses behavioral research (how likely we are to misremember major events) as well as medical findings — like searching for the places in the brain where optimism lives. Sharot is a faculty member of the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London.”

Anger May Drive Subtype of Chronic Pain

It takes a LOT for me to get angry.   I can only recall 3 times in my life that I became REALLY angry – one involved a bar-b-qued turkey leg, but that’s another story.  However, chronic pain has been my constant companion for 27 years.   I’m blessed that pain isn’t #1 on my symptom list (fatigue holds that spot) and perhaps my slow-to-anger has been a big factor.

Millions of people in the world experience chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and tension headaches which fall under the label of Nociplastic pain.  This category of pain is new to me and got my attention.   I’ve gone through the article and highlighted the points that stood out to me in case you want a quick read for an over-view. (judy)

A new biobehavioral model offers an opportunity to reduce nociplastic pain associated with anger regulation.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that a subtype of chronic pain called nociplastic pain may be associated with unhealthy emotional regulation – particularly anger – according to a recent review.”

Chronic Pain Subtypes

“The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), in a 2020 review article in the journal Pain, proposed three subtypes of chronic pain, although these categories can be challenging to assess, wrote Brandon C. Yarns, MD, of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and colleagues in a recent review.¹”

  1. Nociceptive Pain is characterized by ongoing injury to peripheral tissues, such as pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer pain, and other conditions.
  2. Neuropathic pain is characterized by ongoing injury to peripheral nerves, such as pain associated with diabetic neuropathy.
  3. Nociplastic pain, by contrast, “includes conditions without evidence of peripheral tissue or nervous system lesion or disease, or with poor correlation of such peripheral findings to the patient’s subjective report of the locations of pain.” This type of pain is often associated with conditions such as nonspecific chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and tension headaches, the researchers wrote.

Anger Regulation in Nociplastic Pain Syndromes

“The literature describing how emotion regulation, especially anger regulation, affects the presence and severity of nociplastic pain conditions goes back decades, Dr. Yarns told PPM. However, no prior reviews included neural correlates of emotion regulation in chronic pain patients. “So, we thought it was important to try to bring together the behavioral and correlational research on anger and anger regulation in chronic pain with brain imaging research on emotion regulation, most of which was in healthy adults,” with the goal of developing a model and an agenda to simulate further research in nociplastic pain, he explained.”

Proposed Biobehavioral Model Links Anger and Pain at Brain Level

“In an review published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Dr. Yarns’ team summarized the latest evidence and propose a unified, biobehavioral model – the Anger, Brain, and Nociplastic Pain (AB-NP) Model – as a way to advance research and inform treatments for chronic pain and its common comorbidities.”

“The team noted that the distinctions between nociplastic pain and other chronic pain subtypes start at the level of neural activity. Previous research has shown that nociplastic pain conditions are associated with neural activation patterns in emotional brain regions only, compared to activation in both sensory and affective regions observed in other chronic pain subtypes. For instance, task-based functional MRI studies have shown that periods of high spontaneous pain compared to low pain were only associated with increased activation in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), amygdala, and ventral striatum in people with chronic low back pain.”

“Next, the researchers highlighted findings from emotion research suggesting that nociplastic pain is associated with higher rates of secondary emotions, such as shame or embarrassment. “Considerable controversy remains about whether discrete emotions – such as anger – are associated with activations of unique and specific neural networks or whether most or all emotions activate the same or similar neural networks,” they wrote. However, studies have demonstrated that improved anger regulation can reduce pain.”

Pain Psychology: Gaps and Emerging Approaches

Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy

‘“Novel psychotherapies for chronic pain that act on emotion regulation – in particular anger regulation – have produced large reductions in chronic pain in clinical trials, namely emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET),” Dr. Yarns explained. These therapies purport to act on brain circuits dealing with emotion and emotion regulation, but so far this association has not been tested, he added.”

“Dr. Yarns said he was surprised to find that no prior study had evaluated an anger regulation task in people with chronic pain during a brain scan. “This was surprising because there is so much behavioral and correlational data on the importance of anger regulation in chronic pain, so we thought someone would have evaluated neural correlates, but that is not what we found,” he said.”

Anger, Brain, and Nociplastic Pain (AB-NP) Model

“The AB-NP model, according to Dr. Yarns and coauthors, “illustrates the inverse relationship between nociplastic pain and anger in the brain” The model shows how increases in unhealthy anger suppression and expression are associated with increased nociplastic pain, as well as activation in the amygdala and mPFC. However, increased anger awareness reduces nociplastic pain in treatment studies and reduces amygdala and mPFC activation in imaging studies of pain-free adults.”

“The review was limited by several factors including the heterogenous terminology used in the studies, which made synthesis of the studies a challenge, the researchers noted. Other limitations included the incomplete imaging data and lack of data on testing the paradigms for inducing anger, noted the authors.”

Anger As a Pain Treatment Target

Hissssss

“According to Dr. Yarns, the key takeaway from his team’s review is the illustration that anger regulation is clearly an important treatment target for nociplastic pain conditions.”

‘“Specifically, when a pain patient gets angry, becoming aware of the feeling and allowing it to pass without immediately acting on it and without undue distress – anger awareness – could reduce pain by opposing the brain circuits involved in the generation and maintenance of many forms of chronic pain,” he said. “The fact that it teaches this form of anger awareness could be one way that EAET(emotional awareness and expression therapy) is so effective to reduce or even eliminate chronic pain,” he added.”

“As for adopting the model in clinical practice, “I think the biggest barrier is skepticism by both patients and providers about how important the brain, emotions, and emotion regulation are to most forms of chronic pain,” Dr. Yarns told PPM. “Since patients feel chronic pain in their bodies, most assume something is wrong with their bodies, but that is not always the case,” he said. “Emotional brain circuits affect the experience of all pain, and brain imaging research shows that changes in these circuits may cause nociplastic pain,” he emphasized. “Therefore, treatments for these conditions should intervene on the levels of emotion and the brain more than the body, which is where the pain is often felt, but not always where it is caused,” he explained.”

‘“Pain management providers also frequently focus on body-based treatments such as injections, devices, and physical therapy, and most psychological/brain-based treatments only focus on coping with or accepting the pain,” said Dr. Yarns. However, “our review suggests that at least one emotional process – anger awareness – could directly oppose the brain circuits that generate and maintain nociplastic chronic pain, and therefore reduce it,” he said.”

“Disclosures: The study received no outside funding. Dr. Yarns and a coauthor were supported by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.”

June 3, 2022 fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue news

Feeling too calm? Get a Bataka

During the early years of our psychotherapy practices anger management groups used batakas to beat on pillows (and in more “advanced” groups – each other).  Supposedly, batakas released the anger but we never referred anyone to those groups, thinking that practice makes perfect and practicing being angry, much less violent, was not therapeutic.

Many years later neuroscience proved us right, so we were REALLY surprised to find batakas are still being sold on the internet with outdated and debunked descriptions like this:

 “The Bataka Encounter Bats (or aggression exercise bats) are designed to enable children and adults alike to release aggression in a fun, safe way. . . .Batakas are especially popular in therapeutic or educational environment.  The Bataka consists of a coated fabric with a firm foam roller with integrated plastic handle. The handle provides hand protection, so that the risk of injury is minimized.”

Here’s a sample instruction to practice getting angry, easily and quickly:

  • Buy a bataka from an internet site – hey, it’s only $160 . . .
  •  Think of something, someone, anything, anyone that’s bugging you and feel the anger.  
  • Focus on anger at past injustices, present slights – doesn’t matter if it’s directed toward you or someone else.
  • There are opportunities everywhere – get angry at the news, household chores, lack of time, growing old, the weather, politics . . .
  •  Slug away at a pillow or chair.
  • Make anger a habit and trust it to become a quick ‘n easy, automatic response. 

(Warning:   Your brain isn’t having fun, it’s strengthening your neuro-connections to retrieve angry feelings quickly.)

Unless you are being physically assaulted, anger is usually the lid on another emotion like fear or hurt.   Put simply, fear and hurt create vulnerability and covering those feelings with anger gives us a sense of power. 

To reduce anger:

  1. Refrain from trying to explain, justify, or rationalize why you got angry.
  2. Take a brisk walk, mop, shovel snow – movement helps dissipate the neurochemistry of anger and gives you faster clarity
  3. Pick another emotion – rejected, afraid, sad, hurt – even if you aren’t sure, just intuitively pick what feeling might have been covered by your anger.
  4. Think about what triggered the anger.  Is there a pattern?  What were circumstances in your life that created the rejection, fear, sadness or hurt?

Your brain is always creating and strengthening neuro-connections.  Unused or seldom used emotional “connections” lose strength and fade away.  The connections used the most often grow stronger.

You can train your brain to form any emotional habit you choose, with determination, effort and time.

“The actual secrets of the path to happiness are determination, effort and time.”

The Dali Lama

Take a look at the post on Reducing pain associated with anger regulation with a new biobehavioral model.  Click HERE 

Stressed? Sniff an Orange Peel – who knew?

All you need is an orange peel to feel les stressed?   Sounds strange, but the science is solid.

Mayo Clinic researchers have affirmed there’s a tremendous stress-relieving compound buried inside orange peels — called D-limonene.

You don’t have to ingest D-limonene to start feeling its effects.

Just SMELLING it can make quite a difference!

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Turns out, when you smell an orange peel, the D-limonene you inhale increases your brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels — which helps you instantly feel calmer and more relaxed.

According to Barbara Thomley, lead coordinator for the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic:

“From what we’ve seen with our patients, even a quick smell can make a major difference… lessened anxiety always seems to emerge as a benefit.”

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Oranges, by Judy

So next time you’re having a rough day, sniff an orange.

That citrusy smell can help “take the edge off” and quickly put you in a better mood. 

From Dr. Steven Gundry https://drgundry.com

For something else to sniff that will lift you mood,  Click here: A Happiness Hack:”Eau de Grass”


 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Nine – not 10 – tips to increase your smarts

How to  Learn Faster and Better, RANDOMLY

excerpted from Andrew Huberman’s newsletter

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1. Stare to Get Focused

Visual focus increases mental focus. To increase your level of focus on the task, stare!  Choose a point on a wall or object for 30-60 seconds before starting. You might be surprised if it takes a bit of effort—that ‘effort’ you feel is attentional engagement and reflects the activity of neural circuits mostly involving acetylcholine release in the brain.  Expect your mental focus to flicker on and off, especially at the start of a learning bout. 

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2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Perform the maximum number of repetitions you can in a given learning bout. There’s a reason teachers have you do the same thing over and over…  . and over.   If you repeat the process of what you are learning  faster than is reflexive for you it will help your mind from drifting off task and keep you alert. Will you make errors? Of course, which leads to #3.

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3. Make Errors and Activate Your Brain

Why should your brain take notice If you perform something correctly?  But when you make an error, the the neural circuits that increase alertness are activated.  When you feel stressed from producing something that doesn’t work your brain pays attention.  Attention puts you in a better place to perform and execute learning-related behaviors the next trial—meaning on the next attempt. Computational modeling data suggests that an error rate of ~15% may be optimal and can help determine how difficult we should make a task.

But don’t worry too much about those specifics. Instead, keep doing repetitions and when you mess up, capitalize on it by doing another attempt (and another) while your forebrain is in that maximally attentive state.

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4. Randomly Rest-Just for 10 Seconds

Studies (in humans!) have shown that when trying to learn something, if you pause every so often for 10 seconds and do nothing during the pause, neurons in the hippocampus and cortex—areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, engage the same patterns of neural activity that occurred during the actual activity of learning . . . . but 10X faster.  These “gap-effects” are similar to what happens in a deep sleep.

The takeaway: introduce  RANDOM 10 second pauses every 2 minutes during learning . . . which is one nice long breath in and out.

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5. Give Yourself Random Rewards 

The neural circuits that control rewards (all of which are brain chemical rewards) are closely tethered to the circuits that control motivation and the desire to pursue things, including learning. The question of how often to reward ourselves or others in order to keep motivation high is simple: make it random and intermittent. This is what casinos do to keep people gambling. It works. Predictable rewards lose their motivational impact quickly.

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6. Max Out at 90 Minutes

Solid research shows that 90 minutes is about the longest period we can expect to maintain intense focus and effort toward learning.  After 90 minutes, take a break and space intense learning bouts at least 2-3  hours apart. 

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7.  Deep Rest , or take a Short Nap after 90 minutes of concentration

Research shows that shallow naps and/or NSDR Non-Sleep Deep Rest can enhance the rate and depth of learning.  Within 1 hour of completing a learning bout, do a short NSDR “protocol”.  Here are some options:

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8. Sleep Deep at Night  

The actual rewiring of neural circuits that underlies learning occurs during sleep and NSDR. Think of the learning bout as the “trigger” or stimulus for the possibility that we might learn, but sleep and NSDR are when the actual learning- the neural circuit rewiring, occurs. Our goal should be to get sleep right at least 80% of the time—it takes some work to get there but it is well worth it.

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9. Breathe to Be Alert

 Being alert acutally  involves many processes and one of the main things is the release of epinephrine (adrenaline). One simple way to become more alert:

  1. Take 25-30 deep breaths (Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth).
  2.  Next, hold your breath  for 15-60 seconds.
  3. Finally, inhale once and hold your breath. But don’t force the breath hold; start to breathe normally immediately once you feel the impulse to breathe. 

Behavioral protocols like the ones listed here are necessary no matter what. You don’t have to do all 9 every learning session (although numbers 1, 2, 9 are non-negotiable).

Click here to subscribe to Huberman’s newsletter   or go to hubermanlab.com

20 minutes to reduce your anxiety

Who isn’t a bit anxious these days . . . massacre, fire, flood, war, famine . . . the growing list is over-whelming.  On the flip side is there is remarkable advances in everything from genetics to nuclear fusion. 

In addition to scientific evidence that an “an apple a day” is biological good for us, here’s evidence that meditation reduces anxiety.  

Chew & swallow to raise your mood and brain energy

Food and mood are so intricately connected that they’ve inspired a new area of brain study: Nutritional psychiatry examines how what we eat impacts how we feel.

Nutritional research shows we can empower ourselves to feel partly — or sometimes entirely — better based on our dietary habits.

 To boost your mood and brain energy levels, put these 35 foods on your grocery list:

Complex carbs

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Pumpkin seeds, apples, strawberries, oatmeal and chickpeas help keep your sugar levels and mood stable.

Fluctuations in blood glucose can cause your mood to change rapidly, leaving you irritable, low on energy and feeling downright dreadful.   Due to their higher fiber content, complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs and take longer to break down.

Lean Protein

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 Chicken, eggs, lean beef, salmon , and lentils all provide energy that lasts and keep your blood sugar balanced.

Protein is necessary for healthy energy levels. It takes longer to digest than carbs, keeping your blood sugar balanced and providing lasting energy.

It also affects hormones that control satiety, so when you eat enough of it, you can ward off “hanger.”

Amino acids, are the building blocks of protein, help repair and replenish tissue — and your body needs them to make certain neurotransmitters.

Healthy fats

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Olives, tofu, dark chocolate, avocado and sardines reduce inflammation and blood pressure and have Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for your brain, immune system and inflammation

Omega-3 fatty acids are part of cell membranes, particularly in the brain, and eating foods like salmon and sardines has been shown to ease depression and boost mood.

Beyond omega-3s, the unsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, olives and nuts may help keep inflammation at bay and reduce blood pressure, which are important for brain health.

Folate

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Spinach, asparagus, brussel sprouts, pomegranates, shellfish affects mood neurotransmitters to keep you calm, and helps you sleep

All these foods contain folate which has an important role in the production of dopamine, impacts other mood-related neurotransmitters, helping you keep calm.

Folate has also been shown to help prevent neural tube defects, support cell growth, cell repair, and regulate sleep patterns (especially as you age).

A deficiency in folate levels has been linked to a number of brain issues, including dementia and depression.

Iron

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Potatoes, turkey, cashews, kidney beans, and quinoa have iron which helps fight infection and keep healthy brain function

Low iron can cause fatigue and depression. The proteins found in iron also help maintain healthy brain function and development.

Consuming too much or not enough of iron can impact both your innate and adaptive immune functions.

Vitamin C

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 Tomatoes, bell peppers, kiwi, oranges, and lemons help you keep an even mood and repair your body

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that assists the body’s ability to make neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which work to stabilize mood.

Your body needs vitamin C to maintain and repair all tissues, helping wounds and cuts heal. Plus, your adrenal glands require vitamin C to make stress hormones, including cortisol. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol you produce — and the more vitamin C you need.

Melatonin

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Tart cherries, pistachios, barley grapes and broccoli all help ease you into a good night’s sleep

Tryptophan, as well as nutrients like calcium and vitamin B6, help you produce melatonin, but you can also get this “sleep hormone” from the foods listed above.

Melatonin doesn’t have a soporific effect. Instead, it shifts you into a state that helps you ease your way toward sleep. Eating foods rich in melatonin before bedtime can help you take full advantage of the natural increase in this hormone that happens in the evening.

Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, is a dietitian, nutritionist, chef and author of “From Burnout to Balance: 60+ Healing Recipes and Simple Strategies to Boost Mood, Immunity, Focus and Sleep.” 

BYDK*: Why you have brown eyes, even if they aren’t

“When you’re next staring deep into the eyes of your partner, the moment may soon be ruined by the knowledge that, regardless of whether these windows to their soul appear piercingly blue or a shimmering green, the reality is that they are brown.”

That’s right. All human eyes are brown.   A mix of biology and physics should help explain this reality.

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The reality-brown

“Everyone has melanin in the iris of their eye, and the amount that they have determines their eye color,” said Dr. Gary Heiting, a licensed optometrist  “There’s really only (this) one type of pigment.”

Seeing blue through the brown

“Melanin — made up of melanocyte cells — is naturally dark brown in color but has the ability to absorb different amounts of light, depending on how much of it there is. The more melanin inside the iris, the more light is absorbed, meaning less light is reflected out, leaving the iris appearing brown.
But when someone has blue eyes, they have less melanin in their iris, resulting in less light being absorbed and more light reflecting, or scattering, back out. When this light is scattered, it reflects at shorter wavelengths along the blue end of the light color spectrum — leaving you seeing blue.”
“Green and hazel eyes are somewhere in the middle, with differing quantities of melanin resulting in different levels of light absorption and therefore different colors reflecting out. Hazel is considered a mixture of eye colors, according to Heiting.
Different light settings can also make some eyes appear to change color depending on where the person is standing.”
“It’s an interaction between the amount of melanin and the architecture of the iris itself,” added Heiting. “It’s a very complex architecture.” This part of the eye is therefore unique to most individuals and can act as something like a fingerprint, due to the existence of various textures and patterns.
Blue eyes have the least amount of pigment of all eye colors. When babies are born, their eyes may sometimes appear blue early on, while their melanin is still forming. Their eye color may then darken as they develop.”
“As a baby develops, more melanin accumulates in the iris,” said Heiting.

Evolution in play

Like skin color, one theory behind the evolution of eye color is the migration of our early ancestors toward cooler parts of the world.

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What we see-blue and green

“While high levels of melanin — in eyes, hair, and skin — help protect people in hotter climates, like Africa, from UV radiation, the need for the protective pigment decreases as people move to locations with less sun. “There was less need for all that melanin,” Heiting said.”

“Another theory conceived by professor Hans Eiberg at the University of Copenhagen was that a mutation once switched off the ability of someone’s eye to produce melanin. This would lead to light eyes in the affected individual; their rarity may have made them more attractive and aided their natural selection within the population. In one study, he analyzed genes for eye color and identified what he believed to be a common mutation causing blue eye color.”

“It’s believed that’s how blue eyes came about, but it may just be the de-emphasis on the need for all the melanin,” Heiting said.

Determining color

“It’s long been believed that if someone has brown eyes — or what appear to be brown eyes — their chances of having a child with lighter eyes are slim. Following suit is the theory that two people with blue eyes will automatically have a child with blue eyes due to the gene being recessive, rather than dominant.”
But this is also not quite true.
‘”It’s pretty well accepted now that eye color is a polygenic trait,” Heiting said, meaning multiple genes are involved. In fact, up to 16 genes are thought to play a role in the amount of melanin in someone’s eye, implying that the eye color trait does not follow the traditional rules of inheritance.”
“So if your deep, dark eyes are pining for a child with light, sparkling eyes, hope may not be lost. “Several genes have an influence on eye color,” Heitling said. “It’s not something you can predict with ease.”

“Other options are colored contacts or laser surgery to change how light is reflected from your eye, but while you mull over the realization that eyes are not what you once thought they were, one thing is for sure: You’ll never look someone in the eye the same way again.”‘

*Bet You Didn’t Know

Think yourself “buff”

In a fascinating experiment, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation discovered that a muscle can be strengthened just by thinking about exercising it.

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“For 12 weeks (five minutes a day, five days per week) a team of 30 healthy young adults imagined either using the muscle of their little finger or of their elbow flexor. Dr. Vinoth Ranganathan and his team asked the participants to think as strongly as they could about moving the muscle being tested, to make the imaginary movement as real as they could.”

Compared to a control group – that did no imaginary exercises and showed no strength gains – the little-finger group increased their pinky muscle strength by 35%. The other group increased elbow strength by 13.4%.
What’s more, brain scans taken after the study showed greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than before.”

The researchers said strength gains were due to improvements in the brain’s ability to signal muscle.

Neurobics™ is a unique system of brain exercises using your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways that encourage you to shake up your everyday routines. They are designed to help your brain manufacture its own nutrients that strengthen, preserve, and grow brain cells.

Include one or more of your senses in an everyday task:

  • Get dressed with your eyes closed
  • Wash your hair with your eyes closed
  • Share a meal and use only visual cues to communicate. No talking.

Combine two senses:


  • Listen to music and smell flowers
  • 
Listen to the rain and tap your fingers
  • Watch clouds and play with modeling clay at the same time

Break routines:

  • Take a new route to a familiar place
  • 
Eat with your opposite hand
  • 
Shop at new grocery store

Cancel that gym membership, donate your running shoes and flex those buff fingers!

Nature or nurture? Antisocial behavior and size of the cortex.

“One in four people will show patterns of antisocial behavior at least once during their childhood and adolescence. From stealing to bullying, lying, or even committing violence, most people grow out of these behaviors.”

“But for about 10 percent of the population, antisocial behavior never goes away, persisting into adulthood. In a new study, scientists scanned the brains of 672 people to discover that people who have antisocial conduct throughout their lives have smaller brains than those who do not.”

“Individuals who showed antisocial behavior consistently up to age 45 had a thinner cortex and smaller surface area in brain regions associated with executive function, motivation, and affect, when compared to people who were not antisocial.”

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“By contrast, the research team didn’t see any widespread structural brain abnormalities in people who exhibited antisocial behavior only during adolescence.”

“The study’s findings suggest these differences in brain structure may make it harder for people to develop the social skills they need to stop them from engaging in the antisocial behavior in the first place, Christina Carlisi, a co-author on the study and researcher at University College London said.”

That has implications for diagnosis — and for treatment. If these changes appear in early life, or from birth, then it may be possible to intervene early enough to make a difference in people’s lifelong habits and conduct.

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MAPPING THE BRAIN
“The study is not the first to link atypical brain development to antisocial behavior or conduct disorder. But it is the first to map out which areas of the brain may be distinct in people who only show antisocial behavior during early life as compared to people who exhibit this behavior across their lifespan.”

“To figure out which brain regions — if any — looked and operated differently in lifelong-antisocial behavior, the research team analyzed brain scans from 672 45-year-old participants who are a part of the Dunedin Study. The Study has followed the same group since age three, offering researchers unprecedented information on how people’s behaviors change and develop across the lifespan.”

“Of the 672 participants, 66 percent (441 people) had no history of persistent antisocial behavior, while 23 percent (151 people) had exhibited antisocial behavior during their younger years, and 12 percent (80 people) had “life-course-persistent antisocial behavior.” Members of the latter group showed conduct problems across their life such as physical fighting, bullying, destroying property, lying, truancy (or chronic work absenteeism), and stealing, up to age 45.”

“Researchers analyzed participants’ brain thickness, surface area, size, and other structural details using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.”

“Across the entire brain, individuals who showed antisocial behavior through life had (on average) reduced surface area in 282 of 360 brain regions. They also had thinner cortex in 11 of 360 regions, including in areas linked to goal-directed behavior, regulation of emotions, and motivation, all of which can factor into antisocial behavior.”

“By contrast, the people who had exhibited antisocial behavior only in adolescence did not have widespread differences in brain structure.”

“Most people who exhibit antisocial behavior primarily do so only in adolescence, likely as a result of navigating socially difficult years, and these individuals do not display structural brain differences,” Carlisi said.

“It is also these individuals who are generally capable of reform and go on to become valuable members of society.”

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NATURE VERSUS NURTURE
“The findings do not show that lifelong antisocial behavior is rooted in the brain, or destined from birth. It is unclear whether people who do show these behaviors throughout their lives are born with brain differences or if these differences develop over time as a result of the behaviors themselves. They may also stem, in part, from environmental factors like drug use, smoking, or diet.”

“It is unclear whether these brain differences are inherited and precede antisocial behavior, or whether they are the result of a lifetime of confounding risk factors (eg, substance abuse, low IQ, and mental health problems) and are therefore a consequence of a persistently antisocial lifestyle,” Essi Viding, a study co-author and researcher at University College London, said in a statement.”

“The results jibe with a 2018 study that showed children with antisocial behavior, or who are diagnosed with conduct disorder, are at an increased risk for incarceration and poor physical and mental health later in life. More research is needed to determine how antisocial behavior plays out over a lifetime as well as in the brain.”

But the findings have important implications now for the treatment of juvenile offenders, the researchers say.

“Political approaches to juvenile offending often swing back and forth between punitive measures and approaches that give young offenders room to reform,” Terrie Moffitt, a study co-author and researcher at Duke University said in a statement.”

“Our findings support the need for different approaches for different offenders — however, we caution against brain imaging being used for screening, as the understanding of brain structure differences are not robust enough to be applied on an individual level,” she said.”

“Instead, we need to recognize that individual development can be one driver of serious repeat offending, but to also appreciate that this is not the case for all juvenile offenders.”

https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/brain-of-lifelong-bully-looks-different-than-general-populations

Your BELLY-BRAIN

Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach?

Does hunger ever changed your mood?

Our bellies and brains are physically and biochemically connected in a number of ways, meaning the state of our intestines can alter the way our brains work and behave, giving a whole new meaning to ‘Food for thought’.”

The brain may be highly affected by the gut

The idea that gut bacteria might have a significant impact on brain functioning is gaining steam in the scientific community. 

“It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,”

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“Previous research had investigated a link between disorders like autism, depression and anxiety to variations in the microbes within the intestines –– neuroscientists began to develop a deeper understanding of just how the microbiome, as it is called, exerts an influence on the brain’s development and activity. While the link is still being investigated, the immune system and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the digestive tract, both likely play a role.”

LISTEN!

90% of Serotonin produced in intestines 10% in brain!

Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain,  Ruairi Robertson, TEDxFulbright, SantaMonica

Your Microbiome is Invisibly Spewing YOU onto Others!

The Pit In Your Stomach is Actually Your Second Brain

How Dreams help us face our fears – neuroscience

Do bad dreams serve a purpose? Researchers analyzed the dreams of people and identified which areas of the brain were activated when they experienced fear in their dreams. They found that once the individuals woke up, the brain areas responsible for controlling emotions responded to fear-inducing situations much more effectively. These results demonstrate that dreams help us react better to frightening situations, thereby paving the way for new dream-based therapeutic methods for combating anxiety.

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“Neuroscience has been taking an interest in dreams for a number of years, focusing on the areas of the brain that are active when we dream. The scientists employed high-density electroencephalography (EEG), which uses several electrodes positioned on the skull to measure brain activity. They recently discovered that certain regions of the brain are responsible for the formation of dreams, and that certain other regions are activated depending on the specific content within a dream (such as perceptions, thoughts and emotions). “We were particularly interested in fear: what areas of our brain are activated when we’re having bad dreams?” states Lampros Perogamvros, a researcher in the Sleep and Cognition Laboratory headed by professor Sophie Schwartz in the Department of Basic Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNIGE, and senior clinical lecturer at HUG’s Sleep Laboratory.”

Brain areas active during frightening dreams
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The scientists from Geneva placed 256 EEG electrodes on 18 subjects whom they woke several times during the night. Each time the participants were woken up, they had to answer a series of questions such as: ‘Did you dream? And, if so, did you feel scared?’

By analysing the brain activity based on participants’ responses, we identified two brain regions implicated in the induction of fear experienced during the dream: the insula and the cingulate cortex,” explains Perogamvros. The insula is also involved in evaluating emotions when awake, and is automatically activated when someone feels afraid. The cingulate cortex, for its part, plays a role in preparing motor and behavioural reactions in the event of a threat. “For the first time, we’ve identified the neural correlates of fear when we dream and have observed that similar regions are activated when experiencing fear in both sleep and wakeful states,” continues the Geneva-based researcher.

Do dreams prepare us for our waking lives?

The research then investigated a possible link between the fear experienced during a dream and the emotions experienced once awake.

“They gave a dream diary to 89 participants for the duration of a week. The subjects were asked that each morning upon waking, they note down whether they remembered the dreams they had during the night and to identify the emotions they felt, including fear. At the end of the week, they were placed in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. “We showed each participant emotionally-negative images, such as assaults or distressful situations, as well as neutral images, to see which areas of the brain were more active for fear, and whether the activated area changed depending on the emotions experienced in the dreams over the previous week,” says Virginie Sterpenich, a researcher in the Department of Basic Neurosciences at UNIGE.”

The researchers were particularly interested in the brain areas traditionally involved in managing emotions, such as the insula, amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex and cingulate cortex. “We found that the longer a someone had felt fear in their dreams, the less the insula, cingulate and amygdala were activated when the same person looked at the negative pictures,” says Sterpenich. “In addition, the activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is known to inhibit the amygdala in the event of fear, increased in proportion to the number of frightening dreams!”

These results demonstrate the very strong link between the emotions we feel in both sleep and wakefulness. They also reinforce a neuroscientific theory about dreams: we simulate frightening situations while dreaming in order to better react to them once we’re awake. “Dreams may be considered as a real training for our future reactions and may potentially prepare us to face real life dangers,” suggests Perogamvros.

Dreams: a new therapeutic?

“Following the revelation of a potential function of dreams, the researchers are now planning to study a new form of dream therapy to treat anxiety disorders. They are also interested in nightmares, because — unlike bad dreams, in which the level of fear is moderate — nightmares are characterised by an excessive level of fear that disrupts sleep and has a negative impact on the individual once awake. “We believe that if a certain threshold of fear is exceeded in a dream, it loses its beneficial role as an emotional regulator,” concludes Perogamvros.”

Story Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191125100349.htm

Materials provided by Université de Genève

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