Science of the Spirit
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Meditation may mitigate migraine misery

Meditation might be a path to migraine relief, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

"Stress is a well-known trigger for headaches and research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines, but there hasn't been much research to evaluate specific standardized meditation interventions," said Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study published in the online edition of the journal Headache.

The study was designed to assess the safety, feasibility and effects of a standardized meditation and yoga intervention called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in adults with migraines.

Nineteen adults were randomly assigned to two groups with 10 receiving the MBSR intervention and nine receiving standard medical care. The participants attended eight weekly classes to learn MBSR techniques and were instructed to practice 45 minutes on their own at least five additional days per week.

Study participants were evaluated before and after the trial period using objective measures of disability, self-efficacy and mindfulness. They also maintained headache logs throughout the trial to capture the frequency, severity and duration of their migraines.

Comment: There is one proven technique that can assist you with managing pain, reducing stress, calming and focusing your mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving quality of life, increasing sense of connection with others in your community. It will help you to have improved overall health, a stronger immune system, better impulse control, reduced inflammation, etc. It will also help you to heal emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent you from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

There is a myriad of relaxation techniques out there, but not many of them can attest to having not only immediate effects, but also having a highly practical application. With Éiriú Eolas, there is no need to sit in special postures, or be present in a carefully prepared relaxing atmosphere. The strength of the program comes from its high adaptability to stressful conditions of the modern world. Anyone can do it, be it a student, sitting outside of a lecture hall before the exam, a mechanic needing a break from tackling problems all day, a businessman just before signing an important deal, a mother having to raise three children and worrying if she will have enough money to pay the mortgage, etc.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site or read and participate on the forum to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.

Music

During brain surgery violinist plays Mozart to conquer 20-year hand tremor (VIDEO)


Naomi Elishuv during brain surgery (an image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube)
A violinist played Mozart during her brain surgery in an Israeli clinic to help neurosurgeons correct her hand tremor. For 20 years the tremor halted her career, but after the operation she will be able to play professionally again.

Naomi Elishuv was a professional violinist of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra before diagnosed with a hand tremor. She then had to stop her career.

On Tuesday, Elishuv underwent surgery at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to suppress the symptoms of her disease.

The operation was unique: Professor Yitzhak Fried, Director of Functional Neurosurgery, who operated on Naomi, said that this was the first time he "operated on a patient who played an instrument during surgery. I am so pleased that we had the opportunity to enjoy a private concert from a most talented and honorable musician," he told Israeli media.

Fried explained that during the operation the doctors implanted and positioned a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of the brain disturbance. The device emits impulses to suppress the tremor that was disturbing Elishuv's violin-playing.
People

When a worker is "allergic" to ponerized behavior: Networking can make some feel "dirty," new study

If schmoozing for work leaves you with a certain "ick" factor, that's not just awkwardness you're feeling.

Professional networking can create feelings of moral impurity and physical dirtiness, shows a new study.

That can hold people back from networking more, reducing career opportunities and lowering job performance, says study co-author Tiziana Casciaro, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. The study was co-written with fellow researchers Prof. Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Prof. Maryam Kouchaki at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

In professional networking, "people feel that they cannot justify their actions to themselves, and the lack of justification comes from the difficulty people have in framing some forms of networking as motivated by a concern for other people versus a selfish concern," says Prof. Casciaro, who teaches organizational behaviour at Rotman and researches networks and organizations.

Despite the importance of networking in the business world, there has been little study of its psychological impacts. The findings in this study are based on several laboratory experiments, in addition to a study of lawyers at a large North American legal firm.
Info

Can your blood type affect your memory?

Bags of Blood
© Wikipedia
Bags of blood collected during donation.
People with blood type AB may be more likely to develop memory loss in later years than people with other blood types, according to a study published in the September 10, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

AB is the least common blood type, found in about 4 percent of the U.S. population. The study found that people with AB blood were 82 percent more likely to develop the thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia than people with other blood types. Previous studies have shown that people with type O blood have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, factors that can increase the risk of memory loss and dementia.

The study was part of a larger study (the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke, or REGARDS Study) of more than 30,000 people followed for an average of 3.4 years. In those who had no memory or thinking problems at the beginning, the study identified 495 participants who developed thinking and memory problems, or cognitive impairment, during the study. They were compared to 587 people with no cognitive problems.
Question

Are you more ethical in the morning?

Night Owl
© Thinkstock
If you're a night owl, you're probably grouchy if you're awake at 6:30 a.m. Now, research shows that you're also more likely to cheat at that hour. Likewise, early birds face the same dilemma at midnight.

"Even within the same day, a given person could be ethical at one point in time and unethical at another point in time," the authors wrote.

While earlier research indicated that people become more ethical throughout the day, this study also took into account people's natural circadian rhythms over two experiments.

First, participants were paid depending on the number of matrix puzzles they said they solved. The sessions were held in the morning, and night owls were more likely to over-report their numbers.
Boat

Stress kills: Even small stressors may be harmful to men's health

Stress
© Shutterstock
Older men who lead high-stress lives, either from chronic everyday hassles or because of a series of significant life events, are likely to die earlier than the average for their peers, new research from Oregon State University shows.

"We're looking at long-term patterns of stress - if your stress level is chronically high, it could impact your mortality, or if you have a series of stressful life events, that could affect your mortality," said Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.

Her study looked at two types of stress: the everyday hassles of such things as commuting, job stress or arguments with family and friends; and significant life events, such as job loss or the death of a spouse.

Both types appear to be harmful to men's health, but each type of stress appears to have an independent effect on mortality. Someone experiencing several stressful life events does not necessarily have high levels of stress from everyday hassles, Aldwin said. That is determined more by how a person reacts to the stress.

Comment: The Éiriú Eolas breathing and meditation program helps access and release layers of mental, emotional and physical toxicity and deal efficiently with chronic stress and its harmful effects.

Family

Faces seem more alive when socially disconnected

marry a robot
© Toru Hanai

Feeling socially disconnected may lead us to lower our threshold for determining that another being is animate or alive
, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"This increased sensitivity to animacy suggests that people are casting a wide net when looking for people they can possibly relate to - which may ultimately help them maximize opportunities to renew social connections," explains psychological scientist and lead researcher Katherine Powers of Dartmouth College.

These findings enhance our understanding of the factors that contribute to face perception, mind perception, and social relationships, but they could also shed light on newer types of relationships that have emerged in the modern age, Powers argues, including our relationships with pets, online avatars, and even pieces of technology, such as computers, robots, and cell phones.

Feeling socially connected is a critical part of human life that impacts both mental and physical health; when we feel disconnected from others, we try to replenish our social connections.

Comment: Abstract of the study:
Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy, Psychological Science, 2014

Bulb

"Intelligence" genes still elusive

IQ genetics inconclusive
© Jirsak/Shutterstock
Researchers found 69 genes that correlate with higher educational attainment — and three of those also also appear to have a direct link to slightly better cognitive abilities.
Study of more than 100,000 people finds three genetic variants for IQ - but their effects are maddeningly small.

Scientists looking for the genes underlying intelligence are in for a slog. One of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition has turned up inconclusive findings, and experts concede that they will probably need to scour the genomes of more than 1 million people to confidently identify even a small genetic influence on intelligence and other behavioural traits.

Studies of twins have repeatedly confirmed a genetic basis for intelligence, personality and other aspects of behaviour. But efforts to link IQ to specific variations in DNA have led to a slew of irreproducible results. Critics have alleged that some of these studies' methods were marred by wishful thinking and shoddy statistics. A sobering editorial in the January 2012 issue of Behavior Genetics declared that "it now seems likely that many of the published findings of the last decade are wrong or misleading and have not contributed to real advances in knowledge".

Comment: Research paper: Rietveld, C. A. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2014)
Supporting information here.

Clock

Why time flies as we age - 'It flew by!'

© Wealthydebates.com
We all heard it from our parents growing up and thought it sounded preposterous at the time: "What happened to last year? It flew by!" they would yell to each other at champagne-soaked New Year's Eve parties. That's because when you're a kid, time seemed to move incredibly slowly. My birthday is only a month from Christmas but I remember when I was 7 that those four weeks felt like eons - now it's all I can do to even bother celebrating my birthday, since it feels like I still have tinsel in my hair.

While we can't put our finger on an exact year when "time speeds up" it happens to most of us - and for real reasons. The first, and largest, is due to what psychologists call the Habituation Hypothesis. For very good reason, our brains want to conserve energy (compared to other animals, human brains use a lot of calories to run). So, once we have gotten used to something - a route to work, doing the dishes or getting dressed in the morning, for example - we start to do it on autopilot, and cease noticing many of the small things that make one day different from another. This makes time seem to pass much more quickly, since fewer unique moments are being recorded by your brain.

When you are a small child, everything is new, and most days are a learning experience, so your brain is rarely on "auto" and you notice much more, leading to time seeming much slower. The more attention that is paid to each moment, the slower time seems to pass (which makes sense, if you think about it).

There are physical reasons time perception changes too: Dopamine levels drop as we age, which affects our sense of time. And heart rate even has an impact. According to a 2013 research paper in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, "...variations in prospective timing are caused by two factors: the pulse rate of an internal pacemaker and the amount of attention directed to the passage of time."
People

Shared pain brings people together


What doesn't kill us may make us stronger as a group.
What doesn't kill us may make us stronger as a group, according to findings from new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The research suggests that, despite its unpleasantness, pain may actually have positive social consequences, acting as a sort of "social glue" that fosters cohesion and solidarity within groups:

"Our findings show that pain is a particularly powerful ingredient in producing bonding and cooperation between those who share painful experiences," says psychological scientist and lead researcher Brock Bastian of the University of New South Wales in Australia. "The findings shed light on why camaraderie may develop between soldiers or others who share difficult and painful experiences."

Bastian and colleagues Jolanda Jetten and Laura J. Ferris of the University of Queensland examined the link between pain and social bonding in a series of experiments with undergraduate students.

In the first experiment, the researchers randomly assigned 54 students to perform either a painful task or a similar, relatively painless, task in small groups. The students submerged their hand in a bucket of water and were tasked with locating metal balls in the water and placing them into a small underwater container. For some, the water was painfully cold, while for others the water was room temperature.

A second task required the students to either perform an upright wall squat (which is typically painful) or to balance on one leg, with the option of switching legs and using balance aids to avoid fatigue.
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