Science of the Spirit


Childhood amnesia: The age at which our earliest memories fade

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Can you remember anything from before the age of three?
Most adults can't remember much, if anything, from before the age of three. It's what Sigmund Freud first termed 'childhood amnesia'. But it wasn't always this way: there must have been a time in childhood when memories from before the age of 3 could be recalled.

A new study of childhood memory reveals that childhood amnesia sets in at around the age of seven (Bauer & Larkina, 2013). For their study, the researchers began interviewing a group of children at the age of three, asking them what they could remember. They were then followed up at the ages of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 to see what they could remember from before.

The results showed that between 5 and 7 years-of-age, the children could remember between 63% and 72% of the events they'd first recalled at the age of three. However, by the age of 8 or 9, the children only remembered about 35% of the events. Their memories had, though, undergone an interesting transformation. At the age of 5 or 6, children remembered more events, but their narratives of these events were hazy. When older, though, despite remembering fewer events, what they did recall had greater detail.

Psychologists theorise that childhood amnesia occurs because the brain is still learning to encode long-term memories. The neural architecture that underlies this ability needs time to develop.
Alarm Clock

Loneliness is killing us - we must start treating this disease

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'Feeling isolated can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, weaken immunity, increase depression and lower subjective wellbeing.'
A report says loneliness is more deadly than obesity - the challenge now is to help lonely people connect.

That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody."

But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity.

In a report called Rewarding Social Connections Promote Successful Ageing that Professor John Cacioppo presented in Chicago at the weekend, the effect of satisfying relationships on the elderly was measured.

How aging changes what makes you happy

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"We are the sum of all the moments of our lives - all that is ours is in them." - Thomas Wolfe
With increasing age, people get more pleasure out of everyday experiences; while younger people define themselves more by extraordinary experiences, a new study finds.

The study asked over 200 people between the ages of 19 and 79 about happy experiences they'd had that were both ordinary and extraordinary (Bhattacharjee & Mogilner, 2014).

Naturally, happy extraordinary experiences - like a expensive foreign travel - happen less frequently, while ordinary happy experiences - like seeing your family - are much more common.

Across all the age-groups in the study, people found pleasure in all sorts of experiences; both ordinary and extraordinary.

New research shows the way a room is lit can affect the way you make decisions

The next time you want to turn down the emotional intensity before making an important decision, you may want to dim the lights first.

A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light. Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of management at UTSC and the Rotman School of Management, along with Aparna Labroo of Northwestern University, conducted a series of studies to examine the unusual paradox of lighting and human emotion.

"Other evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can result in seasonal affective disorder," says Xu. "Contrary to these results, we found that on sunny days depression-prone people actually become more depressed," she says, pointing to peaks in suicide rates during late spring and summer when sunshine is abundant.

Study finds nothing so sweet as a voice like your own

Have you ever noticed that your best friends speak the same way? A new University of British Columbia study finds we prefer voices that are similar to our own because they convey a soothing sense of community and social belongingness.

While previous research has suggested that we prefer voices that sound like they are coming from smaller women or bigger men, the new study - published today in the journal PLOS ONE - identifies a variety of other acoustic signals that we find appealing.

Article available here.

"The voice is an amazingly flexible tool that we use to construct our identity," says lead author Molly Babel, a professor in the Department of Linguistics. "Very few things in our voices are immutable, so we felt that our preferences had to be about more than a person's shape and size."

Aside from identifying the overwhelming allure of one's own regional dialects, the study finds key gender differences. It showed a preference for men who spoke with a shorter average word length, and for "larger" sounding male voices, a finding that supports previous research.
Life Preserver

SOTT Talk Radio: Spirit Release Therapy - Interview with Patrick Rodriguez & Heather Hayes

We recently had an interesting discussion with two 'spirit healers', Patrick Rodriguez and Heather Hayes. Rodriguez is an intuitive healer and hypnotherapist with many years' experience. With the help of a highly gifted psychic medium, Heather Hayes, Rodriguez practices 'Spirit Release' and 'Soul Therapy', helping 'earthbound spirits' and people with 'attached spirits'.

What do these terms actually mean? Does one have to 'believe in the spirit world' for such therapeutic modalities to work? As Rodriguez emphasises, it's not a magic wand that will transform your life for the better overnight, but people do have improvements in their lives with the help of such 'unconventional' therapy, if only from learning a bit more about themselves.

Listen as Rodriguez, Hayes and former hypnotherapist Laura Knight-Jadczyk compared notes in this lively SOTT Talk Radio show.

Here's the transcript:

Comment: Check out Rodriguez's website, The Soul Rescue Site, and his book can be purchased here.

People 2

Social contact, regular exercise key to living longer

Simple exercise such as walking regularly at a good pace can slow down the normal aging process of an older person's brain, the study revealed
Social contact and regular exercise are key to aging well and living a longer life, according to newly presented research.

In fact, feeling extremely lonely can increase an older person's chances of premature death by 14 per cent, an impact nearly as strong as that of a disadvantaged socioeconomic status, according to John Cacioppo, psychology professor at the University of Chicago.

He noted that a meta-analysis of several studies published in 2010 showed that social isolation had twice the impact on the risk of death as obesity.

Cacioppo presented the findings Sunday at an annual conference in Chicago of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The research carried out on a group of 20,000 people revealed adverse health effects of feeling alone, including sleep problems, high blood pressure, impaired immune cells and depression.
Arrow Up

The necessity of psychological education and healing

© Humberto Braga
What is it that holds humanity back from creating world peace? We have the resources, the scientific understanding, the environmental awareness, the community, and the inner drive to create a paradise on earth. So why is humanity constantly falling back in to the same old self-consuming patterns it has suffered throughout history? What is at the root of all our problems, and how can we fix it for once and all? I propose that it all starts with one thing: psychological education and healing.
A great change of our psychological attitude is imminent, that is certain...we need more psychology, we need more understanding of human nature because the only real danger that exists is man himself, he is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it, we know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil. ~Carl G. Jung

Trolls just want to have fun?

© PsychCentral
According to a new study, researchers have found that people who troll online often have nasty personalities. And, well, they like doing it. Trolls enjoy trolling.

Surprised? Not sure anyone would be.

Nonetheless, the researchers found that trolls scored highly on a number of personality traits examined: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, extraversion, disagreeableness and sadism.

Trolling is, according to the researchers (Buckels et al., 2014), the "practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet with no apparent instrumental purpose."

People who troll like to post comments to websites or communities online that cause trouble, insult others, and cause general mayhem, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing what happens when they do so.

The researchers coined their own term for four of the personality variables they studied, which they call the Dark Tetrad of personality: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and sadism. Machiavellianism is a willingness to manipulate and deceive others, while psychopathy is not having any remorse or empathy for others. The researchers thought everyday sadism would be most conducive to trolling behavior online.

In two studies of over 1,215 participants, the researchers found that a number of personality traits were associated with a greater likelihood for trolling.

Going through Hell: Belief in a punitive afterlife linked to lower well-being, study finds

Those who believe some people face eternal torment in the afterlife tend to be less satisfied with their current life and less happy, according to a new study published in PLoS One.

"Although religiosity is consistently tied to greater well-being, little research has examined which elements of religious belief offer mood benefits, which do not, and which may in fact be detrimental," Azim F. Shariff of the University of Oregon and Lara B. Aknin of the Simon Fraser University in Canada wrote in their study.

The researchers first analyzed data from the Gallup World Poll, World Values Survey, and European Values Survey to compare the "differences in subjective well-being between 63 countries against national rates of Heaven and Hell beliefs."

These international surveys were conducted on hundreds of thousands of individuals, and allowed the researchers to account for potentially confounding variables like religious attendance, GDP per capita, and unemployment.

Shariff and Aknin found that both the belief in Heaven and the belief in Hell were significant, but divergent, predictors of happiness at the national level. Countries that had higher rates of happiness had lower rates of belief in Hell and higher rates of belief in Heaven.