Science of the Spirit
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Stress hormones promote brain's building of negative memories


Arizona State University researcher Sabrina Segal and her colleagues measured salivary alpha-amylase to chart the levels of the brain neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

Credit: Public domain
When a person experiences a devastating loss or tragic event, why does every detail seem burned into memory; whereas, a host of positive experiences simply fade away?

It's a bit more complicated than scientists originally thought, according to a study recently published in the journal Neuroscience by Arizona State University researcher Sabrina Segal.

When people experience a traumatic event, the body releases two major stress hormones: norepinephrine and cortisol. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response, commonly rising when individuals feel threatened or experience highly emotional reactions. It is chemically similar to the hormone epinephrine -- better known as adrenaline.

In the brain, norepinephrine in turn functions as a powerful neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that can enhance memory.

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Science of out of body experiences

OBE
© Dreamstime
Hyderabad -Daljeet (name changed) remembers "everything" about the accident 20 years ago. There was his bike, the car that had screeched to a stop ahead of him and that sickening moment he went headlong into glass and metal.

"I have never been able to properly describe what happened that night. I have, however, recounted the story at least 5,000 times to friends, family and experts. Seconds after the crash, I felt myself floating into a sleep... I guess my body had given up. And then suddenly, I was hovering a few feet away from the scene and looking at the crowd - no smell, no breathing but surrounded by throbbing lights and a strange humming.

Doctors would later say the glass from the car had blinded me and that my head and neck had taken a massive jolt rendering me unconscious. But I still remember the face of the man who had first pulled me out, him screaming, Usko uthao, usko uthao, and my torn blue shirt. Two months later, I surprised my mother with the details of the accident and that's when it occurred to me, I was outside my body for maybe a minute. I was also able to vividly describe my rescuers and as the years passed, my descriptions went from family discussions to at least 10 counselling sessions."

But Daljeet believes that just one of his therapists may have really paid any attention to his story.

"The others claimed my brain had simply gone into this 'safe mode' to protect itself and me. They said it was a natural reaction; but what about those faces, the model of the ambulance vehicle...what about those details? I would like to believe it was an experience, a moment of clarity in which I was between worlds."

Then, there's the case presented by a leading surgeon from Hyderabad.

"During one of the several surgeries I've had over the years, a nurse happened to comment on the body of one of the patients on the operating table. She said she was 'fat' and that it was getting increasingly difficult to manoeuver amidst all the flab. There's no possible way the patient could've heard the comment, but two days later, following recovery, I walked into a massive argument between staff and the patient and we had to apologise. It was the strangest thing. How did a patient, breathing through a machine, with her chest open, hear a whisper?"
Alarm Clock

Missing sleep may hurt your memory

© G.L. Kohuth
Memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep, already considered a public health epidemic, can also lead to errors in memory, finds a new study by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine.

The study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, found participants deprived of a night's sleep were more likely to flub the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images.

Distorted memory can have serious consequences in areas such as criminal justice, where eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.

"We found memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation," said Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. "And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have."

Comment: ''Take control of your sleep, before it takes control of you''

Magic Wand

Significantly alleviate stress with just 25 minutes of meditation

© BuddhaWeekly
American scientists studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress levels and came to the conclusion that just three consecutive days of 25-minute meditation can significantly alleviate stress.

The technique of mindfulness meditation has helped many people to improve the overall state of their mind and body. However, until now, most studies have been mainly focused only on the therapeutic effects of the long-term meditation practice.

New research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the first time demonstrates that brief sessions of mindfulness meditation can significantly lower levels of psychological stress in just three days.

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Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program is the modern revival of an ancient breathing and meditation program which is being acclaimed around the world as THE TOOL that will help you to:
  • Relax from the stresses of everyday life
  • Gently work your way through past emotional and psychological trauma
  • Release repressed emotions and mental blockages
  • Rejuvenate and Detoxify your body and mind
Éiriú Eolas removes the barriers that stand between you and True Peace, Happiness, and ultimately a successful, fulfilling life.


Health

Overthinking as a type of 'not thinking'

Sometimes overthinking something is just another way to avoid thinking about it.

Published on January 18, 2014 by Neel Burton, M.D. in Hide and Seek

Psychology Today
I once received a call from a junior doctor in psychiatry in which he described a recent in-patient admission as 'a 47-year old mother of two who attempted to cessate her life as a result of being diagnosed with a metastatic mitotic lesion.' A formulation such as '...who tried to kill herself after being told that she is dying of cancer' would have been much better English, but would also have been all too effective at evoking the full horror of this poor lady's predicament.

The above is a good example of the ego defense of intellectualization. In intellectualization, the uncomfortable feelings associated with a problem are kept out of consciousness by thinking about the problem in cold, abstract, and esoteric terms.

Here is a second example. An ambitious medical student once asked me whether she should take up a career in academic medicine, despite (or so it seemed) having already made up her mind on the matter. I raised some arguments in favor and then some arguments against such a move, in particular that only a very small number of people engaged in medical research ever make a significant discovery. As she did not seem to be taking this argument on board, I asked her to name just one major breakthrough from the past 50 years in the life of a particular top-rated medical research department. Instead of accepting that the department had not made a single major breakthrough in 50 years of publishing one academic paper after another, she resorted to questioning the definition of a breakthrough and then even the value of making one.

Third example: After being discharged from hospital, a middle-aged man who had almost died from a heart attack spent several hours a day on his computer researching the various risk factors for cardiovascular disease. He typed out long essays on each of these risk factors, printed them out, and filed them in a large binder with colour-coded dividers. After having done all this, he became preoccupied with the vitamin and mineral contents in various kinds of food, and devised a strict dietary regimen to ensure that he took in the recommended amounts of each and every micronutrient. Despite living on a shoestring budget, he spent several hundred dollars on a high-end steamer on the basis that it could preserve vitamins through the cooking process. Although he expended an inordinate amount of effort, time, and money on his persnickety diet, he did not once consider even so much as cutting back on his far, far more noxious smoking habit.

Comment: See also: Studies show the value of not overthinking a decision

Video

Stephen Porges - The Polyvagal Theory explained

William Stranger interviews Dr. Stephen Porges.

The Polyvagal Theory introduced a new perspective relating autonomic function to behavior that included an appreciation of autonomic nervous system as a "system," the identification of neural circuits involved in the regulation of autonomic state, and an interpretation of autonomic reactivity as adaptive within the context of the phylogeny of the vertebrate autonomic nervous system.


Stephen Porges - Neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina - Department of Psychiatry (UNC Chapel Hill).

Comment: The proper stimulation of anatomical and social features involved in the polyvagal system through breathing exercises, allows us to balance up and unlock our social engagement capabilities and heal imbalances of the autonomic nervous system which are related with depression, anxiety, trauma, mood problems and others. It is in fact one of the reasons as to why our Éiriú Eolas breathing program has had profound healing effects in its practitioners. Stimulate your polyvagal system right away at eebreathe.com.



Life Preserver

Children exposed to religion have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction - study

© Shutterstock
A study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science determined that children who are not exposed to religious stories are better able to tell that characters in "fantastical stories" are fictional - whereas children raised in a religious environment even "approach unfamiliar, fantastical stories flexibly."

In "Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds," Kathleen Corriveau, Eva Chen, and Paul Harris demonstrate that children typically have a "sensitivity to the implausible or magical elements in a narrative," and can determine whether the characters in the narrative are real or fictional by references to fantastical elements within the narrative, such as "invisible sails" or "a sword that protects you from danger every time."

However, children raised in households in which religious narratives are frequently encountered do not treat those narratives with the same skepticism. The authors believed that these children would "think of them as akin to fairy tales," judging "the events described in them as implausible or magical and conclude that the protagonists in such narratives are only pretend."
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Why scientists deny psychic phenomena

© Fractal Enlightenment
Even though films like 'Inception', 'Waking Life' and more recently, 'John Dies at the End' and 'Now You See Me' wouldn't be approachable without assuming the authenticity of unexplainable events, most people, including most scientists, are unaware of the vast abundance of compelling scientific evidence for psychic phenomena, which has resulted from over a century of para-psychological research. Thousands of archaeological finds also suggest the use of such phenomenon in prehistoric times.

Hundreds of carefully controlled studies - in which psi researchers continuously redesigned experiments to address comments from their critics - have produced results that demonstrate marginal but statistically significant effects for psi phenomena, especially with regard to telepathy, precognition, and psychokinesis.

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake, Neurologist Vilaynur Ramachandran and Physicist Dean Radin are modern scientific pioneers in this field, and speak of compelling evidence for psychic phenomena, which imply that our minds are also more interconnected to one another than previously imagined.

Comment: Related...

Farewell to 'psychic research'?

Are we all psychic? Scientists believe that animals - including humans - have a collective consciousness

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Friends have more DNA in common than strangers

Friends
© MJTH/Shutterstock.
Friends may share more in common than you'd think.
People may unsuspectingly choose friends who have some DNA sequences in common with them, a new analysis finds.

Researchers compared gene variations between nearly 2,000 people who were not biologically related, and found that friends had more gene variations in common than strangers.

The study lends a possible scientific backing for the well-worn clichés, "We're just like family," or "Friends are the family you choose," the researchers said.

"Humans are unique in that we create long-term connections with people of our species," said Nicholas Christakis, a social scientist at Yale University involved in the study. "Why do we do that? Why do we make friends? Not only that, we prefer the company of people we resemble."

The researchers did the study because they wanted "to provide a deep evolutionary account of the origins and significance of friendship," Christakis said.

The new study is based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, which is a large, ongoing study looking at heart disease risk factors in the people living in one town: Framingham, Massachusetts. The researchers looked at data on people's DNA, as well as who was friends with whom.

After analyzing almost 1.5 million markers of gene variations, the researchers found that pairs of friends had the same level of genetic relation as people did with a fourth cousin, or a great-great-great grandfather, which translates to about 1 percent of the human genome.
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A conscious universe: Does science allow for life after death?

coincidence
Some international physicists are convinced, that our spirit has a quantum state and that the dualism between the body and the soul is just as real to as the "wave-particle dualism" of the smallest particles.

Dr. James G. of San Francisco, a former coworker of the German Max-Planck Society in Frankfurt, reported the following incredible story. "I studied not only in the USA, but I also studied chemistry in London for a few semesters. When I came to England, the student housing was full, so I added my name to a waiting list. A short time later, I received the joyous news that a room had become available. Shortly after I had moved in, I awoke one night and in the twilight was able to see a young man with curly, black hair. I was terrified and told the alleged neighbor that he had the wrong room. He simply cried and looked at me with great sadness in his eyes.

"When I turned on the light, the apparition had disappeared. Since I was one hundred percent sure it had not been a dream, I told the housemaster about the strange encounter the next morning. I gave her a detailed description of the young man. She suddenly paled. She looked through the archives and showed me a photo. I immediately recognized the young man who had visited me in my room the evening before. When I asked her who he was, she replied with a quivering voice that it was the previous renter. She then added that my room had become available because he had taken his life shortly before." The author would never have recorded the story had "James" not been an absolutely trustworthy person.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr, former head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, represents the opinion that the dualism of the smallest particles is not limited to the subatomic world, but instead is omnipresent. In other words: the dualism between the body and the soul is just as real to him as "wave-particle dualism" of the smallest particles. According to his view, a universal quantum code exists that applies for all living and dead matter. This quantum code supposedly spans the entire cosmos. Consequently, Dürr believes - again based on purely physical considerations - in an existence after death. He explains this as follows in an interview he gave:


Comment: The problem with this analogy is that a wave is not analogous to a mind (at least according to how we normally think of waves or minds). For the analogy to work, we should posit that waves have some degree of sentience, which implies panpsychism, i.e., everything has some degree of awareness, not just organisms with brains.

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