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Sat, 16 Oct 2021
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Serotonin: A critical chemical for human intimacy and romance

seratonin
© Unknown
The judgments we make about the intimacy of other couples' relationships appear to be influenced by the brain chemical serotonin, reports a new study published in Biological Psychiatry.

Healthy adult volunteers, whose levels of serotonin activity had been lowered, rated couples in photos as being less intimate and less romantic than volunteers with normal serotonin activity.

The approach involved giving amino acid drinks to two groups of volunteers in order to manipulate blood concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the synthesis of serotonin. One group received drinks that contained tryptophan. The other group received drinks that did not contain tryptophan. They were then asked to make judgments about sets of photographs of couples. Differences in the judgments made by the two groups reflected changes in their serotonin activity.

"Serotonin is important in social behavior, and also plays a significant role in psychological disorders such as depression," explained Professor Robert Rogers of Oxford University, who led the research. "We wanted to see whether serotonin activity influences the judgments we make about peoples' close personal relationships."

Attention

Boy, two, is first person in the world to be born with an extra strand of DNA

A two-year-old boy has become the only person in the world to be diagnosed with an extra strand in his DNA.

Brave Alfie Clamp was born blind and with severe disabilities, which led doctors to carry out various tests.

They revealed his seventh chromosome has an extra strand of material which has never been documented anywhere in the world before.

Doctors are baffled at his condition, which is so rare it does not have a name.

Image
© Manchester Evening News Syndication
Baffling: Alfie Clamp, two, has an extra 'arm' on one of his chromosomes.

Heart

Mental health professionals use horses for therapy

Image
© Rik Jesse / Florida Today
Curtis Arnett participates in equine-assisted psychotherapy at Forever Florida near St. Cloud. He was able to build trust and establish boundaries with one particular horse. The West Melbourne man was rendered a paraplegic in 2005 after a motorcycle accident.
Mental health professionals incorporate equine therapy into approach

Chris Hamrick still is haunted by the memories.

It was Feb. 27, 1991, during the first Gulf War. His platoon leader stepped on a land mine, injuring the sergeant, killing his best friend and blowing off part of Hamrick's left leg.

"It don't ever go away," said the 44-year-old Palm Bay resident, who sees a therapist once, sometimes twice a week, for post-traumatic stress disorder. "You learn how to cope better. It helps just to be able to vent."

Recently, instead of sitting in an office and talking about his feelings, he tried something different -- a therapy involving a three-legged horse named La Nina , who lost one of her hind legs when it got wrapped in a wire fence several years ago. The session was at the Equine Education Center at Forever Florida near St. Cloud.

"The three-legged horse intrigued me," Hamrick said. "That's a pretty heavy animal to try to get around on three legs and develop a gallop. It takes a will to survive. I went through quite a bit myself, complications off and on, being an amputee. You got to decide that you are willing to accept the struggle and keep on going. It's interesting to see how an animal deals with it."

A growing number of mental health counselors are incorporating horses into their sessions, using the animals to treat a host of mental health issues ranging from eating disorders to substance abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder. NARHA, formerly known as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, has been offering equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning since 1995 and calls them fast-growing disciplines in the equine industry.

Bad Guys

The Genetics Of Tyranny: Psychopathology, Parasitism, and Totalitarianism

original art
© Richard William Posner
Whilst doing research online I sometimes come across some really fascinating, albeit unrelated, information. One small joy of life in a world that becomes grimmer each day.

While scrolling down any given web page, reading an article for information pertinent to the current research, I may notice a heading or a phrase with a link to another page, which I find intriguing even though it's not specifically relevant. Often it's just a waste of time, sometimes it's so enticing that I abandon what I'm doing and become engrossed in the new find.

Just Lucky I Guess

In some of my writing and in comments I have made on the writing of others, I have alluded to my opinion that the psychopathic condition of people who seek dominance over all others is the result of a genetic aberration. It now seems my conjecture may not have been without merit.

Magic Wand

How to Work When Your Personal Life is Falling Apart

Image
© AIS
We often have to show up at the office even when there's a serious issue unfolding at home. Death, divorce, fights, and a myriad of other unfortunate life situations might stop your life in its tracks, but the harsh reality is that work must go on. To maintain your work-life balance and keep your job, here are several tactics employees can use to make a tough time a bit easier:

Comment: There is one proven technique that can assist you with reducing your 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.

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


People

US: Brain Structure Differs in Liberals, Conservatives: Study

Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.

"We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place.

"Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

Comment: Bob Altemeyer has written a book - The Authoritarians - explaining more fully some of these personality differences between conservatives and liberals.


Bulb

The importance of real-time feedback in self observation: People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity

self observation
© Unknown
As humans face increasing distractions in their personal and professional lives, University of British Columbia researchers have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback.

The study is the world's first investigation of how real-time functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) feedback from the brain region responsible for higher-order thoughts, including introspection, affects our ability to control these thoughts. The researchers find that real-time brain feedback significantly improves people's ability to control their thoughts and effectively 'train their brains.'

"Just like athletes in training benefit from a coach's guidance, feedback from our brain can help us to be more aware of our thoughts," says co-author Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology. "Our findings suggest that the ability to control our thinking improves when we know how the corresponding area in our brain is behaving."

For the study, published the current issue of NeuroImage journal, participants performed tasks that either raised or lowered mental introspection in 30-second intervals over four six-minute sessions. fMRI technology tracked real-time activity in the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC), the region of the brain involved with higher-order thoughts.

Comment: In social context, fMRI's role of providing one with beneficial feedback and assisting with adjustment of one's perceptions or thoughts can be done by Networking.


Heart - Black

Why a lack of empathy is the root of all evil

From casual violence to genocide, acts of cruelty can be traced back to how the perpetrator identifies with other people, argues psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen. Is he right?

Rwanda genocide
© Agence France-Presse/Getty
Lucy Adeniji - an evangelical Christian and author of two books on childcare - trafficked two girls and a 21-year-old woman from Nigeria to work as slaves in her east London home. She made them toil for 21 hours a day and tortured them if they displeased her. The youngest girl was 11 years old.

Sentencing her to 11-and-a-half years in prison last month, Judge Simon Oliver said: "You are an evil woman. I have no doubt you have ruined these two girls' lives. They will suffer from the consequences of the behaviour you meted out to them for the rest of their lives."

Most people would probably agree with Judge Oliver's description of Adeniji as evil, but Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, would not be one of them. In his latest book, Zero Degrees of Empathy: A new theory of human cruelty, Baron-Cohen, argues that the term evil is unscientific and unhelpful. "Sometimes the term evil is used as a way to stop an inquiry," Baron-Cohen tells me. "'This person did it because they're evil' - as if that were an explanation."

Comment: The writer of this article is right. Lack of empathy is a characteristic of psychopathy among a cluster of other characteristics. For more information, read:

The Psychopath: A New Subspecies of Homo Sapiens
Truth to Power: Psychopaths Rule Our World
The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade: Make Us Believe that Evil Comes from Others
Devils In Disguise


Family

Teens More Into Music Than Reading More Likely To Be Depressed

Teen Depression Music
© Psych Central News

The link between media exposure and adolescent emotional health continues to be a hot research area. In a new study, researchers found that teens who spend more time listening to music, rather than reading books, are more likely to be depressed.

Researchers said this study was unique as it sampled the behaviors of study participants in real time using a technique called ecological momentary assessment.

The method is more reliable than standard surveys and helped researchers recognize this large association between exposure to music and depression, said Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., M.S., assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Pitt's School of Medicine, who led the study.

Some 106 teens were involved in the study, 46 of whom were diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

As part of the real-life assessment, the teens were called as many as 60 times during five extended weekends over two months. During the call, researchers asked the teen to report if they were using any of six types of media: television or movies, music, video games, Internet, magazines or newspapers, and books.

Laptop

Violent Games Can Hinder Development of Empathy in Children, says Study

kids @ video game w/ guns
© n/a
Although there's yet to be a study that conclusively proves a direct causal relationship between video game violence and real-life violence, psychologists are continuing to examine the effect violent media can have on children. A new study by Simmons College Communications Professor Edward T. Vieira, Jr., Ph.D. and published in the 2011 spring/summer edition of the Journal of Children and Media, notes that violent video game exposure can actually hinder a child's moral development.

The study looked at moral reasoning among children ages 7-15, based on such variables as age, gender, perspective-taking, and the ability to sympathize. The research found that frequent exposure to violent video games can impact children's perception that some types of violence are acceptable. "The study also found that children who spend a great deal of time playing violent video games (as defined by the Entertainment Software Rating Board) have an increased likelihood of accepting all types of violence," reads the report. "The study confirmed that boys spend twice the amount of time playing violent video games as girls do, and highlighted the increased risk faced by boys who can become desensitized to violence because of frequent exposure to violent video play."