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Mon, 24 Jul 2017
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Brain

New research shows PTSD might physically change the brain

Post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health condition triggered by witnessing or living through a traumatic event, is linked to a host of emotional side effects, including anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. Now, new research indicates PTSD might physically change the brain, too.

Researchers at University of California San Diego Health took brain scans of 89 former or current military members with mild traumatic brain injuries, and used a symptom scale to identify 29 of those individuals as having significant PTSD. After measuring the participants' brains, the researchers found individuals with PTSD had a larger amygdala, which is the region of the brain associated with controlling emotions, including fear.

"It could be that individuals prone to PTSD symptoms after a head injury have a larger amygdala to begin with, that they have a brain primed to respond to fear and startle reflexes in an exaggerated fashion," Dr. Douglas Chang, study author, professor and chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation service at UC San Diego Health, told HuffPost.

"Or these results could be the result of neuroplasticity, of a brain reaction to fear conditions resulting in growth of the neural networks of the amygdala fear processing organ."

Key

Counter-intuitive: Why "positive thinking" is terrible advice

© wsj.com
Have you ever been told to just "think positive" and your problems will go away?

Or that to achieve your goals in life, all you have to do is visualize it with positive intent?

It's a philosophy that's been popular for decades thanks to books like How to win Friends and Influence People and Think and Grow Rich.

But is it really helping us live more meaningful and fulfilling lives? Not exactly.

In fact, according to spiritual guru, Osho, it might just be one of the biggest "bullshit philosophies" there is.

Brain

Psychopaths' brain reveals source of wishful thinking behavior

Psychopaths, with their superficial charms but lack of empathy, may act the way they do because their brains are wired to overvalue immediate rewards, a new study finds.

Psychopaths' brain wiring may also lead them to avoid thinking about the consequences of their potentially immoral actions, the study found.

Psychopaths are thought to make up about 1 percent of the general population and up to 25 percent of the prison population. Scientists who investigate psychopathy commonly define people with the disorder as having a lack of conscience or remorse, as well as impulsivity or a lack of self-control, shallow experiences of emotions, superficial charm and a grandiose sense of their own worth.

More than three-quarters of incarcerated psychopaths are in prison because of a violent offense, according to a 2011 review of studies. Although not all psychopaths are violent, they can prove socially destructive in other ways, by lying, cheating and stealing, that review added.

Comment: Psychopathy is untreatable, period. In a controlled environment maybe psychopaths could do something that benefits the greater good, but we doubt it. It's time to give up the wasted idea that we can save the psychopath. They don't want to be saved! They think of us humans as something 'other' in need of adaptation to their world view. While we are busy trying to save the psychopath, they are busy trying to remake humanity in their image.

See also:


People 2

Anxiety overtakes depression as most common mental health issue for Americans

Anxiety is the new depression, with more than half of all American college students reporting anxiety.1 Recent research2 shows anxiety — characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear — is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.

A 2016 report3 by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State confirmed the trend, finding anxiety and depression are the most common concerns among college students who seek counseling.4 Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.5,6

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don't involve drugs.

Brain

Study finds a messy desk can stimulate new ideas and promote creative thinking

Working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality, according to new research. But, the research also shows that a messy desk may confer its own benefits, promoting creative thinking and stimulating new ideas.

The new studies, conducted by psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs and her fellow researchers at the University of Minnesota are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity," Vohs explains. "We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting."

In the first of several experiments, participants were asked to fill out some questionnaires in an office. Some completed the task in a clean and orderly office, while others did so in an unkempt one — papers were strewn about, and office supplies were cluttered here and there.

Heart

Benefits of altruism: Generosity makes people happier

Generosity makes people happier, even if they are only a little generous. People who act solely out of self-interest are less happy. Merely promising to be more generous is enough to trigger a change in our brains that makes us happier. This is what UZH neuroeconomists found in a recent study.

What some have been aware of for a long time, others find hard to believe: Those who are concerned about the well-being of their fellow human beings are happier than those who focus only on their own advancement. Doing something nice for another person gives many people a pleasant feeling that behavioral economists call a warm glow. In collaboration with international researchers, Philippe Tobler and Ernst Fehr from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich investigated how brain areas communicate to produce this feeling. The results provide insight into the interplay between altruism and happiness.

Comment: The neuroscience of gratitude: Small acts of generosity


Black Cat 2

Yes, animals can suffer from PTSD

In the early hours of the last day of May, one of the hugest explosions ever to shake Afghanistan resounded across the capital city of Kabul. The impact of the tanker truck bombing, an insurgent attack that claimed more than 150 lives and injured at least 700 others, was felt several miles away.

The explosion broke windows and cracked ceilings a mile and a half from the blast's epicenter in a central area near embassies and the presidential palace. My house is located in that periphery, and I woke to the thunderous sound and the shaking of windows and walls. I was unhurt, and there was no lasting damage to my home, but the experience was difficult to get over. Although I have lived and worked as a journalist in Afghanistan for three years, I have found that one never gets used to violent conflict.

But as strenuous as it was for me, it seemed to be even more so for my cat, Lola. About 20 minutes after the blast, I found her hiding in the bathroom, cowering behind the radiator. It took almost an hour of petting and hugs to calm her down. This was, after all, one of the biggest explosions Afghans had ever experienced - and that included Lola, who was a kitten when I found her in my garden the year before.

For the next week, Lola seemed edgy. Small sounds would startle her, and she followed me everywhere. She would caterwaul when I left the house and be clingy when I returned. She was eating less and losing weight. It took me a while to realize she might not be only physically unwell. Could Lola, I wondered, have post-traumatic stress disorder?

Heart - Black

Signs of a toxic parent & how they damage their children

There are all kinds of parents and parenting possibilities. Some are very strict and control every aspect of their child's life, others are very chill and let the child make their own decisions and mistakes. It is most certain that although there are many different approaches, all parents want to do the best for their kids.

Unfortunately, some parents fail to be the best supporters and examples. Of course, all parents make mistakes from time to time, and there is no right or wrong way to raise a kid, but some mistakes are bigger than others and can leave a permanent mark on the child.

Comment: Smarter parenting: Forego punishment in favor of reinforcing the behaviors you do want to see


Magic Wand

Religious leaders trip on magic mushrooms all in the name of science

© Fredrik Skold/Alamy
The experiment aims to assess whether a transcendental experience alters the participants’ religious thinking.
A Catholic priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist walk into a bar and order some magic mushrooms. It may sound like the first line of a bad joke, but this scenario is playing out in one of the first scientific investigations into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience - albeit in a laboratory rather than a bar.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said:
"With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy."
The experiment, which is currently under way, aims to assess whether a transcendental experience makes the leaders more effective and confident in their work and how it alters their religious thinking.

Clipboard

Are there memory benefits to note taking?

Psychologists asked people to play a classic memory game, sometimes called Concentration or Pairs — half were allowed to take notes.

Making notes can actually reduce what you remember, according to psychological research.

In a reverse of what many people expect, writing down information causes it to be flushed from memory.

We seem to intentionally forget what we write down.

Comment: While note taking may not help with remembering, the regular practice of writing can help to clarify thoughts, process emotions and work through past trauma: