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Tue, 12 Dec 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Blue reduces stress 3 times faster than other colors

chronisches erschöpfungssyndrom, stress, ausgelaugt, müde
© fotolia / leszekglasner
Blue light helps people to relax more quickly, new research finds.

Compared with regular white light, people are able to recover from a stressful experience three times quicker when sitting under blue light.

Regular stresses such as that caused by arguing with a friend or having a close deadline at work could be best tackled with blue light.

Heart - Black

Grieving the loss of your parents when orphaned in adulthood

grieving parents
The death of a parent is a loss like no other. Our relationships with our parents shape the fiber of who we are. Without them in our lives, a significant piece of our identity may irrevocably change. When unresolved feelings or even estrangement remains, the loss of one's parents can be even more complicated.

Becoming an adult orphan can be one of the hardest life transitions a person can experience. For me, the loss of my dad felt like the end of an era and the loss of my moral anchor. It was as if I had entered a new level of adulthood. A new path needed to be forged, and all of the familiar guideposts had suddenly shifted.


Huge dose of brain chemical dopamine may have made us smart

brain on dopamine
We may owe some of our unique intelligence to a generous supply of a signalling chemical called dopamine in brain regions that help us think and plan. Our brains produce far more dopamine in these regions than the brains of other primates like apes.

Dopamine is a brain signalling chemical that is vital for our control of movement. It is depleted in people with Parkinson's disease, leading to mobility problems, tremors and speech impairments. But it also plays a pivotal role in many cognitive abilities at which humans excel, including learning, concentrating, pleasure-seeking and planning ahead.

Nenad Sestan and André Sousa of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut and their colleagues measured the activity of individual genes in tissue samples from 16 brain regions, taken from six humans, five chimpanzees and five macaque monkeys.

They found elevated activities of two enzymes that make dopamine - tyrosine hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase - in two parts of the human brain, both vital for higher-level thought.

Comment: See also:


Study suggests even occasional marijuana use impairs motivation

© Mark Blinch/Reuters
Occasional cannabis users were tested along with those addicted to the drug.

A single 'spliff' is enough to reduce the motivation to work, new research finds.

It is the first study to show the problematic short-term effects of cannabis on motivation.

Comment: Chronic and heavy marijuana use shrinks brain's grey matter, says study

People 2

Small talk has emotional benefits

small talk
At an early age, you're taught not to talk to strangers. Originally meant to protect us from childhood harm, this rule follows most of us into adulthood.

We keep to ourselves in public places. We avert our eyes on public transport. We stand frozen in the corners of cocktail parties and extended family gatherings, preferring to chat to the few folk we know rather than risk a conversation with an unknown entity. When you're greeted with a rogue "Good morning!" as you pass the neighborhood fruit seller, you might jump, wondering what they want, or if you've spilled coffee down your front.

The power of community: Unless we connect with something greater than ourselves we are one step from disaster


'Avatar therapy' having success helping schizophrenics confront hallucinations

Avatar therapy
© King's College London
Avatar therapy for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Coming face-to-face with an avatar on screen may help schizophrenics cope with their hallucinations, a study found. Patients confronting avatars turned out to be less distressed and heard voices less frequently.

According to the research by King's College London (KCL), the new treatment for schizophrenic hallucinations could be twice as effective as counseling. The study, published in the Lancelot Psychiatry Journal, tested 150 patients. Of these, 75 who had been hearing voices for more than a year were given six sessions of avatar therapy, while another 75 got straightforward counseling.

Alarm Clock

The power of community: Unless we connect with something greater than ourselves we are one step from disaster

traditional village in
© Wiki
Village in Ogi Shirakawa-gō, Gifu, Japan
"It takes a village to raise a child" African Proverb

How do you identify yourself? What do you connect with that is greater than you? Is it your country, religion, state, town, college, or some other group or organization? By being part of a something bigger than ourselves helps our mental health. But the connection should go far beyond mental the bonds should be real and tangible.

I am a great admirer of the indigenous peoples of the United States. They had a society without poverty and homelessness while at the same time having very little crime and warfare. This was accomplished without the existence of prisons or psychiatric hospitals. What was the key to their success? I believe that their harmony in living was primarily from their deep spirituality and their strong cultural bonds.

The Native Americans in a sense thought of themselves as one large family. As a person who severely suffered from mental illness I was at a time in great need. I could not work to support myself. Fortunately my parents provided me with the food and shelter that I needed. I received medical care in the form of hospitalization, medicine, seeing a psychiatrist and attending a mental health center. Unfortunately these things weren't free but rather they came at a financial cost.


Activity in brain's thinking and problem-solving center linked to avoiding anxiety

© Jonathan Lee, Duke University.
Boosting activity in the brain’s thinking and problem-solving centers may protect at-risk individuals from developing anxiety.
Boosting activity in brain areas related to thinking and problem-solving may also buffer against worsening anxiety, suggests a new study by Duke University researchers.

Using non-invasive brain imaging, the researchers found that people at-risk for anxiety were less likely to develop the disorder if they had higher activity in a region of the brain responsible for complex mental operations. The results may be a step towards tailoring psychological therapies to the specific brain functioning of individual patients.

"These findings help reinforce a strategy whereby individuals may be able to improve their emotional functioning -- their mood, their anxiety, their experience of depression -- not only by directly addressing those phenomena, but also by indirectly improving their general cognitive functioning," said Ahmad Hariri, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. The results are published Nov. 17 in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

Previous findings from Hariri's group show that people whose brains exhibit a high response to threat and a low response to reward are more at risk of developing symptoms of anxiety and depression over time.

Comment: See also: How various brain areas interact in decisions, and how not to be a slave to our destructive emotions


Children suffer without dad: "The father plays an important role"

"The father, as the natural chief and protector of the family, plays an important role."

father and child
Study after study shows the tremendously negative impact of not having a father present during childhood. While the damage is especially evident with boys, girls also suffer the consequences -- hence the unfortunate phrase, "She has daddy issues."

Despite the significant evidence that biological fathers are critical to healthy childhood development, our culture doesn't seem to value fathers. Some would argue that the popular culture actually denigrates fathers, pointing for example to how fathers are often portrayed in TV shows and ads as idiots and buffoons.

Children who have an active father figure have fewer psychological and behavioral problems


Children with psychopathic tendencies show less desire to fit in with the laughter of other children

sad boy
Some children are at a higher risk of developing psychopathy.

Boys with psychopathic tendencies report less desire to fit in with the laughter of other children, research finds. Unlike most children, and adults, boys at risk of psychopathy do not find laughter contagious. Brain scans also showed they had a lower response to the laughter of others.

Professor Essi Viding, study author, said:
"It is not appropriate to label children psychopaths. Psychopathy is an adult personality disorder.

However, we do know from longitudinal research that there are certain children who are at a higher risk for developing psychopathy, and we screened for those features that indicate that risk."
Being callous and unemotional is linked to developing psychopathy in later life.