Welcome to Sott.net
Wed, 23 Aug 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


This over-the-counter painkiller used by millions of Americans kills empathy

Every week almost one-quarter of Americans use this drug.

Acetaminophen — commonly known as Tylenol in the US and paracetamol elsewhere — reduces people's empathy for the pain of others, new research finds.

Acetaminophen is an ingredient in over 600 different medications, including being the main constituent of Tylenol.

The ubiquitous painkiller does not just kill pain, it also kills our fellow-feeling.


Brain scans identify four types of depression

Brain scans of four different types of depression could aid in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Four types of depression have been newly identified by researchers using brain scans. The brain scans revealed distinctly different types of brain activity in each sub-type. The finding may eventually lead to treatments targeted to the particular sub-type of depression.

Dr. Conor Liston, who led the research, said:
"The four subtypes of depression that we discovered vary in terms of their clinical symptoms but, more importantly, they differ in their responses to treatment.

We can now predict with high accuracy whether or not a patient will respond to transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, which is significant because it takes five weeks to know if this type of treatment works."
The four different types of depression they identified are:
  • Biotype 1 is characterised by anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.
  • Biotype 2 is characterised by exhaustion and low energy.
  • Biotype 3 is characterised by an inability to feel pleasure as well as slowed movements and speech.
  • Biotype 4 is characterised mostly by anxiety with insomnia along with the inability to feel pleasure.

People 2

'The Day I Snapped': The causes and ramifications of work related stress and burnout

Unless kept in check, stress can wreak absolute havoc on your life, undercutting your health and depressing your very will to live. Around the world, "burnout" is becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, affecting people from all walks of life. Being successful per se will not insulate you from burnout. On the contrary, it may actually raise your risk.

"The Day I Snapped" is a mental health documentary featuring five professionals who walked into the proverbial wall one day, "suddenly" unable to cope any longer. However, as noted in the film, while the crisis may appear sudden, that moment when a person "snaps" is really the culmination of an untenable situation that has been going on for a long time.

Why the Modern Workplace Promotes Burnout

The five individuals in the film suffered burnout due to work-related stress, which is the most typical scenario. But what is it about the modern workplace that pressures people beyond their limits? Key factors highlighted in the film include:

1. People are expected to work at a much faster pace than previously, while frequently having to put in longer hours and/or being closely monitored and evaluated based on a variety of performance metrics. In some workplaces, the pace is so high, they cannot even take a proper lunch break. As noted by one of the individuals in the film, it is the "having no choice in what you do" on any given day that "makes the stress unbearable"

2. Job duties are changing (and expanding) more frequently than before, and when combined with poor direction or guidance from management, it can cause a great deal of uncertainty and performance anxiety

3. Many jobs for which people are trained are being eliminated, thereby preventing many from fulfilling their skill-potential. This in turn can breed unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness

4. Deteriorating social support at home and at work


Trust depends on genes; distrust on socialization, says new study

Trust may depend, at least in part, on genes. But, a new study suggests people may not inherit distrust in the same way.

The study explores distrust as a separate and distinct quality from trust. Lead author Martin Reimann, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Arizona, said:
"This research supports the idea that distrust is not merely the opposite of trust. Both trust and distrust are strongly influenced by the individual's unique environment, but what's interesting is that trust seems to be significantly influenced by genetics, while distrust is not. Distrust appears to be primarily socialized."
For the study, researchers studied sets of adult identical twins, who have identical genetic relatedness, and adult fraternal (or non-identical) twins, who have different genetic relatedness.

Comment: Why don't we all just trust one another? And would it work as long as we live in pathological environment?

Life Preserver

Six things you need to recover from each day to live a more engaged and meaningful life

Less than 1% of people are living according to the principles/science described herein. However, I'm confident that if you apply these recovery principles to your life, you'll live a more engaged, meaningful, and productive life.

Being busy and being productive are far from the same thing. Most people are trying to do too much. The desire to "keep up" has them doing more, living less, and deceiving themselves into believing they've actually made progress.

True growth and success is always sustainable. It's not a short sprint with an inevitable physical, mental, and emotional crash. All goals are means, not ends. Each succeeding stage of your progression should clearly build one-upon-another, leaving you stronger and more able, not weaker and permanently damaged.

In order to do this, you must properly "recover" from the following things on a daily basis:


The power of touch: Holding hands to comfort our loved ones really does reduce pain

© alamy
Scientists found when an empathetic partner holds the hand of a woman in pain, it helps
Holding the hand of a loved one to comfort them really does help reduce pain, a US study has shown.

Dr Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder was inspired to conduct the research after witnessing the birth of his daughter four years ago.

He said: "My wife was in pain, and all I could think was, 'What can I do to help her?' I reached for her hand and it seemed to help.

"I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?"

His team found that when an empathetic partner holds the hand of a woman in pain, their heart and respiratory rates sync and her pain dissipates.

Dr Goldstein said: "The more empathetic the partner, the stronger the analgesic effect and the higher the synchronisation between the two when they are touching."

Comment: Touch is the primary language that communicates compassion and is fundamental to communication, bonding and health. It supports the immune system, reduces stress, stimulates oxytocin and dopamine, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, encourages sleep and has no side effects. It doesn't drain your batteries, but recharges you instead.


The benefits of conscious breathing: How to harness the power of your breath

We inhale and exhale approximately 20,000 times per day. With up to ten muscles that can be utilised for inhalation and eight for forced exhalation, the breath has powerful effects on the physical, emotional and mental planes.

The ancients connected with the breath more closely as the breath of life, or the supreme life force: the waves that ride back and forth, connecting us with the universe. If you've ever been stressed or anxious, the first thing that deserts you is the breath, your chest tightens and as the lack of oxygen hits your body; your anxiety increases. If I think back to times of stress where someone has told me to, 'Just breathe' - it was the last thing my overactive mind and nervous system wanted to hear, but it was probably the best thing I could have done for myself.

Breath can be a gauge of life force and it is the only autonomous bodily function that we can control. The breath moves through our body from birth until death, but it often becomes shallower over time. This tends to be the default, unless we consciously shift it. With so much tied up in our breath - and the simple gift of being able to work with this most potent of autonomic functions - it's worth exploring the benefits of rethinking how we breathe.

Comment: Deep breathing exercises can improve your life:


Making music causes rapid neuroplastic changes in the brain

© learnfast.com
Medical Research interview with:

Bernhard Ross, Ph.D.
Rotman Research Institute
Baycrest Centre
ON, Toronto

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know from previous research that brain function for hearing is more strongly developed in musicians. The effect of a musician's long-term training leads to a neuroplastic effect where their brain has more neurons involved in auditory processing. These neurons show stronger activity during listening to sound than in non-musicians and these findings strongly encouraged us to study neuroplasticity of the adult brain. We were interested in understanding why the neuroplastic effects of training and learning are so clearly expressed in professional musicians.

The study's main finding was that actively making sound, by playing a musical instrument, changed brain responses for listening and perception. Most importantly, neuroplastic brain changes occurred very quickly, within one hour of listening and making sound. In contrast, brain changes were observed after days in previous studies that only had participants listening to sounds.

Another finding was that brain responses to hearing a sound are different when a person produces the sound themselves compared to listening to a recorded sound or a sound made by another person. This difference demonstrates that brain networks of intention, movement planning, movement execution, and expectation are involved when making a sound. We compared playing a real instrument with pressing a button for hearing a sound and found larger changes in the brain's response to actively playing a musical instrument than pressing a button to elicit the same sound.

Comment: See also: Music is medicine: The neurochemical benefits of playing an instrument


Our brain actively works to forget memories so it can retain truly important information

© Global Look Press
The inability to remember has long been considered a failure of the brain, but a new study has found that our brains are actively working to forget memories in order to retain the truly important information.

In fact, the study's researchers believe the brain is not designed to keep memories intact, but its actual purpose is to only hold onto valuable information to optimize intelligent decision making over time.

"It's important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that's going to help make decisions in the real world," says Blake Richards, author of the study and associate fellow in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.

The new University of Toronto paper was published Wednesday in the Neuron journal. Paul Frankland, a senior fellow at CIFAR's Child & Brain Development program, who was also involved in the study, says,"We find plenty of evidence from recent research that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss, and that these are distinct from those involved in storing information."


Reiki: Healing with the energy of life

Reiki is a traditional Japanese technique for healing, relaxation, and stress reduction. The healing energy of Reiki is transmitted through the palms of the hands. Some Reiki healers, then, practice the laying on of hands to transmit healing energy to others, while some healers practice a no-touch Reiki where the palms of the hands are held several inches from the body of the person receiving Reiki. Reiki is also a spiritual practice.

The concept behind Reiki posits that there is an invisible life force energy in the universe. It flows through all of us to varying degrees and is what causes us to be alive. If your life energy is low, you may feel sick, depressed, stressed, or anxious, whereas if your life energy is high, you are likely to feel healthy, happy, and energetic.

The word "Reiki" is made up from two Japanese words "Rei" and "Ki." "Rei" is often translated as "God's wisdom" or "the wisdom of a Higher Power," while "Ki" means "life force energy." Reiki, then, is life force energy that emanates from a higher power. Reiki, thus, is a practice that transmits energy that can be physically healing but also spiritually healing. Practicing or receiving Reiki can be a wonderful addition to anyone's spiritual practices, regardless of your religious beliefs.

Comment: See also: