Science of the Spirit
Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:18 UTC
The principles of neuroplasticity may underlie the positive effects of music therapy in treating a diversity of diseases.
A man with Parkinson's disease sitting in a crowded restaurant has to use the rest room, but he cannot get there. His feet are frozen; he cannot move. The more he tries, the more stressed he becomes. People are beginning to stare at him and wonder what is wrong. Then he remembers the song "You Are My Sunshine," which his music therapist taught him to use in situations like this. He starts humming the tune. In time with the music, he steps forward—one foot and then the other—and begins walking to the beat in his head. Still humming, he makes it to the rest room, avoiding a potentially embarrassing situation.
Freezing of gait is a common occurrence for many people with Parkinson's disease. Such struggles can limit social experience and lead to seclusion and depression. Unfortunately, available pharmacological and surgical treatments for Parkinson's do a poor job of quelling this and many other symptoms. But where conventional medicine has failed, music therapy can sometimes provide relief.
Music therapy is the use of music by a credentialed professional as an intervention to improve, restore, or maintain a non-music-related behavior in a patient or client. As a music therapist, I have worked with many people with Parkinson's disease and have seen how music can provide an external cue for patients to walk in time to, allowing them to overcome freezing. I have also used group singing to help patients with Parkinson's improve their respiratory control and swallowing. Impaired swallowing can lead to aspiration pneumonia, which is a leading cause of death among this patient population.
Comment: The brain is actually a supple, malleable organ, as ready to unlearn as it is to learn, capable of resetting and repairing its internal communications. Far more than once dreamed possible, the brain can—if not always cure—heal itself.
- 16 tips for increasing neuroplasticity in the brain, and why it's important
- Neuroplasticity - Rewiring the Brain
- Different notes for different folks: How music makes the brain happy
- The magic of music is a balm for the body and soul
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 08:45 UTC
Outrage expressed "on behalf of the victim of [a perceived] moral violation" is often thought of as "a prosocial emotion" rooted in "a desire to restore justice by fighting on behalf of the victimized," explain Bowdoin psychology professor Zachary Rothschild and University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor Lucas A. Keefer in the latest edition of Motivation and Emotion. Yet this conventional construction—moral outrage as the purview of the especially righteous—is "called into question" by research on guilt, they say.
Feelings of guilt are a direct threat to one's sense that they are a moral person and, accordingly, research on guilt ﬁnds that this emotion elicits strategies aimed at alleviating guilt that do not always involve undoing one's actions. Furthermore, research shows that individuals respond to reminders of their group's moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing. These findings suggest that feelings of moral outrage, long thought to be grounded solely in concerns with maintaining justice, may sometimes reflect efforts to maintain a moral identity.
Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:36 UTC
Almost seven million people in the UK - 13 per cent - do not have someone they would call a close chum, up from one in 10 (10 per cent) when the same question was asked in 2014 and 2015, charities Relate and Relationships Scotland say.
The charities' report, You're Not Alone - The Quality of the UK's Social Relationships, also found that almost half (45 per cent) of UK adults felt lonely at least some of the time and almost a fifth (18 per cent) felt lonely often or all of the time.
The New Yorker
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:34 UTC
Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.
As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they'd been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner's office—the scores were fictitious. The students who'd been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.
In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. The students were told that the real point of the experiment was to gauge their responses to thinking they were right or wrong. (This, it turned out, was also a deception.) Finally, the students were asked to estimate how many suicide notes they had actually categorized correctly, and how many they thought an average student would get right. At this point, something curious happened. The students in the high-score group said that they thought they had, in fact, done quite well—significantly better than the average student—even though, as they'd just been told, they had zero grounds for believing this. Conversely, those who'd been assigned to the low-score group said that they thought they had done significantly worse than the average student—a conclusion that was equally unfounded.
"Once formed," the researchers observed dryly, "impressions are remarkably perseverant."
Comment: It's unfortunate that the author uses the cognitive biases in this article to support her anti-Trump stance, as the psychological research is certainly compelling. Ironically, it appears the author herself is falling prey to the very biases that are being discussed.
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:23 UTC
According to researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, singles tend to have a clear idea as to what's on their dating wish lists, but are actually more likely to go out with people they met online who don't actually meet those requirements.
A recent study finds that using online dating apps may cause people to lower their standards when choosing potential mates.
Behavioral economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler were behind the research published as "Preference vs Choice in Online Dating" in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking. They watched the behavior of nearly 42,000 people between the ages of 18 and 80 who were using an Australian dating site called "RSVP" from Jan. 2016 through April 2016. About 78 percent of the participants were men.
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:25 UTC
In one recent study, researchers asked people a series of trivia questions. Half the group was allowed to use Google, the other half was not. Then, in the second half of the study, all participants were given a new round of easier questions and told they could choose whether or not to use Google to answer them. Sounds pretty standard, right? But those who used the internet in the first round really struggled to answer any questions in the second round while relying solely on their own knowledge and memories. One-third of them didn't even try, reaching for Google immediately.
"Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don't bother," says lead author Dr. Benjamin Storm. "As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives."
The general understanding within the medical community is that depression is a psychological disorder cured with antidepressants, a little therapy, and perhaps engagement in extracurricular and outdoor activities. However, one theory suggests depression is more than a mental disorder.
In a 2009 publication by Paul W. Andrews of Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Anderson Thompson, Jr. of the University of Virginia, depression was observed as an evolutionary trait for extensive analysis and problem-solving. The abstract of the publication reads:
[...] Depressed people often have severe, complex problems, and rumination is a common feature. Depressed people often believe that their ruminations give them insight into their problems, but clinicians often view depressive rumination as pathological because it is difficult to disrupt and interferes with the ability to concentrate on other things. Abundant evidence indicates that depressive rumination involves the analysis of episode-related problems. Because analysis is time consuming and requires sustained processing, disruption would interfere with problem-solving.
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 03:32 UTC
The research, which included 457 participants, found a link between authenticity and the vividness of experiences that made them think about mortality. People who were better able to vividly recall death-related experiences tended to also be more authentic, meaning they were more likely to feel true to themselves and less likely to be influenced by the opinions of others.
Tue, 16 Feb 2016 00:00 UTC
"Lying is part and parcel of everyday life," says Robert Feldman, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences and deputy chancellor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "In a sense, lies are the lubricants that move social interaction forward,'' says Dr. Feldman, who wrote The Liar in Your Life.
But when lying gets out of control it can wreak havoc in your personal and professional lives — potentially destroying relationships and careers. Here's what you need to know about extreme lying.