Good Posture Help Mental Health

For many years, due to being unusually tall and thin, yet very shy and awkward, I had chronically poor posture. My shoulders hunched up and my large head dipped down. I had a judgmental first grade gym teacher who assigned children into groups by physical ability; he designated the two gangliest tallest girls, me and another, as basically the worst in the class and gave me the equivalent of near failing grades in gym class, even though I got straight As otherwise. From that point onward, I never felt comfortable in my skin as a physical being. I dreaded gym class for decades and avoided all sports, even though I thankfully had a kind gym teacher in middle school who tried to encourage me and gave me hope that I wasn’t an eternal klutz.


Posted in Mental health | Tagged

Aging and the Change in Fatigue and Sleep

Fatigue is prevalent in the population and usually linked to sleep problems, and both are related to age. However, previous studies have been cross-sectional. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the trajectories of sleep and fatigue across 8 years of aging in a large group (N > 8.000) of individuals. A second purpose was to investigate whether fatigue trajectories would differ between age groups, and whether different trajectories of fatigue would be reflected in a corresponding difference in trajectories for sleep variables. Results from mixed model analyses showed that fatigue decreased across 8 years in all age groups, while sleep problems increased, non-restorative sleep decreased, weekend sleep duration decreased, and weekday sleep duration showed different patterns depending on age. Furthermore, the larger the decrease in fatigue, the larger was the increase in sleep duration across years, the lower was the increase of sleep problems, and the larger was the decrease of non-restorative sleep. The results suggest that aging has positive effects on fatigue and sleep and that these changes are linked.


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How life history modulates the brain’s social pain network

A growing body of work demonstrates that the brain responds similarly to physical and social injury. Both experiences are associated with activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula. This dual functionality of the dACC and anterior insula underscores the evolutionary importance of maintaining interpersonal bonds. Despite the weight that evolution has placed on social injury, the pain response to social rejection varies substantially across individuals. For example, work from our lab demonstrated that the brain’s social pain response is moderated by attachment style: anxious-attachment was associated with greater intensity and avoidant-attachment was associated with less intensity in dACC and insula activation. In an attempt to explain these divergent responses in the social pain network, we propose the optimal calibration hypothesis, which posits variation in social rejection in early life history stages shifts the threshold of an individual’s social pain network such that the resulting pain sensitivity will be increased by volatile social rejection and reduced by chronic social rejection. Furthermore, the social pain response may be exacerbated when individuals are rejected by others of particular importance to a given life history stage (e.g., potential mates during young adulthood, parents during infancy and childhood).


Posted in Brains | Tagged

The Social Dimensions of Scientific Knowledge

Study of the social dimensions of scientific knowledge encompasses the effects of scientific research on human life and social relations, the effects of social relations and values on scientific research, and the social aspects of inquiry itself. Several factors have combined to make these questions salient to contemporary philosophy of science. These factors include the emergence of social movements, like environmentalism and feminism, critical of mainstream science; concerns about the social effects of science-based technologies; epistemological questions made salient by big science; new trends in the history of science, especially the move away from internalist historiography; anti-normative approaches in the sociology of science; turns in philosophy to naturalism and pragmatism. This entry reviews the historical background to current research in this area and features of contemporary science that invite philosophical attention. The philosophical work can roughly be classified into two camps. One acknowledges that scientific inquiry is in fact carried out in social settings and asks whether and how standard epistemology must be supplemented to address this feature. The other treats sociality as a fundamental aspect of knowledge and asks how standard epistemology must be modified from this broadly social perspective. Concerns in the supplementing approach include such matters as trust and answerability raised by multiple authorship, the division of cognitive labor, the reliability of peer review, the challenges of privately funded science, as well as concerns arising from the role of scientific research in society. The reformist approach highlights the challenge to normative philosophy from social, cultural, and feminist studies of science while seeking to develop philosophical models of the social character of scientific knowledge, and treats the questions of the division of cognitive labor, expertise and authority, the interactions of science and society, etc., from the perspective of philosophical models of the irreducibly social character of scientific knowledge.


Posted in Science, Scientific knowledge, Social | Tagged , ,

Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning

This handbook provides a cohesive overview of the study of associative learning as
it is approached from the stance of scientists with complementary interests in its theoretical analysis and biological basis. These interests have been pursued by studying humans and animals, and the content of this handbook reflects this fact. Wiley, the publishers of this series of handbooks, gave us free rein in determining the overarching focus of this book, associative learning, and the specific topics that would be included. We have taken full advantage of this latitude and thank them for their support throughout the editorial process. Our choice of topics was determined by a combination of their enduring significance and contemporary relevance. The contributors then chose themselves, as it were, on the basis of their expertise. Inevitably, there has been some bias in our choices, and we have made only a limited attempt to cover all of the domains of research that have resulted in significant scientific progress. However, we hope that you will be as interested to read the contributions that we have selected as we were to receive them. It remains for us to express our thanks to the contributors who have followed, fortunately not slavishly, their individual remits and who have collectively produced a handbook that we hope will be of interest to a broad readership. Finally, we would like to thank Laurence Errington for generating the comprehensive subject index, which provides the reader with an effective tool for negotiating the volume as a whole.


Posted in Cognitive neuroscience, Learning | Tagged ,

How Social Isolation Transforms the Brain

A new study reveals the neurobiological effects of social isolation in mice. Researchers report a neurochemical called tachykinin is overproduced during long term social isolation, leading to increased aggression and fear.

Chronic social isolation has debilitating effects on mental health in mammals–for example, it is often associated with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in humans. Now, a team of Caltech researchers has discovered that social isolation causes the build-up of a particular chemical in the brain, and that blocking this chemical eliminates the negative effects of isolation. The work has potential applications for treating mental health disorders in humans.


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Babies would rather talk to other babies than you

We know that babies prefer the high-pitched sounds produced by their caregivers in “baby talk” over regular speech, but a new study provides an exciting new perspective. At five months of age, it seems that babies prefer to listen to the sounds of their peers to the cooing of their mother.

Researchers at the University of Quebec tested babies on their preference for different speakers by using a specialized speech synthesizer. They were able to simulate the effects of the human vocal tract—the vocal cords, tongue and mouth—to create vowels with differing pitch and resonance, representing vowels produced by vocal tracts of different sizes.


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The Power of your Sub-Conscious Mind

Infinite riches are all around you if you will open your mental eyes and behold the
treasure house of infinity within you. There is a gold mine within you from which you can extract everything you need to live life gloriously, joyously, and abundantly.
Many are sound asleep because they do not know about this gold mine of infinite intelligence and boundless love within themselves. Whatever you want, you can draw forth. A magnetized piece of steel will lift about twelve times its own weight, and if you demagnetize this same piece of steel, it will not even lift a feather. Similarly, there are two types of men. There is the magnetized man who is full of confidence and faith. He knows that he is born to win and to succeed. Then, there is the type of man who is demagnetized. He is full of fears and doubts.


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Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience

Existentialisms arise when the foundations of being, such as meaning, morals, and purpose come under assault. In the first-wave of existentialism, writings typified by Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche concerned the increasingly apparent inability of religion, and religious tradition, to support a foundation of being. Second-wave existentialism, personified philosophically by Sartre, Camus, and de Beauvoir, developed in response to similar realizations about the overly optimistic Enlightenment vision of reason and the common good.

The third-wave of existentialism, a new existentialism, developed in response to advances in the neurosciences that threaten the last vestiges of an immaterial soul or self. Given the increasing explanatory and therapeutic power of neuroscience, the mind no longer stands apart from the world to serve as a foundation of meaning. This produces foundational anxiety.

In Neuroexistentialism, a group of contributors that includes some of the world’s leading philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and legal scholars, explores the anxiety caused by third-wave existentialism and possible responses to it. Together, these essays tackle our neuroexistentialist predicament, and explore what the mind sciences can tell us about morality, love, emotion, autonomy, consciousness, selfhood, free will, moral responsibility, law, the nature of criminal punishment, meaning in life, and purpose.


Posted in Neuroscience | Tagged

Why We Need to Figure Out a Theory of Consciousness

A new article looks at theories of consciousness and novel research aimed at providing a better understanding of the roots of consciousness.

Understanding the biology behind consciousness (or self-awareness) is considered by some to be the final frontier of science. And over the last decade, a fledgling community of “consciousness scientists” have gathered some interesting information about the differences between conscious and unconscious brain activity.


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