Bet you didn’t know Your Heart Literally Talks to Your Brain

If you think your neck’s main function is to hold up your head you gotta read this!

“Given its distance from the brain, neuroscience hasn’t had much to do with the heart quietly thumping in your chest. But to get a fuller picture of the mind, you need to start looking below the neck.”

“These matters of the heart are University of Sussex researcher Sarah Garfinkel’s speciality.  Over the past several years, she’s found evidence that the beats of your heart — and your awareness of that rhythm — shapes everything from anxiety to racism to stock trading.”

“Every time the heart projects blood, it pings pressure-sensitive receptors that send signals to the head . . .The brain essentially flashes each time the heart beats,” she says, “and the degree of signal in the brain corresponds to how fast and how hard the heart is beating, so the brain is in dynamic, constant communication with the heart,” especially the amygdala and thalamus, regions associated with fear and pain perception, among other roles.”

“. . . your brain, but it also represents the activity of our organs, and whether you realize it or not, these sensations guide the way you navigate the world. Recognizing this marks a shift in how neuroscience could be approached, she says: Rather than separating the brain and the body, the brain is seen as embedded within the body. Doing so could offer new treatments for things like anxiety, where drugs could target bodily processes as well as those in the brain, or behavioral techniques like meditation that make people more bodily aware.

“I think the general public kind of knows it instinctively, they know if they exercise they feel better, they know their mood changes, their cognition and memory increases; people who meditate also see changes in their cognition and emotion,

“One of those primary somatic tools is interoception, or the felt sense of the activities of your organs. Garfinkel (and other neuroscientists and social psychologists) are finding that bodily sensations are key ingredients in emotional experiences, and that how fine-tuned of an internal “feeler” you are predicts your ability to stabilize them.”

Making decisions can be emotionally loaded — the decision feels right or good. 

More hopefully, heartbeat awareness looks to be trainable: Garfinkel says she has yet-to-be-published data suggesting that you can teach people to align their interoceptive self-confidence and their accuracy, reducing the unrecognized sensations and the anxiousness they promote . . .”

Source: To read how autism, negative racial stereotyping and how high interoceptive fluency can also help you make a lot of money  read the entire article: How Your Heart Talks to Your Brain

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Pawsitively Tuesday – MAKE ME COFFEE, a Fable

A young woman went to her mother and complained about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first pot she placed a potato, in the second she placed an egg, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil. She didn’t say one word.

In twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished out the potato and placed it in a bowl. She pulled the egg out and placed it in a bowl. She ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked “Tell me what you see?” “A potato, an egg, and coffee,” the daughter answered.

Her mother asked her to feel the potato. She did and noted that it was soft. Her mother said to break the egg. She did and peeled off the shell and observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked her daughter to sip the coffee. She did and smiled as she tasted its rich aroma and flavor. The daughter asked “what does all this mean, Mom?”

Her mother explained that each object had faced the same adversity, boiling water. Each reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile with a thin outer shell that protected its liquid interior. After sitting in boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were different, they changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

When experiencing ‘adversity’:

  • Do you go soft and weak?
  • Are you fragile on the outside and hard in the centre?
  • Or do you change ‘the water’ (aka environment/situation) and effect positive change?

May God grant you enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to keep you content. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way. You can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you are the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.

We’ll drink to that!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Are you as bizarre as I think you are?

I know the difference between reality and imagination.

My vision is smooth and continuous.

I can tell the difference between my limbs and yours.

I consciously control my behavior.

Turns out I’m wrong and YOU are no different.  

“There are hundreds of surprising, perspective-shifting insights about the nature of reality that come from neuroscience. Every bizarre neurological syndrome, every visual illusion, and every clever psychological experiment reveals something entirely unexpected about our experience of the world that we take for granted. Here are a few to give a flavor:”

Famous illusion done by Meowie

1. Perceptual reality is entirely generated by our brain. “We hear voices and meaning from air pressure waves. We see colors and objects, yet our brain only receives signals about reflected photons. The objects we perceive are a construct of the brain, which is why optical illusions can fool the brain.”

2. We see the world in narrow disjointed fragments.  “We think we see the whole world, but we are looking through a narrow visual portal onto a small region of space. You have to move your eyes when you read because most of the page is blurry. We don’t see this, because as soon as we become curious about part of the world, our eyes move there to fill in the detail before we see it was missing. While our eyes are in motion, we should see a blank blur, but our brain edits this out.

3. Body image is dynamic and flexible. “Our brain can be fooled into thinking a rubber arm or a virtual reality hand is actually a part of our body. In one syndrome, people believe one of their limbs does not belong to them. One man thought a cadaver limb had been sewn onto his body as a practical joke by doctors.”

4. “Our behavior is mostly automatic, even though we think we are controlling it. The fact that we can operate a vehicle at 60 mph on the highway while lost in thought shows just how much behavior the brain can take care of on its own. Addiction is possible because so much of what we do is already automatic, including directing our goals and desires. In utilization behavior, people might grab and start using a comb presented to them without having any idea why they are doing it. In impulsivity, people act even though they know they shouldn’t.”

5. Our brain can fool itself in really strange ways. “In Capgras syndrome, familiar people seem foreign (the opposite of deja vu). One elderly woman who lived alone befriended a woman who appeared to her whenever she looked in a mirror. She thought this other woman looked nothing like herself, except that they seemed to have similar style and tended to wear identical outfits. Another woman was being followed by a tormenter who appeared to her in mirrors but looked nothing like herself. She was fine otherwise.”

6. Neurons are really slow. “Our thinking feels fast and we are more intelligent than computers, and yet neurons signal only a few times per second and the brain’s beta wave cycles at 14-30 times per second. In comparison, computers cycle at 1 billion operations per second, and transistors switch over 10 billion times per second. How can neurons be so slow and yet we are so smart?”

7. Consciousness can be subdivided. “In split-brain patients, each side of the brain is individually conscious but mostly separate from the other. In post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), memories of a traumatic event can become a compartmentalized inaccessible island. In schizophrenia, patients hear voices that can seem separate from themselves and which criticize them or issue commands. In hypnosis, post-hypnotic suggestions can direct behavior without the individual’s conscious awareness“.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/7-cool-brain-facts-neuroscientists-know-about-consciousness-your-behavior-your-412191

SaveSave

SaveSave

Your Personal Happiness Quartet

How happy we feel is strongly influenced by 4 neurotransmitter chemicals: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. They are often called “the quartet.”

Endorphin on Electric Guitar, Serotonin on Sax, Dopamine on Drums, Oxytocin on Oboe

Here’s a very basic idea of what they do for you and 7 ways to help boost your happiness:

ENDORPHINS 

They promote a sense of well-being, lesson pain and are primarily released when we are in pain or stressed.  Endorphins work in similar ways as prescription anti-anxiety drugs and opiate painkillers but provide the benefits without all the side-effects.

Low levels of endorphins are linked to opposite effects: physical and emotional pain (including chronic pain linked to disorders like fibromyalgia), addiction and risk taking behavior.

SEROTONIN
Serotonin is often called the “happy hormone”.  It improves your mood and helps beat depression.  Not only does it help with mood stabilization but plays a big role in getting good sleep, dreaming, emotional and social stability.

Low levels serotonin are associated with various mental disturbances including: depression, anxiety, PMS,  sugar/carbohydrate cravings, trouble sleeping, obsessive thinking and addiction to alcohol or drugs. Too high levels can be  problematic as well.

DOPAMINE

Dopamine is one of the strongest “feel-good hormones”.   It makes you feel energized, alert, motivated and in control.  Within the brain, dopamine helps control the reward and pleasure centers as well as helping regulate movement and emotional responses.  Interestingly, it enables us to not only see rewards, but to take action to reach them. 

Dopamine deficiency is implicated in Parkinson’s Disease and people with low dopamine levels may be more prone to addiction.  Low levels can trigger depression, lack of concentration (brain fog), poor motivation and difficulty initiating and/or completing tasks.

OXYTOCIN

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” since it’s released during highly emotional moments, such as  childbirth, being in love, and during orgasm. It motivates us to strengthen personal relationships, be faithful and facilitates compassion.  Oxytocin is a powerful hormone, produced mainly in the hypothalamus, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain

On the flip side, as a facilitator of bonding among those who share similar characteristics, oxytocin fosters distinctions between “in-group” and “out-group” members, and sets in motion favoritism toward “in-group” members and prejudice against those in “out-groups”.

7 ways to get the “Happiness Quartet”

working more for you:

We are all capable of producing our own natural highs (without taking illegal or prescription drugs) and when we repeat  behavior that facilitates the release of neurotransmitters we become naturally motivated to create positive habits.

1.  Tasting

Neurotransmitters that signal the release of endorphins come mostly from nutrients in our diet, like amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals. 

Serotonin is made primarily through intake of tryptophan-rich foods, such as turkey or milk. Most proteins will help release serotonin, including meat, fish, chicken, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs, which are complete proteins. A number of different plant foods, such as beans with sprouted grains, will get the same effects. Whole foods like seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, peas, corn or the germ of grains, such as buckwheat and oats, are all good plant sources of amino acids that help increase serotonin.

Fats comprise 60 percent of the brain. Essential fatty acids support the activity of neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Get healthy fats from coconut or olive oil, wild-caught fish like Alaskan salmon, nuts, seeds and avocado.

2.  Laughing

Laughter is a quick-fix for feeling almost instantly better, thanks to the release of endorphins.  Studies have even linked laughter with an elevated pain threshold. Try regularly doing something to keep your sense of humor: play with children, watch funny shows, recall a funny moment, share jokes, spend time with friends who have a sense of humor.

3.  Connecting

Give a hug, get a massage or simply have a deep conversation with someone you trust will all help release oxytocin and other chemicals that help you feel calm and comforted.  Some studies show acupuncture and other hands-on treatments  have similar effects. Make time for friends, reach out to others in need, find a sense of purpose and notice how good you feel when you do something nice for someone else.

4.  Learning

Every time you experience something novel or learn something new dopamine’s reinforces you.  With the internet, learning is at your fingertips.  Use your techno-time to look up something that peaks your curiosity,  travel, take up a hobby or get better at something you already do and release feel good neurochemicals.

5.  Smelling

The release of endorphins helps you feel calmer almost instantly when you smell the aroma of something that reminds you of fun or comforting times.  It can be as simple as the scent of fresh baked cookies, a parent’s favorite perfume or a dab of essential oil scents such as vanilla, chamomile, rose and lavender.  Your nose, after all, is close to your brain.

6.  Sunning & Nature

Sunshine and nature sites/sounds/colors seem to help regulate the release of serotonin and melatonin.  It only takes about 20 minutes a day to help your skin produce vitamin D (sunscreen will block this), which is important for your mood.  Studies indicate that exercising outdoors elevates mood better than indoors.

7.  Moving

A large body of research shows that people who exercise regularly have added protection against depression, reduce anxiety and get better sleep.  Exercise is one of the most endorphin-boosting things we can do. It also increases self esteem, gives a sense of mastery, increases energy levels, and thanks to dopamine, keeps you motivated to continue and improve.   You don’t have to do 10,000 steps or do intense workouts.  Research indicates that 3 times a week of brisk walking will do the trick.

Putting into practice all 7 ways to get the Happiness Quartet working for you:  

Eat a hardboiled egg while walking for 20 minutes in the park with a trusted friend, practice speaking Mandarin Chinese, laugh at your bad pronunciation and stop occasionally to smell the flowers.  How easy is that!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Pawsitively Tuesday: Tripping Out


LSD was rampant in the 1960’s when I attended The University of California at Berkeley.  I was soooooo naive, having lived in Phoenix Arizona, all my life.  The first time I heard of LSD was at a party where I was told to be careful drinking the punch because it was spiked with “acid”.  I turned to my friend and questioned:  Hydrochloric?

I admit to “doing other substances but was too afraid of LSD having seen people take “bad trips”.  But NOW I’m willing to give LSD a try, the Steve Chandler* way:

Laughing, Singing & Dancing

Since I can’t carry a tune and have 3 left feet LAUGHTER will be easy.

(jw)

*Steve Chandler, author of – “Reinventing Yourself” and “Fearless.”

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Science says gratitude is good for your health (and ours too) & Anniversary Post Winners –

Curious Critters

Winners of our One-Year-Anniversary-Celebration Drawing

Claremary P. Sweeney,  Around ZuZu’s Barn

Kathy Whittam

Jessica-Lauren,  Mother is a Verb

Claremary, Kathy, Jessica,  Here’s what to do to pick out your prize:

  1. Click on this link to choose your prize:  ZAZZLE CATNIPblog Store
  2. E-mail your choice and mailing address to: Peggyjudytime@gmail.com

Being grateful for you AND ALL OUR FOLLOWERS helps us grow healthier and makes us feel so good.

Peggy, Judy & Freddie Parker Westerfield

and all the Curious Critters at Curious to the Max

___________________________________________________________________

*Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis.

http://www.today.com/health/be-thankful-science-says-gratitude-good-your-health-t58256?cid=eml_tst_20170515

Brain Myth – Enlightening

Your brain “lights up” . . . not

Areas of your brain don’t “light up” or suddenly become active in response to events in the world. “This is an incorrect view of brain activity that dates back to a 1952 study of  a piece of a brain cell from a dead giant squid!”

The giant squid specimen preserved in a block of ice at the Melbourne Aquarium

No human brain cell is ever dormant or switched off. Your whole brain is active all the time. Particular neurons may fire at faster and slower rates, but they’re always in a flurry of activity, dashing off thousands of predictions of what you might encounter next and preparing your body to deal with it. This constant storm of predictions, which scientists call intrinsic brain activity, ultimately produces everything you think, feel, or perceive.”

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Psychiatry and Radiology. She received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for her research on emotion in the brain, and most recently the 2018 APS Mentor Award For Lifetime Achievement. “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” is her first book.

March 12-18, 2018 is Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a nationwide effort organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience to promote the public and personal benefits of brain research. 

http://www.dana.org/BAW/

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave