The RIGHT way to kiss

An international research team suggests that humans are hardwired to favour leaning to the right while kissing their romantic partners, which may have wider implications for neuroscience and cognitive sciences.

“According to the new academic study, just published in the journal Scientific Reports, over two-thirds of the kiss initiators and the recipient of the kiss have a bias to turn their heads to the right and men were about 15 times more likely than women to initiate kissing.”

“Psychologists and neuroscientists at the universities of Bath Spa and Dhaka, Bangladesh, invited 48 married couples to kiss privately in their own homes, and after kissing they were asked to go to different rooms, open an envelope and then report on various aspects of the kiss independently of each partner.”

“The setting for the study was significant as kissing in Bangladesh is not typically observed in public and may censored from television or films. That means similar results from the western countries could be attributed to cultural factors or having learnt how to kiss through influences on TV or film.”

“According to a press release on Monday, building on the previous studies from western countries, which have involved couples kissing in public places, the new study is the first to investigate an inherent bias for turning the head to one side while people kiss in a non-western context. And it is also the first study in the world to show that the kiss recipients have a tendency to match their partners’ head-leaning direction.”

“Head turning is one of the earliest biases seen in development – even in the womb a preference for turning the head to the right is observable before that of favouring the right hand or foot. Whether this fundamental bias is innate and extends into adulthood is a lingering question for neuroscience and psychology,”

Dr Rezaul Karim, lead author from the Department of Psychology at the University of Dhaka

“The new research suggests that the act of kissing is determined by the brain splitting up tasks to its different hemispheres. Different hormone levels in each hemisphere and neurotransmitters might be unevenly distributed to each hemisphere as giving rise to a bias to turn right, researchers say.”

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-07/18/c_136451252.htm

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What hallucination reveals about our minds

In the last weeks of my father’s life he told me about a man who would come into his house at night and lay down in the bed next to him.  Frightened, he would call the authorities.  

It was the first of many hallucinations, some benign, many terrifying, he experienced before he passed.  I learned it was futile to try to convince him that what he saw hadn’t been real.  I wish I had heard this TedTalk to help me better understand what was happening.

Oliver Sacks has passed but his experiences, wisdom and compassion remains with us in his talks and books.  You might know about him from Robin Williams portrayal in the Movie Awakenings.  Take a look and listen to Dr. Sacks’ TedTalk:

“Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnet syndrome — when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon.”

 jw

Prolonged feelings of power can damage the brain

How many times have you heard the quote?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

19th century British politician Lord Acton.

During my schooling I was taught that people who have little or no ethical or moral compass, who are so ego driven they are not able to see other’s positions or have no empathy for others had a “personality problem”.   There’s new research that shows “personality” may not be the whole “problem”.

Researchers have found that Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other leaders may suffer damage to their brain as a result of their rise to power.

“Brain activity of CEOs changes as they climb the career ladder, causes them to lose the ability to empathize.”

Meowie, Chief Executive Cat by Peggy

“The damage results in the loss of the ability to read other people’s emotions, which could explain why people who achieve great power lose their ability to feel empathy for the less powerful.”

“Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, made the finding using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – a technique that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in specific regions of the brain.  This showed that the areas of the brain that deal with empathy were significantly less responsive in people in power.”

“The results are down to the brain’s neuroplasticity – an ability that allows the mind to rewire itself in response to experiences.”

“The researchers, led by Dr. Sukhvinder Obhi, said: “Many people who have witnessed a colleague get promoted to an executive level have probably seen some changes in their behaviour, and not always for the better.  Our current work aims to integrate previous work from social psychology with the techniques and methods of cognitive neuroscience to gain a better understanding of exactly how power affects the brain and social functioning in a variety of environments.”

The good news is people who wield power, who want to avoid this brain damage, can take positive steps, according to experts.

Steps that include keeping people around who have the power to call you out on bad behaviour, rewarding honesty while discouraging flattery, and maintaining social connections.

Earmark this post for the next time you find yourself in a position of power.  Wouldn’t want your brain to be damaged!

Read the full article here:  https://guardian.ng/features/prolonged-feelings-of-power-corrupt-mind-say-neuroscientists/

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Brain Dance – Bust a Move and a toe or two

It’s good I’m human and only have two legs because I was born with two left feet . . . can only imagine what it would be like with four.  So when it comes to improving my cognitive abilities through dance there’s a problem.  

However, those of you with both a left foot, a right foot, and a bit of rhythm, should read this:

“Partners from multiple universities studied groups of older adults who were split up into groups that focused on walking, both walking and proper nutrition, stretching and toning, and dancing, and followed them for a period of six months. Scans were taken of participants brains before and after the study, and researchers uncovered surprising results.”

The findings suggest that combining physical, cognitive, and social engagement like dance can improve cognitive health.

“Those in the other groups actually had a decrease in white matter, perhaps because the work that goes into remembering a choreographed dance, coupled with the social interaction, gave the brain more of workout than walking or stretching.”

Meowie busting a move, by Peggy

“Agnieszka Burzynska, the study’s lead author and a professor of human development and neuroscience at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, told the New York Times that activities involving moving and socializing are beneficial for your brain.”

“The message is that we should try not to be sedentary,” she said in the interview. “The people who came into our study already exercising showed the least decline in [white matter].” She added that those who took up dancing showed white-matter gains.”

Giphy

“Psychology Today reports that dancing can indeed improve cognitive function, and visualizing dance routines also improves muscle memory. Additionally, the article by Christopher Bergland, states that different types of dance practice allows you to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory, and that by engaging in “regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week” anyone can maximize brain their function.”

“Another study, led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York city, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that dancing also slowed down aging, increased intelligence, and improved neuroplasticity.”

“It looks like the secret to living a long, and engaged life, just might be hitting the dance floor”

. . . with 2 left feet, HITTING the dance floor is to be taken literally.

(jw)

source article: Dancing may be good for your brain

If You are Stressed eat every 2 hours!?!!!???

 Warning! This is bad Bad BAD advice.

According to Dr. Tara Swart, neuroscientist: “If you are under stress, eat every two hours for optimal brain function. Your brain can’t store glucose and so it is important to keep replenishing your stores. This will help you to maintain your focus and ensures a productivity boost.”

“It also ensures that your brain is well fed for any of the decisions it may need to make.”

“She adds that if you have the space to develop your mental resilience, then it can be useful to practice intermittent fasting as it teaches your brain that you can manage small amounts of physical stress, because you are in control of your recovery.”

Eating by Peggy

 When I’m stressed (which is a chronic state with fibromyalgia) I self-medicate on sugar.  Sugar gives me an immediate dopamine boost which then sends my blood sugar crashing which then sends me to my medicine cabinet (the pantry) . . . .

When I read Dr Swart’s advice the pantry was bare (after I ate a package of sugar coated pineapple, 3 prunes, a bowl of Cheerios and a handful of almonds – I’m stocking the cupboards with health food).  

Knowing my two hours would be up in another two hours I made a dash to the store.  A mix of double chocolate brownies (on sale) was only $3.99 and a better bargain than the packaged bakery brownies at $5.99.  Maybe my mental resilience didn’t need practice.

I had already eaten up (pun intended) 45 minutes of my two hour zone by going to the store.  So I was doubly stressed making the double chocolate brownies knowing that two hours would be up before the brownies were done and the only thing left to eat were Cheerios.

Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist who probably is svelte, prefers salt over sugar and her brain is smarter to begin with than mine.  I’ll bet she’s never had to practice “intermittent fasting”

(jw)

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHEER UP QUICKLY, ACCORDING TO NEUROSCIENCE

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off.  Easier said than done.  When I’m “down” I often just want to wallow in my misery, lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself.  It’s easier just to brood.  

There are, however, easy things to do that actually alter your brain neurochemistry to help you feel better .   When you get tired of brooding:

1. Go for a Walk outside.

Moving releases feel-better neurotransmitters.  Research  shows that if you walk outdoors, somewhere green,  the effect is enhanced.  scientifically proven to make you feel better. 

Journal Writing by Peggy

2. Vent Your Frustrations Into a Journal

Get paper and pen and write whatever comes to your mind, and no matter what it is, just keep writing. Even if it’s just, “This is stupid. Why am I doing this? Need to take out the garbage,” Focus on your frustrations. Write for a minimum of 20 minutes so your unconscious takes over.  Once you’ve done a mind-dump your brain can move on .

3. Call a Friend or Family Member

You may not want to burden anyone else with your bad mood but sometimes a friend or family member is needed . Let them know up front you don’t need advice just a listening ear. It helps you feel not so alone, lets your brain “objectively observe” whatever is stressing you . . . and knowing there are people who care can help shift your perspective.

Cat ‘n Mouse Phone Chat, by Peggy

4. Practice Gratitude

A simple way to stop feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on everything that is going wrong is to focus on what is going right. Write down 3-5 things in your life, or on that day, that you are grateful for. . . .  look for things you take for granted: indoor plumbing, no toenail fungus (that is, of course if you have indoor plumbing and toenails)  . . .  the more you practice gratitude, the more you experience it.

5. Laugh Out Loud in Front of a Mirror

This sounds a bit weird BUT your laugh muscles signal the brain to release positive neurochemicals.   Even if you just smile broadly it works.  

If you want the easiest way to feel better check out an over-the-counter remedy Click here: Rx for Gratitude

More? Four easy ways to get happy 

Get a Move-on!

When I was growing up the only way the brain could be studied was after you were dead. With current technology researchers can now see electrical activity and brain structure in living brains.  The information on emotional states and the brain has exploded (the information, not the brain).  

Meowie Getting a Move On by Peggy

We known for a long time how important exercise is for our body, but what we did not realize is how important exercise is for the brain.

Exercise has the same effects on the brain chemistry as antidepressant medications. Several studies have demonstrated that its benefits can ‘exceed even those of medication’.

“Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for the brain. Most people suffering from depression due to a deficiency of serotonin  depend wholly on psychiatric medications and consume antidepressants which target the serotonin system in your brain to elevate serotonin levels, that increase your motivation and willpower-and  minimize the activity of depression. Today neuroscientific research provides evidence that exercise can also ‘boost serotonin activity’.”

“Any movement such as:

  • walking  
  • jogging 
  • gardening
  • walking up and down the stairs

increases ‘the firing rate of serotonin neurons’, which causes them to release more serotonin to treat your depression or create new good habits. Similarly, exercise with moderate intensity increases your norepinephrine– which controls in depressive people the difficulties with concentration and deep thinking.”

“When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that act on your neurons like opiates (such as Vicodin or morphine) by sending ‘neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief’.

Exercise also speeds up activation of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids (marijuana) are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain which reduces pain and increases positive feelings.”

Get Your Move On!  Unlike cannabinoids it’s legal everywhere.

To read the entire article by Professor B L Chakoo

Click here: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/depression-and-neuro-science/

 

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