NEUROSCIENTISTS FIGURE OUT HOW TO WIPE INDIVIDUAL MEMORIES FROM THE BRAIN . . .

 . .  . of a snail

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and Montreal’s McGill University researchers have figured out how to selectively wipe some memories belonging to a certain type of marine snail, while leaving others intact.

They believe the research could make it possible to one day develop drugs that can “delete” certain traumatic memories without negatively impacting memories of other past events.

“To carry out their targeted memory erasure, the researchers blocked certain molecules associated with an enzyme called Protein Kinase M (PKM), which is a crucial part of retaining long-term memories.”

“While it’s so far only been demonstrated on snails, they believe the work represents a valuable insight into the way that memories are laid down, and that its findings could be extrapolated to humans as well. That’s in part due to the fact that the PKM-protecting protein KIBRA is expressed in humans, and that mutations of this gene have been shown to result in intellectual disability.”

“What makes the results reported in the paper promising is that the molecules examined are expressed in mouse and man, and have been found to participate in long-term memory and long-term synaptic plasticity,”  . . . Elderly people with Alzheimer’s and old-age forms of dementia, the expression of KIBRA is compromised.”

Read the entire article here: MINDWIPE NEUROSCIENCE

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The life expectancy of snails in the wild is about 3 to 7 years, but in captivity, they can live up to 10-15 years or even more.
  • The biological features of snails are fascinating. For example, most are hermaphrodites, which means that a single snail has male and female reproductive organs at the same time.
  • Their quantity and diversity are vast. There are anything between 85,000 and 150,000 mollusks of which 80-85 percent are gastropods. Therefore, the world is home to more than 60,000 species of them.
  • Land snails range greatly in size. While some of them are only a few inches long and often weigh only a few ounces, there are land snails that reach almost 12 inches, like the Giant African Land Snail, a species endemic to Africa.
  • The largest land snail recorded was 12 inches long and weighed near 2 pounds.
  • Garden snails (helix apersa) a top speed of 50 yards per hour, this is about 1.3 cm.
  • Land Snails aren’t able to hear at all, but they have eyes and olfactory organs. They use their sense of smell to help them find food being their most important sensory organ.

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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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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)

4 easy ways to GET HAPPY

There are studies which indicate happiness is over-rated and we should strive instead for contentment.  I say we should strive for happiness and be grateful when we are simply content.  

How to get happy in a hurry, according to neuroscience

From the book The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb

Know what Prozac does? It boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude!

1. “Write a running gratitude list or simply ask yourself what you’re grateful for: A warm house, a pet you love,  new shoes, a cellphone – doesn’t matter how big or small.  Gratitude boosts both dopamine and serotonin, the two most powerful neurotransmitter chemicals involved in giving you a feeling of calm and well-being.”

“Don’t worry if you can’t immediately find things to be grateful for. The mental search for gratitude alone will begin to elevate the level of those pleasure chemicals”.

2. Label negative feelings.Simply saying to yourself “I’m sad” or “I’m anxious” almost too easy for happiness.  Yet in one fMRI study – ‘Putting Feelings into Words,’ participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Each participant’s amygdala [the brain’s fight-or-flight alarm bell] activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.”

smallvet

sad . . . bordering on disdain. . .

3.  Make a decision. Just deciding to do something can reduce worry and anxiety right away.  “Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals – all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety.”

“Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which can pull you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world – finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

“And you don’t have to worry about making the “right” decision?  The “good enough” decision is good enough to make our brains go into at-ease mode.  AND you can decide not to decide or change your decision!”

4.  Touch people, appropriately! This is one of the easiest ways to release oxytocin  which is the pleasure-inducing ‘cuddle chemical’]   It can be as simple as a handshake or a pat on the back.

“A hug is the best but if you don’t have anybody to hug get a massage which has been shown to boost your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels.”

Your Belly Brain – 90% of your body is bacteria

The brain may be highly affected by the gut

“This year, the burgeoning idea that gut bacteria might have a significant impact on brain functioning gained steam in the scientific community. The National Institute of Mental Health invested more than $1 million on a new research program investigating the link between the gut microbiome and the brain, and a neuroscience conference last month called the investigation of gut microbes a “paradigm shift” in brain science.”

“It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,” UCLA medicine and psychiatry professor Dr. Emeran Mayer told NPR last year.”

“Previous research had investigated a link between disorders like autismdepressionand anxiety to variations in the microbes within the intestines –– and this year, neuroscientists began to develop a deeper understanding of just how the microbiome, as it is called, exerts an influence on the brain’s development and activity. While the link is still being investigated, the immune system and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the digestive tract, both likely play a role.”

14 minutes of your time to listen

90% of Serotonin produced in intestines 10% in brain!

Food for thought: How your belly controls your brain,  Ruairi Robertson, TEDxFulbright, SantaMonica

“Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach? Has hunger ever changed your mood? Our bellies and brains are physically and biochemically connected in a number of ways, meaning the state of our intestines can alter the way our brains work and behave, giving a whole new meaning to ‘Food for thought’.”

“As a nutritionist, microbiologist and neuroscientist, Ruairi Robertson is passionate about the link between our bellies and brains. His research is examining how our intestines and the microbes within them can influence both physical and mental health, and most importantly how our diets influence this relationship. Ruairi has travelled the world researching food, and believes it is the key to global public health. Ruairi is a PhD student in University College Cork in Ireland and current Fulbright Scholar (2015/16) to Harvard University.”

 

Bet you’ve had an Emotional Hangover and not known it

I have little, VERY little, memories of my childhood or adolescence – or adulthood for that matter.  It concerned me when a therapist colleague said that was an indication of repressed memory of probably horrible childhood trauma.  Ai yiiii yiiiiii.  Maybe I was beaten, or worse, and all these years believing I had nice parents.

I told a psychiatrist friend about my memory “affliction” thinking he would suggest decades of psycho-analysis at best and in-patient treatment at worst.  He looked passively at me and without the slightest hesitation said, “All that indicates is your childhood was boring.”

This is one of my aha moments that I DO remember and spurred me to investigate the neuro-biology of emotion.  What does that have to do with hang-over?  Read on!

Hung Over by Peggy

Excerpts from:

You already know without a doubt that most of your memories are ones that were highly emotional experiences.

“Emotional experiences can induce physiological and internal brain states that persist for long periods of time after the emotional events have ended, a team of New York University scientists has found. This study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also shows that this emotional “hangover” influences how we attend to and remember future experiences.”

“How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states–and these internal states can persist and color future experiences,” explains Lila Davachi, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and senior author of the study.”

“‘Emotion’ is a state of mind, . . . findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”’

” . . . data showed that the brain states associated with emotional experiences carried over for 20 to 30 minutes and influenced the way the subjects processed and remembered future experiences that are not emotional.”

“We see that memory for non-emotional experiences is better if they are encountered after an emotional event,” observes Davachi.

I’m so relieved!  Not only wasn’t I beaten . . . or worse . . .  the biggest hang-over I’ve experienced was the news I’ve led an exceptionally boring life.

(jw)

To read the entire article, who the author are and the research behind it click HERE.

Catattude – Neuroscience gives me a pass for “laziness”

My earliest memory was my mother waking me up.  It was dark outside and chilly inside.  I don’t remember how many times she came into my room to get me out of bed.  I do remember pulling the covers over my head and refusing to get up in the dark and cold to get ready for pre-school . . .  

Mom was the first to give up in our morning battle and I started kindergarten with “learning deficits”.  Decades later I continue to not want to greet the new day until it is DAYtime. Morning and me ain’t buddies.

Furthermore, people, like my husband, who bound out of bed alert and cheerful are jarring at best and obnoxious at worst.  

I take umbrage at being labeled “lazy” by you early-morning-worshipers who think those of us who understand that moving any extremity in increments larger than a few inches is not natural before 10 am.  

NOW!  FINALLY I’m vindicated!!!  Read this excerpt!

As anyone who struggles to get out of bed in the morning knows, fighting laziness is a losing battle. From beneath the covers, the world outside seems colder; the commute to work seems longer; the number of e-mails to answer unbearably high. Authority figures may chalk our lethargy to lack of self-discipline, but . . . 

. . . new research suggests that we’re just being our true selves: Choosing the path of least resistance, scientists argue, is hard-wired into our brains.” (What a relief.  I thought my wiring was simply “lose”)

“Outlining the results of their work in a new paper in eLife, the researchers conclude that human brains seem to be wired for laziness. “Our brain tricks us into believing the low-hanging fruit really is the ripest,” said lead author Nobuhiro Hagura, Ph.D.,. . . ”

“When we make decisions to act (or not), the brain thinks like an economist and runs a cost-benefit analysis. If the “cost to act,” as the researchers call it, is too high, it can bias our decision-making process, making us less likely to do things. Applied cleverly, their findings can help us do things that we should be doing — and those that we should be avoiding. For example, going to the gym in the morning could seem more effortless if you sleep in your sweats, just as stashing your booze on a hard-to-reach shelf might make drinking it seem like more effort than its worth. There’s no guarantee that these hacks will work, but . . . “

“. . . if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that we’ll always take the easy route when it’s available — and becoming less lazy may simply come down to avoiding that option altogether.”

If you don’t believe me read the article: Neuroscientists Just Gave Lazy Humans a Free Pass