I don’t know about you but I remember being told as a child: “Do your best”, “Try your best” and questioned: “Is that the best you can do?” I worried a lot that I wasn’t trying hard enough or I should have done better. Whether that led me to being a “perfectionist” (which some will dispute) I’ll never know. After reading about the neuroscience research what I do know is, from now on, I’m DECIDING to strive for GOOD ENOUGH.
Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist, maintains: One thing to try is making a decision about what’s got you worked up. It doesn’t even have to be the perfect decision; just a good one will do.
“. . . Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process.”
“In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …” Korb: “Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.”
Decisions, Decisions by Peggy
Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals:
- Decisions, intentions & goals – all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety.
- Helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines.
- Changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.”
“A key thing here is that you’re making a conscious decision, or choice, and not just being dragged to a resolution. Your brain gets no reward for that.”
“If you’re still reluctant to make a choice between one option or another, the science suggests don’t worry, you’re likely to gain a positive bias toward the decision you make anyway.”
“We don’t just choose the things we like;
we also like the things we choose.”
Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time
I’m a hugger. I admit it. It’s almost a reflex when I see someone I like or admire.
In the 1970’s I taught 3rd grade. It was common for some students to run up, throw their arms around my waist and give me a big hug. We teachers would always hug back. When a student got hurt or was in distress a hug was automatic. Our cultural climate has changed and teachers are no longer suppose to touch, much less hug, students. Our cultural climate is continuing to change and unwanted, unwarranted “hugs” are rightly being brought out into the open and condemned.
So I share this information from the work of Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time with the acknowledgement that we should only be touching others who want to be touched.
“Got someone to hug? Go for it. Alex Korb, says ‘A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”‘
“Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”’
And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.
Mousey Masseuse by Peggy
The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb:
“In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI [functional magnetic imaging] experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain . . .”
The next time you see me HUG AWAY!
The rosy pictures of family harmony is ever-present in the media during holiday season.
As therapists we were privy to the fact that holidays are stressful and often bring out the worst in family and interpersonal relationships.
Clients who had no family fantasized about what they were missing and clients with families fantasized about how to miss family gatherings.
Family Dynamics by Peggy
It’s gratifying to know we were on track with how we approached client holiday stress & strain. The research bears this out:
- It is not helpful to ruminate on what was, what could be, ruminate over and over about the hurt, anger, injustice of it all. Rumination leads to depression and/or anxiety.
- It’s best to tell the “tale” once, focus on what hasn’t worked and find new ways to cope.
Here’s a synopsis of the research and article:
Family Arguments Over The Holidays? Replaying Them in Detail May Be the Best Way to Cope
“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.”
“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”
“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”
“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”
“For people experiencing depression learning to focus on stressful incidents and to re-imagine them in full technicolour asking themselves ‘What is unique about this situation?’ ‘ How did it happen?’ – instead of ‘Why did it happen to me? had an a ‘significant’ impact on helping to alleviate mental ill health.”
Then again, one way to avoid all the holiday tension is to eat out or . . . leave town.
Read the full article:
It’s a strain on my brain
whether it’s June, July or December
lots of tasks
my brain crowns the winner
which I reward with dinner
Eats I never forget
Food my permanent mind set
Trying To Remember Multiple Things May Be The Best Way To Forget Them
by CHRIS BENDEREV
“A new scientific model of forgetting is taking shape, which suggests keeping multiple memories or tasks in mind simultaneously can actually erode them.”
“Neuroscientists already knew that memories can interfere with and weaken each other while they are locked away in the recesses of long-term memory. But this new model speaks to what happens when multiple memories are coexisting front and center in our minds, in a place called “working memory.”‘
“It argues that when we let multiple memories come to mind simultaneously, those memories immediately lock into a fierce competition with each other.” When these memories are tightly competing for our attention the brain steps in and actually modifies those memories,” says Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, a neuroscientist at UT Austin.”
“The brain crowns winners and losers. If you ended up remembering the milk and forgetting the phone call, your brain strengthens your memory for getting milk and weakens the one for phoning your friend back, so it will be easier to choose next time you’re faced with that dilemma.”
I’m so smart. I’ve been employing this strategy for years! The only problem is when I remember what I forgot, I forget why I needed to remember what I forgot to remember.
P.S. I forgot to tell you that you can read the entire article
by clicking on the title above.
Humans don’t learn to become terrified of spiders and snakes — we were hard-wired millions of years ago to fear them!
Apparently, as a scientific study* concludes, the spider/snake specific response conferred an evolutionary advantage to our ancestors- who were able to identify and react to the creatures more quickly.
Reading this article made me reflect on my fears:
- I used to be fearful of aliens coming to “get me”. I am pretty sure that the time it would have been useful for them to study me has passed.
- I used to be afraid that my mind would go before my body. Since watching the decline of my own parents I’m now fearful that my mind will NOT go before my body. It may be a blessing not to be aware of what my limitations are.
- I used to be fearful people wouldn’t like me. I now consider it a compliment that certain people don’t like me
I used to be fearful of snakes. I spent hours in my early 20’s watching snakes (behind a glass exhibit) noticing how beautiful their markings were, how incredible it was that they navigated their way with their tongue and how remarkable their ability to move was. I still am afraid of snakes. It’s hard-wired, you know.
- I used to be fearful of not getting good grades in school. I’ve got all the diplomas now I need . . .or want.
- I used to be terrified of dying. I’m not afraid of that since I’ve embraced the Baha’i belief about the celestial realm.
- I used to be fearful of never having a boy ask me to dance at high school dances. Now I fear that if anyone asked they’d find out I can’t dance
- I used to be afraid of heights. I took a Wilderness Course in my 30’s where we had to climb poles, walk across streams on tiny logs and fall backwards off ledges into people’s’ arms. I am still afraid of heights.
Hey! My list of fears has really been whittled down!
All I’m afraid of now is that there are snakes in heaven, I will be a dance instructor for eternity and that heaven is REALLY HIGH up.
What are . . . or were . . . your fears ?
. . . 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.
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.”