Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons From Mother #7

Here are a few more tongue-in-cheek lessons from mother.

My mother taught me about meditation: “You will sit in the corner and not make a peep until I say so. I hope you'll learn something."

My mother taught me about expectations: “Of course we expect you to get all “A’s.” Do you want people to think your parents are dumb?”

My mother taught me about cleanliness: “Get in there and clean your room. When you can eat off the floor you can come out to the table and have dinner.”

My mother taught me about sounds: “We’re changing your instrument from violin to piano. All that screeching is pushing me toward a breakdown.”

My mother taught me about the proper attitude toward prayer: “You keep your eyes closed. I don’t want you seeing what people do when they’re supposed to be praying.”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Prenominal vs Post-nominal #3

Even in childhood I  noticed that some specific degrees seemed to come with the use of a prenominal honorific while others did not. Dentists and medical doctors were typically introduced as "Dr.," while pharmacists and attorneys rarely were accorded a prenominal honorific.This can differ by country and sometimes even by gender. Recently I was introduced to a couple like this:  "I'd like you to meet Dr. X and his wife Y.'  Both of them had doctorates. Hmmm. On a trip overseas I was introduced to a different couple as "Harry and his wife Sally." That was followed with, "They are both physicians at our regional hospital." I found that to be an interesting distinction between WHO they were as individuals and WHAT they did professionally. What makes the difference? Does it reflect the perspective of the individual doing the introducing, evolving societal norms, unthinking habits, all of those or none? Having said that, the individual being introduced, audibly or in writing, may have had nothing to do with how he or she was presented. Not long ago I was introduced as speaker for the occasion with these words, "Arlene is with us today. She's a nurse." (And I was with them, in person, no less. LOL!) It's all food for thought...and often fascinating . . .

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prenominal vs Post-nominal #2

This question was fun, perhaps because it was phrased so interestingly:  "What is appropriate in terms of a prenominal honorific and a post-nominal academic suffix in social situations?" I understood it to be asking if rules of etiquette exist, which admittedly are taking something of a beating in this age of technology, that specify whether one should use a title before a person's name and include letters indicating academic accomplishment after the person's name, as well. For example, some get in the habit of pasting the prenominal honorific "Dr." in front of a name in all situations, professional as well as social. Theoretically, "Dr," indicates that the individual has completed a specific course of education and earned the right to use that title (or had an honorary doctorate bestowed upon them as a courtesy).  It doesn't indicate who the person is as an individual. Consequently, in a social setting it may come across as a bit pretentious to be introduced as "Dr.,"  unless, of course, the person is there is a professional-service capacity (or believes that he/she "is" what he/she has "done"). There are often inequities in social rules, too. Part 3 tomorrow.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Prenominal vs Post-nominal #1

 I find questions fascinating. Sometimes my brain has some information to contribute and sometimes it pushes me to increase my knowledge base. Recently I was asked, "Since you have two doctorates should they both be listed after your name?" [I don't think so--not in my brain's opinion, anyway!] As you know, a post-nominal academic suffix indicates the degree earned at a college or university. Examples include associate degrees (AA, AS); bachelor's degrees ( BA, BS, BFA); master's degrees (MA, MS, MBA); professional doctorates (JD, MD, DO, Pharm D); and academic doctorates (PhD, EdD, EngD).  I omitted some of the periods (.) so the blog wouldn't look so cluttered! In a professional situation, use of these academic suffixes indicates the individual's educational or academic background, which may be important to know from the perspective of the audience.  The question reminded me of an article I read recently by Eric K. Curtis, DDS, MA, MAGD. The title was, "Never Call Me 'Dr. Eric Curtis, DDS'." The author opined rather humorously that not only is a double-doctor title redundant, "an enemy to the clarity of concision," but also is awkward and might even scream insecurity. According to some, in the case of doctorates, either the prefix (e.g. Dr. or Atty.) or the suffix (e.g. JD, MD, DO, PhD) is used, not both. In the United States, the suffix is the preferred format in written documentation, allowing differentiation between types of doctorates. I had just finished answering that question when I received another. More about that one tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

1 Dose Cocaine and the Brain

Studies have shown that long-term use of cocaine can drastically impact decision-making and may even rewire the brain. Now a new study at UCSF Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center has reported that cocaine can cause rewiring have JUST ONE USE. Using live mice, researchers found that one dose of cocaine triggered growth of new dendritic spines that rewired the brain to seek cocaine. According to Linda Wilbrecht, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study, "We have limited real estate in the brain, and this (study) shows how drugs dominate what its users think about." Because the brain can rewire, however, there is hope that recovery strategies also could help this to occur. Since it is also known that when you do almost anything once, the brain lays down the beginning of a software pattern in case you might want to do it again, which would put it ahead of the game so to speak. Put that together with this new research and “trying something just once for the experience” may be a poor choice.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Physical Shapes and Brain Impact

How do physical cues, shapes, impact your brain? It appears they do have an impact, even the shape of a tip bowl! As you probably already know, tipping is not expected in France because the bill includes a service change. Researcher Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne Sud in France conducted an experiment to determine if the shape of a tip bowl (round, square, or heart-shaped) would impact whether or not customers left a tip. The study found that 26.2% of customers left tips when the tip dish was square; 31.2% when the tip dish was round; and 46.3% when the dish was heart-shaped. The study findings suggest that a simple physical cue (e.g., a tip dish in the shape of a heart) can trigger thoughts of love, which apparently activated altruism and helping behaviors. Interesting. I wonder what effect other simple physical cues might have in a variety of environments?

Guéguen, N. (2013), Helping with all your heart: the effect of cardioid dishes on tipping behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43: 1745–1749. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12109

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hard-wired for Generosity

Conclusions of studies related to generosity (addressed in Svoboda’s new book entitled “What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness,”) seem to indicate that the human brain may be hard-wired for generosity. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal commenting on the book, researcher Jordan Grafman found one of the most memorable results involved what happened when participants decided to make a donation even when they knew it was going to cost them money from their personal reward accounts. In those situations, the anterior prefrontal cortex lit up, a region that is believed responsible for complex judgments and decision-making. The participants were willing to give even when they knew it would cost them personally, indicating that this area of the brain may help humans decide to behave generously even when doing so runs counter to their immediate self-interest. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Generosity and the Brain

Svoboda has written a new book entitled, “What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness.” It contains Neuroscientist Jordan Grafman has investigated where generosity originates in the brain using scans. Turns out that when study participants decided to donate to what they thought was a worthy organization, parts of the midbrain lit up (portions of the brain that control cravings for food and sex and that became active when the participants added money to their personal reward accounts.) Part of the frontal lobes also were activated when the participants made the decision to give to charity; this subgenual area contains oxytocin receptors, a hormone that promotes social bonding. This suggests that altruism and social relationships may be closely connected. Part 2 tomorrow.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Your Brain Has a Bent

Some of you know that I coauthored a book with Dr. W. Eugene Brewer entitled Your Brain Has a Bent (Not a Dent). Recently I was asked about the word bent; where it came from, its etymology and first use. Questions such as these are fun because my brain enjoys using the internet to ferret out possible answers. Some sources indicate that the description of bent as a “mental inclination” is likely from the 1570s, while the description of bent as "directed in a course" is from the 1690s. Not only that, for those who asked about bent and Scriptural references, the Amplified Bible translates Proverbs 22:6 from the Hebrew like this:  “Train up a child in the way he should go (and in keeping with his individual gift or bent) and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I put bent in italics so it would stand out. The book of Proverbs is part of the Hebrew Old Testament. According to Wikipedia, the earliest copies of parts of the Hebrew Old Testament were discovered in 1947. Part of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, they actually date back to the first century BC. This means that bent may be a very old word indeed. And in my brain’s opinion, every brain does have a bent.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Some of you may already know that the Amen Clinics did a study (2009-2012) on active and retired professional football players related to the effects of chronic traumatic brain injury or TBI. It was reportedly the largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study of its kind to date. Some conclusions were:

  1.  A very high percentage of football players showed symptoms of TBI (and evidence of TBI patterns on SPECT scans) which included ADD-like symptoms

  1. 81% of the players showed symptoms of attention problems and concentration problems
 There seems to be a sense that cases of ADD are increasing. Based on Dr. Amen’s work, the question becomes whether these cases are really ADD or related to TBI. My brain’s opinion is that TBI in a developing brain may be especially problematic. Dr. Amen wrote in a recent newsletter: “Nobody knows exactly how many blows to the head it takes to cause problems, yet studies have shown that it takes longer for children to recover from a second concussion if it follows soon after a first, and that once someone has a concussion they’re more likely to experience more.” You may want to check out the article yourself.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Right Brain-Left Brain

I've been inundated with questions about the Huffington Post Health Living article that read in part: "Everyone should understand the personality types associated with the terminology 'left-brained' and 'right-brained' and how they relate to him or her personally; however, we just don't see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected or the whole right-brain network is more connected in some people," study researcher Jared Nielsen, a graduate student in neuroscience at the university, said in the statement. "It may be that personality types have nothing to do with one hemisphere being more active, stronger, or more connected." My understanding of PET Scan studies by Richard Haier MD would corroborate this. A brain's bent (or energy advantage or brain lead or dominance or preference) more likely relates to the amount of energy required to transmit information across the synapse in any given cerebral division and not to brain connections between regions being more left-lateralized or right-lateralized (even though some brain functions do occur in one side or the other side of the cerebrum). Take Broca's area, for example. In most brains (regardless of handedness) it tends to be located in the left frontal lobe.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Your DNA Traces

How much do you know about your own DNA beyond that you have quite a bit of it in your brain and body?  Do you know that you may leave traces of your DNA wherever you go whenever you leave anything that might contain some of your cells? Have you ever spit out chewing gum on the street or dropped a cigarette butt? You might want to think again! Recently I learned about artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who creates faces from DNA samples. Potentially, this could change the “face” of life in the world as we know it. Just think of the implications for investigating crimes to say nothing of tracking a person’s visits to specific locations. I also wonder what else might be discovered from memories filed on protein strands in the nucleus of cells that have a nucleus (cellular memory)? If you are interested in learning more about how Heather does this, here’s the link. I find it fascinating!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Biophilia and Health

Here's another word for your vocabulary: Biophilia. It is the hypothesis that humans have an inherent inclination to affiliate with nature and implies affection for plants and other living things in nature. Does spending time in nature impact health and well-being? An article published in the Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health suggests that the answer is yes. Here is a summary paragraph:  "Taking all the reviewed evidence into account, the idea that interacting with Nature can offer positive effects on health and well-being seems to be reasonably well substantiated. Thus, the Biophilia hypothesis has merit. The evidence includes studies on outdoor activities, therapeutic use of Nature, having a view of Nature (either actual Nature or in pictures), and adding plants to indoor environments. Moreover, the notion that part of the effect is mediated through visual contact with plants also appears to be substantiated. The above statement is based on empirical data, but supported by theoretical expectations, which suggest that the absence of Nature is a potential discord. The latter point has been raised recently by Richard Louv ... who uses the term nature-deficit, and suggests that the increase in prevalence of conditions such as obesity, attention disorders, and depression is partly due to a decrease in the degree children are exposed to Nature." If you’re interested in reading the article, I’ve included the link below.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Numerosity and the Brain

Numerosity. I don’t recall that word in my vocabulary list as a child. Not even when I was memorizing words for a spelling bee that I never won. Now I understand more about the reason for that. The cerebral division that contains functions that help us learn to spell accurately is very energy-exhausting in my brain. Fortunately, there is spell check. All I need to do is remember to use it consistently. Back to Numerosity. A good friend just sent me an article entitled “Is ‘Numerosity’ Humans’ Sixth Sense?” What is numerosity? It differs from symbolism or mathematical ability and refers to numerical amounts only. Ben Harvey, a neuroscientist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, explained that people vary somewhat in their ability to distinguish numerosity. “At the extreme, you have savants—individuals, many of whom have autism or a similar disorder, who possess extraordinary abilities in math, art or other areas. Some savants can look at a pile of pick-up sticks, for example, and instantly know how many there are.” Of on the flip side you have people who . . .  You might find the article interesting reading. I certainly did.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When Do You Eat, Part 2

Are you trying to maintain optimum weight? Do you need to lose a few pounds? WHEN do you eat? A study reported in “The Scientist” indicates that asynchrony between the master clock of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN and multiple peripheral “clocks,” including the gut, can cause health problems and can interfere with a person maintaining an optimum weight. Intestinal motility and absorption differ depending on the time of day. Like all of the body’s clocks, these rhythms are guided by clock genes that operate in a transcriptional feedback loop. Frank Scheer of Harvard Medical School and Marta Garault of Murcia University studied 420 dieters in Spain. They discovered that the timing of the main meal (before 3pm, which for Spaniards is lunch), predicted the success of weight loss. So, WHEN do YOU eat?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

WHEN Do You Eat?

Researchers have known for years that WHAT you eat and HOW MUCH you eat can have a profound impact on the health of your brain and body. Now, new research recently published in “The Scientist,” has identified that WHEN you eat is an important factor in maintaining energy balance and good health. It seems that the diurnal rhythms of the earth’s rotation can have a huge impact on human metabolism. Studies have identified the human “circadian clock as a system regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a group of about 20,000 neurons in the brain’s hypothalamus that serves as the conductor of our body’s 24-hour rhythms.” When humans eat “off schedule” with the circadian clock (as can happen with shift workers), negative consequences can result to brain and body. Part 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sounds that Shake the Ocean Floor

Recently I ran across an article by Chris Palmer in “The Scientist.” It was entitled Cetacean Cacophony and reported on fin whale calls. These were picked up by seafloor seismometers that were really trying to track the sounds of earthquakes. Turns out that although fin whales are distributed globally, they mostly live in the open ocean, far from coastlines. I was surprised to learn that they are the second longest animals this planet has ever seen. At 90 feet in length, they are only slightly shorter than blue whales. Elusive they may be; they can make relatively deafening sounds. The fin whale calls were picked up and recorded by seismometers. “The underwater sounds often approached 190 decibels, which translates to 130 decibels in the air—equivalent to the intensity of a jet engine and loud enough to shake the ocean floor.” The second longest animal on the planet making sounds loud enough to shake the ocean floor? Now that makes a visualization for my brain!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brain-to-Brain Communication

According to an article in Kurzweil News, researchers have demonstrated the first human brain-to-brain interface. Researchers at the University of Washington have accomplished what they believe to be the first noninvasive human-to-human-brain interface. One researcher was able to send a brain signal via the internet to control the hand motions of another researcher. Previously, researchers at Duke University have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats (the rodents!), and Harvard University researchers have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between a rat and a human brain. It is hoped that refined technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Or a person with disabilities could communicate a wish for food or water. It is believed that the brain signals from one person to another would work even if they didn’t speak the same language.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Divided by a Common Language

I love words. I even enjoy the vagaries of communication. Oh, I deplore the occasional misunderstanding, but even then it can be food for mirth. Take this morning, for instance. I had a prearranged appointment to meet a friend for coffee following another appointment to eat breakfast with a different friend. The breakfast friend rescheduled but my mouth was already watering for a yogurt crepe at IHOP. Consequently, I texted my coffee friend to report the change in plans and said “Still meet for coffee but also plan to eat breakfast.” Back comes a text saying, “See you then. I’ll hold off on breakfast.” My brain thought, Fine. I’ll eat breakfast; my coffee friend can stick with a beverage. Consequently, I texted back: “Great. I’ll listen and eat while you talk and drink.” By return text I read: “Amazing how different brains perceive the same words. I meant I would not eat breakfast at home in favor of eating with you.” Now that’s a friend to hang onto! I laughed all the way to IHOP. The next time your brain perceives words very differently from another brain’s perception, remember that we are divided by a common language and choose to laugh about it…

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How Are YOU Creative?

It’s a myth that only specific and special people are creative. Everyone is born with tremendous capacities for creativity and the trick is to develop these capacities. A first step is to understand that there is an intimate relationship between creativity and intelligence. In fact, according to Faith Ringgold, acclaimed artist and creator of painted story quilts, think of intelligence and creativity as blood relatives. You can't be creative without acting intelligently; and the highest form of intelligence is to think creatively. You can be creative at anything at all--anything that involves your intelligence. So, perhaps as with intelligence, the question is, “How are you creative?” Have you even thought much about that? Maybe you were told in childhood that you were not creative. Well, it’s time to think again!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reading the Brain

Have you been following cognitive Neuroscience research lately? To use an overused cliché, it’s mind-blowing! Take this study for example. At Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, researchers crafted a study using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) in combination with a linear Gaussian mathematical model. The upshot? Researchers were able to identify which letter of the alphabet was being looked at by the study participant. They could actual reconstruct from the fMRI images the specific letter the study participant was reading! Now, according to the researchers, they hope to work with more powerful scanners and identifying images of faces or even dreams. “Star Wars” and “007” may not be as fanciful as once believed. The first sentence of the article’s abstract reads:  “With the advent of sophisticated acquisition and analysis techniques, decoding the contents of someone's experience has become a reality.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

Narcissism, Part Four

When confronted by a person exhibiting narcissistic behaviors, it is helpful for me to recognize and remember that it’s all about their self-absorption, inability to manage anger, lack of emotional intelligence, low level of self-esteem, failure to be empathetic, tendency to blame others, learned styles of coping (or not coping) with the ups and downs of life, low motivation for improvement, and so on. When I observe a pattern of narcissistic behaviors, I avoid contact with that individual or limit my exposure in order to minimize negative consequences to my brain and body. If the narcissistic behaviors are an unexpected surprise, I ask myself: will this matter in 12 months? If the answer is no, I simply get through that encounter and find something for which to be grateful. If the answer is yes, I address the issue functionally. Meaning, I set and implement appropriate boundaries to protect myself. When the narcissist is an adult family member, you can still choose to limit your exposure, set and implement appropriate protective boundaries, and avoid taking their narcissistic behaviors personally.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Narcissism, Part Three

The as-yet-not-done teenage brain is rather narcissistic in its approach to life and living. The process of maturing the teenage brain is designed to move it away from narcissistic behavior to more balanced behaviors. This is not a genetic process but a learned process and the teenager either learns it or not. If they fail to mature and move to more balanced behaviors, they tend to become narcissistic adults. While narcissists are able to feel most emotions as strongly as do others, they lack the essential ability to perceive or understand the feelings of others. As Martha Stout PhD has put it, narcissism is a failure not of conscience but of empathy. Emotionally speaking, narcissists don’t seem to see past their own nose, sometimes flying into narcissistic rages and then lacking the skills to get back on the good side of people they love. That’s exactly what had happened in the interactions between this mother and her adult daughter. The daughter had flown into several narcissistic rages when things has not turned out exactly as she expected or wanted, which had fractured the mother-daughter relationship, yet again. What to do? Last part tomorrow.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Narcissism, Part Two

Narcissism is characterized by a seriously overinflated sense of the individual’s own personal importance. In one sense, every person is important simply because he or she exists. In another sense, every person is simply part of the global village and while each has membership importance this does not necessarily indicate dictatorship or royalty rights not does the universe revolve around him or her. Narcissistic people tend to have a compromised sense of self-worth. In order to feel adequate they must find others to be incompetent and put them down (e.g., complain, criticize, gossip, show contempt). Because they tend not to recognize their own mistakes, they lack compassion for others and often do everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for their own behaviors. Highly insecure and never having learned how to fail, they try to be successful at all times and at whatever the cost (e.g., may lie, exhibit addictive behaviors, throw you “under the bus” in order to look good, or make it all your fault). Does that sound like some teenagers you’ve met? Part three tomorrow.
l � a �O PrO t Two tomorrow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Narcissism and the Brain

Earlier this year I presented a two-part seminar in Bakersfield, California, entitled “Impossible Brains—Toxic Behaviors.” My goal was to help people recognize undesirable behaviors in several specific categories. If this involved their own behaviors, they could choose to course correct. If this involved behaviors of others, they could take steps to minimize exposure and protect themselves from at least some of the negative consequences. The preparatory research for that seminar turned out to be very helpful during a recent conversation I had with a distraught mother. She catalogued how emotionally painful a recent visit with her adult daughter had been, especially since she regularly exhibits narcissistic behaviors. Narcissism is a condition that (according to recent statistics) is actually more often seen in males than females by a ratio of something like four to one. The condition is relatively common, however, with an estimated prevalence of 6.2% of the population. Since that’s something like one in every sixteen or seventeen people, the likelihood you know a narcissist is high. Perhaps you work with one or live next door to one. And it can be really tough when the narcissist is a member of your own family. Part Two tomorrow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sleep Deprivation #3

Researchers have connected lack of adequate amounts of sleep to packing on pounds. And similar to the effects of jet lag or cramming for final examinations, lack of adequatge sleep has been found to lead to weight gain almost immediately. Researchers at the University of Colorado spent two weeks studying 16 health males and females. During the first week, 8 of the participants were allowed to sleep nine hours a night (while the other eight were permitted to sleep only five hours). During the second week, researchers reversed the sleeping schedules.   Lead author Kenneth Wright reported that sleeping for only five hours increased the metabolism of participants (e.g., they burned an extgra 111 calories a day). With increased metabolisms, the participants ate 6% more calories than the non-sleep-deprived participants, many of those calories in carbohydrates and fats. No surprise, the sleep deprived participants gained an average of two pounds in one week. THe good news? When the sleep-deprived participatns were allowed to sleep nine hours, almost immediately they started to lose the extra weight.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


“Yet more bunglering.” One of my table guests threw the comment out amid a mixture of resignation, pity, and amusement. I knew the word “bungle” (to handle badly, if used as a verb; a botch, if used as a noun). Bunglering? That was a new one. I asked what it meant and the answer was, “Just watch.” I did. Within five minutes a fork decided it preferred the floor, a glob of butter slithered into a cup of soup, a napkin flew to the next table, and one corner of a roll nestled its way into nearby cleavage. Stifling my laughter was becoming a near impossibility so I made my way to a safe female hangout¾the ladies’ room. That’s when I learned she had come up with the word to describe inept behavior that kept reoccurring. That’s how language keeps evolving. Brains get creative, their creation gets picked up (especially with current technology that allows a word to go viral), and voila, the language expands. Bunglering. I like it. I’ve done my share—not that I particularly liked that! Smile. Have you heard a new word lately? Have you created one?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Brain Circuits and Anxiety

At least weekly some new piece of brain function information surfaces. Take recent studies by researchers at MIT’s Piower Institute for Learning and Memory, for example. It has been known for some time that memory is impacted both by the hippocampi and the amygdalae, part of the brain’s limbic system. It wasn’t known, however, how (or even if) these little brain organs communicated with each other in relation to anxiety. In studies of mice, the BLA or basolateral amygdala and the vHPC or ventral hippocampus were both implicated in mediating anxiety-related behaviors. “Researchers showed that activation of BLA-vHPC synapses acutely and robustly increased anxiety-related behaviors, while inhibition of BLA-vHPC synapses decreased anxiety-related behaviors.” My guess is that the next step will be to figure out how to practically apply this knowledge to help treat anxiety-related disorders. Estimates are that in any given year at least 40 million Americans are impacted by some type of anxiety disorder.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Congratulations Jordan and Rachel

I just returned from Jordan's and Rachel's wedding reception here in Northern California (they actually got married Saturday in Michigan). It was great fun to connect with friends and give these two all our love and congratulations. My job was to provide a "blessing," and one of my favorites comes from the writings of Gilbran. In this poem, he admonishes that there are three entities in every marriage. In this case, Jordan, Rachel, and the entity they create when they are together. Gilbran was encouraging individuals to always retain their uniqueness even as they create a new, third entity. Here are his words:

"Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

"Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart--and the oak tree and cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Live always so that you return home at eventide with gratitude,
And then to sleep . . .
With a prayer for your beloved in your heart
And a song of praise upon your lips."
                                                                             --Kahlil Gilbran, Poet

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cocaine and Memory

According to information published by NIH in NIDA Notes, the current best hope for recovery from cocaine use involves behavioral therapy, “in which people learn to ignore the cues that trigger their drug craving and to establish new habits that provide healthy rewards.” Reported conclusions from research studies by  Nader, Gould, and colleagues at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, showed good news and bad news. The bad news is that ongoing cocaine exposure weakens two brain functions that human beings require for successful behavioral change. These functions involve cognitive flexibility and memory. The good news? The study suggests that, with abstinence, as shown in rhesus monkeys, the human  brain also may be capable of returning to normal.