Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brain and Low Back Pain

Individuals who complain of chronic low back pain may also experience some changes to their brain's activity. A recent study at McGill University associated chronic pain with reduced brain gray matter and impaired cognitive ability. This just might lend some credence to comments by pain sufferers (e.g., when my back hurts I just can't think straight). It certainly might provide impetus for those who do struggle with chronic back pain to take another look at strategies that could reduce the pain. The good news, according to the researchers, was that brain activity seemed to normalize after successful treatment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your Brain's Happiness

Several of you have asked where you could find information about the Life Index Map. The Satisfaction with Life Index was created by Adrian G. White, an Analytic Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester. It is an attempt to show life satisfaction in different nations. Wikipedia lists 100 countriesm rankedm along with a copy of the map.

Happy Thanksgiving! And choose to be thankful for something. Your brain will likely function better in that state.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Your Brain's GPS

Yes, it apparently has one. Studies by Ruhr University neuroscientists using mice have shown that the cerebellum contributes to a cognitive map of the environment that is created in the hippocampus. It does this through the integration of multisensory inputs combining external information (such as visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile cues) and inputs generated by self-motion (optic flow, proprioceptive, and vestibular information). This all contributes to helping you navigate successfully in a given environment.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fight-Flight and Tend-Befriend

Studies by Shelley E. Taylor, et al: Males are more likely to use physical aggression in struggles for power within a hierarchy or to defend territory against external enemies. Females reliably show less physical aggression than males but they display as much or more indirect aggression in the form of gossip, rumor-spreading, and enlisting the cooperation of a third party in undermining an acquaintance. When confronted with acute stress, both males and females may initiate a fight-flight response. Behaviorally, however, females appear to move rather quickly to a tend-befriend pattern. Tending involves nurturing activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.