Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bedtime and Health risks

This month The Endocrine Society issued a news release reporting the results of a new study that found: night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep. According to Nan Hee Kim, MD, PhD, of Korea University College of Medicine in Ansan, Korea, one of the study’s authors, regardless of lifestyle, people who stayed up late faced a higher risk of developing health problems like diabetes or reduced muscle mass than those who were early risers. Male night owls were more likely have diabetes or sarcopenia than early risers. Female night owls tended to have more belly fat and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. You may want to rethink the time you go to bed at night . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Communication and Foxp2 Protein

Researchers studied the levels of Foxp2 protein in the brains of four-day-old female and male rats first. Then they turned their attention to human children. In a preliminary study of Foxp2 protein in a small group of children, researchers found that girls had more of the Foxp2 protein in the cortex, a brain region associated with language, than age-matched boys. This was opposite from what they found in male and female rat brains.  

 J. Michael Bowers. et al. Foxp2 Mediates Sex Differences in Ultrasonic Vocalization by Rat Pups and Directs Order of Maternal Retrieval.” The Journal of Neuroscience, February 20, 2013; Vol. 33, Issue 8:pages 3276 %u20133283 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0425-12.2013

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Communication and Foxp2 Protein

Researchers report a sex difference in the expression of a language-associated protein in humans or animals. They analyzed the levels of Foxp2 protein in the brains of four-day-old female and male rats and compared the ultrasonic distress calls made by the animals when separated from their mothers and siblings. Compared with females, males had more of the protein in brain areas associated with cognition, emotion, and vocalization. They also made more noise than females—and were preferentially retrieved and returned to the nest first by the mother. Foxp2 protein levels were reduced in male pups and increased in female pups, they reversed the sex difference in the distress calls, causing males to sound like females and the females like males. This change led the mother to reverse her behavior as well, preferentially retrieving the females over the males. More tomorrow. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Visualization Effectiveness, 3

Your brain can only do what it believes it can do. Showing your brain what you want it to do by using active mental picturing and all five senses, helps it believe it can do it. There’s an old proverb that says “If you can see it you can achieve it.” You ‘see it’ in your mind’s eye by using all your senses, by visualizing consistently, and believing that you not only can do what you want to accomplish but that you are doing it. Some have called that a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of each practice time of active mental picturing, tell yourself what you did and how successful you were at doing it. You can make it happen. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Visualization Effectiveness, 2

Be real and consistent when visualizing what you want to accomplish. Tell your brain you are preparing for an actual event or performance. Prepare every day. Even if you concentrate for only ten minutes a day, do it at least six days a week.

Thank your brain for helping you rehearse. When you experience a particularly effective active mental rehearsal, get excited about it. Tell yourself: I am improving. I am having fun doing this. My brain is helping me! Part 3 is coming.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Visualization Effectiveness

Many things can be more effective when individuals use all their senses; especially the senses that use eyes, ears, nose, touch, and sometimes taste. The same is true of active mental picturing. Ask yourself:

  1. Can I see a picture in my mind’s eye of what I want to accomplish?
  2. Can I hear my internal self-talk about what I want to accomplish or imagine myself explaining it to someone else?
  3. Is there anything to smell about what I want to accomplish? If yes, what it is?
  4. Can I physically touch what I want to accomplish?
  5. Can I taste what I want to accomplish, literally or metaphorically?

The more senses you involve in your visualizing practice, the more likely it is to be effective. Part 2 tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Active Mental Picturing

Western cultures, so called, are thought to have started embracing visualization (or active mental picturing) as a powerful technique when Russian athletes used it to train for the Olympic Games in the 80’s. Reportedly, the athletes that spent 25% of their time on physical training and 75% of their time on mental training, performed better than those who concentrated on physical training exclusively. Now, many of the best athletes use creative visualization as the core of their training program. Since 60 percent of the population is estimated to have a visual sensory preference, many think of visualization as creating an internal mental picture in their mind’s eye. Active mental picturing, visualizing, is much more than that, however. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Friendship Paradox, 2

Feiler and Kleinbaum designed their study to evaluate the interaction of two key factors in the formation of social networks: extraversion, which correlates with popularity, and homophily, the idea that people with similar levels of extraversion are more likely to become friends. The results showed that network extraversion bias exists.  Furthermore, it is more pronounced in the networks of extraverts. "The skew gets really extreme the more extraverted you are," Feiler reported. Apparently the degree of bias uncovered was unexpected. In addition they found that introverts were more likely to form friendships with other introverts. Their networks still displayed the friendship paradox, but to a lesser degree.

D. C. Feiler, A. M. Kleinbaum. “Popularity,Similarity, and the Network Extraversion Bias. Psychological Science,2015; DOI: 10.1177/0956797615569580

Monday, April 20, 2015

Friendship Paradox

The Friendship paradox, so-called, states that because extraverted people tend to have more friends, they are disproportionately represented in social networks. This tends to suggest that everyone's network is more extraverted than the population as a whole. Daniel C. Feiler and Adam M. Kleinbaum of Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College, have researched the so-called Friendship Paradox. They studied the emerging social networks of 284 new MBA students, who were surveyed twice:

·         The first time at five weeks after orientation
·         The second time after 11 weeks

Researchers gave the student participants a class roster and asked them to indicate the people with whom they socialize. After the second survey, the student participants took the Big Five Inventory, designed to evaluate personality traits, including extraversion. More tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brain-Body Mismatches, 4

McCarthy and Nugent succeeded in changing the brain of a female rat—after the window had closed—which resulted in the female rat brain taking on the characteristics of a male rat brain. The injections occurred after the first week of birth when the window for brain sexual differentiation was thought to have been closed. Despite this, the preoptic area in these animals was transformed, and took on structural characteristics of a male rat. The female rats also behaved differently, displaying sexual behavior typical of male rats. In another experiment, McCarthy and Nugent genetically deleted the Dnmt gene in female mice. These animals also showed male behavior patterns. Nugent said, “Physically, these animals were females, but in their reproductive behavior, they were males. It was fascinating to see this transformation."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Brain-Body Mismatches, 3

Dr. Margaret McCarthy collaborated with Bridget Nugent, PhD, now a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate how gender is determined in the brain. They discovered that inhibiting DNA methyltransferases or Dnmts, which modify DNA to repress gene expression, has powerful effects. Typically, there is a designated time frame during gestation in which the brain takes on male or female characteristics. The understanding has been that once this window closed, it could not be reopened. McCarthy and Nugent injected Dnmt inhibitors into a specific region known as the preoptic area, or POA. In every species that's been studied, including humans, the POA plays a key role in governing male sexual behavior. What happened? Part 4 tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brain-Body Mismatches

The brains of most humans, as well as most animals, develop specific brain characteristics during gestation. For examples, portions of human male and female brains are of a different size and may have differing numbers of neurons. During prenatal development, the brains of most animals, including humans, develop specifically male or female characteristics.  However, researchers knew little about how this differentiation occurs. In most cases, the type of brain (male or female) matches the body in which it is housed.  Sometimes a person’s brain doesn’t match the body in which it was housed. Again, how and when this occurred during the process of gestation has not been clearly understood. Enter a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sleep Drunkenness

Treatment for confusional arousal revolves around treating the individual’s other sleep problems. As those resolve, the symptoms of sleep drunkenness often disappear, as well. This of course leads to the debate about what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Is sleep drunkenness its own condition or is it a symptom of another sleep problem? The study showed association rather than causation. According to lead researcher, Dr. Ohayon, "Many people think these episodes are mundane and without consequences. It is true most of the time. However, it takes only one episode to have disastrous consequences because judgment and spatio-temporal orientation are impaired during an episode.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sleep Drunkenness, 2

Estimates are that sleep drunkenness affects about 1 in 7 Americans. After reviewing the sleeping habits of more than 19,000 adults, the study on sleep drunkenness led by Dr. Maurice Ohayon, found that 84% of CAs were associated with a sleep disorder (70.8%) (most often dyssomnia and parasomnia) or a mental health disorder (37.4%), including depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, panic or post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. Of the 19,000 adult participants in the Sleep Drunkenness study:

  • Less than 1% didn't have another sleep problem
  • Those with sleep apnea were more likely to experience confusional arousal.
  • 20% of those who slept less than 6 hours a night and 15% of those who slept at least 9 hours, suffered from sleep drunkenness
  • Most adults reporting confusional arousal were not receiving medication, but among those who were, antidepressants were most common.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sleep Drunkenness

Sleep drunkenness (also known as confusional arousal) is more common than previously thought. This according to a study at Stanford University School of Medicine, led by researcher Dr. Maurice Ohayon, a professor psychiatry, and colleagues. People who have sleep drunkenness or confusional arousal tend to wake up in a confused state. If the condition is severe, they can injure themselves or others. There have been cases where waking up in a confused state led to the person striking a bedmate. In another case, a ship’s passenger who awoke in a confused state, fell off the deck and died. Episodes can occur even while taking a nap. Most people can’t recall the incident afterwards. More tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Inflammation and the Brain, 2

A variety of factors can trigger unhelpful inflammation in your Gastrointestinal system, including:

·         Stress from overwork, accidents, an unbalanced lifestyle, or skipping nutritious meals when your body needs the nutrition

·         Emotional upsets such as worry and panic attacks, or anything that triggers the stress response

·         Food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances to specific types of foods

·         Hormonal imbalances often involving estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone; glucose and insulin problems

·         Eating and/or drinking too much at one time or ingesting very rich foods that cause your digestive system to overwork (it may or may not be accompanied by heartburn)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Inflammation and the Brain

In an informal poll, healthcare professionals listed inflammation as their top response for a condition that may form the underpinning of many (if not most) of the chronic diseases in today’s society. What is inflammation? You may have noticed the redness, heat, swelling, and pain that surrounds a cut or twisted ankle or bee sting. These are examples of helpful inflammation—signs that the immune system has leapt into action to send white blood cells to the area of damage, triggering a response so the healing process can occur. Unhelpful inflammation is a different story entirely. Unhelpful inflammation is a different story. It can even become chronic, especially when tissue swelling fails to resolve and interferes with the healing process. It can occur almost anywhere in your brain or body. Inflammation attack your heart, liver, joints, brain, and gastrointestinal (GI) system. You may have experienced the results: bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and flatus (also known as gas, passing wind, or flatulence). 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Stress and Heartburn

A stress event may trigger heartburn in some people (and the stress response is believed to be triggered in the brain). The stress can be mental, emotional, or physical. Some healthcare professionals point out that if you experience heartburn after eating, this can be a clue that your body is having difficulty tolerating something you ate and has triggered the stress response. Fatty foods that contribute to obesity can also contribute to heartburn. For example, whopping cheese burgers and French fries; carbonated drinks; some of the ‘nightshade’ foods such as white potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes (including pizza with marinara sauce); pies, cakes, and spicy foods. For some the casein found in dairy products and the gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley may play a part. For others it can be sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods (including those that contain hydrogenated oils or trans fats). Preventing heartburn is just one more reason to get serious about a Longevity Lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Heartburn and the Brain

Have you ever experienced heartburn? Lately? Frequently? Heartburn is the less-than-pleasant experience 15 million Americans undergo on a daily basis or the estimated 60 million who have an episode about once a month. And, unfortunately, heartburn is no April Fool's joke! Symptoms can involve a burning sensation in the chest, throat, and face that is usually worsened by either lying down or bending over. Symptoms may point to gastroesophagealreflux, which may involve the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus or to gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. A stress event may trigger heartburn in some people (and the stress response is believed to be triggered in the brain). Because of the close connection between the brain and the gastrointestinal system, what stresses one system may result in triggering the stress response in the other system, as well, which can become a vicious cycle. Part 2 tomorrow.