Friday, July 31, 2020

Aphantasia, 5

After a few weeks, I played the Vibes in public for the first time—a duet with my father. Two people, four hands, and four mallets. It actually sounded better than I had initially expected. I wish I knew how my father even knew to teach me that skill—where did he learn? He didn’t know, either. Back to your original question. Your brain may not visualize but that does not mean there is something wrong with you. Relative new research on ”Aphantasia” reported that approximately 95 percent of individuals are able to picture things in their mind’s eye—at least at some level. That means that the brains of about 5 percent of individuals do not. That’s what is difficult about making presentations and writing articles and so on, as there are always outliers—brains that do things differently. Before you automatically relegate yourself to the 5 percent, I suggest you do some experimenting with picturing objects or faces in your mind’s eye. You may be surprised that you can learn to visualize at some level—if not, no worries. There are other things your brain can do . . . enjoy those things.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Aphantasia, 4

On the ride home from school that day, my father said, “Close your eyes. Nod when you see the Vibes in your mind’s eye.” I could not see a thing. “Do you remember when you first saw the Vibes standing in the living room?” he asked. I did. “Well, replay that picture in your mind’s eye.” I nodded. “Okay. Turn it on, pick up your mallets, and play.” It was a strange feeling to “see” the mallets in each hand. They were not as clear as a photograph, but I could see them. Moreover, I could hear the sound of the song I was learning to play. “Oh, I made a mistake,” I said. “So correct it and go on,” was his response. A few more minutes passed. “Oops, I dropped a mallet. Now what?” He laughed. “Pick it up, just as you would at home and continue.” I ‘saw’ myself pick up the mallet and reposition it in my hand. Whenever I was being transported somewhere in the car, I would close my eyes and ‘practice’ playing the Vibes. Over time, it became easier and easier. The picture in my mind’s eye is never a crystal clear as in person or even in a photograph, but it certainly is doable. More tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2020


Interesting question and I’m glad you asked. Aphantasia is a label for a lack of all mental imagery. Some brain can imagine things like the soft feeling of a kitten or the sound of thunder with lightning but there is no accompanying “picture” or “internal mental image” in their brain. This research is quite new and it reminds all of us, me included, that every brain is different. I don’t know if I was born knowing how to visualize and I wouldn’t say my brain is excellent at it because I cannot see a piece of music, close my eyes, and play the piano from the picture in my brain. My father did teach me to visualize at some level, however. More tomorrow. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 8

Tips to enhance brain plasticity.

  •    Expect the unexpected. Learn to roll with the punches when something occurs over which you have no control. Stuff happens. If you accept that anything can happen at any time, you’re less likely to be thrown off your stride when it does. Collaborate with your brain’s plasticity. Hone your flexibility. Be able to adjust your game plan.
  •  When struggling with a problem, ask yourself how it might look to someone of another gender, age, career path, political party, race, religion, culture, or socio-economic status. Or pretend you are in an active debate with yourself. State first one position, then advocate for the other. You may be amazed at the insights you gain.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 7

Tips to enhance brain plasticity.

  •       When you perceive discomfort based on the opinions of others, take a deep breath, step back, and accept it as something for you to explore. Sometimes it is because the opinion cuts cross-grain against something you were taught to believe earlier in life. Perhaps their opinions have brought to the surface some belief or attitude you have absorbed subconsciously and never identified.
  •    Hone and access your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) carefully. Avoid JOT behaviors: Jumping to conclusions, Overreacting, or Taking things personally. Bring intelligence to your emotion and emotion to your intelligence. You need the combination. Each provides you with different types of information. Relying on only one or the other gives you only half the potential package and you’ll do better with a whole-brain approach.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 6

Tips to enhance brain plasticity.

  •     When considering the opinions of others, use your whole brain—the sequential verbal left hemisphere as well as the intuitive creative right hemisphere. Each has valuable gifts to offer. Together they can result in enhanced decision making.
  •          Learn to separate the content of another’s opinion from the manner in which the opinion was presented. Some brains will be on your wavelength; others will not. If you get sidetracked by the presentation style or the wavelength similarities or differences, you may overlook something valuable.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 5

Tips to enhance brain plasticity.

  •   Remember that some of the most amazing solutions in life come to fruition collectively. Meaning, it often takes a combination of brains contributing their own opinions and giftedness to finally craft something that will work optimally for the majority. Contribute rather than coerce. Realize that no one brain knows everything.
  •  Learn from as many different sources as you possibly can. In this 21st century with the world-wide web, there are a plethora of resources available. Learning something new gives you more options to consider, and more options provide additional flexibility.

 More tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 4

Tips to enhance brain plasticity.

  • .   When exposed to the opinions of others, notice ways in which their opinions have impacted their lives, rather than focusing exclusively on how their opinions differ from yours. If their lives have been impacted for the better, avoid dismissing their opinions just because they are new to you or you disagree. You may be able to use part of what you hear or apply it in a new way.

  •  .   Slow down and avoid rushing to disagree (or agree) with another’s viewpoint. It’s only their brain’s opinion and may have nothing to do with yours. However, the more ideas and ways of looking at the same thing to which your brain is exposed the more.

 More tomorrow.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 3

Tips to enhance Brain Plasticity

     Realize that every brain is unique—yours included. All each brain has is its own opinion based on its own structure, function, and perception (education, life experiences, expectations, brainwashing, etc.). Some think their opinion is “the only correct one,” and it may be in reality, but it’s still their brain’s opinion.

      Avoid foolish controversy and meaningless argument. When people argue, at least one of the brains usually ‘thinks it  ‘really knows’ and believes that if it speaks louder and longer, adds some pejoratives, or applies coercion, ‘maybe, just maybe that other brain will get it.’ Think again!

More next posting

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Plasticity, 2

Lack of flexibility frequently triggers reactions rather than thoughtful solution-based responses. This type of unattractive (and usually unhelpful) rigidity may be seen in a variety of oppressive regimes—countries, organizations, and even family systems. Be very clear that the ability to be flexible by no means implies that you are a wishy-washy person without your own opinions, beliefs, standards, or boundaries. In today’s world, with its fast-changing pace and ever-increasing types of technologies, flexibility is essential for your own welfare. It’s critical for the overall welfare of humanity and the planet, as well. 
Thanks to brain plasticity, mental flexibility allows you to:

·        Adapt to change fairly easily and not be thrown off
·        Brainstorm solutions to problems
·        See multiple perspectives
·        Tolerate some uncertainty and ambiguity
·        Take calculated risks
·        Think practically as well as innovatively
More Tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain, Plasticity, 1

Brain plasticity can be explained as the brain’s innate ability to be flexible and adaptable and learn new things. It can create new software programs, much as on your computer, and can even rewire itself or its software programs if it or part of the body is injured.” According to Chuck Gallozzi, author of over 200 articles on personal development and national champion of a Toastmasters International Speech Contest, flexibility is a very desirable quality. He points out: “To be flexible, we must be willing to break from tradition, custom, and habit. We must be willing to question everything. Keep an open mind, but remember gullibility enslaves you to the opinions of others, while skepticism frees you to discover the value or uselessness inherent in the ideas of others . . . Blessed are the mentally flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.” More tomorrow

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Spirituality, 2

Emerging data point to a connection between spirituality—the spirit with which you live life—and energy. In her best-selling book Anatomy of the Spirit, Dr. Carolyn Myss pointed out: “Our bodies thrive when our spirits thrive . . . One’s spiritual thoughts and activities are inseparable from other aspects of life . . . From an energy point of view, every choice that enhances our spirits strengthens our energy field.” M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled believed that those who are seeking for but unable to find a desired spiritual life, may substitute an addictive behavior for the spiritual connection they crave but cannot develop.  Spirituality and gratitude may be linked. In his book Thanks! Robert Emmons points out that people who practice grateful thinking reap many emotional, physical, and interpersonal benefits. They tend to take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like physical and mental exercise, healthy eating, and regular physical examinations.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain, Spirituality, 1

Hone your spirituality—the spirit in which you live life. Avoid allowing an unchangeable past or an uncertain future to ruin the splendid gift of today.
 Defining spirituality can be a bit challenging. Some have explained it as the sense of awe you experience when overwhelmed with the beauty of nature, music, architecture, religious rites, meditation, or a connection with a Higher Power as you perceive it, or when in the grip of deep compassion, empathy, or gratitude. The triggers for awe in your brain and the choices you make related to spirituality are impacted by a myriad of factors. Some are based on information, education, and expectations, while others involve past experiences, innate giftedness, role-modeling, or personal desire. Some advocate identifying what evokes a sense of awe in your brain and regularly engaging in those experiences. Actor Martin Sheen had an interesting perspective, “The direction of the universe can and will be determined by the presence of individual spirituality or the lack of it. If you would change the world, change yourself and it is done.”  More tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Age-proofing with Optimism, 2

How does optimism link with better health and better recovery if you suffer a stroke? Researchers found that people who are optimistic tended to have lower levels of inflammation in their body (as shown by levels or interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein). Chronic inflammation Chronic inflammation tends to harm the brain and impairs the body’s ability to recover. The more optimistic people were, the lower their levels of these inflammatory markers. How do you become more positive? Here are a few suggestions:

  • 1.   Choose to be grateful. First thing in the morning think of something for which you are grateful. Do that throughout the day, as well, and the last thing before falling asleep at night.
  • 2.   Do whatever you can to create a positive environment around you. Listening to (or playing an instrument) your favorite music has shown to have many benefits for both brain and body. It can be “healing.”
  • 3.   Picture in your mind’s eye your “best possible self.” You may not be there—“look” at that picture often. Make it a a goal. You’ll get farther that way.
  • 4.   Imagine life in the future and “see” everything that can go well, going well, as if it is already happening. That will give your brain something to aim for. Studies have shown that “imagining” in the brain can be nearly as powerful as an actual occurrence.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Age-proofing with Optimism

How optimistic are you? Did you know that the personality trait of optimism is linked with recovery from a stroke? Did you know that optimistic stroke survivors have lower levels of inflammation and less physical disability after three months? No one want a stroke. However, research suggests you might want to hone the trait of optimism. Studies are linking optimism to a longer life. Living in optimism can increase the odds of reaching 85-year-old by as much as 70 percent. What does being optimistic look like? For one thing, it means you focus on and expect positive outcomes in the future. Perfection? No, of course not. Everything positive? Not even that. However, optimism is linked with better health, including better heart health. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Research on Female Brain & Body, 3

In 2014, the National Institutes of Health established guidelines for preclinical experimental design. These guidelines were designed to encourage researchers to adopt best practices, such as randomization and the inclusion of both male and female lab animals. Many thought this might result in a more radical change in favor of equal research on males and females. A report in May of 2017 showed that the best-practice guidelines were not widely being adhered to. Researchers reviewed 4,000 papers published from 2006 to 2016 in five journals under the umbrella of the American Heart Association: Circulation, Circulation Research, Hypertension, Stroke, and Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. They were comparing the preclinical design against four criteria related to the MIH guidelines of 2014. The analysis showed that male animals were still being used about the same in pre-clinical trials or were increasing. Of the five journals reviewed, Stroke provided the best record of compliance. I am hopeful that is a start.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Research on Female Brain & Body, 2

A neuroscientist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine I Aurora, Colorado, was doing studies with mice. So the story goes, she was surprised to notice that the brains of some female mice who had Down Syndrome (a defect involving chromosome 21), evidenced some unexpected abnormalities. She already knew that the brains of trisomic male mice (with Down Syndrome) showed changes in their hippocampus related to protein levels. These female mice, however, showed the most serious changes in their cerebellums. Mice and rats have similarities to the human brain. Therefore, findings in these rodents often lead to potential correlations with human brains. Gardener has been quoted as saying, “If we find that males or females are differing not only in their baseline impairment, but in their response to drugs, we need to know that. We could be missing a big piece of information that could lead to better or different clinical trials.” So, if male mice had changes in their hippocampus (the brain’s search engine), and female mice had more significant changes in their cerebellum, this potentially could have implications for humans with Down Syndrome. More tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Research on Female Brain & Body

The national plea for equality has made me think about equality in a new way. Recently, I had a bad reaction to a medication. My nephew, in graduate school, did some research and discovered that it had only been tested on males—so how it would impact females was unknown. I think that is inequality for women regardless of their skin tones. What do you know about this? Equality needs to be recognized for all races and skin tones—AND I think it is a much larger problem than that . . . Please comment.

It has been traditional to use male subjects (whether mouse, rat, monkey, or human) because, as one male researcher told me, the fluctuations of hormones in a female would clutter up the conclusions. I responded by saying that this was precisely the reason females need to be used as research subjects at least equally with males (by later adulthood females tend to outnumber males). How do medications and treatments impact a female with her fluctuations of hormones, as he put it? Very differently if anecdotal reports are representative. More tomorrow.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Proverbs from Russia

Growing up, what I learned about Russia came from the music of Russian composers that I played in my study of music and stories about Siberia. And the Tzar’s amazing FabergĂ© Easter eggs. Oh yes, and a few movies like “Dr. Zhivago.” 

These are few Russian proverbs.
  • Absentmindedness is searching for the horse you are riding
  • A fly cannot enter a closed mouth
  • Happiness is not a horse; you cannot harness it
  • If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one
  • If you don't have time to do it right you must have time to do it over
  • Take your thoughts to bed with you, for the morning is wiser than the evening

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Auto-Brewery Syndrome, 4

Although once believed to be a very rare condition, it may be very underdiagnosed, especially as the ingestion of carb-heavy foods such as pizza, bread, pasta, beer, ice cream, and other desserts seems to be increasing in many industrial countries. Individuals with diabetes may be at higher risk for developing Auto-Brewery Syndrome. What can be done? Reduce the amount of surgery desserts and carbs that are ingested. Consult a physician to obtain testing for fungi or yeast in the system and for a possible prescription of antifungals. See a health-care professional for blood-alcohol level testing when symptoms arise. Eat a heavy meal of carbs one night, and by next day you likely will be showing symptoms of alcohol intoxication if you have ABS.. Sometimes probiotics are taken to help grow the health bacteria in a person’s microbiome. Bottom line: if someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of drunkenness and you can find no evidence of alcohol ingestion, he or she just might have an active brewery operating in their gastrointestinal track and will likely need medical help cleaning up that mess.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Auto-Brewery Syndrome, 3

What happens when carbohydrates ferment in the small intestine (and sometimes in other parts of the body)? The result is the production of intoxicating quantities of ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol. Bottom line: The ethanol is absorbed in the small intestine, causing an increase in blood alcohol concentrations that produce the effects of intoxication without the consumption of exogenous (from the outside) alcohol. As levels of ethanol increase, the individuals exhibit behaviors common to alcohol intoxication. This can include slurred speech, difficulty walking, headaches, drowsiness lack of mental acuity, vomiting, and so on. The individual may protest that “I ingested no alcohol!” Unfortunately, people may not believe that because the person looks and acts ‘drunk.’ More tomorrow.