A Guide To Emotions And How To Retrain Your Brain (Infographic)

The ability to recognize and work with different emotions is fundamental to psychological flexibility and well-being. Neuroscience has contributed much to the understanding of the neural bases of emotion, emotion regulation, and emotional intelligence. The following infographic shows the brain mechanisms involved in emotion processing and suggests ways to retrain your brain to become more resilient and self-aware while cultivating a positive outlook.

retrain brain

Related Reading

Emotions are habits – so pick up a good one

Your brain and the art of happiness

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Wellcome Images (Creative Commons)

UC San Francisco researchers have used brain scans to predict how young children learn to read, giving clinicians a possible tool to spot children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties before they experience reading challenges.

A new study has found, for the first time, evidence of neuroinflammation in key regions of the brains of patients with chronic pain. By showing that levels of an inflammation-linked protein are elevated in regions known to be involved in the transmission of pain, the study published online in the journal Brain paves the way for the exploration of potential new treatment strategies and identifies a possible way around one of the most frustrating limitations in the study and treatment of chronic pain – the lack of an objective way to measure the presence or intensity of pain.

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology.

Are women “wired” to be more emotional? Not exactly — but new research provides more evidence that the male and female brain may have very different ways of processing emotion. Previous research has shown that women generally experience higher levels of emotional stimulation than men. Now, a new large-scale study from the University of Basel suggests that gender differences in emotion processing are also linked to sex variation in memory and brain activity.

An international research team has identified a new gene for a progressive form of epilepsy.

According to a new study in the Journal of Neurotrauma, researchers have announced the development of a blood test that could provide a quantifiable way to measure the impact of concussions or the success of a treatment regimen.

Finally, this week, new research could move the medical community one step closer toward effectively detecting concussion and quantifying its severity.


Empathy, Engagement And The Brain

The failure to understand one’s own emotions and to recognize their impact on others is a source of much personal and intra-personal conflict. In contrast, the understanding of one’s own emotions allows for self-regulation of disruptive emotions and impulses and helps in adapting to changing circumstances.

Empathy is a particularly important emotion in considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions and is therefore a basic component of all helpful human relationships including effective, therapeutic interventions.

The best healthcare providers know this; yet empathy is often lacking in professional practice as frequently reported by patients.

Weekly Neuroscience Update

Using a new technique that allows them to enlarge brain tissue, MIT scientists created these images of neurons in the hippocampus. Image credit: Fei Chen and Paul Tillberg

Using a new technique that allows them to enlarge brain tissue, MIT scientists created these images of neurons in the hippocampus. Image credit: Fei Chen and Paul Tillberg

A team of researchers has taken a novel approach to gaining high-resolution images; they have discovered a method that enlarges tissue samples by embedding them in a polymer that swells when water is added. This allows specimens to be physically magnified, and then imaged at a much higher resolution.

Scientists have captured the exact point and time when information is exchanged between brain cells, a breakthrough that could explain how and why neurological conditions like schizophrenia or epilepsy occur. And rather than being a single condition, new research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that schizophrenia may be a group of eight genetically different diseases – each with their own symptoms.

Research from the Center for Vital Longevity at The University of Texas at Dallas has shed new light on which cognitive processes tend to be preserved with age and which ones decline.

The brains of some Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and died later of other causes show a distinctive honeycomb pattern of broken and swollen nerve fibers throughout critical brain regions, including those that control executive function. The pattern is different from brain damage caused by car crashes, drug overdoses or collision sports, and may be the never-before-reported signature of blast injuries suffered by soldiers as far back as World War I.

Our brains can be electrically “tuned” to enable us to find what we’re looking for, even in a crowded and distracting scene, new research indicates.

Finally this week, higher cognitive skills are found in the children of mothers who are consistently able to support the development of their baby’s sense of autonomy, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Montreal.


Remembering Who I Am: A stroke rehabilitation project using dance and movement

In 2013, The Place dance studio in collaboration with Rosetta Life (which aims to change the way we perceive the frail and disabled who live with life limiting illnesses) set up a series of movement workshops for stroke patients in rehabilitation at the UK National Hospital for Neurological Surgery. This video documents the experiences of the patients and the staff involved in the project.

Weekly Neuroscience Update


Abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex and related brain areas are observed in adolescents who have attempted suicide, according to a report at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting in Phoenix Arizona. The study suggests that deficits in frontal systems may be associated with risk for suicide attempts in youths with mood disorders.

A new study of twins suggests that insomnia in childhood and adolescence is partially explained by genetic factors.

Smartphones are changing us, at least according to researchers at the Institute of Neuroinformatics of the University of Zurich. It seems that as we moved from phones with buttons – Blackberrys and even feature phones – the parts of our brain associated with the thumbs are changing thanks to increased screen typing activity.

A new study has found that people who have sleep apnea or spend less time in deep sleep may be more likely to have changes in the brain associated with dementia.

The tics seen in Tourette syndrome may be caused by the loss of specific neurons in the brain, a Yale University study has demonstrated.

A study, recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, confirmed longstanding speculations regarding how painful memories are internally processed in the brain.

Employing a measure rarely used in sleep apnea studies, researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing have uncovered evidence of what may be damaging the brain in people with the sleep disorder — weaker brain blood flow.

Human language draws on a complex set of cognitive skills; some of which are also found in songbirds.

Scientists have identified a time-dependent interplay between two brain regions that contributes to the recovery of motor function after focal brain damage, such as a stroke.

Finally this week, according to a new study some of the ways in which music affects us are the same worldwide, regardless of cultural diversities.

Why Breaking New Year’s Resolutions Is All In The Mind

Happy New Year!

So have you made any new year’s resolutions this year? Despite the high failure rate of these resolutions – research by British psychologist Richard Wiseman in 2007  has shown that 88% of all resolutions end in failure – many continue to make the same resolutions year in and year out. But just why are our old habits  so hard to break?

The science of willpower

The brain area largely responsible for willpower is the prefrontal cortex (located just behind the forehead). This area of the brain is also in charge of keeping us focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract problems.

Author Johan Lehrer writing in the Wall Street Journal proposed that adding new year’s resolutions to an overloaded prefrontal cortex is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

He refered to an experiment led by Baba Shiv at Stanford University, where several dozen undergraduates were divided into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad.

What do you think happened?

The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Prof. Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain—they were a “cognitive load”—making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation. “A tired brain, preoccupied with its problems, is going to struggle to resist what it wants, even when what it wants isn’t what we need.” writes Lehrer.

So instead of blaming our own lack of discipline in not keeping to our resolutions, perhaps this research shows that  the power of will is not enough due to the very nature of the brain.

So now we know what doesn’t work when it comes to keeping those resolutions, let’s take a look at what might help.

How to keep New Year’s resolutions

Lehrer suggests we think of willpower as a muscle that needs to be strengthened. Prof Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University who has pioneered the muscle metaphor, suggests that it might be possible to strengthen willpower by exercising it.

He asked a group of students to improve their posture for two weeks, thereby practicing mental discipline in one area. The students showed a marked improvement on subsequent measures of self-control, at least when compared to a group that didn’t work on posture control.

If this sounds like too much hard work, you could always try the tried and tested goal setting approach to making positive change stick.

Goal Setting

Think about some small changes you could make in your lifestyle that would help to bring about your ultimate goal.  The cumulative impact of a modest change to your daily routine will restore in you the feeling that you are in control.

Above all, don’t  use your resolutions as a stick to beat yourself with. Ditch the negative connotations and instead focus on what those small changes will bring to your life in a positive way in the coming year.

Eight BRAIN MAP tips for 2015 (Infographic)

Brain Map

1. Be curious, engage your brain – watch/listen to the News in another language, wear

you watch upside down, use your non-preferred hand to brush your teeth/hair, try

spelling words backwards, when driving – switch off the Sat Nav and take different

routes into town/work.

2. Reduce psychological stress. Combine exercise with sensory stimulation by walking

through the local village/town/city on your way to/from work and focus your

attention by noticing things. Frequent meditation will also help focus attention

thereby preventing distraction by random fears/worries.

3. Avoid infection and deal with it vigorously when it happens.

4. Immerse yourself in what you love doing until it generates flow and watch time fly.

5. Nutrition, eat well but eat less and skip desert. Coffee/tea can help focus attention.


6. Mind your head, avoid head injury and wear a helmet or a seatbelt.

7. Agree to make a start (often the most difficult part).

8. Positivity is the key. Adopt an optimistic outlook on life even if you don’t believe it.


..and finally, when it comes to your brain -

you either use it or lose it.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Language And The Brain (Infographic)

Nice infographic on how your brain processes language

Via: Voxy Blog


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