People aren’t very good at media multitasking, but do it anyway because it makes them feel good, a new study suggests. The findings provide clues as to why multitasking is so popular, even though many studies show it is not productive.
A team of Montreal scientists has identified a blueprint for how memories are encoded. The findings may lead to a better understanding of memory impairments, as well as therapies for such neurodegenerative disorders as Alzheimer’s.
The way we use our hands may determine how emotions are organized in our brains, according to a recent study published inPLoS ONE.
Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input.
Over a 24-hour period we can process up to 70,000 thoughts, even as we sleep. Each day contains 86,400 seconds, so that equates to a different thought every 1.2 seconds – your brain never stops!
Left unchecked, this incessant chatter can turn to the dark side and become an chorus of self-criticism and blame. Negative thinking can become much more dominant than the positive and supportive kind.
These thoughts tend to become stuck and repetitive — leading to anxiety, depression and burn-out. Only by freeing ourselves from them can we grow calmer, more focused, more present and happier.
Meditation has been proven to ease stress, improve metabolism, reduce pain, lower blood pressure and enhance brain function. And all you need to do is . .. nothing.
(Extracted from Quiet The Mind, an illustrated guide on how to meditate by Matthew Johnstone)
Set your brain to meditate
Your brain and the art of confusion
Recent cough research, highlighted in a feature at ScienceNews, suggests that the neural circuitry of coughing also involves temperature perception and higher brain areas.
Research undertaken at UCLA, used MRI scans to compare the brains of 50 meditators to 50 non-meditators. What they discovered was that long-term meditators display large amounts of gyrification in the brain (the amount of folding in the cortex) which is what gives the brain its unique, ridged appearance. The folded a brain is, the quicker it can process information.
Anxious people have a heightened sense of smell when it comes to sniffing out a threat, according to a new study by Elizabeth Krusemark and Wen Li from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
Nerve cells from the brain’s emotion hub talk directly to a region that doles out attention, a new study shows. The connection, described in the April 11 Journal of Neuroscience, may help explain how people automatically focus on emotional events.
Nerve cells from the brain’s emotion hub talk directly to a region that doles out attention, a study of monkeys shows. The connection, described in the April 11 Journal of Neuroscience, may help explain how people automatically focus on emotional events.
University of Illinois scientists have mapped the physical architecture of intelligence in the brain in one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence and to specific aspects of intellectual functioning, such as verbal comprehension and working memory.Theirs is one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence and to specific aspects of intellectual functioning, such as verbal comprehension and working memory.
Laughter with friends releases the brain's "feel-good" chemicals, and helps reduce pain
Laughing with friends releases feel-good brain chemicals, which also relieve pain, new research indicates.
Millions of tinnitus sufferers could get relief thanks to a new treatment which stops the brain creating “phantom” noises by playing matching tones over headphones
Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers suggests yet another benefit. have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Further, a direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes.
Brain scans of Nasa astronauts who have returned to earth after more than a month in space have revealed potentially serious abnormalities that could jeopardise long-term space missions.
Finnish researchers have developed a groundbreaking new method that allows them to study how the brain processes different aspects of music, such as rhythm, tonality and timbre (sound color) in a realistic listening situation. The study is pioneering in that it for the first time reveals how wide networks in the brain, including areas responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity, are activated during music listening. The new method helps us understand better the complex dynamics of brain networks and the way music affects us.
Dreaming may act like a type of overnight therapy, taking the edge off painful memories, a new study says.
Connectivity is a hot topic in neuroscience these days. Instead of trying to figure out what individual brain regions do, researchers are focusing more on how regions work together as a network to enable memory, language, and decision-making. Now, a study of more than 100 children finds that interconnected brain regions develop in concert through childhood and adolescence. The researchers say their work could have implications for understanding various puzzles in neuroscience, such as what goes wrong in autism or why adolescent boys are prone to risky behavior.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have identified abnormalities in the brains of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that may serve as a biomarker for the disorder.
People who meditate seem to be able ‘switch off’ areas of the brain associated with daydreaming as well as psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, according to a new brain imaging study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sustained changes in the region of the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control were found in young adult men after one week of playing violent video games, according to study results presented by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
Meditation can "thicken" the brain and make people less sensitive to pain.
As humans face increasing distractions in their personal and professional lives, University of British Columbia researchers have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback.
In Fame, Marketing, and your Brain, Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne takes a look at neuromarketing and celebrity endorsements.
Scientists have shed new light on how older people may lose their memory. The development could aid research into treatments for age-related memory disorders and scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have pinpointed a reason older adults have a harder time multitasking than younger adults. Read about their discovery here.
Meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain, according to new research published in the April 6 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.
And finally, five children in India have helped to answer a question posed in 1688 by Irish philosopher William Molyneux: can a blind person who then gains their vision recognise by sight an object they previously knew only by touch?
The Buddhist understanding holds that meditation is a mindful state that leads to ‘right action’. When combined with mindfulness it has the same effect not just for the health of the individual but also for greater society.
Our tendency to look at the negatives, to put outcomes ahead of actually doing things and by making faulty comparisons with others can leave us like feeling like robots at the mercy of daily events. In essence mindfulness is about preserving our individuality – through openness to the new, reclassifying the meaning of our knowledge and experience and by an ability to see our daily actions in a bigger consciously chosen perspective.
When good categories turn bad
Rather than always look at things afresh and anew – we create categories – and let things ‘fall into them’. We do this for the sake of convenience. These categorisations can be small such as defining a flower as a rose, a person as a boss – or a wider categorization – such as a religion or a political system. These categories help to give us psychological certainty and save us from the effort of constantly challenging our own beliefs. In this way we define animals as ‘livestock’ or ‘pets’ so that we can feel OK eating one and loving the other.
Shhhh….there’s a secret to being a genius
Mindlessness is when we accept these categories without really thinking about them. In contrast, mindfulness is about questioning old categories and creating new ones. In fact ‘genius’ has been described as perceiving things afresh, in a non habitual way.
Let me leave you with a quote from Marcel Proust’s great novel In Search of Lost Time Past to illustrate what I mean and check back in later this week for Part 3 of this meditation series.
We commonly live with a self reduced to its bare minimum; most of our faculties lie dormant, relying on habit; and habit knows how to manage without them.
Read the first part of this series here