Category Archives: Neuroscience

Dare to dream: Life equals risks

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Starting Over: Paul McCartney battled depression after the break-up of the Beatles

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Beatles

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” -George Sheehan

Determination to be successful, despite setbacks 

The cost of success is firm resolution, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that you will win no matter the outcome. You have to apply the best of yourself to the challenge. Everyone must choose the path that they will walk. Failure is taking the path that everyone else does; success is making your own path. Success is determined by how resolute you are to succeed. Everyone experiences tough times. It is a measure of your determination and dedication, how you deal with them and finally come through them. You will always be challenged in life to see if you’re truly ready for ultimate victory. It is critical to have determination in order to capture the objective, and fulfill your eventual purpose.

The secret to success is to form superior habits. It will make all the difference in being successful, or failing. Be willing to put the same indomitable spirit into making your dreams come true as you would in facing a life or death situation. Do not wallow in your pity and blame others for your failures. No one wants to listen to a chronic complainer. Live as if you were to die tomorrow.

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energ y and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The entrepreneur works a one hundred hour week, in order to not have to work forty hours for someone else. We enjoy the fruits of our labor. We want to win at all costs. We have our life to live, and it is our choice to accept the risks of being an entrepreneur. It is not glory that we seek. When the company prospers and we see the final product, and our clients are ecstatic with a job well done, that is what we live for. The f reedom to make our decisions right or wrong is the freedom that our country gives us. But there are times when it is not an easy road, when the accounts receivables grows beyond our control, when the government continues to burden us with excessive intrusion and taxes, when the gas prices go through the roof, and we still have to make payroll and persevere. At this point, it is determination and faith that help us to survive and then thrive. The strong will endure, the diligent will flourish, those of faith will see miracles, and those who are determined will triumph over all obstacles.   –Thomas Cronin

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Mastertapes, Sir Paul McCartney said he had been at a loss when the band fell apart in acrimony in 1970. “It was difficult to know what to do after The Beatles. How do you follow that?” he told John Wilson. “I was depressed. You would be. You were breaking from your lifelong friends. So I took to the bevvies.”

 “The business thing split us apart,” said Sir Paul, adding that all the “heavy meetings” were “doing my head in.” He became so depressed that he did not know “whether I was still going to continue in music.” Eventually, he moved to Scotland – partly to make himself unavailable for the business meetings – and hit the bottle. “It was Linda who said, ‘you’ve got to get it together…’ and that led to Wings.”  –BBC

Science proves: positive thoughts, faster recovery

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Smile

Body & MindPositive thinking really can make you healthy, it seems. An optimistic attitude can do wonders for patients’ recovery, according to researchers who reviewed 16 studies that looked at patients’ attitudes toward health. The studies spanned 30 years and looked at patients’ attitudes after surgery. The review appears in a recent issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal. “In each case the better a patient’s expectations about how they would do after surgery or some health procedure, the better they did,” said author Donald Cole, of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto.

The review says that the power of positive thinking is real, said ABCNEWS’ Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman on Good Morning America today. “This mind-body connection that we have been toying with for the past couple of decades really does have hard science behind it,” Snyderman said. Across a wide range of clinical conditions, from lower back pain to heart surgery, patients who felt they would do well in recovery did, according to Cole. Patients who were scared or pessimistic about their recovery did not recover as quickly as the optimists or as well.

“Less pain [after surgery] was directly associated with better expectations, positive expectations,” Cole said. Cole says the findings suggest several things that employers as well as physicians and family members can do to help a person’s recovery. “If an employee is going off for surgery it could be helpful to ask that employee, ‘What do you think is going to happen to you?’” said Cole. “If a person has fears or is feeling pessimistic then it is time to think, ‘We better deal with those fears.’” Dealing with those fears not only helps a person recover but also means a healthier work environment and the ability of that person who is going to surgery to come back to work quicker, said Cole.

“Clinicians should talk to their patients and find out what their hopes and fears are before a procedure,” Cole said. “If this were part of the process, recovery expectations could be talked about and then, according to the results of this study, at least, recovery could be better.” But can you decide or make a person have a positive attitude? Can a pessimist become an optimist? “You can’t blame people for their diseases,” Snyderman says. “But how you go through your life with the grit and determination to make it through, that you do have control over and that makes a difference.” –ABC News

3 Rules for Happiness Sapientia

Five ways obesity may affect the brain

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Obesity and the Brain

DIET & HEALTH The obesity epidemic is not only bad for our waistlines, but it could have a significant effect on our minds, as well. “Obesity not only impacts how you look … or physical health, it also impacts your brain,” says Ranjana Mehta, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health in College Station, Texas.

Putting on the pounds not only transforms your belly, but it also alters your brain, a number of studies suggest. These brain changes may, in turn, fuel overeating, leading to a vicious cycle that makes losing weight and keeping it off challenging. Here are five ways obesity changes the brain:

Desensitizes the brain:

Gaining weight may desensitize the brain to the pleasure we get from sugary and fatty foods, prompting us to eat more cookies and cake than we did when we were leaner, research shows. A similar effect is seen in drug users, who eventually require more cocaine or heroin in order to achieve their original high. In a study published Sept. 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers scanned the brains of women as they drank a milkshake. They saw the sugary drink activated an area known as the striatum.

Half a year later, the researchers repeated the experiment on the same women some of whom had gained some weight. The more weight the women had put on in the interim, the less their brains responded to the milkshake in the second experiment. Research on animals has also shown rats fed a diet rich in sugar and fats are less sensitive to the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine.

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Obesity makes us more impulsive:

In obese children, a region of the brain in charge of controlling impulsively, called the orbitofrontal cortex, appears to be shrunken compared with that of lean children, according to a study presented this year at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in New York. Moreover, the smaller this brain region was, the more likely the adolescents were to eat impulsively, the researchers said.

Increases the risk of dementia:

Having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults, according to a study published in May in the journal Annals of Neurology. It’s possible that the extra fat triggers inflammation, which puts stress on the body and perhaps impacts the brain, the researchers said. The finding suggests something particular about belly fat, also known as visceral fat the fat located between organs in the abdominal cavity may play a role in reducing brain size.

Visceral fat releases a unique profile of hormones, which may impact the body in a manner different from the hormones released by subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, the researchers said. Previous studies have found that people with smaller brain volumes are at higher risk for dementia, and tend to do poorer on cognitive tests.

Fit For Life

Yo-Yo dieting may prompt binge-eating under stress

Dieting may change how the brain responses to stress , so that the next time we find ourselves in a bind, or just plain frazzled, we eat more, according to a study published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience. In the study, researchers put a group of mice on a diet so that they lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Then, the mice were allowed to put the weight back on, similar to the way human dieters often see the pounds creep back. When the mice were exposed to stressful situations, such as hearing sounds at nighttime, they ate more food than those who had never been placed on a diet.

The mice also had what are known as epigenetic changes changes in the way genes are expressed that don’t involve changes in the gene sequences themselves particularly in genes involved in regulating responses to stress. The researchers said these modifications may have altered the animals’ eating behavior during stress.

Obesity may impair memory

Obesity may impair memory, at least for women after menopause. A study published July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society looked at memory test scores for 8,745 women ages 65 to 79. The researchers found a 1-point increase in a woman’s body mass index (BMI) was associated with a 1-point decrease on a 100 point memory test. Hormones released by fat could impair memory, the researchers said. These hormones can cause inflammation, which may affect cognition.  –Live Science

Exercise plus fasting may boost the brain’s neurons

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Exercise 2

BODY & MIND Intermittent fasting and exercise may have some surprising brain benefits, research shows. Forget what you’ve heard about “brain food”…turns out, the best food for your brain may be none at all. New research on intermittent fasting and exercise show some surprising brain benefits of depriving yourself of calories — at least occasionally. “We have evidence that exercise and probably intermittent fasting increase the number of mitochondria in neurons,” said Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore.

So far, Mattson and other researchers have studied the phenomenon in animals, and are beginning to understand how intermittent fasting in rats and mice can enhance learning and memory, and how it can decrease the risk of those brain functions degenerating. The upcoming human study would seek people who are at risk for cognitive impairment — obese individuals between 55 and 70 with insulin resistance who are not being treated for diabetes. They would be put through “a battery of cognitive tests,” Mattson said, while their brains were scanned by fMRI. They’d also undergo the scan in a resting state. Then, after two months with half the group on a 5-2 diet (eating a calorie-restricted diet for two non-consecutive days a week and unconstrained eating the other five days), the researchers would repeat the evaluations and compare them to the control group.

Although exercise and fasting can produce some similar results (increased production of BDNF, for example), Eric Ravussin, Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, points out that the mechanisms are very different. Still, there’s some preliminary ruminating that combining a short fast and exercise could piggyback to more quickly get the optimal results. “The thing that’s important is to dig into fat stores,” Ravussin said. “The longer the fast, the better. Or the more exercise, the better. If you could run at 6 a.m. and then skip breakfast, this would be the ideal.”  

“We haven’t connected all the dots, but we know that exercise and intermittent fasting increases BDNF and that BDNF can slow resting heart rate,” Mattson said. In a review published this week in PNAS, the authors (including Ravussin and Matson) point out that an intermittent fasting type of diet has evolutionary roots — it’s likely closer to the way our ancestors ate. But if the thought of fasting makes you cringe, there’s good news: intermittent fasting can be as simple as severely restricting your calories just two days a week. Eat what you want five days of the week, and then eat 500 or so calories twice a week. Most people have better success at that model, which is popular in some fitness circles, than its precursor, alternate day fasting. –Seeker

Fringe Science talks with Alvin Conway about his new book Sapientia

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FS: I must say I enjoyed reading your new book, Sapientia: The 40 Principles of Wisdom. I was actually pleasantly surprised how much I actually learned from the book. A lot of the wisdom you shared in Sapientia will stay with me as life-long lessons. What inspired you to write this book?

AC: I wanted to explore human potential. Not in a humanistic sense or in a scientific way or even as something remotely esoteric, but I wanted to challenge the traditional notions about the nature of reality and the self-imposed psychological restrictions we place on our minds from societal conditioning, which actually inhibits us from accomplishing truly great things.

FS: Sapientia shares tenets of wisdom that have some familiar roots in both Eastern and Western cultures. Do you think this book will be a bridge for cultures or even different religions that may find their followers gravitating towards its common themes and philosophical axioms?

AC: Well, truth is universal – like music. Anyone can comprehend music, but the understanding sometimes breaks down between cultures when we add elements of language to music to create songs. That’s why classical music is so beautiful and sacrosanct because it’s unadulterated by being wordless. Maybe another way of looking at it is, music is the soundtrack of life and we are the story or the words to the song. We don’t always have to talk to communicate – sometimes we can just “be.” I hope this book with be an intellectual and philosophical bridge across the oceans and something that resonates beyond the periphery of cultures.

FS: Your book challenges us in the most basic primal way to be more introspective, to reach for something higher, and to evolve into something more meaningful. Was this your intent?

AC: There is no evolution by revolution – going around in circles. The only evolution by revolution I know is by moving forward and tearing down the old order – a sort of demolition by innovation, so to speak. That’s how we make permanent changes in our lives. It’s like checkers. The objective of the game is to move across the board and become twice the person you were before you started by a series of well-coordinated moves. The goal and hope is to reach your crowning achievement on the far end of the game board. What everyone should want for themselves is progressive change; not retrospective wandering. The day we stop growing is the day we die.

FS: You also take exception with the traditional ways that we achieve greatness and think of success in society. Why is that?

AC: Because someone winning should not always be about someone else losing. It takes a thousand hairs to make one paint brush. In nature, success is inclusive not a competitive struggle for existence. There are symbiotic relationships which build networks of cooperation for the whole, not pyramids of competition that benefit only the privileged few at the top. Bees work together as a collective for a holistic purpose. Life is not about stealing opportunities. It should be about creating them. We can’t be truly successful until we’ve shared ourselves, our time, and resources. Love always goes searching for equilibrium. Selfishness, on the other hand, is always looking for leverage so it can be advantaged over someone else.

FS: You talk about personal growth a lot. Is that a part of the whole enlightenment process in your opinion?

AC: It’s certainly a part of it. Every journey doesn’t start the same, from the same starting point, and it won’t end at the same destination. Life will continue to challenge us from the cradle to the grave. When we were babies, there was always something we wanted that was just out of the reach of our cribs. Sometimes, it was for our own good and sometimes it was just because we were no good at reaching it. However, that’s what living is all about – meeting up at random connection points and sharing life experiences: its ups, downs, and all arounds. He came. She overcame. He saw. She conquered. He stepped in. She stepped up. She thought she was above it. He rose above it. She gave up. He never gave in. She pushed back. He pushed on. We go, so we can grow. We outgrow, so we can grow up. Life is a never-ending story because it’s one perpetual learning process. That’s what Sapientia is all about. Life begins now.

Fringe Science’s Mark Chaffin interviewing Sapientia author Alvin Conway

Where to buy the book: Lulu       Alvin Conway on TwitterFacebook

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