Tag Archives | Emotions

Stroke Leaves British Man Permanently Happy At All Times

feel sadness

Will this form of brain damage be an opt-in surgery available in the future? Via the Telegraph:

A man who suffered a stroke can no longer feel sadness because the part of his brain controlling the emotion was destroyed. Malcolm Myatt, 68, who spent 19 weeks in hospital and lost the feeling in his left side, was told by doctors that the stroke had hit the frontal lobe of his brain.

He has since noticed a number of changes, but believes that the loss of sadness from his emotional repertoire is a positive.

Dr. Clare Walton explained: “While we haven’t heard before of stroke survivors completely losing the ability to feel a particular emotion, many stroke survivors find it very difficult to control their emotions following a stroke and may cry or laugh at inappropriate times.”

His wife added: “Malcolm’s very childish now. It’s infectious. When he starts laughing everyone in the room does.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Amygdala Myths Revealed: It’s Not All About the Fear

1959_1028_tinglerNeurology has always interested me, and I still remember learning in my undergrad neuropsychology class  that the almond-shaped portion of the brain know as the amygdala was responsible for the emotion of fear. Like so many things we grow up hearing, the truth is a little more complicated, as BoingBoing science writer Maggie Koerth-Baker learns in her interview with scientist Paul Whalen. It turns out that fear is just easier to study.

BoingBoing:

Maggie Koerth-Baker: Your research shows that the amygdala does a lot more than just make us afraid. In fact, your research suggests that the idea of “fear” involves a lot more than just reacting to something scary. But where did these ideas come from, to begin with? Why do we think of the amygdala as a “fear center”?

Paul Whalen: In the early 1980s, the psychologists who wanted to study emotion had to pick one, and fear is the easiest to study in a human or animal.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Leading A Meaningful Life Better For Health Than Leading A Happy One

happiness

People who report leading happy but meaningless lives experience unhealthy genetic changes similar to those found in the chronically stressed. Via the Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith writes:

Many studies have noted the connection between a happy mind and a healthy body — the happier you are, the better health outcomes we seem to have.

But a new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, challenges that picture. It specifically explored the difference between a meaningful life and a happy life, on the biological level.

Researchers Cole and Fredrickson found that people who are happy but have little to no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are responding to and enduring chronic adversity. That is, the bodies of these happy people are preparing them for bacterial threats by activating the pro-inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is, of course, associated with major illnesses like heart disease and various cancers.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Engaging In Expressive Writing Makes Physical Wounds Heal Faster

physical woundsShould your doctor be giving you books of poetry? Expressing your emotions via writing literally makes your body heal more quickly, a new University of Auckland study suggests. Via PubMed:

In this randomized controlled trial, 49 healthy older adults were assigned to write for 20 minutes a day either about upsetting life events (Expressive Writing) or about daily activities (Time Management) for 3 consecutive days.

Two weeks postwriting, 4-mm punch biopsy wounds were created on the inner, upper arm. Wounds were photographed routinely for 21 days to monitor wound reepithelialization.

Participants in the Expressive Writing group had a greater proportion of fully reepithelialized wounds at Day 11 postbiopsy compared with the Time Management group, with 76.2% versus 42.1% healed.

This study extends previous research by showing that expressive writing can improve wound healing in older adults and women. Future research is needed to better understand the underlying cognitive, psychosocial, and biological mechanisms contributing to improved wound healing from these simple, yet effective, writing exercises.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Low Dose Psychedelics Allow Mice To Generate Neurons And Unlearn Conditioned Fear

psychedelics

Psychedelic Frontier reports on another study pointing to the immense power (and hazards) of psychedelics:

A new study of mice published in Experimental Brain Research shows that low doses (but not high doses) of psychedelics increase the rate of neuron creation in the hippocampus, and help the mice to rapidly unlearn conditioned fear responses.

Mice injected with low doses of PSOP [psilocybin] extinguished cued fear conditioning significantly more rapidly than high-dose PSOP or saline-treated mice. PSOP facilitates extinction of the conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.

Research continues to confirm psychedelics’ ability to reduce the conditioned fear response, enabling patients to confront fearful stimuli without the usual baggage of anxiety and defense mechanisms.

With the right therapeutic approach, psychedelics allow us to rewire our brains in a positive manner. On the flip side, reckless use of these substances may cause lasting negative changes in the brain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Do Depressed People Simply Suffer From An Accurate View Of Reality?

Wikipedia on depressive realism, the theory that those with depression are free from the “optimism bias” that skews most people’s perception of the world:

Depressive realism is the proposition that people with depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality, specifically that they are less affected by positive illusions of illusory superiority and optimism bias.

Studies by psychologists Alloy and Abramson (1979) and Dobson and Franche (1989) suggested that depressed people appear to have a more realistic perception of their importance, reputation, locus of control, and abilities than those who are not depressed.

Depressed people may be less likely to have inflated self-images and see the world through “rose-colored glasses” thanks to cognitive dissonance elimination and a variety of other defense mechanisms that allow [individuals] to ignore or otherwise look beyond the harsh realities of life.

This does not necessarily imply that a specific happy person is delusional nor deny that some depressed individuals may be unrealistically negative.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Would You Switch Off A Robot If It Begged Not To Be?

Will our machines acquire the ability to convince us that they are in fact alive? An unsettling study at the the Netherlands' Eindhoven University of Technology:
This video shows an experiment in which participants are asked to switch off a robot and thereby killing it. The robot begs for its live and we measured how long the participants hesitated. The perception of life largely depends on the observation of intelligent behavior. Even abstract geometrical shapes that move on a computer screen are being perceived as being alive… in particular if they change their trajectory nonlinearly or if they seem to interact with their environments. The robot's intelligence had a strong effect on the users’ hesitation to switch it off, in particular if the robot acted agreeable. Participants hesitated almost three times as long to switch off an intelligent and agreeable robot (34.5 seconds) compared to an unintelligent and non-agreeable robot (11.8 seconds).
Continue Reading

In A Few Years, Will A Love Drug Cure Divorce?

Via the Guardian, Will Storr on chemically strengthening the bond between two people by huffing from an inhaler:

According to scientists at the University of Oxford, at some point in the life of my marriage (rough estimate of about 10 years), a new breed of “love drug” might become available – a medication that could heal wounded relationships. It will likely be delivered as an inhaler and prescribed by a relationship counsellor. You’d sniff up a dose in the presence of your loved one and, as the chemical entered your bloodstream, it would strengthen your bond.

Such a drug would likely contain doses of two structurally similar hormones: oxytocin and vasopressin. Of the two, oxytocin is the more famous–sometimes known as the “cuddle chemical”, its positive role in experiences such as orgasm and childbirth seems to have led some to imagine it as an inhalable happy drug. Vasopressin has been implicated in an animal defending its babies.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Love Is Just Small Moments Of Positivity Resonance

You can fall in and out of love every day, and experience the benefits of brief moments of “positivity resonance,” just by being open to other people. Via the Atlantic:

Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, a leading researcher of positive emotions, presents scientific evidence that love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting yearning and passion that characterizes young love or sustains a marriage; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

Rather, it is what she calls a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store.

Read the rest
Continue Reading