The science of fear – what makes us afraid?

If you have ever asked yourself ‘what is fear?’ then you have to be prepared to face your phobias and delve deep in to the science behind what makes us afraid.

The building was evacuated as Fire fighters, ambulances and police arrived on the scene to tend to the sick. That evening the local emergency room admitted 80 students and 19 staff members; 38 were hospitalised overnight.

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Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids May Help Healthy Brain Aging

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids May Help Healthy Brain Aging

Two new studies link patterns of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood to the integrity of brain structures and cognitive abilities that are known to decline early in aging.

The studies add to the evidence that dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can promote healthy aging, the researchers said. Further research is needed to test this hypothesis, they said.

The brain is a collection of interconnected parts, each of which ages at its own pace. Some brain structures, and the abilities they promote, start to deteriorate before others, said University of Illinois M.D./Ph.D student Marta Zamroziewicz, who led the new research with psychology professor Aron Barbey.

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How the injured brain tells the body it’s hurt?

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have identified a new way that cells in the brain alert the rest of the body to recruit immune cells when the brain is injured.

The work was completed in mouse models that mimic infection, stroke or trauma in humans.

Investigators already knew there was a communication highway between the brain and the immune system but have been unclear about how exactly how the brain sends signals to the immune system.

 While immune system cells’ purpose is to defend and protect the body, ironically the brain’s “call to arms” may cause more harm than good when it instructs immune cells to enter into the brain. The persistence of these cells can cause chronic inflammation and damage the brain.

In their new study, described in Science Signaling April 13, Johns Hopkins researchers say there is evidence that vesicles or small (about the size of a virus), fat-like molecules and protein-filled sacks released from a type of immune cell in the brain called astrocytes travel through the bloodstream to the liver.

The liver then instructs white blood cells to go to the site of injury in the brain.

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Studies link healthy brain aging to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood

Two new studies link patterns of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood to the integrity of brain structures and cognitive abilities that are known to decline early in aging.

The studies add to the evidence that dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can promote healthy aging, the researchers said. Further research is needed to test this hypothesis, they said.

The brain is a collection of interconnected parts, each of which ages at its own pace. Some brain structures, and the abilities they promote, start to deteriorate before others, said University of Illinois M.D./Ph.D student Marta Zamroziewicz, who led the new research with psychology professor Aron Barbey.

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How The Brain And Laughing Affects Your Health

When you hear someone laugh behind you, you probably picture them on the phone or with a friend – smiling and experiencing a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Chances are just the sound of the laughter could make you smile or even laugh along. But imagine that the person laughing is just walking around alone in the street, or sitting behind you at a funeral. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so inviting.

The truth is that laughter isn’t always positive or healthy. According to science, it can be classified into different types, ranging from genuine and spontaneous to simulated (fake), stimulated (for example by tickling), induced (by drugs) or even pathological. But the actual neural basis of laughter is still not very well known – and what we do know about it largely comes from pathological clinical cases.

Laughter and the appreciation of humor are vital components of adaptive social, emotional and cognitive function. Surprisingly, they are not uniquely human. Primates and apes also enjoy a good chuckle. This may have evolved because it helps them survive. Laughter is, after all, a communal activity which promotes bonding, diffuses potential conflict and eases stress and anxiety. But it loses its momentum quickly when indulged in alone (solitary laughter can have ominous connotations).

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A neuroscientist explains the 5 most effective methods to keep your brain healthy

http://www.businessinsider.com/dr-tara-swart-health-brain-best-methods-nutrition-hydration-meditation-sleep-effective-2017-2?utm_content=buffer1d2e1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer-ti

Neuroscientist and leadership coach Dr. Tara Swart spoke with Business Insider about some of the most effective methods to keep your brain healthy.

She picked her five key areas: sleep, nutrition, hydration, oxygen, and meditation.

When talking about nutrition, Dr. Swart said: “My top five brain-friendly foods are salmon, avocado, eggs, nuts and seeds, and coconut oil.

“Although your brain only weighs 2-3 kilos, so it’s a tiny percentage of your body weight, it sucks up 20-30% of the breakdown products of a healthy diet.”

Watch and follow these rules to make sure your brain is in the best shape it can be.


‘Meditating mice’ reveal how mindfulness training can reduce anxiety

  • Oregon University researchers altered genes in mice to be triggered by light
  • They targeted area of the brain which show changes in humans who mediate
  • Meditation increases theta wave activity even after meditation has ended
  • Study found mice that received theta wave stimulation were less anxious

Scientists have created ‘meditating mice’ in a bizarre experiment to reveal the powers of brain training.

Researchers undertook the experiment to see exactly how meditation impacts our mood.

By genetically engineering mice, they were able to show the certain brain waves can dramatically reduce anxiety.

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Researchers from the University of Oregon wanted to recreate the brain conditions found in humans who practice mindfulness in mice

Researchers from the University of Oregon wanted to recreate the brain conditions found in humans who practice mindfulness in mice

WHAT IS MINDFUL MEDITATION?

Inspired by ancient Buddhist meditation, mindfulness courses were developed in the late 1970s by US doctors to combat stress.

The guiding principle is to live more ‘in the moment’, spending less time going over past stresses and worrying about future problems.

Techniques include moving the focus of attention around the body and observing sensations that arise – the so-called ‘body scan’.

A secular practice, it is said to help people recognise and overcome negative thoughts while noticing small pleasures.

Mindfulness has been championed by Hollywood stars like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, and scientific studies have shown that it performs better than many other stress busting techniques.

Researchers from the University of Oregon found that changes to the white matter in the brains of volunteers who practice mindfulness may hold the key to its power.

Cognitive-Neuroscientist Cris Niell and his team concluded that changes in theta brainwaves must be responsible, and decided to test the hypothesis on mice.

To do so, the team genetically engineered a special protein in the brains of the mice that causes neurons to fire when they are exposed to light from a laser.

Dr Niell’s team targeted their genetically altered proteins to allow them to produce theta-wave like activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of their mice.

By flashing the laser connected to the mice’s brains, they were able to make the ACC neurons fire at the same pace that they observed in human meditators.

The Oregon team to establish whether alterations in theta-wave activity in the anterior cingulate cortex were the key to the anxiety busting effects of mindfulness

The Oregon team to establish whether alterations in theta-wave activity in the anterior cingulate cortex were the key to the anxiety busting effects of mindfulness

The team found that mice who received the treatment were less anxious than those who didn’t, or who received stimulation in other areas of the brain.

Their tests showed that mice who were exposed to the same theta-wave patterns as revealed in scans of human mediators, were more relaxed.

To test their levels of anxiety, the mice were placed in a box with a dark and illuminated side.

The mice who had ‘meditated’ were more comfortable exploring the light side and to sit up on their hind legs to interact with other mice, according to reports in the Los Angles Times.

Both these behaviours are thought to indicate that the mice were in a relaxed state, while mice who had not received the treatment were more likely to stick to the shadows.

The Oregon team also experimented with different frequencies of theta-wave like stimulation, but found that the most calming effects were evident the closer they stayed to the pace observed in the brains of human meditators, about eight times per second.

Scans of brain activity in people who practice mindfulness show differences in the ACC, among other areas.

The ACC helps to control a wide variety of functions, including our emotions, decision-making processes and impulse control.

How to practice Buddhist breathing meditation (related)

It also regulates the amygdala, one of the most primitive parts of the brain that deals with fear and the fight-or-flight response.  

While the physical changes were apparent, what was less clear was the exact relationship between increases in white matter and the anti-anxiety abilities of mindfulness.

The Oregon teams tests may provide a starting point for further understanding of the physical mechanisms at work with mindfulness techniques.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, study co-author Cris Niell said: ‘We think of meditation as a human thing, a high-level thing, but we want to examine the low level biology of it.

‘We are not necessarily making the mice meditate, but we are changing the pattern of activity in the brain region.

‘This first publication is a proof of principle, but hopefully in six months or a year, I’ll be talking to you about what it is that actually changes in the brain as a result of meditation.’

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4245238/Experiment-mice-mindfulness-works.html#ixzz4ZjaJKc36
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Brain study looks at why people’s political beliefs are so hard to change

A new brain study out of USC looks at why people are so resistant when their political views are challenged by others.

LOS ANGELES — When it comes to politics, it can be difficult to accept the other side. Some friendships have even ended as a result of opposing political views. Last November’s presidential election is a prime example of a politically divided America.

So why do people get emotional and even angry when their political beliefs are challenged? USC professor Jonas Kaplan‘s research suggests that the brain may actually be to blame.

 

 

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