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What a lovely article. Very well recommended.

"Alternatively, the researchers say “non-believers have personality profiles more closely associated with the psychopathic phenotype (i.e., deficits in moral concern) than with the autism phenotype (i.e., deficits in mentalizing).” To support this finding, they refer to a 2014 published survey that found non-believers reported “higher levels of psychopathic traits, namely self-centered impulsivity and coldheartedness, than do religious believers.”"

#atheists #psychopaths #religion #mentalizing #impulsivity #coldheartedness #religious #non-believer #morality

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"Childhood traumas of various sorts can cause kindergartners to struggle in class as well as life, new research contends.

A study of more than 1,000 urban children showed those with difficult experiences up until age 5 had math and reading difficulties and difficulty focusing in kindergarten, and were also more likely to have social problems and to be aggressive toward others.

The experiences included neglect or physical, sexual or psychological abuse. They also included living in a household with domestic abuse or with a household member who was in jail or prison, had a mental illness or had an addiction or substance abuse problem.

"The first five years of a child's life are an incredible time of opportunity and vulnerability," said study lead author Dr. Manuel Jimenez, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics education at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J. "Combined with previous work documenting how early traumatic experiences are tied to poor health, these findings illustrate how early adversity can place children at risk for poor outcomes across multiple aspects of life."..."

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In the era of super cities and climate change, we can't ignore the qualities of edible and fruiting trees in our urban environments...

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The Neuroscience of Attachment
Highly recommended read.

"How relational learning works
John Bowlby, British psychoanalyst, founder of attachment theory, hypothesized that attachment is all about safety and protection and emotional regulation in times of perceived threat or danger. Attachment is part of a 3-part motivational system of fear–attachment-exploration. Fear triggers attachment behaviors. The safe haven of secure attachment soothes the fear of the amygdala, and opens exploration. (rapprochement and bye- mom!) Exploration eventually bumps us into something that triggers fear again which shuts down exploration and triggers attachment behaviors again which soothe the fear again and open exploration cycle of safety-exploration again.

It has been amply demonstrated by Allan Schore that the need for emotional regulation is what drives attachment behaviors. Affect regulation is the engine of attachment and attachment is what drives the development of the pre-frontal cortex, the brain structures that do that. Dan Stern and Peter Fonagy have amply demonstrated that it is the need for empathy, the need to be seen, understood and reflected that drives the intersubjectivity that develops theory of mind. I know that you know what I know and I know that you can also know something different than what I know.

So how parents – and therapists – use empathy and bonding and reflection to regulate fear, anxiety and shame, and soothe the firing of the amygdala, and help the other discover who they are by seeing and accepting them first, this attunement and feedback are so very determinative of attachment patterns and are a crucial part of their healing.

So, even before consciousness develops, the parent is regulating the emotions of the baby through their own pre-frontal cortex, brain to brain regulation. The baby is “borrowing” the PFC functioning of the parent to regulate their emotions. And the baby is introjecting the reflections of who they are from the parent to develop the internal working models of who they are in relation to the other. As the baby’s PFC develops from these experiences, they can begin to regulate their emotion on their own. They can begin to have self-awareness and self-reflection on their own.

The 9 functions of the pre-frontal cortex are:

regulation of body – SNS-PNS balance
attuned communication, felt sense of other’s experience
regulation of emotions
response flexibility – pause, options, evaluate options, appropriate decision
insight – self awareness
fear extinction – GABA fibers to amygdala
intuition – deep knowing without logic
morality – behaviors based on empathy.

Research has shown that 7 of the 9 functions of the PFC are outcomes of secure attachment. Research also shows that all 9 functions are strengthened in mindfulness practice, internal attunement rather than interpersonal attunement. So a therapist’s mindful awareness of their own internal states strengthens the same pathways of the brain we need to become aware of another person’s internal states. (Mindfulness and psychotherapy is another article.)

The laterality of the two hemispheres of the cortex is important here. The right and left hemispheres of the brain develop at different rates and specialize in different functions, allowing a much greater complexity of functioning than if they were duplicating each other. The right hemisphere of the brain grows larger in volume and more rapidly than the left, from before birth through 18 months of age, which completely coincides with the developmental timetable of when attachment patterns are being stabilized in the brain. These patterns of attachment are stored in our memory in the mode of RH processing. The right hemisphere processes experience differently from the left – non-verbally through body sensations, visual images, emotions, and holistically – it processes the gestalt of someone’s face or energy globally, all at once, rather than in a linear data bit by data bit mode. The right hemisphere is where we get our “gut” intuitive sense of things and the gestalt of things as a whole. The right hemisphere is the seat of the social and personal self. The right hemisphere regulates the sub-cortical limbic system and is dominant for social-emotional processing. Our attachment patterns are stored in this mode.

The left hemisphere is developing all along but goes through a growth spurt from 18 months to three years of age and becomes dominant after that, except for a period of re-organization during adolescence when the two hemispheres battle it out for dominance. Why, with the amping up of hormones, too, adolescence is such a stormy period. This adolescent period coincides with the need for attachment patterns to change, moving the focus from leaving parents to focusing on peers and forming one’s own family. The left hemisphere of the brain processes logically, linearly, linguistically, through symbols and words; it is dominant for cognitive processing.

Remember, both hemispheres do process experience consciously, it’s just that what comes to consciousness in the right hemisphere is images, sensations, emotions and what comes to consciousness in the left is words and symbols. The right hemisphere decodes our relationship experience; the left hemisphere describes it.

Because the right hemisphere develops early and the left hemisphere develops later, and because the right hemisphere is more neuronally connected to the limbic system than the left, it has a negative bias toward anxiety, shame, depression and withdrawal, which can impact our experience of attachment and make it harder to change those patterns. There is a corresponding bias in the left hemisphere toward positive emotions, humor and mania, and approach.

“An unfortunate artifact of the evolution of laterality may be that the right hemisphere, biased toward negative emotions and pessimism, develops first and serves as the core of self-awareness and self-identity. To be human may be to have vulnerability toward shame, guilt and depression. So although both sides of the brain are involved in emotion, the dominant role of the right hemisphere in defensive and negative emotions gives it executive “veto power” over the left. Just as the left can block emotional and visceral input from the right, the right can override conscious processing and emotional well-being in reaction to threat.” [Cozolino p. 78] Think about this for ourselves and our clients.

The corpus collosum, running right down the middle of the brain front to back, is what begins to integrate the information between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere at about 12 months of age. What’s important about any of this brain functioning is integration. The brain is about teamwork; various parts of the brain firing together in synchrony There is bottom-up information from the limbic system about the emotional charge of any experience and top-down regulation of our reflexes and emotions; there is right left integration of feelings and thoughts, integration of positive and negative responses. The more integrated neural pathways, networks, structure are, the better the brain functions"

#attachment   #neuroscience  

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AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study

a b s t r a c t
Background: Cardiac arrest (CA) survivors experience cognitive deficits including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is unclear whether these are related to cognitive/mental experiences and awareness during CPR. Despite anecdotal reports the broad range of cognitive/mental experiences and awareness associated with CPR has not been systematically studied.

Methods: The incidence and validity of awareness together with the range, characteristics and themes relating to memories/cognitive processes during CA was investigated through a 4 year multi-center observational study using a three stage quantitative and qualitative interview system. The feasibility of objectively testing the accuracy of claims of visual and auditory awareness was examined using specific tests. The outcome measures were (1) awareness/memories during CA and (2) objective verification of claims of awareness using specific tests.

Results: Among 2060 CA events, 140 survivors completed stage 1 interviews, while 101 of 140 patients completed stage 2 interviews. 46% had memories with 7 major cognitive themes: fear; animals/plants; bright light; violence/persecution; deja-vu; family; recalling events post-CA and 9% had NDEs, while 2% described awareness with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected."


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"Prehistoric Australian megafauna included 1,000-pound kangaroos, 2-ton wombats, 25-foot-long lizards, 400-pound flightless birds, 300-pound marsupial lions and Volkswagen-sized tortoises. But some 50,000 years ago, more than 85 percent of Australia's animals weighing over 100 pounds went extinct for reasons that have become a subject of much scientific debate.

A team of researchers from Monash University in Victoria, Australia and the University of Colorado Boulder tried to reconstruct the past climate and ecosystems of the continent. They studied sediment core which is drilled in the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast, and analyzed chronological layers of material blown and washed into the ocean.

The study was published in Nature Communications on January 20.

“The abundance of spores from a fungus called Sporormiella that thrived on the dung of plant-eating mammals, is good evidence for a lot of large mammals on the southwestern Australian landscape up until about 45,000 years ago,” Gifford Miller, a CU Boulder Professor who participated in the study, said in a statement provided by the university.

Warming Blamed

Then, in just a few thousand years, the megafauna population collapsed. The majority of experts claim the animals died because of climate changes. Others suggested that the animals were hunted to extinction by Australia's earliest people, who first arrived there 50,000 years ago.

The new research did not find any evidence of significant climate change during the time of the megafauna extinction.

Miller said the extinction may have been caused by "imperceptible overkill." The killing of only one juvenile mammal per person per decade could have resulted in the extinction of a whole species in just a few hundred years.

"These findings rule out climate change, and implicate humans as the primary cause of extinction," the researchers concluded.

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" ...The University of Montreal compared the reaction times of 16 musicians and 19 non-musicians asking them to click a mouse button when they sensed a vibration or noise.

Musicians reacted around 30 per cent faster than people who could not play instruments...."

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"... Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.

It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.

It’s unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It’s more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity? ..."

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The Mental Universe
R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Nature, 2005

"The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things."

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