Monday, June 24, 2013

Is day dreaming good for you?

Neuroscience As each day passes, the pace of life seems to accelerate -- demands on productivity continue ever upward and there is hardly ever a moment when we aren't, in some way, in touch with our family, friends, or coworkers. While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, a new article suggests that the long-lost art of introspection -- even daydreaming -- may be an increasingly valuable part of life.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mindfulness in Mental and Physical Health

The science of mindfulness has been gaining wide acceptance over the last 5 years. You might say mindfulness has reached its "tipping point"  where the idea acts on society like a virus would.  Suddenly everybody 'gets it'.

Jon K-Z has spent more than 30 years introducing mindfulness to the medical profession. He encouraged skeptical and reactionary medical practitioners to teach patients to use MBSR (mindfulness based stress relief) for managing chronic pain, stress and negative emotions.  His efforts have gained credibility for MBSR and brought mindfulness into mainstream medicine.  

The wide acceptance of mindfulness is illustrated byCongressman, Tim Ryan joining the effort and writing a book:

"A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit" 

Book Description

"All across America, people are running faster and faster yet falling farther behind. The economy struggles, wars rage on, and every week brings news of another environmental disaster. Despite this bleak outlook, strands of quiet hope and confidence are emerging. 

People are beginning to face challenges in a new way: they are slowing down, paying attention, and becoming aware of their inner resources.

Based on the timeless practice of mindfulness, the natural capabilities of our brains and minds, and the core American values of self-reliance, determination, and getting the job done, 
this new way is affecting every sector of our society. 

In A Mindful Nation, Congressman Tim Ryan connects the dots between what’s happening in the classrooms, hospitals, boardrooms, research labs, and military bases across the country. 

He explores the scientific findings that support the beneficial effects of mindfulness and shares powerful stories from the field, showing how this simple practice is helping schoolchildren improve their ability to learn, veterans heal from trauma, and CEOs become more effective leaders. 

Ryan also provides practical tips for how to incorporate mindfulness into your life today.

A Mindful Nation paints a picture of emerging solutions that benefit both you and society as a whole, showing us that there is something we can do, right here and right now. 

With a hard-nosed understanding of politics, government budgets, and what it takes to get something done,
Ryan combines a practical approach with a hopeful vision for how mindfulness can help reinvigorate the American Dream."


 Published on Feb 12, 2013

 The role of consciousness in mental and physical health

Becoming Conscious: The Science of Mindfulness

Many of us go through daily life on autopilot, without being fully aware of our conscious experience.

Neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha join clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn to:

1 - explore the role of consciousness in mental and physical health, 

2 - how we can train the mind to become more flexible and adaptable, and 

3 - what cutting-edge neuroscience is revealing about the transformation of consciousness through mindfulness and contemplative practice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The New York Academy of Sciences

This event is part of The Emerging Science of Consciousness Series, which brings together leading experts from various fields to discuss how the latest research is challenging our understanding of the very nature and function of consciousness in our daily lives.

Category--Science and Technology

License - Standard YouTube License

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Marcel Proust WAS a neuroscientist?

Was Proust really a neuroscientist?

Psychologist and novelist Charles Fernyhough calls it “one of the most famous passages in modern literature” – the scene when the narrator in Marcel Proust’s  À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu sips on tea thick with crumbs from a madeleine cake, and memories from his childhood come flooding back. It has become the archetypal depiction of what psychologists refer to as an “involuntary memory”.

This capacity for sensory experiences to trigger powerful memories, seemingly beyond our wilful control, has come to be known as a “Proustian moment” or a “Proustian memory”. 

Based on the madeleine episode and other scenes, Evelyne Ender wrote that Proust “anticipat[ed] later discoveries” in memory research. 

Jonah Lehrer, in Proust was a Neuroscientist, wrote that “We now know that Proust was right about memory.”

But how realistic was Proust’s depiction of involuntary memory really?  A new paper by Emily Troscianko compares the portrayal of the madeleine episode against the latest findings from the cognitive neuroscience of memory.

Here’s what Troscianko says Proust got right. One reason smells and tastes can be so evocative is because they are paired with a particular situation, often repeatedly (and also often outside of awareness), and then not experienced again for many years. This fits with the fact the Proustian narrator tasted a tea-soaked cake that he used to enjoy regularly at his aunt’s in Combray as a child, but which he had not tasted for a long time.
Another fact about memories that wash over us is that they tend to arrive when we’re tired or distracted. Again, this matches the madeleine episode, in which the narrator is “dispirited after a dreary day”.

Continue reading on Research Digest