Brain and Behavior Articles

Improving Your Child’s ADHD with Exercise

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

physical-fitnessGetting in a good run before work keeps us focused and productive at the office. But did you know exercise could also help children with ADHD perform better in the classroom?

“There is evidence that physical activity improves academic performance,” said Betsy Hoza, a professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont. Her recent study found moderate to vigorous aerobic activity before school helped children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder become more attentive.

“The immediate effects are that you’re much more alert — there’s that endorphin rush,” said Hoza. That rush has proven to boost mood, help ward off anxiety and depression in adults, and now to improve cognitive function in children with ADHD.

Psychology Around the Net: January 24, 2014

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Fear

Ever wonder what makes you — and keeps you — a loyal customer? How about ways to strength train your brain? Oh, and speaking of your brain — where does all that fear and anxiety come from, anyway?

We have it all and more in this week’s Psychology Around the Net.

Fear Pinpoinited: Scientists Discover Exactly Where Anxiety Resides in the Brain: Tests on mice have helped New York’s Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory researchers pinpoint the area, or “circuit,” in the brain where “fearful memories and behavior” are controlled. Could this lead to new anxiety treatments?

Isolation and Depression During a Long Winter

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Isolation and Depression During a Long WinterWith an Arctic blast bearing down across the U.S., I know I’d like nothing more than to cozy up inside with a blanket, some tea and my warm little bulldog. Then again that’s always the thing about January. It’s not until the end of February when I’m depressed and moody that I realize I’ve been isolating myself.

Depression loves to get me alone, just like a bully. Away from my friends and family for a couple weeks and surrounded by white winter clouds, I become an easy target for doubt, boredom, self-deprecation and loneliness.

Anyone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) knows the pattern, but those of us with depression may not be so in tune to how the weather is affecting our mental health.

How to Distinguish between Mature and Immature Emotions

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

How to Distinguish between Mature and Immature EmotionsDo you wonder sometimes why people act unreasonable and childish sometimes, often many times during a single day? Childish reactions are the cause of most conflicts and relationship issues. This known as age regression. Many people don’t recognize it when they do it, and instead believe that they were provoked by other people or circumstances.

Our brains constantly scan our environments and compare our present experiences with our memories from the past. When something triggers our past memories, our brains check those memories for additional information, such as possible consequences and possible responses. If there are unresolved or intense emotions related to those memories, they also will be triggered.

What Suicidal Depression Feels Like

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

How Does Low Self-Esteem Negatively Affect Us?I don’t know if you have noticed, but ever since Robin Williams died, I have removed the filter from my writing that keeps me safe of jaw dropping, disappointing head gestures, and all kinds of judgments that authentic writing invites. I just really don’t care anymore what people think because lives are at stake.

If this brutal beast of an illness is strong enough to kill someone with the passion, determination, and genius of Robin Williams, than we must do everything we can to protect those who are more fragile. That means being brave and writing as honestly as I can, on a taboo subject so few people understand, even if it means getting disapproving stares from other parents at my kids’ school.

Psychology Around the Net: January 17, 2015

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

The Paralysis of Analysis: On Overthinking

Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

This week’s edition of Psychology Around the Net will help you fill your weekend with ponderings about potentially healthy ways to change your perspective, what it really takes to fall in love (or, at least, feel closer to someone), how your state ranks when it comes to mental health services, and more.

Enjoy!

5 Ways to Adjust Your Perspective in 2015: Feeling moody? Want more creative inspiration? What about help focusing on the “important things”? These five tips might surprise you.

Is Brain-Training a Hoax?

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Is Brain-Training a Hoax?In a society that glorifies brain-related companies such as Lumosity, it’s important to note that while their goal is moral, their process is inherently flawed.

As an Integrative Neuroscience major at Binghamton University, I can understand why parents and children alike fall for the tempting ways to enhance your brain’s functioning. After all, it’s no secret that as we begin to age, our memory and other senses begin to fade gradually and sometimes rather abruptly. Nevertheless, the market for these brain-training websites is alive and thriving.

Lumosity prides themselves in being able to “enhance neuroplasticity” through games and other tasks. While their mission statement is not incorrect, it’s not the only route to mental clarity.

New Research into Anxiety Disorders

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

New Research into Anxiety DisordersNearly one in five Americans have been diagnosed with some form of anxiety disorder. These range from panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder to social phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants can curb symptoms that interfere with day-to-day life. And these drugs are big business. In 2013, Americans filled 48 million prescriptions for the benzodiazepine drug alprazolam (Xanax). Patients also picked up 27 million prescriptions for sertraline (Zoloft), an antidepressant drug that also helps some people with anxiety.

Top 10 Bipolar Blogs of 2014

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Top 10 Bipolar Blogs of 2014Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression, which are different from the ups and downs experienced in day-to-day life.

A person’s energy and activity levels reflect their mood. Mania is a period of euphoria, where a person may be unable to sit still or stop talking. During a manic phase, a person may be super-productive and filled with new ideas, but they may also engage in reckless behavior, such as risky sex or gambling. At the other end of the spectrum, during a depressive phase, a person may feel listless, hopeless and worthless, sometimes struggling even to get out of bed.

These blogs have been selected to show the differences in functioning across the disorder and together demonstrate the complexity of the disorder and its treatment. Along with the stark, poignant honesty of personal stories, they offer intelligent reflection and discussion on what science has to say over a condition which is far from easy answers.

The Hyperbole of Blood Tests & Biomarkers for Depression

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

The Hyperbole of Blood Tests & Biomarkers for DepressionMainstream media love to highlight anytime a researcher suggests we’re on the cusp of developing a blood test, saliva test, or brain scan to “properly” diagnose depression. This is seemingly driven by a never-ending belief that the only way to legitimize mental illness is if we create a medical lab test for it. Nevermind the fact that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of medical diseases that have no single lab test to diagnose them.

Somehow, an MRI will magically make depression acceptable to society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The latest twist on these tests is a biomarker or blood test that will let us know which treatments may work best for depression. Naturally, such tests raise as many questions as they may answer — and make the process of getting an accurate diagnosis for depression vastly more expensive and complicated.

Psychology Around the Net: January 10, 2015

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Healing My Inner Child

Happy Saturday, readers!

As cliche as it might sound, we can’t help but think of new beginnings when we think of a new year, and what better way to welcome new beginnings than by keeping up with all the new mental health news, research, and even opinions as we launch into 2015?

After all, we want to stay as healthy and informed as possible!

This week’s Psychology Around the Net features research related to pets and their owners’ personalities, gut bacteria and how it relates to anxiety, how childhood guilt can affect adult mental health issues, and more.

What is Commitment Phobia & Relationship Anxiety?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

commitment-phobia-relationship-anxiety

For most people, relationships are fairly easy things. They come as naturally to life as breathing or making a meal.

For some, however, relationships are not so easy. In fact, they present such a challenge to the individual, that a person can be said to have relationship anxiety, a fear of relationships, or suffer from “commitment phobia.”

Commitment issues in relationships are nothing new. But our understanding of how the fear of commitment for some people can be paralyzing has increased. And while you won’t find “commitment phobia” in any diagnostic manual, it is a very real experience of anxiety and fear.

Here’s the lowdown on commitment phobia and relationship anxiety.

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