Brain and Behavior

Fake News: Facebook Helps You Feel Well-Informed, Regardless of Actual Reading

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook faces the spotlight for spreading fake news stories. There are now hundreds (perhaps thousands) of fake news web sites -- sites that publish news articles that look and seem to be real, but are complete fiction. Unlike older, well-known satirical websites, such as The Onion, many of these sites don't indicate their fakeness.

But even if Facebook is helping spread fake news more than any other service ever, it begs the question -- do people even read the news stories that appear in their Facebook feed? Let's turn to the science...

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Brain and Behavior

How Immune Systems Can Influence Social Behavior


The immune system is our main defense mechanism against disease. Dysfunctions in the immune system are therefore associated with a myriad of complications, including several neurological and mental disorders.

Yet, for a long time the brain and the immune system were considered to be isolated from each other -- it was believed that the brain was not supplied by the lymphatic system (which carries white blood cells and other immune cells through a network of vessels and tissues) because no evidence of lymphatic supply to the brain had ever been found.
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Brain and Behavior

Pillow Talk: You Need More Sleep

“You can sleep when you are dead,” a friend chides.

Offering an awkward chuckle, I was too tired to supply a witty response. In America, we stifle our collective yawn to meet the next pressing deadline. But there is a more important deadline than the latest accounting project: our (sleep) health. For a painful few, sleep is an elusive dream.

In American society, we sacrifice sleep for employment or academic obligations. In competitive academic programs, we brag about the number of all-nighters we pull. Time has chronicled the sleep fatigue of first-year residents and its damning effect on patients.
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Brain and Behavior

IQ Can Be Linked to Physical and Psychiatric Disorders


The idea that how smart you are might be connected with how healthy you are is not new. Those who studied social sciences have probably seen the published works on the subject dating back to 1980s.

The problem is not so easy to study academically, though. It is hard to separate the influence of various social factors on both intelligence level and health from a pure connection between health and brightness. As a result, many of the existing studies have been inconclusive. Factors such as age, sex, social and economic level, and education of the study cohort may seriously affect the conclusions. However, when these factors are taken into account, or the study groups are designed in a way minimizing their influence, rather interesting findings emerge.

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Brain and Behavior

Can We Improve Brain Function With Moderate Alcohol Consumption?


It is well documented that excessive consumption of alcohol is linked to various serious health problems. Heavy drinking is a known risk factor for diseases such as cardiovascular problems, some types of cancer, cirrhosis, dementia, depression, pancreatitis and high blood pressure, among others. But what about low-to-moderate alcohol consumption?

A number of studies published in recent years present a view rather different from the traditional negative assumptions. Contrary to popular beliefs, they claim that moderate alcohol intake can be beneficial.

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Brain and Behavior

ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions


A new scientific study validates how truly awesome we are.

It's a tough world out there for a person who is super sensitive.

If you're a woman and you're sensitive, people think of you as being fragile or crazy. If you're a man and you're too sensitive, people might think you're weak or, god forbid, womanly.

But a recent study about the brains of sensitive people proves that there's nothing wrong with sensitive people, we're just programmed differently. In fact, our sensitivity is a great thing!

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Brain and Behavior

Neuroplasticity and Technology: How Our Brains Respond


Smartphones and other electronic devices have changed the way we communicate and the way we interact with the world. But to what extent can technology change us? Most importantly, can it change our brain?

When neurons communicate with each other they generate brain waves. These are the result of the synchronized rhythmic activity of thousands or even millions of neurons. There are different types of brain waves and they can be detected through electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings, each having a specific EEG pattern. Each type of brain wave is associated with different states of brain functioning.

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Brain and Behavior

How Complaining Can Alter Our Perception

It is intuitive that a negative attitude and constant complaining are bad for us, but can it really affect our brain? It turns out that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that negativity can alter our perception of life by changing the connection of the neurons in our brain. This would then result in increased stress levels, which is linked to chronic diseases and mental health problems.

A common perception of complaining or “venting” is that people feel better after getting their emotions out. Contrary to popular belief, however, studies have shown that expressing negativity can be bad for the mood of both the complainer and the listener, and here we briefly discuss a few findings on how negativity can impact our well-being.
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Aging

A Look at How Our Brains Organize Memories Over Time


Research on the organization of our memory has long been a topic of fascination among neuroscientists given that this could lead to treatments for reversing cognitive impairments. Here, we review some recent findings on how memory is organized which show the importance of a coordinated “wave” of neuronal activity in spatial navigation, and the temporal nature underlying how linked memories are encoded.

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Brain and Behavior

Why I Prescribe Pokemon Go for My Patients

This week, the parent of one of my patients asked me about Pokémon Go. She was concerned with her child’s obsession and felt like this could lead to social or emotional problems.

Electronics, as with most things, are good in moderation -- but Pokémon Go isn’t your average video game. Unlike games that keep people glued to the couch, Pokémon Go requires people to get up, move around, and interact with others. What that means to me as a child psychiatrist is that it comes with a variety of health benefits. Exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the rest of the body. I’ve seen people walking, riding their bikes, and finding more excuses to get outside because of Pokémon Go.

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Anger

6 Tips for Cutting Off Contact with Narcissistic Family Members

Our family has the ability to frustrate us like no one else can. But what can you do when the family you were born into is not only frustrating, but cruel, condescending and downright abusive?

We all have our limits and if you were raised in a household where abuse or mental illness was part of everyday life for you, your willingness to tolerate your family’s bad behavior may be higher than most people’s.

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