Brain and Behavior Articles

Relearning How to Relate to People After a Major Trauma

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

IsolationWhen I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, it was almost impossible for me to talk to people, let alone relate to them.

If it wasn’t the constant anxiety and paranoia keeping me from engaging, it was the burden of having an 800 lb. gorilla that nobody understood hanging over my head.

How could I possibly get on anyone else’s level when there was this immense self-stigmatizing diagnosis of being crazy sitting on my shoulders?

Body Position, Learning and Memory

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Seeing ThingsLots of factors can influence how well you can learn, remember, and perceive the things around you — even the position of your body. For example, if you see someone pinch a fake hand near where your hand is positioned, you may think you feel real pain in your hand. We naturally pay more attention to objects close to our hands, too.

Christopher Davoli, James Brockmole, and Annabelle Goujon wondered if the location of our hands can also affect how we remember and learn visual information, so they designed a task to test that question.

My Intention: Shifting Into Neutral and Being in the Present Moment

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

My IntentionI have myriad personal and professional goals that I want to achieve. I made a personal goal sheet that I hang on my refrigerator door. Each morning, when I open the refrigerator door and grab the creamer for my morning cup of coffee, the goal sheet silently stares back at me. I am reminded of the goals waiting to be accomplished, waiting to be achieved. It is a memo to self of all I have to do and have yet to accomplish.

At times this goal sheet can leave me feeling depleted and worn; it is a daily reminder of what I have not done. So I am making a conscious effort to increase my daily intentions, my deepest wishes for myself and the world that align with my authentic self.

Is There a Cure for Bitterness?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

newvoices.orgThe classic poem “Desiderata” says that if you compare yourself to others you will either become vain or bitter.

I don’t worry about becoming vain, as my self-esteem is still beneath sea level. But bitterness? That one had a hold of me last weekend.

The Best Way to Learn a Foreign Accent

Monday, July 28th, 2014

One common way to improve foreign-language skills is to watch videos in the foreign language. But if you’ve ever tried watching a foreign film, you …

How to Deal with the Side Effects of Your Meds

Monday, July 28th, 2014

{Flickr photo by epSos.de}

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, the first medication I took was called Abilify. It was a new drug, one that was supposed to protect against metabolic issues like gaining weight.

It would’ve been fine but it had a nasty side effect no one told me about — the constant, restless feeling of needing to move. I couldn’t sit still and I was so uncomfortable that I’d take miles-long walks every day just to ease the feeling. I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

Mood Over Matter: How Emotions Can Affect Your Health

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

headachesYou’ve probably heard your share of stories like the following told by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN, on the site “Women to Women“:

A patient came in to see me describing constant heavy bleeding menorrhagia. We tried dietary changes, supplements and other purely physical approaches, with only minimal improvement. I began to probe for the emotional basis of her condition. She shared a description of her marriage to a man who did not support her emotionally and was often verbally abusive. I helped her see the connection between her relationship and her symptoms. One day a few months later, she came into my office and told me she had finally found the courage to leave the relationship. Her heavy bleeding stopped the next day, and has not returned.

In Pursuit of Happiness

Friday, July 25th, 2014

In Pursuit of HappinessHow is it that Pharrell Williams’s light-hearted song, “Happy,” has become such a global hit? The daily news suggests that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Williams sings: “…clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth.”6

How to Use Self-Talk to Improve Performance

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

How to Use Self-Talk to Improve PerformanceDo you ever talk to yourself? Although it’s not always a conscious habit, most of us practice self-talk on a daily basis, as a way of guiding, motivating or supporting ourselves.

Maybe you’re heading to the store and start running through a list of all the items you need to buy. Or perhaps you’re trying to get through a particularly challenging task at work and find yourself whispering something like “Come on, focus, you can do this.”

Suspicious Things Really Make Us ‘Smell Something Fishy’

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

cbs_news_nose_jobWhen we say “Fred is a warm person,” we don’t usually mean his body temperature is hotter than average. We use metaphors such as “warm”, “high”, and “clean” to describe more abstract concepts like “friendly,” “powerful,” and “morally sound.”

So we mean that Fred is friendly, not that he has a fever. But these metaphors can actually have a powerful effect on behavior and attitudes as well. Research has shown that holding a cup of warm coffee makes people more affectionate, and portraying people in physically high locations makes them seem more powerful.

Now newer research is beginning to find that these metaphors are much more common than we might imagine — and that they work in both directions, from abstract emotions and concepts to concrete things, and back.

How to Be More Assertive at Work

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

7 Tips for Setting Boundaries At WorkWe’ve all had days or weeks or months at our jobs where we feel like we’re being taken advantage of. You know the feeling: if it doesn’t come in getting passed over for an opportunity, it comes at the hands of either your boss or coworkers not giving you the respect you think you deserve.

You’ve also come up with reasons why these things happen. Sometimes it’s because Jerry from the art department is a brownnoser. Sometimes it’s because of your bad luck and the notion that you just can’t catch a break. Overall, though, you just wish you could be more assertive.

Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule is Proven Bunk

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule is Proven BunkAh, poor Malcolm Gladwell. Apparently research has caught up to one of his proclamations that people needed about 10,000 hours of practice to become an amazing expert in that field. Never mind that he based his proclamation largely on a single study of musicians from 1993.

His Outliers book is full of such nonsense, as I noted in 2008 after the book was published. It’s filled with obvious platitudes… such as the fact that success often takes luck as much as it does practice — and social advantage.

Now, new research has put the final nail into the coffin of Gladwell’s slick and silly 10,000 hour rule. The new research shows, in my opinion, that the 10,000 rule is nothing more than bunk.

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