Brain Blogger

Lucid Dreaming Can Improve Physical Skills, Scientists Say


Can we significantly improve physical skills by practicing them while we sleep? Yes, scientists say. New research published in the Journal of Sports Sciences confirms that practicing motor skills while lucid dreaming can lead to real life improvements in skill performance that can be equivalent to practice in waking life.

Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer becomes aware that he or she is actually dreaming. This awareness typically comes hand in hand with greater control of what one’s dream self is doing, as well as the content of the dream.

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Anorexia

Eating Disorders: Learning to Be Okay in the Rain

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy looks like a pyramid, with each level building on the one below it. The very bottom, basic need a person must fulfill is entitled the "physiological needs." A component within the physiological needs is food, i.e. eating. So, this may pose a thought for some: Why, if food were available, not scarce, would this basic need in life be so hard for some people to act upon?

This leads us to the question: What is an eating disorder?
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: October 8, 2016


If the image didn't give it away...today is my birthday!

I've been celebrating since last night -- not because I'm a person who likes a big deal made out of her birthday, but because I have family members and friends who love me and want to celebrate life with me.

I'm blessed, and I'm eternally grateful for it.

So, while I take a break this morning and check out What Science Has to Say About Being in Your 30s (much of which I'm pretty used to at this point, I'm sure), why don't you check out some of this week's latest in mental health news such as how psychology explains our fear of clowns, how we're sabotaging ourselves during the pursuit of happiness, how our personalities can help us choose the best careers, and more!

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Health-related

How Do You Spot a Narcissist on Facebook?

Narcissists tend to use Facebook for validation, posting about their accomplishments including their diet and fitness routine, according to researchers at Brunel University London.

I do it. In fact, I do it all the time. I post to Facebook about how I worked out early or how great I'm doing at my fitness routine.

I share these posts because you wouldn't think I do any kind of fitness, and because I want to encourage myself to continue to exercise. I'm sort of accepting my body and body-shaming myself at the same time.
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Books

3 Ways to Navigate the Emotional Side of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous time. You’re growing a baby for goodness’ sake. And for many moms-to-be, it’s also a tough time. There are the physical symptoms—marathon-level fatigue, nausea, heartburn, appetite loss—which ensure that you don’t feel like yourself. The days might be limping by, and all you want to do is spend hours on the couch, vegging out.

There also are the emotional symptoms. You might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated and sad—all in one day or all in one hour. It can feel like 500 different concerns are running through your mind (and heart). There are just so many unknowns and question marks. And what-ifs. Is my baby OK? Will I be able to carry him or her to term? Are my symptoms normal? What will labor really feel like? What if I can’t handle it? Should I get an epidural? What if I need a C-section? What will I do with work? Daycare?
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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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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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Brain and Behavior

The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

It doesn’t take an encounter with a bear or a threatening gun to trigger symptoms of the fight or flight response. I experienced similar phenomena when undergoing a consultation with a surgeon for an elective, life-altering surgery.

Her bedside manner exuded a cold, indifferent and detached attitude. With barely a glance at me, she entered the consulting room and settled into her chair. A few perfunctory questions and she did her due diligence by rattling off the risks involved with a robotic monotone that had been programmed into her. A few hasty and superficial parting words and the meeting ended abruptly.

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Brain and Behavior

Brain-Savvy Dieting: Count Joy Points Not Calories

The command central for weight loss is not the the thinking part of our brain, the part that learns what we should eat. It’s the emotional brain, the part of us that unleashes strong emotional drives to overeat. The breakthrough in a brain-based approach to weight management, emotional brain training (EBT), is to take control of our emotional brain to turn off those drives, so we can eat less because we want less food.

If you hold your ears with your fingers splayed, your holding your
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General

5 Hidden Benefits of a Good Massage

Aside from the fact that a good massage makes you feel better, what are some of the other benefits to this practice? As a longtime advocate for massage, I decided to delve into its not-as-well-known aspects to see what else it offers beside a well-spent hour on the table. What I discovered are the following five hidden benefits of a good massage.

Massage loosens muscles

Being in physical therapy for a recent low back pain episode means I’m working muscles that have not seen regular activity for some time. That results in soreness that proves I’m doing things right, but it’s also a little uncomfortable.
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Health-related

A Letter to My Body After Surgery

“I’m nervous. I’m pretty much always nervous,” I repeatedly told every doctor and nurse who asked me how I was doing before my surgery.

When you're 32 and your pre-op nurse describes you as healthy, it doesn’t dispel all the thoughts that fill your head as you stare at the drop ceiling tiles at the surgery center. “Is this real? How is this my life? What am I doing here?” Those are the kinds of thoughts that usually precede a panic attack for me. But I breathed deeply and stayed in the moment. “Soon this will be over,” I told myself, “and then you can finally eat something today.”
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