Biology, Mind & Brain, Neurology, News

The key to patience lies with serotonin

(A) The picture on the left shows serotonin neurons in red. The middle picture shows neurons expressing light sensitive proteins in green. The picture on the right is an overlay of the previous two pictures, showing in orange light sensitive proteins selectively expressed in serotonin neurons. (B) Blue light illumination, 500 microsecond pulse, shown in blue line, induced spontaneous action potentials in the serotonin neuron for approximately 10 seconds. The yellow light illumination, 500 microsecond pulse, shown in yellow line, stopped spontaneous action potentials.

Either when someone’s late for a date or you need to queue in line, our patience becomes tested. Some people handle the waiting better than others, leading us to the idea that patience is a virtue that differs from person to person. But what is it exactly that helps us remain patient, and why do some people remain unfazed even when faced with hours, days even of waiting? The answer might lie in serotonin - one of the most widespread neutransmitter believed to influence a variety of psychological and other body functions. An imbalance in serotonin levels, for instance, has been linked with depression. The finding came after Japanese researchers at the …

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Breastfeeding improves mothers’ mental health

Image via ThinkProgress.

A new study of over 10,000 women has shown that women who breastfeed after giving birth have significantly lower chances of post-natal depression than their counterparts who didn’t. There are still many things we don’t yet understand about breastfeeding, as this study highlights – mothers who planned to breastfeed and were actually able to do it were around 50% less likely to become depressed than mothers who had not planned to and did not. The relationship between breastfeeding and post-natal depression was most pronounced when babies were 8 weeks old and started to lose its weight quickly after that. The research analyzed 13,998 births in the Bristol area in the early 1990s. Maternal…

Mind & Brain, News, Psychology

Common knowledge makes people more cooperative

Common knowledge impacts how likely we are to collaborate with one another. Image via Wiki Commons.

It seems quite intuitive, but scientists have officially proved it – sharing common knowledge with someone makes you more likely to cooperate with him. This provides valuable insight into how altruism works, and how groups can cooperate towards a common goal. There have been plenty of studies into altruism, but fewer have studied its lesser known “cousin” – mutual cooperation; that is, when people cooperate to help others, and themselves. To analyze this phenomenon, a group of researchers, including authors Steve Pinker (known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind) designed four games, which involved 1,033 people. The games involved giving subjects various pieces of information, from…

Mind & Brain, News

People fake it to look “real” on social media

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How you act on the internet and how you act in real life are not the same thing – and people often “fake it to make it” online according to a new study conducted by Finnish researchers. According to them, using social network sites (SNSs) almost always includes an element of fakery. They focused on two social media sites, Facebook and Last.fm, finding that users of both websites were concerned about maintaining an authentic profile. But they also reported a lot of profile tuning – intentionally sharing content designed to depict the user in a false way. “What our study reveals is a common belief that sharing content in a…

Mind & Brain, News

Workaholism – a new dangerous addiction?

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A recent study conducted by Norwegian researchers found that 8.3 per cent of the Norwegian work force is addicted to work to the point where it becomes a health issue. They show that workaholism is on the rise, and the odds are this phenomenon isn’t limited to Norway. The term workaholic has two connotations attached to it – it’s either someone who enjoys work so much that he/she doesn’t want to detach from it, or someone who simply feels obligated, and just can’t stop working – even though he/she doesn’t enjoy it. Workaholism is often (ironically) associated with a decrease in productivity, and significant health risks. But even with these…

Mind & Brain, Neurology, News

Poor cookware might be lead poisoning an entire continent

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A study suggests that immense amounts of lead are being ingested in Africa, since extensive use of cookware made from recycled materials leaks lead into the food. This is the first time the extent of lead poisoning has been assessed. Results suggest that in some instances, as much as 200 times the threshold amount for lead poisoning is being ingested. The health hazards following lead poisoning are numerous, most notably causing cognitive impairment. Better check that pot The Ashland University researchers partnered with the Cameroonian NGO Research and Education Centre for Development (CREPD) to assess the damage of makeshift cookware, typically made from  recycled scrap metal; including car and computer parts, cans,…

Mind & Brain, News

This man is playing the violin while having brain surgery. You’ll be amazed why

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This musician played the violin while he was having a brain surgery. But why? This is by no means an eccentric fad, but a genuine feat of science. By playing the instrument during surgery, professional violinist Roger Frisch was able to guide his surgeons toward the segment of his brain which was misfiring, causing him to go into strange seizures, where his hands would go into an uncontrollable shaking. There is no direct cure for his condition. [RELATED] Brain-computer interface restores brain connectivity The surgery is called deep brain stimulation. It involves doctors placing a tiny electrode in the patient’s brain, through which they sent small electric impulses. They then…

Mind & Brain, News

Regular marijuana use bad for teens’ brains

Marijuana (stock image).
Credit: © riccardo bruni / Fotolia

Marijuana has a lot of medical potential, but it can also have some negative effects, especially if taken regularly. A new study has shown that teens who consume marijuana regularly have lower IQs and exhibit slight brain abnormalities when they reach adulthood….

Mind & Brain, Neurology, News

The brain judges face trustworthiness even when we can’t consciously see it

trustworthiness

A new study adds to a body of evidence that suggests the brain is involved in a unconscious process of screening human faces for patterns that suggest trustworthiness or otherwise. Namely, our brains are busy judging other people based on their physical features even when we aren’t even get the chance to properly see those features. Hardcoded prejudice “Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived,” explains Jonathan Freeman, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author. “The results are consistent with an extensive body of research suggesting that we form spontaneous judgments…

Genetics, Mind & Brain, News, Technology

Computer games sometimes better than medication in treating elderly depression

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Computer games could be the key to treating elderly people who have been diagnosed with depression, but who aren’t responding to conventional treatment. A new study has shown that playing a certain type of computer games was more effective at reducing symptoms of depression than the “gold standard” – the antidepressant drug escitalopram. Recently, we’ve been bombarded about the positive effects that video games can have: they lead to brain thickening (that’s a good thing), they improve the players’ spatial perspective, they improve orientation and strategic planning,  and overall, gamers tend to be more educated and even polite. We were also lucky enough to get the chance to discuss the effects of video games…