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Archive for the ‘neuro tips’ Category

Yep! Sit down and be calm, it’s good for you! 😉

Although research has found that long-term mindfulness meditation practice promotes executive functioning and the ability to sustain attention, the effects of brief mindfulness meditation training have not been fully explored. We examined whether brief meditation training affects cognition and mood when compared to an active control group. After four sessions of either meditation training or listening to a recorded book, participants with no prior meditation experience were assessed with measures of mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory. Both interventions were effective at improving mood but only brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.

Scientific Paper at Consciousness and CognitionVolume 19, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 597–605

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Are we prepared for dealing with the prospect that humanity is not the end of evolution? TechnoCalyps is an intriguing three-part documentary on the notion of transhumanism by Belgian visual artist and filmmaker Frank Theys.

The latest findings in genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, bionics and nanotechnology appear in the media every day, but with no analysis of their common aim: that of exceeding human limitations.

In TechnoCalyps the director conducts his enquiry into the scientific, ethical and metaphysical dimensions of technological development. The film includes interviews by top experts and thinkers on the subject worldwide, including Marvin Minsky, Terence McKenna, Hans Moravec, Bruce Sterling, Robert Anton Wilson, Richard Seed, Margareth Wertheim, Kirkpatrick Sale, Ralph C. Merkle, Mark Pesce, Ray Kurzweil, Rabbi Youssouf Kazen, Rael and many others.

Preparing for the Singularity

In this 4 parts advocates and opponents of a transhuman future are weighed against each other; prognoses are done when we can expect the transhuman revolution and how people are preparing for it already now.

PART I

PART II / PART III / PART IV

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Some mother rats spend a lot of time licking, grooming and nursing their pups. Others seem to ignore their pups. Highly nurtured rat pups tend to grow up to be calm adults, while rat pups who receive little nurturing tend to grow up to be anxious.

It turns out that the difference between a calm and an anxious rat is not genetic – it’s epigenetic. The nurturing behavior of a mother rat during the first week of life shapes her pups’ epigenomes. And the epigenetic pattern that mom establishes tends to stay put, even after the pups become adults.

High-nurturing mothers raise high-nurturing offspring, and low-nurturing mothers raise low-nurturing offspring. This may look like a genetic pattern, but it's not. Whether a pup grows up to be anxious or relaxed depends on the mother that raises it - not the mother that gives birth to it.

The Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) Helps Shut Down the Stress Response

When we’re confronted with danger, the body turns on stress circuitry in the brain. Stress circuitry activates the adrenaline-driven Fight or Flight response and causes the hormone cortisol to be released into the bloodstream. Cortisol is important for freeing stored energy, which helps with both fighting and fleeing. But too much cortisol can be a bad thing. High levels can lead to heart disease, depression, and increased susceptibility to infection.

Cortisol also travels to an area of the brain called the hippocampus, where it binds to GRs. When enough cortisol is bound, the hippocampus sends out signals that turn off the stress circuit, shutting down both the Fight or Flight response and cortisol production.

Rats (and people) with higher levels of GR are better at detecting cortisol, and they recover from stress more quickly.

The Stress Circuit, also called the HPA Axis (for Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal).

Stress signals travel from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland and then to the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol (and adrenaline, not shown).

When cells in the hippocampus detect cortisol, which binds to the GR receptor, they send a signal to the hypothalamus that shuts down the stress circuit.

Click here for complete info

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Neuro tip #01#

We use many things that we don’t understand entirely; elevators, cars, and computers are just a few examples. The brain (and the rest of the nervous system) is surely at the top of this list because it is the seat of understanding itself.

Neuroscience for Dummies, Frank Amthor

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