Dr. John Schinnerer shares the secret of the power of mindset. Numerous studies are pointing to the importance of the proper mindset in a variety of areas such as diet, exercise, aging, vision, success, intelligence, pain, stress and anxiety. Check it out!
From Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center…
Stress reduction through meditation may aid in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
BIDMC pilot study shows promise for age-related cognitive diseases
BOSTON – It’s well known that the brains of meditators change, but it’s not entirely clear what those changes mean or how the changes might benefit the meditator. A new pilot study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that the brain changes associated with meditation and stress reduction may play an important role in slowing the progression of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
“We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment – the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia – may develop dementia within five years. And unfortunately, we know there are currently no FDA approved medications that can stop that progression,” says first author Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, MPH, who conducted her research as a fellow in Integrative Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School. “We also know that as people age, there’s a high correlation between perceived stress and Alzheimer’s disease, so we wanted to know if stress reduction through meditation might improve cognitive reserve.”
The results of the study appeared online October 10 in Neuroscience Letters.
Wells, currently a neurologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. evaluated adults between the ages of 55 and 90 in BIDMC’s Cognitive Neurology Unit. 14 adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment were included in the study.
Participants were randomized two to one either to a group who participated in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) using meditation and yoga, or a control group who received normal care. The study group met for two hours each week for eight weeks. They also participated in a day-long mindfulness retreat, and were encouraged to continue their practice at home for 15 to 30 minutes per day.
All participants underwent a functional MRI (fMRI) at baseline and then again after eight weeks to determine if there were any changes in the structures of the brain or in brain activity. The neuroimaging was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Martinos Center.
“We were particularly interested in looking at the default mode network (DMN) – the brain system that is engaged when people remember past events or envision the future, for example – and the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for emotions, learning and memory – because the hippocampus is known to atrophy as people progress toward mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Wells.
Previous studies have shown that the hippocampus is activated during meditation and that meditators have more hippocampal gray matter concentration. “So the big question is, is it possible for MBSR to help attenuate the decline of individuals already experiencing some memory problems?” asks Wells.
The results of fMRI imaging showed that the group engaged in MBSR had significantly improved functional connectivity in the areas of the default mode network. Additionally, as expected, both groups experienced atrophy of the hippocampus, but those who practiced MBSR experienced less atrophy.
Tests of memory were also done, but the study was not powered to see differences between the two groups, though, Wells and colleagues previously reported that, “most data suggest a trend toward improvement for measures of cognition and well-being.”
“This is a small study and more research is needed to further investigate these results, but we’re very excited about these findings because they suggest that MBSR may reduce hippocampal atrophy and improve functional connectivity in the same areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease. MBSR is a relatively simple intervention, with very little downside that may provide real promise for these individuals who have very few treatment options,” says Wells. She adds that future studies will need to be larger and evaluate cognitive outcomes as well. “If MBSR can help delay the symptoms of cognitive decline even a little bit, it can contribute to improved quality of life for many of these patients.”
In addition to Wells, co-authors include BIDMC investigators Gloria Yeh, MD, Jennifer Wolkin PhD, Roger B. Davis, ScD, Ted Kaptchuk, PhD, Daniel Press, MD, and Russell S. Phillips, MD; Catherine Kerr, PhD from Brown University School of Medicine; Robert B. Wall, NP from the Commonwealth Care Alliance; Jacquelyn Walsh from Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Ying Tan, MD, Rosa Spaeth and Jian Kong, MD from Massachusetts General Hospital.
This study was supported by the Harvard Medical School Osher Research Center, the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC and NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) K24 AT004095. In addition, this work was conducted with support from Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health Award 8UL1TR000170-05 and financial contributions from Harvard University and its affiliated academic health care centers).
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide.
BIDMC has a network of community partners that includes Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Health Care, Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance, and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Senior Life and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.org.
To life, love and laughter,
Positive Psychology Coach
Anger Management Specialist
The Many Faces of Oxytocin…Augments Bad Memories, Fear and Anxiety as well as Promotes Bonding and Trust
July 22, 2013 — The ‘love hormone’ oxytocin has been all the rage in scientific circles for several years due to it’s involvement in trust, single pair bonding, friendship and love. Yet, recent research seems to indicate that the neurotransmitter, oxytocin, can also strengthen negative memories and increase the intensity of anxiety and fear. This is an entirely new role being uncovered for the fan favorite neurotransmitter.
Negative social situations, such as being the target of bullying, getting yelled at by the boss or embarrassed by a teacher, seem to be reinforced and strengthened by oxytocin. And perhaps, oxytocin may be part of the trigger for dread – anticipatory worry – and anxiety. This comes at a time when oxytocin is being studied for use as an anti-anxiety agent.
The reason is that oxytocin seems to strengthen our social memories – positve AND negative – in one particular region of the brain, according to researchers at Northwestern University.
If a social experience is negative or stressful, oxytocin seems to activate an area of the brain that intensifies that memory. Further, it seems to increase the odds of feeling dread and anxiety in anticipation of future stressful events.
Ongoing research seems to indicate that oxytocin also augments positive social memories and, thus, intensifies feelings of well being as well.
The findings are critical as chronic stress is one of the primary causes of anxiety and depression, while positive social interactions lead to emotional health.
“By understanding the oxytocin system’s dual role in triggering or reducing anxiety, depending on the social context, we can optimize oxytocin treatments that improve well-being instead of triggering negative reactions,” stated Jelena Radulovic, the lead author of the study at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The paper was published July 21 in Nature Neuroscience.
This is the first and only research to link oxytocin to social stress and its apparent role in increasing anxiety and dread in anticipation of future stress. Northwestern scientists also discovered the brain region responsible for these effects — the lateral septum — and the pathway or route oxytocin uses in this area to amplify fear and anxiety.
The scientists discovered that oxytocin strengthens negative social memory and future anxiety by triggering an important signaling molecule — ERK (extracellular signal regulated kinases) — that becomes activated for six hours after a negative social experience. ERK causes enhanced fear, Radulovic believes, by stimulating the brain’s fear pathways, many of which pass through the lateral septum. The region is involved in emotional and stress responses.
The findings surprised the researchers, who were expecting oxytocin to modulate positive emotions in memory, based on its long association with love and social bonding.
“Oxytocin is usually considered a stress-reducing agent based on decades of research,” said Yomayra Guzman, a doctoral student in Radulovic’s lab and the study’s lead author. “With this novel animal model, we showed how it enhances fear rather than reducing it and where the molecular changes are occurring in our central nervous system.’
The new research follows three recent human studies with oxytocin, all of which are beginning to offer a more complicated view of the hormone’s role in emotions.
All the new experiments were done in the lateral septum. This region has the highest oxytocin levels in the brain and has high levels of oxytocin receptors across all species from mice to humans.
“This is important because the variability of oxytocin receptors in different species is huge,” Radulovic said. “We wanted the research to be relevant for humans, too.”
Experiments with mice in the study established that
1) oxytocin is essential for strengthening the memory of negative social interactions and
2) oxytocin increases fear and anxiety in future stressful situations.
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology Coach, Expert consultant for Pixar
Author of the award-winning Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought (for a free PDF copy, visit Guide to Self and click on the book icon on the left of the page)
Guide To Self, Inc.
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280
Danville CA 94526
GuideToSelf.com – Web site
WebAngerManagement.com – 10-week online anger management course
DrJohnBlog.GuideToSelf.com – Awarded #1 Blog in Positive Psychology by PostRank, Top 100 Blog by Daily Reviewer
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@johnschin – Twitter
- Yomayra F Guzmán, Natalie C Tronson, Vladimir Jovasevic, Keisuke Sato, Anita L Guedea, Hiroaki Mizukami, Katsuhiko Nishimori, Jelena Radulovic. Fear-enhancing effects of septal oxytocin receptors. Nature Neuroscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nn.3465
I have a number of angry, male, teenage clients who use ecstasy, or thizz (which is a combination of ecstasy and PHP/cocaine/meth). I’m always on the lookout for new studies that highlight the physical, cognitive and emotional effects drugs have on people. Yesterday, I found out about a brand new study from www.ScienceDaily.com.
Ecstasy (Thizz, MDMA) Seems Prevalent in Danville, CA
‘ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2011) Long term users of the popular recreational drug ecstasy (MDMA) risk structural brain damage, suggests preliminary research published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Other research has suggested that people who use ecstasy develop significant memory problems, so the Dutch researchers wanted to find out if there was any clinical evidence of structural changes in the brain to back this up.
They focused on the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for long term memory.
They measured the volume of the hippocampus using MRI scans in 10 young men in their mid 20s who were long term users of ecstasy and seven of their healthy peers in their early 20s with no history of ecstasy use.
Although the ecstasy group had used more amphetamine and cocaine than their peers, both sets of young men had used similar amounts of recreational drugs, bar ecstasy, and drank alcohol regularly.
The ecstasy group had not been using on average for more than two months before the start of the study, but had taken an average of 281 ecstasy tablets over the preceding six and a half years.
The MRI scans showed that hippocampal volume in this group was 10.5% smaller than that of their peers, and the overall proportion of grey matter was on average 4.6% lower, after adjusting for total brain volume.
This indicates that the effects of ecstasy may not be restricted to the hippocampus alone, say the authors
“Taken together, these data provide preliminary evidence suggesting that ecstasy users may be prone to incurring hippocampal damage, following chronic use of this drug,” they write.
They add that their findings echo those of other researchers who have reported acute swelling and subsequent atrophy of hippocampal tissue in long term ecstasy users.
And they point out: “Hippocampal atrophy is a hallmark for diseases of progressive cognitive impairment in older patients, such as Alzheimer’s disease.”‘
It’s my deep-seated belief based on experience and a pretty good (really, just pretty good, memory is NOT my strength!) understanding of the literature that most substance use is a means to escape the emotional mind – feelings such as ennui, embarrassment, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, loneliness, alienation, excitement, disappointment, and heartache. One of the problems with ecstasy, or MDMA, is that it changes the way in which the brain perceives pleasure. Over time, the brain loses the ability to perceive pleasure without the addition of ecstasy. Without the ability to feel pleasure, chonic ex users lose the ability to ‘approach’ things they desire and increasingly ‘avoid discomfort.’
Lacking the ability to approach things they desire means that fulfilling activities are non-existent. So goal-setting and, more importantly, goal achievement, a major source of meaning and personal satisfaction, do not happen.
On the bright side, research has shown that the brain can recover rapidly, creating new neurons and new pathways. Changes in the brain occur every minute of every day. Your brain is always growing, developing, learning, and recreating itself!
My goal is to help you realize where you are, what you are missing (the hardest part), and to take small steps in a constructive, meaningful direction.
This is done through teaching tools such as self-forgiveness, mindfulness (sounds weak but is tremendously powerful), compassion, challenging catastrophic thinking, reframing, best possible self and more. By layering these tools one atop the other, there is a cumulative, additive effect wherby my clients become less filled with negative emotions (e.g., anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness) and more open to positive emotions (e.g., curiosity, awe, hope, courage, pride, and contentment).
All the best,
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.
If you are interested in finding out more, you can download a FREE copy of John’s award-winning book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought. It is awesome! Just visit, www.GuideToSelf.com click on the picture of the yellow book on the left side of the screen and enter your name and email address in the required fields. This will also give you access to a bunch of free anger management online video classes. What could be better in this day and age of falling economies, changing breadwinner roles, and political correctness and incorrect polititicians?!
Also, be sure to check out John’s offering on the latest proven tools for anger management at http://webangermanagement.com.