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By Niraj Chokshi Americans are among the most stressed people on the planet, according to a new survey. And that’s just the start of it. Last year, Americans reported feeling stress, anger and worry at the highest levels in a decade, according to the survey, part of an annual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 people around the world, released on Thursday. “What really stood out for the U.S. is the increase in the negative experiences,” said Julie Ray, Gallup’s managing editor for world news. “This was kind of a surprise to us when we saw the numbers head in this direction.” For the annual poll, started in 2005, Gallup asks individuals about whether they have experienced a handful of positive or negative feelings the day before being interviewed. The data on Americans is based on responses from more than 1,000 adults. In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day” prior, compared with just 35 percent globally. Statistically, that put the country on par with Greece, which had led the rankings on stress since 2012. About 45 percent of the Americans surveyed said they had felt “a lot” of worry the day before, compared with a global average of 39 percent. Meanwhile, the share of Americans who reported feeling “a lot” of anger the day before being interviewed was the same as the global average: 22 percent. When Gallup investigated the responses more closely, it found that being under 50, earning a low income and having a dim view of President Trump’s job performance were correlated with negative experiences among adults in the United States. But there still isn’t enough data to say for sure whether any of those factors were behind the feelings of stress, worry and anger. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26172 - Posted: 04.25.2019

By Dave Philipps Post-traumatic stress disorder has long been one of the hardest mental health problems to diagnose because some patients try to hide symptoms while others exaggerate them. But a new voice analysis technique may be able to take the guesswork out of identifying the disorder using the same technology now used to dial home hands-free or order pizza on a smart speaker. A team of researchers at New York University School of Medicine, working with SRI International, the nonprofit research institute that developed the smartphone assistant Siri, has created an algorithm that can analyze patient interviews, sort through tens of thousands of variables in their speech and identify minute auditory markers of PTSD that are otherwise imperceptible to the human ear, then make a diagnosis. The results, published online on Monday in the journal Depression and Anxiety, show the algorithm was able to narrow down the 40,500 speech characteristics of a group of patients — like the tension in the larynx and the timing in the flick in the tongue — to just 18 relevant indicators that together could be used to diagnose PTSD. Based on those 18 speech clues, the algorithm was able to correctly identify patients with PTSD 89 percent of the time. “They were not the speech features we thought,” said Dr. Charles Marmar, a psychiatry professor at N.Y.U. and one of the authors of the paper. “We thought the telling features would reflect agitated speech. In point of fact, when we saw the data, the features are flatter, more atonal speech. We were capturing the numbness that is so typical of PTSD patients.” As the process is refined, speech pattern analysis could become a widely used biomarker for objectively identifying the disorder, he said. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26164 - Posted: 04.22.2019

Maanvi Singh People coping with psychological trauma have a heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a large-scale study finds. Researchers used national health registers to identify 136,637 Swedish patients with no history of cardiovascular disease who were diagnosed with a stress-related disorder — a cluster of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, triggered by acute trauma — from 1987 to 2013. The team compared each of these patients with siblings and with unrelated people of the same age and sex, both of whom had a clear bill of mental and heart health. In the patients’ first year after being diagnosed, those with a stress-related disorder had a 64 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than their siblings without a mental health diagnosis, and a 70 percent higher risk than unrelated patients, the scientists report. The cardiovascular disease accounted for included heart failure, arrhythmia, stroke, hypertension and heart attack. The study found that those with a stress-related disorder were most vulnerable in the year following their mental health diagnosis: They had four times the relative risk of heart failure compared with their siblings. After one year, the patients with a stress diagnosis had a 29 percent higher risk for all cardiovascular disease than their siblings. Over the course of 27 years, 10.5 percent of patients with stress-related disorders developed cardiovascular disease — compared with 8.4 percent of the sibling group and 6.9 percent of the general population group. The study, published April 10 in the British Medical Journal, builds on a growing body of research linking mental health with heart disease. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26143 - Posted: 04.16.2019

/ By Dan Falk It’s been 30 years since Bobby McFerrin urged us, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” But it’s not so easy, is it? In the modern world, there’s plenty that you could worry about — but what should you worry about? If you worry about everything, you end up paralyzed with fear; if, on the other hand, you never worry about anything, you’re likely to end up falling victim to circumstances that you could have prevented. We should only worry about things that are likely to happen, and which are likely to cause serious harm if they do happen — and which you can take reasonable measures to prevent from happening. Lise Johnson and Eric Chudler have written a new book to help you navigate the worrysphere. Johnson is a biomedical engineer and a science writer and Chudler is a neuroscientist, and together they lead us on a tour of 58 things that one might potentially worry about, and try to assess how much those things are actually worth worrying about. The authors shine a spotlight on everything from caffeine, fluoride, and the Ebola virus to bees, snakes, public restrooms, and cruise ships. If it were only a list, I suspect they’d have had trouble getting a book deal — but fortunately it’s more than that. The authors have found a nifty way of presenting the variables in graphic form (what they call a “worry index”), displaying each worry-item as a circle on a Cartesian graph: Likelihood is plotted on the x-axis, and preventability on the y-axis; meanwhile, the size of the circle reflects the consequences, or the severity, of the issue. For example, a flesh-eating infection gets a pretty big circle — the disease can be fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, your chances of getting it are very low, so the circle is placed on the far left-hand-side of the graph; and it’s also highly preventable (with good hygiene and prompt medical treatment), so the circle sits high up on the y-axis. In contrast, although “medical errors” get a similar-sized circle, it falls in the lower-right quadrant: Doctors and nurses make mistakes more often than we might imagine, and there’s not much you can do to prevent such errors from happening. Copyright 2019 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26140 - Posted: 04.15.2019

By Paul Raeburn When the brain remembers, proteins in two locations deep within the organ—the amygdala and hippocampus—encode the memory until it is stored, or “consolidated” in the vernacular. Neuroscientists once thought that a memory, when put in its place, became permanent and stable. That’s a problem for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), plagued by crippling, debilitating memories that they cannot shake. “We wish that we could somehow target unpleasant or pathological memories and reduce their emotional strength,” says Bryan A. Strange, founder of the Laboratory of Clinical Science at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. During the past two decades or so, it has become clear that these memories are not fixed and unshakable. They can be manipulated in ways that might ultimately ease the suffering of patients, not just ones with a PTSD diagnosis but also those afflicted by phobias, depression and other stress-related conditions. Strange is among the researchers looking for leads to tamp down toxic memories. He and his colleagues reported in a Science Advances paper on March 20 that the anesthetic propofol can be used to alter such recollections, if administered in the right circumstances. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26064 - Posted: 03.22.2019

By Achim Peters Although our brain accounts for just 2 percent of our body weight, the organ consumes half of our daily carbohydrate requirements—and glucose is its most important fuel. Under acute stress the brain requires some 12 percent more energy, leading many to reach for sugary snacks. Carbohydrates provide the body with the quickest source of energy. In fact, in cognitive tests subjects who were stressed performed poorly prior to eating. Their performance, however, went back to normal after consuming food. When we are hungry, a whole network of brain regions activates. At the center are the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus. These two regions in the upper brain stem are involved in regulating metabolism, feeding behavior and digestive functions. There is, however, an upstream gatekeeper, the nucleus arcuatus (ARH) in the hypothalamus. If it registers that the brain itself lacks glucose, this gatekeeper blocks information from the rest of the body. That’s why we resort to carbohydrates as soon as the brain indicates a need for energy, even if the rest of the body is well supplied. To further understand the relationship between the brain and carbohydrates, we examined 40 subjects over two sessions. In one, we asked study participants to give a 10-minute speech in front of strangers. In the other session they were not required to give a speech. At the end of each session, we measured the concentrations of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in participants’ blood. We also provided them with a food buffet for an hour. When the participants gave a speech before the buffet, they were more stressed, and on average consumed an additional 34 grams of carbohydrates, than when they did not give a speech. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25987 - Posted: 02.27.2019

By Roni Caryn Rabin A sudden shortage of one of the safest anti-anxiety drugs on the market has spread alarm among people who rely on the medication, buspirone, to get through the day without debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Physicians are also expressing concern, because there is no information about when the supply will resume, making it difficult to manage patients. Shelby Vittek, a 27-year-old writer in New Jersey, fruitlessly called dozens of drugstores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in an attempt to locate the medication after her pharmacist told her the drug was on back-order with no end in sight. She ended up weaning herself off the drug, spreading her last three pills over six days to avoid having to go “cold turkey” before starting a difficult transition to an antidepressant. “I pretty much lost over a month of work, and have just started to feel like myself again,” she said. A 34-year-old New York woman who couldn’t get her buspirone refilled in January said she couldn’t sleep and had such severe panic attacks that she had to use Klonopin, a drug she dislikes because it is addictive. “I’m trying to take care of my anxiety, and it’s giving me a panic attack,” said the woman, a sexual assault survivor who asked not to be identified. A Pennsylvania medical school student received her mail-order shipment of medication last week with no buspirone in it and no explanation, so she scrounged around the house and dug up old pills from missed doses. Last weekend, the student, who asked not to be identified, was so anxious she could not leave the house. “This is potentially messing with people’s clinical stability,” said Dr. Dennis Glick, a psychiatrist in Greenbelt, Md. “When you have a patient with a complicated and balanced regimen, you really don’t want to just arbitrarily have someone come off the medicine.” Dr. Glick said he has been in practice for 34 years “and I honestly don’t recall issues like this interfering with care until maybe a couple of years ago.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25921 - Posted: 02.01.2019

A study has shed light on the neurocomputational contributions to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in combat veterans. The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, revealed distinct patterns for how the brain and body respond to learning danger and safety depending on the severity of PTSD symptoms. These findings could help explain why symptoms of PTSD can be severe for some people but not others. The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health. “Researchers have thought that the experience of PTSD, in many ways, is an overlearned response to survive a threatening experience,” said Susan Borja, Ph.D., chief of the NIMH Dimensional Traumatic Stress Research Program. “This study clarifies that those who have the most severe symptoms may appear behaviorally similar to those with less severe symptoms, but are responding to cues in subtly different, but profound, ways.” PTSD is a disorder that can sometimes develop after exposure to a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience intrusive and frightening thoughts and memories of the event, experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or may be easily startled. While almost half of all U.S. adults will experience a traumatic event in their life, most do not develop PTSD. One theory explaining why some symptoms of PTSD develop suggests that during a traumatic event, a person may learn to view the people, locations, and objects that are present as being dangerous if they become associated with the threatening situation. While some of these things may be dangerous, some are safe. PTSD symptoms result when these safe stimuli continue to trigger fearful and defensive responses long after the trauma has occurred.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 25912 - Posted: 01.29.2019

By Dana G. Smith SAN DIEGO—Robert King spent 29 years living alone in a six by nine-foot prison cell. He was part of the “Angola Three”—a trio of men kept in solitary confinement for decades and named for the Louisiana state penitentiary where they were held. King was released in 2001 after a judge overturned his 1973 conviction for killing a fellow inmate. Since his exoneration he has dedicated his life to raising awareness about the psychological harms of solitary confinement. “People want to know whether or not I have psychological problems, whether or not I’m crazy—‘How did you not go insane?’” King told a packed session at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting here this week. “I look at them and I tell them, ‘I did not tell you I was not insane.’ I don’t mean I was psychotic or anything like that, but being placed in a six by nine by 12–foot cell for 23 hours a day, no matter how you appear on the outside, you are not sane.” There are an estimated 80,000 people, mostly men, in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. They are confined to windowless cells roughly the size of a king bed for 23 hours a day, with virtually no human contact except for brief interactions with prison guards. According to scientists speaking at the conference session, this type of social isolation and sensory deprivation can have traumatic effects on the brain, many of which may be irreversible. Neuroscientists, lawyers and activists such as King have teamed up with the goal of abolishing solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25666 - Posted: 11.10.2018

Laura Sanders SAN DIEGO — Mice yanked out of their community and held in solitary isolation show signs of brain damage. After a month of being alone, the mice had smaller nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Other brain changes followed, scientists reported at a news briefing November 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. It’s not known whether similar damage happens in the brains of isolated humans. If so, the result have implications for the health of people who spend much of their time alone, including the estimated tens of thousands of inmates in solitary confinement in the United States and elderly people in institutionalized care facilities. The new results, along with other recent brain studies, clearly show that for social species, isolation is damaging, says neurobiologist Huda Akil of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “There is no question that this is changing the basic architecture of the brain,” Akil says. Neurobiologist Richard Smeyne of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and his colleagues raised communities of multiple generations of mice in large enclosures packed with toys, mazes and things to climb. When some of the animals reached adulthood, they were taken out and put individually into “a typical shoebox cage,” Smeyne said. This abrupt switch from a complex society to isolation induced changes in the brain, Smeyne and his colleagues later found. The overall size of nerve cells, or neurons, shrunk by about 20 percent after a month of isolation. That shrinkage held roughly steady over three months as mice remained in isolation. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25649 - Posted: 11.06.2018

By Karen Weintraub The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology. The link between high cortisol levels and low performance was particularly strong for women, the study found. But it remains unclear whether women in midlife are under more stress than men or simply more likely to have their stress manifested in higher cortisol levels, says lead researcher Sudha Seshadri. A professor of neurology, she splits her time between Boston University and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she is the founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's & Neurodegenerative Diseases. Working on the study “made me more stressed about not being less stressed,” Seshadri says, laughing. But, she adds, the bottom line is serious: “An important message to myself and others is that when challenges come our way, getting frustrated is very counterproductive—not just to achieving our aims but perhaps to our capacity to be productive.” © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25620 - Posted: 10.26.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar People with high blood levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” may have poorer memory and thinking skills than those with lower levels. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is involved in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, controlling salt and water balance and other body functions. Researchers gave tests for memory, abstract reasoning, visual perception and attention to 2,231 people, average age 49 and free of dementia. They recorded blood levels of cortisol and did M.R.I. examinations to assess brain volume. The study, in Neurology, controlled for age, sex, education, body mass index, blood pressure and many other variables, and found that compared with people with average levels of cortisol, those with the highest levels had lower scores on the cognitive tests. In women, but not in men, higher cortisol was also associated with reduced brain volume. There was no association of the lowest cortisol levels with either cognitive test scores or brain size. The lead author, Dr. Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, said that the study suggests that even in people without symptoms, higher cortisol levels can be significant. Still, he said, “This is an initial study. The next step is a prospective study before we jump to the conclusion that this is really important. It’s premature now to consider intervention.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25616 - Posted: 10.26.2018

By Concepción de León I hear some people have trouble with therapy, that it can take years for them to open up to their doctors, let alone cry or break down. Not me. Day one, I told my therapist, Amy Bernstein, “I’ll just tell you everything, and we’ll go from there.” I was assigned to her after revealing, during an initial interview to determine the appropriate therapist for my needs, that I’d been touched as a child. I hadn’t planned to bring it up at all, but I was asked directly, so I said, yes, you could say that. (At the time, I avoided the word “molested.”) And yes, it still crossed my mind. To be honest, what happened had always felt like such a small thing. Many others have had it much worse; I counted myself lucky for only having been touched in subtle ways — a male relative digging his hands in my tiny skirt pockets to “feel around for change”; another bringing his hand to my crotch when he thought I was asleep. These were two of a handful of men who violated me. Amy recommended books to help me understand what had happened, but I put them down after just a few pages, thinking, “This isn’t for me! My thing is too small.” But then, as tends to be the case with therapy, things got harder before they got better. I returned to one of the books Amy had recommended, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” by Bessel van der Kolk, to try to understand my visceral response to remembering. Dr. van der Kolk is a Boston-based psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder and has worked with a broad range of clients, from veterans to sexual assault survivors. “The Body Keeps the Score” hinges on his idea that trauma is stored in the body and that, for therapy to be effective, it needs to take the physiological changes that occur into account. Trauma produces “a re-calibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity” and, also, “compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive,” Mr. van der Kolk writes. For survivors of sexual assault and other traumas, the amygdala, which initiates the body’s fight or flight response system whenever it perceives danger, can remain activated long after the threat has subsided. In the present, survivors relive their traumas in the form of fragmented images, sounds and emotion that the brain can’t register as belonging to the past. Many people also experience dissociation, which can manifest as literal desensitization in parts of the body or the inability to describe physical sensations. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25590 - Posted: 10.18.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar Omega-3 supplements may help reduce anxiety symptoms, a review of studies has concluded. The analysis, in JAMA Network Open, concluded that people with clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders who took large doses of the supplement — up to 2,000 milligrams a day — benefited most. Researchers used data from 16 studies that compared omega-3 fatty acid supplements with placebo and three that did not use a placebo. Over all, omega-3 supplements were associated with significant relief from anxiety symptoms, but some groups benefited more than others. Omega-3 supplements did not ease anxiety levels in those without a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, on in adolescents under 18. And they were more strongly associated with reduced symptoms when the balance of two types of fatty acids in the supplement, EPA and DHA, was less than 60 percent EPA. The senior author, Dr. Yutaka Matsuoka, chief of health care research at the National Cancer Center in Japan, said that supplements may not be necessary. “Eating fatty fish that includes EPA and DHA is more natural. I recommend mackerel, Pacific saury, sardines, tuna or salmon.” In any case, he said, omega-3 is not a first-line treatment for anxiety, or a substitute for other evidence-based therapies. “But for patients who are not responsive to psychotherapies, omega-3 might be a promising alternative.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25564 - Posted: 10.12.2018

Jessica Gabel Cino Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who’s accused Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, released the results of a polygraph test focused on the decades-old incident. They suggest that Ford’s responses to two questions about her allegations were “not indicative of deception.” How trustworthy is that assessment and the polygraph technology it relies on? People have long yearned for some way to separate truth from falsehood, whether in high-stakes court cases or family kerfuffles. Over the years, inventors have developed an evolving assembly of tools and instruments aimed at figuring out whether someone is telling a lie. They’ve tried to incorporate increasingly more science, but with varying degrees of success. Society has often looked to instruments like the polygraph to inject some objectivity into the detection of deception. As a defense lawyer, I’ve had many a client tell me that he or she did not commit the alleged crime. But I’ve never asked a client to submit to a polygraph exam: It’s high risk, low reward, and the results – while inadmissible in a criminal case – are unpredictable. Just how reliable is a polygraph at identifying who’s lying and who’s telling the truth? Methods of lie detection have progressed from their torture-centric roots. Early techniques included subjecting someone to a water test: Those who sank were considered innocent, while floating indicated guilt, lies and witchcraft. Neither outcome was good news for the accused. In medieval Europe, an honest man was thought to be able to submerge his arm in boiling water longer than a liar. © 2010–2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25507 - Posted: 09.29.2018

By Jean Rhodes, Mary Waters In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, news coverage has shifted to focus on the storm’s destructive toll and the survivors’ efforts to restore their shattered lives and communities. But there is another side to the story that will go mostly unnoticed: disasters can set the stage for profound personal and societal growth. In August 2005, just before Hurricane Katrina struck, we were part of a team of researchers collecting data in 10 U.S. cities for a study of community college students. The New Orleans site consisted of mostly young black women, many living in the 9th ward, where some of the worst destruction and trauma would occur. In the midst of the post-Katrina mayhem we realized that we had a rare opportunity. We had pre-disaster data and could control for how survivors were functioning prior to the storm, so we were uniquely positioned to explore the long-term effects of the disaster. Over the course of more than a decade of research we have uncovered surprising findings about recovery and resilience—including that over 60 percent of the survivors have bounced back to pre-disaster levels of mental health.But perhaps most surprising has been the deep psychological growth that has emerged from the depths of despair. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25489 - Posted: 09.25.2018

Laura Sanders Mouse mothers can transmit stress signals to offspring, changing the way the pups’ bodies and brains develop. Some of these stress messages get delivered during birth, scientists suggest July 9 in Nature Neuroscience. Researchers suspected that vaginal microbes from stressed-out moms could affect male pups in ways that leave them vulnerable to stress later in life (SN: 12/14/2013, p. 13). But earlier studies hadn’t demonstrated whether those microbes, picked up during birth, actually caused some of the changes seen in offspring, or if other aspects of life in utero were to blame. Tracy Bale of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and colleagues subjected pregnant mice to stressful trials that included smelling the scent of a fox for an hour, listening to unusual sounds overnight and being restrained in a tube for 15 minutes. Other pregnant mice didn’t experience these stressors. Then, researchers delivered pups by cesarean section, so that the pups weren’t exposed to their mothers’ community of vaginal microorganisms, or microbiome. After delivery, researchers dosed the pups with vaginal fluid taken from stressed or unstressed mothers. For male pups not exposed to stress in the womb, vaginal microbes from a stressed mother changed the amount of certain kinds of gut bacteria. (Just as in earlier studies, female pups didn’t show effects of their mothers’ stress.) When those male pups were older, being restrained led them to release more of the stress hormone corticosteroid than mice dosed with microbiota from unstressed moms. And in the brains of adult mice that had experienced chronic stress, genes involved in metabolism and the development of nerve cells behaved differently depending on whether early microbes came from stressed or unstressed mothers. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25187 - Posted: 07.10.2018

Nicola Davis MDMA, the main ingredient of the party drug ecstasy, could help reduce symptoms among those living with post-traumatic stress disorder, research suggests. Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly treated with drugs, psychotherapies or both. However, some find little benefit, with certain talking therapies linked to high dropout rates. Now scientists have released the latest of several small studies showing that MDMA, when combined with talking therapies, could prove effective in reducing symptoms. “It is thought that the MDMA is catalysing the therapy, [rather than] just being effective on its own,” said Dr Allison Feduccia, co-author of the research by the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, a US-based charity focused on research into MDMA and psychotherapy, which funded the study. Feduccia added that MDMA affected levels of certain chemicals in the brain and helped individuals become more emotionally engaged in the therapy. The study is one of six that has led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate MDMA as a “breakthrough therapy” for PTSD and approve the next stage of clinical trials – so called “phase three”– which must be passed before the approach can be made available to patients. “We’re starting the first phase three trial [this month],” said Feduccia. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24931 - Posted: 05.02.2018

James Gorman The snow monkeys of Japan are famous, as monkeys go. This troop of Japanese macaques lives in the north, near Nagano, the mountainous, snowy site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Others of their species live even farther north, farther than any other nonhuman primate, so they are able to adapt to winter weather. But the source of this troop’s fame is an adaptation that only they exhibit: soaking in hot spring bathing pools. Their habitat is full of natural hot springs that tend to be over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that is apparently uncomfortable for the monkeys. It wasn’t until 1963 that a young female macaque was first observed bathing in a pool built by a hotel, with the water cooled to a temperature comfortable enough for humans and monkeys. At first, one or two monkeys joining human visitors were a curiosity , but eventually they became a nuisance and health hazard, and a park was built with hot spring pools at a comfortable 104 degrees Fahrenheit, for monkeys only. The monkeys have been a long time tourist attraction and favorite of photographers, and it looked like they were trying to stay warm. Only recently have scientists investigated this behavior by measuring levels of stress hormones and observing the effects of social structure. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24821 - Posted: 04.04.2018

By Katarina Zimmer Many of life’s trickier decisions share a common denominator: the options all have both pros and cons. This is what psychologists call a “cost-benefit conflict,” and it’s something that rats and mice in Ann Graybiel’s neuroscience laboratory at MIT face on a regular basis. Graybiel aims to understand how brains evaluate costs and benefits, and why the capacity to do so is sometimes impaired in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders such as Huntington’s disease, anxiety, and depression. Graybiel and her colleagues have pinpointed the specific brain circuit—consisting of prefrontal cortical neurons, neurons in structures known as striosomes, and inhibitory interneurons that suppress the activity of striosomes—that appears to control this type of decision making. In a study published last November, the researchers reported that chronic stress caused rats and mice to make riskier decisions than they normally would, and that the rodents’ motivations returned to normal with manipulation of this circuit. Graybiel has long been fascinated by the striatum, located in the basal ganglia in the deep forebrain. It was assumed to be primitive, “and not mixed up in any kind of terribly interesting behavior,” she explains. But that view has since changed. The brain region has many projections into the prefrontal cortex, is innervated by midbrain dopaminergic circuits, and is thought to act as a “relay station” between cognitive tasks and motor-related tasks. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 24743 - Posted: 03.13.2018