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Posts Tagged "stress"

Beautiful Minds

Are You Mentally Tough?

Parkour Training

Forty seconds before round two, and I’m lying on my back trying to breathe. Pain all through me. Deep breath. Let it go. I won’t be able to lift my shoulder tomorrow, it won’t heal for over a year, but now it pulses, alive, and I feel the air vibrating around me, the stadium shaking [...]

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Beautiful Minds

The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice

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What is greatness and how do people get there? Is greatness born or made? Is greatness the result of talent or practice? Few other questions have caused such intense debate, controversy, and diversity of opinions. The heights of human accomplishment have always fascinated us, and for good reason. The striving for greatness is a fundamental [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Turning Adversity into Creative Growth

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“I create – in order not to cry.” — Painter Paul Klee There’s little doubt that trauma can be immensely painful, often leaving deep emotional and psychological scars long after the stressful experience has passed. But can there be a silver lining? In recent years, psychologists have become increasingly interested in the positive life changes [...]

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Brainwaves

Why Feeling Anxious about a Vaccine Makes It More Effective (and Other Benefits of Short-Term Stress)

SAN FRANCISCO—Standing at a podium in front of an audience of psychiatrists, clinicians and scientists, Firdaus Dhabhar brings up a video of his infant son on a large projector screen and presses play. Smiling and wriggling, Dhabhar’s son rests on his back in a doctor’s office—perfectly content. “Watch for the immediate reaction,” Dhabhar tells the [...]

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Dog Spies

The Unexpected Dog Killer

Alison Kennedy-Benson permission granted Dog Spies

For some, it happens in the bathroom. For others, it’s the living room. All across America, as fireworks go off on July 4th, many dogs experience varying degrees of fear and stress. Some crouch and huddle in the bathtub; others pace, pant and whine in the living room; others wildly dig and chew; and of [...]

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Dog Spies

Would Your Dog Make a Good Cadaver Detection Dog?

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Sitting on the couch, with your dog curled up by your side looking ever-so-peaceful, maybe you’ve been overcome by the thought, “Gosh, wouldn’t Banjo make the most perfect therapy dog!?” Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to being a therapy dog than many realize, reminds certified applied animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell in a recent article for [...]

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Guest Blog

Aging: Too Much Telomerase Can Be as Bad as Too Little

How do I knock off thirty years from my age? Faust, the protagonist in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s famous play, poses this question to Mephistopheles in the chapter Hexenküche (Witches’ kitchen). Mephistopheles provides some pretty good advice – considering that he is the devil and this fictitious exchange takes place in the dark Middle Ages: Begib [...]

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Guest Blog

The Potential of LSD, Heroin, Marijuana and Other Controlled Substances in Brain Research

no drugs sign

Imagine being an astronomer in a world where the telescope was banned. This effectively happened in the 1600s when, for over 100 years, the Catholic Church prohibited access to knowledge of the heavens in a vain attempt to stop scientists proving that the earth was not the center of the universe.  ‘Surely similar censorship could [...]

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Guest Blog

A primatologist discovers the social factors responsible for maternal infanticide

Chicago’s nineteenth ward reeked of overripe fruit and kerosene the day Mary Stastch killed her baby. According to the Chicago Tribune on July 29, 1911, the unemployed single mother and recent immigrant from Austria left Cook County Hospital earlier that week and "wandered about Chicago for two days with the baby in her arms, looking [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Creativity, Madness and Drugs

San Diego—Would we have Poe’s Raven today if the tormented author had taken lithium to suppress his bipolar illness? Not likely, considering the high frequency of psychiatric illnesses among writers and artists, concluded psychiatrist Kay Jamison of Johns Hopkins Medical School speaking last week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Madness [...]

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Not bad science

Are pigs stupid? Perhaps they’re just stressed

The pigs in the enriched housing did better on the task

Pigs are one of the top animals consumed across the world. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, around one hundred million metric tons of pork were consumed that year, with 10% of this being in the US (although it does seem that overall meat consumption is declining). With so many of us eating [...]

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Observations

Major Phobias Might Hasten Aging

phobias might cause premature aging

Do you get panicky in wide-open spaces? Tight, closed ones? What about in high places or—eek!—around arachnids? If these fears are frequent or debilitating, you might have a phobic anxiety. And you would not be alone—at least 8 percent of Americans have at least one. All of this psychological stress could be taking a toll [...]

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Observations

Can You Predict a Monkey’s Social Status by Looking at Its Genes?

rhesus macaques in India

Rhesus macaques, which are some of the best studied of all monkeys, establish hierarchies in their social groups. Whenever two macaques tussle over a piece of food, say, or the right to mate, the monkey with the higher rank usually wins. Primatologists have established that monkeys of a lower social status are generally more stressed [...]

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Observations

City Living Changes Brain’s Stress Response

stressed brain in urban environment

Cities can be stressful places, and are a far cry from the sparsely populated landscapes in which our prehistoric ancestors evolved. All of that noise, traffic, pollution and crowding has a well-documented impact on our mental health. People who live in cities are more likely to have mood or anxiety disorder (21 percent and 39 [...]

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Observations

Stress tests devised to reliably reveal personality in birds

greenfinch from animal personality test of stress and behavior

Most dog and cat owners will happily describe their pet’s disposition down to the smallest, human-like detail. But how much of that is over-reaching anthropomorphizing and how much is an individual animal’s actual "personality" shining through? Researchers in the U.K. devised a series of tests to see how individual animals respond—both behaviorally and biologically—to different [...]

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Observations

Bush-league male mates stress out female finches

male finches can stress out females if incompatible

Whether they are finding love in a flock or a lab, female Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae) know what they’re looking for: a fit male with head feathers that match their own. And the females that don’t end up with a desirable mate are slower to lay eggs and wind up more physiologically stressed, according to [...]

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Observations

It’s getting better all the time: Happiness, well-being increase after 50

happiness wellbeing increase after 50 decrease stress worry anger

Despite weighty concerns such as aging, planning for retirement or caring for older friends and family, people in the U.S. seem to get happier with age. A new study reports that these changes are consistent regardless of whether individuals were employed, had young children at home or lived with a partner. General well-being (characterized by [...]

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Observations

A phone call from Mom reduces stress as well as a hug

mom phone voice stress hormone girl

A hug from Mom can help soothe a stressed child, but new research shows that just hearing her voice can initiate the same biochemical responses—even if the mother is speaking over the phone. The hormone oxytocin promotes bonding between mother and child and has long been associated with close physical contact (often through early-infant skin-to-skin [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Who Needs Stimulants for ADHD?

Ritalin. Courtesy of en:User:Sponge via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1970, 150,000 U.S. children were taking stimulant medications. By 2007, that number had risen to 2.7 million, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark of the University of California, San Francisco. In the video embedded in this post, titled “Do 2.5 Million Kids Really Need Ritalin?” Newmark analyzes the reasons behind the rise in prescriptions, which [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Benefits of Online Attraction: The Movie

Courtesy of Katsunojiri via Flickr.

Biologist Carin Bondar features my blog, “Meeting Your Spouse Online May Lead to a Better Marriage,” (and me!) in her video compilation of Scientific American blog network hits for the month of June. In her series, “The Headlines Have It!–Best of the Blogs,” Bondar also showcases blogger Felicity Muth chatting about her post, “Are Pigs [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How to Become More Resilient

person rock climbing

I clearly remember the day in the ninth grade that a classmate accosted me in the hallway of my junior high to recruit me for the high school debate team. I thought he was crazy. My heart would beat frantically at the prospect of answering a question in class. I could not talk in front [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

When Is Stress Good for You? [Video]

Courtesy of Ashley Campbell Photography via Flickr.

We hear a lot about the downsides of stress. Too much of it can impair thinking, harm our health and, more prosaically, put us in a bad mood. But anyone who pontificates about the risks of chronic stress would be remiss in not pointing out that some measure of psychological tension is an important (not [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Hear Me Talk about Social and Emotional Learning!

On Monday, May 13, at 7pm, I’ll be moderating a panel at The New York Academy of Sciences. If you are in the area, please attend! Here a description of the event: Social and Emotional Learning: Preparing Our Children to Excel Monday, May 13, 2013 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM The New York Academy [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Learn to Live in the Now [Video]

Being mindful means being acutely aware of what is happening now—rather than drifting into the past or musing about the future—without emotionally reacting to these ongoing events. Maintaining a focus on the present is associated with a variety of improvements to physical and mental health. Practicing mindfulness can also enhance key aspects of intellect—in particular, [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

The Education of Character: Jumping Jacks for the Mind [Video]

One of the hardest aspects of school for young children is in some ways the simplest: sitting still. Recess is the time worn antidote to such restlessness. But regular physical exercise is also generally important to academic performance—and not just for young students. It can help boost various types of cognition in kids into the [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

The Education of Character: Carefully Considering Craisins [Video]

Mindfulness, the practice of being present and in the moment, is easier for some people than for others. But it is a skill that many believe is worth cultivating—some say, starting with children. Preventing your mind from taking you into the past or future can, after all, be an antidote to depression (which can result [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

The Education of Character: Teaching Control with a Cotton Ball [Video]

We think of school as a place where children learn new skills and knowledge. Young people come to class more or less ready to learn, their aptitude and readiness determined by genetics and environment. They are motivated or apathetic. They are attentive or distractible. They are social or shy, anxious or calm. Teachers accept these [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Educating Character and Other Lessons from Scientific American MIND

Teacher and children breathing

I am happy to be breaking my silence of recent weeks with a preview of the September/October issue of Scientific American Mind. As the summer begins its slow resignation and people anticipate the start of school, our pages revive the ongoing societal debate about the best way to teach our kids. This issue of Mind [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Tiger Tradeoffs: Balancing Medical and Psychological Well-Being in Zoos

disney tiger

Among animal welfare professionals, those who work at zoos might have the toughest jobs. Keepers and curators at zoo must alternately serve as biologists, psychologists, trainers, chefs, janitors, and educators. Often, those hardworking individuals take on multiple roles at once. Another important job that keepers and curators perform at the zoo is that of gerontologist. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Rudolph Would Have Run Away From Santa

storefront reindeer

According to holiday lore, poor Rudolph was a victim of social exclusion because he was different from the rest of the reindeer. In a move that was lucky for nice (but not naughty) children everywhere, he was then approached by Santa, who asked him to guide the sleigh. Thereafter, according to traditional sources, all the [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Guest Post! Learning from Domesticated Foxes

Editor’s Note: While I’m on vacation, I’ve arranged a series of guest posts from other writers who routinely cover animal behavior and cognition. Today’s post, about my favorite domesticated foxes, comes from The Dog Zombie who blogs at The Dog Zombie. My own first-ever blog post on Scientific American blogs, last summer, was about these [...]

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