May 27, 2014

What Does Pregnant Women Search (worldwide)?

Google queries indicate that pregnant women around the world tend to crave many of the same things: ice, salt, sweets, spicy foods. But searches (by anyone, men or women) also find differences among countries about pregnancy-related concerns.See the image below for detail.

  • The New York Times
  • Illustrations by Ayumi Takahashi
  • Analysis of Google AdWords data by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

May 21, 2014

Mind Wandering During Meditation Could be Good...

Directive or guided meditation, like mindfulness, see mind wandering as something to be avoided; whereas psychologists think mind wandering may be beneficial, even necessary.

A Norwegian study had some meditators practising directive meditation and others non-directive meditation, while their brains were scanned.

One of the study’s authors, Svend Davanger, said:

“The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”
“This area of the brain has its highest activity when we rest.
It represents a kind of basic operating system, a resting network that takes over when external tasks do not require our attention.
It is remarkable that a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even higher activity in this network than regular rest.

The study’s authors point out that the…

“…types of meditation that allow spontaneous thoughts, images, sensations, memories, and emotions to emerge and pass freely without actively controlling or pursuing them, over time may reduce stress by increasing awareness and acceptance of emotionally charged experiences.
“…mind wandering and activation of the default mode network in general may serve introspective and adaptive functions beyond rumination and daydreaming.
Potentially useful functions would include mental simulations, using autobiographical memory retrieval to envision the future and conceiving the perspective of others.” 

May 20, 2014

Impact of Lack of Sleep on Your Mind and Health (Infographic)

Recent +GALLUP Study found that Nearly Half Of Americans Get Less Than Recommended Amount Of Sleep.The below graphic is really shocking to see the effects of sleep deprivation.

(Click for larger image)
Impact of Lack of Sleep on Your Mind and Health

May 12, 2014

Just $20 to Become Smarter and Pain Free - Electrify Your Brain

I read this piece about DIY Brain Simulation on +WIRED and I’m fascinated by it. Being a geek and fascinated by human brain this was perfect material for getting me in to overdrive mode.

It talks about brain zapping, giving your brain electric shocks to stimulate.

Williams got the idea from a news story about how Air Force researchers were studying whether brain stimulation could cut pilot training time. The military is not alone in thinking that brain zapping may improve mental function. In recent years, the method—technically known as transcranial direct current stimulation—has caught the interest of academic researchers.
From +Wikipedia "Transcranial direct current stimulation works by sending constant, low direct current through the electrodes. When these electrodes are placed in the region of interest, the current induces intracerebral current flow. This current flow then either increases or decreases the neuronal excitability in the specific area being stimulated based on which type of stimulation is being used."
So in layman’s term you use a device to give low voltage currents to your brain. I knew little bit about electrotherapy but people taking it to this level (DIY) fascinates me.
Williams is one of its leaders. The treatments have made a huge difference in his life, he says. He retains more information from the tedious journal articles he has to read for work, and he feels more creative. On his blog, SpeakWisdom, he posts technically detailed reviews of stimulation devices and cheerfully gives advice to anyone considering trying it for the first time. He’s got lots of company. A subreddit devoted to the practice has nearly 4,000 subscribers who actively follow the scientific research and share tips on where to place the electrodes on your head if, say, you’re depressed, too impulsive, or just want to amp up your creativity.
Madge, who likes to memorize scripture, says the stimulation has improved her retention dramatically.
  • British neuroscientists have claimed it can make people better at learning math.
  • A team at Harvard has found promise for depression and chronic pain.
  • Others are looking into using it to treat tinnitus and eating disorders and to speed up stroke recovery.
While all above fascinates me, I still have feeling that this is all placebo effect.

May 8, 2014

Science Discovers How Wimpy You Are

Till now I was of the impression that pain tolerance is a psychological thing. Pain can be tolerated by will. It is widely believed that regular exposure to painful stimuli will increase pain tolerance – i.e. increase the ability of the individual to handle pain by becoming more conditioned to it.

But following two recent studies suggests that how much pain you can tolerate can be determined by Genes and your brain structure. This is fascinating because if you know you are born as a wimpy kid you can apply techniques to increase your pain thresholds. Also the doctors can prescribe specific medicine instead of one pain killer fits all.

Your Brain Structure May Influence Pain Tolerance

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that people with less gray matter in certain areas of the brain perceive pain more intensely.
Gray matter in the brain processes information, while white matter coordinates communications between different regions of the brain.

"These kinds of structural differences can provide a foundation for the development of better tools for the diagnosis, classification, treatment and even prevention of pain," study senior author Robert Coghill said in a Wake Forest news release.

Genes May Help Determine Your Pain Threshold

"Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels," study author Dr. Tobore Onojjighofia.

The participants were evaluated for the following genes: COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1.

The DRD1 gene was more common among those with low pain perception.For those with moderate pain, the COMT and OPRK genes were seen more. COMT was 25 percent more common in those with moderate pain than those with high pain perception. OPRK was 19 percent more prevalent, the investigators found. Meanwhile, the DRD2 gene variant was 25 percent more common among those with a high pain perception than those with moderate pain.

May 4, 2014

How Use of Technology Affects Sleep

I agree with the content of the infographic but not with the title. Why? Because it's not the technology which is affecting the sleep. It is the USE OF the technology is affecting sleep. 

If the tablet or TV or the Smartphone is not touched by a human it's not going to affect sleep. As soon as you use it, it could have impact to you or others. It's like a gun. The gun does not do anything by itself, as soon as you pull the trigger it has potential to kill someone.