Positive Thinking Does it Work?

Positive Discrimination aids happiness

Moving Mountains One Thought at a Time

  

By Amy Price PhD   

Positive thinking can be effective  in the beginning to change  outlooks because we are using the mind to actively alter our internal environment and this requires choice and discrimination at the conscious level.  This response gradually gets automated and conditioned to specific symptoms of negativity and loses impact.      

 Response to our environment is often at sub conscious levels and this response can be heightened by threatening, or rejecting information. Negative information which is not optimally processed can perpetuate sensitivity to rejection and lead individuals to  develop low self esteem. Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem have an attentional bias for rejection and people with high self-esteem do not [5]. Imaging studies show that we process rejection in the same area of the brain we process physical pain. Negativity releases a bio-chemical cascade that derails our built in reward system. Suddenly we have a need for sweets and fats to overcome the pain. This is a short term solution that makes us fat, cranky and tired over time as blood glucose levels spike and then drop causing motivational loss, exhaustion and frustration. Positivity discrimination can train you to quickly and automatically filter the positive, beneficial things from every situation and keep your reward system balanced, strong and happy.    

Research indicates self esteem levels can be increased with training.[5] Positivity bias trained in targeted ways can boost natural dopamine levels scores and trigger reward response mechanisms. Oxytocin [1], a  neurochemical crucial for satiation . Flourishing or a positivity bias is characterized by four key components: (a) goodness, indexed by happiness, satisfaction, and superior functioning; (b) generativity, indexed by broadened thought action repertoires and behavioral flexibility; (c) growth, indexed by gains in enduring personal and social resources; and (d) resilience, indexed by survival and growth in the aftermath of adversity    

 Brain strategies that focus on discriminating positivity factors under speed conditions require visio spatial skills, divided attention, executive function and speed of processing.[2]Targeted Action games starve out negative flashbacks by competing for visio spatial and sensory processes using mental rotation thus minimizing PTSD or other negative  memory traces. Deliberate memory recall is left intact [1] Positivity ratios need balance as individuals   flourish  when positivity ratios are above 2.9 ration, while  disintegration occurs when positivity rations top 11.6.  [2] Positivity needs to be recognized as genuine to increase esteem and promote flourishing [3] Older adults with relatively high levels of trait neuroticism evidence impairments on decision-making tasks, Neuroticism  signals a greater likelihood of age-related neuro-cognitive decline. [4] Positivity discrimination can reduce negativity[5]    

 My Brain Solutions is offering a free trial of  E-Catch the feeling to help you to increase your skill at discriminating quickly in favor of positive input and decreasing your sensitivity towards rejection and negative events. If you have an IPhone or Blackberry this can be teamed with My Calm Beat for optimal heart rate variability. This link will take you to mobile solutions including E-Catch The Feeling for your cell phone. For more information on My Brain Solutions, the first integrative neuroscience based brain optimization program and a free trial please email    

  References:    

  1. Holmes et al Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4153.
  2. Fredrickson B, Losada M. Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist. 2005;60(7):678–686.
  3. Rosenberg, Et al ,Linkages between facial expressions of anger and transient myocardial ischemia in men with coronary artery disease. Emotion,. (2001). : 1, 107–115.
  4.  Denburg, et al. Poor decision making among older adults is related to elevated levels of neuroticism. Annals of behavioral medicine 2009;37(2):164-72.
  5. Baccus JR, Baldwin MW, Packer DJ.(2004) Psychological APS.;15(7):498-502..

Gain Ground by Building Brain Potential

By Amy Price PhD

Of the 1.4 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States: 50,000
die; 235,000 are hospitalized; and 1.1 million are treated and released from an
emergency department. The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an
emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

Major causes of TBI are: Falls (28%); Motor vehicle-traffic crashes
(20%); Struck by/against events (19%); and Assaults (11%). TBI costs the USA
approximately 60 billion dollars per year in care and lost productivity (Statistics supplied by BIAA)

Helmets are often proposed as a cure all. The problem is according to the statistical breakdown above over 50% of related injuries would occur from non helmet activities. Better immediate care and follow up would lessen the severity of impairment for a large proportion of survivors

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

Survivors report the areas they most need help are: Improving memory and problem solving; Managing stress and emotional upsets; Controlling one’s temper; and improving social and employment skills.
A mind is a terrible thing to lose…if you have sustained a head injury all is
not lost help is available .
The links above in blue contain help and information.

We are often asked how do I find a good treating professional? Ask your local brain injury association. Word of mouth is good. Check with healthcare facilities, neighbors and friends. Find a professional who will work with you or your family member to get results rather than just tell you to learn to adjust to the problem.

Many individuals have run out of health care options. They ask what can be done at home. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article about how people can be pro-active in retraining their brains. There is continuing research going on in this area. If you have a strategy or treatment that you have found helpful please let us know.

Here is a place where you can try brain games for free. This site is monitored by scientists from Stanford university who are collecting brain function data for a mega study.

Jig saw puzzles can help with spatial function. You can try these free from a simple six piece
puzzle to a 247 piece challenger
. Crossword puzzles can help with language and reasoning

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. – Albert Einstein

Fibromyalgia and Brain Fog

By Amy Price PhD
Photo courtesy of (Earthopod, 2009 )depicting pain areas in fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia (FMS) comes from three words, the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Another way of saying this is muscle knots tied by painful ropes. This condition is not amenable to the medical model so clinicians fell back on the old standby “It’s all in your head” implying the problem is generated by emotional instability rather than specific biological origins.

Fibromyalgia was tagged a syndrome (Fibromyalgia, com, 2008). Patients got mad. They refused to be stonewalled by ignorance or marginalized. Instead they formed strong lobby groups and started campaigning for funding and action (Fibromyalgia network, 2008). This resulted in research getting funded, better treatment options and social change. (CRISP lists 695 NIH funded projects since 2000)

Researchers are finding that FMS could be a disorder of the central processing system resulting in neuroendocrinal and neurotransmitter dysregulation (Bennett, 2008). The FMS patient experiences pain amplification because their pain sensors are slow to recognize pain but the pain they feel spreads across a wider area, lasts longer and is more severe than in a person without FMS ( Staud et al, 2008). Increasingly scientific studies demonstrate physiological abnormalities in the FMS patient including increased levels of substance P in the spinal cord (Helle et al ,1998), low levels of blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain (Kwiatek et, 2000), HPA axis hypo function (McBeth et al, 2007) low levels of serotonin and tryptophan plus abnormalities in cytokine function (Crofford, 1998). Abnormalities like these spell pain. This leads to losses in sleep quality, cognition and coordination, and to increased drug use susceptibility.

New research strengthened by the advent of physical evidence such as SPECT, PET, FMRI and QEEG is confirming fibromyalgia is a biological problem that may cause psychological distress rather than a psychosomatic hysteria pioneered by women as appears to be insinuated by Mcdermid et al, (2008)

New hope may come for some FMS sufferers in the discovery of the brain’s ability to regenerate dendrites a process known as neuroplasticity (Toates, 2006). It is possible that targeted brain and body training may alleviate the severity of chronic pain and cognitive dysfunction associated with FMS (Leurding et al, 2008)

Leurding et al (2008) demonstrates that in fibromyalgia both white and grey brain matter is compromised. Brain imaging studies in FMS patients point to alterations in regional cerebral blood flow (Mountz et al., 1995), in cerebral processing of sensory and nociceptive stimuli (Gracely et al., 2002; Cook et al., 2004) also in dopamine response to pain (Wood et al., 2007). Leurding (ibid) used these imaging studies as a foundation for neuropsychological tests to show that the changed state of brain matter leads to “brain fog” rather than psycho-social maladaption, drug induced confusion, or loss of sleep as primary factors.

Patients offered cognitive rehabilitation tools may improve mental function when these tools are offered before significant white and grey matter dysfunction appears. Neuroplasticity can still be of benefit after damage occurs but progress is slower (Saczynski, 2004)
Brain areas responsible for proprioception damaged in fibromyalgia may be modified by body awareness training according to a pilot study carried out by (Kendall et al, 2000). Targeted body awareness physiotherapy programs led to patient improvement in pain levels and functional capacity even when patients were retested eighteen months after treatment (Kendall et al 2000).
Kendall et al (2000) were dismissive of positive effects realized by stress reduction, hypnosis or neurofeedback training but other researchers such as Meuler et al, 2001 found these treatments were beneficial. FMS is not one size fits all (Bennett, 2006).

A trial of cognitive rehabilitation synergised with neurofeedback and cognitive rehabilitation is underway to determine how combining passive and active therapy can multiply positive effects. Participants will be tested at timely increments and their ongoing level of progress studied.

Another option is to decrease pain to restore function. This is where regenerative medicine can help with therapies like adult stem cell treatment and prolotherapy. Another option is a treatment called IMS where overly sensitized nerve points are reset using a medical system similar to acupuncture.

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