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..
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Autistic Children Sensitive to Stereotypes

 

autism awareness

Autism is treatable

  Children with autism, who are unable to grasp the mental states of others, can nonetheless identify with conventional stereotypes based on a person’s race and sex, researchers report in the June 19th issue of Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

 “Even with their limited capacities for social interaction and their apparent inability to orient to social stimuli, these autistic kids pick up and endorse social stereotypes as readily as normally developing kids,” said Lawrence Hirschfeld “One take-away point is that stereotypes are very easy to learn and very robust. They don’t require higher order attention, or apparently even attention to social stimuli, to develop. Stereotypes can be learned even in the face of damage to the ‘social brain’ and under extraordinarily constrained conditions.”

 The profound inability of children with autism to engage in everyday social interaction, as well as impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication, had been attributed to a severe delay in “theory of mind” (ToM) development—the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own. If the use of stereotypes and mental states were part and parcel of the same underlying cognitive process, then autistic children would have similar difficulties with both.

 In fact, the researchers found that autistic children who have a verbal age between 6 and 7 years—and who fail ToM tasks—know and use gender and race stereotypes just like normal children. Hirschfeld said he suspects the stereotypes originate within subtle and seemingly incidental messages that saturate the culture—for example, through advertising or biased attention by the media. The kids might also learn about stereotypes from parental behaviors, such as locking car doors when in certain neighborhoods, even if parents carefully monitor what they say about race to their children.

 Stereotypes are not inherently negative, he said. “We wouldn’t be able to think without social categories,” he said. “Stereotypical roles are important for navigating everyday interactions. Finding a plumber would be difficult if we thought of people only as unique individuals. Getting through the check-out line would be unwieldy if we didn’t have simple scripts about the roles that both shoppers and cashiers play.”

 The results suggest that different kinds of social reasoning occur through independent mechanisms in all people. The autistic children’s surprising ability to recognize broad categories of people might also lead to new methods for helping them improve their ability to function in society, he said.

 Caregivers today often attempt to teach children with autism ToM skills, particularly techniques that make them more sensitive to other people’s mental states. Capitalizing on the kids’ strengths in understanding social categories might offer an alternative and easier learning method for interpreting the behavior of others, one that doesn’t involve “swimming upstream,” Hirschfeld said.

A couple of programs that may help categorize emotion are available. The first one is free  and focuses on positivity which may help if the person needing training is sad or has anger problems and the second one is reasonably priced and an excellent tool for learning emotion for normal and autistic individuals . This can be trial tried online with no sign up. It is important to stress that people with autism are individual people who have autism and different paths will work depending on their individual qualities

If you live in Florida in the Broward or West Plam Beach Areas. There is a brain optimization center in Boca Raton where autistic children and adults have been successfully treated. It is called Sparks of Genius

I-Phone New Favorite Apps

Mycalmbeat

Mycalmbeat your road to bio-health!

By Amy Price PhD

Brain Resource Company recently released MyCalmBeat. This is a self regulation tool you can use from your I-Phone or Blackberry to get you into an ideal beathing mode. Try it! Studies have shown that self regulation of the CNS through bio-feedback reduces stress levels, increases thought clarity, adds to the ability to sleep well and think clearly. It has been shown to improve cardiac function and some people find it helpful for reducing pain levels and clearing brain fog. Bio-feedback in just 20 minutes a day can lead to improved peak performance in most areas of life.

 The Dana Foundation has a great free i-phone app called 3DBrain. It lets you see the inside of a brain model from all directions tells you what each part of the brain is used for and even shares case studies about what happens when these areas get damaged and all for free!

Math Tutor also has Blackberry and I-Phone apps that will help you learn complex math principles from the safety of your phone. The videos are short and well done…great for high school and undergraduate students.

HHMI has some terrific videos and podcasts as does the Dana Foundation. Happy downloading!

Art Wires Brain for Success Model

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself-Evian Gordon

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself Dr.Evian Gordon

By Amy Price PhD

The Brain Revolution is an international project which focuses on enabling children in impoverished areas to develop their brain potential. Many children are handicapped by cognitive deficits sustained during malaria bouts, AIDs infection,  dysentery, typhoid and poor nutrition. Even when these children were offered educational opportunities they were unable to take advantage of them until now because of delayed cognitive function

Young brains can recover much of what is lost through specialized training which encourages neuroplasticity or the restructuring of new learning patterns. Art partners with computerized brain training and personal mentoring to increase goal centered vision and learning potential. Art develops procedural and conceptual memory and in so doing can magnify a child’s sense of self and enhance their ability to negotiate the boundaries of the world that surrounds them. Art allows children to express passion, conflict and joy for which words are insufficient with dignity and privacy. Positioning children for inner success equips them to back themselves. The Brain Revolution provides transformation from the inside out by empowering children to celebrate their destinies. 

My husband and I were privileged to attend the Brain Art Exhibition of  Dr. Evian Gordon who is an international thought leader in the area of brain function and integrative neuroscience.  The photograph is me with Dr Gordon and his painting  ‘Fighting for Self ‘ This painting plus others and his excellent book Brain Revolution can be viewed and purchased here. Proceeds go to the Brain Revolution which is a non profit organization to empower children and the development of their brains.

I see this combination of computer training, mentoring and art as a significant therapy for people of all ages including those with other cognitive needs or for all of us who choose brain optimization

IQ, Poverty and Culture

Change Ethnic Poverty

Change Ethnic Poverty

Students of African American and Hispanic background were recently part of a pilot project using a novel system of cognitive assessment to assess children’s learning potential. It was developed by Professor Reuven Feuerstein. The assessment consists of a battery of six to eight tests which measure abstract thinking, analogies, and qualitative thinking and are not culturally-biased.

“Nationally, African American students are identified as educationally mentally retarded twice as often as their white peers; and African Americans are identified as emotionally/behaviorally disordered one and a half times as often as their white peers. The actual number of these “BD” (Behavioral Disorder) diagnoses has increased by 500% between 1974 and 1998.”

Dr. Eric Cooper, President of the National Urban Alliance notes how unfortunate it is that “misdiagnosis of special education status has been used to place a significant number of children of color into programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement.”

Professor Feuerstein agrees and writes that “Too often we give up on children who are labeled with learning disabilities, but my work has found that using more creative techniques to teach these children will lead them to the same successes that life offers the other children in the classroom. Poverty is not destiny and we can reverse major depression in a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results.”

Feuerstein’s theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability “views the human organism as open, adaptive and amenable for change. The aim of this approach is to modify the individual, emphasizing autonomous and self-regulated change. Intelligence is viewed as a propensity of the organism to modify itself when confronted with the need to do so. Intelligence is defined as a changeable state rather than an immutable trait.”

Feuerstein’s claim that “poverty is not destiny” and that we can improve a child’s cognitive development and realize impressive results is profoundly important. He asserts that the benefits to all of society cannot be overstated.

Let me give one example. It has been proposed by Dr. Paul Nussbaum that learning may act as a potential vaccine again Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain.

If we begin to think of learning as a process that improves health, like nutrition and exercise, then all students need to maximize their cognitive development. If tens and hundreds of thousands of poor children are placed in programs that doom them to a life of low expectations and low achievement and learning does act as a vaccine against age-related neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, we are accelerating the rate of dementias.

Childhood poverty has already been linked to dementia. Author of the research, Dr Moceri, said that “a poor quality childhood environment could prevent the brain from reaching a complete level of maturation.” The areas of the brain that show the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s are the one that take the longest time to mature during childhood and adolescence.

There are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s. This means that every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s. The indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually. Feuerstein’s International Center for the Enhancement of Learning works with children throughout the world. Plans are underway to start implementing the partnership in 20 U.S. cities. Educators, policy makers and journalists should follow the story carefully.

–Dr. Rohn Kessler

CEO and Founder Sparks Of Genius

Vision and The Paranoia Switch

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

Thoughts are Seeds of Destiny

By Dr Rohn Kessler

 

In The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hahn writes about five spiritual powers that are the foundation of happiness—faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. Let’s focus on diligence, the notion that can train ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Imagine that we have seeds in our consciousness such as joy, forgiveness, peace, anger despair and hate. These seeds can be awake or asleep. If you live in a positive environment seeds like anger, fear, despair, violence and craving are sleeping and not touched. If you live in a negative environment these seeds are touched, watered and begin to grow.

“So it is wise for you to choose a good environment that will prevent these negative seeds from being touched often. You should not allow other people around you to touch these seeds, and you should not allow yourself to water them.” This is diligence.

“When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence. The first step of diligence is not to turn on these negative seeds and not to allow the environment to turn them on…Try not to expose yourself to sights and sounds that stimulate the seed of craving or the seeds of anger in you…You need diligence to practice this, and you may need a community or group of friends with similar values to help you create a good environment.”

I was thinking of this while reading The Paranoia Switch, a book about how terror rewires our brains by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. She asks one question: What were you doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?

Dr. Stout claims we all have immediate and vivid memories of 9/11 that we will carry to our graves. “We will be able to recall small details—the weather where we were, what we had been up to but stopped doing, exactly which telephone we picked up—as if we had had tiny videotapes in our heads.”

She also claims that, based on neuropsychological research, the 9/11 attack turned on our “fear switch” by traumatizing our brains and causing overreactions to the reality of life.

The following is some of the information presented:
1) Immediately after the attack eight out of ten women and six out of ten men were depressed.
2) Three to five days after the attack, 44% of Americans reported at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3) Two months later 31% of respondents to a L.A. Times poll felt their personal sense of security was still “a great deal” shaken.”
4) One year later, 30% of Americans said they still thought about 9/11 every single day.
5) A study published in 2005 that followed the infants of 38 mothers who had been at or near the World Trade Center attack reported that at one year old the babies of mothers who had PTSD showed low cortisol levels —linked to being vulnerable to post-traumatic stress. In other words, “…maternal post-traumatic stress disorder may have transgenerational effects beginning when the child is in utero…”

What’s the point? The point is that “When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence.”

Diligence is the practice of training ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.

Dr Kessler is the CEO of Sparks of Genius in Boca Raton Florida.

Junk DNA gets a voice

  "Junk DNA"  Courtesy Crystal Links.com 2009

"Junk DNA" Courtesy Crystal Links.com 2009

By Amy Price PhD

 

Not so many years ago we were told as students that a very small part of the genome coded for genes and the rest was ‘Junk DNA”. The questions why? followed by what if  come quickly when I am faced with such literal statements. The answer they are junk because no one knows what they do brought cause for alarm in my view because I don’t know what a good portion of the human race does  yet I would not relegate them to junk. I countered with I want to know what happened when you took them all out…turns out that was not doable and I was relegated to the divergent thinker category and lectured on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

I later found a few people such as McClintock who saw this DNA may have value in the 1940s and worked tirelessly  to explore the DNA as a regulatory source for determining which genes are turned on and when they were activated (McClintock, 1965) Around the same time  Britten and  Davidson agreed and further  speculated the junk DNA plays a role in generating different cell types and different biological structures, depending on where in the genome they insert themselves (Britten & Davidson, 1969).

Recently, scientists from Princeton  and Indiana Universities studied the genome of a pond organism and found  that junk DNA or transposons may perform functions that are central to the existence of an organism. Apparently  these genes jump from location to location rearranging  the genome in a way that initiates growth just as McClintock thought. 

These genes are labelled transposons. In and during development, the transposons appear to first influence hundreds of thousands of DNA pieces to regroup. Then, when they are no longer needed the organism can erase the transposases from its genetic material, paring its genome to about 5 percent of its original load.

“The transposons actually perform a central role for the cell,” said Laura Landweber, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biologyat Princeton and an author of the study. “They stitch together the genes in working form.” This research  appeared in the May 15 edition of Science. (MacPherson, Princeton, 2009)

We are just now finding the science that existed in the mind of a researcher over sixty years ago and can watch revelation unravel as  science begins to explore how extensive the role of  junk  or as sometimes coined selfish DNA plays in  the circle of life….Sometimes just as in life it is those quietly working without accolades that are holding it all together who are the real stars!
Britten, R. J., & Davidson, E. H. Gene regulation for higher cells: A theory. Science 165, 349–357 (1969)

 McClintock, B. Components of action of the regulators Spm and Ac. Carnegie Institution of Washington Year Book 64, 527–536 (1965)

MacPherson ,2009 http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S24/28/32C04/ accessed june 27, 2009)