Epigenetics Might Help Us Predict How the Brain Responds to Threats

If you could predict how well your clients might be able to deal with stress, just based on a blood or saliva sample, would that change your treatment approach? There’s a specific gene that’s been getting a lot of attention lately because it affects how the brain processes serotonin – a chemical created inside the body believed to be responsible for maintaining mood balance. The serotonin transporter gene codes for a molecule that regulates the amount of serotonin signaling between brain cells, and it’s a key target for the treatment of mood disorders. It’s also well known for its involvement…

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Brain Science and Meditation: How to Improve the Brain

Stress is no joke. Aside from the sleepless nights and lots of tension, stress can also have a range of negative health effects. So how do you reduce stress? A team of researchers at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine started looking for answers. They gathered 18 patients who had received a diagnosis of breast cancer but were not in active treatment. Arguing that this was a population of people who were under high stress, researchers randomly assigned the patients to two different groups. One group received a mindfulness-based art therapy course, while the other received an education program…

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How Mindfulness Works to Help the Brain Manage Pain

Can meditation help you feel less pain? What if one week of short meditation classes could change the way your brain perceives pain? Fadel Zeidan, PhD, and his colleagues at Wake Forest University wanted to find out how mindfulness meditation affects pain reception. Specifically, they looked at the areas of the brain responsible for constructing the experience of pain, such as the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insula. Researchers performed MRI exams on 18 subjects while they applied a series of neutral and painful stimuli. They then asked subjects to focus on the sensations of their breath while…

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Could Mindfulness Affect Gene Expression?

I’m always interested to see the deep and lasting changes that can come from a regular meditation regimen… …especially when those changes can be measured on a physical level. Meditation has long been touted as a go-to source for stress reduction, and in recent years, researchers have been compiling evidence to back up those claims, even showing that mindfulness causes changes in brain structure. Some of the latest findings come from the work of Richard J. Davidson, PhD and his colleagues in Wisconsin, Spain, and France. (If his name sounds familiar, that’s because Dr. Davidson has been doing a lot…

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Using Mindfulness to Change the Brain: A Different Way to Deal with Pain

It’s probably safe to say that most people have experienced pain at some point in their lives, be it acute or chronic. . . . . . and many of us have heard the phrase “mind over matter,” but when it comes to pain, does it actually work? It turns out that there is a certain area of the brain that plays a big role in pain response. And according to Kelly McGonigal, there’s one simple way you can help client’s train their brain to deal with pain more effectively. I hope you’ll check it out. It’s only 4 minutes….

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Brain Science Has No Borders: Changing Brains (and Transforming Lives) Around the World

Brain science is one of the most fertile areas that we, as practitioners, have right now to help our patients . . . . . . from improving relationships, to strengthening focus, and turning negative experiences into positive ones, the benefits of brain change are astounding. And better yet, the pool of knowledge about neuroplasticity is growing every day – which means so many more life-changing discoveries are yet to come. Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from world-renowned brain science experts, and each and every one of them had valuable suggestions for keeping the brain in top shape….

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