Recharge Your Brain with a Good Night’s Sleep

A late night at work, too many things on the to-do list, or maybe you were awakened by a nightmare . . . . . . most of us have experienced lack of sleep at some point in our lives (and for some, it can feel more like the norm than the exception). But, missing out on sleep can lead to learning difficulties, problems with motor control, and general irritability – it just makes our brain unhappy. So what exactly is going on when we do get a good night’s sleep that helps us feel so refreshed and clear-headed? Well,…

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Changing the Brain with Meditation: What’s Sleep Got to Do With It?

When a busy day is done, and you’re finally tucked in bed and fast asleep, your brain gets a break from that seemingly endless daily barrage of stimulation. For researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that made for an ideal opportunity to take a look at brain waves in their most natural, uninfluenced state. They wanted to find out if long-term meditation could increase gamma power. Basically, gamma is a pattern of brain waves that’s usually associated with perception and consciousness – as well as some plasticity-related processes like attention, learning, and memory. Under the guidance of psychiatrist and neuroscientist…

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The Brain on Long-Term Love

What activates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain, calms parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety, and is available to anyone without a prescription? Long-term relationships. Researchers Bianca Acevedo, PhD and Arthur Aron, PhD took ten women and seven men who had been married an average of 21.4 years and did fMRIs to look at their brains. They wanted to see what was happening in their brains while participants looked at photos of their partners. For a comparison, they also saw photos of a highly familiar acquaintance, a very close, long-time friend, and a less familiar…

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Depression, Anxiety, Stress . . . Could Mindfulness Group Therapy Help?

It can be really exciting to come across research offering insight into new techniques . . . . . . particularly when the method allows us to reach more people than we usually can. A team of researchers out of the Center for Primary Health Care Research, Lund University, Sweden, led by Jan Sundquist, MD, PhD, wanted to compare the outcome of mindfulness-based group therapy against that of individual-based cognitive therapy (CBT). They conducted an 8-week randomized controlled trial that included 215 patients (between the ages of 20-64) who exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. Participants were randomly assigned…

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One Powerful Trauma Intervention for Working with a “Fear-Driven” Brain

When we treat patients who have experienced trauma, we’re often working with a brain that’s driven by fear. So for practitioners, it can be essential to know just what part of the brain to focus in on, and more importantly, what you can do once you know where to look. According to Sebern Fisher, MA, there’s one powerful intervention that can help . . . . . . and it can be a resource for patients who are trying to calm a frightened brain after trauma. Check out the video clip (below) for more – it’s just 3 minutes. Click…

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Depression and Traumatic Brain Injury: Can Mindfulness Help?

It can happen in the blink of an eye . . . . . . a healthy person on the way to work is suddenly blindsided by another car, and the aftermath can impact not only the driver, but her family and friends as well. Months, maybe even years of surgery, physical therapy, care giving, and treatment may follow and, in the case of traumatic brain injury (TBI), lingering depression may result. That’s why Michel Bédard, PhD, and fellow researchers at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine wanted to look at the effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to reduce…

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