Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

[All three posts in this series have the same introduction, but I choose info from each of the four science compilation sites separately for each post. This post focuses on gleanings from Serious Wonder and Brain Pickings Weekly]

INTRO: I should have been a research scientist. I love science. I’m extremely intelligent, determined, creative, and organized. I coulda been a contenda for a Nobel prize. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Why am I not a scientist? I had a series of misogynistic (one of my teachers hated the four girls in my advanced science class so much he would pith [paralyze] the frogs by holding them in the air directly in front of one of us so that each frog would urinate on our blouses), anti-Semitic (another one wore his “John Birch Society” pin to school every day, displayed prominently on his lapel; there were three girls in my class and he insulted each of us daily), incompetent (in an lab accident at his “real” job, this poor man had lost most of his sight and drive and spent each class time mostly ignoring all of us) and otherwise horrible science teachers in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades.

With better teachers in those critical years, my life could have turned out very differently. Those terrible teachers turned me so far off science I only took one more “hard” science course (because it was required, in undergraduate college), despite many more years of education, through getting a doctorate.

As an adult, I became enthralled with quantum physics, health/anatomy, nutrition, child development/learning and the multiverse/astrophysics, so I read. A lot. I also watch documentaries. I am not even close to understanding some of the physics stuff, but the rest I got quite adept at utilizing. To “keep up,” I subscribe to many science-oriented blogs and curation sites.

My favorites are: Science Alert, Serious Wonder and Cosmos Up. I also subscribe to Brain Pickings Weekly, which I include in the Serious Wonder post. I will excerpt from some of the “best of the best” of what I’ve recently perused. Part II is all from Serious Wonder.

I hope you enjoy! Go subscribe!


SeriousWonder.com

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Astrophysics and Quantum Physics/Mechanics
1. 9/11/14, Your Cosmic Address, BY STEPHEN P. BIANCHINI of Serious Wonder

When you were younger, didn’t you sometimes write your “return” address in a similar way? Well, now you have a more exact way to locate yourself…In case you send mail to aliens, for example.

“…[T]his is the cosmic address you may want to use: Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea,” in case someone not from this planet needs to know.

What/where the heck is “Laniakea,” and why do we not already know about it?

Astronomers informed us recently about “the large-scale structure of the Universe” which has “…four huge areas identified so far: Laniakea, its neighbouring Perseus-Pisces supercluster, and two other superclusters, Shapley and Coma, on the far side of the universe.”

Elmo Temple from Estonia explained: “‘[The name Laniakea]… is taken from the Hawaiian words lani, which means heaven, and akea, which means spacious or immeasurable.'”

So, time to re-do those multiverse business cards, eh?

http://goo.gl/9wPLOJ

  1. 2/1/15, The Absurdity of Infinity: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Explains Whether the Universe Is Infinite or Finite in Letters to Her Mother, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

It is so illuminating for the rest of us when highly intelligent, inquisitive people ruminate on deep questions and share their thoughts with us, isn’t it?

“In 1998, while on the cusp of becoming one of the most significant theoretical cosmologists of our time, mathematician-turned-astrophysicist Janna Levin left her post at Berkeley and moved across the Atlantic for a prestigious position at Cambridge University. During the year and a half there, she had the time and space to contemplate the question that would eventually become the epicenter of her career — whether the universe is infinite or finite. What began as a series of letters to her mother, Sandy, eventually became an unusual diary of Levin’s ‘social exile as a roaming scientist,’ and was finally published as How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space (public library) — a most unusual and absorbing account of the paradoxes of finitude.”

From Levin’s book/letters: “‘We’re all intrinsically of the same substance. The fabric of the universe is just a coherent weave from the same threads that make our bodies. How much more absurd it becomes to believe that the universe, space and time could possibly be infinite when all of us are finite.'”

Levin concluded: “‘I welcome the infinite in mathematics, where … it is not absurd nor demented. But I’d be pretty shaken to find the infinite in nature. I don’t feel robbed living my days in the physical with its tender admission of the finite. I still get to live with the infinite possibilities of mathematics, if only in my head.'”

Where do you stand on the multiverse as infinite-not infinite subject? I tend to veer way from her inescapable logic into the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, but where each of the versions of the universe so conceived is probably finite.

http://goo.gl/p6ucpj

Child Development/Learning
3. 9/11/14, Telepathy is now a Thing, Thanks to Technology , BY B.J. Murphy of Serious Wonder

It warms my telepathic heart-mind when tech geeks prove what the rest of us with E.S.P. already know!

“As experiments like the one above show, telepathy is a very real concept which need be aided by our own innovations – the creation of techno-telepathy.”

“Could you imagine what our world will transform into when our predominant means of communication is via thought? Everything will change fundamentally, from our markets to our governance.”

Then they have to go and ruin it, with scare tactics….

http://goo.gl/IIblvE

  1. 3/8/15, This Idea Must Die: Some of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Each Selects a Major Misconception Holding Us Back, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I ADORE this book, which “Edge founder, John Brockman, collected by posing his annual question — ‘What scientific idea is ready for retirement?’ — to 175 of the world’s greatest scientists, philosophers, and writers,” and the accompanying article/review. So inspiring!

Here is my favorite excerpt, based on the responses from one of my favorite scientists, biological anthropologist, Helen Fischer, “…who studies the brain on love….[She] points to romantic love and addiction as two concepts in need of serious reformulation and reframing — one best accomplished by understanding the intersection of the two. Fisher argues that we ought to broaden the definition of addiction and do away with science’s staunch notion that all addiction is harmful. Love, she argues, with a wealth of neurobiological evidence in hand, is in fact a state that closely resembles that of addiction in terms of what happens in the brain during it — and yet love, anguishing as it may be at times, is universally recognized as the height of positive experience. In that respect, it presents a case of ‘positive addiction.’…'[B]esotted lovers express all four of the basic traits of addiction: craving, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse.’”

And, even though this excerpt belongs in my post’s section on quantum physics and the astrophysics, above, I had to put it here, since it comes from this article:

“Science writer, Amanda Gefter, takes issue with one particular manifestation of our propensity for oversimplification — the notion of the universe. She writes: ‘…[T]here’s my universe and there’s your universe — but there’s no such thing as the universe.'”

An expansion of many of my own thoughts on a variety of subjects and more than I could ever have thought of on others await me. Gotta get this book!

http://goo.gl/7Z5Weo

Anatomy/Biology/Zoology and Gender
5. 4/18/15, AIR SHEPHERD: ANTI-POACHING DRONES SEEK CROWDFUNDING, BY B.J. MURPHY of Serious Wonder

I’m not a fan of drones (given most of their current uses, but this is a great idea! To protect elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species: “‘We fly drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have infrared cameras and GPS on them and can send back thermal images of animals . . . and poachers.’ – Air Shepherd.”

Air Shepherd‘s crowdfunding campaign deadline has passed (April, 2015), but the goal was not met and they would appreciate donations at any time: https://goo.gl/hfi9u1 for the IndieGogo page and more info, including http://www.AirShepherd.org for the website itself.

http://goo.gl/uaqlMu

  1. 3/8/15, The Best LGBT Children’s Books: A Sweet and Assuring Celebration of Diversity and Difference, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

As a parent, a bisexual, a feminist and a long-time educator, I am extremely committed to enlarging perspectives, particularly for young children. This list of excellent children’s books on gender, sexual orientation and other related “differences” whose authors embrace diversity in all its guises makes me very happy since it helps many who work with and raise children to find great reads on these important topics.

Plus, who doesn’t love Maurice Sendak’s books, regardless of your age and politics? We lost one of the 20th Century’s greatest writers for children (and adults) when he passed recently.

Books in this list were published in the 1990s and afterwards and range to one about gay penguins, a grandmother who speaks about lesbians to a granddaughter who asks, a prince seeking a spouse (not a bride, as it turns out), a gay human father and more. Each has excellent illustrations, demonstrates acceptance values, and provides the types of dialogue and storylines adults will be glad to read and re-read to the young children until they can read them on their own.

You might think this list of children’s books doesn’t belong in a post about “science,” but science includes advances in social and emotional health, right? Include these books in every library, school, daycare facility, summer camp and home and we’ll see a huge rise in the mental health of LGBT youth and a great increase in the number of LGBT Allies as well.

http://goo.gl/BNr6qJ

Health and Nutrition
7. 2/1/15, How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I am a musician. I come from a family of musicians. My son and his father are musicians. Many of my lifelong and new friends are musicians. I am currently helping two kids (ages 7 & 11) learn about music and to play the piano. I have been a paid accompanist, musical director and songwriter. To say I believe in the value of music would be a vast understatement, but this article about the health benefits of music encourages and uplifts me enormously, particularly since I am in the unexpectedly long process of recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/concussion which occurred over a year ago.

According to the latest research: “…[P]laying music benefits the brain more than any other activity…[and] it impacts executive function and memory…” which are two of the areas most affected in me by my recent TBI.

I love the way musician/author, Glenn Kurtz, explains in his book, Practicing, exactly in what ways playing (not just listening to) music improves our brains: “‘Because making music also involves crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians also have higher levels of executive function — a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects.

“‘This ability also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions — creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag — like a good internet search engine.'”

http://goo.gl/aF3y3z

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Look for Part I, published on June 1, which focused on info gathered by Alert.

ScienceAlert.com

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Next, look for Part III in late July, info from Cosmos Up.

CosmosUp.com

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Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

We have more than a year to go and the field is crowded and, to me, depressingly unfit to run for President in 2016. In listening to, watching and reading about the current candidates, I despair. So, I’m dispensing FREE advice to them. I hope they listen and behave appropriately.

Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

  1. Honesty. Seems obvious, but so far, every candidate from the two main parties, except Bernie Sanders, seems to be an inveterate, pathological liar. Bad start. Even worse are Presidents who lie to us: had way too many of those in the last few decades, right?
  2. Integrity. Also seems obvious. Again, sorely lacking in every mainstream candidate to date, except possibly Bernie Sanders. When is the last time we had a President holding office with integrity? Jimmy Carter? Pathetic crew we’ve had since then. Bums and liars, every one.

    See saw characterics
    image from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com

  3. Reliability. I want a President who can be relied upon to behave in consistent ways, espouse similar beliefs today as he/she will in four years and did four years go or more, and generally be somewhat predictable, while being open to learning and changing, when appropriate. Few candidates do exhibit this criterion, but it is fulfillable.
  4. Relatability. Have some qualities, experiences, life achievements that I can relate to, that we have in common. We don’t have to be exactly alike, but if a candidate has NOTHING in common with me except having a human body and being a parent, how can I believe that such a President would be able to consider and be empathetic to me, my circumstances?
  5. Advocacy. I want candidates who demonstrate strong passion, commitment, diligence, devotion and inspiration for their chosen causes, especially those that help people, geographic areas, other aspects of political life that have few advocates. I might not like what these candidates are supporting, but I would respect their ability to advocate and expect them to engage in advocacy successfully, when President.

    Characteristics
    image from http://www.viacharacter.org

  6. Ethics. This may seem redundant, but our Presidencies have been sorely lacking in all of the above characteristics for so long it seems we must be specific and particular, here. I want Candidates who hold strong moral positions and do not waver, even if those are based on their religious beliefs which I do not support or adhere to, myself. However, it is unethical for Presidents to impose their personal beliefs on the political system. I want them to know that and behave (and vote/veto) accordingly. “Separation of Church and State” is not just a bumper sticker. Marriage equality, anti-racism, compassion for the poor and downtrodden, equity, age/ability/gender/class fairness and anti-sexism are ethical positions my Candidates should also support completely. Do we have any like that, besides Bernie Sanders?
  7. Intelligence. Candidates must be educated AND intelligent. They must understand and employ science, logic, appropriate argument and rational thinking in all areas. A President must know what questions to ask, whom to ask, and when to say “I need more time and more information before deciding.” A President has to know whom to trust and which “research” is bogus. Is that so much to ask?
  8. Compassion. Kindness, empathy, sympathy, caring: emotional intelligence, or EQ, lead to and contain enormous compassion and are fundamental to the kind of person I want to run for President, critical for anyone actually getting elected. Not just for those “like us,” or for those we already care about, but compassion for ALL. That’s what I’m talking about. We have had many Presidents in the last few decades sorely lacking in compassion, with dire outcomes for us and the world that were caused by that deficiency.
  9. Humor. We really can’t have Candidates without a sense of humor. It’s not only boring, it’s scary when they can’t laugh at themselves, at appropriate jokes, at silliness. We need a President who isn’t afraid to be mockable, who will go on Saturday Night Live and be funny. Knowing when to be serious and when to be humorous are essential qualities for MY President!
  10. Health and Longevity. Here is where things fall apart for Bernie Sanders. What is the point of running if the candidate won’t be able to serve for more than one term? Not to be ageist, and I hope I’m wrong, but since he’s already almost 74, how could Sanders possibly serve in one of the most stressful, time-intensive jobs ever devised, as he goes into his early 80s? Serve well, I mean. Possible, but not likely, right?

Qualities
image from http://blogs.gartner.com

All right. If current Candidates (or future ones) do NOT measure up, BOOT THEM OUT! Demand better Candidates! Run, yourself, if you measure up!

“Fever-reducing drugs may help spread flu”: People End Up With More Virus In Their Bodies

reblog from post from a year ago: VERY USEFUL TO KNOW during ‘flu season.
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/fever-reducing-drugs-raise-spread-flu-study-article-1.1588812

I and my “alternative health” friends and practitioners have been saying for decades (centuries): FEVER is helpful. Let the accompanying fever do its thing, which is to kill the virus/bacteria, unless a fever is dangerously high.

IMPORTANT: Stay away from people throughout the fever period and for at least 24 hours after fever passes: then, you’re no longer contagious.

This and That

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Proven, Long-term Effects on Physical Health of those who suffered childhood Trauma, Abuse, Neglect and Bullying

In case you’ve been unaware of the last several years of research from all over the world, with children, adolescents and adults, some after 40 years since the trauma, they all come to the same conclusions: those who suffer childhood trauma, whether through abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic or neighborhood violence or being bullied by siblings or peers, have observable, lifelong negative consequences to not only our psychological but to our physical health. Traumas include war and threats of warlike activity, sudden natural disasters, neighborhood or school-site gang warfare and violent encounters of other types that children and teens experience, even if “only” as witnesses.

consequences of childhood abuse

image from http://www.acestoohigh.com

Is there any “good news”? Only a bit.

  • When responsible adults who have the power to act curtail or stop the abuse or trauma early on, some of the effects may be reversible.
  • If adults whom the victim/survivor encounters treat the traumatized child, teen or adult consistently and appropriately by supplying effective psychological therapy and immediate environmental improvements, an almost-complete recovery is possible.
  • When the child reports the bullying or abuse or reveals that domestic violence or parental neglect is occurring and the listening adults immediately take the child’s reports seriously followed by taking obvious supportive, preventive and/or protective actions, these responses also improve the child’s chances of developing fewer problems later in life.

Links to some of the research articles recently published are below. My favorite points are in this post. Thanks to all the researchers, reporters/journalists and participants in these studies who made these understandings possible.

May all abuse, neglect, bullying, domestic violence and other causes of childhood trauma CEASE in our lifetimes.

May all children grow up and be educated in safe, healthy environments.

20_circle_TLG network model_Lives of Children_24_07_08

image from http://www.earlytraumagrief.anu.edu.au

Sources and quotes:

I. Abuse Casts a Long Shadow by Changing Children’s Genes

By Eleanor Nelsen

July 2014

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/epigenetics-abuse/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=nova_next

“For abused children, that trauma is just the beginning. Most will likely struggle well into adulthood.”

trauma to early death pyramid

image from http://www.ascd.org

“Living with an abusive parent has increased their risk for depression and other psychological problems while decreasing their chances of successfully maintaining close relationships. Even physical ailments, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are more likely in adults who were abused as kids. Early abusive experiences can leave a stubborn imprint on those children’s brains and bodies, and Seth Pollak, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and head of the study, wanted to know how, exactly, abuse was changing these children’s bodies on a cellular level.”

“… people’s experiences exert a strong influence on their biology by silencing genes or turning them back on, significantly changing the way a cell functions without changing its DNA sequence. It’s a phenomenon known as epigenetics.”

“’Epigenetics makes the genes tick,’ explains Moshe Szyf, a professor of genetics and pharmacology at McGill University. Epigenetic changes modify DNA to keep genes from being expressed, and they can explain dramatic differences between cells with identical DNA—for example, how stem cells can turn into either liver cells or heart cells, or why only one of a set of identical twins gets cancer. It’s also, Pollak found, why children who grow up in abusive homes have physical and psychological problems that haunt them well into adulthood.”

“‘… something like parenting, parental care, was flipping the switch.’… trauma might be turning this stress-management gene off…”

“…for children in abusive homes, who are in threatening situations every day, having more cortisol floating around isn’t necessarily bad—at first. ‘You may need to remain vigilant more often. You may need to flip into vigilant state more easily. That’s keeping you alive under harsh conditions, but it’s also making it really hard for you to function.’”

“…The long-term results are the chronic psychological problems like anxiety and depression and chronic physical problems like heart disease and type II diabetes, which often surface years later in victims of childhood abuse.”

“… Having too few receptors for cortisol keeps the immune system from learning to manage inflammation and infections, helping explain why children in abusive homes seem to get sick more often, and are at a higher risk for chronic health problems.”

“’The idea that these things aren’t fixed is really encouraging,’ Pollak says.”

II. Bullying affects children’s long-term health, study shows

February 2014

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272762.php

“In the first study of its kind to assess the compounding effects of bullying over 5 years, researchers have found that a child experiences more severe and lasting health implications the longer he or she is bullied, suggesting that early interventions could reverse the “downward health trajectory” that victims of bullying may experience.”

“At any age, bullying was linked with worse mental and physical health, more depressive symptoms and a lower sense of self-worth. And students who reported chronic bullying also experienced more difficulties with physical activities like walking, running or playing sports.”

“‘Our research shows that long-term bullying has a severe impact on child’s overall health, and that its negative effects can accumulate and get worse with time,’ says Bogart.”

“She calls for more intervention around bullying, ‘because the sooner we stop a child from being bullied, the less likely bullying is to have a lasting, damaging effect on his or her health down the road,’ she adds.”

“…recent events may be more important than distant ones to a child’s health, but the team notes that health consequences “compound over time” and may stay even after the bullying has ceased.”

“… their findings emphasize the importance of stopping bullying early and continuously intervening to help with the lingering effects.”

Sally Ember wholeheartedly recommends the nonprofit USA-based organization, Community Matters, for their advising and trainings for improving school climate through research-based and clinically-proven effective bullying prevention and education programs, “Safe School Ambassadors,” for youth, school staff and parents.
Contact them (they offer programs around the world): 707-823-6159 or http://www.community-matters.org

Medical News Today reported on a 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science, which suggested victims of childhood bullying fare poorly in adulthood. Findings from the study showed that individuals bullied in childhood were more likely to have a psychiatric disorder, smoke, struggle to keep work and had difficulty maintaining friendships.”

III. BULLYING BY SIBLINGS ANYTHING BUT HARMLESS

compiled in 2013

http://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/behavioral-health-news/bullying-by-siblings-anything-but-harmless/

While other forms of bullying are commonly taken seriously and relatively well-researched, bullying between siblings often gets ignored or minimized. However, two recent studies call attention to the potential pitfalls of discounting the effects of sibling bullying. One of these studies indicates that children who bully their brothers or sisters take this activity less seriously than other bullying behaviors, while the other study indicates that sibling bullying can cause just as much mental health harm as other forms of bullying.

Risks associated with childhood trauma

image from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com

“…childhood bullying substantially increases the chances that an individual will develop a diagnosable mental illness during adulthood. These same risks also apply in magnified form to bully-victims, a term used to describe bullying victims who go on to perpetrate acts of bullying on others.”

“… more siblings (85 percent) actually identify themselves as bullies than as bullying victims (75 percent)….[T]his finding points toward a widespread childhood acceptance of sibling bullying as a non-consequential behavior that has no meaningful impact on the well-being of affected individuals. This acceptance also almost certainly reflects the attitudes of the larger culture toward the seriousness of sibling bullying.”

“…both relatively moderate and relatively severe bullying produce a decline in mental health marked by things such as anxiety, depressed moods and uncontrolled outbursts of anger. Moderate physical bullying by a sibling has a greater mental health effect on younger children than on older children. However, the authors found that all other forms of sibling bullying have an equally negative effect on both younger children and teenagers.”

“… current social tendencies to downplay or dismiss the importance of sibling bullying contribute to the problem and seriously increase the chances that sibling bullying and other forms of bullying will continue to diminish the psychological/emotional well-being of large numbers of individuals.”

“…pediatricians can help decrease the impact of sibling bullying by looking for signs of such bullying in their patients on an annual basis.”

IV. The neurobiological effects of childhood maltreatment: An often overlooked narrative related to the long-term effects of early childhood trauma?

by Jennifer Delima and Graham Vimpani

http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fm2011/fm89/fm89e.html

“… some current societal dysfunction may well be an overlooked significant consequence of childhood maltreatment, with its associated trauma effect upon the developing brain. These changes prevent and impair the ability to remediate disadvantage and its effects through purely social policy and justice measures.”

Acts of commission (actions against the child)
Physical– The child is subject to disciplinary action by his/her caregiver(s), with resultant bruising, severe pain, temporary loss of mobility, scars, burns, shaking etc. This may lead in some cases to more serious and life-threatening injuries, including inflicted brain injury.
Sexual – This involves the sexual abuse or exploitation of the child and /or exposing them to sexual acts.
Emotional – The child is subject to repeated verbal abuse, being sworn at or receiving hurtful and demeaning comments about his/herself. This form of maltreatment also includes the child hearing about violent acts perpetrated upon a significant attachment figure for the child.

Acts of omission (actions of failed care)
Witnessing family violence – The child hears or watches aggressive verbal altercations and/or physical violence.
Neglect – This type of maltreatment ranges from failing to provide basic food, shelter, clothing and care (including relevant medical care) to exposure to harmful substances. This is often labelled as “environmental circumstance”, but studies of documented behavioural features and neuro-imaging tests demonstrate that the resultant brain injury patterns are similar to those seen in children exposed to acknowledged trauma and maltreatment.
Sources: Chrousos & Gold (1992); De Bellis (2002); MacMillan et al. (2009)

“Neglectful acts have also been extended to include the exposure of children to cigarette smoke when they are motor vehicle passengers, although this does not yet apply to the unborn foetus. Exposing foetuses to harmful agents (teratogens) could also be regarded as neglectful when there is a known causal relationship between the substance and resultant structural malformations to the developing foetus (e.g., continued thalidomide use despite knowledge of its effect on foetal limb growth, or continued alcohol use with knowledge of its causality in foetal alcohol spectrum disorder). Such actions are neglectful regardless of the intent of the child’s parent, caregiver or other responsible adults.”

“The common factors in trauma or maltreatment that adversely affect early brain development appear to be those events and conditions in which the child experiences or repeatedly experiences, in a prolonged and uncontrolled manner, circumstances that they perceive as being likely to be significantly life threatening for themselves.”

They can use “non-invasive static-scan neuro-imaging tools, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) and SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography). More recently, assessment with ‘functional MRI’ (fMRI) has provided even further evidence of the impact that maltreatment has upon a child’s brain, including the assessment of not only structural changes but also the dynamic processes occurring within the brain as the child recalls or listens to an account of the varying types of maltreatment to which they have been previously exposed.”

“Maltreatment that comprises severe, prolonged and uncontrolled life stressors activates a prolonged biological stress response. This response is mediated through the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a system that describes the brain’s interaction with the peripheral body through neural (sympathetic nervous system) and hormonal (adrenal gland) tissues that regulate the body’s response to perceived longer acting stressors (infection, trauma, neglect, substance exposure, etc.).”

“The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to stress, especially with respect to the pre-frontal cortex, hippocampus and corpus callosum. Through prolonged activation of the biological stress response system, structural and functional brain changes occur. The behaviours resulting from chronic stress include poor self-regulation, increased impulsive behaviours, and emotional responses such as high levels of experienced anxiety, aggression and suicidal tendencies and, in some, a learned helplessness from the constant impairment of self-regulation.”

“…the response to chronic stress impairs the function of noradrenaline and dopamine within the limbic system and that this may account for the typical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms of persistent hyper-arousal and hyper-vigilance that continues to occur after the trauma, despite resolution of the initiating experience. These neurotransmitters also interact with the serotonin system to modify mood and anxiety symptoms.”

“The impact of maltreatment on the brain – structural, functional and behavioural – has been shown to worsen the longer the duration of trauma experience and the younger the age of onset of the trauma experience.”
Substance misuse and dependence

“Early onset adult depressive, suicidal and personality disorders have also been shown to be significantly increased in those with documented histories of childhood maltreatment….This has been postulated to be the outcome of cortisol hyper-secretion.”

“… ‘antisocial’ personality disorder is a more frequent occurrence in those with a history of physical abuse and/or neglect, whereas “borderline” personality disorder is more frequently associated with childhood sexual abuse.”

“Cognitive development and academic performance are also adversely affected by childhood exposure to violence. MRI studies show that exposure to violence is associated with children having smaller intracranial, cerebral and prefrontal cortex volumes, with particular effects on prefrontal white matter, temporal lobe volumes and the corpus callosum….these children have been found to suffer increased levels of depression, dissociation and both externalising (aggression, self-harming) and internalising (depression, anxiety) symptoms.”

“…male children are more vulnerable to the consequences of maltreatment, and this is reflected in changed brain structure….The corpus callosum volume in males is especially decreased in the isthmus region of the corpus callosum, which appears to facilitate more externalising behavioural symptoms of aggression and suicidality.”

“A similar decrease in volume is noted in the superior temporal gyrus and hippocampus, with a resultant observed deficit in executive function ability and sustained attention and focus, a limited verbal response ability, and poor short-term memory and capacity for future planning. Also observed has been a decreased ability to learn through both motor and non-motor means. Further, the cerebellum is generally decreased in volume in these children, with an observed attendant behavioural pattern of having difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and general irritability.”

“Maltreatment in early childhood has also been shown to result in adverse adult onset physical health; in particular, chronic disease and reproductive and adult sexual health problems….childhood abuse and exposure to domestic violence can lead to numerous differences in the structure and physiology of the brain, which affect multiple human functions and behaviours.”

“…not all children are adversely affected in this way. Some of this resilience may be attributed to the ‘neuroplasticity’ of the brain; that is, the ability of neural tissue to modify brain function and response, so enabling a different response to an experienced memory. Neuroplasticity occurs as a result of some synaptic pathways being enhanced rather than others following activities that stimulate specific sensory, motor and language development. This is especially seen in children under the age of 7 years and continues to a lesser degree into the mid-teenage years, but it decreases significantly around the third decade of life, when the brain has reached maturity with completed myelination.”

“…appropriate and early remedial therapy provided to children who have suffered maltreatment (either in utero, or during their childhood), may mitigate many of the adverse behavioural, learning and cognitive effects of the maltreatment.”

“Early identification of such affected children would permit the implementation of remedial social supports, education and behavioural treatment measures to enhance the modifying mechanism of neuroplasticity to reduce the functional neurobiological effects of child maltreatment. Additionally, early modification of the child’s environment to decrease the biological stress response may also assist the expression of the child’s genetic make-up (epigenetics).”

“Elevated cortisol biological stress responses in children and adolescents reflect the prolonged stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which normally is an acute stress response system. This prolonged stimulation in turn adversely affects physical and mental health and wellbeing, resulting in conditions such as reduced immune function, cardiovascular disease, dysthymia (persistent mild depression), major depression, oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, persistent exposure to stress results in damped responsiveness to new stressors.”

“…females tend to express their responses to maltreatment through internalising symptoms such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, compared to males, who express themselves more through externalising symptoms such as aggression, harm directed at others and suicidality.”

” [However], the younger child tends to display a similar level of distress regardless of the magnitude of stress to which they are responding.”

“…not all children are adversely affected by maltreatment, and this is hypothesised to reflect their access to appropriate environmental and familial supports at the time of the event. Additionally, differential epigenetic responses to environmental circumstances may also play a part. If the biological stress response is rapidly curtailed through appropriate support, and safety and security measures are instigated, then structural changes within the developing child’s brain are likely to be minimised, along with the adverse behavioural consequences.”

“The effects of maltreatment on children extend further than the children and their respective families to affect the wider community. The learning and cognitive deficits observed in these children are then reflected in their poorer educational and life skills development, particularly their capacity for self-regulation. This in turn affects the community’s ability to control violence and ensure an environment that promotes individual safety.”

“Child maltreatment eventually also affects the broader society with which the child’s community articulates. When adults in these communities have also been affected in their own childhoods by significant and chronic maltreatment, and witnessed or experienced personal, family and community violence, as well as engaging in chronic alcohol misuse, the intergenerational “cycle of poverty and community dysfunction” continues; the adults who would normally be responsible for providing the leadership, supervision and caring roles are themselves limited by their own reduced cognitive capacity and executive function ability.”

“Identification of these children through early and appropriate screening … and targeted remedial treatment has the potential to mitigate some of the cognitive, learning and behavioural difficulties that may arise, such as poor literacy, unemployment, incarceration, childhood pregnancy, or substance dependence.”

“Where brain injury results from maltreatment, current social and justice strategies, often introduced relatively late in the individual’s life, are by themselves of little benefit in achieving remediation, as the damage to neuropsychological functioning may be too entrenched to be overcome. This is especially so as most of the remedial programs available commence after the age of 7 years, thus missing the most sensitive ‘neuroplastic developmental’ period.”

“Providing a safe environment for children and their families will enable the next generation of children to achieve their maximum adult potential through normal neurobiological development.”

V. Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

April 2014
This study was funded by the British Academy and the Royal Society.

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/news/records/2014/April/Impact-of-childhood-bullying-still-evident-after-40-years.aspx

“Dr. Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the paper from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says: ‘Our study shows that the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood.’”

“Individuals who were bullied in childhood were more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning at age 50. Individuals who were frequently bullied in childhood were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.”

love should never hurt

image from http://www.firstcovers.com

“Individuals who were bullied in childhood were also more likely to have lower educational levels, with men who were bullied more likely to be unemployed and earn less. Social relationships and well-being were also affected. Individuals who had been bullied were less likely to be in a relationship, to have good social support, and were more likely to report lower quality of life and life satisfaction.”

“…’what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children. Programmes to stop bullying are extremely important, but we also need to focus our efforts on early intervention to prevent potential problems persisting into adolescence and adulthood.’”

Facts about #BPA, #Water Bottles, Shower Curtains, #Cans, More, and What to Do

I got mad the other day after reading yet another falsified story about plastics in food and beverages due to packaging and container use, riddled with untruths and misleading information about food and water safety. I have hereby gathered facts to post. Follow any of the links given for the infographics or articles if you want to know more.

SHARE, RT, Re-POST!

Are There ANY Plastics that are “Better” than Others?

This article claims that there are “Safe Plastics” which they describe as:
“Any plastic item marked with a 1, 2, 4, or 5 is not known to have carcinogenic tendencies or disrupt the endocrine system. Specifically, these plastics are called PET, PETE, HDPE, LDPE, and polypropylene. This generally includes items like drink bottles, containers that foods like margarine and yogurt might come in, and milk jugs.”

Personally, given the abysmal track record of the USA’s FDA (Food and Drug Administration), I wouldn’t trust ANY food or drink that is packaged in plastics. I hope they do away with plastic for food/beverage packaging all together very soon. Meanwhile, there are some plastics that are apparently not as awful as others. That’s the best we can say at this time.

what-plastic-is-safe-to-your-health_51c162fd8fd81

image from “What Kind of Plastic Are You Eating Out of?” http://dailyhealthpost.com/what-kind-of-plastic-are-you-eating-out-of/

Growing Evidence of Links Between BPA and Autism, Cancer, Diabetes, Myriad Health Problems

I found that The Sleuth Journal is reliable. Below is an informative, well-researched article with this and other great infographics, a video, and more.

Ban BPA

image from “Ban BPA From Your Life: 6 Small Steps That Will Help You Live Toxin-Free” http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/ban-bpa-from-your-life-6-small-steps-that-will-help-you-live-toxin-free/, “Page by T SJ – Almost 5 decades later, scientists began seeing disturbing correlations between exposure to BPA and obesity, impaired brain development, various types of cancer, [and other health problems.]”

BPA is Even Worse for Babies and Girls/Adult Females

Common Folk is another reliable source for information. Many European countries are so far ahead of the USA in understanding and refusing to tolerate chemical toxicity and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) in their food, agriculture and beverages. We should all learn from and imitate what they’re doing. Avoiding/reducing endocrine disruptors, especially because of their adverse effects on babies and females, is just one of the many areas the EU folks are smarter about than the USA.

effects of packaging on humans

image from “LIVING WITHOUT PACKAGING | Common Folk,” http://commonfolk.eu/plasticfacts/, BPA is a estrogenic plastic by-product used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics. It can leach into food or drinks …”

What can we do NOW? Get Better Informed

NEVER Store Hot Food/Beverages or Heat Up Food/Beverages in Plastic or Cover with Plastic Wrap: BPA Gets Worse With Heat

Another good source of information is Renegade Health. This article, about the ways plastic gets into food more readily when the food is heated or already hot, should inspire you to throw out your plastic wrap and plastic containers forever (I hope).

microwave plastic leaching effects

image from “Your Health On Plastics: Endocrine Disruptors in Your Body…” http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2014/03/28/your-health-on-plastics-endocrine-disruptors-in-your-body-the-environment, “How much BPA leaches from these products into food and water depend on the temperature of the liquid or bottle, as when heated in a microwave oven.”

Get A Cloth Shower Curtain and Other Changes to Make to Avoid Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors

Some of this article’s claims, collected by a blogger, below, are not accurate. I checked Snopes.com and included rebuttals of the incorrect claims below it. But the rest of the article is factual and important. DO get rid of your PVC shower curtain!

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/is-your-shower-curtain-making-you-fat.html

For example, it’s not true that there are dioxins in plastic water bottles, so it is a myth that freezing the plastic water bottle makes it unsafe to drink because of dioxins. That water was unsafe to drink, anyway, because BPA is in the bottle at every temperature.
http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/plasticbottles.asp

How to Avoid BPA

Great info in the articles and their infographics for the sections, below, about what steps we can take right now and in the future to remove BPA from our lives.

how-to-avoid-bpa

image from http://desdaughter.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/how-to-avoid-bpa/

“Good” vs. “bad” cans:

cans to avoid

image from “Eco-novice: Going Green Gradually: Eat Less Plastic,” http://www.eco-novice.com/2011/04/eat-less-plastic.html, “Fatty, salty and acidic foods are the most likely to experience plastic leaching. One study found the most significant amounts of BPA in canned chicken soup…”

good cans

image from “Bisphenol A (BPA) – Diabetes and the Environment,” http://www.diabetesandenvironment.org/home/contam/bpa “BPA is often found in the lining of cans, and can leach out into the food stored in these cans. It also can be absorbed through the skin…”

Buy/Put Beverages in Glass, Stainless Steel or other BPA-Free Containers:

There are safe, easy to find (now), and inexpensive alternatives, especially for carrying water, storing food, reheating it in microwaves, and all the rest. Check out these tips/hints, below, and get busy!

Glass is preferred for bevs

image from “Health – Part 4,” http://www.bottlesupglass.com/category/health-2/page/4/ “Safety and Quality of Glass for Food and Beverage”

bpa-free bottles

image from “Cut the Crap Series – 10 Fast and Easy Ways to Clean Up…” https://hygeahealthnut.wordpress.com/category/cut-the-crap-series-10-fast-and-easy-ways-to-clean-up-your-lifestyle/, “The federal Food and Drug Administration barred Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and children’s cups in June 2012 but it is still prevalent [in other containers]…”

Get Politically Active!

Yes: the personal IS political! You want to make change, get involved. Some states and countries have been quite successful in eliminating BPA all together. What about where YOU live?

laws against BPA global

image from “Leading scientists urge Government to ban gender-bending chemicals …” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1264400/Leading-scientists-urge-Government-ban-gender-bending-chemicals-baby-products.html

15 Points about the #Effects of #Concussions on #Meditators’ #Brains

What are the #effects of #concussions on #meditators’ #brains? Many doctors and patients now agree that #meditation helps relieve pain and stress. Therefore, meditation is recommended post-concussion for many with injured brains.

However, I haven’t found anything for my problem: my concussion makes it impossible or difficult/painful for me to meditate. What happens to those who are already long-time meditators (such as I am; 42 years), post-concussion?

It’s fewer than four weeks since my injuries. I still have a lot of trouble and need to take much more time than usual to think clearly enough and to write well enough (neither up to former standards) to put this post together. Forgive its clumsiness, please.

Let me explain, first: the type of meditation I currently do is advanced. This means that the meditation techniques take years to learn. Practice is not just for twenty minutes a day or relegated to a physical posture or on a meditation cushion. This type of meditation involves components of many other types as well as more aspects which are unique to it. It is a Tibetan Buddhist practice called dzogchen (“Great Perfection”) that is supposed to occur all day and into the night (excellent practitioners do it 24/7). It takes years to cultivate this ongoing meditation as a habit.

Therefore, whatever brain parts most meditators are activating, meditators doing dzogchen meditation are utilizing those parts plus a few more, and all the time, once we’re “getting it.”

Post-concussion, the worst after-effect, for me, was being unable to meditate. This is comparable to being unable to eat sufficient food or breathe enough air. We can survive, but we are not well, you see?

What about having had a concussion is preventing me from meditating? Why do certain parts of my brain hurt when I try to meditate?

Finding nothing to answer my questions all in one place, I did some of my own research to help me understand and share what has been happening to me since my injury on April 6.

Here is what I found to be true, complete with PET scans, MRIs of brains and other visuals.

1. Scientists are learning more annually about the ways that meditators’ brains are different than non-meditators:

meditators and nonmeditators brains

image from http://www.exploratorium.edu

Conclusions from above: meditation activates parts of our brain that ordinary brain activities do not.

2. Insight or Vipassana (Vipashana) meditators’ brains have been studied most. Here are some pictures to show how much that type of meditation changes the brains of Insight meditators:

insight meditators brains

image from http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu

3. How else does meditation change one’s brain?

Brain-waves improve from meditation

image from expanded–consciousness.blogspot.com

Meditators’ brains have thicker cortical areas and other parts are also strengthened unusually by meditation. Our brain waves are different even when we are not meditating. Really.

After feeling pain in three particular areas of my brain that hurt (even though my son and others claim we can’t feel pain in our brains… pooh) and the increased pressure in these areas every time I meditated, which made me stop, I went on a research treasure hunt to answer these questions.

4. What parts of the brain are used in meditation and what types of meditation use what parts most?

brain parts and functions

image from http://www.8limbsholistichealth.com

For me, the thalamus and frontal areas were most impacted and affected, so far, since the front of my face/forehead hit the wall, and since those areas are involved in my type of meditation. However, I could imagine that other injuries/affected areas could impact your meditation differently.

5. What about different kinds of meditation and where in the brain they occur?

variations in types of meditation on brain parts

image from http://www.fredtravis.com

Definitely the thalamus and all frontal areas are affected, for me. I guess I don’t feel the impact in the pariental lobe because mine wasn’t so injured. Again, your experiences could vary a lot.

6. What are the effects on various parts of the brain from a concussion? From my recent and current personal experience, I can answer that. These photos also back up my own understanding completely.

I felt pain and pressure immediately after the concussion when I automatically started to meditate which forced me to stop. Repeatedly. Over time, that pain became most apparent in three locations.

“Recent studies have shown heightened activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, frontal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, specifically in the dorsal medial prefrontal area during Vipassana meditation. Similarly, the cingulate cortex and frontal cortex areas were shown to have increased activity during Zen meditation”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_activity_and_meditation

Thanks to Wikipedia, I began to understand what was happening to me and why.

7. Meditators use these parts of our brain when we meditate:

PET brain images meditation 1

image from uonews.uoregon.edu

When I found this picture, it made me cry. These are the parts that hurt when I try to meditate, all lit up and obvious. I can just point and you can understand.

8. When we look at three brains: one uninjured, one with a concussion, and one with a severe TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), we notice obvious differences, particularly in these areas mentioned, above:

normal severe TBI concussion images

image from http://www.vitamindwiki.com

To orient you: top of photos = forehead/frontal areas of brain. Look at the differences in these three scans in that area, particularly. Startling, huh?

9. How does a concussed brain show up on an MRI?

MRI_scan_concussion

image from http://www.ninds.nih.gov

I could be wrong, here, but I think these scans are oriented in opposite ways from those in #8. Top = back/neck, or the occipital lobe area. Look, therefore, at the bottoms of these scans to see how the frontal areas are affected.

Remember, though: most concussion injuries and symptoms do not show up on MRIs, CAT scans or X-rays, even when taken on the same day as the injury, much less those taken weeks or months later. Functional MRIs and PET scans are slightly better, but many effects are just not all that easy to visualize with the technology currently available.

10. What other signs of impact (concussion) on a brain can we see?

impact injuries on brain cross cuts

image from http://www.webdicine.com

For best understanding, contrast the picture in upper left with the one in the lower right. That’s my brain. Yuck.

11. Remembering what parts of the brain we use for meditating, look at these before-and-after scans of a concussed brain:

brain before and after concussion scans

image from http://www.policymic.com

This time, the orientation is like this: forehead/frontal area is on the left of each scan; neck is on the right. Notice the frontal areas’ changes from scan to scan. Heartwrenching, to me.

12. Pay particular attention to the “frontal bruise” on this concussed brain (similar to what I experienced on April 6 when I hit the wall with my nose/face and broke my nose/got concussed):

concussion bruise on frontal area

image from kerlanjobeblog.com

Don’t you just have to say “ouch!” after seeing this frontal bruising? Empathy is easier when you can see it all in front of you.

13. Here is that PET scan, again, of a meditating brain. Notice what parts are “activated” (by colors):

PET brain images meditation 1

image from uonews.uoregon.edu

Now you begin to see more clearly how concussions impact meditation?

14. Our brains should look and function this way when we meditate:

meditation-mind-brain-waves

image from blog.bufferapp.com

I sorely miss the feelings of “after,” calmness and joy which I normally would experience all day long. Awful losses, here. Luckily, purports to be temporary.

15. In conclusion, this quote incorporates the research I found and speaks to my particular injuries to explain why I can’t meditate and the effects of that on me: “The two important areas of the brain that feature prominently in meditation research are the frontal lobes, located in the area of the forehead, above the eyebrows and the limbic system which is deep inside the centre of the brain. Generally speaking, these two areas function and interact to influence our behavior, emotions, thinking, and what we’re going to do with our life. In other words together they have a profound influence on our personality, who we are and how we feel. The other parts of the brain [featured in meditation research] are the parietal lobes, at the top of the head, which primarily deals with the physical body, the occipital lobes at the back of the head that deal mostly with vision and the temporal lobes, above the ears, which deal with auditory information.” 
http://www.beyondthemind.com/extras/meditation-the-brain/frontal-lobes-the-limbic-system-meditation-mental-silence/

Best part of all this? IMPERMANENCE. This, too, shall pass. Injuries tend to resolve. Healing does occur.

Best wishes to all who are in recovery phases from TBIs and concussions. May all beings benefit.