I’m sure we’ve all felt that we’ve “clicked” with someone or were on the same “wave length”. Our everyday language is full of these kind of expressions, but is it just a manner of speaking? Not quite, according to Princeton University neuroscientist Uri Hasson.
He has found that human brains can literally “tune” into each other through a process called “brain coupling”.
Hasson and his team looked at brain scans of a person telling a story and another person listening to it.
Even though one person was listening and the other person was speaking (two very different brain functions), they found that the wavelengths of each brain came out incredibly similar. What’s even more amazing is that the more similar the brainwaves were, the better the understanding was between the two!
According to the study:
“Sometimes when you speak with someone, you get the feeling that you cannot get through to them, and other times you know that you click. When you really understand each other, your brains become more similar in responses over time.”
While there’s still a lot that needs to be learned, this is a wonderful confirmation of the “gut instinct” you get when you’re around certain people – you really “can be on the same wavelength!”
To understand more about this phenomenon, check out the amazing Ted talk below:
You comfort them over a skinned knee in the playground, and coax them to sleep with a soothing lullaby. But being a nurturing mother is not just about emotional care – it pays dividends by determining the size of your child’s brain, scientists say.
Shocking: According to neurologists the sizeable difference between these two brains has one primary cause – the way were treated by their mothers.
Both of these images are brain scans of two three-year-old children, but the brain on the left is considerably larger, has fewer spots and less dark areas, compared to the one on the right.
According to neurologists this sizeable difference has one primary cause – the way each child was treated by their mothers.
But the child with the shrunken brain was the victim of severe neglect and abuse.
Babies’ brains grow and develop as they interact with their environment and learn how to function within it.
When babies’ cries bring food or comfort, they are strengthening the neuronal pathways that help them learn how to get their needs met, both physically and emotionally. But babies who do not get responses to their cries, and babies whose cries are met with abuse, learn different lessons.
The neuronal pathways that are developed and strengthened under negative conditions prepare children to cope in that negative environment, and their ability to respond to nurturing and kindness may be impaired.
According to research reportedby the newspaper, the brain on the right in the image above worryingly lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left.
The consequences of these deficits are pronounced – the child on the left with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others.
This type of severe, global neglect can have devastating consequences. The extreme lack of stimulation may result in fewer neuronal pathways available for learning.
The lack of opportunity to form an attachment with a nurturing caregiver during infancy may mean that some of these children will always have difficulties forming meaningful relationships with others. But studies have also found that time played a factor – children who were adopted as young infants have shown more recovery than children who were adopted as toddlers.
But in contrast, the child with the shrunken brain will be more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crimes, much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on state benefits.
The child is also more likely to develop mental and other serious health problems.
Some of the specific long-term effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain can include:
Diminished growth in the left hemisphere, which may increase the risk for depression
Irritability in the limbic system, setting the stage for the emergence of panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder
Smaller growth in the hippocampus and limbic abnormalities, which can increase the risk for dissociative disorders and memory impairments
Impairment in the connection between the two brain hemispheres, which has been linked to symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, told The Sunday Telegraph that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, it can have a fundamental impact on development.
He pointed out that the genes for several aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot function.
And sadly there is a chance they may never develop and come into existence.
These has concerning implications for neglected children that are taken into care past the age of two.
It also seems that the more severe the mother’s neglect, the more pronounced the damage can be.
The images also have worrying consequences for the childhood neglect cycle – often parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way.
But research in the U.S. has shown the cycle can be successfully broken if early intervention is staged and families are supported.
The study correlates with research released earlier this year that found that children who are given love and affection from their mothers early in life are smarter with a better ability to learn.
The experiences of infancy and early childhood provide the organizing framework for the expression of children’s intelligence, emotions, and personalities.
When those experiences are primarily negative, children may develop emotional, behavioral, and learning problems that persist throughout their lifetime, especially in the absence of targeted interventions.
The study by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found school-aged children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.
The research was the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing, Neurosciencenews.com reports.
The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.
Lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry, said the study reinforces how important nurturing parents are to a child’s development.
So many of us seek happiness as our greatest goal in life. What if I told you that trying to be happy was making you unhappy?
New research is starting to show us that the pursuit of happiness is getting the way of actually being happy.
How can this be?
It’s because we often find what we’re looking for. Science calls this “confirmation bias”, and it’s based on the principle that the brain looks for evidence that fits with its mental model of the world.
So if you’re constantly aiming to be happy, you’re creating a belief system that you’re not currently happy and you need something different in your life to attain happiness.
What’s the alternative? Embrace mindfulness in the present moment, which is about accepting and observing your feelings without judging them or needing them to be positive or happy.
Here’s some articles on embracing mindfulness in the present moment:
25 Profound Mindfulness Meditation Quotes That Will Help You Find the Real You
A Mindfulness Expert Reveals 10 Steps to Find Stillness in a World That Moves Quickly
The science of emotional diversity
People who show a full range of emotions, such as anger, worry and sadness, are actually healthier than those whose range tends to be mostly on the positive side. This has been demonstrated by studies that show that overly pursuing happiness can be detrimental to your health.
In a study of over 35,000 people, researchers that people demonstrating high emotional diversity were less likely to be depressed than people who consistently only show positive emotion alone.
In another study of 1,300 people, the people showing greater emotional diversity used fewer medications, didn’t go to the doctor as often, exercised more and at better than those with a more limited emotional range.
It turns out that striving to be happy all of the time affects our creativity levels. One study showed that when we experience extreme or intense happiness, we tend to lose our connection to creativity.
There’s another study that has found those on the high end of always being happy tend to be less flexible in adapting to challenging situations. It’s more difficult for these people to adjust. Also, they are more likely to engage in sexual promiscuity or take extra risks to pursue pleasurable feelings. In fact, children who were regarded as “highly cheerful” are more likely to die at a younger age due to riskier behavior.
What you can do
Now that you’ve read about some of the research suggesting that striving to be happy can be bad for your health, what can you do next?
It doesn’t mean that happiness is a bad thing. Rather, it’s important to let the feelings of happiness emerge naturally. If you’re genuinely feeling happy, then feel it!
But if you’re feeling sad or angry, then feel that too.
Don’t place so much judgement on yourself for whatever you’re feeling. Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.
Here are some more articles you may enjoy reading on mindfulness and happiness.
We’ve come to understand that both introverts and extroverts do things differently. Extroverts tend to speak their mind and have no problem expressing their feelings to a large group of people. Introverts on the other hand appear to be more reserved, think clearly before speaking and obtain energy from doing independent activities.
A particularly interesting area to study is how the brain works differently for both ends of the spectrum. German psychologist Hans Eysenck researchezxd the brain of an introvert and found that introvert’s have naturally high cortical arousal, meaning their ability to process information per second is higher than the average extrovert.
For an introvert in a heavily stimulated environment, such as large groups of people with loud noises and movements, they will most likely get more overwhelmed and exhausted from the brain’s cortical activity.
The definition of introverts can be hard to describe; however, it’s not to be confused with people who are shy. Some introverts love hanging out in big groups and have confidence in speaking aloud but there’s just a few things that introverts seem to have stronger traits in.
Here are the five traits you see in introverts
They’re Deep Thinkers
Introverts do a LOT of thinking. They have monologues in their minds about situations and go deep into complexities about things which often ends up being unnecessary. They like to contemplate multiple scenarios and work out solutions for each. Good amounts of an introvert’s day is spent on thinking deeply.
They Analyze Experiences
Adding to the deep thinking, a lot of analysis comes to play with past, present and future experiences. Introverts take facts and experiences from the past and link them with new facts and experiences. They like to be nostalgic but also like to prepare for the future from learning from the past. They like to draw a big picture in the heads to see how things connect, using a lot of problem solving skills.
They Look at Multiple Perspectives
Introverts don’t tend to be the loud one in the group, they tend to do a lot of observing when other people speak. Observations of social situations on how people react and perceive is a strong feature of an introvert’s personality. They quickly learn multiple ways of seeing things, and tend to know how to adapt themselves to better communicate with others.
They are Naturally Empathetic
As patient and active listeners, an introvert is someone that will offer great comfort and support when others are down. They are empathetic and accepting of others, and have realistic answers to solve problems.
To many people who don’t believe in any religion, Buddhism is generally seen as a “good” kind of religion. It doesn’t start wars and has powerful things to say about the mind and mental self control.
But what does the neuroscience say?
In an interview with RedOrbit, Psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson spoke about the science of what’s going in Buddhist monk’s brains, and how this research might help us achieve enlightenment.
What is enlightenment?
Dr. Hanson believes it’s first important to point out what enlightenment really means. He says according to the Buddhist tradition, “it means it’s very psychological operationalized as a mind, a nervous system, that’s no longer capable of any kind of sustained greed, hatred or delusion.”
Feel good emotions can still be experienced, but you’re not meant to get attached to those feelings. We also become aware of unpleasant emotions, but it doesn’t result in anger or hatred.
According to Hanson, “Buddhism in its roots is very practical, very down-to-earth, and maps very well to modern neuropsychology.”
He says that neuroscience also agrees that there is such a thing as enlightenment: “There are certain psychological states that seem associated with the upper reaches of human potential, if not enlightenment altogether.”
Probably the best psychological term to use for “enlightenment” is “equanimity”, a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience or exposure to emotions, pain or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance in their mind.
Perhaps being “at one” with everything around you is a better way to describe it as the above may get interpreted as “being aloof”.
People with great equanimity are fully present, can concentrate their attention with great skill, and have a compassionate and loving attitude towards all that exists in the universe.
Your Brain on Enlightenment
So, how can normal people attain these skills?
According to Dr. Hanson “The brain is built like a house with three floors, from the bottom up,” Dr. Hanson explains.
“The reptilian brain stem is at the bottom; on top of that, beginning around 250 million years ago, we have the subcortex, which is loosely associated with the mammalian stage of evolution. And finally we have the primate level,” which is the most advanced: the cerebral cortex.
“We are walking around with a vast, ancient zoo and museum inside us,” he adds. “We diverged from fish some 350-450 million years ago, but some of the brain similarities are still there, making sound, for example.”
There are two amygdalas in the subcortext and they control our emotional reactions and threat detection. According to Dr. Hanson, this is key. This part of the brain can be identified in our ancient ancestors , yet it can be trained to become even more highly developed in most humans.
Research has proven that very equanimous people are not numb or apathetic, but can be passionate and angry – it’s just that their emotional responses are controlled. This is caused by the amygdala becoming regulated top down in the cerebral cortex. The alarm bells don’t ring as readily or as loudly, and people recover more rapidly. This is process is aided by oxytocin, informally referred to as the “love hormone”.
How can we actually achieve enlightenment?
According to Dr. Hanson, there are several techniques that can help. He listed four of them:
1) “Repeated internalization of positive emotions” is important, says Hanson. This doesn’t have to be in a “giddy, new age kind of way”, but in authentic ways such as taking pleasure from simple things like friendships or time with our family. You can start a gratitude practice to appreciate even the small things in your life.
2) Labelling emotions also helps. Simply jotting down one word about how your feeling such as “angry”, “competitive” helps us to control our emotions.
3) Stay with a nice moment longer, indulging it in it helps. No need to over analyze, it’s just mental noting.
4) Where focus of attention is concerned, meditation is key by training to mind to focus on your breathe or a particular object. This helps to build up neuro circuits in the anterior cingulate cortex.
5) If striving for virtue and kindness, Dr. Hanson says he likes to practice a technique called “hit and run compassion”, in which a total stranger is chosen on the street, and is secretly and silently wished well for a few seconds.
Is enlightenment simply extreme brain training?
Dr. Hanson says that brain training is how sees it, but it’s important to be clear about the purpose. the neurological signature is a build up of neuro circuits anterior cingulate cortex. “Brain training could also be used to become the world’s greatest sniper. I think the Buddhism journey was motivated by a desire to be free from suffering, as well as emphasizing virtue and kindness.”
The word ‘Buddha’ simply means ‘one who knows’ or ‘one who sees clearly’. So, yes it’s something we’re all capable of having. Dr. Hanson concludes: “Some of us will be more motivated to achieve it than others, just as some people will be more motivated to become great Olympians or football players, but it is achievable. Buddhist psychology maps the best to modern, Western science of any contemplative traditions, because it tends to be at bottom really quite secular. It’s not metaphysical – it’s direct experience based.”
The most complicated thing in the entire universe is the Human Brain. It is made up numerous neurons – equal to the galaxy’s stars!
Science is yet to completely understand the mysteries of the human mind. However, experts are gradually unfolding the mysteries of neuroscience.
Here is a list of some of the human mind’s mysteries:
What are dreams?
How does the brain generate them? What is their purpose? And the questions continue to take form.
Scientists are accepting possibilities of dreams. They think that dreaming exercises stimulate the brain via the hijacking of brain cells and their synapses.
Dreams also boost memory power.
Scientists are trying to analyze the decoded dreams and their frequencies. Most of them define dreams as the Rapid Eye Movement and that they occur when we are having a deep sleep.
The aging process is filled with mysteries. Human beings are born with every element that can resist injuries and diseases – yet they cannot combat aging. With age our power to fight decreases.
Why does the mortality rate increase with age? Aging is a crucial part of our genetics. It occurs because of cellular damage. And when our biological cells cease, we die.
Scientists are yet to discover the origin of memories. Scientists have discovered that synapses and neurons fire up to make and store memories.
Where does the mind begins and brain ends? Are souls same as our mind? What triggers thoughts, feelings and emotions in our mind? What is conscious? What correlates unconscious and conscious experience?
Researchers found out that a human being is aware of the decisions s/he will make in his/her conscious mind. It is also a game of neurons.
Why do we sleep?
Why do we spend so many hours in sleeping?
Scientists are puzzled about this concept. Sleep is vital for human existence. Too many hours of sleep can cause hallucination, mood swings and – in rare cases – death. Sleep consists of two states – REM or rapid eye movement and NREM or non-rapid eye movement.
During REM the brain remains active, while in NREM the brain delivers low metabolic level activities. NREM provides our body the much-needed break for the conservation of energy. However, REM sleep aids in the memory organization.
Continue the conversation
Our parent site, Ideapod, is a social network for idea sharing. It’s a place for you to explore ideas, share your own and come up with new perspectives, meeting like minded idea sharers in the process.
Here are some conversations happening on neuroscience on Ideapod.