Versus Brain Blast | Nov. 2019

The way we feel, the decisions we make, the reality we experience - all of these are profoundly impacted by our brains. Below, we present stories which highlight the effect that the human mind has on the body and examine how this connection can be used to improve peoples’ physical, mental, and emotional health.

Daylight Losing Time: The Physical Effects of Time Changes

A clock sits on a bedside table.

The time change has an impact on much more than our clocks. When we transition to and from daylight saving time, we are exposed to different amounts of morning and evening light, which desynchronizes our circadian rhythms. This disruption of our circadian rhythms can negatively impact our brains and bodies – it increases our risk of stroke, heart attack, and accidents associated with reductions in mental alertness.

Can’t Say No: Finding the Root of Impulsivity

From Thanksgiving to Black Friday, November is a month that feeds our impulsivity. Researchers at USC studied the neurotransmitter melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) in rat test subjects. Interestingly, the researchers found that whether they increased or decreased the MCH running between the lateral hypothalamus and ventral hippocampus of a rat’s brain, the rat displayed more impulsive behavior. The research team hopes to apply these findings to studies of obesity, drug addiction, and ADHD in humans.

Worth 1000 Words: Converting Brainwaves to Pictures

Story via ZME Science

Rather than invasive methods, scientists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology used EEG to translate individuals’ brain activity into images. In this study, subjects were shown images while having their brain activity measured. The research team successfully designed two AI algorithms which were able to use the subjects’ EEG data to produce images which closely mirrored those shown to the participants. This development may be the first step in creating a non-invasive brain-controlled interface.

Head First: Tackling the Mental Side of Pain

Story via U.S. News

In the midst of the opioid epidemic, doctors and patients are seeking alternative ways to manage pain. A group of inter-university researchers reviewed the results of sixty clinical trials studying the effects of mind-body therapies, including relaxation techniques, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The researchers concluded that, as a whole, subjects who used mind-body therapies experienced reductions in their pain levels and the amounts of opioids required to address that pain.

A Strong Connection: Improving Self-Esteem with Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback training may be able to improve self-esteem in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). When people with MDD experience feelings of self-blame, fMRIs show that they have lower connectivity between two specific regions of their brain. In a study, subjects who underwent targeted neurofeedback sessions showed increased self-esteem and connectivity between these two areas of the brain.

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