1

Humans’ Built-in GPS is our 3-D Sense of Smell

By University of California – Berkeley | Science Daily GPS-39254034_m-680x380-Modified

Like homing pigeons, humans have a nose for navigation because our brains are wired to convert smells into spatial information, new research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows.

While humans may lack the scent-tracking sophistication of, say, a search-and-rescue dog, we can sniff our way, blindfolded, toward a location whose scent we’ve smelled only once before, according to the UC Berkeley study published today (June 17) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Similar investigations have been conducted on birds and rodents, but this is the first time smell-based navigation has been field-tested on humans. The results evoke a GPS-like superpower one could call an “olfactory positioning system.”

“What we’ve found is that we humans have the capability to orient ourselves along highways of odors and crisscross landscapes using only our sense of smell,” said study lead author Lucia Jacobs, a UC Berkeley psychology professor who studies evolution and cognition in animals and humans.

Smell is a primitive sense that our early ancestors used for foraging, hunting and mating, among other skills necessary for survival. Early sailors and aviators gave anecdotal reports of using odors to navigate, but there have been no experiential scientific studies on this until now.

The process of smelling, or olfaction, is triggered by odor molecules traveling up the nasal passage, where they are identified by receptors that send signals to the olfactory bulb — which sits between the nasal cavity and the brain’s frontal lobe — and processes the information. A key to the connection between smell, memory and navigation is that olfactory bulbs have a strong neural link to the brain’s hippocampus, which creates spatial maps of our environment.

“Olfaction is like this background fabric to our world that we might not be conscious of, but we are using it to stay oriented,” Jacobs said. “We may not see a eucalyptus grove as we pass it at night, but our brain is encoding the smells and creating a map.”

Pigeons and rats, for example, are known to orient themselves using odor maps, or “smellscapes,” but sighted humans rely more heavily on visual landmarks, and so the study turned up some surprising results.

Two dozen young adults were tested on orientation and navigation tasks under various scenarios in which their hearing, sight or smell was blocked. The test location was a 25-by-20-foot room where 32 containers with sponges were placed at points around the edge of the room. Two of the sponges were infused with essential oils such as sweet birch, anise or clove.

In the smell-only experiment, study participants were led, one at a time, into the room wearing blindfolds, earplugs and headphones and walked in circles for disorientation purposes. They spent a minute at a specific point on the grid, where they inhaled a combination of two fragrances. After being walked in circles again for disorientation purposes, they were tasked with sniffing their way back to the starting point where they had smelled the two fragrances.

[Read more here]


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of California – Berkeley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lucia F. Jacobs, Jennifer Arter, Amy Cook, Frank J. Sulloway. Olfactory Orientation and Navigation in Humans. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (6): e0129387 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129387

 

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.




This Just in: Emotional & Rational Brains ‘physically different’

By Monash University | *Science Daily

Rational&EmotionalBrain-30819433_m-680x380Researchers at Monash University have found physical differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to others’ feelings, compared to those who respond more rationally, in a study published in the journal NeuroImage.

The work, led by Robert Eres from the University’s School of Psychological Sciences, pinpointed correlations between grey matter density and cognitive and affective empathy. The study looked at whether people who have more brain cells in certain areas of the brain are better at different types of empathy.

“People who are high on affective empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene. Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational, for example a clinical psychologist counselling a client,” Mr Eres said.

The researchers used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine the extent to which grey matter density in 176 participants predicted their scores on tests that rated their levels for cognitive empathy compared to affective — or emotional — empathy.

The results showed that people with high scores for affective empathy had greater grey matter density in the insula, a region found right in the ‘middle’ of the brain. Those who scored higher for cognitive empathy had greater density in the midcingulate cortex — an area above the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain.

“Taken together, these results provide validation for empathy being a multi-component construct, suggesting that affective and cognitive empathy are differentially represented in brain morphometry as well as providing convergent evidence for empathy being represented by different neural and structural correlates,” the study said.

The findings raise further questions about whether some kinds of empathy could be increased through training, or whether people can lose their capacity for empathy if they don’t use it enough.

“Every day people use empathy with, and without, their knowledge to navigate the social world,” said Mr Eres.

“We use it for communication, to build relationships, and consolidate our understanding of others.”

[Read more here]

*Originally entitled: “Emotional brains ‘physically different’ from rational ones”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert Eres, Jean Decety, Winnifred R. Louis, Pascal Molenberghs. Individual differences in local gray matter density are associated with differences in affective and cognitive empathy. NeuroImage, 2015; 117: 305 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.038

 

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.




Is Happiness In Your Genes?

Source: DNews

Why do some people smile more than others? Is the answer in our genes?   It turns out, how happy you are may be partly determined by your genes.

READ MORE:

 




Despite Negativity in Our Media, Scientists Say There is Universal Human Bias for Positive Words

By Peter Sheridan Dodds et al |www.sciencedaily.com | Story is based on materials provided by University of Vermont. The original article was written by Joshua E. Brown. Note: Materials may have been edited for content and length. Originally titled: “F-bombs notwithstanding, all languages skew towards happiness: Universal human bias for positive words”

StayPositive-20198356_m-680x380

Arabic movie subtitles, Korean tweets, Russian novels, Chinese websites, English lyrics, and even the war-torn pages of the New York Times — research examining billions of words, shows that these sources — and all human language — skews toward the use of happy words. This Big Data study confirms the 1969 Pollyanna Hypothesis that there is a universal human tendency to “look on and talk about the bright side of life.

In 1969, two psychologists at the University of Illinois proposed what they called the Pollyanna Hypothesis — the idea that there is a universal human tendency to use positive words more frequently than negative ones. “Put even more simply,” they wrote, “humans tend to look on (and talk about) the bright side of life.” It was a speculation that has provoked debate ever since.

Whether it’s Arabic movie subtitles, books in Chinese, Spanish Twitter, German websites, or music lyrics in English–a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by scientists at the University of Vermont and The MITRE Corporation, found a clear positive bias in human language. In other words, we–humanity– “use more happy words than sad words,” says mathematician Chris Danforth who co-led the new research. This graph shows distributions of perceived average word happiness from 24 sources in ten languages. Spanish is most skewed toward the positive and Chinese books the least–but all sources showed the same trend: humans tend to look on, and talk about, the bright side of life. The yellow and blue graphs, called histograms, each represent the 5000 most commonly used words from each source; yellow indicates positivity; blue indicates negativity.

Whether it’s Arabic movie subtitles, books in Chinese, Spanish Twitter, German websites, or music lyrics in English–a study published in the … Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by scientists at the University of Vermont and The MITRE Corporation, found a clear positive bias in human language. In other words, we–humanity– “use more happy words than sad words,” says mathematician Chris Danforth who co-led the new research. This graph shows distributions of perceived average word happiness from 24 sources in ten languages. Spanish is most skewed toward the positive and Chinese books the least–but all sources showed the same trend: humans tend to look on, and talk about, the bright side of life. The yellow and blue graphs, called histograms, each represent the 5000 most commonly used words from each source; yellow indicates positivity; blue indicates negativity.

[Read more here]

DSC03391

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products and modalities since the early 1970’s, and he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist and father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive and safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England and “virtually” the world, through his new website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.com

 




Scientists Have Found Out Why You’re Chronically Late

Fiona McDonald | Sciencealert

late at workAnyone can be late a handful of times, sure, but to be the person who’s always five minutes late (at the earliest) – that’s an art. A frustrating and inconvenient art. Or, a side effect of your personality traits, scientists have found.

So what is it that causes some people to constantly miss trains, make it to the wedding just after the bride’s shown up and regularly piss off their friends? And why is it so hard for us to fix?

Researchers have been trying to tease this apart for decades, and have come across a few tell-tale traits, as Sumathi Reddy reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“There are all sorts of disincentives and punishments for being late, and the paradox is we’re late even when those punishments and consequences exist,” Justin Kruger, a social psychologist at New York University’s School of Business told Reddy.

One of the most obvious and common reasons that people are frequently late is that they simply fail to accurately judge how long a task will take – something known as the planning fallacy. Research has shown that people on average underestimate how long a task will take to complete by a significant 40 percent.

read rest of the article here




Twin Telepathy: Is there a ‘Special Connection’?

Guy Lyon Playfair | Waking Times

Is there a special bond between twins? Can they read each other’s minds? Are they telepathic? If you have been hearing questions like these being asked regularly but have never found an answer, look no further. The short answer is – yes, and no. Let me explain.

As Orwell famously observed in Animal Farm,“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” So it is with twins – some them are indeed more identical than others. In fact, the term ‘identical’ is misleading. The medical word is ‘monozygotic’ (MZ) for twins originating from a single zygote or fertilised egg which then splits into two (or more), those originating from separate zygotes being termed dizygotic (DZ) or fraternal (non-identical). Yet although MZ twins are commonly referred to as identical, there can be wide differences among them. Probably the most important one has to do with just when that original egg divides. Usually this takes place a day or two after fertilisation, but division can take place up to twelve days later, or in the rare case of conjoined (‘Siamese’) twins, not at all.

Although the study of twin telepathy must be one of the most under-researched subjects in the whole of science, it now seems likely that the later the division, the closer the bond. Researchers at the University of Indiana have studied thousands of twins and have noticed that the later they divided, the closer they become after birth. So it seems likely that this is the group most likely to experience telepathy.

There are twins who have never had any experience of it, as described by ‘Alex’ on the multiples.about.com web site: “As an identical twin who knows many other twins I can tell you for a fact that twins don’t have telepathy. Any that say they do are either pulling your leg or attention seeking. I’d appreciate it as a twin and a human being if you stopped spreading lies.” As many other messages on this interesting site show, not all twins would agree with that and might well accuse him of spreading lies.

True, I have met twins who are not particularly close, and are not at all telepathy-prone. One told me that he sends his brother a Christmas card, but that’s about the only communication they ever have. Another admits that she is not even on speaking terms with her sister and has no contact with her, telepathic or otherwise. Yet I have also met the father of twenty-something-year-old daughters who, he assured me, had never been apart for more than two hours throughout their lives. And an item in a London newspaper not so long ago described the lives of a pair of twins in their forties who still sleep in the same bed. Clearly we have a very broad spectrum here.

Interviewed in 2002, one of the Californian supermodel Barbi twins commented: “We have that twin thing going on. Wherever we are in the world, we kind of know what the other one’s doing.”

“That’s right,” her sister chimed in. “It’s instinctive. It’s a twin thing.”1

I have not yet been able to interview the Barbis, alas, but I have met and interviewed dozens of twins of all ages, also mothers of twins as young as three days, and the evidence that there is indeed a twin thing is voluminous, although I seem to have been the first to produce a volume devoted to it, first published in 2002 and now reissued in a much enlarged and updated third edition.2How this came about is quite a story in itself.

Read the rest of the article.

 




Unconscious Thought Not So Smart after All

 Alison Abbott  | ScientificAmerican 

Within the scientific community, ‘unconscious-thought advantage’ (UTA) has been controversial.  Credit: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

Within the scientific community, ‘unconscious-thought advantage’ (UTA) has been controversial.
Credit: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

If you have to make a complex decision, will you do a better job if you absorb yourself in, say, a crossword puzzle instead of ruminating about your options? The idea that unconscious thought is sometimes more powerful than conscious thought is attractive, and echoes ideas popularized by books such as writer Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling Blink.

But within the scientific community, ‘unconscious-thought advantage’ (UTA) has been controversial. Now Dutch psychologists have carried out the most rigorous study yet of UTA—and find no evidence for it.

Their conclusion, published this week in Judgement and Decision Making, is based on a large experiment that they designed to provide the best chance of capturing the effect should it exist, along with a sophisticated statistical analysis of previously published data.

The report adds to broader concerns about the quality of psychology studies and to an ongoing controversy about the extent to which unconscious thought in general can influence behaviour. “The bigger debate is about how clever our unconscious is,” says cognitive psychol­ogist David Shanks of University College London. “This carefully constructed paper makes a great contribution.” Shanks published a review last year that questioned research claiming that various unconscious influences, including UTA, affect decision making.

A typical study probing UTA asks subjects to make a complex decision, such as choosing a car or a computer, after either mulling over a list of the object’s attributes or viewing the list quickly and then engaging in a distracting activity such as a word puzzle. However, such studies have drawn different conclusions, with about half of those published so far reporting a UTA effect and the other half finding none.

Proponents of the theory claim that the effect is exquisitely sensitive to experimental variations, and often attribute the negative results to the fact that many research groups varied elements of the set-up, such as the choice of puzzle used for the distraction. Critics say that the positive results came from having too few participants in the experiments.

Psychologists Mark Nieuwenstein and Hedderik van Rijn at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands set out with their colleagues to determine which explanation was correct.

They asked 399 participants—around ten times more than the typical (median) sample sizes in other studies—to choose between either 4 cars or 4 apartments on the basis of 12 desirable or undesirable features. They incorporated the full list of conditions that UTA proponents had reported as yielding the strongest effect, such as the exact type of puzzle used as a distraction. They found that the distracted group was no more likely than the deliberating group to choose the most desirable item.

read rest of the article here




Busting the Left Brain vs Right Brain Myth

 | About

Busting the Left Brain vs Right Brain Myth

Given the popularity of the idea of “right brained” and “left brained” thinkers, it might surprise you learn that this idea is little more than a myth.

Have you ever heard people say that they tend to be more of a right-brain or left-brain thinker? From books to television programs, you’ve probably heard the phrase mentioned numerous times or perhaps you’ve even taken an online test to determine which type best describes you. Given the popularity of the idea of “right brained” and “left brained” thinkers, it might surprise you learn learn that this idea is just one of many myths about the brain.

What Is Left Brain – Right Brain Theory?

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

In psychology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain function. So does one side of the brain really control specific functions? Are people either left-brained or right-brained? Like many popular psychology myths, this one grew out of observations about the human brain that were then dramatically distorted and exaggerated.

The right brain-left brain theory originated in the work of Roger W. Sperry, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981. While studying the effects of epilepsy, Sperry discovered that cutting the corpus collosum (the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain) could reduce or eliminate seizures.

However, these patients also experienced other symptoms after the communication pathway between the two sides of the brain was cut. For example, many split-brain patients found themselves unable to name objects that were processed by the right side of the brain, but were able to name objects that were processed by the left-side of the brain. Based on this information, Sperry suggested that language was controlled by the left-side of the brain.

Later research has shown that the brain is not nearly as dichotomous as once thought. For example, recent research has shown that abilities in subjects such as math are actually strongest when both halves of the brain work together. Today, neuroscientists know that the two sides of the brain work together to perform a wide variety of tasks and that the two hemispheres communicate through the corpus collosum.

“No matter how lateralized the brain can get, though, the two sides still work together,” science writer Carl Zimmer explained in an article for Discover magazine. “The pop psychology notion of a left brain and a right brain doesn’t capture their intimate working relationship. The left hemisphere specializes in picking out the sounds that form words and working out the syntax of the words, for example, but it does not have a monopoly on language processing. The right hemisphere is actually more sensitive to the emotional features of language, tuning in to the slow rhythms of speech that carry intonation and stress.”

In one study by researchers at the University of Utah, more 1,000 participants had their brains analyzed in order to determine if they preferred using one side over the other. The study revealed that while activity was sometimes higher in certain important regions, both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their activity on average.

“It’s absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain. Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people don’t tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more connection by connection,” explained the study’s lead author Dr. Jeff Anderson.

While the idea of right brain / left brain thinkers has been debunked, its popularity persists. So what exactly did this theory suggest?

The Right Brain

According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities that are popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:

  • Recognizing faces
  • Expressing emotions
  • Music
  • Reading emotions
  • Color
  • Images
  • Intuition
  • Creativity

read rest of the article here




Man ‘Trapped In a Time Loop’ Crippled By Extreme Déjà Vu For Last Eight Years

ROSE TROUP BUCHANAN | The Independent

Scientists are baffled by the man's experiences which do not conform to other neurological conditions associated with condition

Scientists are baffled by the man’s experiences which do not conform to other neurological conditions associated with condition

A 23-year-old British student has spoken of being “trapped in a time loop” after one of the most unusual cases of extreme déjà vu has crippled the last eight years of his life.

The unnamed male, whose experiences formed a case study in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, has been forced to drop out of university, stop reading newspapers or magazines, watching television or listening to the radio – because he believes that he’s seen it all before.

French for ‘already seen’, the man said his feelings of déjà vu were not those of familiarity but of him relieving the past moment by moment, and were sometimes so intense that the man describes them as “frightening”.

His case has baffled and intrigued doctors who examined the 23-year-old, who first experienced the sensation in 2007, shortly after he started university, because he does not exhibit any of the other neurological conditions usually associated with those who suffer from déjà vu.

Sheffield Hallam psychology expert Dr Christine Wells thinks that anxiety is causing the appearance of repetition in his brain – anxiety that may have been exacerbated by the man taking LSD before he dropped out of university.

[read rest of the article here]




Could Curry Banish Bad Memories? Turmeric Prevents Fear Being Stored In the Brain, Scientists Claim

 SOPHIE FREEMAN | Dailymail

 

turmericScientists found that curcumin, a compound found in the root of the Indian spice, prevented new fear memories being stored in the brain

It also removed pre-existing fear memories, researchers found

Scientists hope findings will contribute to the development of treatments for psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder

 

A spice commonly used in curry could help erase bad memories, according to a study.

Curcumin, a bright-yellow compound found in the root of the Indian spice turmeric, prevented new fear memories being stored in the brain, and also removed pre-existing fear memories, researchers found.

It is hoped that the findings will help develop treatments for people suffering with psychological disorders.

Psychologists from The City University of New York trained rats to become scared when they heard a particular sound. Scientists assumed the creatures were frightened when they froze.

[read full article here]




Hugging Proven To Reduce Cold Symptoms

Seriously Science

hugHugging is beneficial in many ways – it improves relationships, reduces stress, and is just plain fun. Well, here’s another plus to add to the list: according to this study, hugging can actually reduce the severity of the common cold. And before you start complaining, no, this isn’t your typical retrospective correlation study. First, the researchers surveyed over 400 adults about their perceived social support and how many hugs they received each day over two weeks. Then, they exposed the subjects to the common cold virus and quarantined them for almost a week while watching for symptoms. They found that people who got more frequent hugs prior to getting sick had a less-severe illness and recovered faster. So this flu season, protect yourself: hug someone! (Just not someone who has the flu.)

Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness

“Perceived social support has been hypothesized to protect against the pathogenic effects of stress.

[read full post here]




How Do We Know We Are Good at Something?

By Omar Cherif
How Do We Know We Are Good at Something? How do we know we are good at something? I recently started asking myself this question. Does one’s feeling or knowing of being good at a specific activity comes from within, or do we have to compare with others to find out?

The reason why this has been on my mind is that I noted that whenever I’m repeatedly told that I’m good at a certain activity which I enjoy doing, I tend to believe it. However, before I am told, I’m not so sure if I know that I am good, or say, average.

The dilemma here is that as an adult I advocate not comparing with others. I also believe that competitiveness is an ego-driven disease that drives us away from our higher self. Therefore I found myself compelled to reflect further on the matter. As I wrote these lines, I still have no definite answer to this question. All I have as reference are my own experiences which I will use here as examples, a bit of psychology, and a sole chitchat with my bungalow mate — a 43-year-old cool American photographer named Bret.

Related Article: Why Paying It Forward Makes You Feel So Damn Good

Activities

When I was younger and playing basketball and ping pong, what made me know I’m good is that I would often beat others. I also made it to the teams and won some medals and trophies. Those were activities I enjoyed doing whether I won or lost. But, were the competition and the winning — and consequently, the comparing — the reasons how I knew I was a good? And if yes, were they the only reasons?

Later in life, I can say the same with other activities like writing and drumming. If I were living on an island or in a cave by myself, and I did enjoy the act of writing and drumming, would I know if I’m a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ writer/drummer if there were no one to tell me so? Is it possible to evaluate oneself without comparing with the average or even with a few others?

For writing, I always found it to be therapeutic. However, before the Internet daze and the social media I only wrote to myself. When I started sharing my writings in ‘notes’ on Facebook and received positive, encouraging comments, I began to believe in my ability. I knew from before that I could articulate my thoughts well and know how to communicate, but I think the responses coming from others are what reinforced this internal belief.

When I kept going with the writing and published my work, I received more comments and private messages from strangers complementing me on a certain piece they had read or on any other thing. This repetition of affirmation has again further reinforced my belief. Naturally, it gave me a healthy dose of faith and confidence needed to carry on with a different life path such as writing.

Even though I would still write and drum if I had received negative comments but maybe I would not have possessed the same enthusiasm that may be needed to keep going.

Related Article: 30 Good Things You Should Start Doing For Yourself

BòóM BôöM

As for drumming, which is my most recent hobby, I also enjoyed it since school days. I owned a few drums but, again, I mainly played to myself and consequently never really knew how good or average I was…compared to other drummers. When I had to chance to go to the mesmerizing Venice Beach Drum Circle and play, I noticed how people looked at me, so I assumed that maybe they like what they see. Some onlookers even filmed me. Why would they film what they don’t consider good, I wondered to myself.

A couple of weeks ago, a cute black man in his 70s was attending the Sunday circle. We were early so we jammed for a while by the boardwalk before heading into the sand where the event usually takes place. The man was carrying a heavy wheeled cart with some music instrument so I offered to help.

How long have you been playing? He asks me as we walked side by side towards the water.

I loved to drum all my life so at school I would use the desks and benches. Later I got bongos and a darbuka (tabla), but the djèmbe is what I connected with the most.

Smiling, he said: “From the moment you put your hands on that drum, I knew you were a player. You know what you do? You count. Most people just play.

Hm. I have thought about that before because I ‘caught’ myself doing it. My hands actually follow a certain beat coming from within. I don’t sit there and count the beats, but apparently my mind does it naturally — almost unconsciously, sometimes for as long as 16 and 32 beats that I repeat in cycles. In smaller circles, the cycle often becomes the main beat since it’s usually the longest and the more consistent. This, I found out with time as well as from observing — “comparing with” — others, is not the usual as explained in the following excerpt from the exceptionally thorough djembé Wikipedia page:

The most common cycle length is four beats, but cycles often have other lengths, such as two, three, six, eight or more beats. Some rhythms in the Dundunba family from the Hamana region in Guinea have cycle lengths of 16, 24, 28, or 32 beats, among others.

I find this observation interesting because even though drumming isn’t new to me, but djmèbes are. In those last few months, I may have only played about 20 times, for a few hours each time. What’s the mystery of these unusual 16 and 32 beat-cycles, where did they originate from? Perhaps in a past life I was a member of the Dundunba family from the Hamana region in Guinea.

Related Article: 6 Signs the Universe May Be Trying to Tell You Something

Ψ

According to the Social Comparison Theory, individuals are driven to gain accurate self-evaluations. The theory states that people evaluate their own beliefs, opinions, attitudes and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty in these domains. In most cases, we seek to compare with someone against whom we believe we should have reasonable similarity. In the absence of such a person — the benchmark — almost anyone could be used.

People also compare with others to learn how to define their own selves.

 

READ FULL PIECE ON ONELUCKYSOUL

 

About the Author:

Omar Cherif Omar Cherif is a trilingual writer and researcher, photographer and blogger with degrees in journalism, psychology, and philosophy. After working in the corporate world for ten years, he took writing as a vocation and is currently finalizing his first book about dreams, the subconscious mind and spirituality among other topics.

You can follow Omar on here:
Facebook
One Lucky Soul

And you can find more of his work on his blog and on Flickr:
One Lucky Soul
Photography




Purposefully Walking More Energetically May Improve Your Mood

Christie Nicholson | Scientificamerican

Woman walkingA good mood may put a spring in your step. But the opposite can work too: purposefully putting a spring in your step can improve your mood. That’s the finding from a study in theJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. [Johannes Michalak, Katharina Rohde and Nikolaus F. Troje, How we walk affects what we remember: Gait modifications through biofeedback change negative affective memory bias]

Scientists showed volunteers a list of negative and positive words, like afraid and anxious, or sunny and pretty. Then the subjects had to walk on a treadmill while watching a gauge that moved left or right.

But here’s what the participants did not know: if their stance—for example, slumped shoulders—seemed to indicate a down mood the gauge moved to the left. If their walk was more upbeat, say with swinging arms, the gauge moved to the right. The scientists asked half the subjects to adjust their walking style until the gauge moved to the right, and the other half so that the gauge went the left. Each group quickly learned what adjustments moved the gauge in the desired direction.

Then the subjects had to write down as many words from the list that they remembered.

[read full post here]




Environmental Good Deeds Give People a ‘Warm Glow’

Telegraph

happy_composting_peopleDoing an environmentally good deed gives you a warm feeling – quite literally.

Psychologists found that when volunteers thought they were helping the environment their perception of temperature changed.

It was as if they were enveloped in a ”warm glow”, said the scientists.

People classed as environmentally ”friendly” estimated the temperature around them to be around 1C higher than those led to believe their behaviour was environmentally ”unfriendly”.

The report authors, led by Danny Taufik, from the University of Griningen in the Netherlands, wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change: ”Acting environmentally friendly boosts a person’s self-concept, which is reflected in a literal warm glow.

”We also explored whether physical warmth (skin temperature) is affected by acting environmentally friendly, but we found no consistent evidence for this.”

Students taking part in the study completed a questionnaire about their carbon footprint, and were told that lower scores indicated environmentally friendly behaviour.

They were then given a fake carbon footprint score for the ”average” student, against which their own scores were compared.

Participants were also asked to guess the temperature of the room in which they were sitting.

Those whose carbon footprints appeared to be more environmentally friendly than average rated the room significantly warmer than students whose scores were less friendly.

[read full post here]




Hip-Hop Therapy Is New Route To Mental Wellbeing, Say Psychiatrists

| The Guardian

Screenshot from Pharrell Williams' "Happy" from Despicable Me2 (YouTube)

Screenshot from Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Despicable Me2 (YouTube)

From its roots in rap, graffiti, DJing and breakdancing in the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s, hip-hop has grown to become a global cultural and commercial powerhouse. But now UK researchers believe they have found a new use for it: as a treatment for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.

The group says that hip-hop provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and self-knowledge that could be exploited to help people tackle their own psychological problems. There is an intrinsic awareness of issues connected with mental health in many forms of hip-hop art, it is argued.

To help promote the idea, neuroscientist Becky Inkster, of Cambridge University department of psychiatry, and consultant psychiatrist Akeem Sule, of the South Essex Partnership Trust, have formed Hip Hop Psych– which they describe as a social venture – to promote the use of hip-hop as an aid to the treatment of mental illness. Inkster and Sule will outline the ideas behind Hip Hop Psych next week at the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

“There is so much more to hip-hop than the public realises,” said Inkster. “I grew up in the 90s during the golden era of hip-hop, when it exploded into mainstream culture. It is rich in references to psychiatric illnesses that have not been properly explored and which could be of enormous benefit to patients. We want to work with rappers, charities, medical groups and others to promote its real potential.”

Uses of hip-hop envisaged by Inkster and Sule include having patients write and rap their own lyrics as part of their therapy. It is also proposed that hip-hop could be used in teaching medical students about psychiatric illnesses.

“One technique we want to explore is to get individuals who are seeking therapy to write out where they see themselves in a year or two and to use rap lyrics to outline their future histories,” said Inkster.

[read full post here]