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Relationship Science and Being Human | Dr. Dan Siegel

Relationship Science and Being Human | Dr. Dan Siegel | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
When I was a child, I used to marvel at the sound of the frogs in our neighborhood creek. Perched on the rocks, they would find each other and croak out an exhilarating symphony of amphibious songs. Meanwhile, their tadpole offspring swam in the cool flowing water below, their parents seemingly oblivious to their offsprings’ experience.

I wondered then, as I still do today as a physician and mental health educator, how our human lives entail our gathering together to voice our own thoughts and aspirations, intentions and emotions.
What makes us different as mammals from our amphibian and even reptilian cousins is something beyond just the hair on our bodies and the warmth of our blood.  We mammals share attachment, the need for a close relationship between parent and offspring to connect and protect, to soothe and attune.
The magic of attachment is that our children internalize our patterns of communication with them, shaping the very structure of their developing brains as they move from the safe haven of our love to set out into the world from the launching pad of home. While the tadpoles do fine without their parents’ care, as mammals, our human family shares this need for an attachment bond.  
And as a very special kind of primate, we have the unusual habit (actually more like a key feature) of our caregiving: we distribute the responsibility for the care of our young to more than just the mother.

As Sarah Hrdy beautifully describes  in Mothers and Others, we mammals have “alloparenting” or “other-parenting” in which we provide trusted others to care for our precious infants.  This cooperative child-rearing, Hrdy suggests, is the key to our adaptive nature.
We give birth to our children, share their care through collaborative communication, and then build cooperative communities that extend this interconnected way of living. Our youth grow into their adolescence, getting ready to push away from their parents and the solid home base from which they now can go out and explore the world.
Relationships are the defining feature of being human.  As Robin Dunbar suggests, the more complex our social lives, the more complex our brains.  In our Foundation for Psychocultural Research/UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development, over the past decade we have been examining how the relationships we have within cultures—the repeating patterns of communication we have that link us together in families, communities, and societies—actually shape the structure and function of the brain.
These studies suggest that our experiences shape our neural architecture—and that our social relationships are one of the most important forms of experience that literally form who we are.  And the very essence of a relationship is communication. Communication is what connects one person to another, or one person to many.
You can see how this essential collaborative nature of ours would be a natural backdrop to making communication amongst members of a group so vital for the group’s survival.  If we could sense the inner state of others through verbal language and through the non-verbal signals of eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, touch, posture, and the timing and intensity of responses, we could then link our minds, connecting the core of our inner worlds, and making a more integrated whole from the sum of many individuals.
That’s likely how our relationships within groups allowed us to not only survive, but ultimately to thrive.  Moving beyond the important parent-child relationship of our mammalian history, this human feature of cooperation propelled our need for complex communication and complex brain architecture into fast forward.  The result for all of us is the centrality of relationships in human life.
Now comes another amazing twist to the story.  As our brains took on the need to connect to others, we developed the neural real estate to examine our own sense of identity.
That’s right—it appears that relationships came first, and self-reflection came next! Relationships first.
Elaborated by language and made intricate by socially-needed empathic skills to sense and comprehend the internal intentions and meanings of others, we now could examine in thought and feeling what an “I” might be, and reflect and think about what a “you” was not only in real here-and-now interactions but in concept, across time, and across contexts. I could connect to you, and you and I could form a “we.” And all of this we could reflect upon from the past, sense it in the present, and make plans for the future.
With such a centrality of relationships in forming our evolutionary history and in forming our very identity—individually and as a human species—it might not surprise you to hear (or be reminded) that of all the factors in human life that predict the best positive outcomes, supportive relationships are number one.  These research-proven findings include how long we live, the health of our bodies, the well-being of our minds, and the happiness we experience in life.
Relationships are the most important part of our having well-being in being human.  It’s that simple. And it’s that important.
As a clinician and parent and an educator, I am excited to let others know of how vitally important having supportive relationships are for our individual well-being. But there’s another aspect of relationships that is also clear from recent science: The more we connect with others and embrace the reality of our interconnected nature, the more we’ll live with meaning, compassion, equanimity, and purpose.
Recent studies led by Barbara Fredrickson even show that with such a life of what the Greek’s called eudemonia, we will even have a more optimal way that our genes will be regulated to help us fight off chronic disease.
I like to think of these factors as the way we care for our internal identity as a “me” while also embracing the reality of our interconnected identity as a “we.”  A simple way to remember this important integrated identity is thinking of ourselves as a “MWe”, a fundamentally related being that we can be proud to call human.
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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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Neural stem cells in the adult human brain

For decades, it was believed that the adult brain was a quiescent organ unable to produce new neurons. At the beginning of the1960's, this dogma was challenged by a small group of neuroscientists. To date, it is well-known that new neurons are generated in the adult brain throughout life. Adult neurogenesis is primary confined to the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the forebrain and the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus within the hippocampus. In both the human and the rodent brain, the primary progenitor of adult SVZ is a subpopulation of astrocytes that have stem-cell-like features. The human SVZ possesses a peculiar cell composition and displays important organizational differences when compared to the SVZ of other mammals. Some evidence suggests that the human SVZ may be not only an endogenous source of neural precursor cells for brain repair, but also a source of brain tumors. In this review, we described the cytoarchitecture and cellular composition of the SVZ in the adult human brain. We also discussed some clinical implications of SVZ, such as: stem-cell-based therapies against neurodegenerative diseases and its potential as a source of malignant cells. Understanding the biology of human SVZ and its neural progenitors is one of the crucial steps to develop novel therapies against neurological diseases in humans.

Via Miloš Bajčetić
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Pills for anxiety and sleep problems not linked to increased dementia risk

Pills for anxiety and sleep problems not linked to increased dementia risk | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Taking benzodiazepines (widely used drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia) is not associated with an increased dementia risk in older adults, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

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10 Myths About Traumatic Brain Injury

10 Myths About Traumatic Brain Injury | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Traumatic brain injury and its causes, symptoms, and treatment are often misunderstood and can lead to mishandling of the issues surrounding it.

Via Gerald Carey
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Gerald Carey's curator insight, February 6, 2016 6:22 PM

Although the author doesn't use a lot of references or links, she is an expert on combat trauma and this makes this list worth reading.

Gage Tarrant's curator insight, March 4, 2016 8:53 PM

Although the author doesn't use a lot of references or links, she is an expert on combat trauma and this makes this list worth reading.

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How the GyroGlove Steadies Hands of Parkinson’s Patients

How the GyroGlove Steadies Hands of Parkinson’s Patients | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A wearable device promises to help steady hand tremors by using an old technology—gyroscopes.


When he was a 24-year-old medical student living in London, Faii Ong was assigned to care for a 103-year-old patient who suffered from Parkinson’s, the progressive neurological condition that affects a person’s ease of movement. After watching her struggle to eat a bowl of soup, Ong asked another nurse what more could be done to help the woman. “There’s nothing,” he was grimly told.


Ong, now 26, didn’t accept the answer. He began to search for a solution that might offset the tremulous symptoms of Parkinson’s, a disease that affects one in 500 people, not through drugs but physics. After evaluating the use of elastic bands, weights, springs, hydraulics, and even soft robotics, Ong settled on a simpler solution, one that he recognized from childhood toys. “Mechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,” he explains. “My idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a person’s hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearer’s hand.”


Together with a number of other students from Imperial College London, Ong worked in the university’s prototyping laboratory to run numerous tests. An early prototype of a device, called GyroGlove, proved his instinct correct. Patients report that wearing the GyroGlove, which Ong believes to be the first wearable treatment solution for hand tremors, is like plunging your hand into thick syrup, where movement is free but simultaneously slowed. In benchtop tests, the team found the glove reduces tremors by up to 90 percent.


GyroGlove’s design is simple. It uses a miniature, dynamically adjustable gyroscope, which sits on the back of the hand, within a plastic casing attached to the glove’s material. When the device is switched on, the battery-powered gyroscope whirs to life. Its orientation is adjusted by a precession hinge and turntable, both controlled by a small circuit board, thereby pushing back against the wearer’s movements as the gyroscope tries to right itself.


While the initial prototypes of the device still require refinements to size and noise, Alison McGregor, professor of musculoskeletal biodynamics at Imperial College, who has been a mentor to the team, says the device “holds great promise and could have a significant impact on users’ quality of life.” Helen Matthews of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust agrees: “GyroGlove will make everyday tasks such as using a computer, writing, cooking, and driving possible for sufferers,” she says.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Mike Oehme's curator insight, January 26, 2016 2:47 AM

Interesting idea, unfortunately I don't have a gyro trainer at home anymore

 

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Viral Tool Maps Brain Activity in Real Time

Viral Tool Maps Brain Activity in Real Time | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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Testosterone Influences Emotional Regulation in Psychopathic Brain

Testosterone Influences Emotional Regulation in Psychopathic Brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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Capacity For Memory is Ten Times Greater Than Previously Thought

Capacity For Memory is Ten Times Greater Than Previously Thought | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.

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Predicting Who May Develop Alzheimer’s, and Who May Not

Predicting Who May Develop Alzheimer’s, and Who May Not | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Investigators have wondered why the brains of some cognitively-intact elderly individuals have abundant pathology on autopsy or significant amyloid deposition on neuroimaging that are characteristic of Alzheimer disease (AD). Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Pathology investigated biochemical factors and identified differences in proteins from parietal cortex synapses between patients with and those without manifestation of dementia. Specifically, early-stage AD patients had elevated concentrations of synaptic soluble amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers compared to controls who were not demented but displayed signs of AD pathology. Synapse-associated hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) levels did not increase until late-stage AD.

 

"Investigators examined whether synaptic Aβ levels were associated with neuritic plaque levels in the parietal cortex. They found little or no evidence of Aβ immunolabeling in either of the control groups but observed a rise in synaptic Aβ concentration associated with increasing neuropathologic disease stages. Synaptic Aβ levels highly correlated with the occurrence of plaque. Image is for illustrative purposes only."


Via iPamba, Miloš Bajčetić
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Eat Less and Be Happy

Eat Less and Be Happy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join.

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How The Brain Distinguishes Safety From Danger

How The Brain Distinguishes Safety From Danger | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join.

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What Are The Odds of That? Risky Gambling Choices Influenced by Single Brain Connection

What Are The Odds of That? Risky Gambling Choices Influenced by Single Brain Connection | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join.

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SumaLateral Whole Brain Image

SumaLateral Whole Brain Image | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Multi-color image of whole brain for brain imaging research. This image was created using a computer image processing program (called SUMA), which is used to make sense of data generated by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

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Revolutionary Neuroscience Technique Slated for Human Clinical Trials

Revolutionary Neuroscience Technique Slated for Human Clinical Trials | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Optogenetics may treat chronic pain and other neurological disorders

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'Schizophrenia' does not exist, argues expert

'Schizophrenia' does not exist, argues expert | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The term "schizophrenia," with its connotation of hopeless chronic brain disease, should be dropped and replaced with something like "psychosis spectrum syndrome," argues a professor of psychiatry in The BMJ today.

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Receptors inside nerve cells may be a key to controlling pain

Receptors inside nerve cells may be a key to controlling pain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

In real estate, location is key. It now seems the same concept holds true when it comes to stopping pain.

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Modelling how the brain makes complex decisions

Modelling how the brain makes complex decisions | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers have constructed the first comprehensive model of how neurons in the brain behave when faced with a complex decision-making process, and how they adapt and learn from mistakes.

The mathematical model, developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge, is the first biologically realistic account of the process, and is able to predict not only behaviour, but also neural activity. The results, reported in The Journal of Neuroscience, could aid in the understanding of conditions from obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction to Parkinson’s disease.

The model was compared to experimental data for a wide-ranging set of tasks, from simple binary choices to multistep sequential decision making. It accurately captures behavioural choice probabilities and predicts choice reversal in an experiment, a hallmark of complex decision making.

Via Miloš Bajčetić
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Carlos Rodrigues Cadre's curator insight, February 7, 2016 7:54 AM

adicionar sua visão ...

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Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks

Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Cortical neural circuits have been hypothesized to operate in a regime termed the “edge of chaos.” A new theoretical study puts this regime in a more biologically plausible perspective.

 

Transition to Chaos in Random Neuronal Networks
Jonathan Kadmon and Haim Sompolinsky
Phys. Rev. X 5, 041030 (2015)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevX.5.041030


Via Complexity Digest, Miloš Bajčetić
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Anxiety and Chronic Stress May Increase Depression and Alzheimer’s Risk

Anxiety and Chronic Stress May Increase Depression and Alzheimer’s Risk | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuroscience News has recent neuroscience research articles, brain research news, neurology studies and neuroscience resources for neuroscientists, students, and science fans and is always free to join. Our neuroscience social network has science groups, discussion forums, free books, resources, science videos and more.
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How Our Memories Guide Attention

How Our Memories Guide Attention | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A team of researchers has discovered that differences in the types of memories we have influence the nature of our future encounters. Their findings show how distinct parts of the brain, underlying different kinds of memories, also influence our attention in new situations.

“We’ve long understood there are different types of memories, but what these findings reveal are how different kinds of memories can drive our attention in the future,” explains Elizabeth Goldfarb, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology.

It’s been established that the types of memories we have include episodic memories—characterized by our recollections of the contextual details of life events, such as remembering the layout and location of objects in a familiar room —as well as “habitual” or “rigid” memories. The latter are frequently invoked in our daily lives and are reflexive in nature—for instance, if you take a right turn at a stop sign you pass on your way to work everyday, and you then habitually take a right instead of a left even when you are not going to work.

Previous research has shown that these different types of memories depend on different brain systems, with the hippocampus important for episodic memories and the striatum mediating habitual memories. Less understood, however, are the neurological processes by which these different kinds of memories can function as guides of attention to novel situations.

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Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy

Consoling Voles Hint at Animal Empathy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Larry Young from Emory University, who studies prairie voles, has seen this behavior again and again. To him, it's a sign that the rodents are showing empathy.

Such claims have proven controversial in the past. For example, in 2012, scientists at the University of Chicago showed that rats will free trapped cage-mates, even if they have to sacrifice a bit of chocolate to do so. The researchers billed these rescues as evidence of empathy—that “rats free their cagemate in order to end distress.”


ED YONG


Via Edwin Rutsch
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I Wonder What It’s Like To Have Empathy

I Wonder What It’s Like To Have Empathy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

There is a bit of a coldness to many of us on the spectrum. That’s not to say we’re mean. Not at all. In my experience individuals with autism tend to be more patient, loyal, and tolerant of differences than other people. But we do tend to look at things in a more utilitarian light.


Empathy means you feel what other people feel, right? That’s affective empathy. Cognitive empathy is knowing why someone feels the way they do. I read a study somewhere that said autistics have affective empathy and not cognitive. But, personally speaking, most autistics I know are much better at predicting someone’s feelings than connecting with them.


We can learn social skills with time.


By Gwendolyn Kansen 


Via Edwin Rutsch
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Retinal Implants Improve Image Sharpness For Those With Vision Loss

Retinal Implants Improve Image Sharpness For Those With Vision Loss | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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Questioning Our Morality: Zoning Out or Deep Thinking?

Questioning Our Morality: Zoning Out or Deep Thinking? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

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The Five Myths of Self-Compassion

The Five Myths of Self-Compassion | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Kristin Neff tackles the misconceptions that stop us from being kinder to ourselves.

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Blocking brain inflammation 'halts Alzheimer's disease' - BBC News

Blocking brain inflammation 'halts Alzheimer's disease' - BBC News | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Blocking the production of new immune cells in the brain could reduce memory problems seen in Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.


Via Krishan Maggon
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