Communicating negative feelings to others can be tricky. Oftentimes, social pressure pushes our expressed moods upward, making it difficult to articulate feelings honestly—outside of easily classifiable events like the death of a loved one or a painful break-up.
The stigma around negativity comes from a cultural obsession with optimism, psychologist Aaron Sackett of St. Thomas University told Psychology Today. For its first hundred-odd years, psychology focused almost exclusively on dysfunction—that is, what was clinically wrong with us. In the 1990s, the positive psychology movement reacted against this trend by emphasizing how otherwise healthy people could psychologically grow and thrive. As Psychology reporter Annie Murphy Paul argues, this idea was a perfect fit for the booming nineties, but cultural and social changes since then have made the message resonate less. And now, new research suggests that optimism and positivity may be less useful than once thought.
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Communicating negative feelings to others can be tricky. Oftentimes, social pressure pushes our expressed moods upward, making it difficult to articulate feelings honestly—outside of easily classifiable events like the death of a loved one or a painful break-up.

The stigma around negativity comes from a cultural obsession with optimism, psychologist Aaron Sackett of St. Thomas University told Psychology Today. For its first hundred-odd years, psychology focused almost exclusively on dysfunction—that is, what was clinically wrong with us. In the 1990s, the positive psychology movement reacted against this trend by emphasizing how otherwise healthy people could psychologically grow and thrive. As Psychology reporter Annie Murphy Paul argues, this idea was a perfect fit for the booming nineties, but cultural and social changes since then have made the message resonate less. And now, new research suggests that optimism and positivity may be less useful than once thought.

Keep reading …

Since submarines began roaming the depths in World War I, sailors and  oceanographers, who use sonar technology to map seafloor topography and  identify ocean life, have regularly run into “acoustic  ghosts”—inexplicable bodies of movable mass that sometimes rivaled the  size of a city. Every time a theory emerged to explain the phenomenon, however, it was quickly shot down.
In 2003 scientists aboard a research vessel just south  of Long Island, New York, discovered that the UFOs were composed of  hundreds of millions of fish—massive gatherings on a scale never before  documented. Using low-­frequency sonar technology that penetrated  hundreds of miles, they identified a school roughly the size of  Manhattan.
Keep reading …

Since submarines began roaming the depths in World War I, sailors and oceanographers, who use sonar technology to map seafloor topography and identify ocean life, have regularly run into “acoustic ghosts”—inexplicable bodies of movable mass that sometimes rivaled the size of a city. Every time a theory emerged to explain the phenomenon, however, it was quickly shot down.

In 2003 scientists aboard a research vessel just south of Long Island, New York, discovered that the UFOs were composed of hundreds of millions of fish—massive gatherings on a scale never before documented. Using low-­frequency sonar technology that penetrated hundreds of miles, they identified a school roughly the size of Manhattan.

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A No-Brainer for Science: By studying the human brain—not via an MRI or CT scan, but through the  hands-on examination of a brain extracted from a recently deceased  body—medical researchers can make stunning headway in discovering  treatments or cures for diseases like autism, Parkinson’s, and  Alzheimer’s. In theory, most people want to help advance this research;  in reality, the idea of donating your brain to science is knottier.
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A No-Brainer for Science: By studying the human brain—not via an MRI or CT scan, but through the hands-on examination of a brain extracted from a recently deceased body—medical researchers can make stunning headway in discovering treatments or cures for diseases like autism, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. In theory, most people want to help advance this research; in reality, the idea of donating your brain to science is knottier.

Keep reading …

Tags: brains science

Man Up and Talk about Paternal Postpartum

“How are you feeling, emotionally? Any long periods of sadness or worry?” In between ultrasounds and heartbeats and blood pressure readings, my obstetrician asks about my mental health during every prenatal visit. She also brings up the possibility of postpartum depression once this kid is born in a few months, reminding me that many women experience it at some level and how important it is to seek help if persistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, or detachment last longer than a couple of weeks.

It’s reassuring to know my doctor is alert to this overwhelming condition that has affected so many of my friends and acquaintances, from milder cases to a severe case of wanting to die and having intrusive thoughts of hurting the baby. Between 9 and 16 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I’m confident that if I experience PPD in any form, I’ll have a sympathetic professional ear and immediate medical treatment available to me as a new mother.

But Radish Magazine points out that postpartum depression in dads is just as common as in moms—and the same culture that has learned to open up about the condition in women isn’t quite as prepared for it in men.

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Excrement is an unexpected hero. While not a subject discussed in  polite company, in both medical and environmental arenas poop is coming  to the rescue.
Take, for example, the positive buzz surrounding fecal  transplants, which are heralded as possible cures for everything from  asthma and depression to Crohn’s disease, MS, and the bacterial gut  infection c. difficile.
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Excrement is an unexpected hero. While not a subject discussed in polite company, in both medical and environmental arenas poop is coming to the rescue.

Take, for example, the positive buzz surrounding fecal transplants, which are heralded as possible cures for everything from asthma and depression to Crohn’s disease, MS, and the bacterial gut infection c. difficile.

Keep reading …

Small farmers, conscious consumers, and conservationists of all  stripes are, at the very least, wary of genetically modified crops.  They’re a wild, largely untested disruptor in already-fragile ecosystems  that have gotten along just fine without any intrinsically-tinkered  species. But that hesitancy doesn’t really hold water if there’s no  ecosystem to begin with. Like on Mars, say.
Mars’ atmosphere boasts one-hundredth the density of Earth’s,  which will pose a deadly radiation threat to any life that might ever  try to inhabit it, including human colonists. According to Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh, “Any crew dispatched on the 18-to-30-month mission to  Mars will face highly elevated risks of cancer, tissue degradation, bone  density loss, brain damage, pharmaceutical spoilage, and other health  threats.”
You could argue that, of course, humans didn’t evolve alongside  the Martian landscape. But that’s just you muzzling your inner  science-fiction geek. Why let a little thing like “near-inhospitability  of a planet” crush our dreams of solar system stretching Manifest  Destiny? That, suggests Cavanaugh, is where genetic engineering comes  in.
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Small farmers, conscious consumers, and conservationists of all stripes are, at the very least, wary of genetically modified crops. They’re a wild, largely untested disruptor in already-fragile ecosystems that have gotten along just fine without any intrinsically-tinkered species. But that hesitancy doesn’t really hold water if there’s no ecosystem to begin with. Like on Mars, say.

Mars’ atmosphere boasts one-hundredth the density of Earth’s, which will pose a deadly radiation threat to any life that might ever try to inhabit it, including human colonists. According to Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh, “Any crew dispatched on the 18-to-30-month mission to Mars will face highly elevated risks of cancer, tissue degradation, bone density loss, brain damage, pharmaceutical spoilage, and other health threats.”

You could argue that, of course, humans didn’t evolve alongside the Martian landscape. But that’s just you muzzling your inner science-fiction geek. Why let a little thing like “near-inhospitability of a planet” crush our dreams of solar system stretching Manifest Destiny? That, suggests Cavanaugh, is where genetic engineering comes in.

Keep reading …

What must it feel like to be an astronaut: weightless, rocketing  farther and farther from home and country, gazing out your craft’s  window at the deepness of space, wondering where you can get a good  salad…
As astronauts set their sights on a not-so-distant mission to Mars,  scientists are wondering what to put on spacecraft menus. Current  packaged meal options, while far more advanced than the nutrition pills  and pureed-food tubes of early space travel, aren’t practical for an  extended trip, says Alexandra Witze in Science News. “Six astronauts eating 3,000 calories a day for three years, the length of a Mars mission, adds up to 20 tons of prepared food that would need to be launched.”
Keep reading …

What must it feel like to be an astronaut: weightless, rocketing farther and farther from home and country, gazing out your craft’s window at the deepness of space, wondering where you can get a good salad…

As astronauts set their sights on a not-so-distant mission to Mars, scientists are wondering what to put on spacecraft menus. Current packaged meal options, while far more advanced than the nutrition pills and pureed-food tubes of early space travel, aren’t practical for an extended trip, says Alexandra Witze in Science News. “Six astronauts eating 3,000 calories a day for three years, the length of a Mars mission, adds up to 20 tons of prepared food that would need to be launched.”

Keep reading …

Faith Goes Viral: Religious beliefs can shape key behaviors when it comes to dealing with  disease, says David Hughes, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania  State University. In a presentation in August at the 13th Congress of  the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, Hughes and  colleagues reported that some of today’s major religions emerged at the  same time as widespread infectious diseases, and they propose that the  two helped shape one another.
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Faith Goes Viral: Religious beliefs can shape key behaviors when it comes to dealing with disease, says David Hughes, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University. In a presentation in August at the 13th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, Hughes and colleagues reported that some of today’s major religions emerged at the same time as widespread infectious diseases, and they propose that the two helped shape one another.

Keep reading …

In Defense of Village Idiots: Although it pains us to even type these words, new research from  Princeton University suggests that the least informed citizens provide a  crucial damper on our democratic process.  Ecology professor Iain Couzin used a model animal that, on the whole,  is more intelligent that about 30 percent of Americans: fish.
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In Defense of Village Idiots: Although it pains us to even type these words, new research from Princeton University suggests that the least informed citizens provide a crucial damper on our democratic process. Ecology professor Iain Couzin used a model animal that, on the whole, is more intelligent that about 30 percent of Americans: fish.

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It’s a cardinal human experience: Someone we love dies, and we grieve  the loss. This powerful emotion has inspired scores of poets, from  Aeschylus to Jay-Z, and serves as the central metaphor of humanity for  at least one of the world’s major religions.
In contemporary Western psychology, however, bereavement represents a  conundrum. A depressed mood, diminished pleasure in normal activities,  disrupted appetite and sleep patterns, thoughts of death—these are the  hallmarks of bereavement. And they’re also the measures clinicians use  to diagnose treatable depression. This confusion is reopening the debate  over what constitutes mental health.
Keep reading …

It’s a cardinal human experience: Someone we love dies, and we grieve the loss. This powerful emotion has inspired scores of poets, from Aeschylus to Jay-Z, and serves as the central metaphor of humanity for at least one of the world’s major religions.

In contemporary Western psychology, however, bereavement represents a conundrum. A depressed mood, diminished pleasure in normal activities, disrupted appetite and sleep patterns, thoughts of death—these are the hallmarks of bereavement. And they’re also the measures clinicians use to diagnose treatable depression. This confusion is reopening the debate over what constitutes mental health.

Keep reading …