The brain is composed of millions of specialized cells called neurons. Neurons send signals to other neurons using electro-chemical messengers called neuro-transmitters that attach to receiving sites located on the neurons themselves. There is a space between the end of the neuron and the receptor called the synaptic gap. As neuro-transmitter chemicals move across this gap, a small electrical charge is created.
It was a few months after the birth of our second child that I came to truly understand the effects of long-term sleep deprivation. Constantly waking up at 1:00 or 3:00 a.m. soon turned daily life into a hazy blur. I'd often find myself lying in bed, anticipating the next round of crying, or later in the night, I'd be tossing and turning for ages after being woken up. It's no fun whatsoever to drag yourself out of bed every morning with dark circles under your eyes. During this time, it became … [Read more...]
Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Some of these practices bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing or a few repeated words. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations. Mindfulness can also be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, or eating.
This music encourages a state of alpha relaxation. The alpha state is a pleasant state of relaxed alertness. It’s a state that many people experience when they are waking up in the morning or when they are just beginning to drift off to sleep at night. While in a state of alpha relaxation, the mind is quite clear and receptive to information, learning is accelerated and one’s sense of creativity is enhanced. The mind is also very open to positive suggestions during this state.
Exercise and stress research has typically focused on aerobic exercise. There have been consistent findings that people report feeling calmer after a 20- to 30-minute bout of aerobic exercise, and the calming effect can last for several hours after exercise. Recently, there has been an increased amount of research on the role of mind-body types of exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi. Unfortunately, there is somewhat limited research on the role of resistance exercise in stress management.
Set aside time in your daily schedule. If possible, schedule a set time once or twice a day for your practice. If your schedule is already packed, remember that many relaxation techniques can be practiced while performing other tasks. Try meditating while commuting on the bus or train, taking a yoga or tai chi break at lunchtime, or practicing mindful walking while exercising your dog.
Stress affects your whole body, so find a pick-me-up for each of your senses. Turning on a favorite tune uses your sense of hearing for a science-backed burst of good feeling, and using aromatherapy uses your sense of smell to relax you. “Oils like lavender and lemon reduce stress,” Dr. Serani says. “Also, don’t forget that your sense of smell is the most nostalgic of all your senses,” so if you have a scent that reminds you of comfort, keep it on hand to sniff when you’re freaking out. Your sense of touch can be employed by stroking a “talisman”—a favorite or sentimental item—or even an “intention stick,” which you can hold like a wand to feel more in control. Chew gum to use your sense of taste to curb stress (scientists think it’s the lasting flavor, not just the act of chewing itself, that makes gum such a great stress reliever). Besides using your mind’s eye to visualize a happy place, you can use your sense of sight to look at calming images—cat videos on the Internet have actually been scientifically proven to lower stress.
The use of brainwave entrainment techniques offers many benefits for overall health and well-being, including improved emotional stability, increased cognitive function, and a deepening of creative insight. Much of this benefit derives from the hemispheric synchronization occurring as a result of entrained brainwaves. This effect happens when the electrical impulses in both hemispheres synchronized to the same frequency being delivered through the entrainment source.
Just as stress can increase the risk for chronic diseases and other health problems, dealing with chronic conditions and poor health can increase the amount of stress one experiences. Stress also influences behaviors that affect health. Diet choices, sleep habits, and drug use are behaviors that are often negatively affected by stress (3). The APA’s 2011 survey showed that 39% percent of respondents reported overeating or eating unhealthy food because of stress, and 29% reported skipping a meal (3). In addition, 44% reported lying awake at night because of stress (3). On a positive note, 47% of respondents reported walking or exercise as a way of managing stress (3).
While it may not be a perfect therapeutic option for treating certain psychological conditions, brainwave entrainment is yet another tool that warrants further testing and exploration. There is clear evidence that certain protocols may benefit human performance. Unfortunately nearly all of the research has been conducted by those who clearly are affiliated with those who manufacture brainwave entrainment products.
In their earlier experiments, the scientists had detected connections between neurons from organoids and neurons from the mouse brain, but they could not tell whether or not the neurons could actually communicate with one and other. Optogenetics is an extremely clever technique that uses light to control neurons. By using this technique, the researchers were able to specifically stimulate the neurons in the organoids by turning on and off a light. When the light was on, the neurons of the organoids became electrically active. When they used electrodes to measure the activity of neurons outside the organoid in another part of the mouse brain, they were able to detect electrically activated neurons there too, showing that organoid neurons could signal to host neurons.
The eyes of the participants were closed and the VFP goggles illuminated in alternative manner; first the right eye, then the left. The rate at which the photic stimulation was conducted ranged between 0.5 Hz and 50 Hz. Of the 50 patients with migraines, 49 considered their headache as having been “helped” by the stimulation and 36 noted that their headache had completely “stopped” from the VFP goggles.
By tagging the transplanted organoid and creating a glass window in the skull, the group was able to keep track of where it was in the mouse brain. The first thing they noticed was that compared to organoids kept in a dish, the organoids that had been successfully transplanted into the mouse brain shared more features with a human brain. The normal human brain has a network of cavities, which are filled by cerebrospinal fluid and is also formed up of distinct layers of neuronal cells, which mature over time. In the dish, organoids develop a cavity and begin to form different cell layers like in a real brain, however, the cells that make up the layers do not fully mature. When the researchers compared the different cell types present in the implanted organoids vs. those that were formed in a dish, they detected a higher number of mature neurons and also other cell types, such as the star-shaped support cells of the brain, called astrocytes, which are not usually found in lab-grown organoids.
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However, black cohosh does come with some warnings. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women with estrogen-induced breast cancer or the risk of breast cancer, and those with liver issues, should not take black cohosh, as it has been found in some, but not all studies to exacerbate problems with breast cancer and liver disease.
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When the brain is stimulated with pulsed sounds (neuroelectrical activity via the nerves originating from the ears), the overall activity of the brain will respond to and align with these pulses. By selecting the desired rate, the brain via the frequency following response (entrainment) can be naturally induced towards the selected brainwave state.
I've been going to Christopher for years, initially at the recommendation of a co-worker. Having had several horrible dye jobs before, to say I was nervous was an understatement. But the minute I sat in the chair & told him what I was looking for, he said "I have just the thing" and took off for bowls of dye, brushes, tin foil & saran wrap... I thought maybe he was MacGyver. Turns out, pretty close. My hair looked amazing.
It's tempting to reach for a cheeseburger when stressed, but go green at lunch instead. "Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm," says Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders of 2,800 middle-aged and elderly people and found those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression symptoms than those who took in the least. And, a 2013 study from the University of Otago found that college students tended to feel calmer, happier, and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and veggies. It can be hard to tell which came first—upbeat thoughts or healthy eating—but the researchers found that healthy eating seemed to predict a positive mood the next day.
This session shifts from the 14Hz sensormotor rhythm through beta to 40Hz gamma, and repeats the pattern over and over, constantly “revving up”the mind with each repetition. The process is stabilized with a 10Hz background alpha beat, allowing the brain a place to relax instantly, whenever a let up allows. Use this session any time, and for as long as required to get the job done. Take in a High Energy Espresso on long-hauls for a welcome lift. Works without headphones, but the best benefits can be found with them. The session finishes at a fast, revving 18Hz beta. For use mainly with eyes open, engaged in activity - with benefit to be gained from periodically closing your eyes briefly and relaxing.