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Psychedelic drug users throughout the ages have described their experiences as mind-expanding. They might be surprised, therefore, to hear that psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – actually decreases blood flow as well as connectivity between important areas of the brain that control perception and cognition.

The same areas can be overactive in people who suffer from depression, making the drug a potential treatment option for the condition.

The study is the first time that psilocybin's effects have been measured with fMRI, and the first experiment involving a hallucinogenic drug and human participants in the UK for decades.Collapse )
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One fourth of all young people experience a form of school engagement on a weekly basis. Vocational students experience engagement to a greater degree than upper secondary school students; upper secondary students have a rate of about 20 per cent, while the corresponding rate for vocational students was as much as one third. Girls are more enthusiastic about school than boys.

These findings were made in the study led by Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro, which is part of the Academy of Finland Research Programme on the Health and Welfare of Children and Young People (SKIDI-KIDS).

Salmela-Aro and her team have developed a reliable and quick method (the EDA inventory) for the independent assessment of schoolwork engagement. Engagement comprises energy, dedication and absorption as related to schoolwork.

School burnout is becoming, however, increasingly common. Collapse )
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The perfect excuse for a siesta! People who stay awake throughout the day become progressively more sensitive to negative emotions. In contrast, those who take an afternoon nap are desensitised to negative emotions yet more responsive to positive ones. The new finding builds on past research by showing that not only does sleep deprivation cause emotional problems, a sleep boost can bring emotional advantages.

Ninad Gujar and his colleagues tested 36 participants (half were male; average age 21) on a face processing task, once at 12pm and then again at 5pm. Half the participants were given a 90-minute napping opportunity after the first task, whilst the others just went about their day as usual.

The task involved the participants looking at a computer screen that showed a male face pulling fearful, sad, angry and happy expressions at various intensities. The participants' goal quite simply was to rate each presentation of the face for intensity on a scale from 1 (definitely neutral) to 4 (mostly happy/sad etc).

For participants who stayed awake through the afternoon, their performance at 5pm, compared with at 12pm, demonstrated heightened sensitivity to fearful and angry facial expressions.Collapse )

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Matt Lamkin argues that universities shouldn’t ban cognitive-enhancing drugs like Ritalin and Adderall. Lamkin is a lawyer and, like myself, a master’s candidate in bioethics. He rightly believes that a ban would do little to promote fairness or safety among students. The rule followers would be at a disadvantage while the rule-breakers would be at a greater safety risk. But Lamkin doesn’t believe we, as a society, should be ok with cognitive enhancement usage.

Instead, he argues: The word “cheating” has another meaning, one that has nothing to do with competition. When someone has achieved an end through improper means, we might say that person has “cheated herself” out of whatever rewards are inherent in the proper means. The use of study drugs by healthy students could corrode valuable practices that education has traditionally fostered. If, for example, students use such drugs to mitigate the consequences of procrastination, they may fail to develop mental discipline and time-management skills.

Instead, colleges need to encourage students to engage in the practice of education rather than to seek shortcuts.Collapse )
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What's your take on cognitive enhancers and college students? Should seriously repercussions be given for being caught?
big bang, kpop, top, <3
Experts agree that long-term alcohol abuse is detrimental to memory function and can cause neuro-degenerative disease. However, according to a study published in Age and Ageing by Oxford University Press, there is evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of cognitive decline or dementia.

Estimates from various studies have suggested the prevalence of alcohol-related dementia to be about 10% of all cases of dementia.Collapse )

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miyazaki, LIFE'S NOT WORTH LIVING IF I CAN'T BE BE, howl's moving castle
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to have an extra arm, a team of Swedish researchers would love to show you. Scientists at the medical university Karolinska Institutet were wondering the same thing, so they set up an experiment to find out. It turns out it’s possible to experience having three arms at the same time.

How the mind perceives the body has long been a vexing question for scientists both psychological and physiological, and the commonly accepted line of thinking said that the brain more or less innately understands the blueprint of the body. Collapse )

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Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter.

"Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Previous studies from Lazar's group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.Collapse )
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Playing the computer game Tetris after a horrific experience can act like a "cognitive antibiotic" by reducing the harrowing flashbacks that haunt people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Flashbacks are a hallmark of PTSD, especially among soldiers who have witnessed terrible events in combat. Soldiers with PTSD are more likely to be disabled or to die from accident or illness than those who do not, even decades later. "It's the kind of memory that pops back when you don't want it to," says Emily Holmes, a clinical psychology researcher at the University of Oxford.

Last year Holmes showed that if volunteers played Tetris for half an hour after looking at graphic images of injuries, they had fewer unwanted memories of the images as a result.Collapse )

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20th-Jan-2011 08:33 pm - Brain's Clock Influenced by Senses
Humans use their senses to help keep track of short intervals of time according to new research, which suggests that our perception of time is not maintained by an internal body clock alone.

Scientists from UCL (University College London) set out to answer the question "Where does our sense of time come from?" Their results show that it comes partly from observing how much the world changes, as we have learnt to expect our sensory inputs to change at a particular 'average' rate. Comparing the change we see to this average value helps us judge how much time has passed, and refines our internal timekeeping.

"There are many proposals for how an internal clock might work, but no one has found a single part of the brain that keeps track of time. It may be that there is no such place, that our perception of time is distributed across the brain and makes use of whatever information is available."Collapse )
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