Parent: Friend or Parent?

I am tired of an all-too-popular piece of (for want of a better phrase) parental crap: The idea that parents and children are “friends.” In truth, I want to slap the stupidity of parents who tell me “My child is my best friend” or “I’m my child’s best friend.” It’s bogus, easy, cheap, and bovine digestive byproduct.

Years before my father was even in ill health, I had mentally written the opening lines to the sermon I would one day deliver at his funeral: “I don’t remember when; I don’t remember where; I don’t remember to whom he was speaking; but, one day I heard my father say, ‘I will never be a friend to my children. I will always be their father.’ And it was true. ‘Til his death, our father was always our father.”

Now, new evidence of the importance of fathers – especially those who encourage their children to live physically and intellectually healthy lives.  

             Even as the nation’s most exclusive universities are moving away from the privileged status of “legacy” applicants – students who get a leg up on their competition for admissions because their parents or grandparents attended the school, it appears that sons of fathers with high incomes tend to end up with higher than average incomes themselves.

But (and it’s a big BUT), new research shows that it’s not just dad’s money that helps a son on his way to personal success: “Human capital” endowments passed from fathers to sons –“smarts,” advice, a work ethic, or some other intangible – may be more important to the next generation’s success than the size of dad’s paycheck. If money is the only thing that matters in the intergenerational transfer of income, then the son of the lucky father would end up with a higher income than the son of the unlucky father.

However, if human capital matters, the two sons may end up with more similar incomes. Among the clues for fathers’ “human capital”:  educational levels and the nature of their occupations. Fathers with more education or those who work in jobs that require specialized skills are considered to have higher human capital endowments that could be passed to sons.

Reporting in the June 8, 2012 edition of the Journal of Political Economy, researchers Lars Lefgren, Matthew J. Lindquist and David Sims explored the relationship between the incomes of fathers in differing labor market conditions. They theorized that if the income correlation weakens for fathers and sons in various situations, they could conclude that money isn’t the only thing that matters.

And that was exactly what their study found. Income differences not related to a father’s human capital were weaker predictors of the son’s income. In other words, human capital does matter.

“We conclude that, for the men in our dataset, differing human capital endowments passed from father to son account for about two-thirds of the overall intergenerational income,” reports Sims, an economics professor at Brigham Young University and one of the study’s authors.

And, when it comes to children’s health, researchers at Oregon State University have demonstrated that parents are a major factor in whether young children are active or couch potatoes.

Reporting in the journal Early Child Development and Care (available online June 21, 2012), researchers at Oregon State University found that children who had “neglectful” parents, or whose parents weren’t home often and who self-reported spending less time with their kids, were getting half-an-hour more television and computer game time- “screen time” on average each weekday.

And, in an age when childhood obesity is skyrocketing, all of the children ages 2 to 4 were sitting more than several hours per day.

“Across all parenting styles, we saw anywhere from four to five hours a day of sedentary activity,” noted lead author David Schary. “This is waking hours not including naps or feeding. Some parents counted quiet play – sitting and coloring, working on a puzzle, etc., – as a positive activity, but this is an age where movement is essential.

The researchers – Schary, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU, Bradley Cardinal, a professor of social psychology of physical activity, and Paul Loprinizi, who completed his doctorate at OSU and is now at Bellamine University (Kentucky) – considered four parenting styles: authoritative (high warmth and control), authoritarian (controlling, less warm), permissive (warm, low control) and neglectful (low control and warmth).

In the sample of almost 200 families, all of the children were sitting four to five hours in a typical day; however, children in the more neglectful category were spending up to 30 additional minutes a day watching television, playing video games or being engaged in some other form of “screen time.”

“A half hour each day may not seem like much, but add that up over a week, then a month, and then a year and you have a big impact,” observed Schary. “One child may be getting up to four hours more active play every week, and this sets the stage for the rest of their lives.”

And, to complicate matters even more, parents who were less participatory during the week did not make up for it on weekends. In fact, just the opposite is true. Sedentary time increased nearly one hour each weekend day. And, as Cardinal noted, sedentary behavior goes against the natural tendencies of most preschool-age children. “Toddlers and pre-school age children are spontaneous movers, so it is natural for them to have bursts of activity many minutes per hour. We find that when kids enter school, their levels of physical activity decrease and overall, it continues to decline throughout their life. Early life movement is imperative for establishing healthy, active lifestyle patterns, self-awareness, social acceptance, and even brain and cognitive development.”

In addition, Schary and Cardinal examined the same group of students and asked about the ways parents support and promote active play. They found that parents who actively played with their children had the most impact, but that any level of encouragement, even just watching their child play or driving them to an activity  – made a difference.

“When children are very young, playing is the main thing they do during waking hours, so parental support and encouragement is crucial,” said Schary. “So when we see preschool children not going outside much and sitting while playing with a cell phone or watching TV, we need to help parents counteract that behavior.”

In the end, part of the lesson of these studies is that it is the role of parents to model the need for intellectual inquiry and the importance of active, physical runnin’ around, tree climbin’ real play. If you’re a parent, be a parent: Get off the couch and away from the flat screen and video game controllers and go out walking, running, swimming or biking with your kids. Take them to the games and other physical activities that encourage mental and physical growth and fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. Your kids are kids. They should be playing like kids. They aren’t Idaho, red or sweet potatoes. Don’t allow or encourage them to act like couch potatoes.

 Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

 

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Retail Therapy

It’s not exactly an intelligence test, but can you find the link: 1,200 pairs of shoes, wretched excess and political corruption and long-term self-directed psychotherapy. A clue: It’s not Imelda Marcos (although few of our readers would recognize or remember the name of the wife of the one-time Philippine dictator).

 

The answer: “Retail therapy.”

 

Imelda, of course, was so famous for her shoe collection – found in the presidential palace and other sites around Manila after her husband’s overthrow – that she became a supermodel for wretched excess and political corruption. But, if the wives of infamous dictators like Marcos and Syria’s Assad are notorious for their lavish spending, it may be that they’re simply saving on psychiatric bills. Hey, nobody ever said it’s easy being the wife of a murderous dictator and, a woman’s got to save a little spending money somewhere. After all, consumers often shop to cope with stressful situations.

 

However, researchers Soo Kim and Derek D. Rucker of the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) now report that consumers are much more selective when it comes to shopping as a way of coping with future challenges.

 

While it’s been well-established that “retail therapy” is a common (sometimes expensive) coping mechanism after stressful experiences challenge an individual’s self-image – they shop to “forget about it” and distract themselves, the researchers found that consumers also shop when facing potential future challenges to their self-image. They practice retail therapy proactively and to protect themselves against potential challenges.

 

However, the researchers found proactive consumers are very selective in choosing only products that are specific to the potentially negative situation. For example, buying “smart water” before a math test or the Law School Admissions Test or that “absolutely perfect outfit” for a class reunion with once very judgmental classmates – guarding themselves against others’ perceptions of being a failure at some level.

 

“Prior to receiving any negative feedback, consumers select products that are specifically associated with bolstering or guarding the part of the self that might come under attack,” the authors conclude in “Bracing for the Psychological Storm: Proactive versus Reactive Compensatory Consumption” in the December 2012 edition of the . Journal of Consumer Research. “After receiving negative feedback, consumers seem to increase their consumption more generally as consumption may serve as a means to distract them from the negative feedback.”

Stress  is still another area in which the Brain Training Centers of Florida help individuals by using brain wave optimization.  For further information, please call (305) 412-5050.

 

 

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

 

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Of Interest to Everyone

Drug and alcohol addictions have long been called “Suicide on the slow.” Now, there’s a new member of the suicide class: Suicide by sugar.

 

Orlando Sentinel writer Mami Jameson provides a valuable insight: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-18/health/os-sugar-toxic-substance-20120616_1_corn-sugar-sugar-consumption-corn-refiners-association.

 

A slightly expanded version, based on Jameson’s work, can be found in The Chicago Tribune:

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-18/health/os-sugar-toxic-substance-20120616_1_corn-sugar-sugar-consumption-corn-refiners-association

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Reasons not to Skimp on Sleep

Sleep. It’s so easy. Just turn out the light and put your head on the pillow. Nothing to it!
Wrong!!!!!!
If it’s really that easy for you, count your blessings instead of sheep. In sleep deprived America, you’re truly fortunate.
In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 35 percent of adults regularly clock (you’ll pardon the pun) fewer than seven hours per night and 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea that affect their daily functioning and may negatively affect health.
To mark National Sleep Awareness Week in March, U.S. New & World Report writers Sarah Baldauf and Angela Haupt updated an earlier article – “13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep.” http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/articles/2012/03/05/13-reasons-not-to-skimp-on-sleep_print.html.
The highlights:
1. Insufficient sleep appears to throw appetite suppressing hormones out-of-wack and people who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are at greater risk of being obese.
2. Individuals – especially women – with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep tend to consume a diet high in cholesterol, protein, total fat and total saturated fat.
3. Individuals regularly getting five or fewer or six or fewer hours of sleep a night were 2.5 and 1.7 times respectively more likely to be diabetic.
4. Too little sleep appears to promote calcium buildup in the heart arteries – a critical factor in heart attacks and strokes.
5. Sleep apnea has been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure.
6. Nearly 20 percent of serious automobile accidents involve a sleepy driver and you don’t want to know the percentage of airline pilots, train operators and truck drivers who admit they’ve made a serious error due to lack of sleep, but we’ll tell you it’s 20, 18 and 14 percent respectively.
7. If you have an elderly parent whose sleep schedules are way off, you already know that when they are drowsy, they are more prone to serious falls.
8. Sleep deprived adults regularly reported higher levels of depression, mental distress and alcohol use; high schoolers experience the same problems, and sleep-deprived middle schoolers report more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.
9. Perhaps there’s a reason why Miami is reportedly home for so many rude servers and others: they may be sleep-deprived; a 2011 study in the Academy of Management Journal reported that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behaviors, making people ruder and more likely to respond inappropriately.
10. It’s been well-known to educators that sleep promotes learning and helps the brain commit new information to memory; individuals who sleep after learning a task do better on later tests. But, regularly getting less than six to eight hours of sleep a night can age your brain by four to seven years.
11. It may not be the “terrible twos.” In children sleep deprivation and disordered breathing during sleep may result in behavioral issues like attention deficit disorder.
12) “Vanity, thy opposite is sleep deprivation.” Let’s face it, when you’re sleep deprived you just don’t look your best. “ ‘Nough said.
13. Five or fewer hours of sleep per night can increase the risk of early death by as much as 15 years.
So…. “Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep
Too busy to go to bed? Having trouble getting quality sleep once you do? Your health may be at risk
By SARAH BALDAUF, ANGELA HAUPT
March 5, 2012

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week. Before hitting snooze on this news, consider that scheduling a good night’s sleep could be one of the smartest health priorities you set. It’s not just daytime drowsiness you risk when shortchanging yourself on your seven to nine hours. (More than 35 percent of adults routinely clock less than seven hours per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.) Possible health consequences of getting too little or poor sleep can involve the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. In addition to letting life get in the way of good sleep, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder—such as insomnia or sleep apnea—that affects daily functioning and impinges on health. Here’s a look at the research:
1) Less may mean more. Among people who sleep under seven hours a night, the fewer zzzz’s they get, the more obese they tend to be, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. This may relate to the discovery that insufficient sleep appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack. Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost.
) You’re more apt to make bad food choices. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep ate a diet higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat, and total saturated fat. Women were especially affected.
3) Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, its precursor, may become more likely. A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people getting five or fewer hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times more likely to be diabetic, those getting six hours or fewer were 1.7 times more likely.
4) The ticker is put at risk. A 2003 study found that heart attacks were 45 percent more likely in women who slept five or fewer hours per night than in those who got more. And a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that too little sleep promotes calcium buildup in the heart arteries, leading to the plaques that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
5) Blood pressure may increase. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, has been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure, and the more severe the disorder, the more significant the hypertension, suggests the 2006 IOM report. Obesity plays a role in both disorders, so losing weight can ease associated health risks.
6) Auto accidents rise. As stated in a 2007 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 20 percent of serious car crash injuries involve a sleepy driver—and that’s independent of alcohol use. Sleepiness affects professional drivers, too. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep in America poll, released Saturday, found that 20 percent of airline pilots admit they’ve made a serious error due to lack of sleep, compared with 18 percent of train operators and 14 percent of truck drivers.
7) Balance is off. Older folks who have trouble getting to sleep, who wake up at night, or are drowsy during the day could be 2 to 4.5 times more likely to sustain a fall, found a 2007 study in the Journal of Gerontology.
8) You may be more prone to depression. Adults who chronically operate on fumes report more mental distress, depression, and alcohol use. Adolescents suffer, too: One survey of high school students found similarly high rates of these issues. Middle schoolers, too, report more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.
9) You won’t be as nice. In general, sleep loss is likely to negatively affect your mood, causing irritability, impatience, and an inability to concentrate. A 2011 study in the Academy of Management Journal found that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behavior, making people more rude and more likely to respond inappropriately in situations.
10) Your smarts may suffer. Sleep promotes learning, according to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. It helps the brain commit new information to memory, and researchers have found that people who sleep after learning a task do better on later tests. In 2011, University of London scientists said that getting less than six to eight hours of sleep a night can age your brain by four to seven years—increasing the speed of cognitive decline, and worsening vocabulary and reasoning abilities.

11) Kids may suffer more behavior problems. Research from a 2008 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that children who are plagued by insomnia, short duration of sleeping, or disordered breathing with obesity, for example, are more likely to have behavioral issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
[See: Fight These 4 Causes of Aging]
12) You’ll look better. Beauty sleep is no myth: People are perceived as being less attractive and more unhealthy when they’re sleep-deprived than when they’re well-rested, according to research published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal. Swedish researchers photographed 23 volunteers on two occasions: Once, after getting eight hours of sleep, and again after being kept awake for 31 hours following five hours of sleep. None of the participants wore makeup and all were equally clean-shaven. More than 60 untrained observers rated the photos. Participants were judged to be 4 percent less attractive, 6 percent less healthy, and 19 percent more tired when they were sleep-deprived.
13) Death’s doorstep may be nearer. Those who get five hours or less per night have approximately 15 percent greater risk of dying—regardless of the cause—according to three large population-based studies published in the journals Sleep and the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Updated on 3/5/12: This story was originally published on Oct. 16, 2008. It has been updated.

This is just one of many areas the technicians at the Brain Training Centers of Florida are very successful in helping clients overcome, 7 days per week. For more information please call (305) 412-5050.

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Lack of Sleep – “A Perfect Storm”

It may be a “perfect storm” of mental and physical health plagues.

In three new studies, researchers at Penn State University have reported that obesity and depression are the two main culprits contributing to day-to-day excessive sleepiness and fatigue.

“The ‘epidemic’ of sleepiness parallels an ‘epidemic’ of obesity and psychosocial stress,” said Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, the principal investigator for three Penn State studies. “Weight loss, depression and sleep disorders should be our priorities in terms of preventing the medical complications and public safety hazards associated with this excessive sleepiness.”

The Penn State researchers, who presented their findings at the Boston Sleep 2012 conference in June, examined a random population of 1,741 adults and determined that obesity and emotional stress are the main culprits of the current national “epidemic” of sleepiness and fatigue. In addition, insufficient sleep and obstructive sleep apnea play a role and have been linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, depression, diabetes, obesity and accidents.

Two-hundred and twenty-two of the 1,721 participants in the Penn State study initially reported excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and, for those whose EDS persisted at the time of follow-up – seven and a half years later – weight gain was the strongest predicting factor. “In fact, our results showed that in individuals who lost weight, excessive sleepiness improved,” Vgontzas reported.

In a second follow-up – seven and a half years later – researchers found that depression and obesity are the strongest risk factors for new-onset excessive sleepiness, a finding confirmed by a third study – this time of 103 research volunteers.

“The primary finding connecting our three studies are that depression and obesity are the main risk factors for both new-onset and persistent excessive sleepiness,” Vgontzas said.

The findings regarding EDS are important because it is linked to significant health risks and on-the-job accidents.

The bottom line: sleep disorders are just a “little problem.” Their accompanied by or cause a wide range of often life-threatening problems. If the persists beyond a difficult night or two, address them or risk being drowned in your own sleep-related “perfect storm.”

The Brain Training Centers of Florida are helping people improve their sleep without medication utilizing brain wave optimization seven days a week. Please contact us at 305-412-5050 with any questions.

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That bad night’s sleep just might kill ya

Okay, not just one night, but persistent insomnia – constant waking in the middle of the night and difficulty falling asleep – can have life-threatening – and too often unexpected – effects. The news reflects the findings of teams of researchers across the country, many of them publishing their studies at June’s Sleep 2012 Conference in Boston.

Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep – may increase the likelihood of developing hypertension.

“The cause of hypertension in insomniacs is due to the number of times the individual wakes during the night as well as their sleep latency — the length of time it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep,” reports Christopher Drake, associate scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center (Detroit) and lead author of the study.

Thirty to forty percent of American adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. About 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.

The researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center compared 5314 subjects Internet-based questionnaires on insomnia symptoms, presence and severity of hypertension and sleep health habits. “We found that the longer it took the subjects to fall asleep and more times they woke during the night, the more severe their hypertension,” reported Drake. Normal sleepers were compared to insomniacs for the prevalence of hypertension.

Cure-Insomnia-Brain-TrainingIn another study – of 5,666 working adults aged 45 older and all free from strokes and stroke symptoms, transient ischemic attack, or sleep-disordered breathing problems who were followed over a three-year period – researchers found that middle- to older-aged subjects who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night have an increased stroke risk, even if they don’t have a history of stroke, aren’t overweight and don’t have an increased risk for sleep apnea. Importantly, the researchers found a link between getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night and strokes is strong among normal weight subjects but did not find the same link in overweight and obese study participants.
It is possible that short sleep affects stroke risks by acting on other, known risk factors: increasing blood pressure, spurring inflammation and altering metabolic hormones. Even after adjusting for sleep apnea, a known risk factor for strokes, the researchers found that a nightly sleep of less than six hours was strongly associated with a greater incidence of stroke.
Their findings are especially important because it is estimated that 30 percent of working adults get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. “We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone,” reported researcher Megan Ruiter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “A lot of people say that when things get stressful and schedules get tight sleep is the first thing to get sacrificed. It turns out that it’s a lot more problematic than we previously realized.”

“These people sleeping less than six hours had a four times increased risk of experiencing these stroke symptoms compared to their normal weight counterparts that were getting seven to eight hours,” note Ruiter.

In a new report at the 2012 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, researchers noted that individuals with sleep apnea may have an increased risk of so-called “silent strokes” and small lesions in the brain. “We found a surprisingly high frequency of sleep apnea in patients with stroke that underlies its clinical relevance as a stroke risk factor,” noted Jessica Kepplinger, M.D., stroke fellow in the University Stroke Center’s Department of Neurology at the University of Technology (Dresden, Germany).

“Sleep apnea is widely unrecognized and still neglected,” noted Kepplinger. “Patients who had severe sleep apnea were more likely to have silent strokes and the severity of sleep apnea increased the risk of being disabled at hospital discharge.”

The researchers report that 91 percent of patients studied – 51 of 56 – who had a stroke had sleep apnea and were more likely to have silent strokes and white matter lesions in the brain that increased the risk of disability at the time of their discharge; having more than five sleep apnea episodes per night was associated with silent strokes; more than one-third of patients with white matter lesions had severe sleep apnea and more than 50 percent of silent stroke patients had sleep apnea; correlations between sleep apnea and silent strokes were thje same for men and women.

“We have been extremely successful in helping our clients improve their sleep!” reports Dr. Flynn, PsyD, the psychological director at The Brain Training Centers of Florida.

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New Study Shows Help for Depression

In Press: Frontiers in Neuroscience (July 2009)
Overcoming Depression through Brain State Conditioning

Vijendra K. Singh and Lee Gerdes
Brain State International Research Center, Brain State Technologies Inc.

Depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a very serious medical illness affecting an estimated 25 million Americans and millions more worldwide. It significantly changes an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis. Symptoms include persistently sad or irritable mood, pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering, physical slowing or agitation, lack of interest in, or pleasure from, activities that were once enjoyed, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. The cause of depression is not very well understood, but the disorder has a neurobiological basis (Mayberg, 2007). We hypothesized that depressed individuals have an imbalance in the brain (Gerdes, 2008) and conducted a pilot study of brain training using brain state conditioning (BSC). We found that depressive tendencies can be suppressed by BSC.
The study included four subjects (two males, aged 35 and 38 years, and two females, aged 41 and 60 years). Their goal was to overcome depression and improve sleep deprivation, cognitive performance, social interaction, decision making, attention and focus, drug addiction and dependency, motivation, mood stabilization, happiness and well-being, and physical health and balance. Depressed subjects were recruited by telephone interview, followed by the completion of an objective survey. To administer BSC, subjects were given an initial assessment of about 60 min. during which their brains were mapped, followed by four to six consecutive sessions of 90 min. each spread over two to five days. They were asked to complete Beck’s Inventory pre-BSC and post-BSC (Beck, 1996). Our observations were recorded and stored in a computer database and subsequently analyzed. The method of BSC was according to Gerdes (2008).
After the administration of BSC, all four subjects showed positive outcomes, including reduction of Beck’s Inventory score. The response to BSC was divided into two test scores: (i) BAI score for anxiety behavior; and (ii) BDI-II score for depressive behavior. Despite individual differences, all four subjects responded to BSC and showed noticeable reduction in the two test scores. The BAI score for anxiety was reduced by 54 to 100%. The BDI-II score for depression was reduced by 43% in subject code #2 and 80 to 95% in subject code #1, #3 and #4. Reduction in these test scores is a direct reflection of their response to BSC and the depressive tendencies were either completely diminished or significantly suppressed. Their sleep improved and they also showed lower level of stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Depression has a neuroanatomical basis (Mayberg, 2007). Patients with depression show dysfunctional neuronal systems in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, temporal cortex and basal ganglia (Mayberg, 2007). They also showed neuronal loss in the hippocampus (McMaster et al., 2008) and low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (Sen et al., 2008). Since the hippocampus is the primary brain region involved in memory function, hippocampal loss of neurons may explain cognitive decline in patients with depression. Amongst all mental health issues, depression is the single most common problem in adults. The disorder is no longer restricted to adults since many children are also diagnosed with depression. Although depression has a common clinical presentation, symptoms vary from one patient to another, which may imply that depression is a heterogeneous disorder possibly comprised of subsets. This also means that no single treatment will be solely effective for depression and each subset will require highly personalized modalities. In this respect, we suggest that BSC is a novel approach to brain training for alleviating the suffering from depression.
Acknowledgment: We thank the entire BST staff for their help with this study.
References
Beck, A. T. (1996). Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck’s Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition (BDI-II), The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace & Company, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Gerdes, L. (2008). Limitless You: the infinite possibilities of a balanced brain. (Vancouver BC., Canada, Namaste Publishing ), pp. 1-281.
MacMaster, F. P., Mirza, Y., and Szeszko, P. R. (2008). Amygdala and hippocampal volumes in familial onset major depressive disorder. Biol. Psychiatr. 63, 385-390.
Mayberg, H. (2007). Brain pathway may underlie depression. Sci. Am. 17, 26-31.
Sen, S., Duman, R., and Sanacora, G. (2008). Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor, depression, and antidepressant medications: meta-analysis and implications. Biol. Psychiatr. 64, 527-532.

In Press: Frontiers in Neuroscience (July 2009)
Overcoming Depression through Brain State Conditioning

Vijendra K. Singh and Lee Gerdes
Brain State International Research Center, Brain State Technologies Inc.

Depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a very serious medical illness affecting an estimated 25 million Americans and millions more worldwide. It significantly changes an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis. Symptoms include persistently sad or irritable mood, pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering, physical slowing or agitation, lack of interest in, or pleasure from, activities that were once enjoyed, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. The cause of depression is not very well understood, but the disorder has a neurobiological basis (Mayberg, 2007). We hypothesized that depressed individuals have an imbalance in the brain (Gerdes, 2008) and conducted a pilot study of brain training using brain state conditioning (BSC). We found that depressive tendencies can be suppressed by BSC.
The study included four subjects (two males, aged 35 and 38 years, and two females, aged 41 and 60 years). Their goal was to overcome depression and improve sleep deprivation, cognitive performance, social interaction, decision making, attention and focus, drug addiction and dependency, motivation, mood stabilization, happiness and well-being, and physical health and balance. Depressed subjects were recruited by telephone interview, followed by the completion of an objective survey. To administer BSC, subjects were given an initial assessment of about 60 min. during which their brains were mapped, followed by four to six consecutive sessions of 90 min. each spread over two to five days. They were asked to complete Beck’s Inventory pre-BSC and post-BSC (Beck, 1996). Our observations were recorded and stored in a computer database and subsequently analyzed. The method of BSC was according to Gerdes (2008).
After the administration of BSC, all four subjects showed positive outcomes, including reduction of Beck’s Inventory score. The response to BSC was divided into two test scores: (i) BAI score for anxiety behavior; and (ii) BDI-II score for depressive behavior. Despite individual differences, all four subjects responded to BSC and showed noticeable reduction in the two test scores. The BAI score for anxiety was reduced by 54 to 100%. The BDI-II score for depression was reduced by 43% in subject code #2 and 80 to 95% in subject code #1, #3 and #4. Reduction in these test scores is a direct reflection of their response to BSC and the depressive tendencies were either completely diminished or significantly suppressed. Their sleep improved and they also showed lower level of stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Depression has a neuroanatomical basis (Mayberg, 2007). Patients with depression show dysfunctional neuronal systems in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, temporal cortex and basal ganglia (Mayberg, 2007). They also showed neuronal loss in the hippocampus (McMaster et al., 2008) and low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (Sen et al., 2008). Since the hippocampus is the primary brain region involved in memory function, hippocampal loss of neurons may explain cognitive decline in patients with depression. Amongst all mental health issues, depression is the single most common problem in adults. The disorder is no longer restricted to adults since many children are also diagnosed with depression. Although depression has a common clinical presentation, symptoms vary from one patient to another, which may imply that depression is a heterogeneous disorder possibly comprised of subsets. This also means that no single treatment will be solely effective for depression and each subset will require highly personalized modalities. In this respect, we suggest that BSC is a novel approach to brain training for alleviating the suffering from depression.
Acknowledgment: We thank the entire BST staff for their help with this study.
References
Beck, A. T. (1996). Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck’s Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition (BDI-II), The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace & Company, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Gerdes, L. (2008). Limitless You: the infinite possibilities of a balanced brain. (Vancouver BC., Canada, Namaste Publishing ), pp. 1-281.
MacMaster, F. P., Mirza, Y., and Szeszko, P. R. (2008). Amygdala and hippocampal volumes in familial onset major depressive disorder. Biol. Psychiatr. 63, 385-390.
Mayberg, H. (2007). Brain pathway may underlie depression. Sci. Am. 17, 26-31.
Sen, S., Duman, R., and Sanacora, G. (2008). Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor, depression, and antidepressant medications: meta-analysis and implications. Biol. Psychiatr. 64, 527-532.

Posted in: Brain Training, Depression

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Supportive relationships may protect us from consequences of impulsivity

What do the Beatles tune “With A Little Help From My friends,” kamikazes (the drinks not the warriors), and an unexpected trip to a cemetery have in common?

Well, almost nothing except that alcohol and impulsivity are a dangerous mix and people with current drinking problems and poor impulse control are more likely to die in the next 15 years, according to researchers at the Center for Health Care Evaluation of the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Supportive-Relationships-Brain-Training-Centers-FloridaThe study, which appears online and in the November 2011 issue of the journal Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, indicates that alcohol abusers with poor impulse control could get by with a little help from their friends and a strong social support network may buffer the toxic effects of impulsivity.

While alcohol misuse has long been associated with increased risk of premature death, impulsivity – excessive risk-taking, disregard of consequences and poor self-control – has been shown to affect life expectancy regardless of drinking habits.

Lead author Daniel Blonigen, PhD. And his team tested 515 people when they first sought help for drinking problems and again one year later, and then followed them for another 15 years. During this period, 93 individuals died and those who scored high on a measure of impulsivity a year after seeking help for their drinking problems were more likely to die in the following years. These results also held true even after researchers took factors like drinking severity and existing physical health problems into account.

Although the research did not explain why impulsivity compounds the risk of alcohol misuse, “Based on past research, impulsivity is related to a wide range of health risk behaviors [besides heavy alcohol consumption], like smoking, drug use, dangerous driving and risky sexual activities,” Blonigen reported. Impulsive behavior can also increase exposure to stressful situations, with a negative physiological impart.

However, the study found that individuals who reported strong supportive relationships with peers and friends may be somewhat protected from the consequences of their impulsivity – and less likely to die than those who lacked those social resources.

“One of the great lessons to be drawn from this research is that individuals with histories of risk taking and alcohol or drug abuse really benefit from support groups like Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous,” observed Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., founder of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “This new research indicates that when clients take active participation in a Twelve Step program as a serious and critical adjunct to any other form of substance abuse therapy, it may have the additional benefit of adding years to their lives in recovery,” said Flynn.

Posted in: Addiction

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Comfort foods may really be all in your brain

Donuts, ice cream, mashed potatoes, cheese cake. The reason they’re called COMFORT FOODS may really be all in your brain, according to researchers at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Calgary (Canada).

Turns out that under stress the food drive in rats is increased and this insight, published in the August 11 online edition of the journal Neuron, could provide important insight into how and why stress contributes to obesity.

COMFORT FOODS may really be all in your brainEndocannabinoids are neurotransmitters – chemicals responsible for communication among cells in the brain – and they send signals to control appetite. The Canadian researchers found that when food is not present rats experience a stress respons that temporarily causes a functional rewiring in the brain and may impair the endocannabinoids’ ability to regular food intake and could contribute to an enhanced desire or craving for food. When the researchers blocked the effects of stress hormones in the brain, the absence of food caused no change in the neural circuitry.

The Canadian researchers – Jaideep Bains, Quentin Pittman, Kareen M. Crosby, and Watauru Inoue – studied neurons (nerve calls) in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain known to play an important role in the control of appetite and metabolism, which has also been identified as the primary region responsible for the brain’s response to stress.

Their findings, explained Bains, “could help explain how the cellular communication in our brains may be overridden in the absence of food. Increasingly, these changes are driven not necessarily by the lack of nutrients, but rather by the stress induced by the lack of food.”

Pittman noted that “If we elect to pass over a meal, the brain appears to simply increase the drive in pathways leading to appetite. Furthermore, the fact that the lack of food causes activation of the stress response might help explain the relationship between stress and obesity.

“One thing we can say for sure, is that this research highlights the importance of food availability to our nervous system. The absence of food clearly brings about dramatic changes in the way our neurons communicate with each other,” said Pittman.

While this study employed rats, it is possible that it will also lead to insights into the relationship between stress and food cravings in humans,” noted Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., founder and director of clinical services of the Brain Training Centers of Florida.

“By using a combination of individualized neurobiofeedback and Cognitive Behavioral counseling, we’ve assisted more than a dozen clients achieve quiet and balanced brains and, in turn, reverse histories of repeated failures at weight loss or weight control,” said Flynn. “It would, however, be foolish to expect a kind of shortcuts to weight loss and long-term health. In addition to addressing neural – brain – issues, we must assist clients in accomplishing healthy eating and exercise programs, as well as appropriate life style changes.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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