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Acquired Traits Can Be Inherited Via Small RNAs

Posted by Sun on June 28, 2012

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have found the first direct evidence that an acquired trait can be inherited without any DNA involvement. The findings suggest that Lamarck, whose theory of evolution was eclipsed by Darwin’s, may not have been entirely wrong.

The study is slated to appear in the Dec. 9 issue of Cell.

“In our study, roundworms that developed resistance to a virus were able to pass along that immunity to their progeny for many consecutive generations,” reported lead author Oded Rechavi, PhD, associate research scientist in biochemistry and molecular biophysics at CUMC. “The immunity was transferred in the form of small viral-silencing agents called viRNAs, working independently of the organism’s genome.”

In an early theory of evolution, Jean Baptiste Larmarck (1744-1829) proposed that species evolve when individuals adapt to their environment and transmit those acquired traits to their offspring. For example, giraffes developed elongated long necks as they stretched to feed on the leaves of high trees, an acquired advantage that was inherited by subsequent generations. In contrast, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) later theorized that random mutations that offer an organism a competitive advantage drive a species’ evolution. In the case of the giraffe, individuals that happened to have slightly longer necks had a better chance of securing food and thus were able to have more offspring. The subsequent discovery of hereditary genetics supported Darwin’s theory, and Lamarck’s ideas faded into obscurity.

However, some evidence suggests that acquired traits can be inherited. “The classic example is the Dutch famine of World War II,” said Dr. Rechavi. “Starving mothers who gave birth during the famine had children who were more susceptible to obesity and other metabolic disorders — and so were their grandchildren.” Controlled experiments have shown similar results, including a recent study in rats demonstrating that chronic high-fat diets in fathers result in obesity in their female offspring.

Nevertheless, Lamarckian inheritance has remained controversial, and no one has been able to describe a plausible biological mechanism, according to study leader Oliver Hobert, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at CUMC.

Dr. Hobert suspected that RNA interference (RNAi) might be involved in the inheritance of acquired traits. RNAi is a natural process that cells use to turn down, or silence, specific genes. It is commonly employed by organisms to fend off viruses and other genomic parasites. RNAi works by destroying mRNA, the molecular messengers that carry information coded in a gene to the cell’s protein-making machinery. Without its mRNA, a gene is essentially inactive.

RNAi is triggered by doubled-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which is not found in healthy cells. When dsRNA molecules (for example, from a virus) enter a cell, they are sliced into small fragments, which guide the cell’s RNAi machinery to find mRNAs that match the genetic sequence of the fragments. The machinery then degrades these mRNAs, in effect destroying their messages and silencing the corresponding gene.

RNAi can be also triggered artificially by administering exogenous (externally derived) dsRNA. Intriguingly, the resultant gene-silencing occurs not only in the treated animal, but also in its offspring. However, it was not clear whether this effect is due to the inheritance of RNAs or to changes in the organism’s genome — or whether this effect has any biological relevance.

To look further into these phenomena, the CUMC researchers turned to the roundworm (C. elegans). The roundworm has an unusual ability to fight viruses, which it does using RNAi.

In the current study, the researchers infected roundworms with Flock House virus (the only virus known to infect C. elegans) and then bred the worms in such a way that some of their progeny had nonfunctional RNAi machinery. When those progeny were exposed to the virus, they were still able to defend themselves. “We followed the worms for more than one hundred generations — close to a year — and the effect still persisted,” said Dr. Rechavi.

The experiments were designed so that the worms could not have acquired viral resistance through genetic mutations. The researchers concluded that the ability to fend off the virus was “memorized” in the form of small viral RNA molecules, which were then passed to subsequent generations in somatic cells, not exclusively along the germ line.

According to the CUMC researchers, Lamarckian inheritance may provide adaptive advantages to an animal. “Sometimes, it is beneficial for an organism to not have a gene expressed,” explained Dr. Hobert. “The classic, Darwinian way this occurs is through a mutation, so that the gene is silenced either in every cell or in specific cell types in subsequent generations. While this is obviously happening a lot, one can envision scenarios in which it may be more advantageous for an organism to hold onto that gene and pass on the ability to silence the gene only when challenged with a specific threat. Our study demonstrates that this can be done in a completely new way: through the transmission of extrachromosomal information. The beauty of this approach is that it’s reversible.”

Any therapeutic implications of the findings are a long way off, Dr. Rechavi added. “The basic components of the RNAi machinery exist throughout the animal kingdom, including humans. Worms have an extra component, giving them a much stronger RNAi response. Theoretically, if that component could be incorporated in humans, then maybe we could improve our immunity and even our children’s immunity.”

The CUMC team is currently examining whether other traits are also inherited through small RNAs. “In one experiment, we are going to replicate the Dutch famine in a Petri dish,” said Dr. Rechavi. “We are going to starve the worms and see whether, as a result of starvation, we see small RNAs being generated and passed to the next generation.”

This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gruss Lipper and Bikura Fellowships to Oded Rechavi.


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Secret Love Cheats Pose a Greater Infection Risk Than Those in Open Sexual Relationships

Posted by Sun on June 19, 2012

ScienceDaily (June 14, 2012) — People who were sexually unfaithful without their partner’s knowledge were less likely to practice safe sex than those who had other sexual relationships with their partner’s consent. They were also more likely to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the encounter.

In a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers from the University of Michigan, USA, found that condom use for vaginal and anal sex was 27% and 35% lower in sexually unfaithful relationships and drug and alcohol use was 64% higher.

Of the 1,647 people who replied to an online advertisement, 801 had had sex with someone other than their primary partner. Of those, 493 stated this had happened as part of a negotiated non-monogamous relationship and 308 said that they were sexually unfaithful while in a committed monogamous relationship.

“Our research suggests that people who are unfaithful to their monogamous romantic partners pose a greater risk for STIs than those who actively negotiate non-monogamy in their relationship,” says lead author Dr. Terri D. Conley from the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. “Monogamy can be an effective method for preventing the spread of STIs, but only if couples test negative for STIs at the start of the relationship and remain faithful while they are together. If people do not find monogamy appealing or feasible, they clearly need to think about the risk this poses to their partner and consider whether an open relationship would suit their needs better, and better protect their relationship partners.”

“More work is needed in both prevention of and education about sexually transmitted diseases,” explains Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. “This research is of particular interest because it reveals that monogamous relationships are not always monogamous which can have resultant sexual health implications.”

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To ‘Think Outside the Box,’ Think Outside the Box

Posted by Sun on June 10, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2012) — Want to think outside the box? Try actually thinking outside of a box. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers had students think up solutions to problems while acting out various metaphors about creative thinking and found that the instructions actually worked.

The authors of the new paper were inspired by metaphors about creativity found in boardrooms to movie studios to scientific laboratories around the world and previous linkages established between mind and body. Angela Leung of Singapore Management University and her coauthors from the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and others wondered if the same was true of metaphors about creativity. “Creativity is a highly sought-after skill,” they write. “Metaphors of creative thinking abound in everyday use.” Their experiments went beyond metaphors that activate preexisting knowledge and demonstrated for the first time some metaphors “work” by activating psychological processes conducive for generating previously unknown and therefore creative ideas.

People talk about thinking “outside the box” or consider problems “on the one hand, then on the other hand.” So Leung and her colleagues created experiments where people acted out these metaphors. In one experiment, each participant was seated either inside or outside of a five-by-five-foot cardboard box. The two environments were set up to be otherwise the same in every way, and people didn’t feel claustrophobic in the box. Participants were told it was a study on different work environments. Each person completed a test widely used to test creativity; those who were outside did the test better than people who were inside the box.

In another experiment, some participants were asked to join the halves of cut-up coasters before taking a test — a physical representation of “putting two and two together.” People who acted out the metaphor displayed more convergent thinking, a component of creativity that requires bringing together many possible answers to settle on one that will work. Other experiments found that walking freely generated more original ideas than walking in a set line; another found truth in “on the hand; on the other hand.”

All this suggests that there’s something to the metaphors we use to talk about creativity. “Having a leisurely walk outdoors or freely pacing around may help us break our mindset,” says Leung. “Also, we may consider getting away from Dilbert’s cubicles and creating open office spaces to free up our minds.”

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Why We Crave Creativity but Reject Creative Ideas

Posted by Sun on June 10, 2012

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2011) — Most people view creativity as an asset — until they come across a creative idea. That’s because creativity not only reveals new perspectives; it promotes a sense of uncertainty.

The next time your great idea at work elicits silence or eye rolls, you might just pity those co-workers. Fresh research indicates they don’t even know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive change agent, actually makes people squirm.

“How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?” said Jack Goncalo, ILR School assistant professor of organizational behavior and co-author of research to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. The paper reports on two 2010 experiments at the University of Pennsylvania involving more than 200 people.

The studies’ findings include:

  • Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.
  • People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical — tried and true.
  • Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.
  • Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.

For example, subjects had a negative reaction to a running shoe equipped with nanotechnology that adjusted fabric thickness to cool the foot and reduce blisters.

To uncover bias against creativity, the researchers used a subtle technique to measure unconscious bias — the kind to which people may not want to admit, such as racism. Results revealed that while people explicitly claimed to desire creative ideas, they actually associated creative ideas with negative words such as “vomit,” “poison” and “agony.”

Goncalo said this bias caused subjects to reject ideas for new products that were novel and high quality.

“Our findings imply a deep irony,” wrote the authors, who also include Jennifer Mueller of the University of Pennsylvania and Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary.”

Uncertainty drives the search for and generation of creative ideas, but “uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most,” the researchers wrote. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. … The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

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Talking therapy plans under fire

Posted by Sun on May 30, 2012

A multi-million pound strategy to increase access to psychological therapies in England is flawed, a group of therapists has warned.

The government has earmarked £173m to increase the number of cognitive behavioural therapists in the NHS.

But delegates at an international counselling conference heard it was a “myth” that CBT was more effective than other types of therapy.

NHS advisors recommended CBT for depression and anxiety in 2004.

 When resources are limited, surely the NHS should focus on treatments that have established efficacy 
Professor David Clark, Kings College London

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the evidence supported its use ahead of antidepressants in mild to moderate cases.

The Scottish Executive is also planning to train more therapists to improve patient access to CBT, which aims to help patients to pinpoint – and then change – thoughts and actions that cause emotional problems.

Restrict access

Professor Mick Cooper, an expert in counselling at the University of Strathclyde, told the conference at the University of East Anglia that although he welcomed the increased funding for psychological therapies, the focus on CBT was not logical.

He and three colleagues from the UK and US issued a statement saying there had been more studies on CBT, but that did not necessarily mean it was more effective than other types of therapy.

“It is scientifically irresponsible to continue to imply and act as though CBTs are more effective, as has been done in justifying the expenditure of £173m to train CBT therapists throughout England.

“Such claims harm the public by restricting patient choice and discourage some psychologically distressed people from seeking treatment,” he said.

Professor David Clark, a clinical advisor to the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme and professor of psychology at Kings College London said NICE had put together their guidance on the basis of the evidence available to them.

He added that NICE had also recommended some other psychological treatments where there was evidence of benefit.

“Counselling is recommended for mild and moderate, but not severe depression. Couple therapy has the same indication,” he said.

“The government’s ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ initiative is not a CBT-only programme.

“When resources are limited, surely the NHS should focus on treatments that have established efficacy,” he said.

Dr Tim Kendall, co-director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health said it was correct to point out that a lack of evidence did not mean something was ineffective but the government has to invest money in treatments that are proven.

He added: “NICE has recommended a host of different psychological therapies where there is evidence.”


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Watching Soccer Increases the Supporters’ Hormone Levels

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2012) — Spanish supporters’ testosterone and cortisol levels increased while watching the World Cup football match (soccer), when Spain beat Holland in 2010.

This is what a research, published inPLoS ONE, and carried out by researchers in the Laboratorio de Neurociencia Social Cognitiva, shows. The study is headed by Dr. Alicia Salvador at Universitat de València.

This research group has carried out different studies on different sports (judo, basketball, among others). Their results about the effects of winning or losing in relation with social status have been published in important scientific journals likeNBR, PNEC, Hormones and Behaviour, Biological Psychology,etc. These studies have shown the importance of motivation, cognitive assessment, and expectations when someone attends a competition. In this study, they have demonstrated the psychobiological response of people when facing a competition but who are not having a direct participation. It clearly puts forward the importance of the social factor of the human behaviour.

In this case, the study analyzed the psychobiological response — in men and women — when they are not actors in the competition, that means, when the competition’s outcome, victory or defeat, is out of their control. Previously, there was only a publication similar to this study, but it had some methodology mistakes. This study improved those conditions, also using a control situation with which they compared the analyzed response.

For this study, fifty supporters of the Spanish team watched the final in a public space or at home, with their families or friends. The researchers asked for their expectations and feelings before the match, and they checked their testosterone and cortisol levels before, during and after the match.

Testosterone, status hormone, increases when facing a competitive situation which can defy the social status of the contenders. In line with this, the results of the study showed that the Spanish supporters’ testosterone levels were higher during the match’s day than on a different day. On the other hand, the exposure to a physical stressor triggers the increase of cortisol hormone, which is the stress hormone, and which also liberates when the social status is threaten. Thus, the cortisol levels were higher on the match’s day than on a different day as well. Researchers suggest the the World Cup final match meant a threaten to the ‘social entity’ of the supporters, because the social status of the supporters was associated with the result of the match and the performance of the players at that moment.

The stress levels were different depending on the person. The most passionate supporters suffered from higher stress. Watching the match was more stressing for men, no for being males but for their interest in soccer. The most passionate supporters experiences the higher increase in cortisol during the match, and thus, they found the match much more stressing. The youngest supporters had more cortisol than those more aged as well.

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Coping With Abuse in the Work Place

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2012) — Confronting an abusive boss is easier said than done: employees coping with the stress of abusive treatment prefer to avoid direct communication even though it would be the most effective tactic in terms of emotional well-being. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa, published in the International Journal of Stress Management (American Psychological Association).

“Abusive supervision is highly distressing for employees. Our study shows that the strategies being used by employees to cope with the stress caused by such behavior do not lead to the most positive outcomes,” said Prof. Dana Yagil, who headed the study.

Earlier studies have examined the effect of abusive supervision on employee performance, but the new study set out to determine the effect of the different coping strategies on employee wellbeing. The study, which Prof. Yagil conducted with Prof. Hasida Ben-Zur and Inbal Tamir, of the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, examined five types of strategies used for coping with the stress factor of abusive treatment: directly communicating with the abusive supervisor to discuss the problems; using forms of ingratiation – i.e., doing favors, using flattery and compliance; seeking support from others; avoiding contact with the supervisor; and what is known as “reframing” – mentally restructuring the abuse in a way that decreases its threat.

Participating in the study were 300 employees who were asked to rate the frequency of experiencing abusive behavior by a supervisor, such as ridicule, invasion of privacy, rudeness and lying. The participants were also asked to rate the frequency of engaging in each of 25 strategies that belong to the five categories. For example: “I tell the supervisor directly that he/she must not treat me like that” (direct communication category) ; “I support the supervisor in matters that are important to him/her, so that he/she will see I am on his/her side” (ingratiation); “I try to have the least possible contact with the supervisor (avoidance of contact); “I relieve myself by talking to other people about the supervisor’s behavior” (support-seeking); and “I remind myself that there are more important matters in my life” (reframing).

The study found that abusive treatment from a superior was most strongly associated with avoiding contact – disengaging from the supervisor as much as possible and to seeking social support. Abusive supervision was least strongly associated with the strategy of direct communication. However, avoidance and seeking support resulted in the employees’ experiencing negative emotions, while communication with the supervisor – which employees do less – was the strategy most strongly related to employees’ positive emotions. “It is understandable that employees wish to reduce their contact with an abusive boss to a minimum,” says Dr. Yagil. “However, this strategy further increases the employee’s stress because it is associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuates their fear of the supervisor.”

The study shows that managers should be alert to signs of employee detachment – as it might indicate that their own behavior is being considered offensive by those employees.

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Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Posted by Sun on May 22, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2008) — Laughter is the best medicine. We’ve heard the expression time and again. For decades, researchers have explored how humor helps patients relieve stress and heal. Melissa B. Wanzer, EdD, professor of communication studies at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, has taken it one step further, with her research on how humor helps medical professionals cope with their difficult jobs. She also looked at how humor affects the elderly and how it can increase communication in the workplace and in the classroom.

She wondered, how do health care providers care for terminally ill people and manage to come back to work each day? So she asked them, in large-scale studies. Their answer? Humor. Wanzer has found humor to be beneficial in other areas as well.

“If employees view their managers as humor-oriented, they also view them as more effective,” notes Wanzer. “Employees also reported higher job satisfaction when they worked for someone who was more humor-oriented and used humor effectively and appropriately.” Wanzer and her colleagues found that humor is an effective way to cope with on-the-job stress – again, when used appropriately.

Wanzer also recently collaborated on research that found aging adults who used humor more frequently reported greater coping efficacy, which led to greater life satisfaction. This was the third study she conducted, with three different populations, where the conclusion was the same.

But what if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly funny? Wanzer says that while you can’t change your personality, you can find ways to integrate humor into your day-to-day life and change your communication patterns.

“Self-disparaging humor, making fun of oneself, is a very effective form of humor communication, as long as it is not done excessively,” says Wanzer, who adds that telling jokes is just a small portion of humor communication.

“I also tell people to use what is around them; ‘props can be humorous too, so long as they are used appropriately and are not perceived as distracting.”

Wanzer teaches a course in “Constructive Uses of Humor,” at Canisius College, which always fills to capacity. Students are required to prepare and perform a stand-up routine in front of the class. But the class is not all fun and games. Students read through journal articles and interpret factual studies on humor. One such case involves Southwest Airlines’ strategic effort to integrate humor into the workplace, in order to create a positive environment for employees and customers.

Wanzer’s research also shows that students report learning more from teachers who use humor effectively.

“Regardless of the content, humor seems to be beneficial and productive,” says Wanzer about the importance of the constructive uses of humor. “It helps to get the point across in about in almost any situation.”

Wanzer’s findings have been published in multiple journals, including Communication Quarterly, Communication Research Reports, Communication Education, Health Communication and Journal of Health Communication.

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Computer Program May Help Adolescents With Depression

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2012 – It was bound to happen sooner or later. There is a 3D computer fantasy game that teaches good thinking habits as effectively as biological therapist units can. The game, designed for children and adolescents, is called SPARX (not to be confused with SPANX which are women’s undergarments). SPARX stands for Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts. The Study The game provides cognitive-behavioral therapy to the gamers. That means means it helps them replace Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts (GNATS) with positive SPARX thoughts. It was tested on adolescents and young adults from spring 2009 to mid-summer 2010. Participants had a single diagnosis (depression) but were not at risk for self-harm or suicide, and were not receiving other treatment. As already indicated, SPARX was successful in relieving (in some cases alleviating) the young players’ depressive symptoms. “It is at least as good as treatment as usual [with a therapist], would be cheaper and easier to disseminate, and could be used to increase access to therapy,” wrote Dr. Merry, one of the study’s authors. While some counselors may be miffed by this, I know one who thinks the program should be given to everyone that owns a computer, regardless of their age. She feels the world would benefit from a global increase in effective thought processing. The GameThe idea of the game is for SPARX to take over a virtual world that is inhabited by GNATS. There are seven levels, or modules, that lead players through the process of cognitive restructuring (thinking effectively) while on their mission to nick the GNATS. Levels:

  1. Introduces GNATS, the idea of hope, and relaxation through breathing
  2. Is about taking action, progressive muscle relaxation, and basic communication skills.
  3. Addresses anger, hurt feelings, assertiveness, listening, and negotiation
  4. Teaches problem solving, and introduces cognitive restructuring via SPARX
  5. Teaches players to recognize different species of GNATS (names not in Latin)
  6. How to exchange negative thoughts for effective ones, and negotiation skills
  7. Reviews all the skills, teaches mindfulness, relapse prevention, asking for help

Client/Gamer Satisfaction After the study, satisfaction questionnaires showed that SPARX participants liked being able to utilize the program at the clinic, school, or at home, and appreciated working through the seven modules at their own pace. Players also gave high marks for the look and feel of the game (like New Zealand, where it was created), and that it was designed specifically for young people. Those participants in the study that did not use the game (control group), but saw a living, breathing counselor instead, took the same satisfaction survey and reported they liked being able to go at their own pace. They felt good being supported and listened to, and learned things they didn’t know. Sounds like a draw. I’m sure all therapists are heartened to know they are as competent and appreciated as SPARX. What’s Good About SPARX

  • It can be an effective first step in treating depression.
  • It is easy to obtain and inexpensive to offer.
  • SPARX and other programs like it may provide help for young, depressed people that shy away from one-on-one therapy.
  • It may prevent some young people from going on antidepressants.
  • SPARX is fun so players stick with it.

Overall, the use of SPARX significantly reduced players’ anxiety, depression, sense of hopelessness, and improved their quality of life. This is remarkable for a self-help tool. A three month follow-up revealed the benefits of the game had continued. My counselor friend said, “Who doesn’t want to have fun while they’re learning. If playing a game like SPARX gives children a leg-up in life, I’m for it. I’m not going to worry about digital counselors until they have emotional sensitivity, insight, and intuition. If that happens, I’ll take down my shingle and go see one.” Resource: Abstract. The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression. BMJ

I am medical doctor and hypnotherapist with more than 17 years experience. Feel free to send me email ( to discuss your situation.

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To ease chronic pain, direct thoughts elsewhere

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

JOHNS HOPKINS (US) — Chronic pain sufferers may sleep better and experience less day-to-day discomfort by learning to dwell less on their ailments, say researchers.

Sleeping pills and painkillers can help, but at least some patients may benefit just as much, if not more, from cognitive behavioral therapy to help them reduce their mental focus on physical pain, researchers say.

“We have found that people who ruminate about their pain and have more negative thoughts about their pain don’t sleep as well, and the result is they feel more pain,” says Luis F. Buenaver, leader of a study published online in the journal Pain.

The study highlights the function of a major neurological pathway that links negative thinking about pain to disturbed sleep that leads to increased pain, Buenaver says.

“If cognitive behavioral therapy can help people change the way they think about their pain,” he says, “they might end that vicious cycle and feel better, without sleeping pills or pain medicine.”

Buenaver, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that roughly 80 percent of people with chronic pain experience sleep disturbances.

Previous studies have shown that people whose sleep patterns are altered are more sensitive to pain. It is also known, he says, that those who focus frequently on their pain and think more negatively about their pain report more debilitating pain. Such “pain catastrophizing,” he adds, has been found to be a better predictor of worse pain and pain-related disability than depression, anxiety, or neuroticism.

For this study, Buenaver and his colleagues recruited 214 people with myofascial temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, serious facial and jaw pain believed to be stress-related in many cases. The participants were mostly white and female, with an average age of 34. Each underwent a dental exam to confirm TMD, then filled out questionnaires assessing sleep quality, depression, pain levels, and emotional responses to pain, including whether they ruminate on it or exaggerate it.

Researchers found a direct correlation in the TMD patients between negative thinking about pain and poor sleep, as well as with worse pain.

Buenaver and his colleagues are now studying whether older adults with arthritis and insomnia can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

He says that CBT—a form of counseling that focuses on changing thinking to influence behavior—may also help people who suffer from stress-related ailments without a clear underlying pathology other than TMD. Examples include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and some headaches and neck and back pain.

“It may sound simple, but you can change the way you feel by changing the way you think,” Buenaver said.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

More news from Johns Hopkins:

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fMRI May Predict Response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

April 18, 2012 (Arlington, Virginia) — Baseline brain activation studies may predict treatment response in women undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to domestic violence, new research shows.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after cognitive trauma therapy for battered women (CTT-BW), researchers found that certain baseline patterns of brain activation predicted better response to treatment.

Specifically, the study showed that greater baseline anterior cingulate and less baseline posterior insula response to anticipation predicted treatment response.

“If we can find techniques to target these areas specifically to enhance CBT and future treatments, that is important,” said lead investigator Robin Aupperle, PhD, who collected the data at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, both in San Diego, before moving to her current position at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

The study was presented here at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) 32nd Annual Conference.

Room for Improvement

Some studies show only a 50% response rate to CBT therapies in the domestic violence population, so “there is room for improvement,” said Dr. Aupperle.

“Given that we have developed these great behavioral treatments that are only currently effective for certain individuals, how do we push that forward…to actually enhance their effectiveness further?”

Work aimed at enhancing CBT was featured prominently at the meeting, but very few studies have explored the combination of fMRI with CBT, said Dr. Aupperle.

Pretreatment PTSD imaging studies have shown dysfunctional neurocircuitry involving the amygdala and insula regions as well as prefrontal regions, she noted.

“So the idea is that perhaps with PTSD, you’re seeing an inability to recruit the prefrontal regions to appropriately inhibit the amygdala and insula responses.”

The few studies exploring fMRI response to CBT treatment demonstrate decreased amygdala response and increased anterior cingulate response with treatment compared with baseline, she said.

However, very little is known about imaging predictors of treatment response.

The current study focused on the specific neural mechanisms involved in anticipatory processing because “anticipation lies at the center of our understanding of anxiety” and plays an important role in avoidance behavior, she said.

Fourteen women with domestic violence–related PTSD underwent fMRI at baseline and then again after a 10- to15-week CTT-BW treatment. Brain activation was measured during anticipatory processing of positive and negative emotional images.

The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) was used to measure response to treatment and showed a significant decrease in mean scores — from 66 at baseline to 16 posttreatment (P < .001) — a response that was largely maintained at the 3-month follow-up, she said.

Hypothesis Confirmed

fMRI showed that treatment increased anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate responsivity and decreased anterior insular responsivity, “confirming our hypothesis,” she said.

Because only 2 women showed less than a 50% response to treatment, fMRI predictors could not be identified for response vs no response, so instead, the researchers examined predictors of level of response.

They noted that greater baseline activation within the dorsal anterior cingulate and the posterior cingulate predicted better posttreatment CAPS score.

“The more they recruited these regions during anticipation at baseline, the better they responded to treatment,” said Dr. Aupperle.

The findings help narrow the focus on specific neural targets in PTSD and underscore the role of imaging in both monitoring and predicting treatment response, she said.

“What will be important is using this knowledge for future interventions. If we know there are certain areas of the brain that are responding differently or abnormally…can we think of ways to specifically target those? And then could we perhaps use fMRI or other techniques to test those out to see which ones might have the potential to go forward with larger clinical trials?”

“Discouraging” Findings?

Asked to comment on the presentation for Medscape Medical News, Melissa Hunt, PhD, associate director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology, in Philadelphia, said that in some ways, the research was “rather discouraging.”

“What it suggests is that a lot of damage has already been done, that it’s reflected in brain morphology and brain function, and that it predicts poor response to treatment,” she said.

However, the imaging documentation of treatment response was reassuring, she said.

“This [research] was focused on PTSD. There’s a lot of early imaging data in OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] that suggests that effective exposure therapy for OCD actually normalizes brain function. So that makes me a little more optimistic that perhaps we can, through effective therapy, actually normalize some of these things.”

Dr. Aupperle and Dr. Hunt have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) 32nd Annual Conference. Session 316R, presented April 13, 2012.

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Applied Relaxation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effectively Reduce Anxiety

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used approach to treat symptoms of general anxiety disorder (GAD). The goal of CBT is to help an individual be more tolerant of their worrying behaviors, thus decreasing the negative psychological and physical symptoms of GAD. Applied relaxation (AR) is an alternative approach that is used for various mental health problems, including GAD. It focuses on the somatic symptoms of tension and physical discomfort associated with anxiety, with the goal of reducing worry. Both CBT and AR have been shown to be effective at diminishing the symptoms of GAD in individuals who struggle with emotional and somatic symptoms. However, few studies have compared the dynamics that cause the symptom reduction in each of these treatment approaches.

Eleanor Donegan of the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal sought to identify the mechanisms by which AR and CBT worked and also to determine if one was more effective than the other at maintaining long-term symptom reduction. For her study, Donegan evaluated 57 individuals who underwent either AR or CBT over a period of 12 weeks. She found that for both groups, the amount of time they spent worrying each day decreased from approximately 36% of the time to 20%. Additionally, both AR and CBT reduced the amount of daily anxiety by nearly 50%.

Donegan noted that even though the participants were much less anxious as a result of their treatment, they still had significantly higher levels of worry and anxiety than non–clinically anxious individuals. When Donegan looked at how the effects were achieved, she found similarities and differences. Specifically, even though both AR and CBT decreased somatic anxiety, the effect on worry was more significant in the individuals who underwent CBT. However, Donegan believes that both of these techniques could be useful to address GAD. She added, “Change in worry occurs in part because of change in somatic anxiety, and vice versa, in both CBT and AR.”

Donegan, E., Dugas, M. J. (2012). Generalized anxiety disorder: A comparison of symptom change in adults receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy or applied relaxation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028132


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Hypnotherapy helps the unconscious become conscious

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

By Chloé Morrison

You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. Sleepy. Very, very sleepy.

Now, quack like a duck. 

That may be how many people think of hypnotherapy.

But local professionals said there is a difference between hypnosis for entertainment and hypnotherapy used as an alternative medicine.

Hypnosis for entertainment might have a random participant quacking like a duck on a stage in Las Vegas.

But hypnotherapy as alternative medicine involves a professional who guides a patient into a natural altered state for healing purposes.

“It is very natural,” Dr. Rick Pimental-Habib said. “We go through altered states all day. [Hypnotherapy] allows your unconscious issues to become more conscious. I’m trying to uncover what’s in your unconscious that may be causing your problems.”

Hypnotherapy is an alternative therapy that is gaining more and more mainstream acceptance as having medical benefits and positive side effects, Pimental-Habib also said.

“You can think of it in the same general healing family as acupuncture, massage [or] Chinese herbs,” he said. “All of these are kind of nonmainstream or alternative or holistic treatments. But they are gaining much more respect and popularity every year in our country. These are things they’ve been doing in China or India for thousands of years.”

Local professionals said hypnotherapy can treat behavioral disorders or phobias. It can help people stop smoking or overeating.

Certified clinical hypnotherapist Sonya Naulta, who also has a master’s degree in social work, said she hopes to use hypnotherapy to help local residents tap into creativity and inner strength, in addition to what she already does in using it to help people change unwanted behavior.

Pimental-Habib has a personal practice where he practices more traditional psychotherapy, incorporating hypnotherapy when needed.

And he also works in a larger wellness center, called Well Nest, which offers a variety of alternative healing practices, such as yoga and meditation.

What is hypnotherapy?
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal ran a story about medical hypnosis.

“Hypnosis has been the subject of fascination, intrigue and ridicule for centuries,” Melinda Beck wrote in the WSJ article.

The article also noted that some groups that issue hypnotherapy certifications are lax in standards and that a psychologist named Steve Eichel caused controversy in 2002 by getting hypnotherapist credentials for his cat,Dr. Zoe D. Katze, from several different organizations.

The article also likened the practice’s effects to that of a placebo effect.

Naulta said that hypnotherapy is the “use of hypnosis in a therapeutic manner in order to achieve a therapeutic goal.”

The origin of the word hypnosis comes from the Greek “hupnos,” which means sleep.

The client experiences a heightened sense of awareness and focus and is relaxed, but not asleep.

“Hypnotherapy uses the light trance state to help a person feel comfortable,” she said.

Clients often experience immediate beneficial side effects, such as feeling calm and centered, sleeping better or eating healthier.

During the first session with Naulta, she spends the first 30 to 45 minutes explaining to the client what hypnotherapy is and how it works.

Then she asks them to envision what their goal is and how their life will be different when they reach the goal.

“The purpose is to get them thinking about the future,” she said.

Many people have difficulty picturing their goals in detail, she said.

“They can’t just say, ‘I’m happy, I’m healthy,’” she said. “Nine times out of 10, people will tell you want they don’t want. But if you think about what you don’t want, your mind creates a picture of what you don’t want. We train ourselves not knowing it. The hypnotherapy I do is retraining the brain.”

According to the WSJ last week, two studies found that one hour a week of hypnotherapy for three months had positive effects in 40 percent of irritable bowel syndrome.

The positive effects could last for as long as seven years, also according to the article.

The industry, the profession
The alternative medicine industry is expected to reach nearly $115 billion by 2015, according to ReportLinker.

And the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists outlines how to make a profitable career out of hypnotherapy.

Local hypnotherapy practices range in size.

Naulta has had a studio on North Market Street for about six months, but business hasn’t been booming.

She has had other hypnotherapy businesses around Chattanooga. In the time she’s been at her new location, she’s only had a couple of customers, but she’s working on building up her business at the North Market location.

She charges $100 for the first session and $50 for subsequent sessions, she said.

According to the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, in 2008, the national average rate was $85 an hour.

Pimental-Habib said he charges on a sliding scale.

Naulta said that she typically recommends at least two sessions for her clients, and Pimental-Habib does a minimum of three sessions.

He and Naulta said that people are often scared of hypnotherapy because they have the misconception that they will feel out of control. (Maybe they will start clucking like a chicken against their will?)

But the idea is to give clients more control over themselves.

“There is nothing to be afraid of,” Pimental-Habib said. “You’re in control the whole time.”


I am medical doctor and hypnotherapist with more than 17 years experience. Feel free to send me email ( to discuss your situation.

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How the Brain Puts the Brakes On Negative Impact of Cocaine

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2012) — Research published by Cell Press in the January 12 issue of the journal Neuron provides fascinating insight into a newly discovered brain mechanism that limits the rewarding impact of cocaine. The study describes protective delayed mechanism that turns off the genes that support the development of addiction-related behaviors. The findings may lead to a better understanding of vulnerability to addiction and as well as new strategies for treatment.

Drug addiction is associated with persistent and abnormal changes in the reward circuitry of the brain, and drug-induced changes in gene expression are thought to contribute to addiction behaviors. Recent research with rodent models of addiction has implicated histone deacetylases (HDACs), which are modulators of gene expression, in the regulation of cocaine-induced behaviors. However, how cocaine regulates the function of HDACs and whether this regulation can modify addiction-related behaviors was not known.

“HDAC5 in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain region involved in drug abuse, limits the rewarding impact of cocaine and the long-lasting memory of places where the drug was taken, particularly after prior cocaine exposure,” explains senior study author Dr. Christopher W. Cowan from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “However, it was not clear whether this was a passive role for HDAC5 or whether drugs of abuse might regulate its function after drug exposure.” In the current study, Dr. Cowan and colleagues explored how cocaine might regulate HDAC5 and the development of drug reward-associated behaviors.

Using a rodent model, the researchers discovered that cocaine triggered a novel signaling pathway that caused HDAC5 to move to the cell nucleus, where gene expression occurs, and they found that this process was essential for HDAC5 to limit the development of cocaine reward-associated behaviors. “Our findings reveal a new molecular mechanism by which cocaine regulates HDAC5 function to antagonize the rewarding impact of cocaine, likely by putting a brake on drug-stimulated genes that would normally support drug-induced behavioral changes,” concludes Dr. Cowan. “Deficits in this process may contribute to the development of maladaptive behaviors associated with addiction following repeated drug use in humans and may help to explain why some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others.”

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Binge Eating May Lead to Addiction-Like Behaviors

Posted by Sun on April 29, 2012

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2012) — A history of binge eating — consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time — may make an individual more likely to show other addiction-like behaviors, including substance abuse, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. In the short term, this finding may shed light on the factors that promote substance abuse, addiction, and relapse. In the long term, may help clinicians treat individuals suffering from this devastating disease.

“Drug addiction persists as a major problem in the United States,” said Patricia Sue Grigson, Ph.D., professor, Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences. “Likewise, excessive food intake, like binge eating, has become problematic. Substance-abuse and binge eating are both characterized by a loss of control over consumption. Given the common characteristics of these two types of disorders, it is not surprising that the co-occurrence of eating disorders and substance abuse disorders is high. It is unknown, however, whether loss of control in one disorder predisposes an individual to loss of control in another.”

Grigson and her colleagues found a link between bingeing on fat and the development of cocaine-seeking and -taking behaviors in rats, suggesting that conditions promoting excessive behavior toward one substance can increase the probability of excessive behavior toward another. They report their results in Behavioral Neuroscience.

The researchers used rats to test whether a history of binge eating on fat would augment addiction-like behavior toward cocaine by giving four groups of rats four different diets: normal rat chow; continuous ad lib access to an optional source of dietary fat; one hour of access to optional dietary fat daily; and one hour of access to dietary fat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. All four groups also had unrestricted access to nutritionally complete chow and water. The researchers then assessed the cocaine-seeking and -taking behaviors.

“Fat bingeing behaviors developed in the rats with access to dietary fat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — the group with the most restricted access to the optional fat,” Grigson said.

This group tended to take more cocaine late in training, continued to try to get cocaine when signaled it was not available, and worked harder for cocaine as work requirements increased.

“While the underlying mechanisms are not known, one point is clear from behavioral data: A history of bingeing on fat changed the brain, physiology, or both in a manner that made these rats more likely to seek and take a drug when tested more than a month later,” Grigson said. “We must identify these predisposing neurophysiological changes.”

While the consumption of fat in and of itself did not increase the likelihood of subsequent addiction-like behavior for cocaine, the irregular binge-type manner in which the fat was eaten proved critical. Rats that had continuous access to fat consumed more fat than any other group, but were three times less likely to exhibit addiction-like behavior for cocaine than the group with access only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“Indeed, while about 20 percent of those rats and humans exposed to cocaine will develop addiction-like behavior for the drug under normal circumstances, in our study, the probability of addiction to cocaine increased to approximately 50 (percent) for subjects with a history of having binged on fat,” Grigson said.

Future studies will look more closely at how bingeing can lead to addiction-like behaviors — whether bingeing on sugar or a mixture of sugar and fat also promotes cocaine or heroin addiction, for example, and whether bingeing on a drug, in turn, increases the likelihood of bingeing on fat.

To hear Grigson discuss her findings in more detail on the ‘Sound Research’ podcast, go to online.

Other researchers are Matthew D. Puhl, Angie M. Cason, Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine; Rebecca L. Corwin and Francis H.E. Wojnicki, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded this research.

I am medical doctor and hypnotherapist with more than 17 years experience. Feel free to send me email ( to discuss your situation.

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Genes for Learning, Remembering and Forgetting

Posted by Sun on April 1, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012) — Certain genes and proteins that promote growth and development of embryos also play a surprising role in sending chemical signals that help adults learn, remember, forget and perhaps Genes for Learning, Remembering and Forgetting become addicted, University of Utah biologists have discovered.

We found that these molecules and signaling pathways [named Wnt] do not retire after development of the organism, but have a new and surprising role in the adult. They are called back to action to change the properties of the nervous system in response to experience,” says biology Professor Andres Villu Maricq, senior author of the new study in the March 30 issue of the journal Cell.

The study was performed in C. elegans — the millimeter-long roundworm or nematode — which has a nervous system that serves as a model for those of vertebrate animals, including humans. Because other Wnt pathways in worms are known to work in humans too, the researchers believe that Wnt genes, the Wnt proteins they produce and so-called “Wnt signaling” also are involved in human learning, memory and forgetting.

“Almost certainly what we have discovered is going on in our brain as well,” Maricq says. And because a worm nerve-signal “receptor” in the study is analogous to a human nicotine receptor involved in addiction, schizophrenia and some other mental disorders, some of the genes identified in the worm study “represent possible new targets for treatment of schizophrenia and perhaps addiction,” he adds.

Wnt genes and their proteins already were known to “pattern the development and distribution of organs in the body” during embryo development, and to be responsible for various cancers and developmental defects when mutated, he says.

Maricq conducted the study with these Utah biologists: doctoral students Michael Jensen and Dane Maxfield; postdoctoral researchers Michael M. Francis, Frederic Hoerndli and Rui Wang; undergraduate Erica Johnson; Penelope Brockie, a research associate professor; and David M. Madsen, a senior research specialist. Synapse Plasticity is the Basis of Learning and Memory Synapses are the connections between nerve cells (neurons).

Nerve signals are transmitted through synapses. Learning and memory concern how these connections are made, broken, strengthened or weakened. Proteins known as receptors are delivered to the synapses or removed from them to strengthen or weaken the connection.

In the new study, Maricq and colleagues identified a “Wnt signaling pathway” — a series of genes and the proteins they produce — that controls the strength of nerve signal transmission from one neuron through a synapse to the next neuron. This allows “plasticity” of synapses — a key factor in learning, retaining memories and forgetting. “The adult nervous system is not a stagnant tissue, but rather dynamic and plastic, with the strength of synapses — specialized neuron-to-neuron connections — changing with experience, learning and memory,” Maricq says. “It’s not a fixed thing, like when you’re done making the heart, you’re done.” When synapses and thus incoming nerve signals are strengthened by adding receptors, an organism learns and remembers; when the opposite occurs, the organism forgets, he adds.

How is that connection strengthened or weakened? When one neuron sends a nerve signal to another neuron, the first neuron releases a chemical known as a neurotransmitter, which moves through the synapse connecting the two cells and attaches or binds to receptors on the surface of the second neuron. “You can think of the receptors like amplifiers, like hearing aids,” Maricq says.

The volume of the received nerve signal depends on the number of receptors, which are stored in a supply depot just below the nerve cell’s surface. The Wnt signaling identified in the new study “tells the depot to put more receptors into the synapse — or not,” says Maricq. He emphasizes that the Wnt chemical signal is different than the actual nerve signal carried by a neurotransmitter chemical, which in the new study was acetylcholine.

The Wnt signal “is a secondary signal that controls the volume of the neurotransmitter signal,” Maricq says. Worms Reveal Details of Nerve Signal Volume Control By crippling various genes in the worms, the researchers identified the “signaling pathway” by which a Wnt protein in one nerve cell sends a chemical signal to another cell telling it to increase the number of receptors on its surface, thus increasing the strength or volume of nerve signals between the cells. The type of nerve-signal receptor in the study is an acetylcholine receptor named ACR-16.

When researchers crippled the gene that makes the ACR-16 receptor protein, there were not enough receptors, so nerve signals were disrupted and the worms “had uncoordinated movement,” Maricq says. “They were semi-paralyzed.” The scientists found mutations of other genes that also resulted in inadequate ACR-16 receptors and impaired the worms’ movement. They discovered such genes belong to the “Wnt signaling pathway” that puts enough receptors on the cell surface so signals can be received. Besides ACR-16, genes in that pathway produced proteins named CWN-2 — which is a Wnt protein — LIN-17, CAM-1 and DSH-1.

Here is how that pathway controls the volume of incoming nerve signals: 1. A neuron releases CWN-2, which binds onto a receptor protein on the signal-receiving cell. That protein is a newly discovered combination of the LIN-17 and CAM-1 proteins. 2. The LIN-17/CAM-1 protein sends a signal to a protein called disheveled, or DSH-1. 3. “DSH-1 somehow sends the volume-control signal” that dispatches more ACR-16 receptors from depots inside the second neuron to that cell’s surface, thus boosting the volume of the received nerve signal, Maricq says. The researchers used a green jellyfish protein to mark the ACR-16 receptors so they were visible under a microscope. When any of the genes in the Wnt signaling pathway were mutant, the scientists could see the green-labeled receptors accumulate under the surfaces of nerve cells instead of moving to the surface. Another experiment recorded electrical currents in worm nerve synapses and found it was smaller when any of the Wnt pathway genes were mutated. The smaller current — reflecting impaired nerve-signal transmission — explains why the mutant worms were partially paralyzed. Human Version of Worm Receptor Tied to Mental Disorders The ACR-16 acetylcholine receptor is the worm version of the alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in humans and other vertebrates.

Both are similar in structure and function in animals from worms to fruit flies, mice and people. The alpha-7 receptor “is important in schizophrenia and a number of different mental disorders, and may have a role in addiction, but we don’t understand how it’s regulated,” Maricq says. Many existing psychiatric drugs modify synapse strength. The new study suggests research should be done to show if the same Wnt signaling genes in worms also control alpha-7 receptor levels on human brain cells.

If so, new drugs might be developed to target those genes as a way to treat mental disorders, including addiction. “Addiction is like learning at a primitive level,” Maricq says. “Addiction means that somewhere in your brain, synapses are too strong. So you want more.” The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.


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Being a Caring Parent to Your Inner Child

Posted by Sun on March 29, 2012

Getting in touch with our inner children is not always easy. At first it might seem that they just want to cry and cry. This is natural. The parts of us that were split off at a young age had to go away for good reasons—abuse, fear, neglect, misunderstanding. These young parts were not allowed to express their overwhelming feelings, so they took the feelings away with them.

When we invite these lost inner children back into our lives, we have to be ready for them to express a lot of distress. But what do we do then?

How Do We Soothe the Inner Child?

First of all, it is a process and it won’t get done all at once. You need to learn how to parent your own particular inner children. They will teach you what they need as time goes on. You will have to be just as patient as if you had adopted a real child with a troubled background.

Second, you need to take those feelings extremely seriously. “Soothing” the child does not mean saying, “There, there, dear. It’s OK. Stop crying.” You may have heard voices like that in your past, but your job is to be a different kind of parent, one who really listens to the child’s feelings. The first part of soothing is to hear the feelings. The child might not be able to tell you why she or he feels sad or angry or scared. Your job is to pay attention to the feelings.

If you can, find a safe a quiet place where you can literally sit down and listen. Let the feelings emerge. Accept all of them, even though it is painful. If you can’t bear all of it at once, tell the child that you will listen for ten minutes, or five, or two minutes. Then promise the child to make another time later to listen some more.

As the feelings emerge, focus on loving the child who is entrusting you with these valuable and vulnerable emotions. Tell the child that you are proud of her or him for coming forth. Sometimes you may feel completely overwhelmed and inside the feelings, like your are being the child. That’s OK. If you can manage to stay in that place, try to do so. See if you can detect any shift where you might feel a little more like a grownup holding the child.

Here’s Where the Soothing Comes In:

  • Value all those difficult feelings and validate them. 
  • Let your body express the love you have for this child by holding a pillow or stuffed animal, rocking, humming, stroking, doing anything you’d do to comfort an actual child. 
  • Trust your instincts on this. Let the child tell you what feels good to her or him. 
  • Don’t let any critical voices tell you that it’s silly to rock and hum a lullaby. It’s not silly—it is valuable practice in loving yourself.

You will need to do this practice over and over as your inner child gradually learns to trust you.

Over time you will learn to be the caring parent that this child never had. You will share your future with the wonderful, free, and loving spirit that is your inner child.


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Hypnotherapy for Stress Management

Posted by Sun on March 25, 2012

Stress results from a psychological and biological reaction to a perceived threat. A stress response includes an increase in blood pressure, pulse rate, energy levels, mental activity and muscle strength. The body is ready for action as it goes into “fight or flight” mode.

Stress is a natural part of life. Without stress, you would not be motivated to eat, work, have relationships, or get out of bed in the morning. It is when the amount of stress builds past the point of being comfortable, that most people start suffering from the symptoms of over stress. Unfortunately in today’s harsh economic climate, people are working harder and longer, dealing with multiple stress factors, these factors can have an accumulative affect, and often issues outside our direct control contribute significantly to the problem. If stress is not dealt with while it is at a low level, the symptoms of stress can escalate to cause other problems such as anxiety and depression. This is where hypnotherapy for stress management comes in. When you use hypnotherapy for stress you teach you sub-conscious how to deal with stressful situations in a more appropriate way.

Everyone reacts to stress in different ways and to different degrees. Some people have more stress than others. Some people handle stressful situations better than others. Each person is triggered by different stressful situations, depending on their own make-up. What may bother one person may not affect another person. This does not negate your stress, it merely points out what situations you react to in a stressful manner. Our Hypnotherapy for stress programme takes into account the individuals circumstances and we create an unique plan for that particular individual.

Hypnotherapy for Stress: Symptoms of over stress


  • Body tension
  • Unable to relax
  • Sleeplessness
  • Poor appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Excessive eating
  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive smoking
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Overspending
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Road rage
  • Snapping at people you love
  • Agitation at small things
  • Always being rushed, in a hurry, or late for appointments
  • Unable to sit still and focus on a TV show, a conversation, or read

Hypnotherapy for stress management

If you have several of the above symptoms, it is very possible that you are suffering from being over stressed. Stress is one of the biggest threats to people’s health, happiness, and well being. Stress causes confused thinking, depression, over eating, excessive drinking, reckless driving, high blood pressure, heart problems, and a myriad of other health problems. The symptoms of stress are sometimes insidious and undetectable, until one day you feel overwhelmed with life. Everything bothers you, from your work to your favourite pet at home. You may even start doubting your sanity. All of this results in the feeling of being out of control.

Hypnotherapy for stress will tackle all of these issues in a powerful and effective way. Hypnotherapy for stress helps you to get a new outlook on life.


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How Music Helps Prevent Organ Rejection

Posted by Sun on March 25, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — Music has a fundamental affect on humans. It can reduce stress, enhance relaxation, provide a distraction from pain, and improve the results of clinical therapy. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgerydemonstrates that music can reduce rejection of heart transplants in mice by influencing the immune system.

The link between the immune system and brain function is not clearly understood, nevertheless music is used clinically to reduce anxiety after heart attack, or to reduce pain and nausea during bone marrow transplantation. There is some evidence that music may act via the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the bodily functions that we have no conscious control over, including digestion.

Researchers from Japan investigated if music could influence the survival of heart transplants in mice. They found that opera and classical music both increased the time before the transplanted organs failed, but single frequency monotones and new age music did not.

The team led by Dr Masanori Niimi pinpointed the source of this protection to the spleen. Dr Uchiyama and Jin revealed, “Opera exposed mice had lower levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ). They also had increased levels of anti-inflammatory IL-4 and IL-10. Significantly these mice had increased numbers of CD4+CD25+ cells, which regulate the peripheral immune response.”

It seems that music really does influence the immune system — although the mechanism behind this still is not clear. Additionally, this study only looked at a limited selection of composers, so the effect of music on reducing organ rejection may not be limited to opera.


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Learning Best When You Rest: Sleeping After Processing New Info Most Effective

Posted by Sun on March 25, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — Nodding off in class may not be such a bad idea after all. New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that going to sleep shortly after learning new material is most beneficial for recall.

Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne and colleagues studied 207 students who habitually slept for at least six hours per night. Participants were randomly assigned to study declarative, semantically related or unrelated word pairs at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., and returned for testing 30 minutes, 12 hours or 24 hours later. Declarative memory refers to the ability to consciously remember facts and events, and can be broken down into episodic memory (memory for events) and semantic memory (memory for facts about the world). People routinely use both types of memory every day — recalling where we parked today or learning how a colleague prefers to be addressed.

At the 12-hour retest, memory overall was superior following a night of sleep compared to a day of wakefulness. However, this performance difference was a result of a pronounced deterioration in memory for unrelated word pairs; there was no sleep-wake difference for related word pairs. At the 24-hour retest, with all subjects having received both a full night of sleep and a full day of wakefulness, subjects’ memories were superior when sleep occurred shortly after learning, rather than following a full day of wakefulness.

“Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory. What’s novel about this study is that we tried to shine light on sleep’s influence on both types of declarative memory by studying semantically unrelated and related word pairs,” Payne says.

“Since we found that sleeping soon after learning benefited both types of memory, this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed. In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate.”


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