Rest and digest

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The parasympathetic nervous system is the brakes in our bodies. It’s almost impossible to stress when the body puts on the brakes when we are deeply relaxed. Luckily, it’s possible to train our body and relaxation systems to become more active.

Right now I’m listening to ‘hardwiring happiness’ by Rich Hanson. 

Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build strengths into your brain— balancing its ancient negativity bias—making contentment and a powerful sense of resilience the new normal. In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into refuges and power centers of calm and happiness.

The take-home message from the book, is utilizing the positive experiences you encounter every day. When I listen, I feel irritation every now and then as his positivity triggers thoughts like “It`s not THAT easy”. But then I relax, and realize this is just one of the many fleeting thoughts and feelings that I need to notice, but not go into. When I take a deep breath to deactivate my sympathetic nervous system that always scans for what is wrong, the negative thoughts evaporates like dew in the sun.

The author have a wast knowledge-base this the draws from in the book. He gives a lot of examples from his own life, to show how it’s possible to hardwiring our brains to happiness. When we manage to turn on the ‘rest and digest’ system, we are more open to positive experiences. We can’t be relaxed and in a very negative mood at the same time. He continues, however, with saying that it isn’t enough to try to relax, we have to work actively with noticing and creating positive experiences. 

From his book: 

” As you read this, in the five cups of tofu-like tissue inside your head, nested amid a trillion support cells, 80 to 100 billion neurons are signaling one another in a network with about half a quadrillion connections, called synapses. All this incredibly fast, complex, and dynamic neural activity is continually changing your brain. Active synapses become more sensitive, new synapses start growing within minutes, busy regions get more blood since they need more oxygen and glucose to do their work, and genes inside neurons turn on or off. Meanwhile, less active connections wither away in a process sometimes called neural Darwinism: the survival of the busiest.”

Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

So, update your brain AND your mind. And listen to the audiobook, off course.

last ned (4)



Getting Fit – Body and Mind

Mind Control Researchers Create Fake Link Between Unrelated Memories

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Nicholas West 
Activist Post

Advancements in genetics and neuroscience are undoubtedly leading toward direct methods of mind control, albeit only with good intentions … if government and establishment science can be believed. However, an array of hi-tech methods have been announced which show clear potential for negative manipulation.

Bold claims have been made by scientists that they now can use “neural dust,”  high-powered lasers, and light beamed from outside the skull to alter brain function and even turn off consciousness altogether.

But it is memory research that might be among the most troubling.

As I’ve previously suggested in other articles, our memories help us form our identity: who we are relative to where we have been. Positive or negative lessons from the past can be integrated into our present decisions, thus enabling us to form sound strategies and behaviors that can aid us in our quest for personal evolution. What if we never knew what memories were real or false? What if our entire narrative was changed by having our life’s events restructured? Or what if there were memories that were traumatic enough to be buried as a mechanism of sanity preservation, only to be brought back to us in a lab?

Research has commenced into many facets of how memory can be restructured, whether it is erasing memories, the implantation of false memories, or triggering memories of fear when none previously existed. (Source)

MIT researchers, for example previously claimed to have found the specific brain switch that links emotions to memory. MIT went on to admit that these findings could lead not only to direct intervention via manipulation of brain cells through light, but a new class of drugs to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Once again, memory tinkering is making the news. This time it comes from the University of Toyama, Japan, where researchers claim to have for the first time, “linked two distinct memories using completely artificial means.” I have highlighted areas of the press release below which are consistent with similar research into supposed solutions for PTSD. The same disturbing language is present that seems to indicate a desire to reverse engineer the process and create fear-based trauma.

So far, ethical boundaries seem fuzzy at best, and downright non-existent in various areas of brain study. It is a time when more light needs to shine upon this research, who is funding it, and what is permissible. Given the outrageous abuses already committed by government-directed science, and a global climate of centralized health control, we would do well to read between the lines of these announcements and prepare to become very critical of their pursuits.  

Press Release

The ability to learn associations between events is critical for survival, but it has not been clear how different pieces of information stored in memory may be linked together by populations of neurons. In a study published April 2nd in Cell Reports
, synchronous activation of distinct neuronal ensembles caused mice to artificially associate the memory of a foot shock with the unrelated memory of exploring a safe environment, triggering an increase in fear-related behavior when the mice were re-exposed to the non-threatening environment. The findings suggest that co-activated cell ensembles become wired together to link two distinct memories that were previously stored independently in the brain.

Memory is the basis of all higher brain functions, including consciousness, and it also plays an important role in psychiatric diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” says senior study author Kaoru Inokuchi of the University of Toyama. “By showing how the brain associates different types of information to generate a qualitatively new memory that leads to enduring changes in behavior, our findings could have important implications for the treatment of these debilitating conditions.”

Recent studies have shown that subpopulations of neurons activated during learning are reactivated during subsequent memory retrieval, and reactivation of a cell ensemble triggers the retrieval of the corresponding memory. Moreover, artificial reactivation of a specific neuronal ensemble corresponding to a pre-stored memory can modify the acquisition of a new memory, thereby generating false or synthetic memories. However, these studies employed a combination of sensory input and artificial stimulation of cell ensembles. Until now, researchers had not linked two distinct memories using completely artificial means. 

With that goal in mind, Inokuchi and Noriaki Ohkawa of the University of Toyama used a fear-learning paradigm in mice followed by a technique called optogenetics, which involves genetically modifying specific populations of neurons to express light-sensitive proteins that control neuronal excitability, and then delivering blue light through an optic fiber to activate those cells. In the behavioral paradigm, one group of mice spent six minutes in a cylindrical enclosure while another group explored a cube-shaped enclosure, and 30 minutes later, both groups of mice were placed in the cube-shaped enclosure, where a foot shock was immediately delivered. Two days later, mice that were re-exposed to the cube-shaped enclosure spent more time frozen in fear

than mice that were placed back in the cylindrical enclosure.
The researchers then used optogenetics to reactivate the unrelated memories of the safe cylinder-shaped environment and the foot shock. Stimulation of neuronal populations in memory-related brain regions called the hippocampus and amygdala, which were activated during the learning phase, caused mice to spend more time frozen in fear when they were later placed back in the cylindrical enclosure, as compared with stimulation of neurons in either the hippocampus or amygdala, or no stimulation at all. 

The findings show that synchronous activation of distinct cell ensembles can generate artificial links between unrelated pieces of information stored in memory, resulting in long-lasting changes in behavior.

By modifying this technique, we will next attempt to artificially dissociate memories that are physiologically connected,” Inokuchi says. “This may contribute to the development of new treatments for psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, whose main symptoms arise from unnecessary associations between unrelated memories.”
Recently by Nicholas West:

Neuropsychology and mental illness

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When I started to study psychology, I was immediately interested in neuropsychology. For six months I worked at a rehabilitation unit in Bergen. I met people with different types of brain injuries, and learnt different tests used to map cognitive functions. I thought about becoming a neuropsychologist, but decided to work with trauma victims instead. But my interest in biology and neuroscience is still there, and I try to use the knowledge I have gathered when I work with trauma victims. My preferred method is EMDR (eye movement and desensitization). EMDR is based on solid evidence, and I love that we also use neuroscience to explain how EMDR works.

Neuropsychology studies the structure and function of the brain as they relate to specific psychological processes and behaviors. It is an experimental field of psychology that aims to understand how behavior and cognition are influenced by brain functioning and is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and cognitive effects of neurological disorders.

At work yesterday, we had a lecture about the treatment of AD/HD and bipolar disorder. The lecturer works in Bergen where she does research on AD/HD. Her name is Anne Halmøy, and she was a truly inspiring person.  It was really interesting to hear her talk, especially since she explained how neuropsychology helps us to understand AD/HD better.  One of the problems people with AD/HD and bipolar disorder have, is regulation their behavior and emotions. She told us that we are beginning to understand that some brain areas are under-regulated in those patiens. It is not clear which areas contributes the most to what, but the prefrontal cortex and the limbic areas are two likely candidates.

What Goes On in the Brain

Studies show that brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, don’t work the same in children and adults with ADHD. There also tend to be differences in the way nerve pathways work.

Certain parts of the brain may be less active or smaller in children with ADHD than those without the disorder.

The brain chemical dopamine may also play a role. It carries signals between nerves in the brain and is linked to movement, sleep, mood, attention, and learning.

Science has already come a long way in explaining AD/HD and bipolar disorder, but there is still so much to learn. The coming years will probably see a surge of new research that explains why genetic and mental disorders develops.

The different lobes of the brain

Neuropsychology – Science Daily

What Causes ADHD/ADD

Anne Halmøy | University ini Bergen

Brain Differences in ADHD – About Kids Health

Finding ‘lost’ languages in the brain

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Finding ‘lost’ languages in the brain


An infant’s mother tongue creates neural patterns that the unconscious brain retains years later even if the child totally stops using the language, (as can happen in cases of international adoption) according to a new joint study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro and McGill University’s Department of Psychology. The study offers the first neural evidence that traces of the “lost” language remain in the brain.

“The infant brain forms representations of language sounds, but we wanted to see whether the brain maintains these representations later in life even if the person is no longer exposed to the language,” says Lara Pierce, a doctoral candidate at McGill University and first author on the paper. Her work is jointly supervised by Dr. Denise Klein at The Neuro and Dr. Fred Genesee in the Department of Psychology. The article, “Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language,” is in the November 17 edition of scientific journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Neuro conducted and analyzed functional MRI scans of 48 girls between nine and 17 years old who were recruited from the Montreal area through the Department of Psychology. One group was born and raised unilingual in a French-speaking family. The second group had Chinese-speaking children adopted as infants who later became unilingual French speaking with no conscious recollection of Chinese. The third group were fluently bilingual in Chinese and French.

Scans were taken while the three groups listened to the same Chinese language sounds.

“It astounded us that the brain activation pattern of the adopted Chinese who ‘lost’ or totally discontinued the language matched the one for those who continued speaking Chinese since birth. The neural representations supporting this pattern could only have been acquired during the first months of life,” says Ms. Pierce. “This pattern completely differed from the first group of unilingual French speakers.”

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The study suggests that early-acquired information is not only maintained in the brain, but unconsciously influences brain processing for years, perhaps for life – potentially indicating a special status for information acquired during optimal periods of development. This could counter arguments not only within the field of language acquisition, but across domains, that neural representations are overwritten or lost from the brain over time.

The implications of this finding are far reaching, and open the door for questions relating both to the re-learning of an early acquired, but forgotten, language or skill, as well as the unconscious influence of early experiences on later developmental outcomes.

Maybe this can explain some of the problems children from abusive homes, can have. Even if they don`t remember what happened, the body still keeps the score decades later.

The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture, the G.W. Stairs Foundation and the Centre for Research on Brain Language and Mind.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Lara J. Pierce, Denise Klein, Jen-Kai Chen, Audrey Delcenserie, and Fred Genesee. Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language.PNAS, November 17, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409411111

The original article 

EMDR in the treatment of addiction

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EMDR in the Treatment of Addictions

Posted on March 24th, 2014

Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.  


Abstract: This paper discusses the use of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in addictions providing two case studies.  Addictions have become a major public health problem impacting millions of individuals and their families. Although the etiology of addiction is multi-factorial clinical evidence shows that frequently the addictions are associated with concurrent mental health problem such as PTSD, or depression. Treating these concurrent conditions would help to reduce the negative impact of addictions. EMDR has been proven effective in the treatment of PTSD and Depression. Therefore EMDR can be used as one of the effective supportive therapies in addictions. Recent researches too support the effectiveness of using EMDR in the treatment of addictions. Further research is warranted to understand the total therapeutic impact of EMDR in treating addictions.

Key Words: EMDR, Addictions, PTSD, Depression, Addiction Memory

 EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a clinically-proven evidence-based psychotherapeutic method that was developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro. According to Shapiro (2002) EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach. EMDR offers a structured, client-centered model that integrates key elements of intrapsychic, behavioral, cognitive, body-oriented, and interactional approaches (Shapiro, Vogelmann-Sine, & Sine, 1994). Shapiro and colleagues (2007) further elucidate that EMDR contains with a theoretical model that emphasizes the brain’s information processing system and memories of disturbing experiences as the basis of pathology. The eight-phase treatment comprehensively addresses the experiences that contribute to clinical conditions and those that are needed to bring the client to a robust state of psychological health.

EMDR has been initially used to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  A large body of research has found that EMDR is one of the efficacious psychotherapeutic methods to treat PTSD.  The American Psychiatric Association has recognized EMDR as one of the effective and potential methods to treat PTSD (APA, 2004).  Silver & Rogers (2005) and Bisson & Andrew (2007) reported positive outcome using EMDR to treat PTSD.  The recent research has also revealed that EMDR is effective in treating people with Addiction Disorders.

Addiction Disorders and EMDR

Addiction is defined by the World Health Organization as repeated use of a psychoactive substance or substances, to the extent that the user is: periodically or chronically intoxicated, shows a compulsion to take the preferred substance(s), has great difficulty in voluntarily ceasing or modifying substance use, exhibits determination to obtain psychoactive substances by almost any means, and tolerance is prominent and a withdrawal syndrome frequently occurs when substance use is interrupted (WHO).

The disease model of addiction describes an addiction as a disease with biological, neurological, genetic, and environmental sources of origin (McLellan et al., 2000). Addiction has serious social economic, and health consequences. Addictive behaviors are major causes of chronic disease, premature death, and high health care costs (Prochaska, 2004). Substance use and dependence cause a significant burden to individuals and societies throughout the world. The World Health Report 2002 indicated that 8.9% of the total burden of disease comes from the use of psychoactive substances. The report showed that tobacco accounted for 4.1%, alcohol 4%, and illicit drugs 0.8% of the burden of disease in 2000 (WHO, 2004).

An important characteristic of addiction is its stubborn persistence (McLellan et al., 2000). It has recurrent cycles of relapse and remission. Although addiction usually (but not always) begins with a conscious decision to use a drug, changes that occur in the brain at some point can turn drug use and then abuse into a chronic, relapsing illness  Wasilow-Mueller et al., 2001). According to Hyman (2005) the goals of the addicted person become narrowed to obtaining, using, and recovering from drugs, despite failure in life roles, medical illness, risk of incarceration, and other problems.  There is a large and growing body of evidence about the neurobiologic basis for addiction behaviours, the role of genetic, environmental and epidemiologic factors.  This evidence demonstrates that substance use is not a simple matter of choice (Stanbrook , 2012).

Although addiction behaviors are multifaceted EMDR can be used to treat addictions. EMDR has been successful with addiction disorders. Hase and colleagues (2008) provide evidence to support the successful application of EMDR in addictions. Marich (2009) illustrates EMDR in the addiction continuing care process with a case study.  In this case study of a cross-addicted female was able to achieve 18 months of sobriety and important changes in functional life domains following EMDR.

Psychological Trauma and Addictions

Addictions and psychological trauma are highly correlated. The comorbidity between addiction and psychological trauma has been discussed by numerous researchers. According to Jacobsen, Southwick, and Kosten (2001) 22%–43% of people living with PTSD have a lifetime prevalence rate of substance use disorders. Based on an Australian national survey Mills and colleagues (2006) were of the view that alcohol was the most common substance of misuse by the survivors with PTSD who had a comorbid substance use disorder. PTSD was most prevalent among those using opioids (Ahmed, 2007).

Individuals living with severe psychological trauma often use alcohol and other substances as a negative stress coping method and to displace traumatic memories. This could lead to a vicious cycle. Avoidance of trauma reminders and associated distress may be achieved by the use of drugs and alcohol, alternatively a substance abusing lifestyle might predispose such individuals to experience traumatic events (Reynolds et al., 2005).

In addition unresolved trauma plays crucial role in addictions. The impact of unresolved psychological trauma could be callous and overwhelming. The ramifications of unresolved trauma can be endured for decades. According to Shapiro and Laliotis (2010) these disturbing memories are the cause of psychopathology.

It is essential to address deep rooted psychological trauma and unresolved mental conflicts associated with addictions. Addressing unresolved intrapsychic trauma associated with childhood abuse may increase the efficacy of treatment outcomes and reduce relapse rates among individuals with alcohol addiction (Windle et al., 1995). EMDR can be successfully used to treat psychological trauma (including unresolved mental conflicts and grief) improving functionality of the individual.

Depression and Addictions

Depression is a common mental disorder. Depression and substance abuse frequently occur together. A substance-abusing patient who exhibits symptoms of a mood disorder may be suffering from acute intoxication or withdrawal, substance-induced mood disorder, preexisting affective disorder, or a combination of these conditions (Quello et al., 2005).  Depression comorbid with alcohol or substance abuse requires stabilization of the mood and decrease in drug use or cravings. Treating patients’ co-occurring mood disorders may reduce their substance craving and taking and enhance their overall outcomes (Quello et al., 2005).

EMDR has also been proven effective in treating depression. Bae & Park (2008) report that potential application of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for treatment of depressive disorder. Jayatunge (2008) indicates that the Sri Lankan combatants who were diagnosed with depressive disorder with alcohol abuse achieved successful treatment outcome following EMDR.

EMDR as a Potential Method to  Treat Addiction Disorders

Individuals with substance use disorders are heterogeneous with regard to a number of clinically important features and domains of functioning. Consequently, a multimodal approach to treatment is typically required (APA, 2006). Medication and psychological therapies are widely used in treating Addiction Disorders.

Among the psychological interventions EMDR remain as one of the effective therapies. A relatively small but growing body of literature indicates that EMDR may be an effective adjunctive treatment for substance abuse (Abel & O’Brien, 2010).  Zweben and Yeary (2006) reported on the potential uses of EMDR in addictions treatment.  When combined with traditional addictions treatment approaches, EMDR can enhance client stability, prevent relapse, and promote recovery (O’Brien,   & Abel, 2011).

Clinical reports highlight that EMDR   is an important addition to the treatment of substance abuse. The application of EMDR apparently stimulates an inherent physiological processing system that allows dysfunctional information to be adaptively resolved, resulting in increased insight and more functional behavior. In addition EMDR is used to incorporate new coping skills and assist in learning more adaptive behaviors.  (Shapiro et al., 1994).

Hase and colleagues (2008) reported a randomized controlled study which investigated the effects of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of alcohol dependency. As they report: thirty-four patients with chronic alcohol dependency were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions: treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU plus two sessions of EMDR (TAU+EMDR). The craving for alcohol was measured by the Obsessive–Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS) pre-, post-, and 1 month after treatment. The TAU+EMDR group showed a significant reduction in craving posttreatment and 1 month after treatment, whereas TAU did not. Their results indicated that EMDR might be a useful approach for the treatment of addiction memory and associated symptoms of craving.

Breaking the Addiction Cycle via EMDR

The etiology of addiction is multi-factorial and complex.  Addiction or dependency may be viewed as a subset of brain and behavior disorders (Wasilow-Mueller & Erickson, 2001).Negative childhood experiences, onset of psychological trauma, depression inducing life events play a role in the development of addictions. In such events EMDR can be used as a robust psychotherapeutic intervention.

The mechanism of EMDR has become a central topic. According to Solomon and Shapiro (2008) the Adaptive Information Processing model proposes that the mechanism of action in EMDR is the assimilation of adaptive information found in other memory networks linking into the network holding the previously isolated disturbing event”. Based on this assumption Schubert and Lee (2009) suggest that EMDR transmutes the dysfunctionally stored memory by integrating it with preexisting memory networks.

Describing the neurobiological mechanism of action of EMDR Stickgold  (2002)  hypotheses that  repetitive redirecting of attention in EMDR induces a neurobiological state, similar to that of REM sleep, which is optimally configured to support the cortical integration of traumatic memories into general semantic networks. They further suggest that this integration can then lead to a reduction in the strength of hippocampally mediated episodic memories of the traumatic event as well as the memories’ associated, amygdala-dependent, negative affect.

Addiction memory plays a decisive role in addictions. The human brain is an open learning system, which reveals its own neuronal connectivity through the experience of the perceived environment with its own state; the personal addiction memory is interpreted as an individual acquired software disturbance in relation to selectively integrating “feedback loops” and “comparator systems” of neuronal information processing (Boening, 2001). Addiction memory has an effect on relapse occurrence and maintenance of learned addictive behavior.

It is essential to work on addiction memory in order to break the addiction cycle. Hase and colleagues (2008) discuss the successful application of EMDR to reprocess the addiction memory in chronically dependent patients.

The standard EMDR protocol for treating addictions involves reprocessing the earlier (traumatic) memories that set the basis for the dysfunction (including contributing elements to the development of addiction), the present triggers that activate disturbance, and the development of future templates for more adaptive behavior, which is essentially a form of relapse prevention for this population. Strategies for addressing specific targets related to the addiction are a valuable addition (Shapiro et al., 1994: Hase et al., 2008).

Behavior modification (reprocessing) is an important aspect of EMDR (Rafferty, 2005). EMDR works on conscious and unconscious craving reducing occurrence of relapses.

Case Reports

1)      Captain KHZ86 was an officer of the Sri Lanka Army who participated in a number of military operations. In 1992 he went on a rescue mission and accidently walked into an ambush. In this unexpected situation he lost 23 of his men in front of his eyes. Many were killed by the enemy gunfire and mortar attacks. After this incident Captain KHZ86   felt that he was personally responsible for the deaths of his men. He was troubled by survival guilt and ruminations. In order to avoid guilt, intrusions and night disturbances he started indulging in alcohol. He became numbed and withdrawn.  He silently suffered abusing alcohol in large quantities. Following his drinking behavior he was diagnosed with harmful use of alcohol and referred for psychological therapy.

 Captain KHZ86 underwent the full therapeutic protocol of EMDR with 8 sessions. His image was dead soldiers lying on the battle field with a negative cognition: I am responsible for their deaths. His SUD (subjective units of distress) was recorded the peak of 10. With the reprocessing therapy his disturbed feelings and intrusive memories disappeared. At the end of 8 sessions his SUD reduced up to zero with a newly established positive cognition: Their deaths were caused by the enemy and I did my utmost to save them even risking my life.

He was able to come to terms with his past trauma. The survival guilt that drastically affected him for a long time diminished gradually.  He was able to sleep without experiencing depressogenic combat related mental images. He detached from the negative coping method and started to spend time without abusing alcohol. Hence Captain KHZ86 was able to fight back his addition. After sometime Captain KHZ86 got an honorable discharge from the military and now married and working in a multinational company. He has been sober for more than two years.

)      Mr. BXXF14L- a Sri Lankan Tamil expatriate experienced stressful life events before migrating to North America. He had to flee his hometown when the militants tried to forcibly recruit him. He came to Colombo and worked in a company for a short period. He lived in Colombo without proper documents and in a random search he was caught by the Police.  Mr. BXXF14L was detained and questioned for a period of one week. Following these distressing events and foreshortened future he decided to migrate. He came to Canada and claimed refugee status.

While living in Canada Mr. BXXF14L gradually became depressed. He sadly missed his hometown, friends and family. Practically every day after work he started drinking alcohol and tried to forget grief-stricken memories. He frequently smoked cannabis. He became more and more depressed and reluctant to seek psychiatric help due to social stigma. Sometimes he engaged in self harm such as head banging and punching walls out of anger.

Mr. BXXF14L was referred for EMDR by a close relative. Although Mr.  BXXF14L was ambivalent in the first few sessions later became an active participant.  He willfully followed the EMDR treatment protocol. After six sessions of EMDR, Mr. BXXF14L became less agitated and reduced alcohol abuse considerably. His depressive feelings became less prominent. His sleep improved and he stopped smoking cannabis. Eventually he cut down his drinking volume for more than 80 %. Now for the last seven months he drinks only in social occasions and alcohol consumption does not exceed more than 2 cans of beer.


Addictions have negative consequences in private and social life. It has become one of the public health concerns. Psychological trauma and stressful life events often trigger addiction behaviors.  A large number of individuals with addiction disorders are affected by PTSD, Depression and sometimes unresolved psychological conflicts. Often these core conditions hinder the individual’s functionality and sustain addictive behaviors. These individuals would be benefitted by EMDR.  Numerous researches indicate positive clinical outcome in addictions following EMDR.   EMDR is safe, cost effective and seems to have no side effects. Therefore EMDR is one of the efficacious psychotherapeutic interventions to treat addictions.


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WHO .(2004). Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence

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Zweben, J., & Yeary, J. (2006). EMDR in the treatment of addiction. Journal of Chemical Dependency Treatment, 8(2), 115–127.

Micromovement Analysis Improves Diagnosis of Autism

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US Navy 100310-N-4178C-003 Christopher Adams h...
US Navy 100310-N-4178C-003 Christopher Adams holds his three-year-old son Joey while Board Certified Behavior Analyist (BCBA) therapist Kenna Nelson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Micromovement Analysis Improves Diagnosis of Autism

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 4, 2013

An analysis of microscopic movements is being used by researchers to diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and determine its severity in children and young adults.

The research is the work of Jorge V. José, Ph.D., of Indiana University, and Elizabeth Torres, Ph.D., of Rutgers University who presented the new technique at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

Their work builds on earlier findings involving the random nature of movements of people with autism.

Earlier research looked at the speed maximum and randomness of movement during a computer exercise that involved tracking the motions of youths with ASD when touching an image on the screen to indicate a decision.

That research was reported in the Nature journal Frontiers of Neuroscience.

Micromovement Analysis Improves Diagnosis of Autism

In the new study, the researchers looked at the entire movement involved in raising and extending a hand to touch a computer screen.

The device they use can record 240 frames per second, which allows them to measure speed changes in the millisecond range.

“We looked at the curve going up and the curve going down and studied the micromovements,” said José.

“When a person reaches for an object, the speed trajectory is not one smooth curve; it has some irregular random movements we call ‘jitter,’” he said. “We looked at the properties of those very small fluctuations and identified patterns.”

Those patterns or signatures also identify the degree of the severity of the person’s ASD, he said.

“Often in movement research, such fluctuations are considered a nuisance,” José said.

“People averaged them away over repeated movements, but we decided instead to analyze the movements on a smaller time scale and found they hold lots of information to help diagnose the continuum of autism spectrum disorder.

“Looking at the speed versus time curves of the motion in much more detail, we noticed that in general many smaller oscillations or fluctuations occur even when the hand is resting in the lap. We decided to carefully study that jitter.

“Our remarkable finding is that the fluctuations in this jitter are not just random fluctuations, but they do correspond to unique characteristics of the degree of autism each child has.”

The work was presented by Ph.D. graduate student Di Wu, who said the more detailed information allows subtyping of ASD and helps to identify typically developing individuals much better than previously.

The new refinement may help advance research in ASD to develop treatments tailored to the individual’s needs and capabilities.

Source: Indiana University

hand selecting dots photo by shutterstock.

A personal story about raising a son with autism:

picsplay_1383352356524-1.jpgMelissa is a stay at home mom raising a teenager, a tween, and a toddler. She is a surrogate mother of two gorgeous little girls who she gets to see whenever she wants. She has explored life and her goal is to never wonder what if. Her toddler was not planned but she is thankful that he chose her to call mommy. People say she is extremely lucky in life but she views her luck as a result of the decisions she has made in life otherwise known as karma. She spends her time guiding her teenager supporting his interests and talking about safe sex, cleaning up after her tween daughter completely shocked that daughters are pigs when she was sure it would be the boys who were disgusting, and running around after her monkey of a toddler desperately trying to be a part of his world. She never kept a journal for her older children and pictures are precious because there aren’t many. So she decided to start this blog to remember her thoughts and time that passed to quickly. She never imagined that her son who she didn’t even know she wanted, who she loved so much it hurts, would be diagnosed with autism. This is a real journey that starts as a normal record of her child’s growth to finding out that what she suspected would become very real. Her words are true, raw, and sometimes heartbreaking. This is a story about strength, love, and acceptance. She is choosing to document this journey with her sidekick Oliver hoping that one day she will learn how to be a part of his world. Keeping her memories of all of the testing and therapy while watching him learn and grow. He is her world. He is autistic but that isn’t all he is. He is quirky, easygoing, curious, interesting, fun, hilarious, genuine, innocent, and lovely. He is her Oliver. He is her world.

Suffer and let it end

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Jeff Warren | November 2013 – Issue 9 | No Comments

“Do not pursue the past. Do not usher in the future. Rest evenly with present awareness”
(Tibetan meditation instruction)

It was 1972, and Gary Weber, a 29-year old materials science PhD student at Penn State University, had a problem with his brain. It kept generating thoughts! – continuously, oppressively – a stream of neurotic concerns about his life, his studies, whatever. While most human beings would consider this par for the course, par for the human condition (cogito ergo sum), Weber wouldn’t accept it. He was a scientist, a systematizer, a process guy. He liked to figure out how things worked, and how they could be tweaked to work more efficiently. And at that moment his brain wasn’t very efficient. It expended a lot of energy going over and over the same anxieties and cravings and storylines. “Most of these thoughts had no purpose,” he said. “They were not going to cure cancer.”

It so happened that shortly after he recognized the problem, in one of those little life coincidences that some people like to call “synchronicities,” Weber picked up a slim volume of poetry on his way out of the library. He sat down on the green grass in front of the University admin building, unpacked his lunch and idly opened the book. He read:

“All beings are from the very beginning Buddhas.”

This is the first line of a famous Zen poem – Song of Zazen – written in the 18th century by the Japanese Buddhist teacher Hakuin Ekaku. Weber knew nothing of Zen. Still, within seconds of reading Ekaku’s words, according to Weber, “the entire world just opened up. I mean it literally opened up. For what must have been thirty or forty minutes, I dropped into this magnificent expansiveness – a vast empty space without any thoughts whatsoever.”

Weber had had what in Zen is called a “kensho” – an awakening, a glimpse into the unconditioned, a mystical phenomenon described in different ways by countless texts and countless teachers in countless traditions. It was a profound experience, but like so many such experiences, it didn’t last. Weber’s thoughts returned – as insistent and clamorous as ever. But now Weber knew another way was possible. He was determined.

For the next 25 years, as Weber finished his PhD, married and raised two kids and made his way through a string of industry jobs – eventually culminating in a senior management position running the R&D operations of big manufacturing business – he got spiritual. He read lots of books, he meditated with Zen teachers, mastered complicated yoga postures, and practiced what is known in Vedic philosophy as “self-enquiry” – a way of directing attention backwards into the center of the mind. To make time for all this, Weber would get up at 4am and put in two hours of spiritual practice before work.

Although he says he never had the sense he was making progress, Weber kept at it anyway. Then, on a morning like any other, something happened. He got into a yoga pose – a pose he had done thousands of times before – and when he moved out of it his thoughts stopped. Permanently.

“That was fourteen years ago,” says Weber. “I entered into a state of complete inner stillness. Except for a few stray thoughts first thing in the morning, and a few more when my blood sugar gets low, my mind is quiet. The old thought-track has never come back.”

Now of course, the fact that Weber is telling this story at all would seem to contradict this rather dramatic claim. Conventional wisdom tells us that talk is the verbal expression of thinking; separating the two makes no sense. And yet, this is the experience Weber reports. And at the time he didn’t care if it was theoretically impossible. What he cared about was that in an hour he needed to go to work, where he was supposed to run four research labs and manage a thousand employees and a quarter of a billion dollar budget, and he had no thoughts. How was that going to work?

“There was no problem at all,” Weber says, which he admits may say more about corporate management than about him. “No one noticed. I’d go into a meeting with nothing prepared, no list of points in my head. I’d just sit there and wait to see what came up. And what came up when I opened my mouth were solutions to problems smarter and more elegant than any I could have developed on my own.”

Over time, Weber figured out that it wasn’t that all his thoughts had disappeared; rather a particular kind of self-referential thinking had cut out, what he calls “the blah blah network.” Scientists now refer to this as the “default mode network” (DMN), that is, the endlessly ruminative story of me: the obsessive list-maker, the anxious scenario planner, the distracted daydreamer.  This is the part of the thinking process we default to when not engaged in a specific task.

“What’s fascinating to me,” Weber says, “is I can still reason and problem solve, I just don’t have this ongoing emotionally-charged self-referential narrative gobbling up bandwidth.”

But the real surprise for Weber is what disappeared along with the “me” narrative: any sense of being a separate self, and with it all mental and emotional suffering.  He has a theory about this: “If you look at the self-referential narrative it’s all ‘I, me, mine.’ When that cuts out, the ‘I’ goes with it. Now, for me, it’s very quiet and peaceful inside – there’s no sense of wanting things to be other than they are, and no ‘I’ to grab hold of ‘I want, I desire, I lust.’” Although his case is extreme, Weber’s experience is in line with research showing that more DMN activation correlates with more unhappiness – ‘A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind’, as the title of one well-known paper puts it.

Weber has even found the changes have carried over into his emotional life:

“I still get angry, but it’s different now. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I feel the energy come up, but it doesn’t go anyplace. There’s no chasing somebody down the highway. The anger dissipates immediately – it doesn’t carry forward. You don’t lose the typical neural responses – thank goodness – what you lose is the desire leading up to them, and, once the response passes, you don’t make up a story about what happened that you repeat again and again in your head. Those storylines are gone.”

Like other scientists before him who’ve experienced similar transformations – the neuroscientist James Austin, the neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, to name two examples – Weber got interested in what was going on his brain. He connected with a neuroscientist at Yale University named Judson Brewer who was studying how the DMN changes in response to meditation. He found, as expected, that experienced meditators lower DMN activation when meditating. But when Brewer put Weber in the scanner he found the opposite pattern: Weber’s baseline was already a relatively deactivated DMN. Trying to meditate – making deliberate effort – actually disrupted his peace. In other words, Weber’s normal state was a kind of meditative letting go, something Brewer had only seen a few times previously, and other researchers had until then only reported anecdotally.

And here we come to a subtle but important difference of opinion between Weber and Brewer. For Weber, true letting go means arriving at a state of “no-thought” where the mind is permanently stilled of any kind of “bandwidth-gobbling” inner monologue. Creative thoughts, planning thoughts – these are totally fine, and are in fact served by completely different parts of the brain. The real suffering happens in the endless and exhausting  “blah blah” narrative. Thus, he argues, extinguishing these kinds of thoughts should be the explicit goal of practice, something he says other contemplative traditions also emphasize.

By contrast, further study has suggested to Brewer that the thoughts themselves – even a certain amount of the self-referential kind – may not actually be the problem; the real problem is our human tendency to fixate and grip and get “caught up” in these thoughts. Some of his subjects attained dramatic reductions in DMN activity while still thinking in a self-referential way. They just weren’t attached to their ruminations. One subject described watching his thoughts “flow by.” As Buddhists have long argued, you don’t need to eliminate the self-thinking process, you just need to change your relationship to it.

Whatever the case, both men agree that the reduction of activity in the DMN is central to the elimination of suffering. That it is being discussed at all marks an important advance in the scientific study of meditation in particular and spiritual practice in general. The Mind and Life conferences, the big NIH grants, the explosion of studies on mindfulness – all have generated enormous insights. They’ve demonstrated how positive emotions can be trained, and reactivity softened, and concentration increased, and attentional clarity boosted. Many researchers have shown unequivocally that stress and suffering can be dramatically reduced by meditation and by mindfulness in life. But they have not yet shown why this is so.

Have Brewer and his colleagues finally found a clue to how the reduction of suffering looks in the brain? Not the activation of a specific region, but a more general deactivation, a neurological letting go that parallels the experiential one? Brewer: “Even in novices we saw a relative deactivation across the brain – like the brain was saying, Oh thank God I can let go. I don’t have to do stuff, I don’t have to do all this high energy maintenance of myself. One interpretation of that – and there are many others – is that the brain knows what it needs to do. It’s a very efficient machine; we just have to stop getting in the way.”

This kind of neurobiological perspective is a movement towards what Brewer calls “evidence-based faith,” where science may be able to help teachers and practitioners fine-tune the approaches they take to practice. Contemplatives may recoil at the idea, but for Brewer, addressing suffering is the priority, a project science can help with. As proof-of-concept, Brewer has just published two studies [here and here] that show how meditators can watch live feedback from their brains inside the fMRI and use it to decrease their DMN activation in real-time. And he’s just received an NIH grant to study how this could work for non-meditators – more quickly, and hopefully, one day, more affordably. “The aim is to see if neurofeedback can give regular folks feedback on subtle aspects of their experience …stuff they wouldn’t notice otherwise,” he says.

Weber agrees, “Right now we can get folks off the street and within one or two runs in the Yale fMRI they can produce this deactivated state. The more glimpses the brain gets, the more time it spends there, the more it can stay there. It’s like riding a bike. With this technology you may not have to spend twenty-five years practicing like I did. It’s much more efficient.”

Like the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths with a psychotherapeutic twist, Weber has it down to a terse progression: “I had suffering, it came from my attachments. My attachments cause me to slip over into the narrator. If I stop that, I lose my suffering. We have the tools to do this. They require no scriptural texts or philosophy. All it takes is persistence and curiosity. The old ego-motivated human existence, our 75,000 year-old operating system with its need to gratify our desires and exploit the environment and have six of this and ten of that – that can all fall away. It’s time for an upgrade.”


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The sound of falling left or right

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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” ~ Albert Einstein

 / 22 hours ago

Daniel H. Pink, author of several bestselling books about the changing work world, drew on international research regarding left brainers vs. right brainers and compiled it in his book A Whole New Mind.

“The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, is sequential, specializes in text, and analyzes the details,” writes Pink. “The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, is simultaneous, specializes in context, and synthesizes the big picture.”

Lead Life Institute’s founder and author of Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership and Right Brain/Left Brain President Dr. Mary Lou Décosterd further describes the differences between right and left brainers: “You could say that left brainers are more focused on the here and now.They are more verbal, tangible (need to see it to believe it), and pragmatic. Right brainers are visionaries and innovators, interested in what might or could be. They are more intuitive and emotional — they trust their gut.”

She further explains how this relates to leadership. “Left brain leaders excel in and target the sheer volume of a leader’s day-to-day tactical demands. Left brain leadership is about in-the-moment planning, communicating, stabilizing and driving,” she told us. “Right brain leaders excel in and target the development of a desired state. Right brain leaders look out at possibilities and from those possibilities identify opportunities for change.”

Andrea Learned, a sustainable business leadership and marketing to women expert, told us that gender has had a traditional role in what people perceive left and right brain thinking to be. “Women are thought to ‘tend’ to be guided by those right hemisphere characteristics. Meanwhile, men are thought to ‘tend’ to be guided by the more left hemisphere characteristics, because that is what they’ve traditionally been most rewarded for (making money, winning, thinking linearly…),” Learned said. “If you look at social media and social business today, it is pretty clear that the right hemisphere characteristics will find more of the reward in the 21st century.”

Is it possible to use your whole brain? Would doing so create some sort of superhuman? Dr. Décosterd says President Obama is a good example of someone who uses both. “His is a fully integrated right and left brain approach. While high level leaders can be adept at certain right  and left brain abilities, most leaders get caught up in their preferences…More to the point, a leader is less likely to shift style from right to left brain thinking or vice versa with the ease as Obama does.”

So can someone who tends to be more of a right brainer train themselves to develop their left brain and vice versa? Dr. Décosterd believes so. “The best way to encourage a shift in brain style is to make your brain more pliable. To do so you could introduce novel stimulus to your brain — new sights, tastes, scents for example, as well as being OPEN to new ways of thinking — listen to differing views without being dismissive,” she told us. “Another way to encourage a shift is through engaging in behaviors that are more alter-brain.”

What kind of thinker are you? Left brain, right brain, or both? Last week, we asked you to give us some examples of each. After receiving a ton of feedback via Twitter and Facebook (and after much deliberation), we’ve selected a few of the many great examples you gave us to create this updated version of the infographic.


Also, be sure to take a look at some of the explorations of how the infographic came to be below.

Creative Leader versus Do Leadership Infographic from Mindjet

Stressful content in a relaxed environment

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 Dear Nico

For me, the meaning of life is meeting people. When I discovered your blog, something pulled me towards it again and again, and I was so happy when we started to talk to communicate. I found Nico an incredible woman, whom I immediately liked and honored. To my delight, she also got something back from our conversations, and she eventually started to write for “free psychology”. Since then, she has published a lot of interesting posts about psychology. She has written her personal story, but also manage to integrate it with theory and own thoughts, and I admire that. For me, she`s an example of how it`s possible to truly follow your dreams, no matter where you come from.

I just want to thank you, Nico, for all the wonderful posts you`ve produced so far, and look forward to a conversation on skype. I`m glad I met you, and hope we can keep in touch for a long time.

Warm hugs from the other side of the world  

Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective


Stress and Memory From a Neuroscience Perspective

 “From a neuroscience perspective, amnesia in the absence of brain damage can be partially explained in biochemical terms. Stress causes a chemical reaction that affects regions of the brain responsible for memory. With repeated overwhelming stress, neurotransmitters and stress hormones are released in the brain in such excess quantity that they can adversely affect portions of the brain responsible for emotional memories as well as other kinds of memory.”i'm not out to convince you or draw upon your mind*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“i’m not out to convince you or draw upon your mind” by Andrea Joseph
“Standing at the Gates of Hell” by Shane Gorski  

Source:  p. 33, The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreaming to Disorders by John A Biever, M.D. and Maryann Karinch.

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