Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cognitive and Behavioral Nutrition: Reading the Labels

Just because a person who plays a doctor on TV says something is good for you, should you listen?

"...before most of us put anything into our bodies, we look at what is in it -- calories, salt, fat grams, etc -- and decide whether we will incorporate it (literally, put it into our bodies). I then ask this question: Do you use that same level of care and consideration of evidence when deciding whether to incorporate ideas and information into your mind or behaviors into your way of living?"

"Well, here's some good news. You can find "cognitive nutrition" and "behavioral nutrition" labels out there. You just need to know what they look like. They're not presented in clean small squares like the nutrition facts on the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts' box, but they do exist in the form of good scientific evidence. And how do we find this information and how do we know what is good scientific evidence? This is where we all need to ratchet up our levels of skepticism and thoughtfulness and decide what we are going to allow into our minds. While not a perfect rule of thumb (witness the autism-measles vaccine fraud), publication of a research finding in a peer-reviewed journal (articles are read and judged by experts in the field before being accepted for publication) is a good indicator of good cognitive and behavioral nutrition. We also need to attend carefully to people who we have good reason to believe are well-trained in making judgments about the goodness or badness of scientific data and their implications."

Link To Full Aricle

Interesting piece published on January 12, 2011 by research psychologist Marshall P. Duke.  With such an extraordinary amount of good and bad information available to us everyday through the internet, mainstream media and social interaction, it is important that we become informed consumers of knowledge.  "If we are going to do something that will affect the physical and/or emotional health and well being of ourselves and our families, we should base what we do on sound, reliable, scientific data -- on good evidence derived from good science."  Dr Duke provides several suggestions to help discern fact from fiction in order to make informed decisions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can you control your dreams?

"A lucid dreamer is a person who is aware that he or she is dreaming and is able to manipulate the plot and outcome of the dream, like a video game. It is not uncommon, and in children it can happen frequently, even as an expression of creativity, said Gary Schwartz, professor of psychology and neurology at the University of Arizona."

"Research suggests that various techniques can increase the frequency of lucid dreams. For instance, you can remind yourself before you go to sleep that you want to be aware that you're dreaming when dreams happen, said Deirdre Barrett, psychologist at Harvard University and the Cambridge Health Alliance and editor of Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams."

Link To Full Article

This article, published on January 12, 2011 by CNN gives a brief overview of lucid dreaming and offers several methods that can be used to facilitate the process.  The subject was unfortunately reported on because of a connection to the Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, who apparently took an interest in the phenomenon.  The article then discusses how the inability to distinguish dreams from reality is considered a "red flag" for mental illness.  It is important to note that the author is not suggesting a link between the practice of lucid dreaming and mental illness.

There are several organizations dedicated to the study of dreams and the practice of lucid dreaming, as well as countless books/online sources related to the subject.

The Lucidity Institute Inc. (an online collection of materials on lucid dreaming)

International Association for the Study of Dreams (multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the pure and applied investigation of dreams and dreaming)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mindfulness Therapy is No Fad, Experts Say

 Jaunuary 8, 2011 | By Chris Woolston, Special to the Los Angeles Times

There is solid evidence that mindfulness therapy, which combines elements of Buddhism and yoga, can relieve anxiety and improve mood

"Mindfulness therapy encourages patients to focus on their breathing and their body, to notice but not judge their thoughts and to generally live in the moment. It may sound a bit squishy and New Agey to some, but Hofmann and other experts say mindfulness has something that discredited theories of the past never had: solid evidence that it can help."

"The treatment seemed to help ease the mental stress of people recovering from cancer and other serious illnesses, but it had the strongest benefits for people diagnosed with mood disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and recurring depression."

Link to Full Article 

One of many articles exemplifying the numerous applications and proven benefits of mindfulness meditation.  While it's probably more informative to read about this research in scientific journals, it's nice to see this information becoming available through mainstream media.