Neuroscientists Discover a Song That Reduces Anxiety By 65 Percent (Listen)


Neuroscientists Discover a Song That Reduces Anxiety By 65 Percent (Listen)
Anxiety — that feeling of dread, fear, worry and panic — is certainly nothing new. Hippocrates wrote about it in the fourth century BCE. As did Søren Kierkegaard in the 1860s. And Sigmund Freud addressed the disorder in 1926.However, jump to the present and we’re seeing a significant uptick — especially with youth.

Pharmaceutical drugs tend to be the classic treatment for treating anxiety (as well as the biggest money maker). Cognitive therapy is a common approach as well. Those with a holistic bent often turn to meditation, yoga, massage and other relaxation techniques. Music therapy has also been used with some success. But now neuroscientists in the U.K. have zeroed in on a single song that results in a dramatic 65 percent reduction in overall anxiety…

Anxiety & Generation Y

A 2013 survey found that 57 percent of American female university students reported episodes of “overwhelming anxiety.” And in the United Kingdom, the charity YouthNet discovered a third of young women — and one in ten young men — suffer from panic attacks.

Marjorie Wallace, CEO of the charity Sane, believes that generation Y (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) is the age of desperation. “Growing up has always been difficult, but this sense of desperation? That’s new,” she says.

Writes Rachael Dove in Anxiety: the epidemic sweeping through Generation Y:

“So, what’s going on? The rise of technology, overly-protective parenting and “exam-factory” schooling are among the reasons psychologists suggest for our generational angst. Another, brought up on multiple occasions by my peers and by psychologists I spoke to, is the luxury (as ungrateful as it sounds) of too much choice.”

Pieter Kruger, a London-based psychologist, says research indicates that people who feel they don’t have a choice are actually more resilient — mainly because they can blame life or others if they make a wrong decision. However, if you have a range of choices, you have no one to blame but yourself. “We become much more obsessive because we want to make the right decision every time,” he says.

Writer Claire Eastham, 26, agrees on her blog We Are All Mad Here:

“I spend a lot of time worrying about what I am going to do with my life. Previous generations had choice taken out of their hands. If you are told what to do it takes the pressure away.”

In our modern era, decision making can trigger a type of paralysis. Often, we will obsessively research the many different options for, say, a pair of shoes. Eventually, information overload will kick in and shut the whole shopping venture down, leaving us exhausted and guilty for being crippled by such a seemingly simple task.

Technology also contributes to the rise of anxiety. A good number of millennials feel exposed without their smartphones — and are rarely without them. Mobile gadgets tend to be their window to the world and foster a sense of connectedness. But there’s a dark side to feeling the need to keep on top of what everyone is doing on social media — otherwise known as Fomo, or the Fear of Missing Out.

“Fomo is very real and can be a constant addiction that affects anxiety levels and a general sense of wellbeing,” says Kruger.

Social media allows us to compare everything — relationships, diet, figure, beauty, wealth, standard of living — not only with our friends, but with celebrities too. And, as research has shown, time on social media “can cause depression in people who compare themselves with others.”

Besides revamping our lifestyles and limiting exposure to social media — and learning to work with a sometimes overwhelming abundance of choice — neuroscientists have found listening to a specially designed song can have a profound influence over our levels of anxiety.

The Creation Of The Ultimate Anti-Stress Music

Researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K. wanted to know what kind of music induces the greatest state of relaxation. The study involved having participants try to solve difficult puzzles — which inherently triggered a certain degree of stress — while connected to sensors. At the same time, participants listened to a range of songs as researchers measured their brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing.

What they found is that one song — “Weightless” — resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

Interestingly, the song was specifically designed to induce this highly relaxed state. Created by Marconi Union, the musicians teamed up with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines, which in turn slow a listener’s heart rate and blood pressure, while also lowering stress hormones like cortisol.

In fact, the music is so effective, that many of the female participants became drowsy — to the point where lead researcher Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson advises against listening to it while driving.

But don’t take their word for it. Experience it for yourself here:

Listen to the amazing video. URl:

Source: The Mind Unleashed

Breathing Program to Improve Mental and Physical Health


Story at-a-glance

  • Nine out of 10 adults breathe incorrectly, thereby impairing their health and exacerbating anxiety and depression
  • Proper breathing is a cornerstone of health. Learning to breathe well can improve your sleep, cognition, eating habits and resilience to stress, and lower inflammation, reduce pain and increase longevity
  • Horizontal breathing is healthy breathing; on the inhale, your midsection relaxes and expands, and on the exhale, your breathing muscles squeeze, narrowing your middle

It may be hard to believe, but 9 out of 10 adults breathe incorrectly, thereby impairing their health and exacerbating anxiety and depression. Fortunately, learning to breathe correctly is not a complicated affair.

In this interview, Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and author of “Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health,” shares a breathing program she developed that can help improve your physical and mental health in a short amount of time.

Psychologists do not typically focus on breathing. As is often the case with health pioneers, it was her personal health problems that led Vranich onto this path.

“What happened is that one year in New York, I woke up and had this dull throbbing pain in my jaw. I went to the dentist and found out I was not only grinding my teeth, I was pulverizing them because of stress …  

Being someone who sort of thrived on stress, I reached a point where it wasn’t working for me anymore … [F]inding out I had to pay thousands of dollars to get teeth replaced and fixed was my [aha] moment.

Most people take a yoga class or have a stiff drink. I decided for the yoga class. I loved the breathing we did in yoga … When I left yoga, I tried to find other classes that had to do with breathing. Most of them were vague, as far as their scientific explanations of what was going on, although they were lovely …

[C]oming from a science background, I really wanted to know why things were happening … Long story short, I found all types of breathing in sports, martial arts, birthing, singing [and] free diving. I put all those practical elements together and came up with the breathing class I give now.

I went back to my own patients [who] had anxiety and depression, and it worked really well with them … They would spend chunks of the session really wanting to do breath work. That’s how the transition happened.”

Proper Breathing Is a Cornerstone of Good Health

In her book, “Breathe,” Vranich accurately points out that breathing is a cornerstone of good health, and that changing the way you breathe can have an enormous impact, improving your sleep, cognition, eating habits, resilience to stress and more.

It can even lower your inflammation level, improve gastrointestinal (GI) function, increase longevity and reduce pain. When you’re in pain, you tense up, which in turn affects your breathing, making it shallower. This actually makes the pain feel worse, and can lead to a vicious circle where the pain becomes constant.

When it comes to breathing style, there are two basic types: vertical and horizontal breathing. Most people breathe vertically. This type of breathing makes you feel a bit taller on the in-breath, as it raises your chest and shoulders.

“Unfortunately, it’s anatomically incongruous,” Vranich says. “Your neck and shoulders were never meant to be breathing muscles. You’re not using the best part of your lungs. You’re actually telling your nervous system that you are in a stressed-out state.

If you’re not already in a stressed-out state, it’s going to make you more stressed … Horizontally is the way you see all animals on the planet breathe. They breathe and widen where the biggest part of their lungs are …

If you ask a 5-year old to take a breath, they just widen like a little puffing fish … It’s their deep breath. It’s perfect. You take a 10-year-old and ask them to take a deep breath and all of a sudden, it’s completely changed.

The 10-year-old will raise their shoulders, puff up their little chests and take this vertical, apical breath. If it doesn’t happen by age 10, definitely by age 15 … What they’re doing is mimicking their parents and what they see around them …”

How to Address Dysfunctional Breathing

The origins of dysfunctional breathing can also be traced back to excessive sitting. The average American sits 13 to 16 hours a day, which puts your body into an unnatural posture. According to Vranich, your posture affects as much as 30 percent of your breathing.

You may also have learned improper breathing through sports. Constrictive clothing such as tight waist bands, compression garments and bra straps add to the problem. Sucking in your gut also worsens the situation.

“Even if you’re not pulling in your gut because you think it makes you look thinner, you’re bracing because of anxiety. Think about it. That’s actually a posture that most of us have very often,” Vranich says. “It’s this braced middle … because it makes us feel better.

We feel like we’re ready to run or to strike. The problem with all of those things is that it takes the breath and it pushes it up, [turning it into] a vertical breath …

Luckily, dismantling it is fairly easy because somewhere in your body, you remember having breathed horizontally … [and since] it does make you feel better [when breathing horizontally], you start doing it.”

The book, “Breathe,” is a useful resource that provides a variety of different exercises and strategies to address this dysfunctional breathing. One such strategy Vranich calls “rock and roll.” You can do it either standing or sitting.

Begin by relaxing and unbracing your midsection. Take a deep breath in and actually feel the middle of your body get wider. Let your belly go. On the exhale, roll backward, tipping your hips underneath you while pressing your fingers gently into your belly, giving it a little squeeze.

These movements are exaggerated because learning a new mechanical movement is easier if you start by exaggerating it. Eventually, this will teach your body to use the diaphragm to breathe. So, on the inhale, let your belly go. On the exhale, roll back and squeeze.

“This is the most important breath,” Vranich says. “If you do anything at all, this is the most wonderful one … You want to get yourself trained to breathe that way all the time.”

Remember to Engage Your Diaphragm When Breathing

One of the key things to remember is to work with and engage your diaphragm when breathing, as this will allow you to change your breathing more easily, and make the change permanent. This is what the “rock and roll” breathing exercise teaches you.

“[While] the Buteyko [Breathing technique] focuses on your carbon dioxide levels, breathing through your nose, and posits that most people over-breathe … I focus on style of breathing.

I really look to see where you’re breathing from, because in my experience that has been what really resonates with people and what creates the most change,” Vranich says. “Although I touch on Buteyko Breathing in my book, I try to bring in breathing exercises from as many different places as possible, because I want there to be information that resonates with a really diverse group of people.

I talk about breathing that happens in singing … in martial arts … In “Breathe,” I bring in everything I possibly can, as far as breathing, to really give you a choice to see which of these different exercises works for you. But my main gift, I’d like to think, is that I look at where you’re breathing from.”

You might know that muscles will atrophy from lack of use. If you’ve been breathing improperly for several decades, it may take some time to retrain your breathing muscles before you can breathe optimally. Even athletes can have weak breathing muscles, because in order to be strong, they have to be worked out separately. It doesn’t happen automatically simply because you’re breathing heavily, and it has nothing to do with lung capacity. Your breathing muscles include your:

  • Intercostals: Muscles that run between your ribs, allowing your chest wall to move
  • Diaphragm: That thin sheet of muscle that extends across your thoracic cavity below your heart and lungs, above your digestive system
  • Obliques: The largest, outermost muscles of the lateral, anterior abdomen that give you that six-pack look
  • Pelvic floor

How to Strengthen Your Breathing Muscles

Working those muscles and really engaging them when breathing will have a dramatic effect on your ability to breathe well. Your inhale is governed by your diaphragm, while the exhale is primarily governed by your intercostals and obliques. Oftentimes, feeling short of breath is due to insufficient exhalation leaving excess residual air in your lungs. With age, your intercostals and obliques can weaken, thereby weakening your ability to exhale fully.

“When I teach, I teach the extremes so that you understand the mechanics. I make that exhale a squeeze. When you think about exhaling, most people think, ‘Inhale, exhale, let go,’ and that really messes us up. That idea of ‘exhale, let go’ makes you relax and flop down when you actually want to be narrowing your body on the exhale …

If you can think about your belly button getting closer to your spine and even your ribs coming together, that’s a really good exhale, which will obviously make your next inhale much better,” Vranich explains.

While about 50 percent of people can change their breathing for the better simply by reading the book or taking a single-session breathing class, to really change your breathing for life, most people need to commit to doing the exercises several times a day for one to three weeks.

The Importance of Stretching

Stretching helps improve your range of motion and flexibility, and proper breathing is an important aspect of effective stretching as well. Conversely, stretching can also improve your breathing. Vranich explains:

“Since your intercostals are two layers of muscle on the inside of your ribs, the best way you can stretch them is by inhaling and then stretching … [This opens] up the spaces between your ribs … Add air to the ribcage, on the inside, and then stretch. Add a little bit more. It’s called air packing — air packing comes from free diving — then stretch a little bit deeper. You can actually focus on the side that’s collapsing and give that a little crunch …

Now, I love spinal twists. If you don’t have any injuries, if you’ve been OK’d for doing spinal twists, doing spinal twists on the exhale will definitely get you deeper into the twist using the breath … Whatever chair you’re on, taking the back of your seat … and pulling yourself around on the exhale will get you deeper into the twist.”

Source:mercola.com

Brain scans of one-handed people are completely changing our understanding of the brain.


“The implications, if this interpretation is correct, are massive.”

 Scans taken of people born with only one hand have revealed areas of the brain typically associated with the ‘missing hand’ are taken over by other parts of the body, radically changing our thinking on how our brain operates.

Whether it’s an arm or a foot, other limbs seem to fill in for the missing hand. In other words, rather than being responsible for specific parts of the body, as previously thought, different sections of the brain could be responsible for specific functions.

 The team of researchers say their findings could prompt a fundamental shift in our understanding of the brain and the way it’s able to manage certain tasks with different parts of the body.

“Scientifically, I think one way to put our results in context is to say, what if the hand area is not the hand area per se, but just the part of the brain in charge of function ‘normally’ carried by that hand?” says one of the researchers, Tamar Makin from University College London in the UK.

The study looked at 17 people born with just one hand and 24 two-handed controls, who were video recorded while carrying out five everyday tasks, including handling money and wrapping presents.

Participants were also asked to move different parts of their body, and all the while their brains were being scanned via MRI.

The researchers found that when congenital one-handers used something to replace their missing hand in a task – like an elbow or a foot – that body part lit up the same part of the brain as the missing hand would in a two-handed person.

We should point out that this is just a small sample of people, and the scientists aren’t certain why this is happening, but they have a hypothesis: that areas of the brain aren’t organised by body parts, but by what those body parts are doing.

 “If true, this means we’ve been misinterpreting brain organisation based on body part, rather than based on function,” says Makin.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing for me to think we could have been getting this wrong for so long. The implications, if this interpretation is correct, are massive.”

For now, it’s still just a hypothesis, but it’s a hypothesis that could lead to a rethink on how our brain is organised. Maybe the brain is more flexible and adaptable than we thought.

There are already studies that indicate people with missing senses, such as sight, can recruit parts of the brain usually responsible for other tasks, such as performing calculations or processing language.

We have understood for some time that the brain can rewire itself following a limb amputation to make use of the real estate, sometimes causing painful ‘phantom sensations‘, but this new discovery could potentially cast existing research in a new light.

With about 86 billion neurons firing in all directions, the brain is an incredibly complex organ that scientists are still trying to properly understand.

While we’re making progress in smarter AI, working out the fundamentals of copying human movement in robots continues to prove tricky – by the age of two, humans can control their hands better than the most advanced robots.

With that in mind, the findings could eventually help us to understand how the brain compensates for the loss of a limb, and improve prosthetic replacements which could be attached to the right part of the brain and controlled with our minds.

This new research could help push all those efforts further forward.

“If we, as neuroscientists, could harness this process, we could provide a really powerful tool to better healthcare and society,” adds Makin.

“By learning how this occurs spontaneously in one-handers, we can get a handle on what we might be able to achieve.”

Source: Current Biology.

Scientists: “We Have Detected the Existence of a Fundamentally New State of Matter”


IN BRIEF

Scientists have discovered a fundamentally new state of matter: 3D quantum liquid crystals. These have the potential to advance microchip technology and quantum computing.

3D QUANTUM LIQUID CRYSTALS

Caltech physicists at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter have discovered the first 3D quantum liquid crystal. This is a new state of matter they expect will have applications in ultrafast quantum computing, and the researchers believe this discovery is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

The molecules of standard liquid crystals flow freely as if they were a liquid, but stay directionally oriented like a solid. Liquid crystals can be made artificially, like those in display screens of electronic devices, or found in nature, like those found in biological cell membranes. Quantum liquid crystals were first discovered in 1999; their molecules behave much like those in regular liquid crystals, but their electronsprefer to orient themselves along certain axes.

Watch the video. URL:

The electrons of the 3D quantum liquid crystals exhibit different magnetic properties depending on the direction they flow along a given axis. Practically speaking, this means that electrifying these materials changes them into magnets, or changes the strength or orientation of their magnetism.

QUANTUM APPLICATIONS

The research team expects that 3D quantum liquid crystals might advance the field of designing and creating more efficient computer chips by helping computer scientists exploit the direction that electrons spin. The 3D quantum liquid crystal discovery could also advance us along the road toward building quantum computers, which will decrypt codes and make other calculations at much higher speeds thanks to the quantum nature of particles.

Achieving a quantum computer is a challenge, because quantum effects are delicate and transient. They can be changed or destroyed simply through their interactions with the surrounding environments. This problem may be solved by a technique requiring a special material called a topological superconductor — which is where the 3D quantum liquid crystals come in.

“In the same way that 2D quantum liquid crystals have been proposed to be a precursor to high-temperature superconductors, 3D quantum liquid crystals could be the precursors to the topological superconductors we’ve been looking for,” Caltech assistant professor of physics David Hsieh, principal investigator on the new study, said in an interview for a Caltech press release.

“Rather than rely on serendipity to find topological superconductors, we may now have a route to rationally creating them using 3D quantum liquid crystals,” Hsieh lab postdoctoral scholar John Harter, the lead author of the new study published in Science, said in the press release. “That is next on our agenda.”

Source:futurism.com

Physicists say they’ve found a way to detect naked singularities… if they exist.


But are we ready?

 

Black holes are weird: insanely dense objects that are crammed into such a small space they cause space-time to distort and the laws of physics to break down into a singularity.

Fortunately, the Universe shields us from this weirdness by wrapping black holes in event horizons. But now, physicists say they’ve found a way we could detect something even more extreme – a naked singularity – and most likely bend the laws of physics in the process.

 “A naked singularity, if such a thing exists, would be an abrupt hole in the fabric of reality – one that would not just distort space-time, but would also wreak havoc on the laws of physics wherever it goes and lead to a catastrophic loss of predictability,” explains Avaneesh Pandey for IB Times.

If that sounds a little too confronting, don’t worry, this whole study is purely theoretical, and is hinged on one very big assumption – that naked singularities actually exist in our Universe, something that scientists have never confirmed.

But according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity at least, and our best computer models to date, naked singularities are possible.

So, what are they? A singularity can form when huge stars collapse at the end of their lives into regions so small and dense, physics as we know it fails to explain what could happen there.

There are two general laws of physics that govern our understanding of reality: quantum mechanics, which explains all the small stuff, such as the behaviour of subatomic particles; and general relativity, which describes the stuff we can see, such as stars and galaxies.

When applied to singularities, both these schools of thought predict different and incompatible outcomes.

 And we’ve never really had to deal with that conundrum, because all the singularities we know of are inside black holes, wrapped in an event horizon from which not even light can escape – or at the very birth of our Universe, shrouded by radiation we can’t see past. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

But naked singularities are theoretical singularities that are exposed to the rest of the Universe for some reason.

Below you can see an illustration of a black hole wrapped in its event horizon (dotted line) on the left, and a naked singularity on the right. The arrows indicate light, which would be able to escape a naked singularity, but not a black hole.

canweseeasin

Assuming they do exist, the big question then is how would we be able to distinguish a naked singularity from a regular black hole, and this is where the new study comes in.

Researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India have come up with a two-step plan based on the fact that singularities, as far as we know, are rotating objects, just like black holes.

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the fabric of space-time in the vicinity of any rotating objects gets ‘twisted’ due to this rotation. And this effect causes a gyroscopic spin and makes the orbits of particles around the rotating objects ‘precess‘, or change their rotational axis.

You can watch the hypnotic precession of a gyroscope below to see what we mean – its axis is no longer straight:

Gyroscope precession

Based on this, the researchers say that we could figure out the nature of a rotating objects by measuring the rate at which a gyroscope precesses – its precession frequency – at two fixed points close to the object.

According to the new paper, there are two possibilities:

  1. The precession frequency of the gyroscope changes wildly between the two points, which suggests the rotating object in question is a regular black hole.
  2. The precession frequency changes in a regular, well-behaved manner, indicating a naked singularity.

Obviously getting a gyroscope close enough to a black hole to perform these experiments isn’t exactly easy.

But that’s okay, because the team has also come up with a way to observe the same effect from here on Earth – measuring the precession frequencies of matter falling into either black holes or naked singularities using X-ray wavelengths.

“This is because the orbital plane precession frequency increases as the matter approaches a rotating black hole, but this frequency can decrease and even become zero for a rotating naked singularity,” the team’s press release explains.

Again, we have to make it clear that all of this is wildly speculative at this time – we have never found any candidate naked singularities, and we’re only just beginning to truly understand regular black holes.

It’s also worth noting that last week, another team of researchers suggested that even if naked singluarities exist, strange quantum effects could keep them hidden from us.

So there’s definitely no consensus right now on whether we’ll ever get the chance to study naked singularities.

And that’s not a terrible thing for now, because are we really ready to observe what goes on at the edge of our Universe?

Maybe, in our lifetime, we’ll find out.

Source:http://www.sciencealert.com