Monday, October 24, 2011

Brain, Mind And Behavior - Emotions And Health

Brain Mind and Behavior
Emotions And Health
There is an excellent video of a lecture given by Dr. Jason Satterfield at the University of California, San Francisco.  This lecture is a little over an hour long but is filled with very good information on the interaction of the brain and mind when it comes to our emotions and health.

I have outlined a few points from the video that I found very helpful to me.  However, I urge you to view the video for the full information.  These are just some highlights from the notes I took.  Please refer to the video for the full context of the following notes.

YouTube Video:

Brains homeland security system.  It is there to detect threats, help you face dangers and it can be functional or dysfunctional.

Emotion based memory.  Like a keyboard that enters data into a computer system.  Damage to the hippocampus often leaves a person able to retain memories from early on in life but makes it difficult to form new ones.

The sensory relay station of the brain.  It copies, divides and sends out different signals (auditory, visual and others) to different parts of the brain.

Limbic System
Is the quick and dirty response system. It is the more immediate emotional reaction.

Frontal Lobes
Works together with the limbic system but the frontal lobes are much slower in response and more advanced or calculated.  They are more complex than the limbic system. 

Prefrontal Cortex
The youngest and most advanced part of our brain within the frontal lobes. Responsible for impulse control, delayed gratification, executive function and complex decision making.

Emotions, Thoughts, Behaviors
All are related and affect each other.  So if you change your emotions, you can change your thoughts and if you change your thoughts, you can change your behavior.  You can change your emotions through tranquilizers and antidepressants or you can do it through changing your thoughts and behaviors.

Mind Body Medicine (Connection)
Emotions and thoughts affect the way you feel or the stress you experience and ultimately affects the way your body functions.  Something that happens in your brain affects the rest of your body.  The mind body connection is the connection between the emotions and thoughts you have and how it interacts with your physical body.

1919 After World War I
Soldiers coming back from the war had a condition no one understood.  We would call it shell shock or PTSD now.  However, in those days, it was referred to as malingering syndrome and anyone caught in this state could be jailed for it.

1930's - Stress Response
In the 1930's, Hans Selye discovered the stress response in rats through his research which was termed general adaptation syndrome.  Han Selye is considered to be the father of Mind Body Medicine.

When we are stressed, we tend to do the opposite of what we need to do to counteract the stress.  We often sleep less, eat poorly, drink alcohol, smoke, rely less on social supports.  This amplifies the negative effects of the stress.  Stress goes through one of two physical routes.  The first is the Sympathetic Adrenal Medullary System.  It uses adrenaline and gives us the fight or flight response.  Hopefully after the stressful moment is over, it fades away.  The other route is through the HPA Axis which is much slower and lasts longer.  It uses cortisol and too much cortisol over prolonged periods can have negative health affects.

Heart Attacks
More heart attacks occur on Monday than any other day of the week.  They also occur more frequently following stressful events like 9/11 or other tragedies.

Stress And The Common Cold Research
Research by Sheldon Cohen in a study of 394 people when given the rhino virus found that the more stressed the participants were, the more susceptible to the virus and the longer it lasted.

Wound Healing Study
While I did not catch the name of the researcher on this study, they found that dental students who were given intentional wounds, healed much faster during the summer than during exam periods.  They concluded it took longer to heal in high stress periods.

Acute Stress Vs Chronic Stress
Acute stress temporarily improves front line immunity but suppresses specific immunity.  Chronic stress suppresses most immune functions including front line and specific.  The body is not made for the chronic stress situations of modern day.

Anger - Type A Personality (Hostility)
Myer Friedman discovered the type A personality of anger and hostility.  It is marked by an aggressive, unceasing struggle to achieve more and more in less time.  Often it is in competition with other individuals or forces.  Main components of the type A person include easily arroused hostility, time urgency and competitiveness.  (Cook Medley Hostility Scale).

Clinical Depression
Five of 9 symptoms lasting for 2 weeks or more.  There are far more suicides than homicides in the US but the attention in the media is on the homicides.  There is a 5% prevelance in people for suicide.  If one episode of suicide has taken place, there is a 50/50 chance of another episode.  If there have been two episodes of suicide, there is a 70-80% chance of a third occurence.  Neurons that fire together, wire together.  In depression, once the pathway of the neurons have been laid down, each episode broadens future pathways.  Chronic heart disease increases by 50% in white Americans and 75% in African Americans.

Related Blog Posts
1)  What Are Emotions (Oct 19, 2011)

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