Archive for the ‘Neuroscience & Genetics’ Category


Futuristic PTSD treatment: planting explicit memories in the brain

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

This is the stuff of science fiction that gives medical ethicists pause. Can we erase traumatizing memories stored in our brains? Can happier memories be planted as a substitute for painful ones?

Researchers are hard at work with the newest technologies allowing the substitution. Here is a new study done with laboratory mice. The news article describing the research appears below.


Rodent Recall: False but Happy Memories Implanted in Sleeping Mice
Researchers at CRNS in Paris create artificial positive feelings in mouse’s memory for first time during sleep, highlighting possible new treatment for depression
By Hannah Devlin, The Guardian, March 9, 2015

Scientists have succeeded in creating false but happy memories in mice, in the first demonstration of memory manipulation during sleep.

In the study, positive feelings about a particular place were artificially written into the animal’s memory, which caused them to seek out that place in search of a reward when they woke up.

The discovery that emotional memory can be readily manipulated has echoes of the the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which Jim Carey’s character has every recollection about his failed relationship wiped clean using a fictional mind-reading technology.

The scientists say that the findings could pave the way for new treatments that would allow patients to overcome depression or deeply entrenched painful memories.

Karim Benchenane, the neuroscientist who led the research at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in Paris, said: “The idea is to use this as a tool for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

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Memory research in rats suggests hope for PTSD victims

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Video by Chris Wade, Slate magazine, explaining new study.

Neuro studies show that prolonged exposure to extreme stress atrophies (shrinks) the hippocampus and interferes with memory. Now comes this study suggesting that lost memory can be restored!

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A Neurological Basis for Self-Blaming Targets of Workplace Bullying

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Blaming oneself for horrific incidents foisted on us by others is a characteristic common to individuals bullied at work. Although witnesses see clearly that it is the bully who controls all incidents and assaults the target without invitation. Nevertheless, the typical scenario involves the target thinking that something about them is flawed and discoverable by the bully, a form of self-blame or guilt.

And we know that 39% of bullied targets state that they have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Research by others links self-blame to a cognitive vulnerability to major depression. An amazing study published on June 4, 2012 mapped the neuroanatomy of guilt (self-blame) feelings experienced by people with depression contrasted with people who did not suffer depression.

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Exposure to Violence, Bullying & Stress Shortens Life via Telomere Erosion

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Anyone who has heard a WBI speech or attended Workplace Bullying University since 2010 has heard me talk extensively about the danger of shortened telomeres (the protective caps at the ends of our DNA chromosomes that allow cells to replicate and keep us young). Elizabeth Blackburn, of UCSF, showed that chronically stressed mothers of special needs children probably have a shorter life expectancy (a loss of between 9 and 12 years) than other mothers from shortened telomeres. Her discovery earned her a 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine & Physiology.

A new longitudinal study published April 24 in Molecular Psychiatry found that children who experienced early-life stressors at age 5 — maternal domestic violence, frequent bullying victimization, or maltreatment by adults — suffered significantly more telomere erosion at age 10 than peers not exposed to stressful violence.

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PTSD Diagnosis, A New Tool – MEG

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Prolonged exposure to unremitting stress damages a person’s health. The research is unequivocal (read the science in our Research Library). Mental health impact begins with anxiety. In worst cases, trauma can result. The diagnosis can be elusive because of the strict definition in the DSM-IV-TR (the diagnostic bible) and the reluctance of clinicians to admit what Heinz Leymann knew back in the late 1980’s — work trauma is real. Now comes a potential new neuroscience tool to complement the diagnostic toolkit — MEG. MEG stands for magnetoencephalography. PTSD can be detected with 97% accuracy using this non-invasive, but still experimental, procedure.
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WBI Recommends Robert Sapolsky, Stress Expert

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

robertsapolskyzebras

WBI loves his popularization of the neuroscience of prolonged stress and its impact on health. Adult targets of bullying at work should appreciate his insights. His book  Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping a veritable textbook for those of us not in medical school to which we refer in speeches and WBI University. Purchase his book.

Listen to two of his speeches at our Audio library.

Read one of his articles written for general audiences. [The influence of social hierarchy on primate health. Science, 2005, 308, 648-652.]

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Difficult to Detect a Broken Heart

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

The Neuroscience of Compassion

Targets of bullying experience rejection by cowardly co-workers, indifference from HR and senior management, and limited tolerance by friends and family. Why aren’t people more compassionate? Why don’t they see the pain and help more? Brand new research suggests that we humans are wired to quickly and empathically react to the physical pain of others. For example, watching someone break an ankle and step on it triggers pain centers in our own brains nearly immediately.

However, social pain or the mental anguish of others takes longer to trigger a response and that reaction requires much more brain work. For example, when a woman with cerebral palsy laments that she has never been kissed and probably will never have a romantic relationship, it should trigger a compassionate response. It does, but it takes time. The latency and location of neurological responses are tracked by fMRI. The research was done by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and Antonio Damasio at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute. (Paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

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