Mind

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The psychology of COVID compliance

<p><span style="font-size: 14px;">A study by Australian and Canadian researchers has identified some common psychological features of people who don’t follow COVID-19 restrictions or advice. It’s a diverse bunch, but in general, the COVID non-compliant are less likely to be cooperative and considerate, less willing to learn new information, but more extroverted.</span></p> <div class="copy"> <p>They’re also more likely to be male, and less likely to get their news from official sources.</p> <p><a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255268" target="_blank">Published</a> in <em>PLOS One, </em>the study analysed results from an online survey of 1575 people in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, taken in April and May 2020. Participants each spent 30–40 minutes answering questions relating to COVID attitudes and beliefs, as well as questions around personality, cognitive ability, and demographic information.</p> <p>“It was very interesting to see that people openly talked about planning for the next week, going to visit a friend or family – something which was strongly discouraged,” says Associate Professor Sabina Kleitman, lead author on the paper and researcher in psychology at the University of Sydney.</p> <p>Overall, around 90% of the participants were compliant with their current COVID restrictions. This varied very slightly from country to country – with 82% compliance among US residents, 88% in Australia and 94% in both Canada and the UK.</p> <p>“It was a quite a remarkable consistency at the time,” says Kleitman.</p> <p>“Now it could have changed completely, because that was during the first wave of the pandemic and the nations were very similar [in COVID restrictions]. Now they’re wildly apart.”</p> <p>The researchers divided results into groups based on attitudes towards COVID, and compliance.</p> <p>“It was a surprise to us to see that the non-compliant, they’re not the youngest,” says Kleitman.</p> <p>The least compliant group had a mean age of 29.1 – with a wide variation across the sample. They were cognitively similar to the compliant, but had a few personality differences – including being more self-interested, and less open to new information.</p> <p>“We did not find any differences between groups in actual metrics of intelligence and decision making we employed in the study, but we found the differences in <em>intellect</em>: the openness to new experiences personality dimension,” says Kleitman.</p> <p>The non-compliant were less worried about COVID, but not less worried in general – they were just as likely to be anxious about non-COVID things as their compliant counterparts.</p> <p>“We also thought neuroticism would play a role,” says Kleitman. “We thought people who are more predisposed to general worries and anxieties might be driving the compliance.</p> <p>“In our study [it] did not. Instead, it was just worries about COVID which separated these two groups.”</p> <p>Kleitman says that while lots has happened between April 2020 and now, the research has potential implications for messaging around COVID restrictions – particularly the tight rules currently in place in Greater Sydney, which aim to keep the Delta outbreak in check.</p> <p>“At the moment, our message is beautiful: we are all in it together,” she says. “It’s absolutely right, but is it reaching a non-compliant group who prioritize self-interest? I don’t think so.”</p> <p>The non-compliant are also less likely to use official sources and traditional media for their information, so Kleitman suggests other methods need to be used to get the word out.</p> <p>“I’m not saying that the message needs to change, but we need some additional messages, and perhaps we need additional mechanisms for delivering them.</p> <p>“Perhaps through a trusted family doctor talking on community radio stations, and other community leaders discussing the dangers of being infected and spreading it to their loved ones, and benefits of compliance, including vaccination; perhaps through the creative use of social media.”</p> <p>She adds that financial support is critical for increasing compliance. “Business and people affected by lockdown need the government’s support not to lose their livelihoods.</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=160465&amp;title=The+psychology+of+COVID+compliance" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/psychology-covid-compliance/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian" target="_blank">Ellen Phiddian</a>. Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

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Just two minutes of “doom-scrolling” can worsen your mood

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just two minutes of exposure to COVID-19 content can leave you feeling less optimistic and feeling worse, according to new research.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A team of scientists from the UK and Canada exposed 1000 participants to COVID news, COVID-related acts of kindness, or nothing at all, to determine whether negative news or kind acts would affect mood.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When compared to the group exposed to nothing at all, those who were exposed to COVID-related news experienced an “immediate and significant” reduction in happiness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team found that this drop in mood could occur after just two to four minutes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for those who consumed content about COVID-related acts of kindness, the study found they didn’t experience the negative consequences.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The researchers, led by psychologist Dr Kathryn Buchanan, claim that exposure to negative content can be particularly problematic on social media as they make “passive consumption of news almost unavoidable”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Even a few minutes of exposure to COVID-related news on social media can ruin a person’s mood,” the team wrote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Given that many people spend five to 10 times the amount of time interacting with COVID-related news each day, this likely offers a conservative estimate of the emotional toll.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They also argued that additional work would be needed to confirm that the effect would be felt after exposure to content about other large-scale threats, such as climate change.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study, published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0257728" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">PLOS One</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, also had some advice for those looking to avoid these negative effects.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team offered several solutions: the increase in positive stories produced by media outlets, seeking out positive content, or engaging in other activities that can bolster happiness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They concluded: “We would all do well to be mindful of these effects and consider balancing our doom-scrolling with some kindness-scrolling.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Brain implant helps woman’s severe depression

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A woman battling severe depression has had a life-changing experience after she received a personalised brain implant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s like my lens on the world changed,” </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/brain-implant-severe-depression-activity-stimulation?utm_source=Editors_Picks&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=editorspicks101021" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said Sarah</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the research volunteer who received the implant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though the device was tailored specifically for Sarah’s brain and may not work as a treatment for others, psychiatrist and neural engineer Alik Widge says it is significant because it serves as a way to study how brain activity changes during depression.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A team of researchers from the University of California implanted temporary wire electrodes into Sarah’s brain, allowing them to monitor the brain activity that corresponded to her depression symptoms.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For Sarah, a fast brain wave called a gamma wave appeared in her amygdala, a part of the brain involved in emotions, that was associated with her symptoms.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height:281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844766/sarah-brain1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/08625f274e4445b3b116fa203d69817b" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Maurice Ramirez / UCSF</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team then worked to uncover a way to interrupt the signal, and identified a potential area to target: the ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When they applied tiny jolts of electrical currents to the area, Sarah’s mood improved.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We could learn the road map of Sarah’s brain in a way that we could really improve her depression symptoms,” Katherine Scangos, an associate professor in psychiatry, said in a news briefing in September.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the researchers were mapping her brain, Sarah would feel joy when the right spot was stimulated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I laughed out loud,” she said in the briefing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This was the first time I had spontaneously laughed and smiled where it wasn’t faked or forced in five years.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the initial experiment, surgeons implanted a more permanent device into her brain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The device was programmed to detect when the gamma signals in Sarah’s amygdala reached high levels and respond by sending a jolt of electricity to her VC/VS.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The stimulation was calibrated so Sarah wouldn’t feel the jolts, but she said they would leave her feeling more energetic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“As time goes on, it’s been this virtuous cycle, a spiral upwards,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Everything has gotten easier and easier.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The research describing the technology used to make Sarah’s first implant was published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01480-w" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nature Medicine</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and revealed that the effects Sarah felt occurred over two months.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The approach required a lot of sophisticated technology, including imaging and machine learning technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Helen Mayburg, a neurologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, cautioned that its complex nature may make it difficult to turn into a wider treatment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, the results contain information that is valuable to those looking to understand the effect of depression on the brain and how it can be changed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She said, “What we all want to know is, ‘How does this work?’”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Jon Lok / UCSF</span></em></p>

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Monica Lewinsky discusses her mental health during the Clinton scandal

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Monica Lewinsky became a household name after she famously had an affair with President Bill Clinton during the 1990s while interning at the White House.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a recent </span><a href="https://edition.cnn.com/audio/podcasts/axe-files?episodeguid=b0c4a76a-a89d-47ce-becf-adb3002a2a6a"><span style="font-weight: 400;">podcast interview with CNN</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Lewinsky discussed how the investigation into the scandal, along with the global pressure from the media, drove her to have suicidal thoughts. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I just couldn't see a way out. And I thought that maybe that was the solution," she said, explaining how she had asked lawyers working for then-independent counsel Ken Starr about what would happen if she died.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">At the worst moment of her life, when she was seized by the FBI, questioned about her affair w/Bill Clinton &amp; threatened W/prison, <a href="https://twitter.com/MonicaLewinsky?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MonicaLewinsky</a> couldn’t see a way out. “What if I die?” she asked the lawyers interrogating her.<br />New <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AxeFiles?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AxeFiles</a>!<br />Pod here👉<a href="https://t.co/6gfKHZOtJ7">https://t.co/6gfKHZOtJ7</a> <a href="https://t.co/4Yqq2pZygW">pic.twitter.com/4Yqq2pZygW</a></p> — David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) <a href="https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/status/1443565658575409153?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 30, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thinking back on her experience, she asks, "How was there not a protocol?" to deal with a unique situation like hers. "That's a point where you're supposed to bring a psychologist in or, you know, something," she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The interview comes as new light is being shed on the affair in a dramatised FX series called </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-08/monica-lewinsky-impeachment-american-crime-story-how-to-watch/100436458"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Impeachment: American Crime Story</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, for which Lewinsky is a producer. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Monica told the interviewer that after being dismissed by Ken Starr, she began seeing a forensic psychiatrist that helped her get through the ordeal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I think a lot of people who have ever had suicidal ideations find themselves in a moment where it's just – it's a moment of grace, like, you know, two roads diverged in the woods," she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"And the forensic psychiatrist picked up the phone. And so I was, you know, pretty, pretty lucky."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In an essay published by </span><a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2014/05/monica-lewinsky-speaks"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vanity Fair in 2014</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Monica said she had never attempted suicide but that she had "strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigation and one or two periods after."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Monica told the podcast that she constantly had to fight to not be defined by the affair after her views of the situation changed in the wake of the #MeToo movement. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"My narrative was stolen and then I lost it by trying to recede, trying to run away from everything that had happened for many years," she said, adding that part of "the work" she had to put in was accepting that she would have to face her past.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She said that through working on the series, she was able to reclaim her story in the eyes of the public. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"This story is about real people and I'm involved in it, but it's also about something bigger. It reflects something bigger in our society. And so as our society changes, there are different ways that this story feels relevant," Lewinsky said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Check out the trailer for the series here:</span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rtipQ3EsGWo" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p>

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Jelena Dokic's heartbreaking post

<p dir="ltr">Over the weekend, former tennis champion Jelena Dokic shared a heartbreaking message to Instagram in honour of World Mental Health Day. The 38-year-old shared a photo taken of her as a teenager, accompanied by a caption detailing her own struggles with mental illness and encouraging people to support those in their lives working to manage their mental health.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CU1t_fuBouV/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CU1t_fuBouV/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by JELENA DOKIC 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 (@dokic_jelena)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The photo was taken at the 2000 US Open, when Dokic held a post-match press conference hours after her father was removed from her match by security while shouting curses and insults.The caption reads, “This photo brings up a lot of sadness and pain and was taken during a period of my life where I was experiencing depression,anxiety and PTSD. Only a few years later I almost ended my life. Today I am in such a different space. Having gone through many personal challenges and come out the other side, I know how important it is to check in on people around you. I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to get through difficulties like I have. That’s why today is so important to raise awareness globally of mental health issues and mental illness.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It might not seem like a big deal but for anyone facing mental health struggles, just knowing that someone cares for you really does make a world of difference. I know how important it is to check in with family, friends or anyone struggling. I struggled immensely and wish more people would have checked in on me. So please show support and be kind because you never know what someone is going through and what battle they are fighting.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sometimes people underestimate the power of sending a text or making a phone call. It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort and it might not seem like a big deal but it really can and does have an enormous impact. I know it always has and does for me. On every level, we need to have more open conversations about mental illness. So take care of yourself and take care of others on this very important global day.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is a lot we can do for ourselves as well as others:</p> <ul> <li> <p dir="ltr">Call friends, family and those struggling and tell them you’re thinking of them.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p dir="ltr">Send a bunch of flowers to someone who might be struggling.</p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr">Write down what you’re grateful for.</p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr">Look after your body and try to be active.</p> </li> <li> <p dir="ltr">Reach out for professional help if you need it.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Sending you all so much love and especially to those out there struggling. Just know that you are not alone. If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BptuNyTFT98/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BptuNyTFT98/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by JELENA DOKIC 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 (@dokic_jelena)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Dokic has previously gone into detail about her struggle with mental illness in her autobiography,<span> </span><em>Unbreakable,</em><span> </span>released in 2017. In it, she revealed she had been abused by her father from the age of six, and suffered physical abuse almost every time he was unhappy with how she had played. Her book included many other disturbing revelations, including the fact she was made to try and find a place to sleep somewhere at the Wimbledon courts after her semi-final loss in 2000, when she was told she was not allowed to sleep in the family hotel room.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dokic says she has given up on ever reconciling with her dad, despite holding out hope he would one day apologise. She broke down in tears earlier this year when discussing how supportive Ash Barty’s parents have been of their daughter, saying after Barty’s Wimbledon win, “And as someone who didn’t have that support, it is so important. This will set an example for parents in Australia and around the world, not just how to raise a champion but a genuinely wonderful human being.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Danny Gohlke/Bongarts/Getty Images</em></p>

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How to get a better night’s sleep

<p><strong>By Over60 and Aspen Australia</strong></p> <p>Falling asleep should be a simple and straightforward part of the day. Our bodies are designed to rest at night thanks to a range of biological factors, including melatonin, a naturally produced hormone which lets our bodies know when it’s time for sleep. Produced in the brain, melatonin is released in the bloodstream every night in response to darkness. Its production and release are regulated by the 24-hour day-night cycle – known as the circadian rhythm or body clock – which prepares the body for sleep and regulates healthy sleep-wake cycles.</p> <p>As we age, melatonin production tends to decline, leading to many people finding it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.</p> <div id="firstFloatAd"> <div data-fuse="21861530567" data-fuse-code="fuse-slot-21861530567-1" data-fuse-slot="71161633/DIRP_readersdigest/article_mrec_1"> <div id="fuse-slot-21861530567-1" class="fuse-slot" data-google-query-id="CIWc9u7BwfMCFQ3faAodlOkPpg"> <div id="google_ads_iframe_71161633/DIRP_readersdigest/article_mrec_1_0__container__">Here are some reasons why you may not be getting a good night’s sleep and feel tired in the morning … and solutions that may help.</div> <div> <p><strong>1. Age factor</strong></p> <p>As we age, our natural supply of melatonin tends to deplete. When your body doesn’t make enough melatonin, it can lead to restless, light or poor-quality sleep. And anyone who’s tossed and turned all night will tell you, this can leave you feeling unrefreshed the next morning. A decline in natural melatonin release and a poor night’s sleep can also make us want to nap more during the day which can further interfere with the sleep-wake cycle.</p> <p><strong>2. Blue light</strong></p> <p>In the hours leading up to bedtime, aim to reduce your exposure to blue light, to let your brain know that it is night-time, and time to start thinking about sleep. Blue light, the light emitted from your LED devices, such as your computer, phone, tablet or TV, can interfere with the brain’s production of melatonin. The best way to reduce poor slumber caused by blue light is to stop using devices that emit blue light one-two hours before bedtime, and to stay at least two metres away from your television screen.</p> <p><strong>3. Bedtime snacks</strong></p> <p>In addition to turning lights down low and turning off blue light devices an hour before bedtime, avoiding alcohol and caffeine is also recommended. If you want a snack before bed, munch on foods rich in melatonin, such as oranges, walnuts, almonds, pineapple and bananas<sup>1</sup>.</p> <p><strong>4. Ramping up your melatonin</strong></p> <p>For a better night’s sleep, try boosting your body’s natural melatonin by getting exposure to sunlight in the morning. This can be as simple as taking a regular 30-minute walk before breakfast or finding a sunny spot next to a window to read.</p> <p><strong>5. Melatonin supplements</strong></p> <p>If all else fails, a melatonin tablet might be the answer.</p> <p>Until recently, melatonin could only be obtained in Australia with a prescription. To get around this, many people sourced their supplements online from overseas companies – some of which don’t have the same regulatory excellence as we enjoy locally – making it difficult to check whether the products are safe, of a high quality, or can achieve what they are promoted to do.</p> <p>Fortunately, people aged 55 years or older who suffer from poor quality sleep can now buy Circadin®, prolonged-release melatonin tablets, from their local pharmacist without a prescription.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 246.1038961038961px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844731/circadin.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e4c80a2cdede4c4abee8c7f62b26884e" /></p> <p>By gradually releasing melatonin in the body over an eight- to ten-hour period,<sup>3</sup><span> </span>Circadin® mimics the body’s natural release of melatonin to induce a restful, restorative sleep, as well as improve morning alertness.<sup>4</sup></p> <p>This over-the-counter brand is for short-term treatment of people aged 55 and over suffering from poor sleep quality, and can only be supplied by pharmacists. Each tablet contains 2mg of melatonin, and is sold in packs of 30. If you’re not getting a refreshing night’s sleep, ask your pharmacist if Circadin® is right for you.</p> <p>For more information visit<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.circadin.com.au/" target="_blank">www.circadin.com.au</a>.</p> <p><em>1. Meng, Xiao et al. “Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin.” Nutrients vol. 9,4 367. 7 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9040367.<br />2. Mead M. N. (2008). Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health. Environmental health perspectives, 116(4), A160–A167.<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.116-a160" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.116-a160</a>.<br />3. European Medicines Agency (EMEA). Assessment report for Circadin. Procedure No EMEA/H/C/695. 2007.<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/scientific-discussion/circadin-epar-scientific-discussion_en.pdf" target="_blank">https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/scientific-discussion/circadin-epar-scientific-discussion_en.pdf</a><span> </span>[Accessed 26 August 2021].<br />4. Wade A G, et al. Curr Med Res Opin 2007; 23(10): 2597-2605.  </em></p> <p><em><strong>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.aspenpharma.com.au/" target="_blank">Aspen Australia</a>.</strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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“He doesn’t know he has it”: Susan Benedetto on Tony Bennett’s diagnosis

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Susan Benedetto, Tony Bennett’s wife, has revealed that the musical icon “doesn’t know” he has Alzheimer’s disease.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 95-year-old singer appeared on the US </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">60 Minutes</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> with Benedetto and interviewer Anderson Cooper, as the show followed his final on-stage appearance with Lady Gaga in August.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He recognises me, thank goodness, his children, you know we are blessed in a lot of ways,” Benedetto </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://celebrity.nine.com.au/latest/tony-bennett-alzheimers-disease-not-aware-wife-susan-benedetto-60-minutes-interview/8379c29a-a893-43ed-9fe9-13d4a8ec908f" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Cooper</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. “He’s very sweet.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Referring to his Alzheimer’s, Benedetto said, “He doesn’t know he has it.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bennett’s family revealed in February that he had been living with the disease.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height:281.0304449648712px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844677/despite-his-alzheimers-tony-bennett-prepares-to-perform-with-lady-gaga-1-37-screenshot.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d41867ee644a4ca2b31bbbe1f6f317bd" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: 60 Minutes / YouTube</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Benedetto previously said Bennett was unable to understand what the disease is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He would ask me, ‘What is Alzheimer’s?’ I would explain, but he wouldn’t get it,” she told </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">AARP Magazine</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> earlier this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He’d tell me, ‘Susan, I feel fine’. That’s all he could process - that physically he felt great. So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn’t aware of.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bennett was first diagnosed in 2017, after he became concerned with his memory a year earlier.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We came home one night and he said, ‘Susan,’ he said, ‘I’m having a hard time remembering the names of the musicians [who he works with]’,” Benedetto said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And so it was unusual and I said, ‘Well do you wanna go see a doctor about it?’ and he said, ‘I do’.”</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Tune in to <a href="https://twitter.com/60Minutes?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@60Minutes</a> tonight at 7pm ET/PT on CBS for my conversation with <a href="https://twitter.com/andersoncooper?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@andersoncooper</a> about Love For Sale and my dear friend <a href="https://twitter.com/itstonybennett?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@itstonybennett</a>. ❤️ <a href="https://t.co/UQDfYbThDy">pic.twitter.com/UQDfYbThDy</a></p> — Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) <a href="https://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/1444770602024267779?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 3, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Cooper asked Lady Gaga if she thought Bennett’s last performance was “a sad story”, she shared her thoughts on working with the icon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s not a sad story,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s emotional. It’s hard to watch somebody change. I think what’s been beautiful about this, and what’s been challenging, is to see how it affects him in some ways, but to see how it doesn’t affect his talent.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gaga and Bennett performed at two sold-out concerts in celebration of his 95th birthday and their second and final album together, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Love for Sale</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Tony, this is the last album we will have created together, but the celebration of jazz, and us as musical companions, will live on with me forever. We offer the public “Love For Sale” for free love, to make them smile, because that’s what we’re here for. ❤️ Love, LG <a href="https://t.co/VP6QifdrHA">pic.twitter.com/VP6QifdrHA</a></p> — Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) <a href="https://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/1438714751165480961?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 17, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When asked about the recording process, Gaga told </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2021/10/04/lady-gaga-talks-tony-bennett-alzheimers-love-for-sale/5979884001/" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">USA Today</span></a></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">it was “hard” to talk about, but “it’s important during times like this to be authentic and share the pain of the realities of what it’s like to have a loved one have Alzheimer’s or dementia”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I really extend my heart to people going through a similar situation.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">See an excerpt of Bennett, Benedetto and Gaga’s appearance on <em>60 Minutes</em> here.</span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yNrvXw9juNs" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: @itstonybennett / Instagram</span></em></p>

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Heading off autism diagnoses early

<p><span style="font-size: 14px;">Australian researchers have shown for the first time that early intervention with parent-led therapy can help to reduce autism diagnoses in children that exhibit early signs of the condition. The study, </span><a style="font-size: 14px;" rel="noopener" href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2784066?guestAccessKey=4de62efc-31a1-4b0d-ae0f-fd3c858b2253&amp;utm_source=For_The_Media&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=ftm_links&amp;utm_content=tfl&amp;utm_term=092021" target="_blank">published</a><span style="font-size: 14px;"> in </span><em style="font-size: 14px;">JAMA Pediatrics</em><span style="font-size: 14px;">, found that a specific type of video-feedback-based therapy has the potential to reduce the clinical diagnosis of autism in children by two-thirds at age three.</span></p> <div class="copy"> <p>Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects children’s social skills, communication and behaviour.</p> <p>Around 2% of Australians have been diagnosed with autism, but more than half of all kids receiving support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have an autism diagnosis. The average age of diagnosis is around 3 or 4.</p> <p>In an <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/news-briefing-early-help-can-reduce-autism-behaviours-in-kids" target="_blank">AusSMC briefing</a> on the JAMA research, lead researcher Professor Andrew Whitehouse, from the Telethon Kids Institute, said that the first two years of development are too important to be missed.</p> <p>“Anyone who’s seen a child develop language knows just how extraordinary that brain is in the first two years of life,” Whitehouse says. “And because we’re waiting and seeing during that period our therapies are currently missing that really critical period of brain development to support. Rather than providing starting support at age three, we’re saying let’s identify parental concerns, and then verify that with clinical observation in the first year of life.”</p> <p>The team identified that babies under a year old who begin to develop the behaviours associated with autism, such as differences in the way that they interact with the people around them, can fall “out of sync” with the interactions required for their brains to continue to develop.</p> <p>“So this can lead to what we call a developmental cascade, where disability becomes more entrenched over time,” says Whitehouse. “The children have an early vulnerability, which we know is genetic in origin, but because they are actually interacting with their caregivers in a different way, that disability becomes further and further entrenched.”</p> <p>This is where the therapy, called iBASIS-VIPP, is able to help. It involves a therapist filming the parent or caregiver interacting with the child who is suspected of developing autism. The therapist is then able to work with the parents, and highlight ways for them to alter their behaviour to support and enrich their child’s interactions using subtle changes to their everyday routines.</p> <p>Co-author of the research, Associate Professor Kristelle Hudry from La Trobe University, says this parental behaviour change at such an early stage of development can provide significant improvements in child communication skills and more generally for their development.</p> <p>“The hope then is that this changed parent behaviour will lead to increased child skills through the parent implementing these subtle changes in their everyday routines, all day every day, at home in everything that they’re doing, Hudry says. “And then ultimately that this will bring improvements in child social communication skills… and impact their skills to such an extent that the likelihood of autism is changed.”</p> <p>The Australian trial provided 10 fortnightly sessions of the therapy over five months for babies exhibiting early signs of autism between nine and 15 months of age.</p> <p>After following up with those families over three years, the trial found that only 6.7% of children receiving the therapy met the criteria for autism, compared to around 21% of children who did not receive the therapy.</p> <p>“That’s a significant reduction, and that’s the first time that has ever been shown that a pre-emptive support can be so effective in supporting development, that it actually reduces the likelihood that children go on to receive a diagnosis of autism,” says Whitehouse.</p> <p>The critical point here is that although those children have a lower likelihood of subsequently receiving a diagnosis of autism, they still require support services. Whitehouse says that the current system is flawed as it uses a diagnosis as the trigger or entry point to receive support. He says a needs-based service rather than a diagnosis-based service should be provided.</p> <p>Whitehouse also emphasises that they aren’t ‘curing’ autism and that the aims of the study are not about seeking a cure, but rather to “reduce the level of autism behaviours to the point that we can actually remove barriers in their life so children can reach their full potential”.</p> <p>Hudry and Whitehouse both make it clear that parents are not the cause of autism, but that parents are able to provide a key way to support their child’s development to reduce the barriers that autism can create.</p> <p>“This therapy is about working with each child’s unique differences,” says Whitehouse. “It’s not about trying to make kids more typical; it’s about actually identifying and nurturing and celebrating those differences and using them as a foundation for further development.”</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=166915&amp;title=Heading+off+autism+diagnoses+early" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/parent-led-autism-therapy-for-babies-reduces-behaviours/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/steven-mew" target="_blank">Steven Mew</a>. Steven Mew is a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Science Media Centre</em></p> </div>

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Neurodiversity can be a workplace strength, if we make room for it

<p>Emma can recognise patterns within complex code. James can develop several different solutions when faced with complicated problems. But it is unlikely either will find a job where they can put their specialist skills to work — or any job, actually.</p> <p>Emma has dyslexia. James has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These conditions mean communicating can be a challenge, particularly in a stressful situation such as a job interview. They may also find it difficult to work in a typical office environment with noise and bright lights.</p> <p>But often the significant challenges is other people assuming they will be less capable or difficult to work with.</p> <p>About 15-20% of the <a rel="noopener" href="https://academic.oup.com/bmb/article/135/1/108/5913187" target="_blank">global population</a> are “neurodiverse”. This term, coined by Australian <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.autismawareness.com.au/news-events/aupdate/in-conversation-with-judy-singer/" target="_blank">sociologist Judy Singer</a> in 1998, conveys <a rel="noopener" href="https://autismawarenesscentre.com/un-adopts-new-goals-disabilities/" target="_blank">the idea</a> that the neurological differences shaping how people think and interact are natural variations to the human genome. Neurodiversity therefore isn’t something to be “fixed” but understood and accommodated.</p> <p>But despite this understanding, and the gains made more generally in promoting workplace diversity, prejudices keep the employment prospects for neurodiverse individuals shockingly low.</p> <p>The cost is personal — denying individuals the chance to do meaningful work — as well as social, sending individuals to the dole queue. It also means workplaces are failing to benefit from highly valuable employees, and missing the opportunity to become better organisations in the process.</p> <p><strong>What neurodiversity covers</strong></p> <p>Neurodiversity is often referred to as an ‘invisible disability’ and covers a range of conditions. The most common are:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder</strong> (or ADHD) manifests as inattention, distractability and impulsivity. It affects about <a rel="noopener" href="https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/social-economic-costs-adhd-Australia.html" target="_blank">4% of children and 3% of adults</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Autism Spectrum Disorder</strong> (or ASD) typically involves degrees of difficulty in communicating with others and sensory overload. About <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/" target="_blank">1% of the global population</a> is estimated to be on the spectrum, with higher rates being diagnosed among children.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Dyslexia</strong> involves difficulties with reading and spelling. There is no agreed diagnosis. Estimates of its prevalence range from 3% to 20% (with <a rel="noopener" href="https://dyslexiaassociation.org.au/dyslexia-in-australia/" target="_blank">10-15%</a> commonly cited).</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Dyspraxia</strong> involves challenges with coordinating physical movements, including muscles for speaking. About 2% of the population are severely affected, with <a rel="noopener" href="https://adc.bmj.com/content/archdischild/92/6/534.full.pdf?casa_token=s2n80xJNuhAAAAAA:kzF2QsFQRlR_rmpi80YkV9N8Lp8YT9bIXb1cwOEbaiZUm3f5KfRO4xPk8_F2YoXm6-bM7rHANPkqIQ" target="_blank">6-10%</a> estimated to be affected to some degree.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Dyscalculia</strong> involves challenges with numbers. It affects <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4461157/" target="_blank">up to 10%</a> of the population, with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/specific-learning-difficulties/dyscalculia/" target="_blank">3-6%</a> commonly cited.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Tourette syndrome</strong> causes involuntary physical and vocal “tics”. It affects an estimated <a href="https://tourette.org/spectrum-tourette-syndrome-tic-disorders-consensus-scientific-advisors-tourette-association-america/">0.6% of the population</a>.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>High unemployment</strong></p> <p>The capabilities of neurodivergent people can vary considerably from severely challenged to gifted. Some are nonverbal and fully reliant on care givers. Others have special abilities in things such as <a rel="noopener" href="https://hbr.org/2017/05/neurodiversity-as-a-competitive-advantage" target="_blank">pattern recognition, memory or mathematics</a>.</p> <p>Yet even those with exceptional talents find it hard to get and hold a job. While unemployment estimates are imprecise, they suggest these conditions are the least accepted in the working world.</p> <p>For autistic adults aged 16-64, for example, UK statistics suggest <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/articles/outcomesfordisabledpeopleintheuk/2020" target="_blank">78% are unemployed</a>. This is the highest unemployment rate of any group, compared with 48% for all disabled people and 19% for all adults.</p> <p>Australian statistics put the unemployment rate for people with autism <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/disability/disability-ageing-and-carers-australia-summary-findings/latest-release">at 34%</a>. That’s still more than three times the unemployment rate of 10% for people with disabilities and almost eight times the 4.6% rate for people without disabilities.</p> <p><strong>Supporting neurodiversity at work</strong></p> <p>One problem, as Joanna Szulc and her fellow researchers at the University of Huddersfield <a rel="noopener" href="https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/publications/amo-perspectives-on-the-well-being-of-neurodivergent-human-capita" target="_blank">have put it</a>, is “management practices frequently overlook the relationship between the above-average human capital of neurodivergent employees, their subjective well-being in the workplace and performance outcomes”.</p> <p>In other words, with understanding colleagues and a flexible work culture, neurodiverse individuals can reach their potential and be recognised as highly valuable employees.</p> <p>One case study demonstrating this is professional services giant Ernst and Young, which globally employs close to 300,000 people.</p> <p>In 2016 it established its first “<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ey.com/en_us/diversity-inclusiveness/how-neurodiversity-is-driving-innovation-from-unexpected-places" target="_blank">Neurodiversity Center of Excellence</a>” as part of a pilot program to offer jobs to neurodiverse candidates.</p> <p>The company says it “considered business metrics only” in evaluating the program. It concluded the neurodiverse employees were comparable to neurotypical staff in work quality, efficiency and productivity. The bonus was “the neurodiverse employees excelled at innovation”.</p> <p>Australia’s Department of Defence has employed high-performing autistic individuals in its <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.defence.gov.au/annualreports/16-17/Features/CyberCapabilityTalentAutism.asp" target="_blank">cyber security</a> work. Their strengths for this work include “a remarkable eye for detail; accuracy and consistency; a logical and analytical approach to detecting irregularities; pattern-matching skills; and a high tolerance for repetitive mental tasks”.</p> <p>These lessons are being taken on board by others. In July, Google’s cloud computing division announced its <a rel="noopener" href="https://cloud.google.com/blog/topics/inside-google-cloud/google-cloud-launches-a-career-program-for-people-with-autism" target="_blank">Autism Career Program</a>, which includes training up to 500 managers “to work effectively and empathetically with autistic candidates”.</p> <p>We all vary naturally. By understanding and encouraging neurodiverse individuals to be fully engaged in society, we will all reap the rewards.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/164859/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/miriam-moeller-357407" target="_blank">Miriam Moeller</a>, Senior Lecturer, International Business, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805" target="_blank">The University of Queensland</a>; <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-l-ott-1252533" target="_blank">Dana L. Ott</a>, Lecturer, International Management, and <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-russo-1252532" target="_blank">Emily Russo</a>, Industry Fellow, <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805" target="_blank">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/neurodiversity-can-be-a-workplace-strength-if-we-make-room-for-it-164859" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: <span class="attribution"><span class="source">igor kisselev/Shutterstock</span></span> </em></p>

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Emotional vaccine: 3 ways we can move from ‘languishing’ to ‘flourishing’ in these testing times

<p>If you’re feeling uninspired, stagnant and joyless, you’re not alone. A sense of languishing is one of the dominant emotions of 2021 as we navigate life in an ongoing pandemic and process other terrible world events alongside.</p> <p>But although many people are struggling and these struggles are not to be ignored, the pandemic has also provided a chance to flourish — functioning well and feeling good, with a sense that life is meaningful and worthwhile, despite challenging circumstances.</p> <p>Flourishing operates at the top end of the mental health continuum, with languishing at the bottom end.</p> <p>A separate but related continuum relates to the experience of mental illness symptoms (from zero to severe). Key to this thinking is that mental health (languishing versus flourishing) and mental illness are independent from each other, and it is possible to flourish with mental illness symptoms and vice versa.</p> <p>Recently published <a href="https://www.stats.govt.nz/reports/wellbeing-statistics-a-year-in-review-june-2020-to-march-2021-quarter">Stats NZ data</a> provide an overview of New Zealanders’ well-being during the pandemic and conclude: "New Zealanders have remained resilient, with most people remaining happy, healthy and satisfied with their lives, despite the challenges [of the pandemic]."</p> <p>For Māori in New Zealand, who generally experience <a href="https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2019-20-annual-data-explorer/_w_22bff3fa/#!/key-indicators">disproportionate rates of poor mental health</a> compared to other groups, recent <a href="https://cdn.auckland.ac.nz/assets/psych/about/our-research/MIFAS/Tech-Docs/MIFAS-Covid-19-2021-Report.pdf">research</a> highlights that positive outcomes following the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown were nearly as frequent as adverse ones.</p> <p>So, here are three strategies we can use to acknowledge the languishing but nevertheless move towards more experiences of flourishing.</p> <p><strong>1. Hold the ‘and’</strong></p> <p>Holding the “and” is a psychological practice commonly used in several therapies, including dialectical behaviour therapy (<a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2010-18457-001.html">DBT</a>). At its simplest, DBT encourages a balance between opposites.</p> <p>Often, when we are coping with difficult experiences we fall into a habit of “all or nothing” or “black and white” thinking and we find it hard to see the grey. Lockdowns and the Delta variant are good examples of challenges where we might find it hard to see a balance between both extremes, oscillating between thinking “things will never get back to normal” or “everything is fine”.</p> <p>Holding the “and” in this scenario might look like acknowledging that our normal is being disrupted right now, and knowing that we have the tools to make it through in one piece. This style will give you permission and encouragement to feel frustrated and grateful, angry with moments of calm, and cautiously optimistic while feeling scared.</p> <p><strong>2. Practice active acceptance</strong></p> <p>When we have some ability to influence or control a situation, active coping or problem-solving strategies are generally best. But this approach of taking charge is much less effective when we are managing in circumstances beyond our control, like the current pandemic.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2019.05.001" target="_blank">Research</a> shows a style of coping called “acceptance coping” results in significantly less distress during such times.</p> <p>Importantly, acceptance isn’t a passive process. It’s not giving up. Rather, it’s reminding ourselves “this is how things are right now”. Psychologists call this helpful, active acceptance, as opposed to resigning acceptance.</p> <p>Key steps to acceptance are to notice and acknowledge thoughts and feelings about a situation and then focus on what is important as we tackle the challenge. For example you may notice feeling sad, allow yourself to experience that emotion (acceptance) and then focus on something that is important for that day, for example dialling into a team meeting to check on colleagues.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/423247/original/file-20210927-125051-1ch29fw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Young child talking to others on device." /></p> <p><em><span class="caption">Connecting with others helps us stay resilient in times of crisis.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock/SewCream</span></span></em></p> <p><strong>3. Connect with others</strong></p> <p>A third strategy that helps nudge us towards flourishing is connecting with others. In our world of physical distancing, the good news is that with connection, it’s quality over quantity. The benefits of being with others come largely from the emotional connection you make with another person.</p> <p>Significant <a rel="noopener" href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617692106" target="_blank">research</a> has shown that experiencing frequent positive emotions (hope, joy and achievement) help people stay resilient and thrive even in times of crisis. Recent <a rel="noopener" href="https://bpl.berkeley.edu/docs/2021%20-%20Shared%20Emotions%20in%20Shared%20Lives.pdf" target="_blank">studies</a> show co-experienced positive emotions – the good feelings you get when you really connect with someone – may be even more important than positive emotions experienced alone.</p> <p>In even more compelling evidence, recent <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.massgeneral.org/news/press-release/Study-of-more-than-100-modifiable-factors-for-depression-identifies-social-connection-as-the-strongest-protective-factor" target="_blank">research</a> examining more than one hundred risk factors for mental illness found that social connection was the strongest protective factor against depression. Finding ways of feeling connected with people in your bubble, as well as staying connected online with others, is one of the best strategies.</p> <p>These key strategies of balance, acceptance and connection help us to move from languishing towards flourishing. Focusing on practising these skills may serve as a psychological vaccine in these pandemic times.</p> <p><em>Gaynor Parkin and Dr Amanda Wallis, from Umbrella Wellbeing, have both contributed to this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/168733/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>This article was written by </em><span><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dougal-sutherland-747623" target="_blank">Dougal Sutherland</a>, Clinical Psychologist, <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/te-herenga-waka-victoria-university-of-wellington-1200" target="_blank">Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington</a></em></span><em> and republished from <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/emotional-vaccine-3-ways-we-can-move-from-languishing-to-flourishing-in-these-testing-times-168733" target="_blank">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Four ways to improve health through journalling

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As clichéd as it might feel, writing in a journal or private diary can help us feel better both physically and mentally.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Writing about our emotional experiences </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/click-here-happiness/202109/how-start-journaling-practice" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">is thought</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to have these benefits because it prevents us from suppressing our thoughts and emotions, which is bad for our health.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Journalling privately also allows us to express thoughts and feelings that we might not be comfortable sharing with others.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To help you get started with mindful journalling, here are four different methods to try.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Gratitude journalling</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Several studies have found that keeping a gratitude journal can help people sleep better, improve their relationships with others, and sleep better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gratitude journalling may involve writing about the experiences we are grateful for, creating gratitude lists, or creating a collage of pictures.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Reflective journalling</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Putting pen to paper and reflecting on our real-life experiences can help us learn from and find meaning from them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To start, journalling about the details of an experience can lay the groundwork for interpreting what happened and how we feel about it later on.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Health journalling</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Keeping track of current health issues we may be experiencing can have similar benefits to writing about other emotional experiences, such as a decrease in mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It can be </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&amp;ContentTypeID=1" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">just as effective</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in monitoring our mental health, acting as a place to recognise triggers, identify negative thoughts and behaviour, or reduce stress.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Goal journalling</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though this form of journalling is less free-form than other methods, goal journalling can be beneficial in helping us set goals, and plan and track our progress in meeting these goals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Writing about our goals can also help us see our accomplishments and the ways that our progress has paid off.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experimenting with different journalling styles can help us identify what does and doesn’t work, and help solidify expressing our feelings as a regular habit.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Hermann Rorschach spills the ink

<p><span style="font-size: 14px;">Splash red wine on a white tablecloth and, along with receiving a scolding, you might also be invited to partake in an impromptu Rorschach test, a method of psychological examination created 100 years ago by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach and detailed in his book </span><em style="font-size: 14px;"><a rel="noopener" href="https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/Citation/1922/09000/Psychodiagnostik.64.aspx" target="_blank">Psychodiagnostik</a></em><span style="font-size: 14px;">.</span></p> <div class="copy"> <p>The Rorschach test involves a subject being presented with a set of 10 ambiguous inkblots printed on card paper, each with a near-perfect symmetry to them. They are then invited to offer their perceptions of them, which are recorded and analysed by an administrator. It was a technique widely used, particularly back in the 1960s, as a way to help a person reveal hidden emotion and internal conflicts which they presumably project through their interpretation of the shapes.</p> <p>In his 2017 book <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=OYxIDwAAQBAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PR9&amp;dq=hermann+rorschach+biography&amp;ots=HFGJtff0kn&amp;sig=b7JqgVP6O4HnAvCYaybiyJOhliw#v=onepage&amp;q=hermann%20rorschach%20biography&amp;f=false" target="_blank">The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing</a></em>, author Damion Searls says the psychologist’s now famous inkblots are “probably the 10 most interpreted and analysed paintings of the 20th century”.</p> <p>“Of the large number of diagnostic tools available to clinicians today, perhaps none has been so widely used yet remained so controversial as the Rorschach test,” says Rorschach scholar John E. Exner Jnr, with Beth Clark, writing in a 1978 edition of the journal <a rel="noopener" href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-2490-4_5" target="_blank">Clinical Diagnosis of Mental Disorders</a>.</p> <p>Exner and Clark report that, since the publication of <em>Psychodiagnostik</em> in 1921, dozens of books and more than 5000 articles have been written on the test.</p> <p>They note that during its existence, “five major systems of Rorschach administration, scoring, and interpretation have arisen. Each approach offers its own unique postulates, yet each unavoidably adds to the confusion about the uses and the philosophy of the test.”</p> <p>Hermann Rorschach was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on 8 November 1884. His father was a painter and art teacher, whose young son “showed great interest in drawing from a young age”, according to <a rel="noopener" href="ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077865/" target="_blank">Ricardo Vieira Teles Filho</a>, a researcher from the Federal University of Goias, in Brazil.</p> <p>Filho says Rorschach was especially fond of klecksography, “a popular game among schoolchildren at the time, which consisted of filling a piece of paper with ink and then folding it, thus obtaining singular and fun figures”.</p> <p>Searls adds: “In a twist of fate that seems too good to be true, Rorschach’s nickname in school was ‘Klex’ [or klecks], the German word for ‘inkblot’.”</p> <p>Searls says that when it came time to move into secondary education, Rorschach had the choice of art or science. Having made the acquaintance of Prussian academic <a rel="noopener" href="https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/ernst-haeckels-biogenetic-law-1866" target="_blank">Ernst Haeckel</a>, Rorschach was inspired by the renowned proponent of Darwinism to take up the study of medicine.</p> <p>Rorschach enrolled in medical school at the University of Zurich, graduating in 1909, which, Filho notes, coincided “with the widespread dissemination of research on the new ideas of a then unknown psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud”.</p> <p>He then went to work at a local mental hospital while he finished his doctoral dissertation in 1912, under psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, who coined the term “schizophrenia” and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eugen-Bleuler" target="_blank">is regarded</a> as “one of the most influential psychiatrists of his time”.</p> <p>His dissertation didn’t focus on inkblots, but rather examined hallucinations in schizophrenia. Also in 1912, Rorschach published <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.proquest.com/openview/63fd5edc9ef665dbd354c3ef3e64f5fa/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&amp;cbl=1820903" target="_blank">a paper</a>, “Reflex Hallucinations and Symbolism”, and was a co-founder of the Zurich Psychoanalysis Society.</p> <p>In 1914, he specialised in psychiatry at the University of Zurich, and from 1915 to 1922 he worked in a hospital as chief physician. It was between the years 1917 to 1920 that Rorschach created, refined and studied his inkblots, developing his approach after studying more than <a rel="noopener" href="https://x7a7w8w2.rocketcdn.me/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/what-is-the-rorschach-inkblot-test-2795806.pdf" target="_blank">400 subjects</a>’ responses to early versions of them.</p> <p>His final set of 10 stimuli was published in 1921. Before publication, Rorschach experimented with 40 or more versions of inkblots, many of which appear to be less complex, nuanced and detailed than the final set.</p> <p>Researchers agree they were artistically embellished by Rorschach himself to ensure that each figure contained numerous distinctive features that could easily be identified as similar to objects stored in the memory traces of any individual.</p> <p>“Thus,” <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.utoledo.edu/al/psychology/pdfs/meyer/MeyerViglione2008IntroRorschach.pdf" target="_blank">write Gregory Meyer and Donald Viglione</a>, “despite common belief to the contrary, the images are not arbitrary, haphazard, or accidental inkblots. Instead, they are purposively altered images that were refined through trial-and-error experimentation to elicit informative responses.”</p> <p>They describe the inkblots as each having a white background: five are grey or black, two are “achromatic” red, and three are “in an array of pastel colours without any black”.</p> <p>Just a few months after <em>Psychodiagnostik’s</em> publication, Rorschach died, on 2 April 1922, of peritonitis, by several accounts the result of a ruptured appendix.</p> <p>Despite its popularity, the Rorschach test has attracted considerable controversy, much of it based on the many and various methods of scoring and analysing responses.</p> <p>Writing in 2001 in the journal <em>Psychological Assessment</em>, Donald Viglione says, “A large body of empirical evidence supports the reliability, validity and utility of the Rorschach. This same evidence reveals that the recent criticisms of the Rorschach are largely without merit.”</p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=158859&amp;title=Hermann+Rorschach+spills+the+ink" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/history/hermann-rorschach-spills-the-ink/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/jeff-glorfeld" target="_blank">Jeff Glorfeld</a>. Jeff Glorfeld is a former senior editor of The Age newspaper in Australia, and is now a freelance journalist based in California, US.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Flicker</em></p> </div>

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Alzheimer’s marker found in the brain

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new study has linked an area of the brainstem called the locus coeruleus (LC) to several of the main features of early Alzheimer’s disease.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team of researchers concluded that the health of the LC could be used as an indicator for early Alzheimer’s.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They also suggest that monitoring the changes in this area of the brain could shed light on the possible trajectory of the disease in individual patients.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Being able to detect and measure the initial site of pathology will be critical to improve early detection and identify individuals eligible for clinical trials aimed at delaying the disease process,” they write.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Affecting more than 44 million people worldwide, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, resulting in memory loss and declining cognitive abilities.</span></p> <p><strong>Plaques and tangles</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by an accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These two structures are believed to be responsible for damaging and killing nerve cells, which results in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Protein plaques are deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid, which build up in between nerve cells.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another protein, called tau, can build up inside cells and its fibres can twist into tangles that are neurotoxic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Researchers have previously identified the LC as an initial site where tau builds up, but it has been unclear how this relates to the progression of the disease.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This new study has found that a decline in the integrity of the LC is linked to a larger amount of tau tangles, by comparing brain scans of healthy and cognitively impaired individuals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those individuals with poorer LC health, the team found they had more severe disease symptoms and a faster decline in memory and executive functions, including poor attention, an inability to manipulate objects, and an inability to selectively concentrate on one sense.</span></p> <p><strong>Why this matters</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The research could pave the way for improved diagnosis, especially for individuals under 65 who may be diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With no current cure for Alzheimer’s, this finding could also assist healthcare professionals monitor the progression of the disease in their patients.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study was published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.abj2511" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Science Translational Medicine</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Meditating could make you less error prone

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meditation has been shown to have a slew of benefits, and researchers from Michigan University have added another to the list: fixing mistakes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team took more than 200 participants, who had never meditated before, through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while their brain activity was being measured.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is different, '' said Jeff Lin, the study’s co-author.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, the participants completed a distraction test, and were found to have an enhanced ability to notice mistakes in comparison to the group who didn’t meditate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The EEG (electroencephalography) can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” Lin said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though meditating didn’t immediately improve actual task performance, these findings suggest that sustained meditation could have beneficial effects on performance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” Lin said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lin said it was encouraging to see public enthusiasm for mindfulness and meditation, but there was still a lot more to do to understand its benefits and how it works.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study was published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/9/9/226" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brain Science</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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One Mozart song calms people with epilepsy, and we may know why

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Mozart sonata has been found to have a calming effect on the brains of those with epilepsy, with new research that may explain why.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Researchers played Mozart’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K448</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to 16 patients hospitalised with epilepsy who did not respond to medication, with hopes that music could become a new avenue of non-invasive treatment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Our ultimate dream is to define an ‘anti-epileptic’ music genre and use music to improve the lives of those with epilepsy,” </span><a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/listening-to-mozart-somehow-helped-people-with-epilepsy"><span style="font-weight: 400;">said</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Robert Quon of Dartmouth College and a co-author on the new study.</span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tT9gT5bqi6Y" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the study, the team monitored the brains of the patients using brain implant sensors to detect the occurrence of short but harmful brain events called IEDs, which epileptics suffer between seizures.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After 30 seconds of listening to </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">K448</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the scientists found that the rate of IEDs decreased, while significant effects were seen in parts of the brain associated with emotion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, it was when they compared the participants’ responses to the structure of the song that they saw a pattern.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The effects of the music seemed to increase during transitions between longer musical phrases, which Dr Quon says may create a sense of anticipation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When the phrase is answered in an unexpected way by the next phrase, it creates “a positive emotional response”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In contrast, patients showed no change in brain activity when listening to other stimuli or songs that weren’t </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">K448</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, including a Wagner work characterised by changing harmonies but “no recognisable melody”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This isn’t the first time </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">K448</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has been shown to have beneficial effects either.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 1993, scientists claimed that people who listened to the song for 10 minutes or more showed improved spatial reasoning skills.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since then, more research has tested its effects on various brain functions and disorders such as epilepsy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The authors of the new study argue that this is the first time that observations have been connected to the song’s structure, which they described as being “organised by contrasting melodic themes, each with its own underlying harmony”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study, published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95922-7" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scientific Reports</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, noted that additional testing comparing </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>K448</em> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">to other pieces may further close in on the song’s therapeutic aspects.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty</span></em></p>

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Understanding the “window of tolerance” in trauma recovery

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For survivors of trauma, recovering involves learning how to cope with distress and how to increase the capacity for positive and enjoyable experiences.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A common framework psychologists use while working with trauma survivors is called the “window of tolerance”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Understanding our personal windows of tolerance can help us respond to demands of daily life and utilise different strategies to return to it during stressful moments.</span></p> <p><strong>What is the window of tolerance?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Coined by psychiatrist Dan Spiegel, the </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/window-of-tolerance" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">window of tolerance</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> describes a state of arousal where a person can function well and respond to stimuli with much difficulty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In this state, a person is likely able to think rationally, reflect, and make decisions without feeling overwhelmed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When a person experiences extreme stress, they can leave this window and enter a state of hyper- or hypo-arousal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hyper-arousal is also known as the fight or flight response, with a person usually experiencing hypervigilance, anxiety or panic, and racing thoughts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In contrast, hypo-arousal is the freeze response, where someone may feel emotionally numb, empty, or paralysed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being in either of these states can mean that a person is unable to effectively process stimuli.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They may be unable to think as rationally and can feel dysregulated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Everyone’s window of tolerance is different and can be affected by their environment - such as how supported they feel - and trauma.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 386.4533965244866px; height:500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844316/nicabm-infog-window-of-tolerance-revised.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/82982d740495463a868203412a0187d2" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: NICABM</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When a person feels supported and safe, they are generally able to stay in their window of tolerance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those who have experienced trauma, the experience may “push” a person out of their window of tolerance, or make it much more narrow or inflexible.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This can result in someone responding to even minor stressors with extreme hyper- or hypo-arousal, or believing the world is unsafe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Frequently staying outside the window of tolerance can result in an individual experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.</span></p> <p><strong>Manage mental health with the window of tolerance</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">People who feel dysregulated and often stay outside of their window of tolerance can return using a few different techniques.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Practicing grounding and mindfulness skills can often help people be present and in the moment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the help of a mental health professional, it is also possible for a person to expand their window of tolerance, feel a greater sense of calm, and become better equipped to deal with stress.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Therapy can provide individuals with a safe space to process trauma and other painful memories, as well as a place to practice emotional regulation.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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The 5 Cs of vaccine hesitancy

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The development of vaccines that reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection has been met with mixed reactions. Many have already gotten the jab but there are some who are vaccine-hesitant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a May 2021 report by the International Monetary Fund, reasons for hesitancy and lower vaccination rates typically involve concerns about the efficacy of the vaccines and unforeseeable side effects.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the hesitancy, a large proportion of those reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine are supportive of vaccines overall and should not be confused with “anti-vaxxers”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To understand why some are doubtful of the </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/covid-19-vaccine/news/20210810/covid-vaccine-hesitancy-90-million" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">COVID-19 vaccine in particular</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, psychologist Cornelia Betsch and colleagues came up with the 5C’s scale to describe the five factors responsible.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Confidence in vaccine safety</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the research, the main culprit behind vaccine hesitancy is the fear of unforeseeable secondary effects.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since our brains struggle to understand risks that are very high or very low - such as the small risk of developing blood clots from the AstraZeneca jab - we calculate risk based on how many examples of the risk we can think of.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When deciding whether to get the AstraZeneca jab, people are sometimes hesitant because of the incredible amount of media coverage about the risk of blood clots, the personals tories that are presented, and the rare reports from all over the world,” says Jason Tangen, an associate professor of cognitive science at the University of Queensland.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The same goes for reports of vaccine side effects. When thinking about whether to get the jab or not, these examples flood to mind.”</span></p> <p><strong>2. Complacency</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This factor refers to our own perception of the likelihood we’ll contract the disease. For some of those who are vaccine-hesitant, they may argue that they are not that likely to catch the virus since they haven’t gotten sick up until this point.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Constraints</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For some, the difficulty to get vaccinated can be behind their vaccine hesitancy. This can include insufficient information available in different languages and issues accessing vaccination clinics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Introducing </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/here-are-9-ways-we-can-make-it-easier-for-australians-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine-159219" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">pop-up vaccination clinics</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, expanding the information available across languages, and allowing parents to bring children to their vaccination appointments are just some of the ways governments can and have responded to issues of access.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Calculation</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With vaccine misinformation as freely available as reliable information, how someone weighs up the pros and cons of getting vaccinated will depend on which sources they find and rely on.</span></p> <p><strong>5. Collective Responsibility</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Referring to a willingness to protect others through one’s own actions, collective responsibility has seen some people getting vaccinated despite being hesitant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For others, social responsibility has seen them argue that they would rather not be vaccinated but still be protected by those around them who are.</span></p> <p><strong>What we can do</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If someone you know is hesitant to get the vaccine, understanding why can help start a conversation with them without making incorrect assumptions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acknowledging any fears they may have about getting vaccinated - such as concerns about severe illness or a fear of needles - and identifying an action they can take to ease those fears - such as getting vaccinated - can also help to encourage them to get the jab.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty</span></em></p>

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Facing up to ordinary things

<p><span style="font-size: 14px;">Have you ever seen a smiley face in your morning cup of tea, or a shocked expression on a terraced house? Australian scientists have discovered that we’re hardwired that way – our brains process the ‘faces’ we’re seeing in inanimate objects in the exact same way as human faces.</span></p> <div class="copy"> <p>Rapid facial processing – identifying and studying a human face quickly – is a core part of human socialisation, says David Alais, a researcher at the University of Sydney and lead author on a new <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0966" target="_blank">study</a> published in <em>Proceedings of the Royal Society B</em>.</p> <p>“We are a highly evolved social species, and therefore rapidly detecting and recognising faces is incredibly important,” he says. “We have a whole brain area dedicated to face processing.</p> <p>Faces convey meaning and emotion in ways that <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203018/" target="_blank">help us interact</a> with one another and understand each others’ motivations, which is especially handy for detecting danger or prospecting for mates.</p> <p>However, our brains erroneously perceive faces and expressions in day-to-day objects – a  process known as face pareidolia – because brains have a shortcut to facial recognition that identifies the common structure of two eyes over a nose and mouth.</p> <p>“The way the brain detects faces is to use a quick and dirty method to make sure it detects them fast,” says Alais. “So the thing with pareidolia images is they satisfy that basic global structure – two eyes, a nose and a mouth – and so trigger that rapid response.”</p> <p>The research team, from the University of Sydney, wanted to understand whether the brain identified the error, or processed the object as a face. They examined 17 university students across two experiments, showing them 40 images of real faces and 40 images of inanimate objects with strong pareidolia.</p> <p>Each image was displayed for 250 milliseconds, then rated by the participant for emotional expression. Each participants’ ratings were averaged into a mean estimate of the image’s expression, and the results showed that variability in rated expressions was the same between the human and non-human faces. Further, the rating of the perceived expression of each face – whether the face was real or not – was skewed towards the rating of the expression of the previous face.</p> <p>This is known as positive serial dependence, but it disappears for human faces if they are rotated, so its occurrence between the real and illusory faces suggests that pareidolia engages the same mechanisms in the brain as the recognition of actual human faces. The authors conclude that expression processing is a broader process than once thought, and is not tightly linked to human facial features.</p> <p>“Clearly, the negative consequences of mistaking an object for a face are probably much less than the consequences of missing a face, because it might be an enemy with aggressive intent,” says Alais.</p> <p>He adds that it’s particularly interesting that the brain does not correct these errors. “You might think that the slower cognitive processes come in and you realise it’s actually not a face.</p> <p>“And yet somehow, you keep perceiving it as a face and you process it for its emotional content. So you end up with that weird experience where you know it’s an object and yet you keep seeing a face.”</p> <p>Alais attributes this overpowering perception to the key importance of social interaction and facial recognition to our species’ survival: “We’re highly evolved socially; we can’t afford not to look at faces."</p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=157752&amp;title=Facing+up+to+ordinary+things" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/facing-up-to-ordinary-things/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/amalyah-hart" target="_blank">Amalyah Hart</a>. Amalyah Hart is a science journalist based in Melbourne.</em></p> </div>

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Feeling lonelier during Covid? A lack of physical touch could be to blame

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With COVID-19 restrictions making us stay 1.5 metres away from others or relying on technology to see friends and loved ones, it’s unsurprising that we are feeling lonelier than before.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But new international research has found that a lack of physical touch can have negative impacts on mental health and feelings of loneliness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team conducted an online study of 1746 people during the first wave of lockdowns in early 2020.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The survey included questions asking participants about their intimate, friendly, and professional touch experiences before and during COVID-19 restrictions, as well as self-reported measures about their wellbeing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They found that those who experienced more intimate touch in the week before the study reported lower levels of anxiety and feelings of loneliness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those who reported a lack of intimate touch, they also reported increased levels of anxiety and greater feelings of loneliness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They also found that intimate touch was the type of touch most craved by participants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since physical touch is an important aspect of intimate and romantic relationships, with previous work suggesting that touch can buffer feelings of social isolation, the researchers argue that it is especially important during times of distress, such as during the pandemic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The team also suggested that physical and intimate touch may work as a “protective factor” against common reactions to the pandemic, such as anxiety, stress, and depression.</span></p> <p><strong>What we can do about it</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though we still can’t touch or hug others, staying connected can still protect us from feeling lonely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Video conferencing technology has boomed as a result of the pandemic, but switching to alternative methods of keeping in contact can help you stay in touch without encountering as much ‘Zoom fatigue’.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This could look like switching to phone calls and texts, sending voice notes, or penning letters to your loved ones.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In times of distress, it is important to fend off social isolation, even if it can’t be done through physical touch.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study was published in </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210287" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Royal Society Open Science</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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A better test for Alzheimer’s disease

<div class="copy"> <p>Alzheimer’s disease is tricky to diagnose, and suspecting its presence in oneself or a loved one brings with it inevitable anxiety about the future. A team of Australian researchers has developed a predictive tool that may address some of this uncertainty.</p> <p>The tool revolves around examining mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>“Someone with mild cognitive impairment is usually living normally in the community and able to look after oneself, but when tested with neurocognitive tests, performing below what would be expected for this age,” according to Professor Nicolas Cherbuin, head of the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the Australian National University, and one of the developers of the tool.</p> <p>“They might have some memory lapses or other difficulties in thinking, but generally speaking, they live normally.”</p> <p>Around one in six people aged over 60 have MCI, but it’s not always an indicator of Alzheimer’s.</p> <p>“Of those, about one in three progress to Alzheimer’s disease within 1.5 to five years,” says Cherbuin.</p> <p>“But it leaves two in three who do not progress, who either remain stable or, for a small fraction, might even return to normal cognition.”</p> <p>Currently, it’s difficult to predict an individual’s Alzheimer’s risk, because the diagnostic tools are difficult to access.</p> <p>“Some are very invasive, and therefore they’re not recommended or suitable for frequent use in a clinical setting. Some might be very expensive, and many are technically demanding,” says Cherbuin.</p> <p>Cherbuin, along with his medical student, Nicolas Darmanthéc, and colleague Dr Hossein Tabatabaei-Jafari, set out to rectify this by developing a simpler predictive tool.</p> <p>“We used data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative [a US-based longitudinal study], and we focused only on people who had mild cognitive impairments, for many years, with multiple assessments. So it was possible to tell at what stage they progressed from this mild cognitive impairment stage to the clinical Alzheimer’s disease stage.”</p> <p>The researchers examined the subjects’ scores from a test called the “mini-mental state examination”, which is commonly used in clinics, and a biomarker called plasma neurofilament light chains (pNFL), which can be found with a blood test.</p> <p>“When neurons in the brain are damaged or die, they start breaking apart in small pieces, and part of the scaffolding of these cells breaks into little chains,” explains Cherbuin.</p> <p>“One of these chains is called a neurofilament light chain. These fragments of neurons then make their way into the bloodstream where, if we take a blood draw, we can measure them.”</p> <p>Combined, the mini-mental state examination and the pNFL test had good predictive power for Alzheimer’s.</p> <p>“What we found is that when we combine these two measures together, we can predict with good accuracy who is at higher risk versus less risk of progressing towards Alzheimer’s disease within five years.</p> <p>“That ‘within five years’ is the important factor,” adds Cherbuin. “Studies that have predicted conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease have not really focused on a time frame, and for use in a clinical setting, this is what is really needed.”</p> <p>People with MCI don’t just want to know their chances of developing Alzheimer’s – they want to know if it’s imminent, as well.</p> <p>“If they have a better sense earlier as to whether they’re at higher risk or not, they can plan what they want to do and how they want to be treated,” says Cherbuin.</p> <p>“They might want to write a will. And it might also provide an opportunity for the clinician to target the treatment.”</p> <p>This predictive test could be clinically available in two to three years, assuming it succeeds at spotting Alzheimer’s in a few more clinical trials. But there are two major roadblocks at the moment for it to be widely used.</p> <p>One is the data on the pNFL test. “It’s widely available for research, and it’s not particularly expensive, and it’s reliable, but it hasn’t been approved for clinical use,” says Cherbuin.</p> <p>This is likely to change in the near future, however, as a large multi-centre study on the pNFL test wraps up; according to Cherbuin, early data from the study is promising. Once approved, the test can be done easily at large pathology labs.</p> <p>The other roadblock is further trials of the predictive tool. “We’ve shown this in one very well-characterised population, but it needs to be repeated in in several other populations to confirm it behaves in the same way,” says Cherbuin.</p> <p>A paper describing the predictive tool is currently available as a <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://mcusercontent.com/73b3c4bf45063d7aa04d62036/files/cac59333-152a-4993-f663-adc04760fc6d/ANU_Alzheimer_s_research_paper.pdf" target="_blank">preprint</a>, and will be published next week in <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.j-alz.com/" target="_blank"><em>The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease</em></a><em>.</em></p> <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=159857&amp;title=A+better+test+for+Alzheimer%E2%80%99s+disease" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/predictive-test-for-alzheimers-disease/" target="_blank">This article</a> was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian" target="_blank">Ellen Phiddian</a>. Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.</p> </div>

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