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Kin selection theory, also known as inclusive fitness theory, has been the subject of much debate and misunderstanding. Nevertheless, the idea that relatedness among individuals can drive the evolution of altruism has emerged as a central paradigm in evolutionary biology. Or has it? In two recent articles, E.O. Wilson argues that kin selection should no longer be considered the main explanation for the evolution of altruism in insect societies. Here, we discuss what these articles say about kin selection and how it relates to the theory. We conclude that kin selection remains the key explanation for the evolution of altruism in eusocial insects.

"The Legacy of Menla is a fresh portrayal of Tibetan Medicine through the eyes of three Indian women who have been diagnosed with different stages of cancer. Often acting against their families’ wishes or the advice of Western doctors, they chose to put their faith in Tibetan doctors and change their lives. In the intersection of Buddhism and science, Tibetan Medicine has a peculiar place in the field of healing that speaks to both believers and nonbelievers. Apart from the patients’ perspectives, the film takes us through the process of medicine making in the Himalayas and shows us the education of upcoming doctors. With the help of established Tibetan healers we will see the past, present and future of this healing system."--Synopsis from Arrabona Studio: http://arrabonastudio.hu/portfolio/legacyofmenla/

The significant role that teacher social-emotional competence (SEC) may play in the classroom environment through classroom management, forming positive teacher-student relationships, and implementation of social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula, as well as the influence SEC may have on teachers' overall well-being, requires an assessment that is able to reliably measure this construct in a manner that is valid for research and applied purposes. This study investigated the development of a scale measuring teacher SEC, the Social-Emotional Competence Teacher Rating Scale (SECTRS). The SECTRS was created and evaluated by an expert panel. Following the content validation process and follow-up revisions, the scale was administered to a sample of teachers (N = 302) and the scale's factor structure was explored, along with basic elements of the scale's reliability and validity. Finally, demographic characteristics were assessed to determine if relationships to SEC scores existed across these characteristics. Results of the factor analysis revealed a four-factor solution that explained 37.93% of the variance. The four factors identified measured aspects of teacher-student relationships, emotion regulation, social-awareness, and interpersonal-relationships. Internal consistency reliability estimates ranged from .69 to .88. Convergent validity results revealed that the SECTRS factor and total scores had significant, positive correlations (.44 to .65) with a scale measuring emotional intelligence and low, negative correlations with a scale measuring teacher burnout (.01 to -.34). Teacher ratings on the SECTRS did not demonstrate differences across gender, ethnicity, and community setting. Teacher ratings on the SECTRS differed based upon years of teaching experience, age, teacher setting, and grade-level. Finally, the SECTRS was found to have significant, positive correlations with perceptions of teacher-student relationships (.40 to .64), controlling behavior management st

For millennia, humans have focused their attention on the breath to develop mindfulness, but finding a scientific way to harness mindful breathing has proven elusive. Existing attempts to objectively measure and feedback on mindfulness have relied on specialist external hardware including electroencephalograms or respirometers that have been impractical for the majority of people learning to meditate. Consequently, training in the key skill of breath-awareness has lacked practical objective measures and guidance to enhance training. Here, we provide a brief technology report on an invention, The MindfulBreather® that addresses these issues. The technology is available to download embedded in a smartphone app that targets, measures and feedbacks on mindfulness of breathing in realtime to enhance training. The current paper outlines only the technological concept with future studies quantifying efficacy, validity and reliability to be reported elsewhere. The MindfulBreather works by generating Motion Guided Mindfulness through interacting gyroscopic and touchscreen sensors in a three phase process: Mindfulness Induction (Phase I) gives standardized instruction to users to place their smartphone on their abdomen, breathe mindfully and to tap only at the peak of their inhalation. The smartphone’s gyroscope detects periodic tilts during breathing to generate sinusoidal waveforms. Waveform-tap patterns are analyzed to determine whether the user is mindfully tapping only at the correct phase of the breathing cycle, indicating psychobiological synchronization. Mindfulness Maintenance (Phase II) provides reinforcing pleasant feedback sounds each time a breath is mindfully tapped at the right time, and the App records a mindful breath. Lastly, data-driven Insights are fed back to the user (Phase III), including the number of mindful breaths tapped and breathing rate reductions associated with parasympathetic engagement during meditation. The new MGM technology is then evaluated and contrasted with traditional mindfulness approaches and a novel Psychobiological Synchronization Model is proposed. In summary, unlike existing technology, the MindfulBreather requires no external hardware and repurposes regular smartphones to deliver app-embedded Motion-Guided Mindfulness. Technological applications include reducing mindwandering and down-regulation of the brain’s default mode through enhanced mindful awareness. By objectively harnessing breath awareness, The MindfulBreather aims to realize the ancient human endeavor of mindfulness for the 21st century.

Parents and teachers of children with special needs face unique social-emotional challenges in carrying out their caregiving roles. Stress associated with these roles impacts parents' and special educators' health and well-being, as well as the quality of their parenting and teaching. No rigorous studies have assessed whether mindfulness training (MT) might be an effective strategy to reduce stress and cultivate well-being and positive caregiving in these adults. This randomized controlled study assessed the efficacy of a 5-week MT program for parents and educators of children with special needs. Participants receiving MT showed significant reductions in stress and anxiety and increased mindfulness, self-compassion, and personal growth at program completion and at 2 months follow-up in contrast to waiting-list controls. Relational competence also showed significant positive changes, with medium-to-large effect sizes noted on measures of empathic concern and forgiveness. MT significantly influenced caregiving competence specific to teaching. Mindfulness changes at program completion mediated outcomes at follow-up, suggesting its importance in maintaining emotional balance and facilitating well-being in parents and teachers of children with developmental challenges.

Parents and teachers of children with special needs face unique social-emotional challenges in carrying out their caregiving roles. Stress associated with these roles impacts parents' and special educators' health and well-being, as well as the quality of their parenting and teaching. No rigorous studies have assessed whether mindfulness training (MT) might be an effective strategy to reduce stress and cultivate well-being and positive caregiving in these adults. This randomized controlled study assessed the efficacy of a 5-week MT program for parents and educators of children with special needs. Participants receiving MT showed significant reductions in stress and anxiety and increased mindfulness, self-compassion, and personal growth at program completion and at 2 months follow-up in contrast to waiting-list controls. Relational competence also showed significant positive changes, with medium-to-large effect sizes noted on measures of empathic concern and forgiveness. MT significantly influenced caregiving competence specific to teaching. Mindfulness changes at program completion mediated outcomes at follow-up, suggesting its importance in maintaining emotional balance and facilitating well-being in parents and teachers of children with developmental challenges.

The impact of using motion estimates as covariates of no interest was examined in general linear modeling (GLM) of both block design and rapid event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. The purpose of motion correction is to identify and eliminate artifacts caused by task-correlated motion while maximizing sensitivity to true activations. To optimize this process, a combination of motion correction approaches was applied to data from 33 subjects performing both a block-design and an event-related fMRI experiment, including analysis: (1) without motion correction; (2) with motion correction alone; (3) with motion-corrected data and motion covariates included in the GLM; and (4) with non-motion-corrected data and motion covariates included in the GLM. Inclusion of covariates was found to be generally useful for increasing the sensitivity of GLM results in the analysis of event-related data. When motion parameters were included in the GLM for event-related data, it made little difference if motion correction was actually applied to the data. For the block design, inclusion of motion covariates had a deleterious impact on GLM sensitivity when even moderate correlation existed between motion and the experimental design. Based on these results, we present a general strategy for block designs, event-related designs, and hybrid designs to identify and eliminate probable motion artifacts while maximizing sensitivity to true activations.
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Numerous studies have found evidence for the restorative effects of nature, in which exposure to natural elements can improve both well-being and cognitive performance. The present study investigated whether the restorative effects of nature could be captured within the context of a university learning environment. Undergraduate students were split into two groups and listened to a short lecture. One group was taught within an environment that lacked any natural presence (the “artificial” condition) whereas the other group was taught within a classroom containing some simple natural elements (the “nature-infused” condition). Knowledge retention and mood were assessed. At the end of the lecture, participants in the nature-infused environment scored significantly higher on the test of knowledge than those in the artificial environment. This trend persisted 1 week later but was nonsignificant. Mood was not affected. These findings indicate that incorporating nature into learning environments could have a beneficial effect on student knowledge retention, at least over short periods of time.

Asthma, like many inflammatory disorders, is affected by psychological stress, suggesting that reciprocal modulation may occur between peripheral factors regulating inflammation and central neural circuitry underlying emotion and stress reactivity. Despite suggestions that emotional factors may modulate processes of inflammation in asthma and, conversely, that peripheral inflammatory signals influence the brain, the neural circuitry involved remains elusive. Here we show, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, that activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and insula to asthma-relevant emotional, compared with valence-neutral stimuli, is associated with markers of inflammation and airway obstruction in asthmatic subjects exposed to antigen. This activation accounts for > or =40% of the variance in the peripheral markers and suggests a neural basis for emotion-induced modulation of airway disease in asthma. The anterior cingulate cortex and insula have been implicated in the affective evaluation of sensory stimulation, regulation of homeostatic responses, and visceral perception. In individuals with asthma and other stress-related conditions, these brain regions may be hyperresponsive to disease-specific emotional and afferent physiological signals, which may contribute to the dysregulation of peripheral processes, such as inflammation.
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Background The information processing capacity of the human mind is limited, as is evidenced by the attentional blink (AB) - a deficit in identifying the second of two temporally-close targets (T1 and T2) embedded in a rapid stream of distracters. Theories of the AB generally agree that it results from competition between stimuli for conscious representation. However, they disagree in the specific mechanisms, in particular about how attentional processing of T1 determines the AB to T2. Methodology/Principal Findings The present study used the high spatial resolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural mechanisms underlying the AB. Our research approach was to design T1 and T2 stimuli that activate distinguishable brain areas involved in visual categorization and representation. ROI and functional connectivity analyses were then used to examine how attentional processing of T1, as indexed by activity in the T1 representation area, affected T2 processing. Our main finding was that attentional processing of T1 at the level of the visual cortex predicted T2 detection rates Those individuals who activated the T1 encoding area more strongly in blink versus no-blink trials generally detected T2 on a lower percentage of trials. The coupling of activity between T1 and T2 representation areas did not vary as a function of conscious T2 perception. Conclusions/Significance These data are consistent with the notion that the AB is related to attentional demands of T1 for selection, and indicate that these demands are reflected at the level of visual cortex. They also highlight the importance of individual differences in attentional settings in explaining AB task performance.
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The aim of this study was to assess the acceptability and feasibility of Vinyasa yoga as an adjunctive treatment for depressed patients who were not responding adequately to antidepressant medication. The authors also planned to ask participants for qualitative feedback on their experience of the class and to assess change over time in depression and in possible mediating variables. The authors recruited 11 participants in 1 month for an 8-week open trial of yoga classes. They found that 10 participants completed follow-up assessments, 9 of 10 were positive about their experience, and all provided feedback about what was and was not helpful about yoga, as well as barriers to class attendance. Over the 2-month period, participants exhibited significant decreases in depression symptoms and significant increases in an aspect of mindfulness and in behavior activation. This pilot study provided support for continuing to investigate Vinyasa yoga as an adjunct treatment for depression. The next step required is a rigorous randomized clinical trial.

The response to painful stimulation depends not only on peripheral nociceptive input but also on the cognitive and affective context in which pain occurs. One contextual variable that affects the neural and behavioral response to nociceptive stimulation is the degree to which pain is perceived to be controllable. Previous studies indicate that perceived controllability affects pain tolerance, learning and motivation, and the ability to cope with intractable pain, suggesting that it has profound effects on neural pain processing. To date, however, no neuroimaging studies have assessed these effects. We manipulated the subjects' belief that they had control over a nociceptive stimulus, while the stimulus itself was held constant. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that pain that was perceived to be controllable resulted in attenuated activation in the three neural areas most consistently linked with pain processing: the anterior cingulate, insular, and secondary somatosensory cortices. This suggests that activation at these sites is modulated by cognitive variables, such as perceived controllability, and that pain imaging studies may therefore overestimate the degree to which these responses are stimulus driven and generalizable across cognitive contexts.
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OBJECTIVES: To understand depressed individuals' experiences in a 10-week hatha yoga program.DESIGN: In a randomized controlled trial, participants were assigned to either 10 weeks of hatha yoga classes or a health education control group. This report includes responses from participants in yoga classes. At the start of classes, average depression symptom severity level was moderate. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: After 10 weeks of yoga classes, we asked participants (n=50) to provide written responses to open-ended questions about what they liked about classes, what they did not like or did not find helpful, and what they learned. We analyzed qualitative data using thematic analysis. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Elements of yoga classes that may increase acceptability for depressed individuals include having instructors who promote a non-competitive and non-judgmental atmosphere, who are knowledgeable and able to provide individualized attention, and who are kind and warm. Including depression-related themes in classes, teaching mindfulness, teaching breathing exercises, and providing guidance for translating class into home practice may help to make yoga effective for targeting depression. Participants' comments reinforced the importance of aspects of mindfulness, such as attention to the present moment and acceptance of one's self and one's experience, as potential mechanisms of action. Other potential mechanisms include use of breathing practices in everyday life and the biological mechanisms that underlie the positive impact of yogic breathing. The most serious concern highlighted by a few participants was the concern that the yoga classes were too difficult given their physical abilities.

Individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS) commonly display characteristics of social anxiety, including gaze aversion, increased time to initiate social interaction, and difficulty forming meaningful peer relationships. While neural correlates of face processing, an important component of social interaction, are altered in FXS, studies have not examined whether social anxiety in this population is related to higher cognitive processes, such as memory. This study aimed to determine whether the neural circuitry involved in face encoding was disrupted in individuals with FXS, and whether brain activity during face encoding was related to levels of social anxiety. A group of 11 individuals with FXS (5 M) and 11 age- and gender-matched control participants underwent fMRI scanning while performing a face encoding task with online eye-tracking. Results indicate that compared to the control group, individuals with FXS exhibited decreased activation of prefrontal regions associated with complex social cognition, including the medial and superior frontal cortex, during successful face encoding. Further, the FXS and control groups showed significantly different relationships between measures of social anxiety (including gaze-fixation) and brain activity during face encoding. These data indicate that social anxiety in FXS may be related to the inability to successfully recruit higher level social cognition regions during the initial phases of memory formation.
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Recent calls for an expanded perspective on medical education and training include focusing on complexities of professional identity formation (PIF). Medical educators are challenged to facilitate the active constructive, integrative developmental process of PIF within standardized and personalized

Anhedonia, the loss of pleasure or interest in previously rewarding stimuli, is a core feature of major depression. While theorists have argued that anhedonia reflects a reduced capacity to experience pleasure, evidence is mixed as to whether anhedonia is caused by a reduction in hedonic capacity. An alternative explanation is that anhedonia is due to the inability to sustain positive affect across time. Using positive images, we used an emotion regulation task to test whether individuals with depression are unable to sustain activation in neural circuits underlying positive affect and reward. While up-regulating positive affect, depressed individuals failed to sustain nucleus accumbens activity over time compared with controls. This decreased capacity was related to individual differences in self-reported positive affect. Connectivity analyses further implicated the fronto-striatal network in anhedonia. These findings support the hypothesis that anhedonia in depressed patients reflects the inability to sustain engagement of structures involved in positive affect and reward.
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BACKGROUND: Anhedonia, a reduced ability to experience pleasure, is a chief symptom of major depressive disorder and is related to reduced frontostriatal connectivity when attempting to upregulate positive emotion. The present study examined another facet of positive emotion regulation associated with anhedonia-namely, the downregulation of positive affect-and its relation to prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity. METHODS: Neuroimaging data were collected from 27 individuals meeting criteria for major depressive disorder as they attempted to suppress positive emotion during a positive emotion regulation task. Their PFC activation pattern was compared with the PFC activation pattern exhibited by 19 healthy control subjects during the same task. Anhedonia scores were collected at three time points: at baseline (time 1), 8 weeks after time 1 (i.e., time 2), and 6 months after time 1 (i.e., time 3). Prefrontal cortex activity at time 1 was used to predict change in anhedonia over time. Analyses were conducted utilizing hierarchical linear modeling software. RESULTS: Depressed individuals who could not inhibit positive emotion-evinced by reduced right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activity during attempts to dampen their experience of positive emotion in response to positive visual stimuli-exhibited a steeper anhedonia reduction slope between baseline and 8 weeks of treatment with antidepressant medication (p < .05). Control subjects showed a similar trend between baseline and time 3. CONCLUSIONS: To reduce anhedonia, it may be necessary to teach individuals how to counteract the functioning of an overactive pleasure-dampening prefrontal inhibitory system.
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Recent brain imaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have implicated insula and anterior cingulate cortices in the empathic response to another's pain. However, virtually nothing is known about the impact of the voluntary generation of compassion on this network. To investigate these questions we assessed brain activity using fMRI while novice and expert meditation practitioners generated a loving-kindness-compassion meditation state. To probe affective reactivity, we presented emotional and neutral sounds during the meditation and comparison periods. Our main hypothesis was that the concern for others cultivated during this form of meditation enhances affective processing, in particular in response to sounds of distress, and that this response to emotional sounds is modulated by the degree of meditation training. The presentation of the emotional sounds was associated with increased pupil diameter and activation of limbic regions (insula and cingulate cortices) during meditation (versus rest). During meditation, activation in insula was greater during presentation of negative sounds than positive or neutral sounds in expert than it was in novice meditators. The strength of activation in insula was also associated with self-reported intensity of the meditation for both groups. These results support the role of the limbic circuitry in emotion sharing. The comparison between meditation vs. rest states between experts and novices also showed increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) in response to all sounds, suggesting, greater detection of the emotional sounds, and enhanced mentation in response to emotional human vocalizations for experts than novices during meditation. Together these data indicate that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuitries previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.
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Recent brain imaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have implicated insula and anterior cingulate cortices in the empathic response to another's pain. However, virtually nothing is known about the impact of the voluntary generation of compassion on this network. To investigate these questions we assessed brain activity using fMRI while novice and expert meditation practitioners generated a loving-kindness-compassion meditation state. To probe affective reactivity, we presented emotional and neutral sounds during the meditation and comparison periods. Our main hypothesis was that the concern for others cultivated during this form of meditation enhances affective processing, in particular in response to sounds of distress, and that this response to emotional sounds is modulated by the degree of meditation training. The presentation of the emotional sounds was associated with increased pupil diameter and activation of limbic regions (insula and cingulate cortices) during meditation (versus rest). During meditation, activation in insula was greater during presentation of negative sounds than positive or neutral sounds in expert than it was in novice meditators. The strength of activation in insula was also associated with self-reported intensity of the meditation for both groups. These results support the role of the limbic circuitry in emotion sharing. The comparison between meditation vs. rest states between experts and novices also showed increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) in response to all sounds, suggesting, greater detection of the emotional sounds, and enhanced mentation in response to emotional human vocalizations for experts than novices during meditation. Together these data indicate that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuitries previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Recent brain imaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have implicated insula and anterior cingulate cortices in the empathic response to another's pain. However, virtually nothing is known about the impact of the voluntary generation of compassion on this network. To investigate these questions we assessed brain activity using fMRI while novice and expert meditation practitioners generated a loving-kindness-compassion meditation state. To probe affective reactivity, we presented emotional and neutral sounds during the meditation and comparison periods. Our main hypothesis was that the concern for others cultivated during this form of meditation enhances affective processing, in particular in response to sounds of distress, and that this response to emotional sounds is modulated by the degree of meditation training. The presentation of the emotional sounds was associated with increased pupil diameter and activation of limbic regions (insula and cingulate cortices) during meditation (versus rest). During meditation, activation in insula was greater during presentation of negative sounds than positive or neutral sounds in expert than it was in novice meditators. The strength of activation in insula was also associated with self-reported intensity of the meditation for both groups. These results support the role of the limbic circuitry in emotion sharing. The comparison between meditation vs. rest states between experts and novices also showed increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) in response to all sounds, suggesting, greater detection of the emotional sounds, and enhanced mentation in response to emotional human vocalizations for experts than novices during meditation. Together these data indicate that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuitries previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Z. V. Segal et al. (2006) demonstrated that depressed patients treated to remission through either antidepressant medication (ADM) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but who evidenced mood-linked increases in dysfunctional thinking, showed elevated rates of relapse over 18 months. The current study sought to evaluate whether treatment response was associated with gains in decentering-the ability to observe one's thoughts and feelings as temporary, objective events in the mind-and whether these gains moderated the relationship between mood-linked cognitive reactivity and relapse of major depression. Findings revealed that CBT responders exhibited significantly greater gains in decentering compared with ADM responders. In addition, high post acute treatment levels of decentering and low cognitive reactivity were associated with the lowest rates of relapse in the 18-month follow-up period.

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