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Continuing The Series On Brain Plasticity By Guest Author Anna Kucirkova

Ways To Harness Plasticity

harness plasticity

With the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adult minds grow. Although certain brain functions decay with age, people can tap into plasticity and refresh the brain.

Targeted brain plasticity exercises help to keep our brains fit. Even those suffering from brain damage may be able to retrain their brains for better function. The key is identifying what brain functions to target and how to best exercise them.

Researchers suggest that there are various methods of harnessing brain plasticity:

Intermittent Fasting

The Society for Neuroscience suggests that fasting increases synaptic plasticity, decreases risk of neurodegenerative diseases, promotes neuron growth and improves cognitive function. When you fast, a metabolic shift reduces the body’s leptin levels. Thus, the brain receives a chemical signal for neurons to produce more energy.

Travel

Traveling encourages neurogenesis by exposing your brain to new, fresh, and complex environments. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist from the University of Pittsburgh explains, “Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites.” And a week-long tour of another country isn’t necessary to get this benefit; take a weekend road trip to a different city.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Memory training promotes connectivity in your brain’s prefrontal parietal network and can slow memory loss with age. Mnemonic devices combine visualization, imagery, spatial navigation, and rhythm and melody, so they can reach various parts of the brain simultaneously.

Learn an Instrument

Musicians’ brains show sharp connectivity between brain areas. Neuroscientists explain that the multi-sensory experience of playing a musical instrument allows for the association of motor actions with specific sounds, and memorizing visual patterns leads to new neural networks being formed. As you practice a new instrument, the repetition will allow for neuroplasticity to do its work.

Non-Dominant Hand Exercises

Using your non-dominant hand during routine tasks can help form new neural pathways. Doing this strengthens connectivity between your brain cells. Studies also show that non-dominant hand activities improve emotional health and impulse control. Try switching hands during some simple tasks and give your brain a test.

Read Fiction

Studies show increased and ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading a novel. Enhanced brain activity occurred in the brain area that controls physical sensations and movement. Scientists explain that reading a novel can be a physical transportation into the fictional world. Shifting into this mental state is crucial for learning how to have complex social relationships.

Expand your Vocabulary

When you learn new words, the brain’s visual processes, memory processes, and auditory processes activate. The smaller your vocabulary, the more likely you are to have poor cognitive skills.

Sleep

Studies show that sleep “helps learning retention with the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions that connect brain cells and facilitates the passage of information across synapses.” Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help the brain retain information.

Try at least one of these ways and disprove the old idea that we lose brain function as we age.  The last part of this age will be published next week.

It’s Just Me! Discovering Myself And Ridding Myself of Shame, Blame and Guilt

My happy face anyway!

I have discovered an energy type system which I have followed for a long time now but I had not really found the type of energy that I personify and did not see how the system could help me understand myself and how I could present myself as an example of a type of beauty that would give me a special glow that would attract compliments and increase my self-esteem.  Initially, I picked the wrong type and although I felt some benefits when I  accepted my scatter-brained side of myself and realized I was more of an idea type person than a planner; but then my real self came through and I saw that I am more a motivator who likes to see something come through so I can see the finished product.  The best example is how and when I pursued a professional degree so others could see how motivated I was and how far I would go in pursuing something.

This started when I finished grade school and decided to take college prep classes and to get the highest grades in high school I could get so I could go to a good college and get a scholarship.  I also pursued this goal to prove to my fellow students and teachers and myself that I had what it takes.  This continued in college because I wanted to get into a doctoral program to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology.  Those goals I pursued continuously for ten years.  I also then completed two years of postdoctoral studies in child clinical psychology and after working for two years in my field, I also completed the studies for and passed my state licensing exam as a psychologist.

My next set of goals was to have at least three children which my husband and I accomplished within four years. This was done by the age of thirty-nine for me and forty for my husband.  You can see that I can set goals and reach them.  Just recently the number of our grandchildren reached ten another goal.

Writing this blog was a surprise for me later on in life and I also have started to occasionally sing hymns in church acapella.  I found that I was also comfortable teaching lecture classes in psychology.  This is the way I represent a Type Four, but I still have secondary traces of Type One as I often have too many irons in the fire and I often multitask keeping too many irons in the fire.  Today I deviated from working on bills to writing this post.  I also want to hang some posters and pictures on my walls especially on the walls in my office which I have as yet to unclutter, but I am working on it.

Stylewise I am edgy and look best in some darker jewellike colors and in dramatic and edgy styles.  Hairstyles require some movement and often streaks or patches of color or highlights.  Jewelry too needs to be edgy, often angular and somewhat bold.  The latest good thing about the whole energy thing is I have started to get some compliments from strangers so far all women.

I have found out that where I have had trouble in the past was where I was trying to go along with some other energy type which didn’t suit me and therefore I had difficulty doing it successfully.  I am not a totally well-organized type of person and as I have said before is that I would write the term paper first and then write the outline.  Also, the types of clothing worn successfully by other energy types do not suit me and make me look bad.  For example, hunting for a suit for job interviews I found very challenging and difficult to do and the suits that I found never really suited me so I was never confident that I looked well and that my outfit was appropriate.  This definitely was a “no-no” when it came to how I presented myself for a job interview.

Recently I have started wearing shorts again in place of capris or crop pants and I am feeling more comfortable doing this.  I do have to be sure that the shorts are Type Three, a little rough around the edges.  They can’t be flared, a little ruffly or a soft faded Type One or Type Two color. I have to also avoid black or whites which are Type Four.  I am also considering dresses or skirts again in my type.

Look up Carol Tuttle, Dressing Your Truth, on the internet.  She also has some books which will help you.  Also, she has written a book about children’s energy types, The Child Whisperer.  She has a solid background in counseling which is reassuring. You can get some color and pattern cards which will help you select clothes.  When I have a solid before and after pictures I will publish them here.  Remember part of finding your helpful energy type is when you find that it works and you can type in successes and failures related to your energy type and then it feels right.  This doesn’t always happen immediately but when it does you will know it.   For example,  I have always liked statement pieces when I go out to buy jewelry and I usually don’t feel dressed until I have a necklace or bracelet on.

 

The Word Ambiguity Is Ambiguous-Curious? Read This Post

Many people have difficulty tolerating ambiguity.  This may be just why our nation is so polarized right now between the left and the right, Trump haters and Trump supporters.

Actually, ambiguity is often the state of knowledge.  We just can’t get a clear picture of how things are and just when we do, we find out something new.  Young twenty-somes often do not feel comfortable with ambiguity and this is the reason why many of them are seduced into cults which claim that they have all the answers like Scientology.

Boundaries can be ambiguous

I am satisfied that I don’t know all the answers and that some answers will never be extremely clear although they may become clearer over time.  I believe that I don’t know all the answers and that I won’t know all the answers in this lifetime.  People who do not believe this way makes me very nervous as I don’t totally agree with everybody and everybody doesn’t agree totally with me.

College was the place where my fellow students were encouraged to disagree and to debate many points of view unlike most of the students of today who are reinforced for accepting the beliefs of certain professors who are deemed politically correct.

Gaining in knowledge should encourage surprises and new

Self-Styled Expert?

ideas not consistently reinforce all beliefs presented or taught.  Science should constantly explore and evaluate conclusions made from current experiments and past knowledge.  Many scientists often currently skip the phase where they develop a naturalistic understanding of the area of knowledge that they choose to evaluate.  This often involves acquiring personal experience which has been typical of anthropologists in the past who went out to live among a people that they proposed to study.  First-hand experience can sometimes be better than book-learning.

The Best Child-Expert

How many child psychologists have ever had first-hand experience bringing up children? or have spent time playing with them after they themselves have entered high school or college?  Getting down on the floor and participating in a child’s imaginary world is often different from observing and taking measurements from an experimental psychologist’s perspective.  I especially like to have the child have me draw a picture of an experience he or she has had.  Also, suits and ties and tight skirts and high heels get in the way of making these observations.

I once was a participant in setting up an experiment about snake phobia.  I was not

She appears SCARED!

particularly worried as I didn’t think actual snakes would be used even though I was snake phobic and didn’t tell people because they then would surprise me with one of the real snakes used in their experiments.  I knew that when I saw someone carrying a shoe box in the rooms where my fellow students had study carrels there usually was a snake in it and I would leave the room without saying anything.

After I was strapped into a recliner with leads for physiological responses in a room with no windows and the only door behind me, and shown slide pictures of snakes, I was told this was when the actual snake would be brought in a glass aquarium from behind me.  If this had happened, I (or any real snake phobic) would have gone “ape-shit” and that would have been the end of the experiment and the start of a lawsuit if I and/or they had survived.

No one knows everything and we never will.  We just have to live with ambiguity in our lives.  Concrete knowledge is desired and claimed by some, but can not usually be true in actual reality.

Is this Green?

Another supposedly concrete example of ambiguity is the spectrum of colors.  The is no such thing usually as a pure color and the changing fashions in fashion design and interior decorating illustrate this.  For example, a color of green that is fashionable in yarn for crocheting and knitting goes out of style and it goes on sale.  Someone making items from this yarn for sale at craft fairs might not get many buyers.  This color of green no longer is fashionable.  Or pick up an old or vintage handmade throw at a flea market and it might not go with the things you currently have where you plan to use it.  Did you know that the color green or other primary colors can be ambiguous?

Be Careful, Before You Make a Judgment, Or Form An Opinion

Looks like she loves making judgments!

 

 

 

Be careful before you form an opinion or make a judgment as you just might be wrong.  Do you have all the information?  Whose side are you on?  Does that distort your perspective?  Have you ever done this and found out later that you were wrong?  Remember the saying, “Don’t jump to conclusions?”

 

 

You Might Reveal Your Own Dirt!

The judgments that you make are pretty revealing not so much about the other person, but about you.  Do you really want to make that mistake and reveal that much about your own shortcomings and not the other person’s?  The common error that philanders often make is to accuse their spouse or significant other of running around on them.  The accusations that they make about the other person, reveal so much about them.  The details are often very descriptive about what is actually happening with them.  How else could they know so much about what happens in such relationships?

 

Prying Eyes

I once had a lady in church who accused me of not taking care of my kids and disrupting the service.  Her first thought was not to give me (my husband was not there) some help taking care of the kids, two toddlers, and a baby; but what a fine job she had done with her’s and how her children would never have disrupted a church service.  This is a kind of a mystery but it can be solved using the advice that I gave above.  What had she experienced bringing up her children that caused her to be so sensitive to the “misbehavior” of mine?

 

Needs Writer’s Block

Recent “fake” news often gives a one-sided story and jumps to conclusions before all the facts are in.  To top it off, they rarely publish a correction when more information becomes available.  Do you want to put yourself in that position?  Gossip 0r unsubstantiated conclusions can cause irreparable damage besides making you the teller look like a fool.  Or even revealing your own personal biases.  Rose-colored glasses often aren’t the ideal prescription for viewing life nor are dark colored lenses which are usable for sunny days only.

 

Where’s The Lottery Ticket?

A strong desire to be helpful can also get in the way of knowing the actual truth which can potentially turn out to be embarrassing.  Like famous people with publicity agents, families can often put out what they want the public to know about a family tragedy or life-changing event.  You could wind up with egg on your face if you initially take the initial “publicity release”  as the whole actual truth rather than what they want you to know for the time being.  A massive lottery win is often kept quiet so that the winners are not taken advantage of by opportunists.  Could you think of other examples?

 

This will make some juicy gossip for someone!

 

 

 

Don’t be so taken in by the desire to be in o the gossip that you make one of the above mistakes.  Better yet, wait until you know the truth.  Then you can decide whether to share it with anyone or do anything.  Of course, there are always emergencies where you must make split-second decisions without out all the information about what is going on.   This can be embarrassing if you make a mistake or horrific if you pass up this opportunity to help when time is of the essence.

 

Has the post made you think?  I hope so.  Can you think of any other occasions when these things might happen?

 

Hiding Shame Based Interactions

How often people use shame to get other people to do what they want them to do.  Shame is a gut-based reaction that can bypass the forebrain’s common sense and leave a person helpless to figure out what really caused it. You don’t just feel bad when this happens to you feel really bad and usually also guilty too.  “Shame on you.”

Shame is often how the victim of abuse feels.  This keeps them from getting angry at the abuser and why they often don’t talk about what happened either.  Shame doesn’t go away.  It stays.  The only way it can disappear is if the victim tries to forget it.

When Is Reassurance Necessary?

This is why abuse victims often say that they don’t want to talk about it because they have tried to forget it and talking about it might bring it back.  If there are witnesses, they might think they are crazy because they might remember something about what happened; but the victim won’t talk if they ask them what happened.

What if your memory is, “Don’t hit him; hit me.”?  You know who the likely abuser was because you were there too.  It makes you feel crazy as the witness as you are the only one who wants to or can remember it.  “I don’t like to think about things like that anymore” is his response.  “I try to forget things like that.”   “I don’t want to bring it back.”

Feelings of shame can do that to a person.  They might cause the person to feel the pain again both physical and emotional.  If a person feels that they might be made to feel shame about something; they won’t tell anyone who might do that to them.

Prevent Child Abuse With the Truth

The cases of sexual abuse by famous people that have come to light have brought it back out in the open.  I know I can now say that I am the victim of sexual abuse even though I might not elect to tell you the details because I didn’t do it.  The abuser is the one who ought to feel ashamed, not me or anyone in one in the same situation.  However, this still happens in countries or religions where they have things like Muslim Surhea law and the rape victim gets killed not the rapist.

It’s Their Drama, Not Yours

I learned a valuable lesson today:  “It’s Their Drama, Not Yours!  I’m a fixer-upper by nature and it doesn’t hurt that I am in a helping profession.  “Did I hurt your feelings”  Whose feelings are they?  “You should have known in the first place that I didn’t want to do it!”  “So why didn’t you let me off the hook?”  Am I a bad guy because I should have known that even though they said,”Yes,”  They really didn’t want to do it.and they felt it was an imposition.

Now whatever you do, they get mad because you couldn’t read minds.  They take that load off their shoulders and put it on yours.  Now you end up feeling bad instead of them.  It is like a sudden rainstorm landed right above your head and you get soaked.  They wind up feeling better and you have accepted a part in their drama that you really didn’t want and really didn’t earn.

What if you had a really good time and thought they had too.  Whose fault is it?  It’s not yours and why didn’t they “fess up earlier that they didn’t want to be there.  Imagine you cooked a really good meal from a recipe you found and wanted to try and felt you had successfully mastered a good meal.  Then someone tells you that there was something in the meal that caused an untoward reaction in them and you should have known it would, but they didn’t remind you and ate it anyway.

Another person who ate the meal smiled and said that they liked it but really they didn’t like casseroles as they were a meat and potatoes type of person.  What happened is that you fixed a nice meal for a couple of ingrates.  What a waste of time! and now you get mad when you didn’t feel bad before.  Is it catching?  Drama attracts drama.  Sometimes no one is happy unless no one else is happy.

Is drama a disease?  Sometimes it is not so bad when the contagion involves happiness and success.  How about learning that someone is going to have a baby.  Whoops there was one person in the crowd who is childless and unable to get pregnant or better yet did successfully have a baby by in vitro fertilization and then lost it to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  This can be a wet blanket and the person with the news now feels bad that they even mentioned it in front of that person.

Some people even stage a situation so they can create drama.  This woman had a display of fragile glass perfume bottles on a coffee table and almost the first thing that she did was to call the toddlers present attention to it and if they would not have touched the perfume bottles in the first scenario; but they will now.  Possibly it will result in a broken bottle or two, maybe the most expensive ones.  The payoff in drama is superlative and the instigator is super comfortable in her innosence, but the others don’t know how she did it or even that she set it up.

See the previous post, “Leave the Drama to the Lama”.  Feelings can be catching; but often not in a good way.  Have you ever left a group when an argument became heated.  Some of these situations can leave you shell-shocked with PTSD  (post-traumatic stress syndrome).  This is what makes soap operas so exciting.  What will they stir up next?  Calm down.  Go listen to some soothing music, take walk in the park.  Make a quick exit back to where you are feeling good again.  If someone had a bad cold would you stand close to them, kiss them or maybe even drink out of their glass.  You wouldn’t expose yourself to that so don’t expose yourself to somebody’s drama.

Sometimes drama is fun like in movies or books; but you know it is not really happening in front of you.  You might get scared, laugh hysterically, or even shed a few tears but you know down deep that it isn’t real.  If you tend to take some things seriously, then you might avoid certain types of stories.  Me, I don’t like horror shows.  There are enough really scary things happening in real life.  Has anyone followed the news lately?

 

The Little PEOPLE

happyoldercoupleEvery time I think that the Little PEOPLE are getting ahead, I realise they aren’t.  I was very happy with the recent election because I felt that the new administration was supporting the middle class that was no longer the middle class under the current, soon past administration.

grandparent-and-grandchildWhat I have recently realised is that I have joined the lower class (once working class or even middle class in many situations).  We are squeaking by on social security and disability payments (which have been borrowed from to pay other government expenses)  and have to seek help like free food from The Master’s Hand locally.  Also in this area, if you have farm income (that counts against you as it is considered income before farming expenses are taken out) in terms of getting any extra government help.farmgrandchild

Most of us would contribute something to the economy if there was a way we could.  Most of us would like to have a voice in the new administration.  For example, most of Illinois voted for the new administration except for the heavily populated urban areas.  But where is our voice?  No one campaigned in our areas and we feel that no one has listened to our concerns.  What do you think?  Are there other areas of our country in the same shape?

Expert-Full-NYC-3Also who is the voice of the forgotten little people?  On the network that supported the election of the new administration, we are not represented.  They are again relying on experts who have no real life experience or it is so far in the remote past that they don’t remember it or so far removed from it, it doesn’t matter anymore.

rp_362536218_150_150.jpgAlso, there is pressure on these experts, especially women, to conform to certain standards not representative of the men and/or do not reflect what ordinary people look like.  It is nice for some of us to remain “young” and look youthful but is not the way most people look and it is easier to see the standards for men are less stringent than for women.rp_376403644_150_150.jpg

For example, most woman experts on this network look like they are ready to go to a cocktail party instead of a business occasion.  Yes, the men are nicely and appropriately dressed but they don’t have to struggle as much as women do to appear appropriately presentable, youthful and beautiful.rp_374315433_150_150.jpg

When are the Little PEOPLE going to be represented?  The overall wearing, wearing second-hand clothing, or in “high style” Wal-Mart,  but often foreign made, clothing?  We have a lot to say and we don’t have a lot we can do about our situations but suffer.  Welfare often misses us and as our social security or retirement checks do not raise, but inflation and the cost of living does and as things cost more and more, we have to get by on less and less with little or no representation in or help from society or the government!empty pockets

The Little PEOPLE do have something to say!  We have learned something through experience.  We do have “philosophical” discussions.  We can see things others more fortunate and potentially more powerful don’t.rp_228552603_150_150.jpg

Certainly how Little PEOPLE experience life has something to say about the type of life we are promoting for all!  Often as people do better and better economically, they tend to put people down who haven’t and consider their opinions useless and their motivations feckless!  Also other people who have done well often think the same way and might make fun of those who don’t.  How many Little People do you see in certain churches or certain social groups like the Elks?  Nuff said.rp_AVaP8ps9-q4L3Kdb3ETm_150_150.jpg

Neglected Gratitude

Theresa Caputo, The Long Island Medium

Theresa Caputo, The Long Island Medium Helping Someone

Think of all the people who have helped you. For a moment, don’t count the times that they didn’t. Be appreciative of what you did get even if you can’t rely on them now. It is unusual to look back and not find at least one person who has helped you. Even people who have did you great harm might have done something that benefited you once. It is also easier to notice the things that have gone wrong than to count your blessings.
So often we do not remember or note in any way things that people who treat you right have done and value more what someone who has neglected us has done. Be truly grateful. Why is a favor done by someone who usually rejects us mean more than one by someone who consistently supports you. “Ah, you say when this happens, “It doesn’t count.”
chinese-grandparents-sitting-grandchildren-26098101There was a mother who had a lot of children. Two of them took care of her and even at one point had her live with each of them. Who did she get excited about when they came to see her or when she had a chance to go see them, the ones who usually did nothing for her and usually weren’t around very much. Seems shallow, doesn’t it.
You may feel the same way about family. If they are not the ones doing something for you, then it doesn’t count. Yet hasn’t God sent other people into your life to help you at times maybe when your family wasn’t there. People aren’t all or always bad.
rp_7297340494_bbd50a8706_m.jpgNo one’s family life is perfect and I spent some time when I was younger talking about what my parents had done wrong in raising me and did not talk about the good things (Oh, yes, there were some). For example, my parents put me through undergraduate school at a private four year college. Also holidays and family get togethers were important to them.
I don’t want to underestimate anything that went wrong in your upbringing; but many times there are more than one thing to consider if you are looking at how you were raised. Yes, the bad things might have outweighed the good ones; but the good ones still existed.

The Need For Security Comes From Within

Women, men? Does the need for security control your life?  Are you afraid to fight with someone because it might end your relationship with them?  Women, people who put you down, often the man in your life, often win a potential conflict with the first blow.  If he or she is mad at me, it is all over.  It is very convenient to make a complaint or even make an angry comment when asking about something you don’t like or understand.

Anxiety and fFear

Conflict seems to be more natural for men.  They can almost fight one minute and be friends the next.  It can get pretty brutal one day and the next they are back to being the best of buds.  Many women are different making a denigrating comment to another woman can end a relationship forever.  So how does a woman react when someone puts them down.  If they are depending on the relationship for support and security, they go into emergency crisis mode and/or feel “knocked up beside the head” by someone they thought loved and appreciated them.

Women can take a lot of negative comments from a man in a relationship often things the man forgets about as it wasn’t that serious to him or the man didn’t even realize the woman took it seriously or so hard.  Men are constantly jousting, jockeying for position, and they don’t even think that seeing things ( from this perspective) that it was taken seriously.

Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella (Song Lyric)

Facial Expressions?If you smile with your eyes, you are not telling lies.  What do you think?  We have been trained to give a false smile if we want to be polite or to not offend somebody or to not be seen as unfriendly.  Most people smile just with their mouths when they do this.  Do you smile with your whole face?  Do you just “beam” when you do this?

Many of us practice denial most of the time and say we are happy or not mad when we really aren’t.  How do we get trained to do this?  I see many people with unhappy, sad, or “down in the mouth” looks on their faces and when i “call them on it” they deny it.  Who are they fooling? or do they really think that they are not showing their real feelings?

Children are great “truth” tellers and objective observers until they learn how to be polite and lie about what they feel, see, or think.  How often are you congruent?  That is how often does your facial expression or body posture match the content of what you say you are feeling inside or how you feel about someone else or something else?

How often do we really look into someone one’s eyes and see what is actually there.  From early on in childhood, we camouflage genuine feelings in ourselves and even punish others, especially children, for saying or acting like what they really feel.

An animated face conveys interest in someone or something and verifies what the person is saying with their voice.  How often do we call people on it when they don’t do this even though they say that they really feel involved and interested?

Once you give up this pretense of being polite and telling white lies, people often think you are acting childishly and not like a grown up when you actually have grown up and are now dealing with reality.