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Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) And How It Works

The fMRI employs a magnetic field to collect information about the body. It is one of the most prominent methods in neuroscience for studying the structure of the brain, including differences in the structural characteristics of different people's brains.

It works with a system that produces images of the brain's functions that indicates whether the activity of neurons is increased or decreased in specific parts of the brain and under which conditions.

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  • The BOLD signal stands for blood-oxygen-level dependent. This is a brain imaging signal that shows whether the level of oxygen in the parts of the brain increasing or decreasing.
  • The fMRI is used to explore how brains function with different psychiatric order, it helps identify the connectivity of high or low activity for people with particular conditions, it investigates parts of the brain that supports social processes, and it illuminates the existence of networks of connecting brain areas.

The use of EEG allows further research on the following:

  • Memory processing during sleep
  • Mental illness
  • Providing further evidence in the differences in reward processing with those who suffer from mental illness

Moreover, the EEG has a mobile version "mobile EEG" that can study brain activities of real-world behaviors like kissing romantic partners.

To use the ECT method is to inject radioactive atoms into the person's bloodstream and have them circulated into the brain. The energy emitted is monitored by external devices that provide information about their concentration in the brain. Lastly, a mathematical model allows the data on radiation to be translated into information about brain processes.

This method allows researchers to analyze one's physiological process in ways other forms of brain imaging cannot, and more.

Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • The EEG is used to measure the electrical activities of the brain. The process is non-invasive and is done through the scalp with flat metal electrodes.
  • Though due to its non-invasiveness what it shows is relatively limited, but regardless it is a valuable tool for analyzing brain dynamics over time.
  • It helps indicate one's mental processes, mental state, and assists in diagnosing conditions like epilepsy or sleep disorder.
Emission Computed Tomography (ECT)

Emission Computed Tomography is the most invasive method for brain imaging. Its name comes from the emission of radioactive energy by tracers injected into the blood - which is a signature aspect of this approach to understanding the brain.

The two major types of ECT are:

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET); and
  • Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)

Each of these uses different types of radioactive isotopes and they are monitored in the brain using different tools.

Many of the health problems we attribute to ageing are due to modern behaviours and lifestyles. They are a mismatch between how we were designed to live and how we really do.

  • Type 2 diabetes was almost unheard of in the hunter-gatherers, yet it is the fastest growing disease in the modern world.
  • Before WW2, heart attacks were not a big issue. Medical science hardly felt the need to study them.
  • An Italian study showed that between 1760 and 1839, less than one percent died from cancer.

Studies show that in the vast majority of cases, more exercise is better.

  • There is a 30 percent reduction in mortality in individuals who exercise one hour a week compared to sedentary individuals.
  • People who exercise three hours a week lower their risk of death by another 10 percent.
  • Those who engage in 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week and weight train twice a week will reduce their risk of premature death by 50 percent.

Research shows that runners sit as much as less athletic people. Another study of Danes found no association between time spent sitting and heart disease.

But leisure-time sitting predicts mortality, suggesting that exercise habits in the mornings, evenings, and weekends affect our health. That means we should combine our exercise with occasionally getting up from the chair.

Humans were meant to move but not to be active for no reason.

When you study modern hunter-gatherer tribes, you see them sitting around a lot, doing nothing. They do move a lot, but that is because they have to. They are about as fit as modern people who exercise an hour a day.

Motivation for getting moving comes down to two things: A good reason to move and to socialise.

  • Consider a sport, or learn a skill like martial arts or dancing. Once you have a goal, it is not pointless and can even be fun.
  • For activities like going to the gym, do it with something rewarding like listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
We don't exercise, even if we know it is good for us

We all know exercise is good for us but we don't do it. A 2018 survey showed that 50 percent of adults and 73 percent of high school students report that they don't meet the minimum levels of physical activity.

We realise that much of the health industry gives conflicting advice on how much exercise we need, what kind, and how to get motivated.

  1. Goal setting: Creating an intention makes us change our behaviour. The good news is that even non-specific, vague goal-setting works. Large goals work better.
  2. Self-monitoring: Measuring the quantity and quality of our intake works towards healthier choices. Weekly monitoring of weight is an ideal strategy to stay motivated.
  3. Social Support: Friends, family and coaches involvement creates a sense of accountability. Actively engaging other people in your diet and exercise routine leads to fewer missed days and slip-ups, as our behaviour changes when we are with other people, or if we have to report our progress.
Behavioral Psychology And Weight Loss

Behavioral psychology deals with analyzing patterns in our actions and behaviors to understand why we act in a certain way.

Whether it is not waking up early, eating junk food, or not going to the gym, we can learn from the science of behavioral psychology and use the various techniques to successfully lose weight.

The ancient Greeks may not have been the best at treating mental illnesses but they did believe in the value of encouragment and consolation. They were the first to identify mental illnesses as an actual medical condition.

Some physicians, even after the fall of the Roman Empire, continued the support of psychotheraphy like Paraclesus who advocated the treatment of the insane.

Walter Cooper Dendy and Sigmund Freud were the most conspicuous during these times the former having coined "psychotherapeia" while the latter developed "psychoanalysis".

The growth of American psychology eventually led to new and more active therapies that involved a better understanding of human behavior.

Everything evolves as time passes by and the practice of psychotherapy was not an exception. Many more practices have emerged such as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and even eclectic therapy.

As the practice becomes more available to a wider audience, the trend is to have a brief session of therapy that is designed specifically suited to the patient for specific problems.

Psychotherapy

... is the method of treating those who suffer from emotional and psychological problems.

This method of treatment isn't exactly brand new and contrary from popular belief it wasn't invented during the 20th century.

  • Try to structure your day so that you have some feelings of control.
  • Consider using the time to learn new skills.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Respect the privacy and space of those you live with.
  • Get some fresh air.
Feeling stuck indoors

Cabin fever can be described as a feeling of restlessness and irritability when we are stuck indoors.

Confinement can frustrate what psychologists consider to be our three basic psychological needs:

  • Autonomy (choosing what we do)
  • Competence (feeling like we're achieving our aims
  • Relatedness (feeling connected to others)

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