|Lorraine Granit, Ph.D.||Licensed Psychologist|
|Walnut Creek, CA|
Please feel free to check back periodically for news, e.g. articles by colleagues, internet links,
Inflammation is the Cuprit:
Message for the New Year
Research has revealed that inflammation is at the base of a growing number of diseases. Most people who suffer from depression have inflammation markers. While it was once thought that depression causes inflammation, new thinking posits just the opposite. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is banking on it, since a whole new generation of anti-depressants are primarily anti-inflammatories.
The take home message is simple home spun wisdom. Live a healthy lifestyle. So, not only get enough exercise, but eat healthy. There are many low inflammation diets on the market. They all tout an abundance of vegetables and little starch and sugar.
Comfort foods may give temporary relief, as many addictions do, but in the end exacerbate our stress and lead us down the depression rabbit hole.
Current Brain Research – Use It, Lose It or Fix It
by Lorraine Granit, Ph.D., 11/2/09
In the past 20 years we have learned more about the brain than ever before and the information is proliferating at lightning speed. From time to time I will share some of this information.
We have learned that nerve cells in the brain grow in several different ways, enabling us to learn new tasks and information readily, regulate our emotions, handle stress better and heal when needed.
Physical exercise, which is good for all forms of health, emerges as an important promoter of nerve cell growth.
Focused attention also promotes nerve growth and recovery of function as well as increasing the processing speed of neurons. We have opportunities everyday to engage in whatever we do either mindlessly or with focused attention, so focused attention can be practiced at any time.
We have evidence that meditation, which is becoming so popular again, is one form of focused attention that promotes brain cell growth. Of course, any time we concentrate fully on something, this is a form of meditation or focusing attention.
Purposely evoking mental imagery, as in meditation or guided imagery exercises used in sports training or psychotherapy exercises, is a form of paying attention that increases nerve cell activity and growth.
Engaging in novel learning tasks promotes nerve growth and processing speed also. As we get older, we do not want to rely solely on over-learned skills and information but should seek new challenges.
For those of you who have been compromised by early childhood abuse or neglect, focused attention and mental imaging can have beneficial effects in specific regions of the brain that enable better stress management and emotional regulation.
Childhood is a critical time for proper wiring of the brain to handle stress and regulate emotions. Those who have had less than optimal care may have difficulty managing normal daily stress, keeping their emotions within a manageable range or be vulnerable to depression and anxiety. These deficiencies are nothing to be ashamed of but can be thought of as any injury that needs to heal.
Whether you want to stay healthy and maintain good mental functioning or need to promote healing, find ways to engage in these activities. We now understand that we can grow new nerve cells in the brain everyday and enhance connections among brain cells. We also know that we can facilitate this process with these good habits.