Dr Dave introduces us to his latest podcast

“An African Shaman’s Wisdom for The West” with Malidoma Somé PhD

Malidoma Patrice Somé Ph.D. is from Burkina Faso, West Africa. In his native language, Malidoma means “be friends with the stranger”. A gifted medicine man of the Dagara tribe, he holds three master’s degrees and two doctorates, from the Sorbonne and Brandeis. He is the author of ‘Of Water and the Spirit’. He is a spokesperson and storyteller of the African Wisdom tradition. You can get the interview here http://shrinkrapradio.com/444-an-african-shamans-wisdom-for-the-west-with-malidoma-some-phd/


MGH study identifies neurons that help predict what another individual will do

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 7.05.42 AMEvery day we make decisions based on predicting what someone else will do – from deciding whether the driver approaching an intersection will stop for the red light to determining whether a particular negotiation strategy will result in a desired outcome.  Now a study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has discovered two groups of neurons that play key roles in social interactions between primates – one that is activated when deciding whether to cooperate with another individual and another group involved in predicting what the other will do.  Their findings appear in the March 12 issue of Celland have been published online.

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is broadly connected with other brain regions known to be involved in interactive behavior, and damage to the ACC results in reduced interest in other individuals compared with inanimate objects.  In fact, people with autism spectrum disorders or other conditions affecting social interactions, such as antisocial personality disorder, have been found to have abnormalities in the ACC. To better understand the role of the ACC in making one’s own decisions and predicting what another individual will do, Haroush and senior author Ziv Williams, MD, also of MGH Neurosurgery and the MGH-HMS Center for Nervous Systems Repair, tested pairs of monkeys in a version of the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma game.

Full Story: Massachusetts General Hospital press release

 Mind-Reading Neurons

Study suggests neurobiological basis of human-pet relationship

bigstock-Labrador-Retriever-sHow closely does the relationship between people and their non-human companions mirror the parent-child relationship? A small study from a group of MGH researchers contributes to answering this complex question by investigating differences in how important brain structures are activated when women view images of their children and of their own dogs. Their report is being published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

“Pets hold a special place in many people’s hearts and lives, and there is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of humans,” says Lori Palley, DVM, of the MGH Center for Comparative Medicine, co-lead author of the report.  “Several previous studies have found that levels of neurohormones like oxytocin – which is involved in pair-bonding and maternal attachment – rise after interaction with pets, and new brain imaging technologies are helping us begin to understand the neurobiological basis of the relationship, which is exciting.”

“Although this is a small study that may not apply to other individuals, the results suggest there is a common brain network important for pair-bond formation and maintenance that is activated when mothers viewed images of either their child or their dog,” says Luke Stoeckel, PhD, MGH Department of Psychiatry, co-lead author of the PLOS One report. “We also observed differences in activation of some regions that may reflect variance in the evolutionary course and function of these relationships.  For example, like the SNi/VTA, the nucleus accumbens has been reported to have an important role in pair-bonding in both human and animal studies. But that region showed greater deactivation when mothers viewed their own-dog images instead of greater activation in response to own-child images, as one might expect. We think the greater response of the fusiform gyrus to images of participants’ dogs may reflect the increased reliance on visual than verbal cues in human-animal communications.”

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital press release.

Study finds physicians less likely than other health professionals to be divorced

The largest investigation of divorce rates among physicians has made what may be a surprising finding – physicians are actually less likely to be or to have been divorced than those in other occupations – including lawyers, nurses, and other health care professionals.  The study, which has been published online in The BMJ (formerly The British Medical Journal), did find that female physicians had a greater likelihood of being divorced than did male physicians, particularly those female physicians who worked longer hours.

“It’s been speculated that doctors are more likely to be divorced than other professionals because of the long hours they keep and the stress associated with the job, but no large-scale study has ever investigated whether that is true,” says Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Medicine and the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, senior author of the report.  “We found that doctors have among the lowest rates of divorce among health care professionals.  For those entering medicine who are concerned about how their career choice might impact their personal lives, our findings should be reassuring.”

Full story: Massachusetts General Hospital press release

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