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New studies show that some people can hear and respond to questions while dreaming.
- Four research teams in four countries independently communicated with sleeping volunteers.
- A total of 36 participants correctly responded to questions 18.6% of the time.
- Researchers believe this could open up new avenues for treating anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Dream Hacking: Watch 3 Groundbreaking Experiments on Decisions, Addictions, and Sleep I NOVA I PBS<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="77f2961e9a759ae62924a8efd37a61f0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7M06fJxiayo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Participants in this study certainly experienced their imagination stretching, with one volunteer "hearing" the math problem (what is eight minus six?) through a car radio while another dreamer was questioned by a movie narrator.</p><p>The results were not overwhelmingly positive mind you, yet still proved successful enough to warrant further researcher. One researcher called this "<a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/02/scientists-entered-peoples-dreams-and-got-them-talking" target="_blank">proof of concept</a>" more than total confirmation. Over 60 percent of the questions went unanswered. Another 17.7 percent were unclear, while just over 3 percent answered wrong. Yet 18.6 percent of respondents were on the money, an impressive feat for the sleeping. </p><p>While the researchers aren't stealing secrets from the subconscious, they hope this discovery could open up new avenues of therapeutics in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma. The idea of accessing "dream content" that they can inform with new content could lead to non-invasive forms of treatment—or "Inception."</p><p>As the team writes, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The scientific investigation of dreaming, and of sleep more generally, could be beneficially explored using interactive dreaming. Specific cognitive and perceptual tasks could be assigned with instructions presented via softly spoken words, opening up a new frontier of research."</p><p>Of course, more research is needed, though volunteers will likely not be hard to find. Peeling back the layers of consciousness is both a philosophical pursuit and a nighttime hobby, one that continues to reveal possibilities as we evolve our understanding of the unconscious. </p><p> --</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
A large new study puts caffeine-drinking moms on alert.
- A study finds that the brains of children born to mothers who consumed coffee during pregnancy are different.
- Neuroregulating caffeine easily crosses the placental barrier.
- The observed differences may be associated with behavioral issues.
A large study of nine- and ten-year-old brains<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3NzIyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDk5MjQ0N30.UCu1Ygfi_rmO-xLpW-KOgCX-MJ3bfqjzfIVg4Kmcr9w/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2e15" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c96aa86f8dbe08aa8536502ac1769497" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: myboys.me/Adobe Stock<p>For the study, researchers analyzed brain scans of 9,000 nine and ten-year-olds. Based on their mothers' recollections of their coffee consumption during pregnancy, the researchers found that children of coffee drinkers had clear changes in the manner in which white brain matter tracks were organized. These are the pathways that interconnect brain regions.</p><p>According to Foxe, "These are sort of small effects, and it's not causing horrendous psychiatric conditions, but it is causing minimal but noticeable behavioral issues that should make us consider long-term effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy."</p><p>Christensen says that what makes this finding noteworthy is that "we have a biological pathway that looks different when you consume caffeine through pregnancy."</p><p>Of children with such pathway differences, Christensen says, "Previous studies have shown that children perform differently on IQ tests, or they have different psychopathology, but that could also be related to demographics, so it's hard to parse that out until you have something like a biomarker. This gives us a place to start future research to try to learn exactly when the change is occurring in the brain."</p><p>The study doesn't claim to have determined exactly <em>when</em> during development these changes occur, or if caffeine has more of an effect during one trimester or another.</p><p>Foxe cautions, "It is important to point out this is a retrospective study. We are relying on mothers to remember how much caffeine they took in while they were pregnant."</p><p>So as if being pregnant wasn't difficult enough, it sounds like the most conservative and safe course of action for expectant mothers is to forgo those revitalizing cups of Joe and switch to decaf or some other un-caffeinated form of liquid comfort. We apologize on behalf of science.</p>
Can playing video games really curb the risk of depression? Experts weigh in.
- A new study published by a UCL researcher has demonstrated how different types of screen time can positively (or negatively) influence young people's mental health.
- Young boys who played video games daily had lower depression scores at age 14 compared to those who played less than once per month or never.
- The study also noted that more frequent video game use was consistently associated with fewer depressive symptoms in boys with lower physical activity, but not in those with high physical activity levels.
How do video games and social media impact young kids?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3NDY2Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM5OTQwMn0.FUGlBVN0uGa9jYXpbSjHssFpcdJGcpM-hsA8vJb1mJc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C488%2C0%2C111&height=700" id="d4200" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6a1be92721c981f409d8c9efb574fe45" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two kids sitting on the couch playing video games together" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
The study gained interesting insight into the link between depression rates at age 14 and video game usage a few years earlier.
Credit: Pixel-Shot on Adobe Stock<p>The study's lead author, Ph.D. student Aaron Kandola, explains to <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/ucl-bwp021721.php" target="_blank">Eurekalert</a>: "Screens allow us to engage in a wide range of activities. Guidelines and recommendations about screen time should be based on our understanding of how these different activities might influence mental health and whether that influence is meaningful."</p><p><strong>How this study was conducted: </strong></p><ul><li>These findings come as part of the Millennium Cohort Study, where over 11,000 (n = 11,341) adolescents were surveyed. </li><li>Depressive symptoms were measured with a Moods and Feelings Questionnaire (age 14). </li><li>"Exposures" were listed as the frequency of video games, social media, and internet usage (age 11). </li><li>Physical activity was also accounted for on a self-reporting basis. </li></ul><p><strong>When comparing young boys (age 11) who played video games to those who don't, the study showed interesting results: </strong></p><ul><li>Boys who played video games <strong>daily</strong> had 24.3 percent lower depression scores at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li><li>Boys who played video games <strong>at least once per week</strong> had 25.1 percent lower depression scores at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li><li>BOoys who played video games <strong>at least once per month</strong> had 31.2 percent lower depression scored at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li></ul><p><strong>When comparing how depression impacted young girls based on their social media usage, the researchers found that:</strong></p><ul><li>Compared with less than once per month/never social media usage, using social media most days at age 11 was associated with a 13% higher depression score at age 14. </li></ul>
Can playing video games actually be beneficial?<p>There has been a lot of speculation in the past two decades about screen-time, social media, and video games. Whether it's <a href="https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2003/10/anderson" target="_blank">linking video games to violence</a> and obesity or <a href="https://childmind.org/article/is-social-media-use-causing-depression/#:~:text=In%20several%20recent%20studies%2C%20teenage,who%20spent%20the%20least%20time." target="_blank">linking social media to depression and anxiety</a> — this seems to be a controversial question. According to the research, the answer to this question is yes, video games can be beneficial in moderation when paired with physical activity and real-life application.</p><p><strong>Adding in some physical activity could be the difference between beneficial and harmful.</strong></p><p>The above-mentioned study also noted that more frequent video game use was consistently associated with fewer depressive symptoms in boys with lower physical activity, but not in those with high physical activity levels. </p><p><strong>Previous studies have concluded there are some mental health benefits to playing video games. </strong></p><p><a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/16/health/video-games-mental-health-study-wellness-scli-intl/index.html#:~:text=It%20found%20that%20time%20spent,reporting%20that%20they%20felt%20happier.&text=%22In%20fact%2C%20play%20can%20be,withhold%20those%20benefits%20from%20players.%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 study</a> by the University of Oxford analyzed the impacts of playing two extremely popular games at the time: Nintendo's "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" and Electronic Arts' "Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville." The study used data and survey responses from over 3000 players in total — the games' developers shared anonymous data about people's playing habits, and the researchers surveyed those gamers separately about their well-being. </p><p><strong>Results of this study found that time spent playing these games was associated with players reporting that they felt happier. </strong></p><p>Additionally, previous studies (such as <a href="https://it.arizona.edu/blog/can-playing-video-games-make-you-smarter" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this University of Arizona study</a>) have linked video game usage with new learning opportunities: <em>"</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Games like Minecraft are being used in more and more classrooms around the country. MinecraftEdu (recently purchased by Microsoft), allows teachers to structure a sandbox-style play environment around any curriculum. Students can work together to learn the scientific method, build farms, or take advantage of turtle robots to learn basic programming. Not only do these activities improve team-building skills, but they give students the chance to develop and practice technological literacy."</p><p><strong>"Everything in moderation" is an important factor in determining whether video game use is beneficial or harmful. </strong></p><p>While there can be some positive impacts from playing video games, research (such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676913/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this study conducted in 2013</a>) has also shown that people who spend a predominant part of their day gaming are at risk of showing lower educational and career attainment in addition to problems with peers and lower social skills. </p>
In-depth research suggests BDSM practitioners can experience altered states of consciousness that can be therapeutic.
- BDSM is an acronym encompassing a variety of sexual practices that include: bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism. The practice of BDSM usually consists of partners taking on specific roles in which one partner is dominant and the other is submissive.
- BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes.
- According to the research, subspace is often characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of epinephrine and endorphins, and a subsequent period of non-verbal, deep relaxation.
The psychology of BDSM<p><a href="https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/benefits-healthy-sex-life" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Many experts</a> have weighed in on the significant mental and physical health benefits of sex:</p><ul><li>Lower blood pressure</li><li>Stronger immune system</li><li>Better heart health </li><li>Improved self-esteem</li><li>Decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety </li><li>Better sleep routines </li></ul><p>However, there is an increasing interest in studies that explore the specific mental and physical health benefits of BDSM practices. BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes. For example, <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/bdsm-work-ethic" target="_self">one study</a> suggests that being dominant in the bedroom can boost your work ethic. <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/how-bdsm-might-benefit-your-health-and-your-relationship-4846462#:~:text=Improves%20Mental%20Health&text=The%20participants%20in%20the%20BDSM,less%20sensitive%20to%20others'%20perceptions." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Other research</a> in this area has suggested engaging in BDSM activities can boost your mental well-being and increase awareness of your attachment style in partnerships, which can ultimately lead to healthier relationships. Additionally, <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/bdsm-psychology-trauma" target="_self">unhealthy stereotypes and misconceptions</a> about BDSM have also been addressed by experts. </p><p>A natural starting point for more research surrounding the mental health impact of BDSM practices is to explore what happens in a person's mind and body when they experience intense sexual activity. While physical reactions (such as arousal and climax) are quite typical, there is something unique that happens to individuals who participate in intense BDSM scenes. </p><p><strong>What is "subspace" in BDSM play? </strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/blog/an-intro-to-bdsm-subspace-what-every-submissive-should-know/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subspace</a> is defined as a state of transcendence reached by submissives through intense physical or psychological experiences with their partner. This can happen through sensory triggers (the use of paddles, blindfolds, restraints) or through emotional triggers (certain words or phrases, meaningful expressions).</p><p>This space, while experienced differently for many, can be described as a nearly-hypnotic feeling that takes over when the submissive partner is highly engaged in their role. </p><p><strong>What is "domspace" in BDSM play? </strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/blog/an-intro-to-domspace-what-every-dominant-should-know/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Domspace</a> is defined as an altered, elevated state of mind that Dominants (during BDSM scenes) experience through intense physical or psychological experiences with their submissive partner. This can happen through sensory triggers (using paddles or restraints on your partner) or through emotional triggers (expressing certain words or phrases to your partner, meaningful expressions, the notion that your submissive trusts you enough to be vulnerable with you). </p><p>While subspace can be described as a "hazy" or "blurry" trance-like state, domspace is often described (by individuals who experience it) as an intense, euphoric, and focused state of mind.</p>
Are there therapeutic benefits to submission?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1MDkyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDc3OTgxOH0.ku49neryuoVZiLTFY2vmIzE2H7ufWjiOm6C2TX8CmK0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C385%2C0%2C386&height=700" id="32e18" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f3a51bbf36ed5d823af33eb15fc38f4f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="submissive male submissive man male sub BDSM therapy" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Experts weigh in: there may be therapeutic and relational benefits to being a submissive person in BDSM scenes.
Photo by LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS on Adobe Stock<p>According to the author of the study, Dulcinea Pitagora: "Because the BDSM community has been historically vilified due to stereotypes reinforced by negative media exposure and inadequate education, relatively little is known about the phenomenon of subspace outside of the BDSM community."</p><p><strong>There is a proven connection between BDSM interactions and altered states of consciousness. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308575318_Consensual_BDSM_Facilitates_Role-Specific_Altered_States_of_Consciousness_A_Preliminary_Study" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">According to a 2016 study</a>, there is a direct link between BDSM interactions and ASCs (altered states of consciousness) - the significant one, in this case, being that engaging in a submissive role during BDSM play can lead to transient hypofrontality. </p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-edge-peak-performance-psychology/201703/the-transient-hypofrontality-edge#:~:text=Transient%20hypofrontality%2C%20then%2C%20means%20that,with%20the%20term%20transient%20hypofrontality." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Transient hypofrontality</a>, a term coined by <a href="https://www.arnedietrich.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dr. Arne Dietrich</a>, is when the focused, thought-processing part of the brain is "shut off" by external triggers. An example of this is the difference between engaging in a competitive sport and running in a beautiful park. During a competitive sport, your brain will need to make a variety of complex decisions. While you're running a calmer path in a beautiful park, however, your mind can "let go" of that prefrontal engagement and you can experience an alternate (relaxed) state of consciousness. For a submissive, during BDSM scenes, this can result in reduced self-reported stress and increased sexual arousal.</p><p>Transient hypofrontality has also been used to describe severe "end-stage" addictions. This ability to <a href="https://www.practicalrecovery.com/prblog/biggest-lies-recovery-pt-vi-addiction-disease/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">"shut off" the thought-processing</a> function in your brain can actually cause "involuntary" cravings for this feeling. This can be why many submissive practitioners become reliant on their BDSM activities. </p><p>The study explains, <em>"In order to examine an alignment of transient hypofrontality with </em><em>subspace, the authors collected additional self-reported data describing experiences of </em><em>subspace; a comparison of these datasets confirmed that the characteristics of transient </em><em>hypofrontality were consistent with those of subspace."</em></p><p><strong>Experiencing subspace during BDSM play can activate the sympathetic nervous system. </strong></p><p><a href="https://journalofpositivesexuality.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/No-Pain-No-Gain-Therapeutic-and-Relational-Benefits-of-Subspace-in-BDSM-Pitagora.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the research</a>, subspace is often characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of epinephrine and endorphins, and a subsequent period of non-verbal, deep relaxation. This chain reaction can often lead the submissive in the scene to experience a temporary state of depersonalization and derealization (which are generally experienced as positive and pleasant in this context). </p><p><strong>The key to experiencing this trance-like state is having a partner you trust, research suggests.</strong></p><p>This state is highly sought after by individuals who identify as submissives in the BDSM context - and the key to achieving this state of being is having a dominant partner you can trust. This type of trust and reciprocal consent can provide an entry to subspace. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Because the participant who identifies as the sadist, dominant [or top] in a given scene is generally charged with monitoring and protecting their partner, the [submissive] bottom in the scene might be better situated for achieving an altered state of consciousness and transcendence." </em>-<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11133-010-9158-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Rethinking Kink</a>, 2010</p><p><strong>BDSM could be used as a way to heal from trauma and benefit your relationships, experts suggest. </strong></p><p>While there is no research to date that has sought to capture the specific experiences of subspace and how they relate to relationships and healing, many experts believe BDSM can in fact provide therapeutic and relational benefits to those who engage in the practices. </p><p><em>"</em>Given the associations between ASCs and subspace described above, the authors' findings on ASCs can be extended to the analogous experience of subspace. The study suggested that symbolic action can have a profound effect on psychological processes and connected trance (a type of ASC) with the healing properties of the trance state."</p>
From baboon hierarchies to the mind-gut connection, the path to defeating depression starts with understanding its causes.
- According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people suffer from depression. It is the leading cause of disability and, at its worst, can lead to suicide. Unfortunately, depression is often misunderstood or ignored until it is too late.
- Psychologist Daniel Goleman, comedian Pete Holmes, neuroscientist Emeran Mayer, psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, and more outline several of the social, chemical, and neurological factors that may contribute to the complex disorder and explain why there is not a singular solution or universal "cure" that can alleviate the symptoms.
- From gaining insight into how the brain-gut connection works and adopting a more Mediterranean diet, to seeking help from medical or spiritual practitioners, depression is a personal battle that requires a personalized strategy to keep it at bay, as well as more research and understanding.
Scientists observe how the halves of the brain keep us informed about everything everywhere.
Two sides of the big picture<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYyOTU1OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NjE3NjE3MX0.q8bjy5ldUXkOb4yzM1jDnegFzSuPpbIHwf5_tHwmtIc/img.jpg?width=980" id="58536" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="de188da2682b8c9bb2aff8da3baae4b0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="972" />
Credit: Jake Schumacher/Unsplash<p>In our working memories, the left and right hemispheres work independently when it comes to memory storage — what we see on our left is immediately stored in the right hemisphere and vice versa.</p><p>The Picower researchers have found, however, that things get substantially more interesting when we shift our gaze in the opposite direction, or if an object we're looking at moves from one side to the other.</p><p>Using our street-crossing example, when you look to the right and spot the approaching vehicle, a memory of the car is stored in our brain's left hemisphere. When you look left, a copy of that memory is quickly sent to the right hemisphere, but the copy is somehow marked in such a way that the brain understands it's not actually located on your left but is just a memory of something that's currently out of view on your right. The net result is that your working memory remains aware of traffic on both sides even when it's just looking in one direction.</p><p>"If you didn't have that," says <a href="https://picower.mit.edu/earl-k-miller" target="_blank">Earl Miller</a>, senior author of the study and in whose lab the research was conducted, "we would just be simple creatures who could only react to whatever is coming right at us in the environment, that's all. But because we can hold things in mind, we can have volitional control over what we do. We don't have to react to something now, we can save it for later."</p>
Games animals play<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYyOTU2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MTA4NDMwOH0.7_nXD1yRN3-MJouaRikNw54Y1MIn5j1VOYenA_GhcfE/img.jpg?width=980" id="3a8e3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af207311aeca3e4ad9c47bbe23092006" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1077" />
Credit: Eric Isselée/Adobe Stock<p>For the study's experiments, monkeys were taught to identify onscreen objects that didn't match something they had viewed moments earlier, such as an image of a banana. To do this, they had to hold a memory of the original object in memory to make the comparison.</p><p>As this happened, researchers monitored the electrical activity of hundreds of neurons in the prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres. The researchers observed memory transfers as they happened thanks to characteristic patterns in the synchronization of brainwave frequencies that occurred each time a memory was stored, an action that takes mere milliseconds. A software decoder identified the telltale patterns.</p><p>The trials began with the monkeys staring at one side of the screen as an object appeared in the screen's center. As the monkeys perceived the object as belonging primarily to one side or the other, the researchers saw the original memory being stored in the corresponding hemisphere and a copy being made in the other.</p><p>Monkeys were also instructed at times to look from one side to the other, reassigning the central object to a new primary side as the researchers observed the memories being re-written. The speed with which monkeys could spot non-matching objects slowed down during these shifts, giving some hint of the complicated memory gymnastics going on. "It feels trivial to us, but it apparently isn't," says Miller.</p>