Cold hands and feet? Maybe it's your anxiety.
- When we feel anxious, the brain's fight or flight instinct kicks in, and the blood flow is redirected from your extremities towards the torso and vital organs.
- According to the CDC, 7.1% of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have an anxiety diagnosis.
- Anxiety disorders will impact 31% of Americans at some point in their lives.
Here's what you may not know about anxiety...<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0ed8bd7fb8626babd10933f7ce630f96"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w4jiLIzTAa0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>There's a fine line between stress and anxiety - and many people don't know what the difference is.</strong></p><p>Both stress and anxiety are <a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/stress-anxiety-difference" target="_blank">emotional responses</a>, but stress is typically caused by an external trigger and can be short-term (a looming deadline at work, for example). People under stress experience mental and physical symptoms such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, insomnia, and headache. </p><p>Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined as a persistent, excessive worry. Even in the absence of the thing that triggered it, anxiety lingers. It can lead to a nearly identical set of symptoms, which is why they are often confused. Feelings of anxiety then differ from an anxiety disorder - an anxiety disorder means your anxiety typically persists for months and negatively impacts your daily functioning. </p><p><strong>There are five major types of anxiety disorders:</strong></p><ol><li>Generalized anxiety (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. </li><li>Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (or obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). </li><li>Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and/or abdominal distress. </li><li>Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also an anxiety disorder, and it can develop after exposure to a terrifying event in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include things like personal assaults, natural and/or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. </li><li>Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as 'social phobia') is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. </li></ol><p><strong>Anxiety disorders can impact 31 percent of Americans at some point in their life. </strong></p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/stress-anxiety-difference" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">American Psychological Association</a>, 19 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have had an anxiety disorder in the past year and 31 percent of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. </p><p><strong>Anxiety may be genetic. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/is-anxiety-genetic#:~:text=Most%20researchers%20conclude%20that%20anxiety,and%20more%20research%20is%20needed." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to HealthLine</a>, anxiety may be genetic but can also be influenced by environmental factors. It's possible to have anxiety without it running in your family, however, there is speculated to be some genetic component that makes anxiety more prevalent in some individuals. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573560/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Research</a> has indicated some link between genetics and anxiety, though much more research is required in this area. </p><p><strong>Anxiety often begins in childhood. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html#:~:text=For%20children%20aged%203%2D17,also%20have%20depression%20(32.3%25).&text=For%20children%20aged%203%2D17%20years%20with%20behavior%20problems%2C%20more,also%20have%20depression%20(20.3%25)." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the CDC</a>, 7.1 percent of children between the ages of 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have an anxiety diagnosis. Six in ten children (59.3 percent) between the ages of 3-17 have received anxiety therapy or treatment. </p><p><strong>Having an anxiety disorder can increase your risk of other physical health complications. </strong></p><p>According to research from <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/anxiety" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Harvard Medical School</a>, anxiety has been indicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS, and more. </p><p><strong>Cold hands and feet? Anxiety may be the reason. </strong></p><p>If you're someone who constantly struggles with having cold hands or feet, it could be a result of your anxiety. When we feel anxious, the brain's <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response#:~:text=The%20autonomic%20nervous%20system%20has,can%20respond%20to%20perceived%20dangers." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fight or flight instinct</a> kicks in, and the blood flow is redirected from your extremities towards the torso and vital organs. </p><p><strong>Anxiety can be related to anger issues and memory loss. </strong></p><p>A lesser-known side effect of anxiety is <a href="https://discoverymood.com/blog/anxiety-and-anger/#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20often%20connected%20with,which%20can%20lead%20to%20anger." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">anger</a>. When you feel powerless over a situation, expressing anger is a natural way to feel as though you have some kind of control. With chronic sufferers of anxiety, depression is the most common issue to develop, but anger is close behind. As <a href="https://discoverymood.com/blog/anxiety-and-anger/#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20often%20connected%20with,which%20can%20lead%20to%20anger." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Discovery Mood</a> explains, "anxiety is often connected with overstimulation from a stressful environment or threat, combined with the perceived inability to deal with that threat. In contrast, anger is often tied to frustration. When anxiety is left unacknowledged or unexpressed, it can turn into frustration which then easily leads to anger." </p><p><strong>Anxiety can also cause memory problems. </strong></p><p>According to <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326#:~:text=Stress%2C%20anxiety%20or%20depression%20can,loss%20by%20interacting%20with%20medications." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a>, stress, anxiety, or depression can often cause forgetfulness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/anxiety-and-memory-1393133" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">VeryWellMind</a> explains further, "memories can be affected when you are under periods of stress or experience some sort of disturbance in mood. Having a significant anxiety disorder like GAD can create some of these problems routinely, leaving you operating below your normal level of memory functioning." </p><p><strong>Anxiety can even impact your sense of smell. </strong></p><p>People who struggle with anxiety may be more likely to label natural smells as bad smells, according to research published in the <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/39/15324" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Journal of Neuroscience</a>. When processing smells, typically it's only the olfactory system that is activated. However, in people with high anxiety levels, the emotional system can become intertwined with the olfactory system, which can slightly alter our perception of smells.</p>
A new study shows that beauty standards affect whether or not accusers are believed.
- Sexual harassment is behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances.
- Results of a 2018 survey showed that 81% of women (and 43% of men) had experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime.
- According to a new study published by the American Psychological Association, women who do not fit female stereotypes for beauty are less likely to be seen as victims of sexual harassment, and if they claim they were harassed, they are less likely to be believed.
The study conducted a series of 11 multi-method experiments, involving over 4,000 participants.
Credit: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/apa-shc011221.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to a new study</a> published by the American Psychological Association, women who do not fit female stereotypes for beauty are less likely to be seen as victims of sexual harassment, and if they claim they were harassed, they are less likely to be believed.</p><p>"Sexual harassment is pervasive and causes significant harm, yet far too many women cannot access fairness, justice, and legal protection, leaving them susceptible to further victimization and harm within the legal system," study co-author Cheryl Kaiser, Ph.D., of the University of Washington <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/apa-shc011221.php" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. </p><p>According to Kaiser, sexual harassment claims were deemed less credible (and the harassment was perceived as less psychologically harmful) when it targeted a victim who was less attractive and/or did not act according to the stereotype of a typical woman. </p><p>The study conducted a series of 11 multi-method experiments, involving over 4,000 participants. It was designed to investigate the effects a victim's fit to the concept of a typical woman had on participants' view of sexual harassment (and the consequences of that mental association). In five experiments, participants read scenarios in which women either did or did not experience sexual harassment. Participants assessed the extent to which these women fit the idealized image of women, either by drawing what they thought the woman might look like or selecting from a series of photos. Across all experiments, participants perceived the targets of sexual harassment as more stereotypical than those who did not experience harassment.</p><p>In the next four experiments, participants were shown ambiguous sexual harassment scenarios which were then paired with descriptions or photos of women who were either stereotypical or not. The participants then rated the likelihood that the incident constituted sexual harassment. According to authors of the study, participants were less likely to label these ambiguous scenarios as sexual harassment when the targets were non-stereotypical women (compared with stereotypical women), despite the fact that, in some cases, the incident was the exact same.</p><p><strong>The final two experiments in this study found that sexual harassment claims were often viewed as less credible when the victim adhered less to the typical female stereotype.<br><br></strong>Even when a stereotypical woman and non-stereotypical woman submitted the same claim, it was deemed as less credible if the woman was perceived as less feminine. Additionally, the participants found the harassment to be deemed as less psychologically harmful when experienced by a non-stereotypical female.</p><p>"Our findings demonstrate that non-stereotypical women who are sexually harassed may be vulnerable to unjust and discriminatory treatment when they seek legal recourse," co-author Bryn Bandt-Law, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, explained in an interview. "If women's nonconformity to feminine stereotypes biases perceptions of their credibility and harm caused by harassment, as our results suggest, it could prevent non-stereotypical women who are sexually harassed from receiving the civil rights protections afforded to them by law."</p><p><strong>**If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or assault, contact the <a href="https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline" target="_blank">National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline</a> at 800-656-4673. You are not alone.**</strong></p>
No, being interested in BDSM does not mean you had a traumatic childhood.
- BDSM is a kind of sexual expression and/or practice that refers to three main subcategories: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadism/Masochism.
- It has been widely speculated that many BDSM practitioners or people who enjoy the BDSM lifestyle are drawn to it because of sexual trauma they experienced in the past.
- This 2020 study claims that BDSM practitioners deserve perception as normal sexual practice free from stigmatization rather than deviant behavior.
No, being interested in BDSM doesn’t mean you had a traumatic childhood<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="20118e9474ed94bd8e4d50bc166b1bee"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZfSyq8gRsyM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While many may assume being interested in BDSM may mean you've experienced unhealthy or violent relationships/situations in your formative years, this study explains why that myth should be put to rest.</p><p>BDSM practitioners across the study scored higher levels of physical abuse in adulthood. However, no significant differences emerged for other traumatic experiences (including childhood physical abuse or unwanted sexual trauma).<br></p><p>There have been many accounts (<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYG0pajxLuY" target="_blank">such as this</a>) from BDSM practitioners that have claimed there is a certain "healing process" involved in finding a trustworthy BDSM relationship after escaping from a toxic relationship. This could account for why people who have experienced physically abusive relationships as adults then turn to the BDSM community and BDSM-related sexual interests. </p><p>When it came to the Relationship Questionnaire, people who engaged in the BDSM lifestyle more often scored in the "secure" attachment style than people who were not BDSM practitioners. While many BDSM practitioners had secure attachment styles, there was also a significant spike in anxious-preoccupied attachment styles when it came to people who practiced BDSM. In particular, the "secure" attachment style was associated with BDSM practitioners who identified as "Dominant" and the "anxious-preoccupied" attachment style was associated with people who identified as "submissive."</p><p><strong>There are no findings to support the hypothesis of BDSM being a coping mechanism for early life dynamics or trauma.</strong> </p><p>This authors of the study claim that BDSM practitioners deserve perception as normal sexual practice free from stigmatization rather than deviant behavior—and the final results of the study support this idea. </p>
Are people involved in BDSM practices more aware of their attachment styles?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTIwMDc2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2OTYwMjA1OX0.2cQbq1Nka_9dWd6GvzyoWjc68JU3Oor-1d6PKnUWBmY/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C292%2C0%2C292&height=700" id="c0877" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6eb72a2ee78fb73264254d33e4411364" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man and woman holding paper heart" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Could people who engage in BDSM be more mindful in their relationships?
Photo by Tiko on Adobe Stock<p>While many people insist engaging in BDSM practices means you've had significant traumatic experienced that led you to do so, there are some experts that argue BDSM practitioners are actually more in tune with their own psychopathology than people who do not engage in BDSM activities.</p><p>BDSM involves a diverse range of practices which can involve role-playing games in which one person assumes a dominant role and the other assumes a submissive role. These activities are often intense and can involve activities such as physical restraint, power plays, humiliation, and sometimes (but not always) pain. </p><p><a href="https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/fans-of-bondage-and-sm-report-better-mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to a study</a> published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, people involved in BDSM may actually be more mentally healthy. The study suggests people who engage in BDSM activities often show more extroverted qualities and tend to be more open to experiences and more conscientious. They also tend to be less neurotic and less sensitive to rejection. The study also showed BDSM practitioners had a more secure attachment style, which is supported in the more recent study listed above. </p><p>Additionally, <a href="https://www.bustle.com/articles/186777-bdsm-may-be-the-most-mindful-type-of-sex-study-finds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">it's been hypothesized</a> that people involved in BDSM are more mindful during sex than those who do not engage in BDSM practices. </p>
A large-scale meta-analysis aims to disprove the notion that pornography consumption causes sexual aggression and violence.
- The potential link between pornography consumption and sexual aggression and/or violence has been studied for decades, with the earliest research dating back to the 1970s.
- A 2020 meta-analysis study published in the Journal of Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, aims to entirely disprove the notion that there is a link between pornography and sexual aggression or sexually aggressive crimes.
- The CDC suggests that while "exposure to sexually graphic media" may be a factor in sexual aggression, it's not the cause nor the only factor that should be considered.
Does pornography cause sexual violence?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA4OTYyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTUwOTYyOX0.FvmMYQoZpAkZqMMm3S5v_7zBg6d3fvlELf3lZFWoqOo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C783%2C0%2C783&height=700" id="0fd8c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="042738cda4ba95a556f8ec9c00659daf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="porn dialogue windows open on computer" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Is there any truth to the notion that pornography causes sexual violence?
Credit: ninefotostudio on Adobe Stock<p>The anti-pornography group, <a href="https://fightthenewdrug.org/how-consuming-porn-can-lead-to-violence/" target="_blank">Fight the New Drug</a>, is dedicated to confirming this theory, with mass-spread articles that heavily suggest consuming porn can (and will) lead to sexual violence.</p><p>We have seen a similar question being posed across all spectrums of the entertainment world:</p><ul><li>"Do violent video games lead to violence in kids?" </li><li>"Do graphic violence scenes in movies promote and encourage violence?"</li></ul><p><strong>How does what we consume, whether it be pornography, video games, or movies, impact our actions in the real world? </strong></p><p>Many studies in the past have attempted to draw a line (or erase the link entirely) between violence and pornography with no success on either side. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12131276_Exploring_the_Connection_Between_Pornography_and_Sexual_Violence" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This 2000 study</a> by Raquel Kennedy Bergen and Kathleen A. Bogle collected data from 100 survivors of sexual abuse. Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported that their abuser used pornography and 12 percent of female respondents explained that pornography was imitated during their abusive incident. </p><p>More recently, <a href="https://www.galwaydaily.com/news/nuig-study-suggests-porn-use-exacerbates-sexual-aggression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a separate 2019 study</a> of almost 600 male Croatian secondary school students (between the ages of 15-17) explored the link between sexually aggressive students and pornography. While teenagers who showed signs of sexually aggressive behavior were more likely to use pornography, the researchers were unable to find any apparent link showing pornography had caused the behavior. In fact, it was found that people who were sexually aggressive were those who were already predisposed to aggressive acts. </p><p>The consensus with many of these studies is that while porn can be particularly enticing to individuals who are prone to becoming or have in the past become sexually aggressive, there is no concrete evidence that porn has caused or worsened their sexual aggression.</p><p><strong>A new study hopes to disprove this notion once and for all.</strong></p><p>The most recent research on this topic is <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1524838020942754?journalCode=tvaa" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2020 meta-analysis study</a> published in the Journal of Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. The current meta-analysis examined experimental, correlational, and population studies of the pornography/sexual aggression link dating from the 1970s until 2020. Several notable things were discovered in this meta-analysis that ultimately weakens the connection between pornography consumption and sexual aggression.</p><p>This meta-analysis examined decades of work, some of which suggested there is a link between pornography and sexual violence in real life and some of which suggested there is not. In the cases where the studies were conducted over a longer period of time, the link was weakened. </p><p><strong>Violent pornography was correlated with sexual aggression, but the evidence was unable to distinguish between selection effect compared to socialization effect.</strong> </p><p>"Selection effect" is defined as the bias that's introduced when a methodology or analysis is biased towards a specific subset of a target population. </p><p>"Socialization effect" is defined as the process of learning throughout a larger process of learning. For example, as we begin to study more about the link between sexual violence and porn, we learn more about both of those things which can then impact how we view the results of these studies. </p><p><strong>Studies that employed higher levels of best practices tended to provide less evidence of a potential link.</strong> </p><p>"Best practices" can be defined as a systematic process used to identify, describe, combine, and disseminate effective and efficient clinical strategies. Some of the "best practices for conducting research" include things like observing regulations during your research, reviewing protocol with all team members regularly, ensuring that each team member has the most current information, creating and using proper tools to assist in research, etc. </p><p>The studies that employed higher levels of best practices for research tended to also be the studies that provided less evidence of any potential link between pornography and sexual aggression. </p>
Sexual violence is not caused by one specific factor, suggests the CDC<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA4OTcxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjA0ODY5Mn0.QmWO8Bz70cq5VoqmWzfLmiRhzlpWnmK49a69FwxUREA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C220%2C0%2C220&height=700" id="cf69f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4a798fa2653bf4d65f2e3e76401ae2ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="agenda calendar with "risk factors" written on the slip" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Credit: Iryna on Adobe Stock<p>Does pornography <em>cause </em>sexual violence? The evidence suggests not. The CDC has put together <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html" target="_blank">a list of "risk factors"</a> that can be linked to a greater likelihood of sexual violence perpetration.</p><p>While "exposure to sexually explicit media" is on this list, there are also many other factors that can contribute, such as: </p><ul><li>Alcohol and/or drug use</li><li>Lack of empathy </li><li>Delinquency </li><li>General aggressiveness and acceptance of violence </li><li>Hyper-masculinity </li><li>Suicidal behavior</li><li>Prior sexual victimization or perpetration </li><li>Hostility towards women</li><li>Early sexual initiation</li><li>Preference for impersonal sex and/or sexual risk-taking </li></ul><p>Additionally, there are several "community" (or environmental) factors that can also contribute, such as: </p><ul><li>Poverty </li><li>Lack of employment opportunities </li><li>Lack of institutional support </li><li>General tolerance of sexual violence within the community </li><li>Societal norms that support sexual violence </li><li>Weak laws and policies relating to sexual violence </li><li>High levels of crime </li></ul><p><em>"</em>During the past few years many states have declared that pornography is a public health crisis," <a href="https://www.stetson.edu/today/2020/07/stetson-researcher-says-porn-does-not-cause-violent-sex-crimes/" target="_blank">said Chris Ferguson</a>, a professor of psychology at Stetson University, to The University of Texas at San Antonio. </p><p>"Dr. Hartley and I were curious to see if evidence could support such claims—at least in regard to sexual aggression—or whether politicians were mistaking moral stances for science. Our evidence suggests that policymakers should examine other causes of sexual aggression and that beliefs about pornography may be driven more by methodological mistakes than sound science."<br></p>
A team of researchers have discovered the brain rhythmic activity that can split us from reality.
- Researchers have identified the key rhythmic brain activity that triggers a bizarre experience called dissociation in which people can feel detached from their identity and environment.
- This phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population. Nearly 3 out of 4 individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or sometime after.
- The findings implicate a specific protein in a certain set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation, and it could lead to better-targeted therapies for conditions in which dissociation can occur.
What is dissociation?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bd2f1f29418bd4805bf1282001dca814"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XF2zeOdE5GY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Dissociation is an experience commonly described as a feeling of sudden detachment from the individual's identity and environment, almost like an out-of-body experience. This mysterious phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population.</p><p>"This state often manifests as the perception of being on the outside looking in at the cockpit of the plane that's your body or mind — and what you're seeing you just don't consider to be yourself," explained senior author Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, <a href="https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/09/researchers-pinpoint-brain-circuitry-underlying-dissociation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in a Stanford Medicine news release</a>. Deisseroth is a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.</p><p>Nearly three-quarters of individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or in the hours or even weeks that follow, according to Deisseroth. Most of the time, the dissociative experiences end on their own within a few weeks of the trauma. But the eerie experience can become chronic, such as in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and extremely disruptive in daily life. The state of dissociation can also occur in epilepsy and be invoked by certain drugs. </p><p>Until now, no one has known what exactly is going on inside the brain triggering and sustaining the feeling of dissociation — and so it has been a challenge to figure out how to stop it and develop effective treatments. </p>
New Research: The Molecular Underpinnings of Dissociation<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNjk3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODU0MzI1NX0.5vL3VqPWmYQqZmQMhwLUIuMvNxAPAPxjpD_QOYmW5zU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C121%2C0%2C121&height=700" id="386b6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1094af23e35a498a8a6b691f1d0cbfaf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="neurons" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Neurons from a mouse spinal cord
Credit: NICHD on Flickr<p>Last week, in a study published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2731-9" target="_blank">Nature</a><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2731-9">,</a> Deisseroth and his colleagues at Stanford University uncovered a localized brain rhythm and molecule that underlies this state.</p><p>"This study has identified brain circuitry that plays a role in a well-defined subjective experience," said Deisseroth. "Beyond its potential medical implications, it gets at the question, 'What is the self?' That's a big one in law and literature, and important even for our own introspections."</p><p>The authors' findings implicate a specific protein existing in a particular set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation. </p><p>The research team first used a technique called widefield calcium imaging to record brain-wide neuronal activity in lab mice. They observed and analyzed changes in those brain rhythms after the animals had been administered a range of drugs that are known to cause dissociative states: ketamine, phencyclidine (PCP), and dizocilpine (MK801). At a certain dosage of ketamine, the mice behaved in a way that suggested that they were likely experiencing dissociation. For example, when the animals were placed on an uncomfortably warm surface, they reacted to it by flicking their paws. However, they signaled that they didn't care enough about the unpleasantness to do what they would typically do in such a situation, which is to lick their paws to cool them off. This suggested a dissociation from the surrounding environment.</p><p>The drug produced oscillations in neuronal activity in a region of the mices' brain called the retrosplenial cortex, an area essential for various cognitive functions such as navigation and episodic memory (a unique memory of a specific event). The oscillations occurred at about 1-3 hertz (three cycles per second). The authors then examined the active cells in more detail by using two-photon imaging for higher resolution. This revealed that the oscillations were occurring only in layer 5 of the retrosplenial cortex. Next, the researchers recorded neuronal activity across other regions of the brain. </p><p>"Normally, other parts of the cortex and subcortex are functionally connected to neuronal activity in the retrosplenial cortex," Ken Solt and Oluwaseun Akeju wrote in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02505-z#ref-CR1" target="_blank">Nature</a>. "However, ketamine caused a disconnect, such that many of these brain regions no longer communicated with the retrosplenial cortex."</p><p>The scientists then used optogenetics, a method of manipulating living tissue with light to control neural function, to stimulate neurons in the mice's retrosplenial cortex. When the scientists did this at a 2-hertz rhythm, they were able to cause dissociative behavior in the animals analogous to the behavior caused by ketamine without using drugs. The experiments conducted by the team displayed how a particular type of protein, an ion channel, was essential to the generation of the hertz signal that caused the dissociative behavior in mice. Scientists are hopeful that this protein could be a potential treatment target in the future. </p>