A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Psychedelics paired with therapy could treat chronic mental health conditions

Credit: Preparing micro doses of psilocybin, a derivative from of magic mushrooms; Getty images

Psychedelic drugs are mostly banned in Europe, but new research suggests they may be beneficial to some when taken in a controlled setting

Scientists across the world are attempting to unravel the neuroscience of psychedelic 'trips' and the therapeutic potential of psychoactive substances. Image credit: Raimond Klavins via Unsplash

Mind-bending drugs and psychedelics are generally stigmatised and illegal in EU member states, due to concerns about their possible harmful effects. However, in other parts of the world, some psychedelic compounds are exalted for their healing properties and have been consumed in spiritual and cultural ceremonies for millennia.

Now scientists in Europe and the USA are starting to wake up to what shamans have been saying for years. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest some psychoactive substances have immense therapeutic potential, especially when it comes to tackling serious, hard-to-manage mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, alcoholism and eating disorders.

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Conversations with an AI

Credit: Getty images

Artificial Intelligence and Psychology

Today, we ask our AI friend one fundamental psychological question to see what he has to say. It's impressive how we can have an adequate answer in seconds, produced by an algorithm. Of course, we cannot change our therapist or psychoanalyst with an AI, or not yet, but the progress in language-generating AI systems is still amazing.

Below you can read what has GPT-3 answered to our inquiry.

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Genetic, and environmental factors contribute to how socioeconomic status impacts the brain

Credit: Gettyimages

Research reveals more about how environment, genetics and socioeconomic status influence brain function

A study in Science Advances has revealed correlations among socioeconomics, genetics, environmental factors, and brain structure. Socioeconomic status is typically defined by characteristics such as an individual's income, education, and occupation, and is related to the quality of life and physical and mental health.

The findings provide a greater understanding of how socioeconomic, environmental, and genetic factors interact to influence human brain development and structure. The endeavor was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

An international team, including researchers at Penn State, analyzed a massive trove of data from the UK Biobank that contained the brain scans, genomic sequences, and socioeconomic information of nearly 24,000 participants.

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How much of what you see is a hallucination?

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What is a hallucination?

Has it ever happened to you to see something, which you are totally aware doesn't actually exist materially? Maybe you have heard a song that is not written yet, or have smelled an odor that is not present around you at the moment. Well, that is not so terrifying as it seems. In fact, it happens more often than one might think. It's like a dream but you aren't asleep. Moreover, it is not necessary that you have taken some medication or that you are experiencing some mental disorder. It's just a hallucination and it is part of human brain activities. Traditionally, hallucination is seen as a result of psychological malfunction or drug consumption but recent scientific researches reveal that it is a much more complex and natural phenomenon than we have reckoned before.

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Carl Jung - Ending Your Inner Civil War

Credit: Carl Jung in 1910, via Wikipedia

A passage of Carl Jung's writings read by Alan Watts

The English philosopher Alan Watts was a great admirer of Carl Gustav Jung's work. Watts was immersed in Eastern philosophy and was one of the greatest promoters and translators of the wisdom of the Orient for Western audiences. Carl Jung was also a tremendous explorer of Eastern traditions. This is certainly a link that connects the two thinkers but what really ties them is their interest in the existential challenges met by each individual, the connections between the conscious and the unconscious parts of the psyche.

One of the most popular components of Jung's work is the so-called shadow. That is the personification of all the repressed complexes and problems, which are thrown in the deepest parts of the human unconscious. The shadow is the first ordeal one should meet if he wants to take on the path of the individuation (another Jungian term, which means becoming one with the true self, self-realization, or the integration of the unconscious into the consciousness). If a person fears the acquaintance with the hidden and repressed contents, qualities, and tendencies locked in his shadow, then he enters into a state of inner civil war. Such a situation could be resolved not by condemnation of what is seen as undesirable parts of the unconscious but by accepting and integrating them until the moment of realization that they are not necessarily ominous, malevolent features but inhibited parts of one's own personality.

In the 6o's, Alan Watts was leading a radio show, and he read a passage of Jung's works after the death of the latter. Now, you can enjoy the illuminating force of two great minds - the thought of Carl Jung with the voice of Alan Watts.

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Insights: Alfred Adler

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From Adler's book What Life Could Mean To You

1. "A fight with a child is always a losing fight: he can never be beaten or won to cooperation by fighting. In these struggles the weakest always carries the day. Something is demanded of him which he refuses to give; something which can never be gained by such means. An incalculable amount of tension and useless effort would be spared in this world if we realized that cooperation and love can never be won by force."

2. "These three ties, therefore, set three problems: how to find an. occupation which will enable us to survive under the limitations set by the nature of the earth; how to find a position among our fellows, so that we may cooperate and share the benefits of cooperation; how to accommodate ourselves to the fact that we live in two sexes and that the continuance and furtherance of mankind depends upon our love-life. Individual"

3. "It was only because men learned to cooperate that we could make the great discovery of the division of labor; a discovery which is the chief security for the welfare of mankind. To preserve human life would not be possible if each individual attempted to wrest a living from the earth by himself with no cooperation and no results of cooperation in the past. Through the division of labor we can use the results of many different kinds of training and organize many different abilities so that all of them contribute to the common welfare and guarantee relief from insecurity and increased opportunity for all the members of society."

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Get Back To Your True Self by Dr. Gabor Mate

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Short Bio

Gabor Maté is born on 6th January 1944, a Hungarian-Canadian physician and author. He is a psychologist and therapist with a background in family practice and a special interest in trauma and childhood development. Maté explores their potential lifelong impacts on both physical and mental health. His studies include a wide range of conditions like cancer, addictions, autoimmune disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and many more.

Maté's approach to addiction focuses on the trauma his patients have suffered and looks to address this in their recovery. He claims that most of the traumatic experiences and dysfunctions are provoked by the loss of inner integrity and connection with one's self. Gabor Maté believes in the connection between mind and body health adopting a holistic method to cure traumas. He has authored four books exploring topics including ADHD, stress, developmental psychology, and addiction. Maté is a regular columnist for the Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail.

Below you can enjoy a speech made by Gabor Maté about the four aspects of modern alienation and its consequences.

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Psychology Today

Credit: Gettyimages

The Dunning-Kruger effect and the Mount Stupid

Most probably you have heard about the Dunning-Kruger effect.

If not, it's sure that when you get acquainted with it, you will recognize that many situations from your own experience had something to do with it. At least once in your life, you must have run into a person who was loudly and confidently speaking up some clearly wrong facts about a certain topic. Well, it was clearly wrong for you. How come that person doesn't doubt it at all? The thing is that the less I know, the better my confidence. Of course, that's a simplification but it generally depicts the subject matter. The study made by David Dunning and Justin Kruger in 1999, showed that people with less knowledge about a given topic tend to overestimate themselves whereas the more knowledgeable are apt to underestimate their skills. OK, that's quite plausible if we look at our everyday experience. So, now you think that since you know that, you're out of that vicious circle. Think twice. As Bertrand Russell once said: "The whole problem about the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts".

Here you can watch a short video about the Irony of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

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Psychoanalysis - Carl Jung's Shadow

20220114-123638gettyimages-631818054-612x612 Credit: Gettyimages

Credit: Gettyimages

Carl Jung and the unconscious

It's hard to imagine a serious talk about psychoanalysis and the human unconscious without considering the work of Carl Gustav Jung. Jung is the founder of the so-called Analytical Psychology, he coined the meaning of the term collective unconscious as we perceive it today. He is forged two of the most used notion when applied to human temperament and an individual's personal traits, qualities, and tendencies towards the world – these are extrovert and introvert. Now, Carl Jung saw the process of personal growth and maturing as a journey towards the self, towards wholeness and inner peace between both conscious and unconscious parts of our psyche. There are different psychological beings that we can meet on that dangerous adventure. They are called archetypes. They are the basics of our consciousness: collective and universal, or personal and intimate complexes of memory, emotions, and thoughts. To name the most important and distinctive archetypes that Jung pointed out, we can't miss: the shadow, the persona, the trickster, the wise old man, the divine child, and last but not least, anima and animus.

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Triggering original fear memories could treat phobias and PTSD

20220120-074119islander-images-vde6pq8bed4-unsplash_0 By triggering original fear memories, a researcher hopes to weaken them to help treat phobias. Image credit - Islander Images/Unsplash

By triggering original fear memories, a researcher hopes to weaken them to help treat phobias. Image credit - Islander Images/Unsplash  

New approach towards fear treatment

In a lab in Amsterdam, arachnophobes have volunteered to encounter their eight-legged nemeses to help researchers hoping to conjure and obliterate fear memories. These studies, as well as a new understanding of overlooked brain regions, are revealing how fears linked to PTSD or phobias work, and how they may be treated.

In upcoming clinical trials, Professor Merel Kindt at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, plans to expose volunteers to fleet-footed spiders and tarantulas to provoke their fear memory. Afterwards, they will receive an approved drug to try to thwart their spider fears. She believes that her 'recall and erase' strategy can be used to treat all sorts of phobias, but also life-changing clinical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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3 Brain Systems That Control Your Behavior: Reptilian, Limbic, Neo Cortex

Credit: Gettyimages

The brain - mystery (un)solved

The human brain is arguably the most complicated thing in the known universe. After centuries of introspection, examinations, and experiments, we still don't know a lot about it. Of course, we've made all these terms, divided its structure into different areas, each one responsible for particular functions. But the truth is that the brain works as a holistic union and is not a composite of various parts but a single unit within the human body. However, it is a lot easier to understand it, if we use concepts and differentiate one part from another. Like the one put forth by Paul MacLean – the triune brain – that it is coming in three functional layers. The most bottom and ancient one – Reptilian Brain. Second – the Limbic System or Emotional Brain, "having to do with fear, arousal, anxieties, sexual longings, all those sorts of things – very mammalian". And third, The Cortex – responsible for thinking planning, moral judgments, etc.

Below you can enjoy an elucidating explanation of these three layers of the brain, their evolution, complex conversation, and connection with our behavior. Take a look at the video made by Robert Sapolsky, a professor of Biology and Neurology at Stanford University and a Research Associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya.

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The therapeutic effects of Psychedelics

Credit: Pexels by  Merlin Lightpainting

The scientific renaissance of mind-altering drugs

In 1938, Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman discovered a really interesting substance - LSD. It turned out that that is one of the most intense and strong mind-altering drugs that we know so far. But it is not like any other drug. It turned out that it provokes not only beautiful imagery and love in human imagination but that it has particular therapeutic effects. Moreover, the entheogens (psychoactive substances) had been in use long before their 20th-century revival. They were a necessary part of many rituals, sacraments, medical practices in the past. You can take a look at this short introduction to Psychedelics.

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Metabolism changes with age, but not when people might think

Science shows that, pound-for-pound, a 1-year-old burns calories 50% faster than an adult. Credit: Wikimedia/sylviebliss

Researchers measured life's metabolic highs and lows, from birth to old age

Most people remember a time when they could eat anything they wanted and not gain weight. But a study published in the journal Science and funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation suggests that metabolism -- the rate at which calories burn -- actually peaks much earlier in life and starts its inevitable decline later than you might guess

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Prof. Howard Gardner, the Author of Multiple Intelligences, about Man's Eagerness to Find His Own Meaning

image: pixabay.com


Prof. Howard Gardner from Harvard University, famous for his Multiple Intelligences Theory, tries to find out why now, more than ever, we ask ourselves the big questions about life and the true meaning of our own existence...  Maybe it is a result of the pandemic? "Almost no one in the world was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic - Prof. Gardner says. -  Suddenly, immediate and long-term plans have had to be scuttled; daily routines have been substantially altered for months, with no end in sight; we need to protect ourselves and others every waking hour; and, alas, many have lost their livelihoods and their security and some have lost their lives... " The world, as we have always known it, is no longer present. Everything is changing - social and business norms, policies and politics, rules and demands... Even climate is changing.  And so are we. The Old is gone, but the New is still developing, taking shape and taking place, leaving us with the feeling of incompleteness, insecurity, and instability. Leaving us, asking questions and searching for their answers... 

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The Best New Psychology Books for 2020 - Top 5

image: pixabay.com


Here is a brief selection of the top 10 psychology books, published in 2020. You will find all kind of topics - multiple intelligence, critical thinking, neuropsychology, animal cognition, and many more... But most of all, we hope that you will find  the book is trying to find you! Enjoy reading!

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SSA Recent Posts

07 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: J. Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, aboard the S.S. Bremen, arriving in New York City for a vacation; Getty Images 7 Thoughts by the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti 1. "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly si...
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01 February 2023
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Getty images London as a Museum of Art Certain cities in Europe could be considered the centers of Art. One, of course, is Rome, another is Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, and many more. However, the focus today is London. One of the largest cities...
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Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 1677), Dutch philosopher. Woodcut engraving, published in 1881.; Getty images Excerpts from Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (1677) 1. "Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can on the other hand be...
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