I have always been quite curious about studies that show how our beliefs or expectation often steer or experiences. There are people doing studies all the time, and this was published this year:
As PiPS Director and study coauthor Ted Kaptchuk notes,
“It’s not what patients think will happen [that influences outcomes] it’s what the nonconscious mind anticipates despite any conscious thoughts. This mechanism is automatic, fast and powerful, and does not depend on deliberation and judgment. These findings open an entirely new door towards understanding placebos and the ritual of medicine.”
This is what author Karin Jensen, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered in a study published this year. Their new findings demonstrate that the placebo effect can be activated outside of conscious awareness, and provide an explanation for how patients can show clinical improvement even when they receive treatments devoid of active ingredients or of known therapeutic efficacy.
From a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS). This study was supported, in part, by grants from the Swedish Society for Medical Research and the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and Grants R21AT004497 (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine).
For a more detailed overview read this article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910152011.htm
Journal Reference: Karin B. Jensen, Ted J. Kaptchuk, Irving Kirsch, Jacqueline Raicek, Kara M. Lindstrom, Chantal Berna, Randy L. Gollub, Martin Ingvar, and Jian Kong. Nonconscious activation of placebo and nocebo pain responses.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1202056109
More Than Good Vibes: Researchers Propose the Science Behind Mindfulness
From ScienceDaily Oct. 29, 2012 — “Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?”
“Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.”
“The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.” “The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.”
Journal Reference: David R. Vago, David A. Silbersweig. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012; 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00296
Can Your Body Sense Future Events Without Any External Clue?
Presentiment without any external clues may, in fact, exist, according to new Northwestern University research that analyzes the results of 26 studies published between 1978 and 2010 – imagine if our bodies prepared us for future events that could be very important to us, even if there’s no clue about what those events will be?
“Researchers already know that our subconscious minds sometimes know more than our conscious minds. Physiological measures of subconscious arousal, for instance, tend to show up before conscious awareness that a deck of cards is stacked against us.”
“The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense. It’s anticipatory because it seems to predict future physiological changes in response to an important event without any known clues, and it’s an activity because it consists of changes in the cardiopulmonary, skin and nervous systems.”
Journal Reference: Julia Mossbridge, Patrizio Tressoldi, Jessica Utts. Predictive Physiological Anticipation Preceding Seemingly Unpredictable Stimuli: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 2012; 3 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00390
Brainwave Training Boosts Network for Cognitive Control and Affects Mind-Wandering
“A breakthrough study conducted in Canada has found that training of the well-known brainwave in humans, the alpha rhythm, enhances a brain network responsible for cognitive-control. The training technique, termed neurofeedback, is being considered as a promising new method for restoring brain function in mental disorders. Using several neuroimaging methods, a team of researchers at the Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute have now uncovered that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neural-based training. Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Journal Reference: Tomas Ros, Jean Théberge, Paul A. Frewen, Rosemarie Kluetsch, Maria Densmore, Vince D. Calhoun, Ruth A. Lanius. Mind over chatter: Plastic up-regulation of the fMRI salience network directly after EEG neurofeedback. NeuroImage, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.09.046