Category Archives: Health & fitness

Health & fitness

signs you’re emotionally intelligent – even if it doesn’t feel like it

By; Áine Cain,woman glasses thinking talking phone listen(Are you emotionally intelligent?Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr) 

Source: 5 signs you’re emotionally intelligent – even if it doesn’t feel like it

Scientists Have Figured Out How To ‘Fingerprint’ Your Brain 

Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University map the brain’s “connectome” using diffusion MRI technology. 

The more we learn about the human brain, the more we discover just how vast and complex it is.

As some scientists are discovering, each brain is wired in a completely unique way. In the same way that each of us has a specific fingerprint, we also have a distinct map of brain connections ― what’s known as the “connectome.” New research from Carnegie Mellon University mapped the brain’s structural connections to show that this network of connections is unique to each individual.

“In a way, we are showing what neuroscience has always assumed to be true but not yet shown: We are our own unique neural snowflake,” Dr. Timothy Verstynen, an assistant professor of psychology at the university and one of the study’s authors, told The Huffington Post. “The wiring diagram of our brain is specific to each of us.”

Studying the brain’s wiring may allow neuroscientists to one day predict (and possibly, prevent) the development of certain psychiatric and neurological illnesses.

Using a cutting-edge technology known as diffusion MRI, the researchers measured connections along the white matter pathways in the brains of 699 people. After creating a basic map of the major connections in the brain, the researchers measured the stretch of the connections along the brain’s underlying fiber pathways. The data was then reconstructed to create a signature “fingerprint” for each brain.

“In a way, we are showing what neuroscience has always assumed to be true but not yet shown: We are our own unique neural snowflake.”

“This gives us a very high resolution measure of the strength of fiber bundles throughout the entire brain, which we call the ‘local connectome,’” Verstynen said. “Then using this measure, we showed that the pattern of local connectome integrity is unique to each individual.”

The connectomes of the different brains were so distinct that they could be used to identify each person with 100 percent accuracy. A person’s brain connectome seemed to reflect not only information about genetics, cognition and neurological health, but also life experiences.

A surprising aspect of the findings was just how much an individual’s connectome tended to change over time ― it tended to shift around 13 percent every 100 days ― which suggests that brain connections are highly influenced by our experiences. This reflects what neuroscientists call “plasticity,” meaning the brain’s tendency to reorganize itself by developing new connections.

“If I scanned you once now and once again next month, your local connectome would likely have changed about 13 percent,” Verstynen said. “Also, we looked at genetically identical twins and asked how similar their connection profiles were. It turns out that their brains were more dissimilar than they were similar ― only about 12.5 percent similarity. Thus our experiences go a very long way to sculpting the connections in the brain.”

This technique could be used to study how hereditary and environmental factors shape the brain. It’s still too early to tell how the research might be applied to treating mental illness, but one day, it might be possible to compare connectomes in order to predict cognitive function or risk for psychiatric disease.

The technology is more likely to be used for clinical applications than personal identification, as it’s currently far too expensive to be used like fingerprinting, according to Verstynen.

“Realistically, we would hope that this could be used to better understand how subtle differences in the brain’s wiring can predict certain behaviors and (eventually) clinical pathologies,” Verstynen said.

Still, personal identification via brain patterns is still a possibility for the future. In another study from earlier this year, scientists were able to identify people with 100 percent accuracy using only brainwaves.

“Who knows if someone will develop a fast and cheap way to scan the connectome of your brain and use it as an identity marker,” Verstynen added. “I’ve learned never to say never.”

Source: Scientists Have Figured Out How To ‘Fingerprint’ Your Brain

Shoppers guide to avoiding toxic chemicals 

As you’re poring over the holiday ads from major retailers to make your wish list, environmental activists want you to consider more than price when you shop.

“Use your purchasing power to drive positive change in the marketplace,” said Mike Schade of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a group devoted to reducing toxic chemical footprints. “Ask major retailers to get tough on manufacturers and use their influence to rid the marketplace of toxic chemicals.”
 “When out shopping, no one should have to worry that the shampoo, lotions, cleaners, clothing, shoes, or home electronics contain toxic ingredients that could harm their family’s health,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center,another group working to reduce toxic chemicals in the marketplace. “Where would you rather shop, at a retailer that scores a B or the retailer with a red F for failure to ensure their safety of their products?”
To help consumers make those decisions, a new report from the coalition grades retailers for the first time on how well they are reducing toxic chemicals in the products they sell. Called “Who’s Minding the Store” the report graded companies on a scale of zero to 130 points by looking at 13 different categories of action retailers could take, including chemical safety screening, ingredient disclosure, efforts to find safer alternatives and reporting the amount of “chemicals of high concern” the company has reduced or eliminated.
Those chemicals include heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic, toxic flame retardants and endocrine disruptors such as parabens, BPA and formaldehyde.
The good news, said Schade, is that two top retailers, Walmart and Target, received a B grade for making “meaningful progress” over the last three years toward safer chemicals in the products they sell. In fact, both companies expanded their list of problematic chemicals to over 2,000.
“This summer Walmart reported that their suppliers had reduced high priority chemicals by 23 million pounds,” said Schade, “and Target added cosmetics to their policy for the first time and improved suppliers’ transparency practices, especially in regard to fragrance.”
Unfortunately, says Schade, the average grade among the 11 retailers was a D+.
“There are some serious laggers,” he said, “showing there is a need for significant improvement in the marketplace to protect consumers.”

F for Amazon, Costco, Albertsons

The online retailer Amazon received the worst score, only 7.5 points out of 130. Costco didn’t fare much better, scoring only 9.5 points. Schade said all of the companies were shown the report in advance, and given the chance to respond.
Dangerous chemicals hiding in everyday products
“Neither Costco or Amazon formally responded to our communications,” said Schade. “We think this is deeply concerning. Amazon, for example, is set to become the largest retailer of apparel and electronics over the next year, and increasingly rolling out new product lines. They need to catch up.”
Albertsons, a supermarket chain, also received an F in the report, scoring only 12.5 points out of 130. The company told CNN that the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families report “offers an incomplete view of the work we do to offer our customers products and merchandise that put safety first.”
“In fact, in May 2016, we were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for our efforts toward labeling our private label products which meet the EPA’s Safer Choice requirements,” said Chris Wilcox, vice president of communications. “We are committed to continuing these efforts across the products we manufacture and those we sell in our stores, and to giving our customers the information they need to make purchasing choices that are right for them.’
Amazon did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. Costco said it was not able to provide a response.

More scores

Kroger received a D- in the ratings, with only 15.5 points. More Ds were assigned to Walgreens with 29.5 points, Lowe’s at 29.5 and Home Depot at 35.5 points of out 130.
Home Depot and Kroger did not respond to a request for comment. Corporate public relations at Lowe’s said: “Safer Chemicals shared a copy of their study with us. We continue to have conversations with this group and others to learn more about their concerns.”
Walgreens told CNN it is working with their English partner Walgreens Boots Alliance, which has “already developed an advanced program in retailing, manufacturing and chemical sustainability. We also are in continuous dialogue with multiple external parties including laboratories, NGO’s and other retailers to improve the transparency of product ingredients and chemicals of concern.”
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Schade. “Some companies are making significant progress. For example, CVS Health has signed the Chemical Footprint Project, the first pharmacy to do so, and has pledged to tell the public by 2017 about its list of restricted chemicals. And Best Buy told us they are working on a safer chemicals policy and restricted substance list.”
CVS Health (53 points) and Best Buy (41 points) both fell into the C category.

Why retailers?

Why should so much of the responsibility for change rest on the shoulders of giant retailers? Because they are on the front line of consumer discontent and they have a fundamental moral responsibility, argues Schade.
“If you think about it, most people don’t buy products directly from the manufacturer,” he said. “It is retailers that have the relationships. The eleven retailers we evaluated have combined sales of over one trillion dollars, a market power that can transform the toxic chemical economy.”
Schade also pointed to the economic fallout that can affect companies when consumers find out that a company has been selling toxic products. Take for example the case of Lumber Liquidators, whose stock collapsed after CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported, on the CBS News show “60 Minutes,” that the flooring sold by the company contained high levels of the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde. The company’s CEO later resigned.
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“And there’s a United Nations report that documents the various financial and business risks associated with toxic chemicals — including over $138 million in fines against Walmart, CVS and other retailers,” said Schade.
So what can a consumer do if they believe their favorite retailer doesn’t have a satisfactory grade?
“We have an online action page,” said Schade. “There you can both thank those companies who are doing well, and encourage those who are not to become a leader and not a lagger.”

Source: Shoppers guide to avoiding toxic chemicals 

5 Steps To Finding A Workout You Actually Like 


1. Make a List of All the Possible Activities You Think You Might Ever Enjoy 

Get a piece of paper and write down every physical activity you enjoy now or think you might enjoy–gardening, hiking, kayaking, learning to salsa dance, training for a 5K, doing the elliptical, weight lifting, taking a Spin class or trying a pole-dancing class.

If you belong to a gym or like the idea of working out in a gym, write down exercises, classes and machines that you know about.

2. Try at Least One New Workout for 20 Minute Every Week
Make it your goal to try at least one new workout every week for one month. Don’t feel pressured to like whatever you try right away–you probably won’t. Your purpose right now is simply to explore and find what you think you might want to try again.

There’s just one rule: You can’t count something as “trying it” if you do a workout for only five minutes–that’s not long enough to give your body time to warm up, let alone adapt to the movements you’re doing. Try to sustain any cardio-based workout for 20 minutes, easing into the exercise at first by going slower than you think you should. If you’re trying new strengthening exercises or lifting weights, warm up your muscles beforehand by walking or riding a bike for at least 5 minutes, then rotate through different sets, or exercises, for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. If You Give Something 5 Stars Out of 10, Try It Again Next Week
If you dislike something, cross it off the list. If something seems even remotely interesting, circle a date on your calendar the following week to try it again. On the other hand, if something made your body hurt or you just weren’t enjoying yourself after 20 minutes, you don’t have to try it again. The goal here is to find one or two exercises that you enjoy–and it’s icing on the cake if you discover more.

4. Four Is the Magic Number
Try any workouts that you think you might like at least four times before deciding if they’re a good fit for you. Four sessions should be enough to determine whether a workout has the potential to positively affect your body and mood.

If nothing excites you, though, that’s okay. Sit down again to make a new list–and this time, get more creative. Think outside the gym to outdoor sports, athletic clubs, adult pickup games and dance classes that you might enjoy. Or if you like the idea of exercising at the gym but still haven’t found something you like to do there, consider looking for a new gym with different class offerings, machines or even atmosphere. I know some people who don’t like to work out at gyms without personal TVs or those that don’t have any windows near the cardio equipment.

5. Keep the Adventure Alive
Keep the spirit of adventure alive because exercise, no matter how much you like it, can get monotonous and boring at times. It’s a lot like food, in fact: If you had to eat the same meal every day, even if it was your favorite meal, wouldn’t you eventually get sick of it and want to try something different? Continually experimenting will keep your workouts fresh, help you stay motivated and challenge your body in new ways so that you continue to get strong and lean without ever getting stuck in a rut.


Source: 5 Steps To Finding A Workout You Actually Like

How Boys’ And Girls’ Brains Process Trauma Differently 


Traumatic events may affect the brains of boys and girls differently, a new study finds.

Among boys in the study, a brain area called the anterior circular sulcus was larger among those who had symptoms of a trauma, compared with a control group of boys who did not have any trauma symptoms. But among girls in the study, this brain region was smaller among those who had trauma symptoms.

The region is associated with emotional awareness and empathy, the researchers said.

The scientists said they were surprised to see that “the boys and girls were so clearly on different ends of the spectrum,” said Megan Klabunde, the lead author of the study and a psychologist and neuroscience researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]

The researchers compared the size of this brain region in the boys in the control group with that of the girls in the control group, finding that the region was of approximately similar size in both groups.

A potential explanation for these results is that “exposure to traumatic stress may impact brain development rates” differently in boys than in girls, the researchers said. However, because the study was conducted at a single point in time, it’s not possible to know whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship — in either girls or boys — between trauma and the size of this brain region, the investigators said.

In the study, the researchers scanned the brains of 59 children ages 9 to 17, using a type of scan called structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI). There were 29 children total in the control group, and there were 30 children in the group that had symptoms of trauma, such as mood changes, and mentally re-living their traumatic events. These children had experienced a traumatic event more than 6 months prior to the start of the study.

The researchers compared the size of the anterior circular sulcus, located within a brain region called the insula, which plays a role in people’s emotions, awareness and empathy.

However, “the insula doesn’t work in isolation,” Klabunde told Live Science. Rather, this region is connected to other parts of the brain, which are also involved in emotion processing and empathy, she said.

Previous studies have shown that about 8 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys develop post-traumatic stress disorder sometime during their lifetime. Girls, in general, are more likely to develop the condition than boys are.

The researchers noted that their study had a relatively small number of participants. In addition, the research did not specifically study the impact of factors such as the time since the trauma, the age of the participant when the trauma first occurred, the severity of the trauma and other potential stressors that may also affect changes in the brain.

Future studies may shed light on how trauma affects other brain structures related to empathy, and whether these effects also show gender differences, the researchers said.

Additionally, further research may also help scientists determine whether these physical differences in the brain in turn lead to behavioral differences between boys and girls, the scientists said. Such research could help psychiatrists develop gender-specific treatments for boys and girls who have suffered traumatic events, the researchers said.

Source: How Boys’ And Girls’ Brains Process Trauma Differently

Untreated Depression Is A Growing Problem Among American Teens 



The number of U.S. adolescents and young adults with untreateddepression may be on the rise, a recent study suggests.

For youth ages 12 to 17, the prevalence of depression increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014, the study found. Among adults aged 18 to 25, the prevalence climbed from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent during the study period.

But there hasn’t been much change in the proportion of teens and young adults seeking mental health treatment, the study also found.

“We already know that teens have much more depression than is currently being recognized or treated,” said Dr. Anne Glowinski, a child psychiatry researcher at Washington University in St. Louis who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

“What this study adds is that rates of youth depression have significantly increased in the last decade and that the proportion of recognized/treated young people appears unchanged despite efforts to encourage pediatricians to focus on suicide prevention which includes more recognition and treatment of youth depression,” Glowinski added by email.

Each year, about 1 in 11 teens and young adults suffers at least one episode of majordepression, researchers report in Pediatrics.

To examine trends over time in the prevalence of depression and mental health treatment, researchers examined nationally representative survey data from more than 172,000 teens and almost 179,000 young adults.

Among other things, researchers asked participants if they had experienced a variety of symptoms that can point to depression, whether they had experienced an episode of major depression in the past year, and if they had seen a doctor or other health professional about these symptoms.

They also assessed whether the participants received treatments such as counseling or prescription medication.

Compared to teens who didn’t report a major depressive episode, those who did were more likely to be older, not in school, unemployed, in households with single parents or no parents, and have substance abuse issues.

Among young adults, those with depression were more likely to be female, black and have a substance abuse issue.

One limitation of the study is that researchers relied on young people to accurately recall and report any symptoms of depression or treatments for the condition, the authors note. The study didn’t include medical records and researchers couldn’t verify whether clinicians diagnosed depression in individual participants who reported symptoms or said they received treatment.

Even so, the findings suggest a growing number of teens and young adults havedepression and don’t receive treatment, the authors conclude.

This suggests there’s room for parents, pediatricians and school and college counseling services to step up efforts to identify and help youth with mental health problems, the authors argue.

“Many children do not tell their parents about their depressive symptoms, they may not even recognize them as such,” said lead study author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, a public health researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“Parents should be alert to changes in academic or social functioning of their children and to other manifestations of depression such as social withdrawal, long periods of sadness, frequent crying spells, anger outbursts and irritability, suicidal ideations or gestures, significant changes in appetite and weight, and significant changes in energy level,” Mojtabai added by email.

Source: Untreated Depression Is A Growing Problem Among American Teens

Why some make so much noise during sex 

By Ian KernerAll you have to do is watch nearly any depiction of female orgasm on screen to get an idea of how a woman is “supposed” to react during sex.

From “When Harry Met Sally” to “Sex and the City” to your basic porn film, women in the throes of passion aren’t just shouting their ecstasy from the rooftops, they’re moaning with pleasure. Loudly.
But is this just cinematic license, or is there really something to noisy sex?
The ancient evolutionary origin of the elusive female orgasm

Experts wondered the same thing. In 2011, Gayle Brewer of the University of Central Lancashire and Colin Hendrie of the University of Leeds published their research on the topic — technically known as “copulatory vocalization” — in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. In the study, they asked 71 sexually active heterosexual women between ages 18 and 48 for more details about vocalization during sex.
The researchers found that many of the women did make noise but not necessarily while they were having an orgasm. Instead, 66% said that they moaned to speed up their partner’s climax, and 87% stated that they vocalized during sex to boost his self-esteem.
“While female orgasms were most commonly experienced during foreplay, copulatory vocalizations were reported to be made most often before and simultaneously with male ejaculation,” the researchers wrote. Women also reported making noise to relieve boredom, fatigue and pain/discomfort during sex.
So is female vocalization during sex just a performance for a guy’s benefit? (After all, Meg Ryan’s over-the-top moans were meant to prove a point to “Harry” that men are easily duped by a fake orgasm.)
“There isn’t a lot of research in this area,” said Kristen Mark, a sexuality researcher at Indiana University, “but we’re bombarded with images through mainstream media that tell us moaning is associated with orgasm and sexual pleasure. So it would be a fairly wise faking strategy to moan since men already tend to associate moaning with orgasm.”
Of course, there’s nothing smart about faking it.
“If you’re faking an orgasm, you are signaling to your partner that he is doing everything right, when in fact he isn’t,” sex educator and author Patty Brisben said. “Use moaning as a way of signaling that you are excited and things really are feeling good, not as a way to hide that they aren’t.”
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Fake or not, women aren’t the only primates who vocalize during sex. Research in the animal kingdom reveals that female baboons, for example, have a variety of copulation calls, which appear to relate to their fertility: The vocalizations tend to become more complex when the females are closer to ovulation and vary when a female is mating with a higher-ranked male baboon. Female macaque monkeys give a shout to help trigger their mates’ orgasm, too.
Performances and primatologists aside, vocalizing during sex can actually be a great tool to help women get what they want in bed. As I discussed in my columnon the topic of talking about sex, it isn’t always easy to translate sexual thought into action, so a little strategic moaning can definitely help get the point across.
“Women are learning to take responsibility for their own sexual needs and wants in the bedroom,” Brisben explained. “We need to take this one step further and give ourselves permission to become teachers. Use vocalization to teach your partner what feels good. It can help you say, ‘stop, go, yes, more please,’ without sounding like a traffic cop.”
How much sex should you be having?

And when it comes to noise, “partner benefit isn’t the only piece of the puzzle,” Mark said. “Perhaps making noise turns some women on and helps them experience pleasure.”
Brisben concurred: “I think there are many women who need to be vocal to help themselves achieve orgasm. It helps move them and their orgasm along. There are certainly phases. As a woman gets into it, she may become extremely vocal and then move into a period of quiet as she is on the verge.”
So do what feels right to you. Any other benefits are just a great bonus. And when it comes to “copulatory vocalization,” perhaps men should take a lesson from the ladies.
Join the conversation
“Women understand that moaning is a turn-on for guys, and many women ultimately enjoy it because they’ve made an effort to push a little beyond what comes naturally,” said Logan Levkoff, a sex educator and author of a guide for men entitled “How To Get Your Wife to Have Sex With You.”
“But sexual self-esteem is a two-way street, and, for their part during sex, guys should aim for more than a single grunt at the end. It’s not about faking or doing something you don’t want to, but more about being sexually present and in sync with each other.”
So let’s all make some noise.

Source: Why some make so much noise during sex