Temperature Psychology

Do you ever feel cold randomly?  I do.  (Maybe it’s just me).

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Our body temperature is sometimes an obvious reflection of our body processes.  When our bodies need to put concerted effort into a task, our temperature often drops.  For example, after you eat, you often get cold.  This is not because you just exercised and now your sweat is cooling you.  You simply get cold after you eat because your energy is going towards your stomach.

When people say energy, they are often actually referring to blood, and they don’t realize it. For example: when you eat, your body’s “energy” is diverted from other tasks to digest the food.  In part, this means that blood is moving away from the skin and moving more towards the stomach.

Temperature is partially a reflection of how much blood is in the skin!

Your temperature fluctuates with your digestion habits, as well as your elimination habits.  For example, when you have to pee, your body temperature drops.  This is because your body is sending extra energy towards warming up the pee in your bladder.  This is happening to me right now.  I have had to pee pretty urgently since I began this post.  I’m connecting theory and practice, here.

You may be cold at other times, partially due to diverted energy to other places.  I wonder what other organs frequently divert energy away from heat?  Maybe if drank a lot one night, you might be cold the next day because your liver was diverting energy away from temperature.

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So when you are cold, maybe your body is just too busy doing something else.

To me, this implies that you could potentially “get bundled up” to go outside by not eating too much before hand and by peeing before you leave.  These biological precautions would help your body’s limited energy to focus on the task at hand- staying warm!.

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The God In You

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Most people have considered the age old question of…  Where is God?

Well fear not, readers, because God has been found!

According to research by Dr. Michael Persinger, God is (ostenstensibly) located in your Temporal Lobes.

Studies have been done where subjects are exposed to low-level magnetic fields stimulating specific areas of their temporal lobes.  This led most subjects to report feeling “a presence” in the room which was not visible.  This sensed presence was felt as something paranormal and maybe sentient, not as something like wind, which was felt but invisible.

temp brain

Additional evidence that God is “located” in the temporal lobes is found in research on temporal lobe seizures.  Seizures in the temporal lobes have repeatedly been correlated people having paranormal experiences, a sensed presence, etc.

This temporal-God connection is also supported by historical data which demonstrate that many self-proclaimed prophets have had epilepsy!  These include Joan of Ark, Ezekiel from the Old Testament, and even perhaps the Prophet Muhammad.

Epilepsy is a set of neurological disorders characterized by seizures.  These can be of a variety of types, although usually recurrent and unprovoked.   Many epileptics have temporal lobe seizures, which would help explain why there is a correlation between famous epileptics and famous prophets.

This research does not necessarily discredit the subjective reality and religious interpretations of those having paranormal experiences.  This just makes a correlation between those subjective experiences and brain states.  So perhaps the connection between sensed presence and brain activation, actually originates from real events which are occurring, such as a visit from God.

One way to interpret this data is religious-

Causality goes from God to Science.

So when you really connect with God, your temporal lobe lights up.

pray

Vs.

A non-religious analysis:

Causality goes from Science to God.

When your temporal lobe lights up, you feel connected to God.

Causality is very important, i guess.

I favor the interpretation that you can induce a sensed presence or God through brain activation,

because reality is really occurring the in the absence of an all-powerful God, and once again

God

is

just

in your

head.

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god-brain

* Art by Anai Greog

Step 1. Cook … Step 2. Become Human

Recently, an influential book has been published called Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham.

This puts forth the maverick hypothesis that one of the main reasons we evolved into our present-day human form is… cooking.   This theorizes that cooking may be even more important than tool formation in the development of modern-day humanity!

This theory suggests that the development of cooking gave our ancestors the ability to develop many of the uniquely human traits that we see today.  They say that cooking allowed early humans to spend far less time on chewing their food than they ever were previously.  Before the advent of cooking, our ancestors spent many hours a day just to chew their raw food.  Once cooking was developed and humans had more time, they were able to work on other pursuits, such as tool formation and socializing.  This also goes along with the theory that it is our uniquely human free time that has ultimately allowed us to develop complex human civilization.

Additionally, this theory suggests that cooking was instrumental in human development because it ultimately helped lead to the development of larger brains.  They base this on the evidence that it requires a good deal of energy and blood to digest uncooked food in the stomach and intenstines.  With the development of cooking, less energy and blood were needed in the digestive tract.  Therefore, more energy and blood could be devoted to the brain, allowing it to develop into its more complex present form.

This theory is also corroborated by the evidence that cooking is an inherant biological phenomenon for humans, which occurs all over the world.  Every group on Earth is found to cook their food in some form.  Additionally, if people develop outside of an already estabolished culture, they will still develop their own rudimentary cooking processes.  This suggests that cooking for humans, is akin to nest-making in birds.  It is an inherant biological skill, one of our only true instincts.

Cooking may have been necessary for us to become the fancy modern-day humans that we are, and to ultimately build the civilizations that we live in.

So next time you are feeling like a neandertal, and not wanting to cook yourself dinner, just remember… if your ancestors had been lazy like you, you may not have existed.

FireBIG

Grow Up & Kill Brain Cells

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As a human ages, her brain changes.  But how does it change?

You would think that a person would gain lots of new neurons and neuronal connections.  (Connections between neurons are more important, generally, than the quantity of neurons).  And indeed, people do gain new neurons and connections during some phases of development.

But when every person is a child…

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their brain cells SHRINK, not grow!

This is called synaptic pruning.  This happens partially to facilitate stronger singular connections, rather than a multitude of smaller connections.

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What are the other reasons that synaptic pruning is helpful for the developing brain?

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Your Brain On Poverty

MRI scan of the head showing the brain highlighted in green

Fascinating research has been performed on the development of the rat brain from infancy to adulthood, in impoverished vs. in enriched environments.  This means scientists raised rats in environments which either contained or lacked stimuli.  Some rats were put in a normal cage, alone.  And some rats were put in groups with toys, ladders, tunnels, and running wheels.  How did the environment affect the rat’s brains?

Turns out, the environment affected the brain A LOT!

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When the rat is in an enriched environment, it forms substantially more neural connections!  The neurons grow up to be bigger when raised in a stimulating environment.  In enriched environments, neurons also sometimes develop to have more far-reaching singular connections, rather than a multitude of short-reaching connections. Far-reaching connections are useful because they can connect different parts of the brain.  More singular connections can also sometimes facilitate quicker neuronal processing.

So this means that rats in the normal cages have their development stunted by an empty environment!  You can see differences between the corresponding pictures:

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I hope this research gets out to pet-lovers…

Please, allow your creatures to have friends and a stimulating environment!

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These important neuroscientific findings apply to people as well.

When people live in impoverished environments, their brains can develop differently! 

I wonder how impoverished environments can affect mental and emotional processing, specifically?

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Unfortunately, people who live in poverty can sometimes live in un-stimulating environments.  For example- most schools in poor districts, compared with the schools in wealthier districts,  are relatively un-stimulating.  They are given less state funding  and often have a smaller diversity of stimuli for children and youth to interact with; including having less space, books, teachers, supplies, etc.  One may argue from the above study, that the child’s brain who grows up in poverty, is radically different than it may have been had she grown up differently.

So poverty can not only abuse a person physically and mentally, but also can give us lasting changes to our brains.  Yikes!

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lisa

Poverty is a constantly occurring human rights abuse in our own homes and communities.

How can poverty be ended or reduced?!

(Not a rhetorical question)

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Inside Each Living Cell

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Each cell in an animal’s body contains characteristic pieces.  Body cells range from blood cells to bone cells to brain cells, which al have unique and characteristic components.  But, the characteristics that all animal cells share are certain cell organelles.  These are tiny cell organs.

The cells which are in the animal body also are very similar to the cells in plants!  Although animal and plant cells share many dissimilarities to the cells of bacteria and archae.

Here is an annotated cell diagram:

animal_cell1318878781913

Organelles which are generally in every cell include a/an:

– Nucleus.  This membrane-enclosed blob contains the DNA for the cell and instructions on cell reproduction.

– Endoplasmic reticulum.  This is responsible for metabolic actions of the cell.  This structure is convoluted, which means it folds over itself to create more surface area.  Other examples of convolution include in the intestines and in the brain.  See post about evolution and surface area for more details.  The ER has 2 parts: rough and smooth.  The rough ER contains ribosomes, which are little dots that synthesize protein for the cell.  The smooth ER has no ribosomes, and it is responsible for synthesizing lipids and steroids.

– Lysosome.  This blob breaks down wastes using materials such as acids.  They are like the stomach of the cell.  They are responsible for digestion of macromolecules.  They are also responsible for transferring the wastes to the plasma membrane to be excreted.

– Cytoplasm.  This is a liquid gel that the other organelles all sit in.

– Plasma membrane.  This is the outer portion of the cell, which differentiates it from the matter outside of it.  This membrane contains many receptors to allow elements to interact with the inside of the cell.  See post about membrane receptors.

plant-cell-model

– Mitochondria.  This is responsible for cellular respiration, which uses oxygen and other nutrients to make energy.  This is known as the “cellular power plant” because it synthesizes ATP for the cell to make chemical energy.  It is also responsible for cell growth, cell death, cell cycles, and signalling.

This blob-like organelle is very unique because it has distinct and separate DNA from the rest of the cell!  It is suggested that mitochondria were once  independent from the rest of the cell.  The time when mitochondria were independent is likely before the development of Eukaryote cells (animal, plant, fungi), when there was only Procaryote cells.  Procaryote cells do not have mitochondria, while Eukaryote cells do.

So mitochondria used to be a separate cell, but then one day the rest of the cell consumed the mitochondria.  Somehow this symbiosis between two different cells was passed on between generations and eventually all eukaryote cells contain them.  But how does the cell pass down both its own DNA, and that of the Mitochondria?

See my post on cell reproduction and mitochondria.

Cells are so gorgeously intricate and perfect!

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Dreaming as a Social Adaptation

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The only animals that experience REM sleep are mammals, and some birds.  REM sleep is correlated with dreaming (although not at a one-to-one ration).  Therefore it seems only mammals and birds dream.  Why do only these animals dream?

Dreaming is adaptive.

It seems animals have evolved the ability to dream, because it provides them with survival benefits.  Since dreaming is a biological phenomenon which evolved in select species, it likely evolved because it helped the organism to survive and reproduce.

So how does dreaming help mammals (and sometimes birds) have biological success?

The answer is unknown.

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Perhaps mammals dream more because dreaming helps them to bond bond and socialize.  Mammals (and birds, although less so) seem to develop more strong attachments to fellow creatures, compared with other animals like reptiles, insects and simple aquatic animals.  Mammals are especially defined by their bonding and attachment to a mother.  Obviously all mammals depend on milk from a mother.  Mammalian babies also always spend more time with their mother before they live as adult animals, compared with other animals.  See post on (Evolution, Mammals & Attachment).

This theory is also supported by the findings that infants spend significantly more time in REM sleep than adults do, by a factor of at least 2.  Why would infants spend more time dreaming than adults?

Perhaps it is because dreaming helps bonding!

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