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<p>The brain circuitry underlying emotion includes several territories of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and related structures. In general, the PFC represents emotion in the absence of immediately present incentives and thus plays a crucial role in the anticipation of the future affective consequences of action, as well as in the persistence of emotion following the offset of an elicitor. The functions of the other structures in this circuit are also considered. Individual differences in this circuitry are reviewed, with an emphasis on asymmetries within the PFC and activation of the amygdala as 2 key components of affective style. These individual differences are related to both behavioral and biological variables associated with affective style and emotion regulation. Plasticity in this circuitry and its implications for transforming emotion and cultivating positive affect and resilience are considered.</p>

The brain circuitry underlying emotion includes several territories of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and related structures. In general, the PFC represents emotion in the absence of immediately present incentives and thus plays a crucial role in the anticipation of the future affective consequences of action, as well as in the persistence of emotion following the offset of an elicitor. The functions of the other structures in this circuit are also considered. Individual differences in this circuitry are reviewed, with an emphasis on asymmetries within the PFC and activation of the amygdala as 2 key components of affective style. These individual differences are related to both behavioral and biological variables associated with affective style and emotion regulation. Plasticity in this circuitry and its implications for transforming emotion and cultivating positive affect and resilience are considered.
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<p>Twenty-six younger (ages 18–36 years) and 19 older (ages 60–88 years) healthy right-handed men and women were tested for interhemispheric transfer by using visual evoked potentials lo laterally presented checkerboards. Interhemispheric transfer time (IHTT) was estimated by subtracting latencies for both P100 and N160 peaks of the waveform contralateral to the stimulus from the waveform ipsilateral to the stimulus for homologous sites. The quality of interhemispheric transfer was estimated by comparing peak-to-peak amplitudes for homologous sites. IHTT did not change across age, but there was a suppression of the waveform over the indirectly stimulated hemisphere in the older participants. The significance of this finding for age-related changes in functions mediated by the corpus callosum is discussed.</p>
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Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.

Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.
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<p>We are interested in investigating white matter connectivity using a novel computational framework that does not use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) but only uses T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The proposed method relies on correlating Jacobian determinants across different voxels based on the tensor-based morphometry (TBM) framework. In this paper, we show agreement between the TBM-based white matter connectivity and the DTI-based white matter atlas. As an application, altered white matter connectivity in a clinical population is determined.</p>
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OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.

OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.
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<p>Objective: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation appliedin a work environment with healthy employees. Methods: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. Results: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research. Key words: meditation, mindfulness, EEG, immune function, brain asymmetry, influenza vaccine.</p>

Experientially opening oneself to pain rather than avoiding it is said to reduce the mind's tendency toward avoidance or anxiety which can further exacerbate the experience of pain. This is a central feature of mindfulness-based therapies. Little is known about the neural mechanisms of mindfulness on pain. During a meditation practice similar to mindfulness, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used in expert meditators (>10,000 h of practice) to dissociate neural activation patterns associated with pain, its anticipation, and habituation. Compared to novices, expert meditators reported equal pain intensity, but less unpleasantness. This difference was associated with enhanced activity in the dorsal anterior insula (aI), and the anterior mid-cingulate (aMCC) the so-called 'salience network', for experts during pain. This enhanced activity during pain was associated with reduced baseline activity before pain in these regions and the amygdala for experts only. The reduced baseline activation in left aI correlated with lifetime meditation experience. This pattern of low baseline activity coupled with high response in aIns and aMCC was associated with enhanced neural habituation in amygdala and pain-related regions before painful stimulation and in the pain-related regions during painful stimulation. These findings suggest that cultivating experiential openness down-regulates anticipatory representation of aversive events, and increases the recruitment of attentional resources during pain, which is associated with faster neural habituation.
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Experientially opening oneself to pain rather than avoiding it is said to reduce the mind's tendency toward avoidance or anxiety which can further exacerbate the experience of pain. This is a central feature of mindfulness-based therapies. Little is known about the neural mechanisms of mindfulness on pain. During a meditation practice similar to mindfulness, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used in expert meditators (> 10,000 h of practice) to dissociate neural activation patterns associated with pain, its anticipation, and habituation. Compared to novices, expert meditators reported equal pain intensity, but less unpleasantness. This difference was associated with enhanced activity in the dorsal anterior insula (aI), and the anterior mid-cingulate (aMCC) the so-called ‘salience network’, for experts during pain. This enhanced activity during pain was associated with reduced baseline activity before pain in these regions and the amygdala for experts only. The reduced baseline activation in left aI correlated with lifetime meditation experience. This pattern of low baseline activity coupled with high response in aIns and aMCC was associated with enhanced neural habituation in amygdala and pain-related regions before painful stimulation and in the pain-related regions during painful stimulation. These findings suggest that cultivating experiential openness down-regulates anticipatory representation of aversive events, and increases the recruitment of attentional resources during pain, which is associated with faster neural habituation.

Two New York Times–bestselling authors unveil new research showing what meditation can really do for the brain.In the last twenty years, meditation and mindfulness have gone from being kind of cool to becoming an omnipresent Band-Aid for fixing everything from your weight to your relationship to your achievement level. Unveiling here the kind of cutting-edge research that has made them giants in their fields, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson show us the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it. Sweeping away common misconceptions and neuromythology to open readers’ eyes to the ways data has been distorted to sell mind-training methods, the authors demonstrate that beyond the pleasant states mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result. But short daily doses will not get us to the highest level of lasting positive change—even if we continue for years—without specific additions. More than sheer hours, we need smart practice, including crucial ingredients such as targeted feedback from a master teacher and a more spacious, less attached view of the self, all of which are missing in widespread versions of mind training. The authors also reveal the latest data from Davidson’s own lab that point to a new methodology for developing a broader array of mind-training methods with larger implications for how we can derive the greatest benefits from the practice. Exciting, compelling, and grounded in new research, this is one of those rare books that has the power to change us at the deepest level.

The primary taste cortex consists of the insula and operculum. Previous work has indicated that neurons in the primary taste cortex respond solely to sensory input from taste receptors and lingual somatosensory receptors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that expectancy modulates these neural responses in humans. When subjects were led to believe that a highly aversive bitter taste would be less distasteful than it actually was, they reported it to be less aversive than when they had accurate information about the taste and, moreover, the primary taste cortex was less strongly activated. In addition, the activation of the right insula and operculum tracked online ratings of the aversiveness for each taste. Such expectancy-driven modulation of primary sensory cortex may affect perceptions of external events.
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The ancient procedure of Kriya yoga is compared here to Dr. Tse-kong young's modern alternative to the artificial kidney. Both methods are basically the same and the treatment costs almost nothing.

Many alternative health practices are gaining popularity in traditional medical centers throughout the country. However, social workers and allied health professionals are rarely educated in these practices. The collaborative pilot research project discussed in this article involved community health providers and a state university department of social work. The project, conducted in rural health clinics, introduced an approach to skillful, safe, and appropriate use of touch synthesized with an awareness of the breath for giver and receiver to a group of Mexican Americans diagnosed with diabetes and their families. This alternative health practice holds promise for reducing stress, promoting health and well-being, and building relationships and warrants further study.

The use of alternative medicine was assessed by questionnaire in 96 patients with irritable bowel syndrome, 143 patients with organic upper gastrointestinal disorders and 222 patients with Crohn's disease of comparable age and sex. Significantly more patients with the irritable bowel syndrome (16%) had consulted practitioners of alternative medicine about their condition than had patients in either of the other groups. Similarly, significantly more irritable bowel syndrome patients said they would consult an alternative medicine practitioner (41%) if conventional treatment failed. Current usage of alternative medicine remedies was significantly greater in the irritable bowel syndrome patients (11%) than in patients with Crohn's disease (4%) and tended to be greater than in patients with organic upper gastrointestinal disorders (6%). This study has shown that the use of alternative medicine is common in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and this does not appear to be explicable in terms of the nature, chronicity or refractoriness to treatment of symptoms.

Context * Excoriation (skin picking) disorder is characterized by the need or urge to pick, scratch, pinch, touch, rub, scrub, squeeze, bite, or dig the skin, and it can be a perplexing condition for the inexperienced physician. Treatments include pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and alternative therapies. Alternative therapies for excoriation disorder and other body-focused repetitive behaviors include yoga, aerobic exercise, acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, and inositol and N-acetylcysteine, among others. Objective * This review article intended to review the current literature on the alternative therapies to provide a brief update on their benefits for the treatment of excoriation disorder for use in conjunction with psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in the management of a challenging group of patients. Design * This review (focusing on literature published in the last 15 y, selected from a search of PubMed) critically considers the evidence for the use of alternative therapies in the treatment of excoriation disorder. Setting * This review was conducted at the National University of Asuncion (San Lorenzo, Paraguay). Results * Results for yoga were as follows: This technique may influence the structure and functioning of the areas of emotional processing involved in the pathophysiology of excoriation disorder and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as trichotillomania. Although still limited, the current research team's use of yoga as a treatment has given useful results. Results for aerobic exercise were as follows: People suffering from excoriation disorder and other-body focused repetitive behaviors generally have a worsening of their behaviors in times of negative mood and anxiety. As exercise has qualities that allow individuals to improve their mood and reduce their anxiety, it is likely that it also can help reduce behaviors like hair pulling or scratching, and it should be considered to be an adjunctive therapy. Results for acupuncture were as follows: The mechanism of action of acupuncture increases serotonergic activity and releases endorphins in the hypothalamus and limbic region, which could be beneficial in patients with trichotillomania and excoriation disorder. Results for biofeedback were as follows: Several case reports have suggested the value of biofeedback in reducing tics, which bear some psychophysiological similarities to body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as trichotillomania and excoriation disorder. Results for hypnosis were as follows: When used as a channel for other types of interventions, such as psychotherapy, hypnosis can help counteract the stress that triggers the picking behaviors in some patients. Results for inositol and N-acetylcysteine were as follows: Although more research is needed, these are promising drugs that may be helpful in reducing the picking behavior. Conclusions * The review indicates that yoga, aerobic exercise, acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, and inositol and N-acetylcysteine all show promise in the treatment of excoriation disorder and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as trichotillomania. In the current research team's experience, mainly yoga and aerobic exercise have been shown useful in combination with psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Obtaining solid evidence about the long-term beneficial effects of these alternative therapies for the treatment of excoriation disorder requires more investigation.

This accessible book is the first introduction to the idea of altruism. It explores how we have come to be altruistic, and considers why it is important to remain altruistic, not just for the sake of others, but in order maintain the fragile fabric of human society.The book surveys the history of the concept of altruism and examines it from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including moral philosophy, evolutionary biology, psychology, economics and political science. It then attempts to bring together the distinct issues and concerns of these disciplines to arrive at a unified understanding of altruism. The rational self-interested individual of economics is compared with the altruist who exhibits the virtues of empathy, compassion and benevolence. The book also discusses heroic altruism, such as that displayed by rescuers of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, and psychological experiments which seek to identify the altruistic trait. Scott and Seglow argue that altruism is easily extinguished and hard to nourish, but vital for a fundamentally human future. Academics and students in social sciences and philosophy will find Altruism of great interest. So too will professionals in the voluntary and charitable sectors and journalists involved in communicating social scientific and philosophical ideas to the public.

This article provides different perspectives on the nature of altruism.

A just-published study of birds reports new insights into the evolution of altruistic behavior. It suggests that sometimes the greatest beneficiaries are neither those giving or receiving alms, but those whose main job is the care and feeding of the neediest members of the population.

Hepatic fibrosis is the end-stage consequence of chronic liver disease, affecting many people worldwide. Unlike the anti-fibrotic effect of natural killer (NK) cells, CD8 and NK T subsets are considered as profibrogenic subsets. Padma Hepaten is a multi-compound herbal preparation derived from Tibetan medicine and has proven efficacy in some clinical trials and tests at the cellular level. In this study, we evaluate the immune efficacy of Padma Hepaten administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) and/or orally in a mice model of hepatic fibrosis. Hepatic fibrosis was induced by 6 weeks of biweekly i.p. carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) injections in male C57Bl6 mice. There were four groups, including naive mice, non-treated fibrotic mice and fibrotic mice treated by Padma Hepaten at weeks 5-6 of fibrosis induction either orally or by i.p. injections. Padma Hepaten was prepared at 10 mg/ml in saline and 250 microl (2.5 mg) were administered four times per week. After week 6, animals were killed. To isolate a Padma Hepaten-associated effect on lymphocytes, splenocytes were harvested from either naive or Padma Hepaten-treated non-fibrotic donors. Isolated splenocytes were therefore reconstituted into two groups of irradiated recipients. Recipients were then administered the same CCl4 regimen. Hepatic fibrosis was determined by sirius red staining of liver sections and by assessment of alpha smooth muscle actin expression compared with beta-actin (both by mRNA as well as the protein liver extract western blotting). Hepatic fibrosis and alanine aminotransferase serum levels were decreased significantly in both Padma Hepaten-treated groups compared with the non-treated fibrotic group. Padma Hepaten treatment was associated with attenuation of lymphocyte subsets in both treated groups. Using a chemiluminescence technique to assess total anti-oxidant capacities (TAC), it was found that both the plasmas and livers of mice treated by CCl4 had significantly higher TAC compared with controls. However, the levels of TAC in animals treated either by CCl4 alone or CCl4 with Padma Hepaten were similar. Adoptive transfer of Padma Hepaten-treated lymphocytes was associated with fibrosis amelioration compared with recipients with naive lymphocytes. CCl4 generates higher levels of anti-oxidant capacities, probably as a response to oxidative stress. Padma Hepaten administration attenuated hepatic fibrogenesis significantly, accompanied by attenuation of lymphocyte but not anti-oxidant capacities.

Latina immigrants are at increased risk for poor mental health. Amigas Latinas Motivando el Alma (ALMA) is a group-based intervention to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress among Latina immigrants. Based on participants’ feedback and growing evidence supporting mindfulness as a way to reduce stress and improve mental health, additional sessions of the ALMA intervention were developed and pilot tested to provide more training on mindfulness as a coping strategy. The feasibility and potential efficacy were evaluated in a community sample using a pre- and post-test study design. Findings suggested that women were satisfied with the sessions and used mindfulness strategies they learned in their daily lives. The program also reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety (19% reduction in mean depression scores and 26% reduction in mean anxiety scores). Further evaluation is needed to test the efficacy of the intervention.

Among younger adults, the ability to willfully regulate negative affect, enabling effective responses to stressful experiences, engages regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala. Because regions of PFC and the amygdala are known to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, here we test whether PFC and amygdala responses during emotion regulation predict the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol secretion. We also test whether PFC and amygdala regions are engaged during emotion regulation in older (62- to 64-year-old) rather than younger individuals. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging as participants regulated (increased or decreased) their affective responses or attended to negative picture stimuli. We also collected saliva samples for 1 week at home for cortisol assay. Consistent with previous work in younger samples, increasing negative affect resulted in ventral lateral, dorsolateral, and dorsomedial regions of PFC and amygdala activation. In contrast to previous work, decreasing negative affect did not produce the predicted robust pattern of higher PFC and lower amygdala activation. Individuals demonstrating the predicted effect (decrease < attend in the amygdala), however, exhibited higher signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) for the same contrast. Furthermore, participants displaying higher VMPFC and lower amygdala signal when decreasing compared with the attention control condition evidenced steeper, more normative declines in cortisol over the course of the day. Individual differences yielded the predicted link between brain function while reducing negative affect in the laboratory and diurnal regulation of endocrine activity in the home environment.
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Despite growing evidence on the neural bases of emotion regulation, little is known about the mechanisms underlying individual differences in cognitive regulation of negative emotion, and few studies have used objective measures to quantify regulatory success. Using a trait-like psychophysiological measure of emotion regulation, corrugator electromyography, we obtained an objective index of the ability to cognitively reappraise negative emotion in 56 healthy men (Session 1), who returned 1.3 years later to perform the same regulation task using fMRI (Session 2). Results indicated that the corrugator measure of regulatory skill predicted amygdala-prefrontal functional connectivity. Individuals with greater ability to down-regulate negative emotion as indexed by corrugator at Session 1 showed not only greater amygdala attenuation but also greater inverse connectivity between the amygdala and several sectors of the prefrontal cortex while down-regulating negative emotion at Session 2. Our results demonstrate that individual differences in emotion regulation are stable over time and underscore the important role of amygdala-prefrontal coupling for successful regulation of negative emotion.
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