Humans aren’t designed to be constantly happy – so stop trying


human-happiness-neuroscience-public.jpg“A huge happiness and positive thinking industry, estimated to be worth $11bln a year, has helped to create the fantasy that happiness is a realistic goal. Chasing the happiness dream is a very American concept, exported to the rest of the world through popular culture. Indeed, “the pursuit of happiness” is one of the US’s “unalienable rights”. Unfortunately, this has helped to create an expectation that real life stubbornly refuses to deliver…”

The excerpt above stems from an article published in the online scientific writing space Rafael Euba, the autor of the article, who is a consultant and senior lecturer in Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College London, explains why a permanent state of happiness would not be evolutionary advantageous and why humans are not hard-wired to be constantly happy. Link to the full article here


A computer system that knows how you feel


Philip Kragel
CU Boulder postdoctoral researcher Philip Kragel. Credit: Glenn Asakawa/CU Boulder

The excerpt below stems from an article reviewing an intriguing study on emotion processing and identification is from the online journal Medical Express.

“Machine learning technology is getting really good at recognizing the content of images—of deciphering what kind of object it is,” said senior author Tor Wager, who worked on the study while a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder.

We wanted to ask: Could it do the same with emotions? The answer is yes.

Part machine-learning innovation, part human brain-imaging study, the paper, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, marks an important step forward in the application of “neural networks”—computer systems modeled after the human brain—to the study of emotion.

It also sheds a new, different light on how and where images are represented in the human brain, suggesting that what we see—even briefly—could have a greater, more swift impact on our emotions than we might assume.

“A lot of people assume that humans evaluate their environment in a certain way and emotions follow from specific, ancestrally older brain systems like the limbic system,” said lead author Philip Kragel, a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Cognitive Science. “We found that the visual cortex itself also plays an important role in the processing and perception of emotion.”

Link to the full Medical Express article here.

Brains work in sync during a successful therapy session


Brain Synchronisation between a therapist and a client

For the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate that the brains of a client and therapist become synchronized during a music therapy session, a breakthrough that could improve future interactions between clients and therapists…

Read more about the study here

Source: Neuroscience News
Original Research: 
““Telling me not to worry…” Hyperscanning and Neural Dynamics of Emotion Processing During Guided Imagery and Music”. Jörg C. Fachner, Clemens Maidhof, Denise Grocke, Inge Nygaard Pedersen, Gro Trondalen, Gerhard Tucek and Lars O. Bonde.
Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01561

Neurofeedback gets you back in the zone


New study from biomedical engineers demonstrates that a brain-computer interface can improve your performance. More information on this study can be found on the Science Daily website.

Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science. (2019, March 12). Neurofeedback gets you back in the zone: New study from biomedical engineers demonstrates that a brain-computer interface can improve your performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 8, 2019 from

Frequency tuned brain stimulation boosts memory


Using electricity to precisely stimulate the brain can boost people’s working memory, a study suggests. A group of 60 to 76-year-old adults underwent personalised transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), followed by a memory test. The result was a rapid improvement in working memory performance, accompanied by functional brain connectivity changes in the individuals who received the non-invasive stimulation.

Improving local and long-range connectivity within the temporal cortex instantiated as restored theta-gamma coupling, and theta synchronisation across the fronto-temporal regions was the key to the observed improvement, according to the researchers. More information about this study can be found on the BBC News website or via Nature Neuroscience

Hyper Brain, Hyper Body: The Trouble With High IQ


Highly intelligent people are more sensitive to their environment than the rest of the population. Their elevated brain and body sensitivity allows them to perceive, process, evaluate and respond quicker and in a more efficient manner to the environment. This hypersensitivity, however, comes at a cost; people with high IQ possess a general over-excitability in multiple domains that may put them at risk to developing psychological and physiological conditions involving elevated sensory, and altered immune and inflammatory responses.

The link below is to an open access study that investigates the link between high IQ and the presence of self-reported and diagnosed emotion regulation disorders and immune system related dysfunctions, such as asthma,allergies and diabetes.