Tag Archives: Alt

Freaky Friday: Bully Brains

by Richard

This is actually kind of scary. We know that being bullied makes for some big-time backlash for the young dudes who get bullied. What we didn’t know until recently is that being bullied also makes some physical changes in the brains of those kids who get bullied.

Yeah, that’s right. Young dudes who get bullied actually suffer permanent changes to the structure of their brains because of the bullying.

If we thought there was a reason to crack down on bullying in schools before, brother, you’d better believe there’s more of a reason now.

They lurk in hallways, bathrooms, around the next blind corner. But for the children they have routinely teased or tormented, bullies effectively live in the victims’ brains as well — and not just as a terrifying memory.

Preliminary evidence shows that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems.

Now University of Ottawa psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt and her colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario plan to scan the brains of teens who have been regularly humiliated and ostracized by their peers to look for structural differences compared with other children.

“We know there is a functional difference. We know their brains are acting differently, but we don’t know if it is structural as well,”said Vaillancourt, an expert in the biology of bullying.

According to Vaillancourt, she finds changes to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Bullied young dudes have already been found to score lower on tests that measure verbal memory and executive function, a set of skills needed to focus on a task and get the job done. Mental-health problems, such as depression, are also more common.

Come on, dudes. This is ridiculous. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in schools that’s actually enforced all the time, every time.  Kids need to feel safe when they’re at school, trying to learn.

I mean, come on. How can you learn if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, fearing the next push or the next time someone starts name calling?

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Freaky Friday: Rubbed The Right Way

by Richard

I figured it was time I took my own advice.

About a month or so ago, I wrote about how scientists had been doing some actual scientific research on some good stuff. They’d been looking at massages and found that getting a good massage actually altered your body chemistry, leading to a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone.

So I went out and booked myself a massage. Now I have only one question: Why in the flark did I wait so long to get a good massage?

After an hour of subtle, delicious pressure, I was barely able to get off the table. I felt that relaxed. Plus, you know, getting rubbed with oil. When is that ever a bad thing?

Anyway, I went to see a certified massage therapist in the Charlotte area named Rachael Schrader. First a disclaimer: I’m not writing about her because I expect to get free massages out of this. I didn’t even tell her about the blog here. I just really enjoyed the massage and want to tout its benefits to you dudes.

I will say I’m not all that enamored of the New Agey stuff that comes along with the massage, but I’m willing to put up with it if it leads to me getting a great rub down. And I did get a great rub down.

First I got asked to disrobe to my comfort level. For some people, that’s stripping down to their birthday suit. To me, that was keeping my suit on. Well, I did strip down a bit, but I stayed (barely) clothed. That’s me, though.

So Rachael oiled up her hands and got to work. I don’t know how she did it, but she found every tight muscle in my body and rubbed, poked and prodded there until those muscles finally unclenched. There was some pain involved, but it was really worth it. The feeling as those muscles finally let go was magnificent.

I really can’t say enough good things about the experience. At the end, Rachael asked if I wanted to schedule another massage, but I demurred. I was floating somewhere above cloud 10.7 and wanted to wait a bit before deciding, not wanting to spend more money based solely on the euphoria I felt in the moment. Well, I waited long enough.

I’m going back. If you can, I recommend you start getting this done. Find a good massage therapist and get into the rub.

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Freaky Friday: Verbal Sight

by Richard

It turns out that my wife, known to me as She Who Must Give Instructions — Twice, was right again. Being told what to look for can actually make it more likely that you’ll find it.

In a research study published today, scientists reveal that spoken language can alter your perception of the visible world.

The study in PLoS Onereveals that people given a series of visual tests had dramatically different scores when they were prompted first with a verbal cue. Asked to find a specific letter in a crowded picture, people were much more likely to find that letter when they were given the auditory cue “letter B” beforehand. Interestingly, being shown an image of the letter B before looking at the picture did not help them pick out the letter B any better than a control group could.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we’ve all done word searches in elementary and middle school when the teachers were looking for a little time killer and didn’t want to have to do too much work. With every word search, there’s a word bank to show you the words for which you’re searching. I always found that I did better when I read the words out loud to myself, rather than just reading the words.

The interesting thing to me, though, is I always find words that aren’t in the word bank. A question of looking too hard or just not focusing on the task at hand? I always came down on the side of working too hard, but my teachers kept harping on focus. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Interestingly, although auditory verbal cues increased detection sensitivity, visual cues did not. This finding makes some sense when one considers that linguistic cues involve a non-overlapping format of sensory information that is globally statistically independent of the visual format of information in the detection task itself. By contrast, visual cues involve the same format of information as the detection task, and therefore do not provide converging sensory evidence from independent sources when the to-be-detected stimulus is presented.

Which means that there needs to be a combination of verbal and visual stimuli for this to work, to let you target what you’re looking for.

This has some pretty significant implications for parenting, dudes.

I mean, I know I’ve left notes for the little dudes before and returned to find absolutely nothing accomplished because they couldn’t find what I’d written about. After reading about this, I realized that the little dudes did do better when I gave them the note and also went over it with them.

Something to think about the next time Zippy the Monkey Boy tells me he can’t find that missing shoe when it’s sitting on the floor in the middle of the room.

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