Frequently Asked Questions
Hot Off the Press
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN TOUCH FOR BRAIN DEVELOPMENT:
Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at Notre Dame University, has released an article (1/8/13) on Modern Parenting not being good for children's' brains. This research "links certain early, nurturing parenting practices-- the kind common in foraging hunter-gathering societies-- to specific, healthy emotional outcomes in adulthood, and has many experts rethinking some of our modern, cultural child-rearing 'norms'." For example, "breast-feeding, quick responsiveness to crying,… continual touch are some of the nurturing parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development."
Studies apparently show that responsiveness to a baby's needs (e.g., not letting them "cry it out") has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy…and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy. According to the author, Darcia Narvaez, the U.S. has been on a downward trajectory on all of these care characteristics. For example, instead of being held, infants now spend much more time in carriers, car seats, and strollers than they did in the past. Only 15 percent of mothers are breast-feeding at all by 12 months. Extended families are broken up, etc etc. Information regarding the early release of this study comes from Ken Pope, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ONE MORE THING THAT CONTRIBUTES TO DEPRESSION:
Sweetened drinks (both sugared and artificially sweetened) have been linked to a 30% higher rate of depression in adults. NOW they tell us.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOOSING AN EMPATHIC DOCTOR:
An empathic doctor can change (i.e., lower) how our brain reacts to physical pain. Our brains are extraordinarily sensitive to emotional context. Really. (Ruth Buczynski)
ON PHYSICAL VS. EMOTIONAL PAIN:
The areas of our brain that become activated in response to physical pain are the exact areas in our brain that become activated when we are mourning the loss of a loved one. Love DOES hurt! (Levine and Heller, "Attached", 2011)
ON BLIND LOVE:
It has been well documented, thanks to the wonderful advances in neuroscience, that when we are infatuated with someone, we literally lose our capacity for sound judgement. This is because, when we are madly in love, the part of our brain that controls judgement (prefrontal cortex) no longer remains activated. Being in love is a feeling most of us crave (it's accompanied by surges of oxytocin and dopamine), yet it leaves us in a precarious state because our judgement is suspended. Interesting evolutionary implications, no?