July 20, 2007

Cure for fear?

Now here's an interesting article. According to the press release, scientists from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have discovered the molecular mechanism behind fear!

They found that inhibiting the enzyme, Cdk5, within the hippocampus of mice, eliminated a fear that they learned within a particular context:

"In the current research, genetically engineered mice received mild foot shocks in a certain environment and were re-exposed to the same environment without the foot shock.

The team found that mice with increased levels of Cdk5 activity had more trouble letting go of the memory of the foot shock and continued to freeze in fear.

The reverse was also true: in mice whose Cdk5 activity was inhibited, the bad memory of the shocks disappeared when the mice learned that they no longer needed to fear the environment where the foot shocks had once occurred."

This research was recently published in Nature Neuroscience. Pretty cool! Such exciting findings could possibly open up the door to new effective treatments for various emotional disorders, extreme phobias and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Very cool!

July 9, 2007

Gilbert on Colbert . . .

Here's another interview for you, from the Colbert Report. In this interview, Colbert takes on Daniel Gilbert and his book, Stumbling on Happiness. Gilbert is a social psychologist from Harvard that specializes in affective forecasting. Affective forecasting is one's ability to predict his/her future emotional state. People seem to be bad at predicting their emotional states, and Gilbert even explains that people are not particularly good at knowing what makes them happy. I have not read his book yet, but I intend to (it's on my list of books to read over the summer).

But anyways, the interview was good as always . . . and I got some interesting facts out of it. Like . . . people with kids are less happy than people without children. And the more children you have, the more unhappier you will be. Well, of course, that's talking about people on the average. I don't think it really says anything about happiness on the individual level. There's really no way to tell whether having a child is going to make you happy or not. Some people have really good, happy relationships with their children . . . others have bad relationships with them. It just happens to be that, on the average, people with children are unhappier than people without children. Of course, he doesn't really qualify this unhappiness. How unhappy are people with kids on average? What is it comparable to? Is it like getting fired from a job? Or eating just too much chocolate cake, to the point where you feel sick? Are people with pets less happy than people without pets as well? (just a thought)

On another note, there are some things that seem to make people happy. They are: 1. Marriage and 2. Religion. But again, the same thoughts come to mind. Does this say anything about me as an individual, as opposed to people on average? And how happy do these things make people comparatively speaking?

Oh well, I guess I just have to read the book I suppose.

Check out the Colbert clip, and if this stuff sounds interesting, go out and get the book!