The 2011 release of the movie Limitless stars a struggling writer, portrayed by actor Bradley Cooper, as his life is completely changed with the help of a powerful new class of psychotropic medication known as NZT 48. For those that haven’t seen the film I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it left all of those watching wishing they could obtain some type of NZT 48 in their lives. Through the mind of Dr. Michio Kaku this, and a plethora of other unlocked neuroscientific possibilities, can achieved sooner than expected. In his book The Future of the Mind Dr. Kaku challenges the reader’s sense of curiosity by questioning the essence of mind over matter and challenging our current understanding of science with questions unaccounted by science.
Dr. Kaku is a futurist, theoretical physicist and overall man of science. Making his presence known across a large array of multimedia outlets such as radio, television, and literature, he is a commonly accepted popularizer of science. In helping to raise awareness for fundamental questions about the universe Dr. Kaku stakes his claims for the direction he feels humanity is headed towards based on our current scientific developments and processes. His most recent contribution to the field of science is the release of his book The Future of the Mind where he attempts to answer the questions long sought after by philosopher and scientists alike, with the help of neuroscience of course. In this strange blend of extrospection and scientific inquiry Dr. Kaku pools his information gathered from a variety of scientific aficionados around the world to make his predictions on what he feels the human brain will be capable of in the near future. Some of which include real world interpretations of mind control, telekinesis, and even memory implantation? Delusional as it may seem, Dr. Kaku ensures that the reader is at least partially informed on the mechanisms that he believe will one day bring us to this peak of real life science fiction.
From here he unleashes the shackles of close mindedness and proceeds to take the reader on a journey of sorts, explaining the potential long term implications of the technology we currently possess. His research mainly deals with information surrounding consciousness and other aspects of the unused mind, an article discussing these same concepts can be found here. Ultimate his research speculates on large areas of science, leaving it up to the reader to decide for themselves what’s possible and what’s not. So go out there and give it a read! Make sure to do as science does and share your ideas and maybe one day we’ll get to use telekinesis or the “force” for all the Star Wars fans out there.
With spring in full swing many of us are enjoying longer days, warmer temperatures, and those pesky yearly allergies. If you re among the 8% of adults and 9% of children who experience allergies then you know how much of a hassle it is to step foot outside on a day riddled with pollen. However, we never stop to ask ourselves why it is that some people experience allergies and others don’t? A new study published in Scientific American helps to outline the real reason why some people get the sniffles during this time of year. Studies conducted on twins for which at least one twin was allergic to peanuts have found that, “in the case of fraternal twins, the other twin has a 7% chance of also having the allergy. Among identical twins, however, both twins were allergic in 64% of cases. Thus, our genetics clearly influence whether or not we will have an allergy.”
So exactly what does this tell us? Simply put those of us fortunate enough to have been born without a disposition to allergies can go about our lives without too much worry about the substances we come in contact without. Those of us not as fortunate do have to proceed with caution as we enter the months infamous for allergies. In the case of identical twins chances are both individuals will experience the same issue, but in the off chance one twin doesn’t it just means they weren’t quite as lucky. Understanding the real cause behind allergies is vital in helping to move forward with possible ways to suppress the real cause of allergies. In this case it may be some method of gene therapy that can help us all be allergy free and enjoy the warm months a little more. At least for the moment those struggling with allergies can take antihistamines to help their symptoms and breathe a little easier.
Last week I discussed some biographical information about the scientist I was looking to interview . Due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to interview Dr. Shawn Arent and instead I Interviewed Dr. Brandon Alderman. This week I will be going in depth about the specific research I discussed with Dr. Alderman this past week. Recently, Dr. Alderman’s work with depression and meditation has helped us to better understand cognitive skills that can help reduce overwhelming negative thoughts. His study, published in Translational Psychiatry this month, found the combination of body and mind, used twice a week for two months, helped reduced the symptoms for a group of students experiencing depression by 40 percent. 22 men and women studying at Rutgers University suffering with depression, and 30 mentally healthy students reported fewer depressive symptoms.
The individuals involved in the study began with 30 minutes of focused attention meditation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. They were told that if their thoughts drifted to the past or the future they should refocus on their breathing, enabling those with depression to accept moment-to-moment changes in attention.They felt that they did not spend as much time worrying about negative situations taking place in their lives as they did before the study began. In order to fully test the extent of the results the experiment also tested the effects mediation had on young mothers who had been homeless but were living at a residential treatment facility. The women involved in the research had exhibited severe depressive symptoms and elevated anxiety levels from the start, but at the end of the eight weeks reported that their depression and anxiety had eased. They claimed to have they felt more motivated, and they were able to focus more positively on their lives.
For this week’s blog post I’ll be discussing the research scientist that I am planning on interviewing for the scientist interview. Currently my intended major is exercise science so I thought it was only logical to interview a research scientist in my field to grasp a better understanding of what I can expect in the future. His name is Dr. Shawn Arent; he’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at Rutgers University. He is also the Director of the Center for Health & Human Performance in the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health. He is the Director of the Graduate Program in Kinesiology & Applied Physiology as well as the current Vice President of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. A link to his full biographical page can be found here.
Dr. Arent’s research focuses on the relationship between physical activity and stress and the implications for health and performance, with an emphasis on underlying mechanisms. His recent work has focused on physiological responses to training-related stressors and their contribution to optimal performance and recovery. He is specifically interested in the potential efficacy of acute and chronic resistance training for improving functional capabilities. This interests me especially because as a runner I am constantly intrigued in the potential effects that stress and fatigue can have on running performance. Recently I also applied to one of Dr. Arent’s studies that essentially set out to test the effects of a new weight loss drug on performance and body composition of generally active individuals with body fat above the normal range. I suppose it is both good and unfortunate that I did not qualify for the study, but I do look forward to the opportunity to discuss this research further with Dr.Arent if he is able to participate in my interview.
As most people at one point or another in their lives have had the unpleasant experience of having to go for a run, most can testify to the discomfort experienced that would make anyone think twice about doing it again. However, for those who do find a certain enjoyment from the sport science is now saying that it is a case of mind over matter instead of strictly physical. Writers over at Scientific American are now reading into studies that claim the benefits a runner can yield from a positive mental state to overall improve their performance. The article listed five key steps in order to improve performance which were setting a goal, learning to deal with pain, getting competitive, talking to yourself, and picturing it. All these require a mental aspect that can help aid a runner when his body is on the brink of giving out.
Dealing with pain, talking to yourself, and picturing it all require that a runner look inside them self rather than focusing on what they’re feeling or how much of a race is left. It’s that mental strength that helps push them beyond that which otherwise would’ve been their “wall”, or point of giving up. Setting a goal and getting competitive are more organizational skills are require that a runner always keep in mind what their purpose is and that there is always someone to beat.I found this article to be interesting because even in a sport that is so involved with physicality,running requires an even greater deal of mental strength. Even the most athletic runners can be beaten out by the runner with a stronger mentality on any given day. Using these skills can help elevate anyone’s performance from the most skilled runner, to the runner just looking to cross the finish line.