Friday, December 13, 2013

Relieving Subvocal Tension in the Vocal Cords by Muting the Internal Monologue


The ultimate form of meditation, in my opinion, is to stop the restless subvocalization that is going on both within our head and within our larynx. The part of your brain that is responsible for speech is called Broca’s area and it is always active, running speech patterns. Sometimes its actions are not broadcast globally to the PFC and other association areas. When this happens we have a brief respite from being aware of our internal monologue. Usually however, not only is it broadcasting its speech to much of the cortex, but it is broadcasting instructions for speech to the supplementary motor areas, the premotor areas and the primary motor areas responsible for moving the vocal cords in the larynx.


 
I realized recently that I have no respite from muscular tension in my vocal tract and the tension extends out to my neck and head. Even though I am not speaking out loud, because I am talking to myself in my mind, my vocal tract remains tense, as if I was always speaking. This is a common cause of hoarseness and weakened/diminished voice. I try to stop the tension in my vocal tract, but I realize that in order to do this I have to mute my internal monologue. I can’t though. I am gradually learning to pay attention to how my constant internal monologue controls my subvocal tension, but I am rarely able to turn it off completely. My attention diverts from this meditative practice before I can effectively turn it off.

I am constantly tensing my throat, silently going through the motions of speech. Language is always running through my mind, whether it is me planning my day, me defending myself in a hypothetical argument, me predicting what someone else will say, or me singing the words to a song. Sometimes my mouth and tongue move with the words, sometimes they don’t, but always my throat mimes the words. It has been difficult for me to create respite from this interminable narrative.


I believe that what I have described is a malady that afflicts nearly everyone. I also think that people that practice advanced meditation focus on thinking without this internal dialogue. Surely it is helpful, without it we would only practice speaking when we are really speaking out loud to actual people. But I think that it afflicts us and we should all learn to subdue it temporarily at will. I think that the only way to do this is to: 1) become aware of it, 2) notice what it feels like to try to stop it, 3) practice subduing it for as long as possible. I think the best way is to try to subdue it from both ends: A) we can try to focus on the feeling and sensation of letting our vocal tract go completely limp and relaxed, and B) we can try to focus on the feeling and sensation of thinking without using words.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Temporarily Forgetting what it is You are Excited About



As a kid one of the most interesting psychological phenomena to me was being really excited about something, and then temporarily forgetting what it was that I was excited about. When this happens you may still feel excited, but it is bitter sweet, because you can’t remember what you were planning or anticipating. The “trigger” or the “object” of excitement is displaced. I would know that my current thoughts were too mundane to warrant so much excitement so something enticing must have recently crossed my mind. I remember being frustrated, asking myself: “wait a minute, what the heck was I so happy about.” Sometimes, if it took a while to remember, the excitement would fade. Other times I would remember what it was and I would remain excited.  This still happens to me at times today. We can tell that our dopaminergic neurons are firing away, but the trigger for them can be temporarily misplaced because of a shift in our attention.  Lucky for us, the dopamine system of the brain is designed to keep representations about the object of excitement active and details about potential rewards in mind.  As a kid I was puzzled, how can my brain still be excited about something, even though I cannot remember what it is? These two systems (attention and reward) interact extensively but can become uncoupled. The experience taught me to question whether it was “me” that was excited or some mechanism in my brain. Of course, we identify with our personal desires and even with the feeling of “wanting” so I think there is a dissociation of “self” here. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Controlling Our Negative Thinking


Humans are smart, but do we use our smarts for good? Our brains are fantastically powerful and are truly the most complex, sophisticated physical objects in the known universe. Our minds are capable of modeling the environment to an incredibly precise degree, and we are constantly using them to learn about, understand and systemize the events around us. Unfortunately for us, because of our biology, our brains are innately prepared to analyze negative things. These fantastic computers in our heads are constantly thinking about past problems, future worries and how best to protect our ego from perceived diminishment. Our minds are the pinnacle of evolution on the Earth and yet, they are constantly concerned with things like: vindictive anger, defeat, guilt, regret, misery, victimization, fear, resentment, grievances, repression, disappointment, denial, bitterness and others. This inner conflict disrupts our productivity, and our health and even influences us to become bad people. Even though we may hate our own negative thoughts, we don’t know how to stop them. We are, in fact, addicted to ruminating about our insecurities. Why do we spend large portions of our day worrying about things that we can’t change or that will never happen? To truly stop the process, we must first understand it. Interestingly, the chaotic and destructive thinking that we do is largely involuntary, meaning that we don’t have much of a choice in the matter.

Most of us continually think about the most stressful things possible. This is so because of our evolutionary heritage. Evolution crafted animals to reduce stress provoking events in the environment. To do so, it equipped them to think about stress constantly. Animals, and mammals especially, replay and model stressful scenarios so that they can respond appropriately if the scenario actually arises. In fact, animals that don’t worry have low survival outcome. Studies that look at fish, mice or primates that are fearless, show that these animals are great at acquiring resources, but are the first to be eaten. The most stressed animals are often the ones with the best survival rates; however, they are not very productive because they are constantly hiding and cowering.  We no longer have any natural predators, so stress is not as adaptive for us as it was in prehistoric times. We owe it to ourselves to take the time to transcend these biological constraints. This is difficult to do though, because by default, our brain is “wired up” for stress.


Conflict and pride run on autopilot in the brain as part of our “default mode network.” This network is active during introspection and self-referential thought, but is turned off whenever our attention turns to a task. Because of this, for many of us, the only time we have a break from negative thoughts is when being engaged with the environment drowns out our inner voice. Do we need constant distractions such as an absorbing TV show just to find peace through diversion? We shouldn’t. Sadly, most people’s default mode network has been taught by experience to run negative programs. In most people the threat centers of the brain have been recruited to be a part of the default network and this actually makes it virtually impossible not to think about threatening things. This happens because the threat centers keep frightening and disturbing memories active. This is especially true in many psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and anger disorder.

We may not want to turn off our brain’s threat centers completely, but we do want to exclude them from the default network. It is not that hard! By consciously reframing our experiences we can remodel the existing biological connections to reprogram our thinking. Basically, the default mode of your brain is like an electrical circuit with the threat centers of the brain burned into the wiring. The tendency toward negative thinking is ingrained, and because of this the mind travels like a stream down a gully. We must create new gullies and fill in the ones that do not serve us. There are three powerful perspectives that can help us to change our view on the world and remodel our brain’s default mode network: nonjudgementality, nonresistance and nonattachement.

1)      Nonjudgementality: You are nonjudgemental when you make a conscious choice not to judge. Most people and animals judge everything that they come across. They either like it or dislike it. It is especially immature to either love new things or hate them, but most adults do this constantly. Instead of judging something, recognize it for what it is and move on without stamping it with your approval or rejection. Nonjudgementality free you from a reactive, chaotic state of negativity.

2)      Nonresistance: Always accept the present moment as if you have chosen it, never work against it. Nonresistance is choosing to accept the things that you cannot change. We are constantly resisting, and not only is this often futile but it is extremely frustrating for us. Being nonresistant and nonstriving gives us a break from opposing our environment. Often we can’t change things all at once, so it is best to learn to coexist with the things that are bothering us as we think about the best ways to fix them in the future.

3)      Nonattachment: We all have unhealthy emotional attachments to things that we can easily lose. These attachments set us up for disappointment and emotional pain when we do lose them. Even if we don’t lose them, we live in fear of losing them. Spend some time where you imagine losing everything that you love: property, friends, family, accomplishments, physical attributes etc. Imagine losing these things, and yet still being at peace, as if peace is the only thing that really matters. It is.

Whenever you feel desperate, angry or frustrated think about these three words. These three perspectives are very powerful because they force us to reanalyze our predicaments from a positive viewpoint. It is a great exercise, every night before bed, to try think of one thing to be nonjudgemental about, one thing to be nonresistant towards, and one thing to detach from.

These three words can help us to make better use of our brains and become more virtuous people. Imagine making the conscious decision to not judge anyone or resist anything for any reason. Imagine what your life would be life if you were consistently noble and pure. This is the best way to free ourselves from the upsetting and insecurity-promoting thoughts that torture us throughout our day. Being free of nasty thoughts has a reciprocal relationship with being calm, kind, content and productive. In fact, seeing yourself as wholesome and pure of heart is the quickest route to becoming a happy, likeable, successful person.

The Costs of Workplace Incivility


Workplace disharmony has been documented by recent research to be a substantial economic cost for American business that is largely preventable but rarely addressed. Managers and executives looking to streamline business processes routinely miss the underappreciated expense of inappropriate behavior. This substantial cost is unknown to many, and is rarely included as a topic for meetings or in the books as accounting tallies. Studies show that very few people report uncivil treatment to Human Relations (HR) or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), despite the fact that they may be highly affected by it.

An accepted definition of workplace incivility is “the exchange of inconsiderate words and deeds that violate conventional norms of workplace conduct” (Anderson and Pearson, 1999). Often inconsiderate actions seem inconsequential at the time, but they are known to frequently have lasting effects. It is important to remember that incivility is not an objective phenomenon and that it is subject to the target’s subjective interpretation.

Everyone loses when it comes to bad behavior in the workplace: the targets, the offenders and the firm. It is extremely important to a business for workers to give each other feedback, criticism, advice and support.  However, they should not be done in ways that are insensitive, politically incorrect, or that impact a target’s self-worth. Targets of bad behavior lose work time worrying about the incident with the offender, and about their future interactions. This worrying has been documented to lead to avoidance behavior, reduced commitment to the organization, lower effort at work and less time spent at work (Pearson and Porath, 2009).

Relevant Statistics

          Job stress has been estimated to cost U.S. corporations $300 billion annually (Cascio and Boudreau, 2008).

          One in five people claim to be the targets of workplace abuse at least once a week.

          Ten percent said they witness workplace abuse every day.

          Strong relationships have been found between having an inconsiderate or incommunicative boss and certain medical illnesses including anxiety, depression and cardiac conditions (Smith, 2008).

          80 percent of respondents to one poll claimed that they “get no respect at work.”

          A recent Gallup poll revealed that 73 percent of workers “don’t feel good” and a large number of these individuals actively disengage from work; 14 % admitted to “undermining the goals of the company” as a result.

          About 60% of the time, the offender has a higher job status than the target (Pearson and Porath, 2009).

          Men are nearly twice as likely to be offenders, but women’s offenses are often just as serious.

          Most offenders are older than their targets, and targets are often not new hires.

          Research from eight thousand business units from thirty-six companies found that groups with positive attitudes were 50% more likely to establish above-average customer loyalty, and 44% were more likely to establish above average profitability (Harter et al., 2002).

Incivility Detracts from Performance

If there are no organizational repercussions for negative behaviors, and the behaviors are seen as necessary or inconsequential, they can quickly become a part of the business culture. This can easily lead to similar treatment of strategic partners outside of the business and to customers. Often assistants to a boss or manager become “kiss-ups” who welcome abuse from the boss.  Yet they in turn act unfairly, on behalf of the boss, toward lower-status employees; this is often referred to as “kiss up, kick down”. Upwardly aimed incivility is usually covert and is insidious because it often involves sabotage and is damaging to the business infrastructure. Incivility rarely works upward, often travels laterally, but usually flows downward. Downward cycles of negativity inevitably cascade toward the frontline workers, and there has a tendency to be transferred to customers, clients and patrons.

Studies have found that targets of incivility reduce their performance to punish the organization. When job satisfaction wanes, disgruntled workers intentionally cut back effort, quality and time. Often uncivil environments naturally distract employees and lead them to ruminate about their condition and discuss it compulsively with friends, family members and coworkers, all on the company’s time. Many people will take vengeful action when they feel they have been a target of abuse. Most targets will attempt to damage the offender’s reputation by telling a neutral party. People spend time reassuring themselves of their superior moral standing, and they often spend time mulling over how they expect to respond to the next act of incivility mounted against them. It is clear to see how bad acts lead targets to thinking obsessively about how to mount their own negative, vengeful responses. These negative thoughts recur frequently, and each time cause the worker to lose task focus.

Even more troublesome is the fact that targets often hide their resentment and true feelings from higher-ups, concealing the problem from the people that could make a difference. Moreover, there are many anecdotal and documented cases where hourly workers hear second-hand about incivility focused on one of their own and retaliate against the company by reducing work intensity (Bennis & Biederman, 1997). Managers and executives at Fortune 1000 firms spend as much as 13 percent of their total work time mending employee relationships and replacing employees that left (Connelly, 1994). Incivility detracts from teams, even teams of two people, because the offender and target cannot work together as smoothly anymore. Biological Behavior Assessments LLC will actually calculate an estimate for you as to how much money you lose on a yearly basis to incivility in the workplace. Our calculations are based on accepted research, industry standards and detailed information from your accounting and HR departments.

In a psychology laboratory, student volunteers experimentally exposed to social mistreatment show decreased ability to perform simple tasks, distracted attention, impaired working memory, diminished creativity and reduced helping behaviors (Porath and Erez, 2007).  According to a poll taken by Pearson and Porath (2009) of mistreated managers and employees in a large diverse national sample:

          Forty-eight percent intentionally decreased work effort.

          Forty-seven percent intentionally decreased time at work.

          Thirty-eight percent intentionally decreased work quality.

          Eighty percent lost work time worrying about the incident.

          Sixty-three percent lost time avoiding the offender.

          Sixty-six percent said their performances declined.

          Seventy-eight percent said their commitment to the organization declined.

 

When treated uncivilly, targets will be less likely to seek feedback on their decisions and less likely to inform each other about actual or potential problems. On the other hand, historically remarkable teams usually grant their members freedom to do their best and use their creative energy without fear. All team members need leadership and guidance but they need respectful, guidance that they do not feel afraid of.

What can be done about this? Contact us at BBA. Biological Behavior Assessments LLC provides employment assessments that are effective in identifying and mediating inappropriate workplace behaviors. Our innovative system offers a straightforward testing program, administered online, that provides essential perspective on workplace functioning. We prepare customized reports that provide personal development suggestions for the test takers. These detailed reports are easy to understand and interpret, and offer guidance based on established neuroscience and leading clinical methods.



Solutions For Dealing with Incivility

Below are a number of excellent solutions for dealing with mistreatment in the workplace. The first group focuses on how to best respond to incivility in coworkers and the second group focuses on how to curtail uncivil tendencies that you may have.

Solutions for Dealing with Uncivil Coworkers:

          Feel comfortable apologizing and offering clarification on your own behaviors.

          Resist the emotional urge to take offense, to become defensive and to get revenge.

          Recognize that there is extensive power in maintaining your composure.

          Cultivate self-awareness for your tendency to take out frustrations and transfer blame.

          Meet in communal groups outside of the workplace.

          Avoid implicitly condoning acts of improper treatment that you witness.

          Lower your constant guard against perceived diminishment and loss of ego.

          Reframe the faults of others as mistakes in priorities, judgment, social maturity and word choice.

          Demonstrate more interest in finding a solution than in defending a position.

          Retain your peace regardless of the other person’s disposition; this is the only way to “win.”

          Realize our brain’s circuits are overloaded with work concerns, so we must consistently remind ourselves to be nice.

          Recognize in advance when two people’s dissenting opinions might clash.

          Do not let your first emotional judgment of another’s work cloud other redeeming aspects of it.

          Instead of contradicting the contribution of another, think about how you can build on top of it.

          Listen to and understand others’ perspectives without interrupting

          Assume the best or neutral motives in others.

          Maintain an objective stance when conflict arises.

          Ask friends, family members or even colleagues for their interpretations of a confrontation. They are sure to give you recommendations and support that could lift your spirit and reduce your stress.

          Reframe the poor treatment as an opportunity for personal growth.  Consciously deciding to under-react to negativity is regarded by many to be the most powerful way to achieve spiritual growth.

          Approach the person offending you and schedule a meeting if you have to. Don’t treat it like a confrontation, but instead treat it like a follow up. Do not expect to win and do not provoke.

 

Solutions for Dealing with Your Own Uncivil Tendencies

          Remember that many hostilities stem simply from incompatible personalities. When this happens it is neither (or both) person’s fault.

          Make a note of your behaviors that seem to shut other people down, and that lead them to make a face or turn away. These are the ones you need to attend to.

          When you mistreat others, it costs your firm but it also costs you friends, good treatment, smooth interactions and even promotions and job perks.

          People stop listening to you and you lose leverage and authority when you undermine your own credibility by being rude.

          The office place is not the military.  You are not responsible for treating new hires the way you were unfairly treated as a “newbie”.

          Enlist a trusted friend to give you feedback about your social habits.

          Listen more carefully. People are easily offended when they can tell by your response that you were not listening to what they were saying.

          Remember that being considerate may not pay off in the short term, but it nearly always does in the long term.

          Refrain from one-upmanship, sarcasm and wisecracks. People almost always take them more seriously than you intended.
 
 
 
Find out more at: www.biologicalbehaviorassessments.com

Biological Behavior Assessments LLC: Workplace Solutions


Who We Are and What We Do

Biological Behavior Assessments provides employment assessments that are effective in identifying and mediating inappropriate workplace behaviors. Our innovative system offers a straightforward testing program, administered online, that provides essential perspective on workplace functioning. We prepare customized reports that provide personal development suggestions for the test takers. These detailed reports are easy to understand and interpret, and offer guidance based on established neuroscience and leading clinical methods.

Innate survival behaviors have been programmed into our genes and brains due to the severe conditions that our ancestors faced as hunter-gatherers. Our minds are prepared to negotiate conditions characterized by scarce resources and life-threatening dangers, despite the fact that our modern work environment is almost never physically adverse. Because certain negative propensities are very much ingrained in our biological makeup, problematic or dysfunctional behaviors lurk outside of our everyday awareness. They routinely cause uncivil workplace behavior, undue stress, and operational inefficiencies documented to be an alarmingly significant financial and legal liability in American businesses.
 
 

Negative innate responses are triggered through our unconscious, evolutionarily-old, visual, auditory and emotional regions of the brain. These brain areas are continually in search of safety, trust and reward and when they cannot find them, they act selfish, paranoid and opportunistic. These are the insidious ingredients for stifling corporate communication, productivity, and bottom-up growth. There is significant therapeutic power in understanding our own negative tendencies, where they come from, how they are maintained, and how we can recognize them when they occur. Biological Behavior Assessments uses a proprietary system based on cognitive neuroscience that evaluates problematic behaviors of your workers, reports on these propensities, and determines the extent to which individual lives are being controlled by harmful, and unconscious processes.  In other words, we find and expose signs of hostility, territoriality, impulsiveness, defensiveness, status-seeking, etc., and give management and employees personalized feedback and recommended solutions to manage and mitigate the behaviors.

Mismatched: Our World No Longer Fits Our Bodies

Why are we the way we are?  10,000 years ago, humans developed purposeful agriculture. This initiated the transformation of hunter-gatherer groups into the civilizations of the working world today. We went from foragers that traveled in small, often nomadic bands, to citizens of large cities. It is thought-provoking to consider how much our technological and industrial accomplishments, all of which occurred in a very short period of human history, have altered our environment. The agricultural, industrial and computer revolutions happened so quickly that humans did not have time to adapt to them through natural selection. In fact, modern humans live in a vastly different environment from the one we were designed to inhabit.  Because of this, the environment we are born into is not the one that our bodies are expecting. In a biological sense we are cavemen living in the information age.

We are mismatched with our environment in several ways, including psychological and metabolic ones.  For instance, the same genes that cause humans to be susceptible to diabetes, heart disease and obesity in modern times may have protected us from starvation and famine during ancestral times. These kinds of disparities also exist in our psychological tendencies. In fact, we sometimes have instincts to act like barbarians in a civilized world. As the table below describes, our behaviors such as anger, competitiveness and anxiety may have been beneficial in the past, despite the fact that they are generally maladaptive today.

Adaptive Behavior Then and Now:

Psychological State
Implications for Foragers
Implications for Modern Societies
Anger
Healthy self-promotion and protection
Social isolation and negative relationships
Competitiveness
Drive to attain food and mates at the expense of others
With little competition for food and mates, competition with coworkers is unnecessary
Defensiveness
Self-protection and healthy suspicion of others
Unnecessarily high paranoia or fear of others intentions
Impulsivity
Drive to quickly attain food and resources
Diminished capacity for patience and reflection
Stress and Anxiety
Healthy caution. Motivation to struggle, fight and survive
Unhealthy bodily effects and unnecessary psychological discomfort


So what can we do about this predicament? Well, thankfully we are highly intelligent, highly adaptable creatures and a little knowledge about our innate instincts can help us to recognize them, and modify them where appropriate.

How We Can Help

Our assessments were designed during four years of neuroscience and evolutionary research into how specific human neurological pathways evolved. This research revealed 12 behaviors that control modern human responses and decisions, in both our personal and workplace lives. These instinctual behaviors cause us to respond prematurely to simple stimuli, often without thinking. When these innate responses occur without conscious awareness they can disrupt productivity, communication, and contribute to counterproductive work behavior.

11 Behavioral Impulses that We All Share:

-           Anger                                      - Bullying           

-           Competitiveness                     - Defensiveness

-           Gossip                                      - Impulsivity

-           Prejudice                                 - Resisting Change

-           Risk Taking                              - Status

-            Territoriality                  

This unique enterprise provides employees with the information, professional feedback, and thought provoking advice necessary to design and maintain a happier, healthier workplace environment. The workplace training industry has neglected the avenues of evolutionary biology, clinical psychology and emotional intelligence. Our consulting products offer various tools and techniques necessary for the amelioration of adverse or hostile workplace atmospheres. Our product line includes a range of premium solutions - more effective alternatives to in-house resources for conflict resolution, aggression remediation, and culture management.

Instead of focusing on negatives, we focus on turning negatives into positives. We help staff to learn more about themselves and managers to learn more about their employees. Biological Behavior Assessments provides tools that help your employees understand themselves better, improve their quality of life, and elevate productivity in the workplace. Our business model helps to improve communication skills, interpersonal competence, job suitability, leadership aptitude, conflict resolution, psychological wellbeing, personal health, emotional intelligence and many other crucial workplace factors. Reconceptualizing shared dysfunctions provides a clear viewpoint on previous, unexamined work habits. We all share the same fundamental faults, and for this reason, we should face them together as a common problem to be solved. 
Visit www.biologicalbehaviorassessments.com for more information.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Is Association Cortex Capable of Holding Mental Imagery?


Antonio Damasio has proposed that early sensory cortices construct “image space” and that association cortices construct “dispositional space.” He believes that association cortex does not hold any imagery itself and that everything we see in our “mind’s eye” is constructed in sensory cortex alone. I, on the other hand, believe that association areas are capable of holding imagery that people consciously experience. In my opinion association cortices hold imagery of higher-order concepts that are disoriented from spatial mapping or retinotopic coordinates. The imagery created in association cortex probably embodies conceptual relationships and perceptually transcendent concerns. Association areas may hold true imagery in the sense that they can invoke high-level perceptions of things of which the person can become conscious. Thus, cortical areas involved in visual processing - from the posterior occipital pole to the anterior frontal pole – lie together on a continuum with coordinate bound maps on one side and abstract, conceptual imagery on the other.

Consistent with Damasio; however, I agree that association areas do not possess all of the information held in the early sensory cortices that converge upon them. In other words, the firing of a grandmother neuron in the anterior temporal cortex alone does not produce a conscious visual depiction of a grandmother in the mind’s eye. One can probably not visualize a spatial, line-bound image of one’s grandmother without early visual cortex. The mental imagery of our grandmothers produced by association cortex would be much more abstract and invariant, and may include behavioral predispositions such as the way we feel, act and compose ourselves when we are around our grandmother.

What would imagery mappings in association areas such as the dlPFC look like? Early visual areas create retinotopic visual information because the inputs to the cortex correspond to the geometric arrays of photoreceptors in the retina. The dlPFC does not contain an objective input geometry that maps directly onto something real in the environment. Instead, the input, and thus the maps correspond to the placement and relative orientation of the lower-order projection inputs that were arranged during the mammalian evolution of the neocortex. Thus, the question regarding the spatial architecture of higher order thought and its imagery can only be answered in the future by neurocartographic investigation of the unique connectional geometry found in higher-order areas.

I believe that the early visual cortex activation creates vibrant, experiential imagery simply because it has become correlated with the appearance of this imagery in the environment. Brain cells create a theatre of the mind because they have “taken on” certain external properties. If this is true, then imagery must be held everywhere because each part of the brain has become correlated with some type of environmentally induced experience. Like the neurons responsible for the sensations in a phantom limb, early visual neurons “hold” the experiential properties of experiences with which they have been correlated with in the past. Surely anterior association areas have also correlated with experiences, albeit abstract ones. Thus, purporting that association areas do not hold true imagery is like saying that imagery is held in the “dots” of primary visual cortex but not in the “contours” of secondary visual cortex. When you imagine things, from simple objects to abstract concepts, you experience them again because you fire the same neurons that fire when it was experienced. This thinking then frames consciousness as a jumbled up reflection of environmental occurrences. It is fascinating that we are able to construct a cohesive percept from a hodgepodge aggregate of previously distinct microrepresentations.

The idea that association areas may hold their own brand of abstractly mapped imagery frames the brain as a system of interacting modules specializing in mapping different topographies that are all trying to generate their best interpretation of what the other modules are doing. Because some of these modules have assemblies that fire for sustained periods, they are better positioned to direct activity through time. The dorsolateral PFC is a good example of a module with the capacity for sustained influence over modules specialized for visual and auditory processing, whereas an area such as the orbital PFC may direct maps generated by emotional and reward-related modules. Further research into the deficits and intact abilities in patients with damaged association cortex may better elucidate this issue.

I have published an article on this issue that you can read here:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938416308289

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938416308289



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Breathe When Lifting Weights


You want to breathe very deeply and fully while lifting weights. Most physical therapists and personal trainers recommend that when lifting weights, it is good to breathe out on the extension and in on the flexion. This is not a bad advice, as it keeps you from holding your breath, and it ensures that you are not breathing at even shorter time intervals. You certainly do not want to alternate between inhalation and exhalation during any instance of flexion or extension. I believe that it is beneficial to breathe at longer intervals. For instance, try breathing in during the entire repetition – both the flexion and the extension. I try to inhale for a rep or two, and then exhale for two or three reps. Doing so convinces your nervous system that the muscles that you are using can be exercised strenuously. You should also breathe deeply, at long intervals, before and after exercise.

Right after you complete a set, you also want to relax the muscles as much as possible. To relax them, continue to breathe deeply and actively in order to dissipate the tension that you created during the exercise. Usually when people lift heavy weights, tension accumulates in the muscles. Simply by paying attention to the level of tone after you complete a set, you can consciously counteract it and thereby enhance recovery, healing, and muscle gain.

Once you are done with the exercise, it is very important to “listen” to the tension in your muscles. You will feel the muscles that you just used tighten up on their own. The muscle tonus is resetting to a harmfully high level, resulting in an elevation in passive but continuous contraction. After a set, lie down and close your eyes while breathing deeply, you can really notice these small intrusions of tension. Usually, when we feel this, because it is uncomfortable, we stop breathing, or we breathe more shallowly. Moreover, when we feel these small, unconscious muscular spasms, we have a tendency to maintain the tension within this area. When you do not notice it, it stays contracted! Instead, you want to notice the tension, concentrate on relaxing it, and breathe through it until it subsides. Your focus should be on being completely limp.

Let us assume that you were to do 16 reps of bench press. Try to breathe all the way in for two reps at a time, and then all the way out for two at a time. Thus, for 16 reps you should have taken 8 complete breaths. Then lie down and try to notice the tension in your chest, shoulders, and elbows. It actually feels great as you calm wave after wave of tension. During sets make sure that you breathe diaphragmatically, focusing on the burn. Between sets you want to feel that burning sensation completely dissipate. The more you do this, the more you teach the muscles to relax after being fatigued. You will finish working out without feeling tight and high-strung, and you will wake up the next morning feeling relaxed.

The physical exertion involved in lifting heavy weights makes it very difficult to concentrate on breathing diaphragmatically. When lifting light weights it is very easy to breathe diaphragmatically. Even lifting heavy weights may not exacerbate trigger points if done when breathing diaphragmatically. I know that I am not fit enough for it though and I know that if I were to start lifting heavy weights today that it would undermine the postural corrections that I have been making. Lifting light weights enhances these corrections. For more info on how to breathe in the way that activates the relaxation response, click here:

http://www.observedimpulse.com/2012/11/program-yourself-to-breathe-more-deeply.html