Tag Archives: Research

Zap In Your Memories

By Daniella Lee

We hold our memories near and dear to our heart, but what if those same memories are just an episode from Full House? Earlier this week, we talked about the theory of prosthetic memory. This theory states that humans substitute memories or ideas they have seen in media entertainment in place of memories from their own reality. Now before you freak out and cause an early mid-life crisis because your whole life as you remember it is a lie, the concept of prosthetic memories provides an opportunity to re-examine the development of your personality. If you still think you were raised by three men and blurted out phrases like “how rude” when you didn’t get your way, then you might need an intervention (possibly with corny music in the background).

Prosthetic memories may force some harsh realizations about your childhood, but the media doesn’t have total control of your brain, yet. Scientists are discovering new ways to make memories, ones that don’t involve the media. Researcher Jan Born and colleagues from the University of Lubeck in Germany studied the different stages of sleep. The deepest stage of sleep, known as slow-wave, plays an important role in memory consolidation. This is the stage when information, or memories, get stored into the brain. In his study, Born set out to improve these memories by electrically stimulating the brain.

During the study, a group of medical students were given a list of words to memorize. On one of the several nights they would receive an electric shock. Born attached electrodes to the students’ heads. delivering a low-frequency, low-voltage electric shock while they slept. The stimulation that occurred forced the brain into slow-wave sleep. The following night, the students were given another list of words to memorize and put to bed without getting zapped.

The students remembered more words from the list the night they received the electrode shock. Born concluded that inducing slow-wave sleep could help to consolidate memories. In a typical night, humans only spend 20 minutes in this stage of sleep. Slow-wave sleep plays a vital role in strengthening our bones, muscles, immune systems and memories. Obviously falling into this deep sleep is important for the body, yet it’s so difficult to reach this stage. Born’s electric brain stimulation might not only help our memorization, but being able to reach slow-wave sleep can provide benefit to a healthy, longer life.

Born’s findings open the door to more research on slow-wave sleep and memory retention. If we start zapping ourselves into a deep sleep we can keep our real memories and stop using the media’s storyline for our life. If you still think you’re related Uncle Jesse, then we might need to up the voltage on that electric current and keep you dreaming for a while… possibly forever.

“Restoring Slow Wave Sleep Shown To Enhance Health and Increase Lifespan”
by: Jim English
Nutrition Review, 2010

“Boosting Slow Oscillations During Sleep Potentiates Memory”
by: Jan Born, Lisa Marshall, Halla Helgadóttir and Matthias Mölle
Nature 444, 610-613


Turn It Up and Cheer Up

by Peter Muller

Most people who can hear (and some who can’t) have an important relationship with music. Some listen passively to that damn Muzak on the elevator while others obsessively dig through crates of vinyl and overload their computers collecting it. Either way, music is a part of every one’s lives. White Apple earbuds dangling from ears have become as socially ubiquitous as wearing sunglasses or carrying a purse. Hipster mustaches only dream of such market penetration.

When artists create music as self-expression, it’s often tied to heavy emotional states. Although there is no denying the existence of emotion in music, a common dispute between music researchers has been how it affects the listener. Anyone who listens to music knows the feelings of joy or excitement that comes with hearing a familiar upbeat song or the calming effect of a slower chill tune. The question raised by researchers is whether or not that feeling comes from the music changing the listeners’ actual emotional state, or just their perception of the artist’s emotion in the music.

That‘s exactly what a group of researchers from Sweden’s Örebro and Uppsala Universities set out to discover. Both sides of the argument had been supported in previous studies because variables that serve as identifiers of emotion were not standardized throughout the field of study. Some of the studies used only surveys, which were flawed because a listener couldn’t consciously understand where their emotions stemmed from. Others used popular music samples in their tests and read involuntary reactions, making it unclear whether the reactions came from the tone of the music, or the listener’s memories associated with a particular song.

To get a more accurate reading, the Swedish researchers picked the tests from old studies which had previously yielded the most reliable results, combining them into one standardized measurement. Using listener surveys and electronic tests for autonomic responses (facial expression, heart rate, skin conductance and temperature), the researchers developed the most accurate reading of emotional origin to date.

32 subjects (16 male, 16 female) listened to music through headphones, during which they were surveyed on emotional state and tested electronically for the autonomic responses.

“The stimuli consisted of simple pop songs in a singer-songwriter style sung and performed on the acoustic guitar. One happy song and one sad song each were performed by a male and a female singer, yielding a total of four musical performances… we decided to use lyrics in English that were neutral in character (no emotion words were allowed)”.

In the end, the findings pointed to clear evidence that music does, in fact, alter the emotional state of its listeners. Happy music genuinely made the subjects happy and sad music bummed them out, regardless of gender. That’s good information to know given the recent election results, we’ll need lots of Jackie Wilson and Feist to get through the next 2 years.

Take a look at our good friend Tom above. Would you say he looks happy? Sad? Indifferent? Possibly angry? That could depend on what you’ve been listening to lately. In a related study, a group of researchers at the University of London have linked musical tone to the way people perceive the emotions of others. Given the fact that music and facial expressions both convey clear emotion, the researchers wanted to see if one could influence the other. In the study, subjects listened to short clips of music classified as “happy” or “sad” while viewing photos of people with happy, sad, and neutral facial expressions. The results were quite significant. A person listening to happy music obviously identified the happy faces, but also attributed happiness to the neutral faces and even some of the sad faces! The opposite was true for sad music. Maybe Tom would cheer up if he lightened up his music a little?

Last week we looked at Emotional Intelligence and its effect on others around you (e.g., the workplace, relationships). How you feel can affect everything in your life, and everything in your life can effect how you feel. Knowing that music has such a strong effect on your emotions, you can use it to pick yourself up when you’re feeling blue, or calm yourself down when you’re pissed. Music is used to control our emotions all the time. Stores play music that makes us want to shop, political candidates and sporting events rev their audiences up with fight songs, and spas play that sleepy slow stuff for a reason. Pop in those white earbuds and see where your playlist takes you today.

Emotional Responses To Music: Experience, Expression, and Physiology
by: Lars-Olov Lundqvist, Fredrik Carlsson, Per Hilmersson, & Patrik N. Juslin
Örebro University, Uppsala University, Sweden
Psychology of Music 2009 37: 61

Crossmodal Transfer Of Emotion By Music
by: Nidhya Logeswaran & Joydeep Bhattacharya
Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Neuroscience Letters 455 (2009) 129–133

Keep In Touch With Your Emotions And Keep Your Job

By: Daniella Lee

In today’s job market, it’s hard to find work and even harder to keep it. The workplace can be so cut-throat that getting stabbed in the back happens as often as running out of post-its. Okay, so this may be a little far fetched but I’m sure there is an Omarosa near your cubicle. So what can you do to make sure you stand out from the other employees, like that crazy bitch in accounting? Make sure to pay attention to your emotions, and don’t let anyone mess with your paperwork.

Staying smart with your emotions has become a hot topic between your boss, management and the HR department. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to control your emotions and utilize them when working in groups toward a universal goal. Employers see this as a crucial skill. This interest comes from research stating that EI is a predictor in job performance, negotiations, leadership, trust, work-family conflict and stress (pretty much everything you need to survive a typical 9-to-5 job). A study conducted by Ernest H. Boyle, Ronald H. Humphrey and associates at the Virgina Commonwealth University specifically looked into the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance.

What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? Boyle and Humphrey pull from previous research to operationalize their definition of EI.

“The sets of abilities (verbal and nonverbal) that enable a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own, and others, emotions in order to guide thinking and action that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures.” (Rooy and Viswesvaran)

Boyle and Humphrey gathered data from 43 studies and performed a 3-part test to classify their findings. These series of tests, known as EI streams, measured EI and its effect on job performance. The first stream was a four-branch ability test which categorizes that EI into different branches. They were perception and expression of emotion, emotional facilitation of thinking, understanding and analyzing emotions and employing emotional knowledge. The second stream used a self-report measure to capture the emotions that employees were feeling the workplace. The final stream used to measure the data was a traditional test to measure social skills. These guys are thorough.

The EI streams measured the main concepts behind EI. Boyle and Humphrey’s main hypothesis in this study was to prove that all three EI streams are correlated with job performance. Each section of the test confirmed Boyle and Humphrey’s main hypothesis. “The three streams of EI research, ability measures, self- and peer-report measures, and mixed models, all predict job performance equally.”

The ability to control your emotions and understand those of your co-workers tends to result in better job performance and, more importantly, can help you dominate in the workplace. EI helps with group tasks, customer service, and those with a high level of EI can persuade the moods of others. (Boyle and Humphrey, 2010: 77). The next time you talk to that sucky co-worker with a bad attitude you can flip her mood if you’re an EI jedi.

Coping with the stress and pressure of a fast-paced career can make us or break us. The workforce is becoming more competitive and being able to stand out means brushing up on your EI. Employers are looking for people who can control their emotions and influence the emotions of others around them. EI can up your job performance and the next time you have to work on a project with that lady from accounting (she really is a total bitch) you’ll be able to get her to play nice.

The Relation Between Emotional Intelligence And Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis
By: Ernest H. O’Boyle Jr., Ronald H. Humphrey, Jeffrey M. Pollack, Thomas H. Hawver and Paul A. Story
Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond, VA
Journal of Organizational Behavior 2010

Txt Talk Vs. Text Talk: What’s The Deal?

by Margo Ruter

Most of us still remember playing Snake on a Nokia, but there is a growing population of adolescents who have always known how to text. This “net generation” is the first to have completely grown up with the Internet and cell phones. While 47% of them can draft a text message blindfolded, members of other generations are skeptical about this hindering their future writing skills. These teens help send the 75 billion text messages that are sent per month in the United States. This could have various effects on the future of young texters. Either 4th graders around the country are going to start taking AP English, or the name Ke$ha will start to look grammatically correct. What’s all this texting doing to American English? Not a thing to auto-spell check, it still puts that red line under the word, “texting.”

Researchers at California State University had a similar question in mind when they sought out to discover just how so much texting affects both formal and informal facets of writing. Taking two separate study groups, researchers reviewed both formal and informal writing samples from individuals in Los Angeles. The demographics of the sample group were similar to the ethnic backgrounds and education levels of the L.A. area.

Both formal and informal writing samples were taken from each group and graded on a scale from 1 to 6. Ratings from 1 to 1.5 were considered short, non-responsive answers were removed from the sample. Only responses that rated between 2 and 6 were used in the study.

The main hypothesis of the study was that “there would be a significant positive relationship between reported textism use in daily electronic communication and informal writing, and a negative correlation with the quality of formal writing.” A related research question dealt with whether these relationships were based on education level or writing medium.

The writing samples were thoroughly studied and analyzed. Researchers looked at every detail of the writing including things like:
-lowercase “i”
-use of acronyms
-lack of apostrophes
-shortened words
-smilies 🙂 and emoticons
After highlighting these elements, they totaled the number of linguistic and contextual textisms and also looked at the individuals’ monthly cell phone and text message use.

One major finding of the research states that women use nearly twice as many shorthand textisms in electronic communication as men. Explaining why this happened is beyond the scope of the research, but we could bet that the researchers are losing a little bit of sleep over it. Does it have to do with classic cognitive differences between genders? Is it purely a communicative trait specific to respective gender? I’m sure we’ll find out in a few years.

The bottom line is that more texting and shorthand writing in electronic communication related to worse formal writing and better informal writing. So instead of this leading to the ultimate death of prose, Rosen et al., suggest this could mean the growth of a new type of writing in the English language. This is good news for Creative Writing teachers, but bad news for English teachers.

What the article didn’t address was the issue of spelling. This was a huge oversight if you ask us, but no one did. How are words such as “2nite” and “thnx” going to be spelled in five years?

You might also be thinking, “Yeah, well I text like that because I’m in a hurry.” Right, but some people actually communicate with one another this way:

Taken from my personal news feed on Facebook, this is case-in-point displaying the dangerous road our language might be taking in the wake of electronic communication.

You might have cringed at that terrible display of communication, but you might think next time you write “lol” when you have nothing else to say. Formal language skills are crucial in professional careers and we sure as hell don’t want people like this writing project plans, press releases, resumes, budget proposals or any formal document for that matter.


Writing “lyk dis” gives the impression that you’re a raging idiot and completely discredits your writing. So take the extra millisecond and start writing “like this” – we know you’re not that busy.

The Relationship Between “Textisms” and Formal and Informal Writing Among Young Adults
by: Larry D. Rosen, Jennifer Chang, Lynne Erwin, L. Mark Carrier and Nancy A. Cheever
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Communication Research 2010 37: 420

To Shop, Or Not To Shop: An Interview with an Expert

by Lizzy Sebuck

We all go a little crazy during the shopping season. Have you been wondering why you felt like you needed to spend $400 on that hot pair jeans last week? There really is no excuse for spending that much, and we’re here to tell you why. If you need an intervention, you’re about to get one; meet Nicole Tarandy-Whalen; a school psychologist with over twenty years of experience in the field of Psychology. Nicole took the time to sit down with Occam’s Taser and discuss Cohen-Zada and Sander ‘s research findings in their study about the relationship between materialism and unhappiness. In this special interview, we get a further understanding of why our emotions go into a frenzy as soon as we start swiping that Mastercard, or better yet, why we can’t stop swiping. In this interview, Nicole explains why shopping can be destructive to the psyche and how the holiday season can effect moods and behaviors.

Occam’s Taser: What kind of emotions do people experience when they shop, or furthermore, when they earn and spend money?
Nicole Tarandy-Whalen: I think people feel a great deal of pride and accomplishment when they earn money and spend money. People feel generally happy to be able to buy the things they need or want. On the other hand, many people buy things they can’t afford and often end up in debt. This can cause negative feelings due to anxiety and stress from owing money and not being able to pay bills.  This is a two sided question with no correct answer as some people just LOVE to shop and would go shopping everyday if they could, while others HATE shopping and avoid it at all costs.  So I guess it really depends on the personality of the shopper and if they generally enjoy the task or dread it.

OT: Are the findings by Cohen-Zada and Sander just a unique case or is there really a correlation between money and unhappiness? Why/Why not?
NTW: I don’t believe there is truly a correlation between money and unhappiness. First of all, people who do a lot of shopping don’t necessarily have lots of money. If they just looked at net income and overall happiness then they might be able to conclude the correlation between money and unhappiness.

OT: So is it more so money and/or materialism that brings unhappiness or is it other behaviors that stem from having money that leads to unhappiness? ‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr. Right.
NTW: I believe that materialism is what leads to unhappiness not necessarily money. By and large, money buys happiness only for those who lack the basic needs. Once you pass an income of $50,000, more money doesn’t buy much happiness.

In fact, the more money you make doesn’t necessarily make you happier.  It is extremely difficult to escape materialism in our society. Often people purchase items they can’t afford.  There are so many loan stores and so many living on credit no wonder those who shop (and appear to have money) are unhappy. Most people are living way beyond their means which is extremely stressful leading to unhappiness and depression.  (There are some good tips in the link above to help one escape materialism. )

If a study really wants to look at the correlation between money and happiness they need to look at how much money one has (not how much shopping they do) and determine how happy they are.  I like this study because it does just that AND it looks at 2 types of happiness, day to day happiness and happiness with overall life satisfaction.

OT:What about shopping for others and not for yourself (it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas), does that influence the shopper’s individual moods and behaviors?
NTW: Well it depends. There is no simple answer and differs from person to person.  Some who feel content with their bodies love to shop and get new and fun clothes. Others who are not so happy with their bodies dread shopping.  Some people are inclined to shop and LOVE to shop for others. They enjoy trying to find the perfect gift that another would just love and appreciate. Again others dread having to shop for others as it is a burden.  If you are shopping for a spouse or boy/girl friend, one might enjoy shopping. Yet that same person may hate shopping for an office mate or family member.  So depending on who and why you are shopping your mood and behavior is definitely effected.

OT: Most women love to shop, is shopping more negative when it is done alone or in a group? Are there any emotional pros/cons to shopping alone or with a friend? (Say shopping again. Shopping.)
NTW: I think it could be more negative when done as a group. If you are alone, you can go where ever, when ever and take your time without someone rushing you or taking extra time in one store when you just want to move on.  Sometimes others will give you their opinion when you really don’t want it. I think shopping alone is best so you can “worry about yourself” and no one else. If you want another opinion then you could bring someone back another time to get their opinion. Group shopping could be fun for younger people as it is a social activity but when you have a purpose and an idea of what you are looking for, a friend or a group can slow you down and actually disrupt the situation. Although there could be some bonding especially with young girls/women, there are more cons to shopping with a friend or a group than there are shopping alone. If you are alone, you can do exactly what you want.

OT: So can a person have a lot of money and still be truly happy? What is the difference between this kind of person and the unhappy shopper Cohen-Zada and Sander researched?
NTW: Definitely a person can have a lot of money and still be truly happy.  Also, there are people with very little money who are truly happy, right?   It seems in the study those who were truly happy attended church more often and those who were unhappy attended church less and possibly shopped instead.  Just because they shopped doesn’t mean they had lots of money either.  Often people who shop and buy lots of things, shouldn’t as they don’t have the means to pay for their purchases, often causing more stress and unhappiness.  Also, I think they said or something I read said that purchasing things and shopping may cause happiness for the moment/day (immediate gratification) whereas going to church and not shopping lead to more sustained happiness in the long run.
OT: So what they say is true, money can’t buy you happiness?
NTW: I would have to say NO money can’t buy happiness.  Think of one of your not-so-joyous negative friends.  Now think of them with lots of money.  Either way, they are still your not-so-joyous negative friend just with some money now.  That may boost their spirits for a bit but if they don’t change their thoughts and behavior, money won’t change it either. I wonder if “money can’t buy you love”.  Now I am going to look at some research about that

OT: With the holidays approaching, do you think a person’s emotion, mood, or behavior could have a heightened effect with extra shopping looming ahead?
NTW: The holidays definitely have an effect on a persons emotions, mood, and behavior.  Although the holidays seem to be associated with happiness, especially in children, stress also is prevalent primarily in adults.  The “holiday blues” often refers to feelings many adults feel around the holidays.  Stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over commercialism, inability to be with family and friends (or even the ability TO be with your entire family), and inability to be two places at the same time, all effect ones emotions and feelings.  This definitely has a physiological effect on your thoughts and your body responds.  These thoughts and situations directly change your bodies chemistry.

OT: So Nicole, how can we survive the holidays and the mayhem that is holiday shopping?

  • Set realistic goals for the holiday like what you can feasibly do and can’t do.
  • Leave “yester-year” in the past and look only toward the future.
  • The holidays aren’t always about being with people but also spending time for yourself. “Worry about yourself”, I love that saying!
  • Limit drinking and overeating to keep your mind and body fresh and healthy.
  • Sleep consistently and enough but not too much.  Get up at a regular time on the weekends even if you don’t have to work to keep your body’s clock regulated.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people and avoid those who bring you down.
  • Meet a new friend or contact some old friends you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Find some time to relax.  Everyone is so busy especially during the holiday season.  We need to put the to-do list away for a bit and find some time to just relax.
  • Focusing on your social, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is the key.

So there you have it. Nicole believes that the research regarding happiness and shopping don’t exactly go hand in hand. Shopping can be an enjoyable activity, but it is pre-developed personality traits that determine how a person will react to wealth and material goods. To really be happy and survive the holidays you’ve got to take care of yourself physically and mentally to maintain sanity Sorry ladies, but if one of your biggest worries is that you’re just in like with your Sketchers, but in love with your Prada backpack, we’re here to tell you that neither will really bring you happiness anyways.This time of year can make just about anyone a little loopy, and at Occam’s Taser we’re here to remind you; try not to turn into a greedy Grinch this holiday season and to just keep it cool; it’s the best way to stay smiling.

Shop Till You Drop (Your Self Esteem)

by Katie Gangloff

As we begin the busiest shopping season with Black Friday and the holidays around the corner, the world deserves to know the truth about shopping (the world can handle the truth). During this change in seasons, marketers take their best shot at selling us useless stuff like Snuggies and Inflatable Fruitcakes. Sales Associates are told to put on happy faces and give you excellent customer service. But, does this really bring you happiness? Do you get home from a big shopping day and think, “WOW! I am so glad I just spent $400 on gifts for my friends?” Sorry Carrie Bradshaw fans, recent research tells us that there is a correlation between shopping and unhappiness.

Our research this week comes from an article in The New York Times from early September talking about Sunday shopping. It introduced research from DePaul University in Chicago and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. The researchers, Cohen-Zada and Sander, tracked levels of happiness and church attendance on Sunday’s among Americans. Their focus was on how shopping facilitated unhappiness. Specifically Cohen-Zada and Sander tracked Americans living in certain states that had “repealed so-called blue laws, which once required most retailers to say closed on Sundays.” These blue laws were put in place to accommodate religion, specifically Christianity. Certain things were not allowed to be sold on Sundays because people were supposed to be in church.

The researchers, Cohen-Zada and Sander, take data from the “General Social Survey” (GSS) which polls individuals who are at least 18 years old about American opinions and trends. One question on the survey asked how often the respondents attended church and another asked how happy they considered themselves. This is how Cohen-Zada and Sander got their information on the correlation of church correlating to happiness and shopping equaling less happiness. In order to control for the blue laws, they took information from people who lived in states that had clear blue laws in previous years and states that had no significant changes.

“The results in this study are consistent with the hypothesis that religious participation as measured by church attendance has a positive effect on happiness. …decline in church attendance brought about by the repeal in blue laws seemed to result in lower levels of happiness. This was especially the case for women who attended church.” (Cohen-Zada and Sander)

Cohen-Zada and Sander have no definite reason why shopping has a negative effect on happiness, but they give it a try. “An excessive focus on materialism or consumerism provides less meaning than religion.” Who enjoys shopping for themselves all the time? Well, maybe Paris Hilton, but who didn’t know that? Shopping is an instant fix, whereas religion acts as a long term relationship which facilitates happiness.

So remember this holiday season that shopping isn’t always the answer to happiness. Also, try not to get sucked into consumerism too much, otherwise there is no hope for any of us.

Religious Participation Versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier?
by: Danny Cohen-Zada and William Sander

The Mind Body Connection

by Lizzy Sebuck

Through our research this week, we have concluded that there is a clear correlation between the health of the body to the physical condition of the mind. In the research we reviewed, we found that preservation of the body through exercise can result in a better preserved mind with age.

It turns out that working out not only adds brawn to your brain, but could be cloud nine for your noodle as well. In our research today, we’ve found that working out can actually make you a happier person! The mind- body connection works both ways: the health of the body can have an affect on the mind, as well as the condition of the mind having an affect on the body. Santa may be a jolly ole’ soul… but this research says a more fit and in-shape Santa would have an even better attitude if he would just put down those milk and cookies.


Feeling down? A little blue? Seasonal depression getting the best of ya? It’s okay, we don’t have to hug it out or anything, we have to work it out. Here’s the deal with working out: you do good things for your body, your body does good things for you. There are a few theories as to why exercise has such a positive affect on the human mind.

When you throw on your Richard Simmons sparkly shorts and jazzercise around your living room, your body releases an opiate called endorphins. Edorphins act as neurotransmitters; they transfer signals from cell to cell in the body. What endorphins say to your  nerve cells is something along the lines of “WOO-HOO!!!” (Think kid in a candy store type feelings). Your body releases endorphins during times of stress, pain, danger, excitement, and even in sex.  During a vigorous work-out, your brain releases endorphins to your nerve cells, which gives your body an overall feel-good sensation.

One source declares that exercise increases frontal lobe function as well as the activity of the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that regulates emotion. While researchers are not quite sure why this happens, they’re happy about it anyways (literally).

In a study of mammals, researchers found that when exercise increased, so did levels of serotonin, dopamine ,and norepinephrine in the brain. Anti-depressants regulate the serotonin levels in the body, with the goal of making patients feel better. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that lives in the precortex of the brain. Dopamine affects cognition and behavior, and is associated with feelings of sexual gratification.

Listen, no one here is saying intercourse isn’t a great workout method. It will probably better your mood because of the visual pleasures, but pumping iron and hitting the gym have the same effects (come on, you can stop winking at your partner now). Norepinephrine is also referred to as noraddrenaline , so you can assume the affects this hormone can have on your body. Norepinephrine is a hormone relative to stress, when released increases heart rate and blood pressure. Norepinephrine has a very similar affect to adrenaline, as it gives humans a rush of sensations.

Dr. Blumenthal of Duke University did a little research on the actual chemical effects on the human mind as a result of regular exercise. In this study surveying 156 men and women, the subjects either received the anti-depressant Zoloft, or were given an exercise routine to follow.

“The data on exercise and mood have gotten even stronger.  One of the most telling studies was reported recently, in which an exercise program was equal in benefit to routine doses of Zoloft, a common antidepressant.The Zoloft and the exercise program were tapered off after 4 months; then the researchers tested the participants again, about 8 months after the treatments were stopped.  At that point, the exercise group was doing better than the group that had received Zoloft. Exercise appears to affect brain chemistry and brain cells in much the same way, perhaps exactly the same way, as antidepressant medications”

This data found that in older adults, exercise could be JUST AS effective in the treatment of depression as the highly prescribed anti depressant drug Zoloft! This research shows that you don’t have to pop pills to be happy- you could instead pump iron!
Exercise can also simply give a person peace of mind. Even the most stressed person in the world has to put their obnoxious boss or nagging mother-in-law out of mind to fully commit themselves in a Zumba routine. Exercise forces a person to put their worries out-of-mind for the time being, which can act as a type of therapy for some. Working out gives people confidence through changing their body shape or through pride by getting themselves to go to the gym at all. Regular athletic activity can , over time, reduce or completely eliminate anxiety issues. It is clear that taking care of your body can have a significant influence on the emotional state of your mind.


The mind- body connection works in both ways. When your body is feeling bad, you can work out to make your body and mind feel good again. When your mind is going through a trial of ‘the blues’ and you don’t take action, your body can take a toll. Worry and tension in life is inevitable , so when unexpected stressors like losing your job, or even a break up can bring on some pretty strong emotions. Your emotions can have a very damaging affect on your body dependant on the severity. According to a source, a bad mood can give a person back pain, chest pain, headaches, high blood pressure, and (here’s the kicker) sexual problems.

Our source also says that your mental health can have an influence on your overall health as well, as your immune system may suffer as a result of personal neglect.

“Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. Also, when you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should. You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking medicine that your doctor prescribes. Abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may also be a sign of poor emotional health.” FamilyDoctor.org

An unhealthy mind can mean a pained body. Strong, negative emotions can not only leave the mind in turmoil, but a laundry list of physical ailments can arise as a result of depression.

Get it? It’s Brain from Pinky and the Brain… and he’s sad

It is obvious that working out has positive affects on the health of your body. In research we found earlier this week, we found that working out can aid your brain health and make you smarter. Today we’ve discovered that exercise can also increase your mood by giving your brain a boost of happy juice! So dig through your mom’s collection of Body Electric work out tapes, pump the speakers with Kenny Loggin’s Footloose, and get up in the gym workin’ on your fitness, Fergalicious, cause it turns out pumping that iron can do more for you than land you that date with the chick on the elliptical.

How does Exercise Improve Mental Health?
Depression and anxiety: exercise eases symptoms
Mind/Body Connection: How your emotions affect your health
Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression
Exercise and mood: not the usual rap