Wednesday, January 20, 2021

 Dr. Jim Reads About Archaea, Bacteria, and Protists from Brooker on Biology

"In the mid- to late 1800s, Koch established a series of four steps to determine whether a particular organism causes a specific disease. 
  1. The presence of the suspected pathogen must correlate with occurrence of symptoms. 

  2. Page 577The pathogen must be isolated from an infected host and grown in pure culture if possible. 

  3. Cells from the pure culture should cause disease when inoculated into a healthy host. 

  4. The same pathogen should be isolatable from the second infected host. 

Using these steps, known as Koch’s postulates, Koch discovered the bacterial causes of anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis. Subsequent investigators have used Koch’s postulates to establish the identities of bacterial species that cause other infectious diseases." (p. 577)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin's Origin of Species on Geologic Dispersion:

Chapter 12

Friday, January 15, 2021

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 11

Chapter 11, On the Geological Succession of Organic Beings

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

"[T]he degree of perfection or highness, and natural selection will tend to render the organization of each being more specialized; though leaving many creatures with simple structures fitted for simple conditions of life, and in some cases even degrading the organization, yet leaving such degraded being better fitted for new walks of life." (Darwin, Origin of Species, p. 174).

Freud on the Unconscious and How Trauma Affects Feelings:

Dr. Jim reads from Freud, The Unconscious about the Instincts or Feelings an Emotions:

Freud defined an instinct as "the concept on the frontier between the somatic and the mental..., the psychical representative of organic forces." (Instincts and their vicissitudes, p. 112). He then wrote about "emotional impulses" that are "perceived, but misconstrued. Owing to the repression of its proper representative it has been forced to become connected with another idea, and is now regarded by consciousness as the manifestation of that idea"--"the idea has undergone repression." Three such vicissitudes are possible: 1. suppression "so that no trace of it is found; 2. affect, which involves a "qualitatively colored" mood; or, 3. "it is changed into anxiety." (Freud, Repression, p. 153).

Freud, S. (1915). The Unconscious. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 159-215

Monday, January 11, 2021

 Dr. Jim Reads Augusten Burrough's A Wolf At The Table: A Memoir of My Father

Chapter 1

"My mother’s voice is my home and when I am surrounded by her sounds, I sleep." 

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5, Part 1, Part 2

"All a rainbow is light that walks behind a raindrop and its colors fall out."

In this chapter Augusten tells a story of when he was 8 or 9 and his desire to have physical proximity and touch by his Father. His father was highly avoidant/dismissive. Augusten at 8 or 9 conducted an experiment to see how often his dad rejected his overtures for physical contact. It was 100%. Augusten then recounts how he gathered a shirt and pants from his dad stuff them with bedsheets towels and pillows and use that to satisfy his need for proximity to his Father. This went on for months until his Mother discovered the artifice and put everything away without discussion.

Chapter 6

 Dr. Jim Reads Brooker on Biology, Chapter 55

54.4 -- Climate

54.5 -- Biomes

55 -- Behavioral Ecology

55.1 -- The Influence of Genetics and Learning on Behavior

55.6 -- On Kin Selection and Altruism (Hamilton's Rule: rB > C)

57.2 -- Predation, Herbivory, and Parasitism

 Dr. Jim reads Chapter 10 of Darwin's Origin of Species,

On the Imperfection of the Geological Record (Part I to p. 156)

On the Imperfection of the Geological Record (Part II to end of Chapter)

"We shall, perhaps, Best perceive the difficulty of connecting species by numerous, intermediate fossil links by asking ourselves whether future geologists will be able to prove that are different breeds of cattle, horses and dogs are descended from a single stopped or from several aboriginal stocks. This could be effected only by the discovery in a fossil state of numerous gradations; and such success is improbable in the highest degree." (p. 160)

"The great oceans are mainly areas of subsidence, the great archipelagoes areas of oscillations, and the continents areas of elevation. But we have no reason to assume that things have thus remain from the beginning of the world. At period long antecedent to the Cambrian epoch, continents may have existed where Oceans are now spread out; and oceans may have existed where our continence now stand. Nor should we be justified in assuming that if, for instance, the bed of the Pacific Ocean were now converted into a continent, we should there find sedimentary formations in a recognizable condition older than the Cambrian strata, supposing such to of been formally deposited; for it might well happen that strata some miles nearer to the center of the earth, which had been pressed on by an enormous weight of water, might've undergone far more metamorphic action than strata nearer to the surface." (p. 165)


Sunday, January 10, 2021

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Chapter 9 -- Hybridism

In Origin of Species

 Hawley, 2011, The Role of Competition and Cooperation in Shaping Personality

"Everyone says you should be nice all the time but no one really is, so if you do what you should band be nice all the time, you're probably gonna get screwed." (Hart, 1998--A Child's Machaivelli: A Primer in Power)

"Unrestrained altruism is a strategy that generally does not pay."

Sunday, January 3, 2021

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 8, Part 2 and Part 3

From Richard E. Leakey's Illustrated Origin of Species:

Chapter 8, Part 2

Chapter 8, Part 3

"There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding with within the living bodies of caterpillars…" (Charles Darwin in correspondence to Asa Gray (1860) as Quoted in Richard E. Leakey's edited version of Darwin's Origin of Species, p. 143)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Dr. Jim reads Brooker on Biology, 54.6

Click here for Link to Video, 54.6, Biogeography

 Dr. Jim reads from Barkow, et al.'s The Adapted Mind, pp. 46-48

Click Here for Barkow et al. pp. 46-48

 Dr. Jim reads from David M. Buss's, Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 24-27)

Click Here for Buss, Evolutionary Psychology, pp. 23-27

 Dr. Jim reads Chapter 8, Part 1 of Darwin's Origin of Species.

Darwin's Chapter 8, Instincts, Part 1

"No instinct can be produced through natural selection except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous slight, yet profitable, variations." (Darwin, Illustrated Origin of Species, Leakey (ed.), p. 131).

 Dr. Jim Reads Brooker on Biomes, 54.5

54.5, Part 1

54.5, Part 2

 Dr. Jim reads Brooker on Biology 54.4, Climate

Brooker 54.4

Friday, January 1, 2021

 Dr. Jim reads Brooker on Biology, Chapter 54.3, The Environment's Effect on the Distribution of Organisms:

 Dr. Jim reads Brooker on Biology on Ecological Methods, 54.2

 Dr. Jim Read Brooker on Biology on the Scale of Ecology 54.1

Thursday, December 31, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin, Chapter 7, Part 2 from the Illustrated Origin of Species, Edited by Richard E. Leakey--Omo I, Omo II, and the Discovery of the origin of our species (Homo sapien) dating back 160,000 years ago beginning with p. 127.

Dr. Jim Reads Darwin, Chapter 7, Part 1 from the Illustrated Origin of Species, Edited by Richard E. Leakey--Omo I, Omo II, and the Discovery of the origin of our species (Homo sapien) dating back 160,000 years ago beginning with p. 122.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Dr. Jim reads Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 6 Difficulties of the Theory, Part 4, beginning with p. 119 to the end of the Chapter.

Stayed tuned. My next reading will be from Chapter 7 Miscellaneous Objections to Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads from Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 6, p. 114 beginning with Special Difficulties of the Theory of Natural Selection.

One of the interesting points made in this section of Darwin's magnum opus is found at p. 116 where he had been detailing how nature presents itself with a great deal of variety but little in the way of innovation. "Why, on the theory of Creation, should there be so much variety and so little real novelty?" he wrote. "Why should all the parts and organs of many independent beings, each supposed to have been separately created for its proper place in nature, be so commonly linked together by graduated steps? Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from structure to structure? On the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she should not; for natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps." 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

 Mind-Body Connection and Decision-Making

        I've been fascinated by and studying the ability to make wise decisions that promote long term health and wellbeing in humans for a very long time. In fact its been a preoccupation of mine since I was child. One's ability to curb temptation in all it's forms--food, drug, alcohol, cutting, sexual behavior, displays of rage/angry outbursts, etc., predict long term wellbeing.

        Before turning to science, I'm sure I spent at least a thousand hours puzzling over the issue informed by reading spiritual literature about the freedom or bondage of the will (Martin Luther (the monk), Jonathan Edwards, Puritan writers, C.H. Spurgeon, and other. I studied Martin Lloyd Jones' works on Romans and Ephesians and studied all I could about temptation, Romans 7, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, I and II Peter, Revelation, etc. I've come to the ultimate conclusion that generally speaking religion confuses conformity with the group and group health with wise decision-making. 

        Aristotle's Golden Mean where balance and moderation win the race captures the boon to society and individuals who comprise the community that comes with what Barkley (2012) called executive function. Barkley's view of executive function drew upon Dawkin's (1982) ideas about adaptation, selective pressures (phenotypic expression of genes interacting with one's environment). 

        Herein lies where I'm at right now in this fascinating area of study which I believe is foundational to both individual and collective pursuits of health and happiness. 

        New research coming from evolutionary psychology is using metatheory informing the natural sciences (i.e. evolution) to explore this concept which I find in the writings of Bowen et al. on Differentiation of Self, Mischel and Schoda/Zelazo/Lieberman, and Banaji and Greenwald/Kanneman and Tversky and many others including the writing of Theodore Millon and his colleagues and Seymour Epstein. A happy sharing of information across academic / scholarly domains is facilitating a wealth of new information informing our understanding of this essential borderland between the mind and the body / the spirit and the flesh and the problem of self-regulation / emotional regulation / and wisdom.

        In reading from a Journal entitled Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences this morning published by the American Psychological Association I came across an article written by Professor Hill of Texas Christian University citing research on this issue. I had previously come across the idea that problematic use of drugs and alcohol (and by extension overeating, sedentary lifestyle, etc.) involved a trade off of gratifying behaviors by discounting cumulative effects on one's health. Use of drugs, alcohol, etc. make logical sense in dealing with bionegativity--"a personality constellation in which one or more part processes disturb the total function of the organism" (Angyal, 1941, p. 329). 

        Substance use disorders have been hypothesized as behaviors intended to establish positive homeostasis (Kaye, Gendall, & Strober, 1998; Magnavita, 2006; Van der Kolk, 1994, 2003, 2014). Growing up in dysfunctional homes where yelling, violence, and dysregulated emotions prevail so disrupts the nervous and associated systems of the body that bionegativity becomes the norm for the members of such families.

        All of which is to say I am really pleased this morning to see Gassen and his colleagues (2019) publish a cross-sectional research article on the relationship between inflammation (which can be quantified/measured by serum cytokine concentration) and the quality of one's decision-making, and, in particular the ability to delay gratification for greater long range pleasure/life enhancement--i.e. health and happiness. 


Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (2013). Blindspot: Hidden biases of good people. New York: Random House

Barkley, C. (2012). Executive functions: What they are, how they work, and why they evolved. New York: The Guilford Press. 

Davies, P. T. & Martin, M. J. (2013). The reformulation of emotional security theory: The role of children’s social defense in developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 25, 1435-1454.

Dawkins, R. (1982). The extended phenotype. Oxford: W. H. Freeman and Company, Limited.

Gassen, J., Prokosch, M. L., Eimerbrink, M. J., Leyva, R. P. P., White, J. D., Peterman, J. L., ... & Boehm, G. W. (2019). Inflammation predicts decision-making characterized by impulsivity, present focus, and an inability to delay gratification. Scientific reports9(1), 1-10.

Hall, M. C. (2013). The Bowen family theory and its uses. Chevy Chase, MD: International Psychotherapy Institute E-books.

Johnston, J. R., & Campbell, L. E. G. (1988). Impasses of divorce: The dynamics and resolution of family conflict. New York, NY: Free Press

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Kaye, W., Gendall, K., & Strober, M. (1998). Serotonin neuronal function and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment in anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Biological psychiatry, 44(9), 825-838.

Kerr, M. & Bowen, M. (1988). Family evaluation: An approach based on Bowen theory. New York: W. W. Norton & Company

Lieberman, M. D., Gaunt, R., Gilbert, D. T., & Trope, Y. (2002). Reflexion and reflection: A social cognitive neuroscience approach to attributional inference. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 34 (p. 199–249). Academic Press.

Magnavita, J. (2006). Personality-guided relational psychotherapy: A unified approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Mischel,W., Shoda,Y.,&Rodriguez, M. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, 933–937.

Noone, R. J. (2014). Differentiation of self as a multigenerational process. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Differentiation of self: Bowen family systems theory perspective (pp. 96-111). New York: Routledge

Van der Kolk, B. A. (1994). The body keeps the score: Memory and the evolving psychobiology of posttraumatic stress. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 1(5), 253-265.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2003). The neurobiology of childhood trauma and abuse. Child Adolescence Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, 293-317. 

Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking.

Zelazo, P. D., & Carlson, S. M. (2012). Hot and cool executive function in childhood and adolescence: Development and plasticity. Child development perspectives, 6(4), 354-360.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 6, Difficulties of the Theory, Part 2, beginning with p. 111-115, started with p. 114 tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 6, Difficulties of the Theory, Part 1 to p. 111.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Laws of Variation, Chapter 5, Part 2:

Darwin wrote at p. 102 "For myself, I venture confidently to look back thousands on thousands of generations and I see an animal striped like a zebra, but perhaps very different constructed, the common parent of our domestic horse, the ass, the hemionus, quagga, and zebra."

Saturday, December 19, 2020

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 5, The Laws of Variation, Part 1

Sunday, December 13, 2020

            Dr. Jim Concludes his reading of Bowenian Chapter on Differentiation of Self, Part 4:

            When the custody evaluator can remain "anchored in emotional neutrality" in writing it up, the result can promote more reasoned and regulated "self-determined direction" and listening where "pressuring for agreement or to have [one's] way" is discarded in favor of finding solutions to the problem. That is to see where win-win is possible. Kerr and Bowen (1988) wrote "There is no limit to emotional neutrality. It is broadened each time human being can view the world more as it is than as he wishes, fears, or imagines it to be." (p. 111).

 Dr. Jim reads from Bowen re: Differentiation of Self:

 Dr. Jim Reads from Bowen's Differentiation of Self, Part 2

Saturday, December 12, 2020

 Dr. Jim reads About Bowen's Differentiation of Self, Part 1

            In 1975 Wilson wrote about three key properties of social organization: cohesiveness, altruism, and cooperativeness. In the animal kingdom only four groups of animals have been able to significantly develop these properties: (1) colonial invertebrates—coral/the Portuguese man-of-war; (2) social insects (ants, termites, certain wasps and bees), (3) nonhuman mammals (particularly the elephants, chimpanzees, and African wild dogs), and (4) humans. It's important to recognize that high levels of social integration are not inherently "good" for the adaptiveness of a species.

            The key to the "level of complexity" of our social organization involves our capacity for abstraction in the service of win-win social groupings and self-government. This capacity enables us to "establish long-remembered contracts and to profitably engage in acts of reciprocal altruism that can be spaced over long periods of time, indeed over generations." Our communication capacities allow us to "far exceed" the colonial invertebrates, social insects, and nonhuman mammals in social organization. This capacity combined with differentiation of self in our families of origin "have reversed the downward trend in social evolution that prevailed over a billion years of the previous history of life." 


Kerr, M. & Bowen, M. (1988). Family evaluation: An approach based on Bowen theory. New York: W. W. Norton & Company at p, 91

Wilson, E. O. (1975) Sociobiology: The new synthesis. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press at p. 380 

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 4, Natural Selection, Part 5

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin, Chapter 4, Natural Selection, Part 4:

        Dr. Jim reads Darwin, Chapter 4, Part 3

 Dr. Jim reads Darwin, Chapter 4, Natural Selection Part 2

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Chapter 4, Natural Selection (first 20 minutes), Part 1.

Friday, December 11, 2020

 Dr. Jim finishes reading Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 3.

Coming next: Natural Selection!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin, Chapter 2, Variation Under Nature to Chapter 3, The Struggle for Existence to p. 70.

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Origin of Species, Chapter 2, Variation in Nature, p. 61 to 64

 Dr. Jim Reads, Variation in Nature, Part 3 beginning with p. 58 to the end of the Chapter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin, Chapter 1, Variation Under Domestication, Part 2, beginning with p. 53-58

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

 Dr. Jim Reads Darwin's Chapter 1, Variation Under Domestication

 Dr. Jim Reads from Darwin's Origin of Species

This is Darwin's Introduction

Friday, October 18, 2019

More of Dr. Jim / James Husen reading from Dr. Childress's book on An Attachment-Based Model of "Parental Alienation"

            This time I'll be reading Dr. Childress's chapter on Attachment and Personality. Dr. Childress describes the internal working model and defensive structure of persons with disorganized attachment. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dr. Jim Reading
From Dr. Childress's Book on 
An Attachment Based Model of Parental Alienation

      I've been reading a really interesting book by Dr. Childress and thought I'd read a section in the book where he talks about splitting. Splitting as many will know is a psychoanalytic term describing a person's inability to integrate good and bad. The result is appraisals of others that are overly idealized or overly demonizing. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Why Does Mindfulness Reduce Calm Stress, Improve Your Mood, and Promote Better Health?

Mindfulness reduces stress and improves health. This is a robust scientific finding supported by many recent scientific experimental research. If you want to benefit from this, you can start being mindful right now. 

          1.  Pay attention on purpose to your thoughts and feelings. You don't have to close your eyes but that may help. You can also add some soothing music. 

          2.  In addition to paying attention to your thoughts and feelings you can also purposely slow and deepen your breathing.

          3.  In paying attention on purpose (called monitoring) you will also purposely ACCEPT Your thoughts and feelings even if you don't agree or like them.

          Recently published scientific research highlighted this acceptance component of mindfulness. Using a dismantling technique in a randomized and controlled test of three different groups, Chin et al. (2019) identified acceptance as a "key ingredient" responsible for mindfulness mediated mental and physical health benefits.

           I wish you a mindful day,

Dr. Jim


Chin, B., Lindsay, E. K., Greco, C. M., Brown, K. W., Smyth, J. M., Wright, A. G. C., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Psychological mechanisms driving stress resilience in mindfulness training: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. 
Lindsay, E. K., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mechanisms of mindfulness training: Monitor and Acceptance Theory (MAT). Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 48-59.

Friday, April 13, 2018


             Grice (1975) wrote that effective human discourse must be cooperative (p. 46). He called it the Cooperative Principle. This principle informs good communication. Grice described cooperative discourse by breaking it down into four constitutive factors: “Quality, Quantity, Relation, and Manner” (Ibid).
             Hesse (1999) succinctly defined these four features of collaborative discourse as follows:
Quality—be truthful, and have evidence for what you say.
Quantity—be succinct, and yet complete.
Relation—be relevant to the topic at hand.
Manner—be clear and orderly. (p. 404).
             Grice (1975) called Quality a “supermaxim” whose emphasis upon truth includes by implicature to never promote a known falsity. He also called "perspicacity" a "supermaxim" of cooperative communication. By which he meant on the positive side that cooperative communication involves joining what is said with what is meant or what one intends to say in ways that avoid confusion.

               Can you imagine how much more efficient our trials and hearings would be if people were able to adhere to Grice’s four maxims of collaborative discourse?


Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. L. Moran (Eds.), Syntax and semantics; Vol. 3. Speech acts, (pp. 41-58). New York: Academic Press.

Hesse, E. (1999). The adult attachment interview: Historical and current perspectives. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver, Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and clinical applications, (pp. 395-433). New York. The Guilford Press.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pleiotropic Processes & Toastmasters

Wikipedia points out that pleiotropy "occurs when one gene influences two or more seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits" ( I like the word because it describes a dynamic I see in Toastmasters -- a great organization that helps people become better communicators and leaders.

With Toastmasters you learn how to communicate and lead in a safe and supportive environment. This enables you to practice and learn communication and leadership skills in a place that promotes growth and encouragement.

As you grow in the group it becomes pleiotropic because it begins to improve your relationships and performance outside the Toastmaster meetings into your work, family and other involvements.

So I encourage you to join a local Toastmasters and give it a shot. You'll probably begin to see pleiotropic communication and leadership skills in not just one but several areas of your life.

You are encouraged to come visit the Lemon Street Toastmasters. They meet at the Riverside County Building on Wednesdays from 12:05 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. I and we'd love to see you there.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Flynn Effect and Why Our Children Are Smarter Than We Were At Their Age

Ever wonder why your kids are smarter than you were at their age. I have and I think the Flynn Effect offers something of an explanation. According to Flynn, if people took IQ tests standardized to today's children, they would receive a score of about 70 (which would result in their being categorized as intellectually disabled (2 standard deviations below the mean). On the other hand, children on average today would be considered geniuses with a score of 130.
Flynn (2014) attributed this phenomena to a growing ability to take hypotheticals seriously--an ability which he points out enable moral development
Others have explained the Flynn effect as a symbiotic effect upon brain structure and function in the interactive interface between brain and artifacts/technology such as books, internet, computers and so forth (Forsythe, Liao, Trumbo & Cardona-Rivera (2014, pp. 140-142)--"the google effect".


Flynn, J. (2014). Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents'. Retrieved from

Forsythe, C., Liao, H., Trumbo, M. C. S., & Cardona-Rivera, R. E. (2014). Cognitive neuroscience of human systems: Work and every day life. New York: CRC Press.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stress, Cognitive Reserve, and Dementia

I've been studying the importance of taking time to engage in leisure activities that improve or contribute to your cognitive reserve (CR, Scarmeas, Levy, Tang, Many & Stern, 2001, p. 2240). These include "reading, visiting friends or relatives, going to movies or restaurants, walking, and going on excursions" all contribute to cognitive reserve (Ibid). CR represents the brain's capacity to cope with stress and injury ensuring on going functionality especially as we age (Stern, 2006). This psychophysiological ability of the brain and mind to cope and work around the wear and tear of stress becomes increasingly important as we get older and the prevalence of dementia and cognitive decline dramatically increases.

I'm disappointed though. I hoped binge watching television and lying sedentary while eating ice cream, chips, and drinking beer might be healthy. They're not on the list. However, watching television did make Wilson, et al.'s (2002) list of 7 CR creating activities that "involve information processing as a central component." Their list of CR strengthening activities which buffered elderly folk from dementia included "viewing television; listening to radio; reading newspapers; reading magazines; reading books; playing games such as cards, checkers, crosswords, or other puzzles; and going to museums" (Ibid; see also Verghese et al., 2003).

Converging scientific research affirms health benefits of regular exercise and cognitively charged leisure which engage the mind. This research builds upon a growing paradigm shift in medicine. This new way of thinking began with the realization that by 1960 stress related diseases exceeded microbial etiologies in United States mortality studies (Everly & Lating, 2013, p. 3). Stress necessarily involves perception or appraisal / psychological factors (Lazarus, 1984).

Interestingly, a plethora of studies correlate education with reduced incidence of dementia and conclude that educational attainment acts as a "proxy for [cognitive] reserve"; However, a lifespan approach to the issue best accounts for the nuances in the research. In the same way that arteriosclerosis develops as an interplay of genetics, diet and lifestyle over many years, so too with cognitive reserve. The neural connectivity associated with a life characterized by optimism, curiosity, activity and openness to experience established over the course of many years differs significantly from that which emerges from years of stress related depression, defensive exclusion of potentially rewarding experience, anger and hostility. A significantly different neural net profile of potentiated networks emerges over time (DeYoung, Hirsch, Shan, Papademetris, Rajeevan & Gray, 2010) as state become embedded as neural traits (Perry, Pollard, Blaicley, Baker & Vigilante, 1995).

The point is that just like other health related issues, so too with the mind. Taking charge of your stress now while you are young enough to do something about it pays off by way of CR as you age. However, it is never too late to start learning how to improve how you cope with the stress of the life. My wife, Dorothy Husen, helps people immeasurably improve the quality of their lives and everyone around them as a result. Check out her website ( or give her a call at (951) 203-2181.


DeYoung, C. G., Hirsh, J. B., Shane, M. S., Papademetris, X., Rajeevan, N., & Gray, J. R. (2010). Testing predictions from personality neuroscience: Brain structure and the big five. Psychological science, 21(6), 820-826.

Everly, G. S., & Lating, J. M. (2013). A clinical guide to the treatment of the human stress response (3d ed.). New York: Springer.

Lazarus, R. S. & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress appraisal and coping. New York: Springer Publishing.

Perry, B. D., Pollard, R. A., Blakely, T. L., Baker, W. L., & Vigilante, D. (1995). Childhood trauma, the neurobiology of adaptation, and “use-dependent” development of the brain: How “states become “traits”. Infant Mental Health Journal, 16(4), 271-291.

Scarmeas, N., Levy, G., Tang, M. X., Manly, J., & Stern, Y. (2001). Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology, 57(12), 2236-2242.

Stern, Y. (2006). Cognitive reserve and Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, 20(2), 112-117.

Verghese, J., Lipton, R. B., Katz, M. J., Hall, C. B., Derby, C. A., Kuslansky, G., ... & Buschke, H. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), 2508-2516.

Wilson, R. S., de Leon, C. F. M., Barnes, L. L., Schneider, J. A., Bienias, J. L., Evans, D. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2002). Participation in Cognitively Stimulating Activities and Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease. Journal of the American Medical Assocition, 287, 742-748.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Posture Deescalates Stress & Promotes Enthusiasm and Strength: The Power of Embodied Cognition

Posture Deescalates Stress & Promotes Enthusiasm and Strength:

The Power of Embodied Cognition


            A recent study demonstrated that taking an upright posture promotes genuine feelings of enthusiasm and strength and simultaneously assists in overcoming fear, hostility and other negative emotions. Posture appears to be a relatively easy to control behavior that can almost instantaneously improve your emotional mood. The study compared 39 upright posture keepers with 35 randomized slumpers.



(Nair, Sagar, Soller, Consedine & Broadbent, 2015, p. 634)


            The authors call the results of their study an addition to the existing literature on “embodied cognition” See also, Kraft and Pressman (2012) which found that smiling “can influence both cardiovascular and affective responses to stress.” (Nair, Sagar, Soller, Consedine & Broadbent, 2015, p. 638)


(Kraft & Pressman, 2012, p. 1374)


            Embodied cognition also accounts for the results of a 2006 study which found that exposure to frowning faces had a negative effect on mood and exposure to smiling faces had an uplifting effect on mood. (Jorgenson, 2006)


            In a similar way, Dialectical Behavior Therapy has an exercise called the “Half-Smile and Serenity” meditation. Brent Menninger gives and awesome rendition of this meditation at Try it out.


            So, today, try sitting, walking and standing tall. Walk with your chest out and stomach pulled in. Put on a half-smile as you take control over your emotions and encourage the emergence of genuine enthusiasm and strength while simultaneously overcoming “fearful, hostile, nervous … dull, sleepy, sluggish” affect. (Nair, Sagar, Soller, Consedine & Broadbent, 2015, p. 637)




Jorgenson, D. (2006). Effect of frequency of exposure to smiling and frowning faces on target mood. Midwestern Psychological Association 2006 Convention Presentation. Long Beach, CA: California State University Long Beach.


Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and bear it the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychological science, 23(11), 1372-1378.


Menninger, B. (2015, June 14). “Half-Smile and Serenity” Mediation.


Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J. III, Considine, N. & Broadbent, E. (2015). Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychology, 34(6), 632-641.