Green is good for youIn one study, for instance, he asked participants to complete a 40-minute sequence of stroop and binary classification tasks designed to exhaust their directed attention capacity. After the attentionally fatiguing tasks, the randomly assigned participants spent 40 minutes walking in a local nature preserve, walking in an urban area, or sitting quietly while reading magazines and listening to music. After this period, those who had walked in the nature preserve performed better than the other participants on a standard proofreading task. They also reported more positive emotions and less anger. "These are not spectacular natural environments or horribly oppressive urban environments," says Hartig, an associate professor of applied psychology at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University in Gävle, Sweden. "We try to represent typical local conditions, using what's available to people in the way of places they can enter if they're feeling stressed and want some relief."
Bird contagionThis week, scientists report that New Zealand parrots can spread positive emotion, too — or at least behaviour that could indicate their state of mind. The researchers recorded the play calls of keas (Nestor notabilis) and played them back to groups of wild keas. When the birds heard the sounds, they played more vigorously and longer — certainly more than when they heard the calls of a South Island robin (Petroica australis). The calls did not, however, seem to act as an invitation to join existing birds at play. Some keas that heard them preferred to start their own play — typically embarking on feats of aerial acrobatics. With self-confessed anthropomorphism, the scientists suggest that the play calls of these birds act in the same way as infectious laughter in people (R. Schwing et al. Curr. Biol. 27, R213–R214; 2017). In its homeland, the playful kea is called the clown of the mountains. And as every good clown knows: cry and you cry alone. But laugh and the world laughs with you.
Stop running, start sobbingParticipants reported to the lab on Monday following their regular workout and completed a series of questionnaires, and these same questionnaires were completed at the same time of day on the next 4 d. The dependent variables consisted of state and trait anxiety (STAI), and tension, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue, confusion, and overall mood (POMS). Increases in total mood disturbance, state anxiety, tension, depression, and confusion across days were significant (P < 0.05), and vigor decreased. The pattern of increasing mood disturbance with exercise deprivation was followed by mood improvement to baseline levels when exercise was resumed. We concluded that a brief period of exercise deprivation in habitual exercisers results in mood disturbance within 24-48 h.
Bad timing is depressing: Disrupting the brain's internal clock causes depressive-like behavior in mice -- ScienceDailyInherent circadian clocks help us function throughout the day, by telling us when to sleep, wake and eat, as well as by synchronizing our bodily processes. "It is perhaps not surprising that disruptions of our natural synchronization can have heavy impacts on our physical and mental health," Dr. Landgraf added. However, until now researchers did not know if disturbed circadian rhythms were a cause or consequence of mood disorders. In the new study, a team led by David K. Welsh has shown for the first time a causal relationship between functioning circadian clocks and mood regulation.
Mind of blue: Emotional expression affects the brain's creativity network: Study of jazz pianists finds 'happy' and 'sad' music evoke different neural patterns -- ScienceDaily"There's more deactivation of the DLPFC during happy improvisations, perhaps indicating that people are getting into more of a 'groove' or 'zone,' but during sad improvisations there's more recruitment of areas of the brain related to reward," said McPherson, a classical violist and first-year graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology. "This indicates there may be different mechanisms for why it's pleasurable to create happy versus sad music."
Hypo start-upsBusiness owners are "vulnerable to the dark side of obsession," suggest researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. They conducted interviews with founders for a study about entrepreneurial passion. The researchers found that many subjects displayed signs of clinical obsession, including strong feelings of distress and anxiety, which have "the potential to lead to impaired functioning," they wrote in a paper published in the Entrepreneurship Research Journal in April. Reinforcing that message is John Gartner, a practicing psychologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. In his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, Gartner argues that an often-overlooked temperament--hypomania--may be responsible for some entrepreneurs' strengths as well as their flaws. A milder version of mania, hypomania often occurs in the relatives of manic-depressives and affects an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans. "If you're manic, you think you're Jesus," says Gartner. "If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing. We're talking about different levels of grandiosity but the same symptoms."
Music has a hardwired mood?People's emotional response to music is visceral: It is, in part, ingrained in some of the oldest regions of the brain in terms of evolutionary history, rather than in the large wrinkly human cortex that evolved more recently. One patient—a woman known in the research literature as I. R.—exemplifies this primal response. I. R. has lesions to her auditory cortices, the regions of the cortex that process sound. When I. R. hears the normal version of a song and a horribly detuned version, she cannot tell the difference, explains Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist who studies music at Western University's Brain and Mind Institute in Ontario. But when I. R. hears a happy song and a sad song, she immediately distinguishes them from one another.
Running as medicine for ADDBack in the early '80s, a marathoner came to me and said, look, I think I have adult-onset attention deficit disorder[…]the guy was - had a dual appointment at MIT and Harvard as a professor, was a MacArthur Fellow, had all the credentials in the world; and he was a marathoner. And he had to stop marathoning because he hurt his knee and couldn't run his typical seven to eight miles a day. So he said that at first, he got depressed, which happens to most marathoners. But secondly, after his depression resolved, he couldn't pay attention. He was like a child with attention deficit disorder - was always off in dreamland or would forget things, would get aggressive too easily, ignored his friends; all the things that we see in attention deficit disorder. […]I put him on medicine and that helped quite a lot but then, eventually, he got back to running, and he dropped the medicine because it was no longer necessary. And that's what we see at times with many of the people who have attentional issues or mood issues; that exercise can be self-medicating.
Drawing pizzas improved the subjects' mood by 28%, while sketching cupcakes and strawberries boosted spirits by 27% and 22%, respectively. Mood in the pepper group improved by only 1%. There were no significant differences in hunger or excitement levels between the groups.