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Whether it’s 2020 or Baby Shark: Study offers clues on how to stop thinking about it

first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail By Lisa Marshall • Published: Dec. 17, 2020 “Let it go.” “Think about something else.” “Clear your head.”In our attempts to de-clutter our busy minds and make room for new, often more productive thoughts, people tap an array of different approaches. Which works best, and how does each strategy distinctly impact the brain?Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Texas at Austin have taken a first stab at answering this question, combining novel brain imaging with machine learning techniques to offer an unprecedented window into what happens in the brain when we try to stop thinking about something.The findings, published this month in the journal Nature Communications lend new insight into the basic building blocks of cognition and could inform new therapies for issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. They also provide clues on how to form better study habits or innovate at work.“We found that if you really want a new idea to come into your mind, you need to deliberately force yourself to stop thinking about the old one,” said co-author Marie Banich, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder.For the study, Banich teamed up with Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, a cognitive neuroscience at UT Austin, to examine brain activity in 60 volunteers as they tried to flush a thought from their working memory.As Lewis-Peacock describes it, working memory is the “scratch pad” of the mind where we store thoughts temporarily to help us carry out tasks. But we can only keep three or four thoughts in working memory at a time. Like a sink full of dirty dishes, it must be cleaned out to make new ideas possible.“Once we’re done using that information to answer an email or address some problem, we need to let it go so it doesn’t clog up our mental resources to do the next thing,” he said.Cleaning your brain’s ‘dirty dishes’ When we ruminate over something – perhaps the fight we had with a friend or an offending text — that can color new thoughts in a negative light. Such rumination is at the root of many mental health disorders, said Banich.“In obsessive compulsive disorder it could be the thought of as, ‘If I don’t wash my hands again I will get sick.’ In anxiety, it might be, ‘This plane is going to crash.’”A study subject has her brain scanned in an fMRI machine at CU Boulder.To determine if people can truly purge a thought, and how, the team asked each volunteer to lay down inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) at the Intermountain Neuroimaging Center on the Boulder campus.They were shown pictures of faces, fruits and scenes and asked to maintain the thought of them for 4 seconds. Meanwhile, researchers created individualized ‘brain signatures’ showing precisely what each person’s brain looked like when they thought of each picture.Afterward, participants were told to: replace the thought (“replace apple with mountain”); clear all thoughts (akin to mindfulness meditation); or suppress the thought (focus on it and then deliberately try to stop thinking about it). In each case, the brain signature associated with the image visibly faded.“We were thrilled,” said Banich. “This is the first study to move beyond just asking someone, ‘Did you stop thinking about that?’ Rather, you can actually look at a person’s brain activity, see the pattern of the thought and then watch it fade as they remove it.”The researchers also found that “replace,” “clear” and “suppress” had very different impacts.While ‘replace’ and ‘clear’ prompted the brain signature of the image to fade faster, it didn’t fade completely, leaving a shadow in the background as new thoughts were introduced.‘Suppress,’ on the other hand, took longer to prompt forgetting but was more complete in making room for a new thought.Behavioral studies outside the scanner yielded similar results.A mirror into the mind“The bottom line is: If you want to get something out of your mind quickly use ‘clear’ or ‘replace,’” said Banich. “But if you want to get something out of your mind so you can put in new information, ‘suppress’ works best.”More research is necessary, but the findings suggest that students may want to pack up their algebra notes, take a break and deliberately try not to think about quadratic equations before moving on to study for physics.Hit a wall on that report at work? Let it go for a while.“People often think, ‘If I think about this harder I am going to solve this problem.’ But work by clinicians suggests it can actually give you tunnel vision and keep you in a loop that is hard to get out of,” said Banich.In a counseling setting, the findings suggest that to fully purge a problematic memory that keeps bubbling up, one might need to deliberately focus on it and then push it away.Someday, the brain imaging technique could potentially be used during sessions as a sort of cognitive mirror to help people learn how to put destructive thoughts out of their minds.Banich and Lewis-Peacock intend to study that next.“If we can get a sense of what their brain should look like if they are successfully suppressing a thought, then we can navigate them to a more effective strategy for doing that,” said Lewis-Peacock. “It’s an exciting next step.” Categories:Health & SocietyNews Headlineslast_img read more

City Hall retreats from electric vehicle charging stations at the beach

first_imgHomeNewsCity CouncilCity Hall retreats from electric vehicle charging stations at the beach Aug. 02, 2017 at 6:40 amCity CouncilNewsCity Hall retreats from electric vehicle charging stations at the beachMatthew Hall4 years agoCity Halldaily presselectric carElectric Vehicle Action Planelectric vehicle charging stationsEV chargesplanning commissionSanta Monicasanta monica daily pressA car powers up at a bank of electric vehicle charging stations located at Virginia Avenue Park. (Daniel Archuleta [email protected])  The city’s electrical vehicle community supports expanding charging stations citywide but at the July 25 Council meeting, drivers rallied in opposition to the proposed construction of several charging stations in the city’s beach adjacent lots.At issue last week was a proposal pilot program with Southern California Edison to install chargers in the Civic Center parking lot and in the beach lots.Local drivers praised the City’s ongoing efforts to support electric vehicles but as a group, said the City hasn’t done enough to provide public chargers for residents and that resources should be focused on facilitating charging for residents of multifamily housing.City Manager Rick Cole acknowledged the city doesn’t have adequate charging facilities in the community and he said the city is working on expanding locations citywide. He said the beach proposal was a result of requirements imposed by the agreement with Edison.Under the terms of the pilot program, the utility company pays for infrastructure improvements necessary to install electrical vehicle chargers. However, the rules of the program require a minimum of 10 spaces and prohibit those ten from removing more than 4 percent from the total lot.In Santa Monica, that limited the options to the Civic Center, Beach lots and the city’s downtown garages. The Downtown lots can’t accommodate other requirements of the program such as construction of new disabled charging stations and the city was left with the Civic Center and the Beach.“This means Edison will only extend this to very, very large lots. So, it’s great for Dodger stadium, it’s great for the beach, it’s great for a college or a high school,” he said. “It’s not particular good for the kind of thing we want to do which is get chargers out into our neighborhoods and or into our local parks,” he said.However, given the community opposition to the plan, Cole said staff would drop plans to install chargers at the beach lot and instead ask Edison to revise the program.“It would be our recommendation, a revised recommendation to you tonight, to proceed forward to applying to Edison for the grant for the civic center parking structure, to give us authority to apply for additional chargers if Edison is willing to flex, which we don’t think they will, but if they were willing to flex to achieve chargers that would more directly benefit residents throughout our community,” he said. “That would be our revised recommendation to drop the beach lot based on the fact that it’s a fairly expensive for relatively small returns at this stage to our community.”New EV driver Paul Rosenstein said he had to adapt when he purchased an electric car.“I suddenly have to learn all about the charging issue which is no insignificant issue when you have an electric vehicle,” he said.He said the beach lot is fraught with problems for locals including a fee to enter the lot, a lack of overnight access and distance from homes.Resident William Claiborn said it was great that the city was working on EV chargers but said given the majority of residents live in multi-unit housing, the city should find a way to faciliatate charging for those residents.“The placement of these things is best in places where people who are residents can get to them and parking lots, paid parking lots, are not really those places, they are basically tourist places,” he said.City Hall is also working on an Electric Vehicle Action Plan.The document will provide a review of existing policies, plans and programs to support charging infrastructure on a state and regional level. Discuss recommended policy priorities to address current problems with EV Charging and EV utilization. Provide an implementation plan for all policy priorities that will require collaboration between various City departments and divisions, Southern California Edison, the City’s selected EVSE service provider, and community stakeholders and include appendices with resources including maps on current and proposed EV charging infrastructure and detailed material on multi-family unit dwelling (MUD) installation case studies and best practices.Planning Commission saw a first draft of the plan in July and the document will make the rounds at various boards and commissions with the goal of a final draft appearing before the council in [email protected] :City Halldaily presselectric carElectric Vehicle Action Planelectric vehicle charging stationsEV chargesplanning commissionSanta Monicasanta monica daily pressshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentDon’t Fandango, MoochElaine Polachek hired by Santa Monica collegeYou Might Also LikeFeaturedNewsBobadilla rejects Santa Monica City Manager positionMatthew Hall11 hours agoNewsWedding boom is on in the US as vendors scramble to keep upAssociated Press22 hours agoNewsCouncil picks new City ManagerBrennon Dixson22 hours agoFeaturedNewsProtesting parents and Snapchat remain in disagreement over child protection policiesClara Harter22 hours agoFeaturedNewsDowntown grocery to become mixed use developmenteditor22 hours agoNewsBruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for moreAssociated Press22 hours agolast_img read more