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On Awe, Wonder, Biofeedback, CBSM, Virtual Reality, Privacy, Being Wrong, and more

Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, this time featuring eleven timely resources and research findings for lifelong brain health and mental well-being.

#1. “Awe is the feeling we experience when encountering vast things that we don’t understand. Around the world and in culturally varying ways, studies show, we experience awe in response to others’ kindness and courage, nature, music, religious or spiritual practice, the visual and dramatic arts, and epiphany … It leads us to share, collaborate, and wonder. In experiences of awe, people often speak as if they have found their soul.”

Sometimes it IS awesome to learn how the sausage was made: How Pixar’s “Soul” met the Science of Awe

#2. Here are six suggestions to incorporate awe into daily routines and improve mental well-being, based on the new book Awestruck: Linger, Slow down, Appreciate your senses, Unplug, Awe walks, Awe journaling.

#3. Speaking … Read the rest

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Dramática baja de enfermedades por virus comunes, ¿significa máscaras para siempre?

Las máscaras y el distanciamiento físico están demostrando tener importantes beneficios extra, evitando que las personas contraigan todo tipo de enfermedades, no solo covid-19.

Pero no está claro si los protocolos valdrán la pena a largo plazo.

Maestros de la Academia New Hope en Franklin, Tennessee, estaban charlando sobre el tema. La escuela cristiana privada ha permanecido presencial durante gran parte de la pandemia, requiriendo máscaras y tratando de mantener a los alumnos separados, en la medida en que es posible con niños pequeños.

Nicole Grayson, quien enseña en cuarto grado, dijo que se dieron cuenta de algo peculiar.

“No conocemos a nadie que se haya engripado”, dijo. “A ningún estudiante que haya contraído faringitis estreptocócica”.

Y no se trata solo de algo anecdótico.

Un estudio publicado este marzo en el Journal of Hospital Medicine, dirigido por investigadores del Centro Médico de la Universidad de Vanderbilt, encontró que en 44 … Read the rest

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Growing research supports Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback training to lower stress and anxiety, increase sports performance

What’s HRV? An important health metric every golfer should pay attention to (Golf.com):

As amateur golfers, we’d love to play like the pros. There’s no doubt that you would trade your banana slice for Dustin Johnson’s penetrating 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway or Collin Morikawa’s impeccable ball striking in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, we have limiting factors — be they physical ability, money, time or something else. But that doesn’t mean we can’t adopt a few things the Tour pros do to stay in shape in our own lives.

For one, Tour players, and other professional athletes, are now tracking their Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to help them measure their recovery and peak at the right times on the course … If you’re unfamiliar with HRV, it’s the variance in time between the beats of your heart.

For example, if your heart rate is 60 beats per minute,

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Getting a Prescription to Die Remains Tricky Even as Aid-in-Dying Bills Gain Momentum

Linda Heim knew her dad didn’t plan to wait for the cancer to kill him. For decades, he’d lived in Montana, which they’d thought was one of the few places where terminally ill people could get a prescription to end their life.


This story also ran on Time. It can be republished for free.

After two years of being sick, Heim’s dad got the diagnosis in 2019: stage 4 kidney cancer. His physician offered treatments that might extend his life by months. Instead, the 81-year-old asked the doctor for help dying. Heim said her parents left the appointment in their hometown of Billings with two takeaways: The legality of medically assisted death was questionable in Montana, and her father’s physician didn’t seem willing to risk his career to put that question to the test.

“My parents knew when they left there that was the end of that conversation,” said Heim, … Read the rest

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In His Continued Sparring With Fauci, Sen. Rand Paul Oversimplified the Science

“Sorry Dr Fauci and other fearmongers, new study shows vaccines and naturally acquired immunity DO effectively neutralize COVID variants. Good news for everyone but bureaucrats and petty tyrants!”

— Sen. Rand Paul in a tweet, March 21, 2021

That Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky often disagrees with infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is well known.


This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact. It can be republished for free.

Recently, the pair clashed at a Senate hearing when Paul, a Republican, argued against mask recommendations for people who have had covid-19 or have been vaccinated against it.

At the hearing, Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, pushed back against Paul’s characterization of wearing masks as “theater.” Continued caution is advised, Fauci said, as scientists study the new variants now circulating in the U.S. and other countries.

Paul, an eye doctor by training, continued the squabble a few days … Read the rest

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PHOTO TOUR: Northwest Health – La Porte

After joining Community Health Systems’ (CHS; Franklin, Tenn.) regional Northwest Health network, La Porte Hospital received funding to replace their outdated, undersized, and operationally inefficient facility. CHS wanted the new facility to align stylistically with the color palette, materials, and form of other facilities within its network and while also setting an updated, modern tone. The new hospital’s exterior and interior palettes will serve as the basis of design for the health system’s future projects.

The four-story Northwest Health – La Porte’s clean, modern façade does just that by marrying traditional brick with modern metal panels and large expanses of glass.

Inside, the two-story lobby features decorative stained-glass panels that the design team relocated from the former [ok? yes] facility for an accent wall behind the monumental stair, which leads to a shared waiting room on the second floor and registration areas. Large windows stacked in the corner of the … Read the rest

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Her Doctor’s Office Moved One Floor Up. Her Bill Was 10 Times Higher.

Kyunghee Lee’s right hand hurts all the time.

She spent decades running a family dry cleaning store outside Cleveland after emigrating from South Korea 40 years ago. She still freelances as a seamstress, although work has slowed amid the covid-19 pandemic.


This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free.

While Lee likes to treat her arthritis with home remedies, each year the pain in the knuckles of her right middle finger and ring finger increases until they hurt too much to touch. So about once a year she goes to see a rheumatologist, who administers a pain-relieving injection of a steroid in the joints of those fingers.

Her cost for each round of injections has been roughly $30 the past few years. And everything is easier, and less painful for a bit, after each steroid treatment.

So, in late summer she masked up and went in … Read the rest

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How One State’s Public Health Defunding Led to Vaccination Chaos

ST. LOUIS — Missourians have driven hours to find vaccines in rural counties — at least those with cars and the time. Tens of thousands of doses are waiting to be distributed, slowly being rolled out in a federal long-term care program. Waitlists are hundreds of thousands of people long. Black residents are getting left behind.


This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free.

Missouri’s rocky vaccine rollout places it among the bottom states nationwide, with 23.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose as of Thursday, compared with the national average of 26.3%. If Missouri were on par with the national rate, that would be roughly equivalent to more than 162,000 additional people vaccinated, or almost the entire population of the city of Springfield.

Part of the problem, health experts said, is that the state bypassed its 115 local … Read the rest

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To prevent “cognitive entrenchment,” think like a scientist and be wrong often

In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible … Read the rest

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Military Exposed to Toxic Fumes From Burn Pits Set to Get Bipartisan Boost

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Friday planned to roll out what could be the most ambitious attempt ever tried to treat American war fighters poisoned in deployments overseas.


This story also ran on The Daily Beast. It can be republished for free.

The bipartisan bill, modeled on both Agent Orange legislation and the 9/11 health act, aims to help unknown thousands of veterans who got sick after being exposed to toxic substances from massive open fire pits where the military burned its garbage, as well as other sources.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates some 3.5 million service members were exposed to the toxic trash plumes in Iraq, Afghanistan and other battlegrounds, and maintains a burn pits registry through which nearly 236,000 veterans have reported exposures. President Joe Biden believes that toxic smoke is responsible for the brain cancer that killed his son Beau in 2015.

Yet the VA and … Read the rest

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