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Does the gut microbiome affect mental health? - graphic of magnifying glass looking inside intestines

Does the Gut Microbiome Affect Mental Health?

We all have trillions of microbes living in our intestines. This microbiome, which develops in infancy, plays a major role in our digestion, but there’s growing evidence that it affects more than just our digestive system. This collection of critters weighs about 2 kg and includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses. There is no “normal” microbiome …

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MH@H book review: Remember by Lisa Genova

Book Review: Remember by Lisa Genova

Remember by Lisa Genova is a non-fiction book that explores how we do, and don’t, remember. Genova is a neuroscientist who’s also the author of five fiction books, all of which I’ve read. They feature characters with neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s (Still Alice) and Huntingdon’s (Inside the O’Briens – affiliate links). The book begins by …

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What Is... Series (Insights into Psychology)

What Is… Polyvagal Theory

In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychology-related terms. This week’s term is polyvagal theory. Polyvagal theory was developed by Dr. Stephen Porges in 1994 to describe how the nervous system relates to the environment. The vagus nerve The name polyvagal theory comes from the multiple circuits that involve the …

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MH@H book review: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Book Review: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Maté offers powerful insights into the vulnerable, human side of addiction. It draws on his encounters with patients while working as a staff physician at the Portland Hotel, an ultra-low-barrier supported housing building in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, Canada’s poorest postal code. Ultra-low barrier housing like this …

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What Is... Series (Insights into Psychology)

What Is… Neuroplasticity

In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychology-related terms. This week, we’re taking a bit of a detour to look at neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to make changes to itself in response to conditions and experiences, including forming new neuronal connections. This ability is maintained in adulthood, although it’s …

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How music affects the brain and mood

How Music Affects the Brain and Mood

When a fellow blogger asked what the science/psychology behind music and its positive effects on motivation and mood might be, and of course, my virtual ears perked up, and I decided to do some exploring. Music can activate several brain structures, including the amygdala, which is involved in trauma responses. Processing music is complex and …

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graphic of brain circuits

The Neurobiology of Traumatic Fight/Flight/Freeze

A few years ago I was thinking about applying for a nursing job with a sexual assault support team, so I decided to learn more about the body’s biological fight/flight/freeze response to trauma. What I found out was really interesting, so I thought I’d share. The amygdala’s response The amygdala is a primitive part of the …

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MH@H book review: The Body Keeps the Score

Book Review: The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk is perhaps one of the best-known books about trauma, particularly early life trauma. It’s been on my to-be-read list for quite a while, and I’ve finally managed to get around to it. This is a hefty book. The digital version that I was reading weighed …

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Perceived vs. objective reality: our senses give us information, but it's not an exact representation

Perceived vs. Objective Reality

Our minds play all kinds of tricks on us. We’ve got all kinds of cognitive biases that influence what we do with our thoughts, and our brains do interesting things with what they pick up through our senses. There’s a philosophical argument as to whether or not there is a truly objective reality, but for …

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