Brain Tweaking

These few references are a tiny sample of available research, and look at more dramatic examples such as ‘major depression’. There really is far too much research on this for Hanson to be so blissfully unaware of even more subtle and transient changes of mood (PMS, for example) that are very largely created by the physical states of our bodies.

Since, as he says, “most of the inputs into your brain come from inside your body rather than from your external environment”, making changes in what you eat – in particular reducing systemic inflammation – will have profound and positive effects on psychological well-being.

(By the way, the connection between inflammation and any degree of depression makes sense when you consider that strategies known to lift depression – exercise, meditation, omega-3 supplementation and even SSRIs – are all anti-inflammatory.)

It would have been good for Hanson to acknowledge something about this. Neuroplasticity is exciting, inspirational and powerful, but it’s not the whole story when it comes to happiness.

 

NOTES

1. Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Maguire EA, Gadian DG (2000) Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97(8): 4398-4403
2. Are cholesterol and depression inversely related? A meta-analysis of the association between two cardiac risk factors. Shin JY, Martin R (2008) Annals of Behavioral Medicine 36(1): 33-43
3. Inflammation and its Discontents: The role of cytokines in the pathophysiology of major depression. Miller AH, Maletic V (2009) Biological Psychiatry 65(9): 732-41
4. Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Foster JA, McVey Neufeld KA (2013) Trends in Neurosciences 36(5): 305-12
5. That Gut Feeling. Carpenter S (2012) American Psychological Association 43(8): 50

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