Is procrastination friend or foe to health and creativity?

Many of us are familiar with the act of procrastinating — putting off tasks until, or past, their deadline. Why do people procrastinate? Does it only bring them disadvantages, or does it also have some benefits? We investigate in this Spotlight feature.

Procrastination typically gets a bad name as a habit that impacts productivity and holds people back from fulfilling their potential.

Some researchers define procrastination as “a form of self-regulation failure […] characterized by the needless delay of things one intends to do despite the expectation of negative consequences.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Can scientists learn to remove bad memories?

Traumatic memories can severely affect a person’s quality of life when they become intrusive thoughts that lead to anxiety and continue to cause distress. For this reason, scientists are now looking into ways of weakening such memories and lessening their impact.

People who experience traumatic events may find their memories haunt them for a long time after the experience occurred.

Exposure to trauma can trigger numerous mental and emotional problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders, for example, phobias.

Full story at Medical News Today

Transcendental meditation can help treat PTSD

Working with a cohort of young people with symptoms of PTSD and depression, researchers found that practicing transcendental meditation can help reduce or even reverse these symptoms.

Studies have shown that meditation practices can have a significant, positive effect on mental health and how well our bodies respond to stress.

Existing research has also found that different types of meditation can even help boost a person’s emotional intelligence.

Interest in meditation’s potential as a tool for coping with various mental health symptoms has risen in recent years, and now, a new study suggests that one type of meditation — called transcendental meditation — can successfully counteract PTSD and lower depression.

Full story at Medical News Today

Heavy drinking in teens causes lasting changes in emotional center of brain

Binge drinking in adolescence has been shown to have lasting effects on the wiring of the brain and is associated with increased risk for psychological problems and alcohol use disorder later in life.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics have shown that some of these lasting changes are the result of epigenetic changes that alter the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala — the part of the brain involved in emotion, fear and anxiety. Their results, which are based on the analysis of postmortem human brain tissue, are published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Epigenetics refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic modifications are involved in the normal development of the brain, but they can be influenced by environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Who is most likely to experience ‘hangxiety?’

New research has found that very shy people are more likely to have anxiety, possibly at debilitating levels, during a hangover. The findings also suggest that for these people, “hangxiety” might signal a higher risk of alcohol dependence.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic condition, is characterized by a person’s inability to “stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”

AUD reportedly affects around 15 million adults in the United States and over 620,000 adolescents aged 12–17.

Its symptoms may be either mild or severe, and there are several factors that raise the risk of AUD. These include family history, social pressure, and stress.

Full story at Medical News Today