As reported by ABC News, throwing a surprise “Sweet 16″ birthday party in the age of cellphones and social media is no easy task. But an entire Virginia community pulled it off for Abby Snider, who was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. Learn more about Abby in the video below.
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.
Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology. He is the author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work.
Cool your jets! A new study published in The European Heart Journal Acute Cardiovascular Care suggests that having an episode of intense anger was associated with an 8.5 times greater risk of having a heart attack during the following 2 hours.
The study looked at 313 people who were being treated in a hospital for a heart attack. The men and women were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the level of anger they experienced in the last 48 hours based on a number scale from 1-7.
Level 1 was being “calm” and level 7 was “enraged, out of control, throwing objects and hurting yourself or others”. For study purposes, the threshold of acute anger was defined by level 5 – “very angry, body tense, maybe fists clenched, ready to burst”.
An anger level greater than 5 was reported among seven of the people in the study in the two hours prior to their heart attack, and up to four hours prior for one person. An anger level of 4 was reported among two people within the the two hours before heart attack symptoms, and among four hours before for three people. According to the researchers, the results come to a 8.5-fold increase in relative risk of a heart attack in the two hours following severe anger. People who reported high levels of anxiety, also had a higher risk.
Exactly how anger could trigger a heart attack still remains unknown, but the researchers speculate that the stress may stimulate activity in the heart like increased heart rate and blood pressure, blood vessel constriction, a plaque rupture, and clotting which could eventually lead to a heart attack.
In commenting on the everyday relevance of the results, Dr Thomas Buckley, a senior lecturer and researcher from the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, said: “While the absolute risk of any one anger episode triggering a heart attack is low, our data demonstrates that the danger is real and still there.”
He explained that the increased risk of MI following intense anger or anxiety is “most likely the result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels and increased clotting, all associated with triggering of heart attacks”.
Dr Buckley advised that propensity to anger or anxiety should be assessed when managing an individual with heart disease or preventing heart disease in others. “It should be part of helping individuals to take care of themselves,” he said. “Potential preventive approaches may be stress reduction training to limit the responses of anger and anxiety, or avoiding activities that usually prompt such intense reactions. And for those at very high risk, one could potentially consider protective medication therapy at the time of or just prior to an episode, a strategy we have shown to be feasible in other studies. Minimising other risk factors, such as hypertension or smoking, would also lower risk”.
In a recent post on NPR, John Hamilton explored how our brain controls our perception of pain. David Linden, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, claims that “our perception of pain is shaped by brain circuits that are constantly filtering the information coming from our sensory nerves”.
For more, listen to the story via the link below.
Previous research we’ve highlighted on our blog suggested that humans are quite good at reading their pet dog’s facial expressions. But what about the other way around? How good are dogs at reading their owners’ emotions?
Up until now, scientific evidence and research in this realm was lacking, but a new study finds that dogs are able to tell the difference between happy and angry human facial expressions.
Biologist Corsin Muller of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Austria and his colleagues tested 11 dogs using a touchscreen. They trained the dogs to touch either a happy or angry face for a treat. They presented the dogs with their the top half or the bottom half of the faces to ensure the animals weren’t just responding to a smile or baring of the teeth.
The pets trained to pick out happy expressions could do so when presented with different halves of a face, as well as when presented with faces the animals hadn’t seen before.
The dogs trained to respond to angry faces were also able to pick out angry expressions among the choices they were asked to make. However, it took them longer to learn their task than the dogs trained on happy faces.
Researchers don’t yet know whether the dogs’ ability to discriminate between the two expressions is because of past experiences or the result of the domestication process. While primates are known to recognize faces, dogs may have been especially adapted for emotional sensitivity to humans during their domestication. The researchers plan to investigate how common this ability is by testing pigs and other animals.