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A  recent study by Finn et al. (2015), investigating brain activity patterns within individuals, the researchers were able to identify, through neural activity, which brain scans belonged to which participant with  a 98-99% degree of accuracy. This finding suggests a neurological ‘fingerprint’ for individuals may be used in the near future.

The study was conducted as part of the Human Connectome Project and published in Nature Neuroscience in October, 2015. The project is aimed at mapping the pathways and activity of the brain in 1200 people.

Researchers had identified that while the participant was lying down at rest, brain scans could be matched with later scans of the same individual with a 98%-99% accuracy, yet this degree of accuracy dropped to 80-90% whilst the participant performed various cognitive tasks.

Whilst brain regions associated with motor skills and vision had relatively similar activity patterns between participants, brain activity within the frontal lobe appeared to differ between individuals. With this identification, further research can begin to investigate ways in which brain activity can be assessed and incorporated into the treatment of mental health problems, suggesting that tailored made therapies can be derived.

With this slight difference found in the frontal lobes, further research can begin to identify what exactly underpins this variance amongst individuals. Investigations for a neural ‘fingerprint’ can begin to delve into the neural individualisation of brain activity which can aid professionals in the customisation of individualised therapies, eliminating the trial and error involved with numerous drug treatments for neuropsychiatric illnesses.

qEEG based neurofeeddback training offered at Learning Discoveries Psychological Services is an example of a tailor-made intervention based on brain wave activity. Neurofeedback training restores neural function and quality of life for those with mental health issues whilst being drug-free and non-toxic.

Finn, E. S., Shen, X., Scheinost, D., Rosenberg, M. D., Huang, J., Chun, M. M., … & Constable, R. T. (2015). Functional connectome fingerprinting: identifying individuals using patterns of brain connectivity. Nature neuroscience, 18(11), 1664-1674. doi:10.1038/nn.4135


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How Gratitude Affects the Brain

by admin on April 28, 2016

A recent study by Fox, Kaplan, Damasio and Damasio (2015) identified how testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust stimulated gratitude in participants and how this affects the brain. Within the literature, there is a lack of studies on the emotion of gratitude. However, as explained by Antonia Damasio, senior author of the current study, gratitude is an important emotion that maintains healthy social behaviour and rewards generosity.

The study was conducted at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC, by lead author Dr. Glen Fox. Using audio recordings of Holocaust survivors, their stories where presented to participants, in order to stimulate feelings of gratitude. Although the Holocaust was viewed as a horrible and awful time, surprisingly, Dr. Fox found numerous stories of gratitude expressed by the survivors, for help they received during their time in the Holocaust.

Participants within the study were between the ages of 18 and 28, with no connection to the Holocaust previous to the current study. All participants completed four phases, each phase designed in attempts to mimic the experiences faced during the Holocaust (The rise of Nazism and Persecution, Internment, The Final Solution and Final Months and Liberation). Each phase consisted of an introductory documentary video, followed by stories presented in second person derived from testimonies provided by Holocaust survivors. Following this, questions about each of the stories were presented, reflecting on a feeling of gratitude within the participants. An example of a story presented is as follows: “An allied soldier gives you his glasses. You can see for the first time since the war began”. During these presentations, MRI scanners were used to map activation of brain regions during the task.

Results of the study found that areas responsible for subjective value judgments, morality, economic decision making and feelings of reward, such as the ventral and dorsal-medial prefrontal cortex, and the anterior cingulate cortex, were activated during times that the participants reported feelings of gratitude.

Previous studies have suggested that gratitude has positive effects on well-being, promoting healthy social and empathetic behaviour.

Learning Discoveries Psychological Services provides Neurofeedback training to restore the functioning of the cerebral cortex and others areas of the brain. When the brain functions in a neurotypical manner, states of gratitude and feelings of reward can be accessed more easily and consistently, resulting in beneficial outcomes for various mental and physical disorders.

Fox, G. R., Kaplan, J., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. (2015). Neural correlates of gratitude. Frontiers in psychology6. doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491


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Evidence Suggests that Ritalin Makes NO Difference to the Long-Term Outcomes of Children with ADHD

March 22, 2016

A recent article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 13/03/2016, reported that drugs such as Ritalin made no difference to the long-term outcomes of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute followed 178 children with ADHD and 212 children without ADHD/ADD […]

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Mastering the Mechanics of Memory

February 29, 2016

New insight into how the brain encodes and accesses memory Several decades ago, scientists from the UK and Norway received the Nobel Prize for memory-related research. In the course of their work, they discovered something known as ‘place cells’ in the brains of rodents. These are neurons that fire in the hippocampus in relation to […]

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Breakthrough in Genetic Testing Could Help Manage Autism

February 22, 2016

Genetic test enhances quality of care for autism in children Two new, cutting-edge genetic tests show promise in helping doctors anticipate the nature of autism in newly diagnosed children. As a result, doctors and parents may soon be able to provide more targeted care for children with autism. These new tests have pinpointed genes that […]

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New Findings in Age-Responsive Anaesthesia

February 15, 2016

Study finds patient age should dictate anaesthetic dosage A new series of medical studies are changing the way that doctors approach the use of anaesthetics for younger and older patients. These findings could have a profound impact on how anaesthesiologists determine dosage and monitor patients in the future. Today, anaesthesiologists understand that effective doses vary […]

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Breakthroughs in Brain Imaging

February 9, 2016

Breakthroughs technology enable clearer imaging of synapses Modern neural science began at the turn of the 20th century, when Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal produced a series of illustrations explaining how neurons communicate over synapses in the brain. These illustrations represented an unprecedented discovery and fundamentally changed the way that we approached matters of […]

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The Most Complete Brain Model to Date

January 28, 2016

A brain organoid has been grown from the skin cells of adult humans, by scientists at the Ohio State University. This is the first time a human brain has been created with such maturity and it is the most complete human brain ever developed. The engineered brain has the maturity of a five-week-old foetus and […]

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Targeting Depression’s Neural Circuitry

January 11, 2016

Like so many people, Marjorie Stowe had a relatively normal childhood, then attended university, excelled at what she did and left with a Ph.D. she managed life, with all the good times and the bad, with the help of antidepressants. However, although Marjorie took antidepressants for years, it wasn’t until after the birth of her […]

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A Glimpse into the Brain’s Filing System

January 4, 2016

The brain stores information in a particular way so it can be retrieved in an instant, enabling us to access the information. Until recently, Neuroscientists were in loose agreeance as to how ‘episodic memory’ works. New Developments on an Old Subject The part of the brain that neuroscientists have focused on with regard to memory […]

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Rosemary Boon

Registered Psychologist

M.A. (Psych),
Grad. Dip. Ed. Studies (Sch. Counsel),
Grad Dip. Ed. B Sc, Dip. Nut.

Provider No. 2582331F ATMS No. 20831

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