Focus and Concentration

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 BY: BARRY EISEN
Developmental Excelerations Inc.
11684 Ventura Blvd. #747
Studio City, Ca. 91604
818-769-4300
fax 818-980-8181

http://barryeisen.com

barryeisen@roadrunner.com

 

She seemed so in charge of her balanced life.  So I asked my student, this longtime, top producer, exactly how  she managed to juggle so much and so well.  Her response was the same I’ve heard repeatedly from achievers over the years, “I learned how to really concentrate.”  When the vision is clear, braking down specific goals or tasks becomes easier.  The ability to concentrate on single issues at a time becomes do-able and the success process becomes easier to control and duplicate.

 The basic theme you hear from pro athletes at the peak of their game is the same you hear from great parents, teachers, students, scientists, realtors, doctors, communicators etc.  They share a view that it is never the glitches, setbacks, disappointments that hold a person back, but rather the message the person assigns to those events or to any distractions.  Stuff happens.  How we choose to view and respond to these happenings determines whether we move away from or toward our personal power.

Many don’t feel they run their life.  They feel their life runs them.  They use others’ actions and opinions as well as their own experiences as excuses for what they choose to do.  It’s like using an out-of-town guest as an excuse to do no work, as if the guest is pointing a gun and saying, “Take care of me every moment or I’ll shoot.”  Or, we see external changes over which we have no control, like an interest rate change, and suddenly some find the way they sleep, communicate, project the future, view their colleagues or even their family, changes too.  We’ve all been cut off in traffic.  The driver who did the cutting, whether intentional or inadvertent, drives off focused on his destination.  But how often have we, the ones cut off, invited that long gone, other driver to live, rent-free in our head?   Learning to “let go”  is not a just some random concept.  Letting go is a way of coping with our distractions and disappointments in a healthy, productive way.

Letting go is about focusing elsewhere, by conscious choice.  We don’t let go by saying, “I don’t want to think about it.”  That’s like highlighting with a yellow marker the very thought we want to avoid.  Imagine a teacher directing, “OK class… don’t think of a purple elephant…. large orange ears flapping in the breeze.” What did you see.. even if you tried to “let go” of it?  Yet, there is a way to let go and it’s simple.  We simply turn our attention to something else and keep placing our mind exactly where we want it to be until the mind gets the message.  The mind learns by our repetition that we’re serious and in control of the DIRECTION of our attention.  Imagine allowing all distractions and challenges to do only one thing:  to serve as a reminder to focus and concentrate on those ideas and things about which we CAN do something, and towards those things that have value for own highest, most exciting, magnificent, “worth-it” goals.

And the great news is – this chosen FOCUS and CONCENTRATION is a way of responding and behaving that can be practiced and learned.

Here are a few simple tools to “get ‘er done:”

1.  DO the SESSIONS.  One way to establish excellence in focus and concentration is to practice the relaxation and self-hypnosis sessions I teach in seminars.

When you relax your mind (relaxing your body is great, but relaxing your mind is the key to excellence), many distractions may pull at you.   As you keep bringing your mind back to your chosen focus (positive affirmations, imagery), like a puppy gets the message when you gently and consistently repeat, your mind gets the message and learns.  Do these training sessions with yourself and just like muscles in the body, your mind gets stronger and more disciplined.   Practice directing your mind to those acts and abilities you want, for example reading fast with perfect comprehension, giving clear presentations that are  on target, being inspired by rejection or intimidating tactics of others, prospecting with confidence, experiencing memory that accesses with ease the images and details that serve, playing fluid, powerful, golf, being relaxed and confident taking tests, etc.  Being “present” or “in the moment”  are not just phrases.  Like letting go, they are skills which can be learned and perfected for a better way of performing.

2.  ASK YOURSELF the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION.  Another way of practicing the development of focus and concentration is to, throughout the day, ask yourself “Is what I am doing the most beneficial thing I could be doing, right NOW?”

Write this question on a 3×5 card and carry it with you for a couple of weeks to ingrain the sense of control you really do have over your time and energy.  Don’t wait to be moved by this little reminder.  If the answer is “Yes,” continue doing what you’re doing.  If the answer is “No,” pay attention and take action that moves you NOW to your best use of your focused attention and resources of time, energy.  The beginning of any process of change may be erratic and uncomfortable.  It is also totally worthwhile.  Look at the people who you think “have it together” and you may not necessarily find the most gifted or brilliant, but you will likely find those who choose to “shift gears” smoothly and be totally present.  Copy success.  Copy their best attributes.

3.  CELEBRATE VICTORIES.  Think about it: Confidence in this area of developing focus, like confidence about anything else doesn’t necessarily come from belief or faith, it comes from creating victories which we acknowledge.  Start from wherever you are and show yourself what you CAN do.  When you do something well, avoid the trap of thinking “It’s no big deal.”  Acknowledge successes, little or giant, as of equal value relative to your ability to have success.  What’s small to you may be huge to someone else.. and vice versa.  Celebration of each success, without judgment of its size, continues to move us forward while creating a new habit.  This is using our power and strengthening the habit of concentration.

The practice of self hypnosis will greatly facilitate your ability to focus.  One of the definitions of self hypnosis is Heightened Awareness.  If you commit yourself to practice a couple of sessions each day, within two to three weeks you will find some very interesting shifts in concentration and consciousness take place.  Learn how, do it, celebrate your successes, benefit.  Start NOW.

 Please take a look at my CDs that can help you focus in your business and personal life and prepare you to have the best year ever.  The choice is always there and the choice is always yours.

 Warmest Regards,

Barry

Protein that Repairs Alzheimer’s Brain Damage Identified

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TRENTON – Scientists from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have identified a protein that can repair brain damage in Alzheimer’s patients.

They said that a protein called vimentin normally appears twice in a lifetime – when neurons in the brain are forming during the first years of life and, years later when the brain’s neurons are under siege from Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Vimentin is expressed by neurons in regions of the brain where there is Alzheimer’s damage but not in undamaged areas of the brain,” said Dr Robert Nagele, a professor at UMDNJ and the study’s corresponding author.

“When the patient shows up at the doctor’s office with symptoms of cognitive impairment, the neurons have reached the point where they can no longer keep pace with the ever-increasing damage caused by Alzheimer’s,” he added.

While explaining the study results, Nagele likened neurons to a tree with long strands called dendrites branching off from the main part of the cell.

The dendrite branches are covered with 10,000 tiny “leaves” called synapses that allow neurons to communicate with each other. Vimentin is an essential protein for building the dendrite branches that support the synapses.

“A hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of amyloid deposits that gradually destroy the synapses and cause the collapse of dendrite branches,” he said.

“When the dendrites and synapses degenerate, the neuron releases vimentin in an attempt to re-grow the dendrite tree branches and synapses. It’s a rerun of the embryonic program that allowed the brain to develop in the early years of life,” Nagele added.

The researchers also reported some initial findings that indicated a similar damage response mechanism takes place following traumatic brain injury, suggesting the possibility that similar therapeutic agents could be developed to enhance repair both for sudden brain trauma and for progressive neurodegenerative diseases.

The findings are published in journal Brain Research.

Introducing – Kava

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Latin name: Piper methysticum

Other names: kava kava, kawa, kew, yagona, sakau

Kava is a tall shrub in the pepper family that grows in the South Pacific islands. It has been used there for thousands of years as a folk remedy and as a social and ceremonial beverage.

The part of the plant used medicinally is the root. Although the root was traditionally chewed or made into a beverage, kava is now available in capsule, tablet, beverage, tea, and liquid extract forms.

Why People Use Kava:

    * Anxiety

    * Insomnia

Because kava can cause sedation, and in high amounts, intoxication, kava drinks are consumed in some parts of the world in much the same way as alcohol.

How Kava Works:

The main active components in kava root are called kavalactones. Specific types of kavalactones include dihydrokavain, methysticin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, dihydrokawain, yangonin and desmethoxyyangonin.

Although it’s not clear exactly how kava works, kavalactones may affect the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells) in the blood. Kava has been found to affect the levels of specific neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine.

Scientific Evidence for Kava:

A number of well-designed studies have examined kava’s ability to relieve anxiety compared to anxiety medication or a placebo. The results have been promising.

In 2003, a review by the Cochrane Collaboration examined the existing research to see how kava fared compared to a placebo in treating anxiety. After analyzing the 11 studies (involving a total of 645 people) that met the criteria, the researchers concluded that kava “appears to be an effective symptomatic treatment option for anxiety.” However, they added that it seemed to be a small effect.

Concerns About Kava and the Liver:

Although rare, case reports have linked kava use with liver toxicity, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

As a result, the FDA issued a warning about kava in 2002. Several countries have banned or restricted the sale of kava.

Clinical trials have not found liver toxicity. Adverse liver reactions appear to be linked to factors such as pre-existing liver disease, alcohol consumption, excessive doses, genetic variations in the cytochrome P450 enzymes, consumption of other drugs or herbs that, combined, may have a toxic effect, or the use of stem or leaf extracts or extracts made with acetone or ethanol.

Potential Side Effects of Kava:

Side effects include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities.

Kava may lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it shouldn’t be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t use kava because it may worsen symptoms.

Kava should not be taken within 2 weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease shouldn’t use kava.

Possible Drug Interactions:

Kava shouldn’t be taken by people who are taking Parkinson’s disease medications, antipsychotic drugs, or any medication that influences dopamine levels.

Kava shouldn’t be combined with alcohol or medications for anxiety or insomnia, including benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) or Ativan (lorazepam). It may have an additive effect if taken with drugs that cause drowsiness.

Kava may have an additive effect if combined with antidepressant drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

Kava shouldn’t be taken with any drug or herb that impairs liver function. Kava also may interfere with blood clotting, so people taking Coumadin (warfarin) or any drug that influences blood clotting should avoid it unless under a doctor’s supervision.

Kava is a diuretic, so it may have an additive effect if combined with drugs or herbs that have diuretic properties.

Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

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Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

BEVERLY HILLS – An estimated 10 per cent of American adults have mood disorders — 21 million. Another five million have Alzheimer’s disease.

Interest in cognitive health is also expanding to the younger populations, ages 25—50 years. Many younger people are more receptive to ‘keeping their brain sharp’ as they find themselves taking care of an elderly parent suffering from age-related mental decline and realise that they might have a similar condition in a few decades.

One of the primary ingredients marketed for cognitive health is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Martek’s life’sDHA is used in many infant formulas for improved cognitive function (and eye health), and through this platform is finding a home elsewhere. Its success is demonstrated with Martek’s second quarter financial 2009 results, which showed revenues up two per cent to $92.4 million.

“Our success within the infant formula market has provided us credibility with the food companies. If we are good enough for babies, we must be good enough for the rest of the population,” says Sarah Sullivan, senior manager of marketing at Martek Biosciences. “We market DHA based on the available science. And because DHA has brain, eye and heart-health benefits, there are many directions we can go. Ultimately, it’s up to the CPG company and how they want to position the ingredient within their food. But, because there isn’t as much competition within the ‘brain-health’ space, we generally recommend that they go that route.”

Other ingredients are hopping on the DHA bandwagon. Ocean Nutrition Canada, a major supplier of fish oil, has partnered with Kyowa Hakko USA and its Cognizin ingredient, which is GRAS and water-soluble.

Functional ingredients

Citicoline

Cocoa

Curcumin

Eleuthero

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA)

Ginkgo biloba

Huperzia serrata

L-carnitine

L-theanine

L-tyrosine

Melatonin

Omega-3 DHA

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Pomegranate

St John’s wort

Turmeric

Vinpocetine

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

“We wanted to leverage both companies’ ingredients for brain health,” says Karen E Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. “We have found that Cognizin not only supports memory function and healthy cognition, but crosses over many functions — increasing levels of critical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine, enhancing cellular integrity by increasing phospholipids synthesis, and supporting cellular activity by increasing levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).”

Chemi Nutra combined omega-3 fatty acids with phosphatidylserine (PS) to form a new offering. “OmegaAid PS is the natural evolution of combining marine-sourced omega-3 fatty acids with PS, utilizing Chemi’s proprietary manufacturing expertise, and supported by Chemi’s numerous patents,” says Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra and Chemi Pharma.

Hagerman says the company works to leverage market interest into successful new ingredients. “We first look at market attractiveness, long-term prospects of selling, production capabilities and, finally, patent opportunities, since we have to make substantial investments in identifying and developing new ingredient product opportunities.”

One new entrant to the field is Vivimind by Ovos Natural Health. The ingredient, derived from homotaurine found in seaweed, has a great deal of research behind it, on more than 2,000 individuals. It is set to launch in the US market by the end of the year.

“Vivimind has received scientific support and has been embraced by consumers in the Canadian market since its launch in September 2008,” says Jim Stitley, general manager of US commercial operations for Ovos.

Other emerging ingredients include vinpocetine, curcumin and turmeric. And — surprise, surprise — vitamin D. A May 2009 study in Europe of more than 3,000 men aged 40-79 found those with high vitamin D levels performed better on memory and information processing tes

Cocaine Changes How Genes Work in Brain

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Cocaine Changes How Genes Work in Brain

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Prolonged exposure to cocaine can cause permanent changes in the way genes are switched on and off in the brain, a finding that may lead to more effective treatments for many kinds of addiction, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

A study in mice by Ian Maze of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and colleagues found that chronic cocaine addiction kept a specific enzyme from doing its job of shutting off other genes in the pleasure circuits of the brain, making the mice crave the drug even more.

The study helps explain how cocaine use changes the brain, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study published in the journal Science.

“This finding is opening up our understanding about how repeated drug use modifies in long-lasting ways the function of neurons,” Volkow said in a telephone interview.

For the study, the team gave one group of young mice repeated doses of cocaine and another group repeated doses of saline, then a single dose of cocaine.

They found that one way cocaine alters the reward circuits in the brain is by repressing gene 9A, which makes an enzyme that plays a critical role in switching genes on and off.

Other studies have found that animals exposed to cocaine for a long period of time undergo dramatic changes in the way certain genes are turned on and off, and they develop a strong preference for cocaine.

This study helps explain how that occurs, Volkow said, and may even lead to new ways of overcoming addiction.

In the study, Maze and colleagues showed these effects could be reversed by increasing the activity of gene 9A.

“When they do that, they completely reverse the effects of chronic cocaine use,” Volkow said.

She said this mechanism is likely not confined to cocaine addiction, and could lead to a new area of addiction research for other drugs, alcohol and even nicotine addition.

“One of the questions we’ve had all along is, after discontinuing a drug, why do you continue to be addicted?

“This is one of the mechanisms that probably is responsible for these long-lasting modifications to the way people who are addicted to drugs perceive the world and react to it,” she said.

Source: Reuters

Gene That Controls Number of Brain Cells Identified

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CHAROLETTE – Scientists from University of North Carolina have identified a gene that controls the number of cells composing brain.

Called GSK-3, the gene has been found to strike a balance between two key processes – proliferation, in which the cells multiply to provide plenty of starting materials, and differentiation, in which those materials evolve into functioning neurons.

If the stem cells proliferate too much, they could grow out of control and produce a tumour. If they proliferate too little, there may not be enough cells to become the billions of neurons of the brain.

The study showed that GSK-3 controls the signals that determine how many neurons actually end up composing the brain.

The novel findings may have significant implications for people suffering from neuropsychiatric illness like schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

“I don’t believe anyone would have imagined that deleting GSK-3 would have such dramatic effects on neural stem cells,” Nature quoted senior study author Dr William D. Snider, professor of neurology and cell and molecular physiology, and director of the UNC Neuroscience Centre, as saying

“People will have to think carefully about whether giving a drug like lithium to children could have negative effects on the underlying structure of the nervous system,” he added.

During the study, the researchers genetically engineered mice to lack both forms of the GSK-3 gene, designated alpha and beta.

They further used a “conditional knock-out” strategy to remove GSK-3 at a specific time in the development of the mouse embryo, when a type of cell called a radial progenitor cell had just been formed.

“It was really quite striking,” said Snider.

“Without GSK-3, these neural stem cells just keep dividing and dividing and dividing. The entire developing brain fills up with these neural stem cells that never turn into mature neurons,” he added.

GSK-3 is known to coordinate signals for proliferation and differentiation within nerve cells through multiple “signalling pathways.”

They found that every one of the pathways that they studied went awry after deleting the GSK-3 gene.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Don’t Spank Your Kids if You Want Them to be Intelligent

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SAN DIEGO –  Don’t spank your kids if you want them to be very intelligent. A ground-breaking research has found that children who are spanked have lower IQs.

Corporal punishment is extremely stressful and can become a chronic stressor for young children, says Murray Straus, professor at the University of New Hampshire.

“All parents want smart children. This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen,” says Straus.

“It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice,” he says.

Straus found that children in the US who were spanked had lower IQs four years later than those who were not spanked.

Straus and Mallie Paschall, senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, studied nationally representative samples of 806 children aged two to four, and 704 kids ages five to nine. Both groups were retested four years later.

IQs of children aged two to four who were not spanked were five points higher four years later than the IQs of those who were spanked.

The IQs of children aged five to nine years old who were not spanked were 2.8 points higher four years later than the IQs of children the same age who were spanked.

Straus and colleagues in 32 nations used data on corporal punishment experienced by 17,404 university students when they were children.

“How often parents spanked made a difference. The more spanking the slower the development of the child’s mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference,” Straus says.

His analysis indicates the strongest link between corporal punishment and IQ was for those whose parents continued to use corporal punishment even when they were teenagers, says a New Hampshire release.

Straus said corporal punishment can become a chronic stressor for young children who typically experience punishment three or more times a week. For many it continues for years.

These results were presented Friday at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego.

They have also been published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma.

Brain’s Face Processing Ability does Reduce with Age

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GLASGOW A British study suggests that the ability to identify a face, when it is shown for only a fraction of a second, reduces as people age.

Lead researcher Guillaume Rousselet, from the University of Glasgow, came to this conclusion after analysing electric activity from the brains of young and old people as they watched pictures of faces with cloud-like noise.

He said: “Very few studies have attempted to measure the effect of ageing on the time-course of visual processing in response to complex stimuli like faces. We found that, as well as a general reduction in speed in the elderly, one particular component of the response to a face, the N170, is less sensitive to faces in the elderly.”

The N170 occurs 170 milliseconds after a stimulus is presented.

The researchers revealed that it was more closely associated with the appearance of a face among the young subjects.

However, in older subjects, the researcher said that it occurred also in response to noise, perhaps implying reduced ability to differentiate faces from noise.

Revealing the findings of the study, Rousselet said: “Our data support the common belief that as we get older we get slower. Beyond this general conclusion, our research provides new tools to quantify by how much the brain slows down in the particular context of face perception. Now, we need to identify the reasons for the speed reduction and for the heterogeneity of the effects – indeed, why the brains of some older subjects seem to tick as fast as the brains of some young subjects is, at this point, a complete mystery.”

The study has been published in the journal BMC Neuroscience.

How Addictive Drugs Influence Learning and Memory

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HOUSTON – In a new study on mice, researchers have found why and how the use of addictive drugs take control of reward signals and influence neural processes associated with learning and memory.

The study could help explain how drug-associated memories, such as the place of drug use, drive and perpetuate the addiction.

It is known that the neurochemical dopamine, a key player in the brain’s reward system, is involved in the process of addiction.

Research has indicated that dopamine participates in neural processes associated with learning, such as the strengthening of neuronal connections, called synaptic potentiation.

Evidence has also implicated the hippocampus, a deep-brain structure that is critical for formation of new memories, in the development of drug addiction.

“Although addictive drugs like nicotine have been shown to influence the induction of synaptic potentiation, there has been little or no research in freely moving animals that monitors ongoing induction of synaptic potentiation by a biologically relevant drug dose,” explains senior author Dr. John Dani from the Department of Neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

The researchers recorded from the brains of freely moving mice while applying physiologically relevant concentrations of nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco.

The researchers found that nicotine induced synaptic potentiation correlated with the mice learning to prefer a place associated with the nicotine dose.

Importantly, these effects required a local dopamine signal within the hippocampus.

The finding reinforces the view that dopamine enables memory for specific events.

Overall, the results point to some intriguing possibilities about how drug-associated memories might contribute to behaviors associated with addiction.

“An animal’s memories or feelings about the environment are updated when the dopamine signal labels a particular event as important, new, and salient. Normally these memories help us to perform successful behaviors, but in our study, those memories were linked to the addictive drug.

When specific environmental events occur, such as the place or people associated with drug use, they are capable of cuing drug-associated memories or feelings that motivate continued drug use or relapse,” concluded Dani.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.