May 2018
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Can the 'Date Rape' Drug Rapidly Relieve Depression?
Ketamine has been called the biggest thing to happen to psychiatry in 50 years. The notorious party drug may act as an antidepressant by blocking neural bursts in a little-understood brain region that may drive depression. It improves symptoms in as little as 30 minutes, compared with weeks or even months for existing antidepressants, and is effective even for the roughly one third of patients with so-called treatment-resistant depression.
Read on....

April 2018
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Why Everyone Is Insecure (and Why That's Okay)

We all know what it’s like to feel as insecure as an untethered tent in a force 10 gale.

We know we should ask that obvious question rattling around in our head during the meeting, but are afraid we’ll sound stupid.

We secretly are in love with the organic veg man at the market, but handing over that cucumber in his presence makes you blush profusely.


Call it social anxiety, self-doubt or inhibition. Whatever we call it, it’s insecurity, and it’s a universal part of the human condition. Read on....


March 2018
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Bad News for the Highly Intelligent

There are advantages to being smart.

People who do well on standardised tests of intelligence—IQ tests—tend to be more successful in the classroom and the workplace. Although the reasons are not fully understood, they also tend to live longer, healthier lives, and are less likely to experience negative life events such as bankruptcy.


But….now there’s some bad news for people in the right tail of the IQ bell curve. Read on....


February 2018
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Could A Sense of Purpose Give You a Better Night's Sleep?
Despite its importance for health and well-being, many adults find it difficult to consistently get enough sleep. But intriguing new research suggests that a meaningful life could be linked to better sleep. Read on....

January 2018
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Could Acidity be a Cause of Mental Health Issues?

There is a growing body of research that suggests that for some people, even slight changes in the acid balance in their brain may be linked with panic disorder and other psychiatric conditions. Recent findings provide further evidence that such links are real - and suggest they may extend to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder Read on....


December 2017
No 'On the Border' this month. Will be back in January!


November 2017
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Does Living in Crowded Places Drive People Crazy?

You may be thinking: Yes, living under crowded conditions surely drives people crazy. And the reason may be traced back to some unfortunate rats.

Read on....

October 2017
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Mind over Matter: Brain over Bowel?

In the 1960s, a surgical technique to reduce stomach size (called bariatric surgery) was introduced to help obese patients lose weight. Doctors considered this primarily a mechanical fix. A smaller stomach, the reasoning went, simply cannot hold and process as much food. Patients get full faster, eat less and therefore lose weight.

 This idea is in part true. But now scientists know that it is not nearly that simple. Read on....


September 2017
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Rethinking Relief

The United States is in the grip of an unprecedented public health crisis – and unfortunately one in which well-meaning doctors have played a part.  Read on....


August 2017

On the Border is taking its yearly break: not away on holiday, just away from writing and researching :=)


July 2017
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Hardwired for Humour

Laughter is universal.
It is a hardwired response that comes online early- in the first four months of life- regardless of culture or native language. Whether a child is raised in The Netherlands or Nigeria, Peru or Pakistan, his or her first laugh will delight her parents at about 14 to 18 weeks of age. A baby's laugh is easily recognisable, partly because of its genuineness. Like crying, it is hard to fake and, like yawning, is contagious. Its authentic quality makes it hard for parents to ignore. Scientists, on the other hand, have only recently caught on to its significance. Read on....


June 2017
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The Science of Funny

Laughter comes in many flavours: the giddy giggle, the mild chuckle, the lusty guffaw, the sarcastic "ha!" Its meaning is just as varied, signalling everything from amusement to discomfort to disdain. For researchers, understanding how our brain interprets this complex behaviour is serious business. Read on....


May 2017
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The Self-Compassion Solution: Love Yourself, Too

Building on a Buddhist principle, psychologists are learning how being kind to yourself can bolster resilience, buffer against stress and improve relationships. Read on....


April 2017
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Let Food Be Thy Medicine: In Search of the Optimal Brain Diet

The field of nutritional psychiatry is taking off as scientists home in on the ingredients necessary for good mental health and cognitive staying power Read on....


February 2017
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Molecules of Desire

Although few of us spend time contemplating the molecular messengers at work in our brain, we owe a tremendous amount to them—and to dopamine in particular. It plays a part in movement, motivation, mood and memory. But it also has a dark side.  Read on....


January 2017
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Can Exercise Help Depression Better Than Medication?

The fact that exercise improves physical health is so well known that it almost goes without saying. We work out to “get in shape,” and some of us depend on bike rides, neighbourhood jogs or yoga to help clear our mind and relieve stress. But how often do we seriously consider exercise as a viable treatment for mental illness, one just as effective as medication or counselling? Can a steady routine of physical workouts really help to keep psychological disorders in check? Read on....

December 2016
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Christmas Cheer - or Christmas Crisis?
This season brings varied and complex emotions: joy and nostalgia, love and loneliness. New research helps to explain how these feelings affect us-with some practical implications for making the season brighter and more meaningful.
Read on....

November 2016
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Take a Break!

Around the world, especially in industrial nations, over-worked employees and the scientists who study them are reaching similar conclusions. Overwhelming evidence now confirms that downtime of all kinds—whether it be a meditation session, lunchtime stroll through the park or a weeklong (or more) holiday—is crucial for productivity and overall health. Read on....

October 2016

On the Border is taking a break this month

September 2016
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You Smell Sick!

Scientists are racing to create tests that can identify illness via odours in patients' sweat, breath and urine. Science fiction or fact? Read on....

August 2016
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Why is Friendship So Important?

The thing I love about summer here in Amsterdam is the peace that descends on our neighbourhood because almost everybody here has left for holidays. There is a gentleness that takes over, the days are longer and kinder, and I notice that I have time to do things that I have put to one side during the course of my normal working months. The last weeks I have been catching up with friends, some that I haven’t seen for a while, and that got me to contemplating how important friends are. It seems that researchers delving into genetics, social networks and animal behaviour are discovering how friendship affects our health and well-being – and how it has played a part in our evolutionary story. So this month’s On the Border is looking at friendship.

Read on....


July 2016
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Finding Love Online
Everbody seems to be doing it!
Looking for love online.
According to recent statistics for those looking for love then 'everybody seems to be doing it online'. So for those of you looking for a bit of summer romance, then boost your odds of making a match with these new research based insights.
Read on....

June 2016
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Scratch & Sniff Tests for Dementia?
Name that smell - if you can't, it could be an indicator of a problem somewhere in your brain. New research suggests that scratch-and-sniff smell tests could become an easy and cheap way to detect signs of traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative ailments.
Read on....


May 2016
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Dress for Success: How Clothes Influence our Performance
As I am writing this - on an unusually warm (for Holland) Sunday afternoon under the shade of our plum tree - I am wearing old jeans and a favourite faded cotton shirt. They feel familiar and comfortable. This attire is also 'air conditioned' (perfect for the soaring temperatures) since my jeans have a hole in the inside thigh seam, and my shirt  has torn & threadbare parts. I love them both dearly. Yet before I go out for a walk, after putting this On the Border together, you can be sure that I shall change into something more decent. I don't want the neighbours  to see me in these Sunday sloppy clothes....

It's not news to anyone that we judge others based on their clothes. In general, studies that investigate these judgments find that people prefer clothing that matches expectations, for example, surgeons in scrubs - but with one notable exception. Read on....
Read on....

April 2016
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Immune to Addiction?
When neuroscientist George Koob proposed creating a vaccine for addiction 25 years ago, his colleagues thought he was wasting his time. Two decades later it seems that this idea may be closer to becoming a reality.
Read on....


March 2016
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Social Media and the Mind
How do hours of Facebook and constant streams of WhatsApp, tweets and text messages affect our cognition and mental health? Scientists are beginning to find out....
Read on....


February 2016
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Does Size Matter?
Now that I have your attention, then I may be about to disappoint you.
We are going to be considering whether the size of Woody Allen's second favourite organ really matters....The Brain.
Does a bigger brain make you necessarily smarter or wiser?
Read on....


January 2016
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Do NOT diet!
At any given time, at least one in five adults reports being on a diet, but the majority don't keep the weight off. A huge amount of scientific evidence tells us that dieting does not promote lasting weight loss. In fact, many dieters end up gaining back more weight after they quit.

In trawling through many papers & articles about losing weight it seems that the best advice from psychologists and researchers are: Do not diet. Do not cut out groups of foods or count calories. Do not try to eat very little or deprive yourself. Such strategies backfire because of psychological effects that every dieter is all too familiar with.
Read on....


December 2015
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Out of Synch: How Our Digital Lifestyles Are Upsetting Our Body's Natural Rhythms
Are you one of those people who falls asleep minutes after their head hits the pillow and awakens cheery and refreshed when the sunlight filters through the window?
If you are, then count your blessings! Your reliable inner clock may also deserve some credit for other aspects your health: good blood pressure, metabolism, digestion, and more.
Read on....


November 2015
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Missing Link Found Between the Brain and Immune System
New research has uncovered a previously unknown line of communication between our brain and immune system. The report in July in top-notch journal "Nature" adds to a fast-growing body of research linking the brain and bodily defenses. 
Read on....


October 2015
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How Awe Makes Us Healthier and Less Selfish
"Awesome" has become a common descriptor, yet genuine awe is a profound emotion: the intake of breath at a starry night sky, a shiver down your spine during live music or a lump in your throat at the sight of a silent vast crowd holding candles aloft. Can this feeling make us better people? A recent paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that it does....
Read on....


September 2015
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How Being a New Parent Changes Your Brain
The arrival of a child brings big changes in the brains of the new mothers and fathers. Mothers experience a near immediate shift, thanks in part to the hormones involved in giving birth and nursing. Fathers' brains tend to change in different and more subtle ways...
Read on....


August 2015
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The Brain's Homing Signal
After wandering round a unfamiliar part of town, can you sense which direction to travel back to get to your car or the station? If so, you can thank your entorhinal cortex, a brain area recently identified as being responsible for our sense of direction. Variation in the signal in this area might even explain why some people are better navigators than others.
....... Read on....


July 2015
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Advances in the Science of Intuition
Sometimes a solution just appears out of nowhere. Intuition!
This is the name we give to the uncanny ability to quickly and effortlessly know the answer, unconsciously, either without or well before knowing why. The conscious explanation comes later, if at all, and involves a much more deliberate process.
....... Read on....


June 2015

No 'On the Border' this month - Summer break

May 2015
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Can Infection Make You Depressed?
Did you know that depression could be a symptom of something as simple as infection? Doctors have long viewed depression as a complex disorder. Stress, neurochemical imbalances, physical pain and ill health can all precipitate an emotional collapse. Yet a flurry of research during the past 25 years has linked many of depression's contributing factors to a single root cause: inflammation....... Read on....


April 2015
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Can Music Really Heal?
Across cultures and throughout history, music listening and music making have played a role in treating disorders of the mind and body. But what does science tell us about the healing power of music?.... Read on....


March 2015
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Does the Midlife Crisis Exist?
Examples of the desperate midlife-crisis stricken characters abound in popular culture (think, Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, Billy Crystal in City Slickers or Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County), and the concept seems to be entrenched in our collective psyche. But are people of a certain age really more likely to launch a total life reboot?.... Read on....

February 2015
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Tracking Your Eyes

"Eye tracking for marketing purposes!"
I was flabbergasted, and not in a good way.
This was my reaction a couple of years ago when I attended a training for a machine I was going to be using as part of the neuroscience research I was carrying out. I wanted to measure skin conductance and heart rate of volunteers whilst they were in the scanner. The company who had developed the machine proudly told how they were using eye tracking software for marketing purposes.
I'd become familiar with eye tracking during different research studies I'd been connected with. We'd hooked volunteers up to eye trackers during brain scans in the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) when investigating autism, empathy and pain circuits. I also knew from my natural medicine background that eye movements are an integral part of some therapies: NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioners observe the eyes to assess how a client stores and retrieves information (and can tell even if they are lying), and EMDR (eye movement de-sensitisation and reprocessing) uses eye movements to rework trauma.
The idea that monitoring my eye movements when entering a virtual supermarket to see if I went for branded products, or if my eyes went more to the health food section in order to gather information to push more products on us was one that made my flesh crawl. It all felt very science fiction to me, and far too invasive. This was just two years ago....Now Google has launched its Google Glass.  So it seemed like a good time to dive into this whole subject for 'On the Border'. In doing so I've had my own eyes opened and my resistance challenged to some advantages as well as manipulative disadvantages.
Read on....


January 2015
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How to Beat Burnout
You lie in bed in the morning, reluctant to get out from under the warm embrace of your duvet. After several bleary minutes, you finally rouse yourself, throw on some clothes and head to the office. Having arrived at your desk, you stare blankly as e-mail loads on your screen. When you first started this job, you derived deep satisfaction from addressing the day's challenges efficiently and artfully. Yet the optimism that used to buoy you is long gone. Now your morning coffee gives you the only jolt of energy you'll feel all day.... Read on....

December 2014
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Give Your Brain a Buzz with the Electric Pharmacy

This may sound a bit far-fetched for a cold morning in December but many researchers believe that within the next few years this 'electrifying' form of treatment could become commonplace. In fact, some scientists suspect that this could launch a new era in treatment that could rival traditional medicines. The technique, called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), is being investigated for dozens of applications, including helping people recover from brain injury, treating depression, enhancing vigilance and managing pain. Read on....


November 2014
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Have You Heard About 'The Social Cure' ?

You can probably remember some morning you struggled to get out of bed. Maybe you kept thinking about the exam you failed, the party you were not invited to or the job you didn’t get. If you are clinically depressed, every day is like this—but worse. Nothing you used to enjoy is fun anymore, and you lack the will to do what it takes—to exercise or reach out to a loved one—to pull yourself out of your gloom. But scientists are now discovering that social contacts in a group are a (new) key to lifting depression. Read on....


October 2014
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Can Acupuncture Stop Killer Immune Reactions?

The ST36 Zusanli acupuncture point is located just below the knee joint. This spot in mice—and it is hoped perhaps in humans—may be a critical entryway to gaining control over the often fatal inflammatory reactions that accompany systemic infections. Read on....

August/September 2014
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Regenerating the Brain?

Is it possible to regenerate the brain? New research into using stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson's  disease suggests that it might well be. Read on....

July 2014
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Melody as Remedy?

'Music soothes the savage beast' as the old saying goes. Music is an intrinsic part of our lives from the song playing when you had your first kiss, to music you revv yourself up with (or calm yourself down with) before you have a stressful meeting. As many of you are packing up to go on holiday this month (the schools have just broken up for the summer in the Amsterdam area), I thought I'd bring you some interesting new research about the effect music can have. But first a quickie lesson in the brain areas involved in music. Read on....

June 2014
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Is Depression Just Bad Chemistry?

The general hypothesis in medicine is that a deficiency of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) at synapses, or tiny gaps, between neurons interferes with the transmission of nerve impulses, causing or contributing to depression. One of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, has attracted the most attention, but many others, including norepinephrine and dopamine, have also been granted supporting roles in the story. Read on....

May 2013

No 'On the Border' this month - Summer break

April 2014
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Why Standing Out From the Crowd Is Good

In spite of The Netherlands being an equal opportunities and very tolerant nation, the Dutch themselves have a saying about 'not sticking your head above the cornfield' because it will get chopped off. In English we talk about 'sticking our necks out'. In both cases, standing out in some way seems to have definite disadvantages (usually involving loss of both head and life!). In looking into the research about uniqueness, it would seem that standing out from the crowd is a good thing since it shapes unique behaviour and creative thinking. Read on....

March 2014
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What a Headache!

Halos, auras, flashes of light, pins and needles running down your arms, the sudden scent of sulphur-many symptoms of a migraine have vaguely mystical qualities, and experts remain puzzled by the debilitating headaches' cause. Researchers at Harvard University, however, have come at least one step closer to figuring out why women are twice as likely to suffer from chronic migraines as men.  Read on....

February 2014
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How Lust and Love Work Together

People often think of love and lust as polar opposites-love as the binder of two souls, lust the transient devil on our shoulders, disturbing and disruptive. Now neuroscientists are discovering that lust and love work together more closely than we think. Indeed, the strongest relationships have elements of both. Read on....

January 2014
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Harness the Power of Language

I have mentioned here before my love of writing and languages. In the last weeks, several articles have caught my attention around not only the healing power of writing but also how our choice of words & metaphors can influence ourselves and others. In the vein of wanting to wish you all manner of good things for 2014 I thought I could not do any better than to put words to the research.... Read on....

December 2013
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How We Became Addicted to Eating

With Christmas and the 'Festive Season' rapidly approaching, it seems that every year there is increasingly more focus on the amounts of food we buy, make and consume. In the days leading up to Christmas our local supermarket looks as though there is going to be a famine because people are pilling up their trolleys as if there will be no tomorrow.
When did it all get so crazy? How did it all get so crazy?
I decided to delve into the research around getting addicted to food.... Read on....

November 2013
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Research into the Body-Mind Connection

I love it when science catches up with what we 'know' from natural medicine. Recently several studies have caught my attention in which 'treating the mind' relieves physical symptoms. Read on....

October 2013
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How Helping Others Improves True Self-Esteem

Self-esteem, or a person's overall sense of self-worth, is generally considered to be critical to healthy functioning. Its darker side, however, has been largely overlooked.
The quest for greater self-esteem can leave people feeling empty and dissatisfied. Recent research bolsters the case. Even when we achieve goals we anticipate will make us feel good about ourselves, high self-esteem may still elude us because self-esteem that is dependant on success is fragile. So if your self-worth depends on success, you may be in for a fall. To feel good about yourself, think less about you and more about others. Read on....

September 2013
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How We Learn and How to Learn Better

September brings with it another acamdemic year - a time when the children go back at school, universities start up again, and people go back to work after the summer break. Each year at this time I notice the whiff off 'wanting to learn' wafting around in my surroundings. Not just my own curiosity but those of other people around me. It seems that the end of summer and the start of Autumn heralds cooler indoor days and time to embark on something new.
In spite of all the learning done in educational institutions, one thing we typically never study is the art of studying itself. In this month's On the Border, I have combed through some of the scientific literature on learning techniques to identify the two methods that work best. Read on....

August 2013
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The Science Behind Hand-Writing
I have a confession.....if I have to write something that requires thought (like this!) I always go to pen & paper first and never directly to the keyboard. I think better on the hand-written page. In this digital age I often feel like a Retro Relic and some sort of Stone Age historical curiosity in a world of technophiles. If I had €10 for every time I am writing-working in a café and somebody comes up and asks 'if I am really writing with a pen' then I would be on my way to substantial pocket money ;=)
Why do such a thing in a keystroke age? It turns out that there is some science behind hand-writing and that it actually is good for your brain.....
Read on....

July 2013
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The Brain of Buddha - A Neuroscientist's Encounter with the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is reknown for his interest in neuroscience. When I stumbled across this very recent article by top neuroscientist Christof Koch about his experience with the Dalai Lama, I knew that I had to share this with you all. So here it is, cut & pasted without apology straight into my newsletter :=) Read on....

June 2013
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Could a Simple Caress Help Stroke Patients Recover?

It is quite incredible that even though scientists have been studying strokes for decades, the only intervention available is a drug that breaks up blood clots, and only a small number of patients benefit from it. Brain damage is unfortunately inevitable in most cases. However, new research in rat studies has shown that they were saved from brain damage after a stroke when neuroscientists simply touched their whiskers or played sounds in their ear.


The new research offers the tantalising possibility of a low-tech, inexpensive treatment that could be dispensed immediately, anywhere, and by anyone. Although translating these interventions into human treatments means overcoming significant hurdles, the revolutionary finding has invigorated a field fraught with dead ends and lackluster results. Read on....

May 2013

No 'On the Border' this month - Summer break

April 2013
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An Internal Sedative

Imagine you get nine hours of sleep every night, squeeze in long naps whenever you can, and yet every waking hour is a blur of exhaustion, poor focus and longing for the next time your head will hit the pillow. That is the reality for people with primary hypersomnia, a poorly understood, rare condition of constant sleepiness and tiredness.. Read on......

March 2013
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How City Life Affects Your Brain

Whenever I find myself getting stressed from too many (scientific) deadlines, a walk through the park where we live usually restores my feelings of calmness. I know that the fast-paced urban life is taking its toll when I start to daydream about growing my own vegetables and keeping chickens for fresh eggs! So when I read recent findings about how German scientists have found that city residents can be identified by a brain scan, I was intrigued. Read on......

February 2013
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Finding Love in the Digital Age

Romantic relationships can begin anywhere. When Cupid's arrow strikes, you might be anywhere. My own romance with Sjoerd started with some hilarious double-entendre Dutch-language mistakes, together with an incident in the gas cyclinder storage cupboard (well, better than a bike shed, even if we are in Holland!). Sometimes, however, Cupid seems to have emigrated...so instead of waiting for him to get back to work, people are increasingly joining online-dating sites to assert some control over their romantic lives. Read on......

January 2013
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The Science Behind EMDR and Mindfulness

I always smile enormously when science starts to catch up with what the healing-therapy-natural medicine community has been doing. 

So this month I share with you the latest scientific findings on mindfulness and EMDR. Read on......

December 2012
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Meditation for Colds, Botox for Depression
Practicing meditation might make you sick from colds less often, and botox treatments that prevent facial muscles from registering negative emotions and could help depression. Have I gone completely mad? Not in the least! The latest scientific research reveals both of these to be true
Read on....

November 2012
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Are Microorganisms Making You Moody?
The thought of parasites preying on your body or brain very likely sends shivers down your spine. Having seen the film Aliens years ago, the picture of the under-the-skin parasite coming out of Sigourney Weaver's stomach still makes my skin crawl. The idea of something infesting my brain makes me want to run for the hills (or would do if we had them in The Netherlands). But scientists are now finding out that microorganisms have a much greater impact in and on our health.
Read on....

October 2012
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Boiled Down Beliefs: Are We Born to be Religious?
The age old discussion around religion and spirituality has with the advent of modern day science taken a new turn.
"Does God exist?" and "What is the meaning of life?" have morphed into "Why are some people more religious or spiritual than others?"
Science has now investigated if the reason that some of us are more spiritual could lie in our genes and personality. Read on....


September 2012
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What Can Anaesthetics Teach Us About Body-Mind Consciousness?
We take it for granted that any kind of surgical procedure, whether extracting a wisdom tooth or replacing a heart valve, will be painless and won't leave any bad memories. Every year tens of millions of patients worldwide remember being prepared for an operation-then nothing, until they wake up in the recovery room. This is the magic of general anesthesia, which safely knocks out that most precious of life's possessions, conscious experience, then reliably restores it without any lasting consequences. But WHERE does consciousness reside in the brain? What do scientist know about this?  Read on....

Full August 2012 pdf newsletter download

Could Your Insula Be Affecting How You Feel About Yourself?
Traditionally psychologists have attributed negative body image to pictures in the media of unusually thin or beautiful people with whom the rest of us compare our own physique. In June 2011 the American Medical Association released a statement that urged advertisers to stop the use of digitally altered photographs after researchers found links among exposure to mass media, negative body image and disordered eating.
The impact of distorted body image is widespread. Almost half of adolescent girls report being dissatisfied with their appearance, and the number of males reporting serious body image dissatisfaction is also on the rise (although the exact number of males thousands suffer from a clinical body image disturbance such as an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder, in which people cannot stop thinking about minor or imaginary "flaws" in their appearance.
Yet the question remains: Given that everyone is exposed to images of presumably perfect bodies, why don't we all have serious trouble with body image?
Read on....


July 2011

No 'On the Border' this month - Summer break

Full June 2012 pdf newsletter download

I Know How You Feel

When someone approaches you to ask, “What’s wrong?” you know that you are broadcasting unhappiness, whether or not you said a word. Perhaps it was a grimace or your sluggish gait that conveyed the message. You cannot help but communicate your mood to colleagues, neighbours and fellow commuters through numerous subtle cues.


Sensing the emotional states of others is an important part of social interaction. If you could not do this well, you might end up incongruously slapping the back of a person who is teary or stopping an anxious co-worker on his way to a meeting. People with autism and schizophrenia find it virtually impossible to detect other people’s feelings and as a result have extreme difficulty relating to others. Read on....

May 2012
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The Multitasking Brain
Albert Einstein is rumoured to have said "Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves". The quote acknowledges a fundamental characteristic of human attention: sometimes there simply is not enough of it to go around.
My daily inner talk often revolves around how I can get more into - and thus out of - 24 hours. 'If only there were more hours in my day!' I often say, as I juggle listening to my husband whilst answering emails, reading an article and thinking about what we can make for dinner....Yet effective multitasking is apparently a myth. So, too, is the idea that members of the "multitasking generation," who grew up with video games, smart phones and e-readers, can somehow concentrate on several things at once. In fact, research indicates that frequent multitaskers are often the worst at it.....Read on....

April 2012
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Smells Like the Past
I was standing in the queue, waiting to disembark from the airplane at Leeds Airport, when the strong acrid sweaty odour of a dishevelled man a few places in front of me, filled my nostrils. I found myself transported back into the sitting room of an old lady I used to visit when I was 17-years old as part of a community service program from my school. 'Aunty Clara' as I had to call her, would make me empty her urine and faeces filled toilet bowl that she kept in the sitting room....and she smelled old and sweaty. I did not like having to visit her for an hour on a Friday afternoon. I had not thought about her in years, but in that split second I was back in that little room, looking at the clock and watching the hands move round until I could finally leave after an hour. The powerful memories that smells evoke got me thinking....
Read on....

March 2012
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Making Sense of Our (Healing) Senses
While working as a healer it fascinates me how my senses are more enhanced and I start multi-tasking with a fuller sensory perception. It turns out that science is now starting to discover how this is possible....
Read on....

February 2012
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How Your Emotions Affect the World
I was intending for this edition to do something love-related, but couldn't quite find something that felt it clicked with you all. But then, as coincidence would have it, I was listening to the Freebies I am offering this month and an idea got sparked.... Two of the interviewees (Howard Martin and Gregg Braden) started talking about the scientific evidence that showh how our emotions (not just love) affect the magnetic fields of the earth. That was something that gave a big CLICK.....
Read on....

January 2012
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Can Bad Memories Be Erased?
At this time of year many of us are trying to turn over new leaves, and make plans for the coming year. We might even be trying to forget some of the more painful events of the last year. But is it possible to actually erase traumatic memories?
Read on....

December 2011
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How to Soothe Your Frazzled Mind
There seems to be no escaping stress. Even the good things in life can stress you out! (After all, "desserts" spelled backward is "stressed.")
You may think that the best way to reduce stress is through relaxation (e.g. yoga, meditation), but apparently that is NOT true...... Read on....

November 2011
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Neurons Are Not the Only Fruit
I love it when science is arrogant and then has to eat its words!
Remember the notions that 85% of DNA is junk? Or that the earth is the centre of the universe?

Neuroscience has a big mis-hypothesis too....'Neurons make up only 15% of our brain cells, the remaining 85% is packing material.' This turns out to be hugely wrong. Read on....

October 2011
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What Rats Taught Neuroscientists About Love

Did you know that the dark mysteries of our love affairs have been illuminated by the love lives of rats, mice and monogamous prairie voles?


Neuroscientist Kelly Lambert's recent article is such an enjoyable romp (I mean, read) that I am reproducing it here in its entirety. Read on....

September 2011
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How Stress Can Lead to Alzheimers & Parkinson's Disease
The idea that stress may figure into neurodegenerative diseases is relatively new. Researchers have catalogued the effect of stress on numerous psychological conditions, including depression and chronic anxiety. Although the notion that our high-pressure jobs and hectic lives might be doing additional damage could be worrisome, stress is at least something we can theoretically control. That is, trying to relax might be a first step toward raising the chances of keeping your brain free of disease in old age. Read on....

August 2011
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Why Speaking Another Language is Good for Your Brain
Many of you have (or are still) spending your Summer holidays outside your own country. This probably means that you have been trying to speak a few words of the local lingo....probably with mixed reactions, but probably lots of memorable fun too. Speaking different languages has always been something I've enjoyed, and the motivation (plus an abillity) to do so has been invaluable when working and living around the world. I used to dread family beach holidays - with my fair skin and freckles I burned as soon as the sun even looked at me. But trying out my school-French as a teenager on (another beach) holiday in Southern France, opened up a whole new world to me by being able to chat to locals (I wrote about my langauge adventures in a Dutch article entitled 'Tien voor Taal'). Thankfully, trying to talk to locals is something I've not stopped doing :=)
In recent years, scientists have found that being able to speak different languages may actually facilitate the development of certain language and cognitive skills. These aptitudes include mental flexibility, abstract thinking and working memory, a type of short-term memory essential for learning and problem solving.Read on....


July 2011

No 'On the Border' this month - Summer break

June 2011
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An Unfiltered Mind: How Creativity Flows When Barriers Are Down
Science and the Arts are full of highly creative people whose personal behaviour sometimes strikes others as odd. Albert Einstein picked up cigarette ends off the street to get tobacco for his pipe; Howard Hughes spent entire days on a chair in the middle of the supposedly germ-free zone of his Beverly Hills Hotel suite; the composer Robert Schumann believed that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other dead composers from their tombs; and Charles Dickens is said to have fended off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London. More recently, we have seen Michael Jackson's preoccupation with nose surgery, Salvador Dalí's affection for dangerous pets and the Icelandic singer Björk dressed for the Oscars as a swan.
It isn't just the average person-on-the-street who perceives highly creative individuals as eccentric. These individuals often see themselves as different and unable to fit in. The latest findings in brain imaging, creativity research and molecular biology suggest that these perceptions are not just based on a few anecdotal accounts of "weird" scientists and artists. In fact, creativity and eccentricity often go hand in hand, and researchers now believe that both traits may be a result of how the brain filters incoming information. Even in the business world, there is a growing appreciation of the link between creative thinking and unconventional behaviour, with increased acceptance of the latter. Read on....

May 2011
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When Your Eyes Deceive: The Power of Optical Illusions
Illusions help us to see things that do not match physical reality. For scientists they are very important in the understanding of the neural mechanisms of perception and cognition. Here are some of the Greatest Optical Illusions of All Time, with the science explanation in so far as it is known, plus a couple of new 'modern day' illusions. Enjoy! Read on.....

April 2011
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Day-Dreaming: What Happens in the Brain?
The recent discovery of a network in the brain dedicated to autobiographical mental imagery is helping researchers understand the many purposes that day-dreaming serves in our lives. They have called this web of neurons "the default network," because when we are not absorbed in more focused tasks, the network fires up. The default network appears to be essential to generating our sense of self, suggesting that daydreaming plays a crucial role in who we are and how we integrate the outside world into our inner lives. Read on.....

March 2011
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Putting the Body Back Into Body-Mind- Spirit
Within the healing world we so often get used to focussing on the mind and spirit that we tend to forget about the body....We know that psychological problems can produce physical symptoms in the form of psychosomatics, for example, that mental stress can give you headaches, an upset stomach or even heart problems. But we often forget to appreciate that the influence also runs in the other direction-that changes in your body can profoundly affect your mental state. Read on....

February 2011
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How Your Brain is Helped by Fruitiness and the Spice of Life

We know that there are certain foods that are supposed to be good for our brain health, but did you know that some spices also have been found to help your little grey cells grind more effectively? 

Come with me on this month's journey to explore how a bit of fruitiness and the spice of life can help your brain function better and longer...and then try to resist a breakfast of horny goat weed and blueberries! Read on....

January 2011
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How Dogs Can Teach Us About New Year's Resolutions

We Humans like to think that we have much more self-discipline than other animals. We know how to set goals- losing 5 kilos, starting our own businesses-and then we resist temptations and plough through difficulties to achieve them. We are far from perfect at this talent, but in most of our minds there is no question that our powerful self-control is one of the things that sets us apart from more lowly animals. Or is it.....? Read on....

December 2010
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How A Healing Session Works

I always get a deep sense of satisfaction when I read that something in science has 'proved' what we know in the healing & energy worlds.

During a healing session, there is not only an energetic phenomenon that occurs, but also a simultaneous psycho-emotional component. This is why during a healing people can often experience a range of emotions, recall childhood memories, and let go of deeply held (psychological and/or emotional) pain. The combination of energy and psychotherapy is a powerful one. A recent article by psychiatrist Jonathan Shedler was so outstandingly clear about why psychotherapy works, that I have reproduced it here with only slight modifications. Read on... 

November 2010
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Faking It: The Hidden Psychological Costs of Wearing Designer Knock-Offs
Walking through Amsterdam city centre on any given day, it always strikes me how many women (and men also, I hasten to add, this is Amsterdam after all) seem to be carrying Louis Vuitton bags. Are they all earning such good money? (And are they doing it legally?). With this thought in mind, I came across a series of research articles about how polishing your self-image with counterfeit goods may lead to lying, cheating and cynicism. Read on....

October 2010
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Ecstasy Drug Helps Win the Fight Over PTSD Agony

The drug "ecstasy" is known as a potent (and illegal) way of enhancing your senses and boosting your mood, and is especially popular in dance clubs. A study just published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that when coupled with psychotherapy, the drug might also be an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.

Read on.....

September 2010
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The Paradox of Willpower

If you have ever wondered about the fine balance between Willpower and Willingness then you are going to like this latest bit of research.


For example, willingness is a core concept of addiction recovery programs-and a paradoxical one. Twelve-step programs emphasise that addicts cannot will themselves into healthy sobriety-indeed, that ego and self-reliance are often a root cause of their problem. Yet recovering addicts must be willing. That is, they must be open to the possibility that the group and its principles are powerful enough to trump a compulsive disease.


It's a tricky concept for many and must be taken on faith. But now there may be science to back it up. Read on...

August 2010
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Was Michelangelo a Secret Neuro Geek?

As someone who likes to combine things - I have a fondness for working on reports and articles in cafes wherever I happen to be in the world - I can appreciate this study. Two neuroscientists have 'discovered' that Michelangelo was conveying secret messages about neuroanatomy in his artwork on the Sixtine Chapel ceiling. Was Michelangelo really a secret neuro geek?
I'll leave it up to you to decide if these neuroscientists were on holiday or if they need to go on one! Read on....

July 2010

No On the Border this month - Summer break

June 2010
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How Estrogen Can Lead to Addiction
In a recent study, neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, report that hormone fluctuations during a woman's menstrual cycle may affect the brain as much as do substances such as caffeine, methamphetamines or the popular attention drug Ritalin. Read on....

May 2010
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How Mobile Phones Could Provide a Breakthrough for Alzheimer's       

Mobile phones could actually help your mental health?


What is Jayne on about now?!


I always like it in science when there are two completely opposite effects reported. It reminds me not to get too black-and-white about things being 'good' for us or 'bad' for us. Read on.....

April 2010
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Going out with a Bang!        

You are probably no stranger to the fact that people who have come back from the verge of death have said that it was as if  'their whole life flashed before their eyes.'


Very recently, unusual research into brain activity just before death offers clues about why such experiences occur. Read on....

March 2010

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Stop Thinking - And Avoid Crumbling Under Pressure!        

Have you ever frozen under pressure?

Have you inexplicably screwed up just when it mattered the most?


Maybe you were about to give a presentation and suddenly you couldn't remember your words. Or you went into an exam and your mind went blank. Or maybe you play a musical instrument and suddenly your fingers no longer knew what they were supposed to do.


All these examples can happen when we choke under pressure. But did you know that this happens when you actually think too much...? A surge of recent research can help us to leave these self-sabotaging tendencies behind. Read on......

February 2010

The Brain on Chocolate? Chocolate on the Brain?
Did you know that chocolate can help your heart? This makes it good for Valentine's day!

Read about how research drop outs helped advance medical science because they could not resist the call of the cocoa bean.

A study on elderly Dutch men has shown that chocolate can extend your life. You can live longer and enjoy living longer :=)

If you sometimes crave chocolate, then it may not be because you are deficient in nutrients, but are experiencing part of a 'complex bio-psycho-social paradigm' (whoah, now that sounds mighty scientific).

And, finally, they do say "One man's meat can be another man's poison." Find out what chocolate can do to dogs. After reading this you may want to eat your Valentine's chocolates for yourself rather than share them with Fido, Fikkie and Rover.

January 2010

How Does Meditation Work at Cell Level?

Many of you may be familiar with the Dalai Lama's interest in neuroscience (http://www.jaynejubb.com/julyarticle.htm). At the 2005 Society for Neuroscience meeting, the Dalai Lama  explained  that although he meditates for four hours every morning, it is hard work. If neuroscientists could find a way to put electrodes in his brain and create the same outcome he gets from meditating, he would be an eager volunteer......

Well, be careful what you wish for...read on


December 2009

Can You Lose Weight Through Sleeping?

Yes I know it sounds too good to be true: 'Snooze While You Lose' but recent research indicates that there is a connection between how much you weigh and the amount of sleep you get per night. Read on.....


November 2009

Born to Be Kind?
Why do people do good things?
Is kindness hardwired into the brain?
Or does this tendency arise from experience?

Read on.....


October 2009

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Perfection, but at What Price?
'Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is your best'.

This little rhyme was something many of you will remember and have engrained since childhood. Perfectionism was always encouraged to be something very noble, but what price do we pay for striving for this particular goal?
Read on....


September 2009
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Little Words Mean a Lot: The Secret Life of Pronouns
We all know that the words we write or speak are an expression of our inner thoughts and personalities. But you probably didn't know that there are unique insights to be had in the use of the little words such as I, you, the, we, & but. Find out what is really lurking in YOUR small print Read on....


August 2009
No On The  Border this month - summer holiday break


July 2009
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Can Healing Therapies Go Global?
This is down-to-earth practical stuff and yet highly inspirational!

You have probably heard about the heroic exploits of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), but did you know that there are some innovative healing therapy programs that are repairing the psyches of civil war survivors and depressed mothers in developing countries? Read on....


June 2009
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Does a Good Laugh Really Help?
We all know that we feel much better after a really good, stomach-muscle-aching belly laugh, but is laughter really the best medicine? Read on....


May 2009

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Is Sitting Behind Your Computer Helping or Harming Your Brain?
I love technology - and at times I absolutely hate it!

Having been chained to my computer for the last few months (unfortunately I'm not exaggerating) I find myself getting nervous, irritable and just plain unhappy. The tasks that need to be done - crunching numbers for my research project, writing articles, answering emails etc etc - all are necessary, and I do so appreciate being able to communicate quickly.

But then....I just step outside into our lovely garden or hop on my bike to go do some shopping, and a sense of relaxation comes over me. I start to question what on earth I am doing spending so much time behind the computer when it feels, to put it bluntly, so unnatural.
So I decided to go on a hunt for what is known about the effects of the computer on our brains. Read on....


April 2009
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Why It Hurts To Be Separated From a Loved One
It's no fun to be away from your loved one. For many years studies have suggested that long-term separation from a romantic partner can lead to increased anxiety and depression as well as problems such as sleep disturbances. Now researchers are identifying the neurochemical mechanisms behind these behavioural and physiological effects. Read on....


March 2009
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A Mother's Life Experience Affects Her Child's Memory
Scientists have just published groundbreaking research which revolutionises our understanding of how nature and nurture can combine to regulate not only the health of subsequent generations but also the incidence of disease. Read this month's article.


February 2009
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Use Your Hands! They Keep You Happy & Healthy
Have the changes in our lifestyle over the last century contributed to us being less happy and more depressed? We are clearly using our hands and brains differently (less!) than our more physically-working ancestors did a hundred years ago, but is there brain evidence that using our hands makes us happier? There certainly is....So before you pick up your knitting, start sticking in holiday photos or begin making biscuits, read this month's article.


January 2009
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Shock! Horror! Psychotherapy Beats Anti-Depressants
It always raises a smile when I read that, on some front, science has caught up with energy therapies.

So now imagine my deep belly chuckle when I read that pyschotherapy has now been proved not only to work as well as antidepressants in treating depression, but that its effects are longer lasting. (The exact statement was: "Studies have shown that cognitive therapy is as efficacious as antidepressant medication at treating depression, and it seems to reduce the risk of relapse even after its continuation.")

So join me this month in looking at the latest research into depression, what it is, how it is treated and how studies have helped show that treating the symptoms (i.e. with pills) does NOT give long-lasting effects. Read on.....


December 2008
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Why Getting a Good Night's Sleep Helps You Learn Better

As we hurtle towards the shortest day of the year, we are probably more confronted with sleep now than at other times of the year. With the shorter days, longer nights and dark mornings you may think that you feel like hibernating under the duvet and just sleeping....but exciting findings in recent years have shown that while we sleep our brain is anything but inactive. Read on...


November 2008
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The Brain Biology of Brilliance

You probably know that intelligence is measured by IQ, but what makes somebody a genius? The development of neuro-imaging has enabled scientists to start studying regions in the brain to unearth the biology of brilliance. And if you have ever wondered if size really does matter (?!) then read on....


October 2008
Neuroscience Research into Emotions & Empathy
This month I've discarded the usual format because I need your help!
I am looking for volunteers - males & females between the ages of 18 and 65 - to help me with my Neuroscience research study between now and January. Would you like to take part? I can promise you it will be very a interesting  experience, you'll enjoy it - and you will even get paid for it.

All the details about the entire study, background and criteria for participation can be found on the Dutch website http://www.jaynejubb.com/moebius/index.html. Should you wish to participate in English all the tests, letters and information are also available in English. You will, however, need to be a Dutch resident in order to participate though.


September 2008
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Why Does Science Have Two Sets of Laws?
The mystery of why we need two sets of rules to describe the world can be traced back to an experiment that was first carried out almost a hundred years ago in 1909 by British physicist Geoffrey Ingram Taylor. This was the birth of Quantum Mechanics. Even though it is 'ancient', its results are still the subject of much controversy. It literally shook the foundations of the physics world, and it still does! Read on....


August 2008
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How Life Experience Chemically Coats Your DNA and Shapes Your Life
We have known intuitively for a long time that our life experience is part of who we are and shapes who we become. An area of genetics is now helping to show that it does literally form us: it alters the actual shape of the DNA by allowing 'cling-on' molecules to attach themselves. Read on...


July 2008
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One Person Can Make a Difference: Scientific Proof
Yes, okay,  I know you've heard it before and have probably paid lip service to it on several occasions, but scientific studies have been showing that one person really can and does make a difference.

Research has found that when people within a group share a common experience of consciousness, the effects can be detected beyond the group itself and even outside the building where the individuals are meeting. It would seem that the inner experiences are being carried through some subtle conduit in a way that is not restricted by the laws of physics (or at least, the laws as we currently understand them!) or limited to the immediate surroundings. Read on....


June 2008
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The Distance Between Us: Cells Separated From Body Remain Connected To It
Would you expect a tissue sample - like a DNA mouth swab done in CSI - to still be connected to its owner once it had been taken?

Traditional, everyday thinking, would suggest that once tissue, skin, organs or bones are removed from a person, any connection with those parts of the body should no longer exist. Well, think again! It appears that this is definitely not the case. Read on....


May 2008
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When Placebo Was More Powerful Than Brain Surgery

I am sure that you have all heard of the 'placebo effect' - the expectation of improvement actually changing the outcome. But did you know that in 2004 an Italian study found that the placebo effect was actually more powerful than brain surgery? Read on....


April 2008

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Life After Death: Scientists Study This Last Frontier
In 2001 Dutch cardiologist, Pim van Lommel, created a stir in mainstream medicine by publishing hard core scientific research into Life After Death in the famous medical journal 'The Lancet'. Never before had such a thorough study been done into the experiences of people who had been declared dead and had then been resuscitated back to life. Read on....


March 2008
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Kiss & Tell: The Chemistry of Kissing

Have you ever really liked someone, yet when you came to kiss them it was more a turn-off than a turn-on?
Kissing - or osculation it is called scientifically (how unromantic!) - should unleash a cocktail of chemicals
that govern human stress, motivation, social bonding and sexual stimulation. But is kissing necessary? And, are you a right-leaning kisser or a left-leaning kisser? Read on....


February 2008

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Ghost Busting: The Mystery of Phantom Limb Pain
The phenomenon of 'phantom limb' has fascinated me for years: the strange feeling that a missing body part is still present and attached to the body even when it has been amputated. Energetically, this has always seemed perfectly logical. The physical part has been removed but the energy field from which it arose and which supported it for years can still be present. Well now (hooray) neuroscience is catching up, and catching on. This is real, exciting 'On the Border' stuff, so read on...


January 2008
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Resolutions: Two Sides To Every Story
Science always seems to be able to prove just about anything! First butter is good for us, then it's bad; coffee is bad for the heart, then it's good for memory, cancer and menopausal women. Have you made any resolutions for this year? Do you still have them, or have they already been packed away for another year along with the Christmas decorations? Here are some of the latest surprising scientific findings on a few 'baddies' to help you keep from getting too fanatical. Remember, there are two sides to every story. Happy New Year! Read on....


December 2007
Away on holiday in Vietnam - no edition this month


November 2007
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Create Your Future: Remembering the Past to Imagine the Future
A rapidly growing number of recent studies show that imagining the future depends on much of the same brain machinery that is needed for remembering the past. These findings have led to the concept of the prospective brain - an idea that a crucial function of the brain is to use stored information to imagine, simulate and predict possible future events. Great news for those of us who want to consciously create our futures! Read on....


October 2007
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Mirror Neurons Reflect How We Learn & Empathise
How did you first learn to stick your tongue out? When someone starts yawning do you start to yawn too? When watching a film, do you share in the joys and pain of the characters?  The answers to what goes on in your brain are in ‘mirror neurons’. Read on....


September 2007
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Rhythm and Blues: Biological Clock Depends on Light
We’ve all felt the effects of the biological clock – jet lag when returning from a trip, and winter blues when the days are grey and short – but the biological clock really does exist. From the energetic perspective, the fact that we are ‘beings of light’ (however New Agey that might sound) is not surprising. Yet the fact that science is now increasingly able to demonstrate just HOW our dependence on light affects so much of our well being is fascinating. Read on....


August 2007

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Epilepsy: A Modern Day Twist to an Ancient Remedy
One of the major modern day quandaries in the treatment of epilepsy is that about 30-40% of patients become immune to the medicines that they are given to combat the seizures. Recently, modern day research methods applied to an age old remedy have provided exciting new avenues into this frustrating medical problem. Read on....