Read any good books lately?


I have been invited to Guest Post TODAY!
The Power of Reading BOOKS
hosted by blogger Debby Gies [author D.G.Kaye]

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reblog with Intro from the Executive Functioning Series

Although she is in Toronto, Canada and I am “down south” in Cincinnati, Ohio, the miracle that is the blogging community has allowed us to develop a warm and wonderful virtual friendship.

For those who don’t already know her, Debby is a generous, popular and prolific blogger who is well-known for her memoirs filled with both heartfelt and humorous reflections on her own journey through life.

Uplifting and encouraging, each is written to offer positive support to anyone struggling with anything similar to the topics she tackles.

She is currently readying her next book for publication.

She asked me to give her a bit of time to focus on polishing the upcoming gem I’m sure it will be, honoring me by featuring something I would write especially for her regular Tuesday post.

So, of course, I chose to focus on what science has discovered about
the amazing brain-based benefits of reading a BOOK!

I’ll get you started below, and then send you over to read the entire article on her site. (or you can CLICK HERE to read the entire article over there right now)

I’ll respond to comments on either site – or both, if you choose.

I’ll bet most of you will be surprised to learn what science has discovered about the many great things book-readers are doing for their mental and physical health — simply by lounging on the couch reading a book!

If you are not already following Debby, click around while you’re there and get to know her and her books. You’ll be mighty glad you did.


Reading a book has the power to reshape your brain
and improve your ability to relate to others

Reading more but enjoying it less?

Thanks to our ability to scroll through endless words on our computers, tablets and smart phones, more people are reading than ever before.

Still, while the act of reading itself has increased, there is a significant difference between reading anything and reading a book that pulls you into the mind of the author as you take a mental vacation.

Even hours of reading on FaceBook, or skipping from blog to blog reading multiple articles on various subjects, does not seem to have the same positive effect as reading a novel, a memoir or a carefully curated collection of short-stories.

And the more time we spend online, the less time we have for reading those wonderful books on our TBR lists (“To Be Read”).

That’s a real shame, too, because reading a good book is not only an enjoyable, affordable “vacation” that broadens our perspective, it turns out that science has discovered that it actually improves our brain functioning in ways that translate to improved thinking, mood, functional intelligence, more positive and productive connections in our lives, and so-much-MORE.

The impact of a BOOK

Reading a book not only gives us access to someone else’s mindset and world view, it also seems to increase our ability to empathize with people in our day to day lives.

I’m sure that most of us who are avid readers are well acquainted with the feeling of stepping into another world while we read. Most of us also find that our view of our “real” world changes for days afterwards, even when we are not actively thinking about the story-line, the subject matter or the characters.

In my own experience, for example, after spending an evening with a character I could see clearly in my mind’s eye, for a few days following I have often felt like I was reacting as they might have. Sometimes I have the almost eerie sensation that I have taken on that character’s mannerisms.

Science has discovered that there’s a brain-based reason for that experience.

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.” ~ neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns

Being captured by the world of a book with a strong narrative can trigger measurable changes in the brain — changes that linger for at least five days after reading.

Reading books and changing brain cells

Research from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (published in the journal Brain Connectivity) found that reading a book can increase neural connectivity in a manner that mimics muscle memory.

Study changes were registered in two key areas of the brain:

  1. the left temporal cortex, an area associated with language receptivity, as well as, surprisingly,
  2. the brain’s primary sensory motor region, the central sulcus, associated with sensations and movement.

Neurons of the second region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is actually doing something by merely thinking yourself through the activity.

Referred to as “grounded cognition,” that is the explanation given for the effectiveness of the practice of mental rehearsal used effectively by many athletes.

Thanks to the phenomenon of grounded cognition, it seems that merely thinking about the specifics of an athletic activity can activate the neurons associated with the physical doing of that activity.

In some cases, practicing mentally has been reported to improve performance almost as much as if the athletes had strained and sweated their way through an actual practice session.

Who knew that the same areas could be activated by narrative reading?

“The anterior [front] bank of the sulcus contains neurons that control movement of parts of the body,” Berns, lead author of the study above explained. He went on to say that the posterior [back] region contains neurons that receive sensory input from various parts of the body.

The enhanced connectivity in the posterior region suggests that the act of reading “transports” the reader into the body of the protagonist. Amazing, right?

But wait! There’s more . . . (click HERE to read all about it)

Book Fountain, Cincinnati Public Library (symbolizing the free flow of information) | © Creative Commons, 2012 Jean-François Schmitz | Found HERE

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A Fathers Day Reblog


Homage to Brandy – the most amazing man I never knew

Happy Fathers Day!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post

The quick intro

I wrote the following post about a year after my father’s death, honoring what was inarguably a most incredible life.  I just wish I’d known more about it!

Interestingly, I have had reason to refer to this post several times in the past month alone, so I’m taking the nudge to reblog it for anyone else interested.

I’m hoping that it will encourage any of you lucky enough to still be able to speak with your parents to pester them for answers to those questions that still remain.

PARENTS: If your adult children do not really know you
– and you, them – what on earth on you waiting for?


 

My father was born today . . .

Although he was a difficult man to know, and a very tough man to grow up with, I adored him every bit as much as I railed against many of his actions and decisions throughout my life.

And I never doubted for a minute that he loved me very much.

It’s just that he had such an unusual way of showing love – almost as if the most loving thing he believed he could do was to protect those he loved from the cares and responsibilities that he thought were his alone to bear.

And, to Brandy, life itself was a responsibility. So his life seemed always cloaked in secrecy.

He made his world debut on November 20th, in Toledo, Ohio – approximately 90 years before his swan song. He shuffled off his mortal coil in October, 2012, the third loss of someone close to me that I was forced to find some way to deal with in that month.

  • Coming to closure has been a particularly difficult task – for a few reasons besides the grief that most of us experience after the death of our last remaining parent.
  • I’m still attempting to come to grips with the fact that
    I no longer have a shot at ever getting to know the man.

I believe I can now relate to the adoptee urge to locate their birth-parents. We all seem to have an innate yearning to know our roots, and most of us want to know and understand our own personal histories.

  • My sister was into genealogy.
  • I would be more than content to know the truthful and even minimally fleshed-out stories of the members of my immediate family circle.

Since my father’s death, I’m coming to believe that I am nowhere close to fulfilling that desire.

Remembering what I know

“Brandy,” the man who died about a year ago as I write, was a retired military scientist. He may or may not have had undiagnosed, extremely high-functioning Asbergers.

He most certainly was a man who was incredibly gifted intellectually with, shall we say, less than top-notch intimacy and connection skills – even though he was otherwise one of the most universally competent individuals I’ve ever met, and fairly universally liked.

  • His Ph.D. project, under the advisorship of Albert Einstein and Edwin H. Land, was to develop a camera with a lens that had a shutter speed capable of photographing the first atomic bomb flash.
  • At least that’s how the story was told to me.
  • I was also told that somewhere among the photographs I have requested as one of the few things I wanted my brother to send me from my father’s “estate,” is a photo of me as a baby: that particular camera’s first human subject.

Amazing, right?

It was quite an outside-the-box feat of engineering to solve that concentrated flash-of-light problem, given what the intensity of the bomb flash was likely to do to any film stock possible with the technology of the time.

A sequence of rapidly rotating polarized lenses, anyone?

Those who are paying attention have probably also suspected that, even as a Ph.D. candidate, he must have held one of our country’s highest security clearances to know there was going to BE a “first atomic bomb flash.”

He did.

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Can Eating Grapes Improve Your Memory?


Pilot study highlights role of grapes
in preventing Alzheimer’s disease
Implications for Memory & Attentional Struggles in Alphabet City

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited Reblog from the ClinicalNews blog
Ralph Turchiano on February 3, 2017

Brand New Study suggests Good News!

Grape-enriched diet prevents metabolic brain decline,
improves attention and memory
Public Release: 3-Feb-2017: California Table Grape Commission FRESNO, CA

Consuming grapes twice a day for six months protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain in a study of people with early memory decline.

Low metabolic activity in these areas of the brain is a hallmark of early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Study results showed a grape-enriched diet protected against the decline of metabolic activity.

Alzheimer’s disease. as most people know, is a brain disease that results in a slow decline of memory and cognitive skills. Although it’s cause is not yet fully understood, it is believed result from a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Currently 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — and the numbers continue to grow.

Study implications for EFD

Scientists noted that the group that was given the grape-enriched diet also exhibited increased metabolism in other areas of the brain that correlated with individual improvements in attention and working memory performance, compared to those on the non-grape diet.

That’s encouraging news for those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders.

EFD, remember, is the term used to describe problems with cognitive abilities that most adults take for granted as products of intelligence, education and maturity — items like planning, problem solving, concentration, mental flexibility, and controlling short-term behavior to achieve long-term goals.

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A Mardi Gras END to Christmas Festivities


As Mardi Gras/Carnival Season begins
(with festivities that continue until Lent)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited reblog from Happy Eve before Mardi Gras, 2015

About Mardi Gras – why here (and NOW)?

Since my ex-husband and I both attended grad school in New Orleans, we had three years to experience the celebrations of Mardi Gras – from King Cake parties to balls to parades and so-much-more. I relish the opportunity to share “insider” Mardi Gras knowledge gleaned from my personal experiences in New Orleans over several seasons.

I’m posting this reblog just a tad early this year, in case some of you might be inspired to set up a quick trip while there still might be a hotel room to be had.

Mardi Gras beads in the traditional colors: green, purple and gold – thrown from the floats by MANY different Krew members riding in the many, MANY parades they sponsor

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A different kind of Christmas Special from PorterGirl


Christmas Special:
The Tale Of The Cursed Hat

A wonderfully presented, original Christmas tale
from the creator of The Secret Diary Of PorterGirl.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a GOOD night!

NOT your average Hallmark™ Fare

If you find yourself a bit over-“joy”ed by the time Christmas Eve rolls along, this is a different kind of Christmas story with just a bit of a gothic twist to the ending.

It is beautifully read by actor Paul Butterworth, whom some of you may know from appearances in more than a few of the PorterGirl videos, even if you are unaware of his other theatrical credits.

Paul plays the Head Porter in the PorterGirl adventures – and author Lucy Brazier has posted a great deal of them online for both your viewing and reading pleasure.

Keep an eye peeled for the credits too – his director son does a lovely job of telling him what to do onscreen.

You’ll have to hop over to HER site to access the video (what you see below is just a still), but below that is what she has to say about Paul and the story.

‘Tis the season for festive storytelling, so please welcome Old College’s very own Head Porter – British actor Paul Butterworth – reading to us a Christmas tale I have written especially for the occasion.

Paul has appeared in films such as The Full Monty and Frank, and is a stalwart of British TV – performing in soap operas, The Bill, All Creatures Great & Small, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Holby City, Mysteries Of The Real Sherlock Holmes and many, many more.

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Election Day today – Please Go Vote!


For all my American Readers

The reblog button is missing again today, or I would have reblogged this post from the Broken Brain, Brilliant Mind of a TBI advocate blogger.  Instead, I will copy his graphic and encourage you to jump over to read what he has to say.

Click around while you are there – TONS of amazingly helpful information on that site.

“It takes a village to transform a world!” ~ mgh

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UPDATE the day after the debacle: Check out the comments. I am not the only one depressed and anxious about the horror recently foisted upon those of us with cooler heads by only slightly over 50% of the rest of America.

Suicidal Kids linked to ADD/ADHD more than Depression


New Study on a “hidden” problem
Kids who kill themselves

Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

an edited reblog for ADD Awareness Month
from Devon Frye, September 20, 2016

Looking at the overlooked

Children under the age of 12 are often overlooked in conversations about suicide and suicide prevention. The sobering reality is that a small number of U.S. children between the ages of 5 and 11 kill themselves every single year.

A new study finds that ADHD* — not depression — is the most common diagnosis for children who commit suicide between the ages of 5 and 11.

The study adds another dimension to the story of suicide’s youngest victims: more of them lived with ADHD* than any other mental health diagnosis — even depression.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* The original article uses “ADHD” — even though I avoid that “H”
unless I am quoting others or directly referring to gross motor hyperactivity
only one symptom in a profile that is only sometimes part of an ADD diagnosis.

About the Study

The study, published September 19th in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 87 children between the ages of 5 and 11 who took their own lives between 2003 and 2012.

They were compared with 606 adolescents, between the ages of 12 and 17, who committed suicide in the same period.

Data was drawn from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a U.S. database that collects information from coroners, police officers, and death certificates to track violent deaths.

All the children hailed from one of 17 states that participate in the NVDRS and allow outside researchers to access the data. Approximately one-third of the children overall had a documented mental health diagnosis.

Age seems to matter

In adolescence, children who committed suicide were most likely to be suffering from depression — nearly two-thirds of teens who took their own lives showed depressive symptoms before their deaths.

But in children under the age of 12, depression only showed up in a third of the children. An overwhelming majority — more than 60 percent — had ADHD (primarily hyperactive type).

CDC Statistics & Strategies

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Nick: A Personal Triumph over Brain Damage


He’s come back from so much
– proof that nothing is impossible with hard work
and a dream

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the What Kind of World Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Autonomy implies Independent motion

In 2009, the 25 year old son of one of the most positive lights in the blogging community, Sue Vincent, had his youthful potential cut short. He was stabbed through the brain with a screwdriver in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.  His prognosis was grim.

He was not expected to survive at all – and not expected to have much of a life worth living if he did.  They were told that if he woke, it would probably be to a vegetative state. At best, he might have the mind and abilities of a two-year-old. The damage was extensive and irreversible. He would need constant care for the rest of his life.

The triumph of will

Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community already know he did survive, defying all the odds, fighting his way back to achieve wonderful things in spite of the physical challenges with which he lives still, wheelchair bound.

Sue’s article describes even more about his inspiring story, and links to posts about his courage in the face of subsequent challenges, as well as his incredible adventures since that day.

She blogs of the magic of May Day, his skydive… the London to Brighton cycle ride (raising funds for Headway, a charity supporting brain injury victims and their families) … and the Triathlon — all of which raised thousands of pounds for charity.

More than I would attempt, for SURE!

The London to Brighton cycle challenge was a ride of some 54 miles (87km).

It included the ascent of Ditchling Beacon, which climbs nearly 500 feet in less than a mile… all, according to Sue, carrying a bag that weighs as much as a small county on the back as well.

It was made possible with help — others who donated time and the strength of their own bodies to make sure the equipment that supported Nick’s goal was packed and transported so that Nick was able to start and complete the ride.

But Nick dreams of still MORE.

Autonomy enough to travel

Sue explains in her article that Nick’s dream of autonomy with travel is currently hampered by a plethora of problems accepted as “normal” with his current “trike” – in a manner that some angel on earth has found a way to overcome with the Mountain Trike, a cross between a mountain bike and a wheelchair.

More than the smooth terrain necessary for most wheelchairs, this trike can go off-road and up mountains. It can handle sandy beaches, ford streams and cope with muddy tracks and cobbles. It even has a luggage rack.

More important, it is a manual wheelchair with an innovative propulsion system that Nick can use, even with reduced mobility and struggles with coordinating both sides of his body.

It doesn’t need batteries, can be fixed by most bike shops in an emergency and, crucially, doesn’t need anyone to push it. He can go out into the wild places alone for the very first time in seven and a half years.

Source: Independent motion – can you help?

Meet Nick

A few of you may follow Nick’s blog and may already have read about his recent preparations for his biggest adventure yet — looking forward to accomplishing the impossible once again, proving that ‘impossible’ really isn’t, if you set your mind and heart to something.

If you are new to Nick’s story, I hope you will give yourself the gift of reading about it – and that you will take the time to watch the video he has included on THIS post – especially those of you who are close to giving in and giving up.
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Is struggling with weight a “Second Brain” problem?


The Hunger Games of The Second Brain
– from Knowing Neurons

a hand-crafted reblog adding to the Brain-Based Series
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Gut Feelings

Most of us know what it means to have “a gut feeling” – whether it feels intuitive in nature, or a queasy feeling in reaction to something negative or disgusting.  We tend to feel it in the solar plexis or below.

Many of us consider this “gut feeling” idea a metaphor – or believe that the brain in our head sends signals to the gut that produce these feelings.

Not exactly.  Your gut actually has a brain of its own (of sorts).

The nervous system that lines your gut, the enteric nervous system (ENS), is popularly called the “second brain.” This complex network of over 100 million neurons along the gastrointestinal tract works independently of any commands from the brain!

How it Works

The ENS manages the body’s digestive system using the same functional machinery as the brain – a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins. The ENS plays an important role in governing food habits via bidirectional communication with the central nervous system (CNS).

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