Wednesday April 24, 2019

Gentle Burbling of a brook or the sound of the Wind in the Trees can help you to Relax: Researchers

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Representative Image, Wikimedia

London, April 2, 2017: Researchers have discovered why the gentle burbling of a brook, or the sound of the wind in the trees can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax.

Playing ‘natural sounds’ affected the bodily systems that control the flight-or-fright and rest-digest autonomic nervous systems (associated with relaxation of the body), with associated effects in the resting activity of the brain, the findings published in the journal Scientific Reports showed.

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“We are all familiar with the feeling of relaxation and ‘switching-off’ which comes from a walk in the countryside, and now we have evidence from the brain and the body which helps us understand this effect,” said led study author Cassandra Gould van Praag from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in England.

“This has been an exciting collaboration between artists and scientists, and it has produced results which may have a real-world impact, particularly for people who are experiencing high levels of stress,” she said.

In collaboration with audio-visual artist Mark Ware, the team at BSMS conducted an experiment where participants listened to sounds recorded from natural and artificial environments, while their brain activity was measured in an MRI scanner.

The autonomic nervous system activity of the participants was monitored via minute changes in heart rate.

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The team found that activity in the default mode network of the brain (a collection of areas which are active when we are resting) was different depending on the sounds playing in the background.

When listening to natural sounds, the brain connectivity reflected an outward-directed focus of attention.

But when listening to artificial sounds, the brain connectivity reflected an inward-directed focus of attention similar to states observed in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

There was also an increase in rest-digest nervous system activity (associated with relaxation of the body) when listening to natural compared with artificial sounds, and better performance in an external attention monitoring task. (IANS)

Next Story

Study Claims, Your Moral Decisions Link To Brain Activity

"Our results demonstrate that people may use different moral principles to make their decisions, and that some people are much more flexible and will apply different principles depending on the situation"

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The study showed that people used different moral principles to make their decisions and also changed their moral behaviour depending on the situation. Pixabay

What makes our decisions morally just or objectionable? It is the brain activity that is responsible for the differences in our moral behaviour, reveals a new study.

“Our study demonstrates that with moral behaviour, people may not in fact always stick to the golden rule. While most people tend to exhibit some concern for others, some others may demonstrate ‘moral opportunism’, where they want to look moral but want to maximize their own benefit,” said lead author Jeroen van Baar, a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University, US.

For the study, published in Nature Communications journal, researchers developed a computational strategy model to examine the brain activity patterns linked to the moral strategies.

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The study’s findings revealed that “unique patterns” of brain activity underlie the inequity aversion and guilt aversion strategies. Pixabay

The team tried to determine which type of moral strategy the participant was using — inequity aversion (where people reciprocate because they want to seek fairness in outcomes); guilt aversion (where people reciprocate because they want to avoid feeling guilty); greed or moral opportunism (where people switch between inequity aversion and guilt aversion depending on what will serve their interests best).

The study showed that people used different moral principles to make their decisions and also changed their moral behaviour depending on the situation.

“In everyday life, we may not notice that our morals are context-dependent since our contexts tend to stay the same daily. However, under new circumstances, we may find that the moral rules we thought we’d always follow are actually quite malleable,” said co-author Luke J. Chang, Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College, US.

“This has tremendous ramifications if one considers how our moral behaviour could change under new contexts, such as during war,” he added.

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For the study, published in Nature Communications journal, researchers developed a computational strategy model to examine the brain activity patterns linked to the moral strategies. Pixabay

The study’s findings revealed that “unique patterns” of brain activity underlie the inequity aversion and guilt aversion strategies.

Also Read: Know Which iPhone Features Will Now Be Available in MacBook Series

“Our results demonstrate that people may use different moral principles to make their decisions, and that some people are much more flexible and will apply different principles depending on the situation,” said Chang.

“This may explain why people that we like and respect occasionally do things that we find morally objectionable,” he added. (IANS)