I got a message from the anon from an ask ladyatheist’s tumblr about mental ilness and PoC, and I got an anon asking for this information and I feel it is a good reference/starting point so I am making it into a post.

A lot of literature regarding people of color and mental illness is about the stigma within the Black community or Latin@ community, rather than the struggles faced from within mental health institutions, so I am mostly posting other kinds of links.


History of black people and mental institutions (link)

In Our Own Voice: African-American Stories of Oppression, Survival, and Recovery in Mental Health Systems (link) (pdf)

Racism and Mental Illness (link) (pdf)

Fact Sheets

African American Community Mental Health Fact Sheet

Bipolar Disorder and African-Americans

Mental Health and African Americans

Mental Health and American Indians/Alaska Natives

Mental Health and Asian Americans

Mental Health and Hispanics

African Americans Have Limited Access to Mental and Behavioral Health Care

Journal Articles

“Barriers to Providing Effective Mental Health Services to American Indians” (link)

“Bias in Mental Health Assessment and Intervention: Theory and Evidence” (link)

“Disparities in Mental Health Treatment in U.S. Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups: Implications for Psychiatrists” (link)

“Effective Coping Strategies of African Americans” (link)

“Ethnic Disparities in Unmet Need for Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Care” (link)

“Help Seeking for Mental Health Care among Poor Puerto Ricans: Problem Recognition, Service Use, and Type of Provider” (link)

“Racial Microaggressions Against African American Clients in Cross-Racial Counseling Relationships” (link)

“Racism and Mental Health: the African American experience” (link)

“Racism and Mental Health Into the 21st Century: Perspectives and Parameters” (link)

(via offbeatorbit)

Source: wretchedoftheearth


Bearing Sons Can Alter Your Mind

Sure, they’ll drive you crazy with the punching and the mud and the peeing on everything, but did you know that they actually get inside a mother’s head?

Long-time readers of the blog may remember the beautiful story of how mothers and babies share cells throughout pregnancy. In the later trimesters, one out of every thousand cells in the mother’s blood can be from the growing baby, after crossing the placenta and migrating into her bloodstream. Some of those cells remain in her body after delivery, settling and growing and forever making the child a part of the mother. It’s a poetic embrace, a permanent biological link with unknown consequences.

Newer research on this phenomenon found that over half of boys’ mothers tested carried DNA from the Y-chromosome in their brains, showing just how extensively the cells had migrated.

Who knows if there’s biological significance to those lingering remnants of a mother’s creation (with help from the dad, of course)? More research will have to be done to decipher any harm or benefit. For now, we can remind ourselves of this beautiful tale, and just how deep our parental connections are.

(via ScienceNOW)

(via neuroticthought)

Source: news.sciencemag.org

Why are we so curious?


by Tom Stafford

Evolution made us the ultimate learning machines, and the ultimate learning machines need to be oiled by curiosity.

We humans have a deeply curious nature, and more often than not it is about the minor tittle-tattle in our lives. Our curiosity has us doing utterly unproductive things like reading news about people we will never meet, learning topics we will never have use for, or exploring places we will never come back to. We just love to know the answers to things, even if there’s no obvious benefit.

From the perspective of evolution this appears to be something of a mystery. We associate evolution with ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ traits that support the essentials of day-to-day survival and reproduction. So why did we evolve to waste so much time? Shouldn’t evolution have selected for a species which was – you know – a bit more focussed?

Child’s play

The roots of our peculiar curiosity can be linked to a trait of the human species call neoteny. This is a term from evolutionary theory that means the “retention of juvenile characteristics”. It means that as a species we are more child-like than other mammals. Being relatively hairless is one physical example. A large brain relative to body size is another. Our lifelong curiosity and playfulness is a behavioural characteristic of neoteny.

Neoteny is a short-cut taken by evolution– a route that brings about a whole bundle of changes in one go, rather than selecting for them one by one. Evolution, by making us a more juvenile species, has made us weaker than our primate cousins, but it has also given us our child’s curiosity, our capacity to learn and our deep sense of attachment to each other.

And of course the lifelong capacity to learn is the reason why neoteny has worked so well for our species. Our extended childhood means we can absorb so much more from our environment, including our shared culture. Even in adulthood we can pick up new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking, allowing us to adapt to new circumstances.

Exploration bonus
In the world of artificial intelligence, computer scientists have explored how behaviour evolves when guided by different learning algorithms. An important result is that even the best learning algorithms fall down if they are not encouraged to explore a little. Without a little something to distract them from what they should be doing, these algorithms get stuck in a rut, relying on the same responses time and time again.

Computer scientists have learnt to adjust how these algorithms rate different possible actions with an ‘exploration bonus’ – that is, a reward just for trying something new. Weighted like this, the algorithms then occasionally leave the beaten track to explore. These exploratory actions cost them some opportunities, but leave them better off in the long run because they’ve gain knowledge about what they might do, even if it didn’t benefit them immediately.

The implication for the evolution of our own brain is clear. Curiosity is nature’s built-in exploration bonus. We’re evolved to leave the beaten track, to try things out, to get distracted and generally look like we’re wasting time. Maybe we are wasting time today, but the learning algorithms in our brain know that something we learnt by chance today will come in useful tomorrow.

Obviously it would be best if we knew what we needed to know, and just concentrated on that. Fortunately, in a complex world it is impossible to know what might be useful in the future. And thank goodness – otherwise we would have evolved to be a deadly-boring species which never wanted to get lost, never tried things to just see what happened or did things for the hell of it.

Evolution made us the ultimate learning machines, and the ultimate learning machines need a healthy dash of curiosity to help us take full advantage of this learning capacity.

Or, as Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

Source: mindhacks.com

Neurotic Thought: Synchronized Brains: Feeling Strong Emotions Makes People's Brains 'Tick Together'


ScienceDaily (May 24, 2012) — Experiencing strong emotions synchronizes brain activity across individuals, a research team at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre in Finland has revealed.

Experiencing strong emotions synchronizes brain activity across individuals….

Source: neurosciencestuff

Neurotic Thought: Brain oscillations reveal that our senses do not experience the world continuously


May 14, 2012

(Medical Xpress) — It has long been suspected that humans do not experience the world continuously, but rather in rapid snapshots.

Now, researchers at the University of Glasgow have demonstrated this is indeed the case. Just as the body goes through a…

Source: neurosciencestuff


Near-Death Experiences are Lucid Dreams, Experiment Finds

In a new exercise by a California organization that studies lucid dreaming, volunteers have been conditioned to dream near-death experiences, including the classic scenario of flying toward a light at the end of a tunnel. The researchers say their experiment demonstrates that these heavenly visions must be products of the human mind rather than supernatural phenomena.

In the sleep experiment at the Out-Of-Body Experience Research Center in Los Angeles, four groups of 10 to 20 volunteers were trained to perform a series of mental steps upon awakening during the night that might lead them to have out-of-body experiences. If able to “separate” from their bodies, they were then conditioned to try dreaming about floating through a tunnel toward a bright light. Eighteen of the volunteers said they were able to dream such an experience.

“Some of the test subjects not only succeeded in reproducing the out-of-body flight through a tunnel, but also enjoyed the ecstasy typical of the experience, and even flew all the way to the light and met their deceased relatives there,” center leader Michael Raduga stated in a press release about the work, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More than 8 million Americans have had a near-death experience, and they most often occur during states of anesthesia-induced sleep, according to the center. Prior work by neurologists, including Kevin Nelson of the University of Kentucky, suggests that NDEs are indeed generated by the same brain mechanisms that cause lucid dreams. Nelson’s research shows that both types of experiences arise when part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal region — our “logical center,” which is usually active only when we’re awake — becomes active during REM sleep, allowing extremely vivid dreams that seem to be happening in real life. He calls the transitional state between dreaming and wakefulness a “borderland of consciousness” and believes it is in this mixed state that lucid dreams and NDEs occur.

With Nelson’s research in mind, Raduga designed his experiment to determine if volunteers could be coached to dream up NDEs when in the transitional phase between sleep and waking. This would demonstrate that reports of NDEs, which are commonly cited as proof of the supernatural, really are just lucid dreams.

Volunteers who successfully generated NDEs described their experiences for the researchers. One participant, identified by the center asNadezhda S., stated: “I was able to leave my body after a couple of tries. Now that I was out of my body, I wanted to see the tunnel and it immediately appeared in front of me … Once I flew to the end of that tunnel … I saw my deceased husband there in the spirit. We spoke for several minutes. His words, touch, bearing, and feelings were real, just like during his life. Later on, when I felt it was time to leave, I went up to the tunnel, jumped and gently landed in my body.”


For more on Dreams, visit ikenbot.tumblr.com/dreams

(via neuroticthought)

Source: livescience.com

Neural correlates of beauty


by Janet Kwasniak

“What exactly is beauty?”, is an old and unanswered question. It is one of those fringe qualia of consciousness – not a perception but a feeling, like familiarity or certainty, which is attached to a perception. But the criteria for this feeling has never been settled. A recent paper by Ishizu and Zeti (citation below) looks for the traces of beauty in the brain. Here is the abstract:

We wanted to learn whether activity in the same area(s) of the brain correlate with the experience of beauty derived from different sources. 21 subjects took part in a brain-scanning experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Prior to the experiment, they viewed pictures of paintings and listened to musical excerpts, both of which they rated on a scale of 1–9, with 9 being the most beautiful. This allowed us to select three sets of stimuli–beautiful, indifferent and ugly–which subjects viewed and heard in the scanner, and rated at the end of each presentation. The results of a conjunction analysis of brain activity showed that, of the several areas that were active with each type of stimulus, only one cortical area, located in the medial orbito-frontal cortex (mOFC), was active during the experience of musical and visual beauty, with the activity produced by the experience of beauty derived from either source overlapping almost completely within it. The strength of activation in this part of the mOFC was proportional to the strength of the declared intensity of the experience of beauty. We conclude that, as far as activity in the brain is concerned, there is a faculty of beauty that is not dependent on the modality through which it is conveyed but which can be activated by at least two sources–musical and visual–and probably by other sources as well. This has led us to formulate a brain-based theory of beauty.

Of course, there are many other areas of the brain involved in beauty but none with the overlap of vision and hearing found in the A1 part of the orbito-frontal cortex. They give a specific location to their area A1 as a reference for other researchers. This seems to be the seat of an abstract sense of beauty. Facial attractiveness activates A1 or very nearby. This is also in the general area associated with pleasure, reward, desire, value evaluation and judgments. The visual and auditory activity in A1 have a different onset after stimulus and so probably do not follow the same path from some other shared area but arrive independently, musical before visual beauty.

The caudate nucleus also is activated with an intensity matching experience of beauty but only for visual not auditory stimuli. This area has been associated with romantic love.

We might expect that if beauty has an abstract area of activation than ugliness would too. Not so, there seems no overlap of visual and auditory ugliness. Ugliness appears tied to particular sorts of ugliness, not a symmetrical opposite of abstract beauty. It is perhaps an emotional reaction involving fear, disgust or similar.

We did not find activity in A1 of mOFC that correlates positively with the experience of ugly stimuli, although ugliness, too, involves a judgment. Instead, the parametrically modulated activity with the experience of ugliness was confined to the amygdala and left somato-motor cortex. This implies that there may be a functional specialization within the brain for at least two different kinds of judgment, those related to positive, rewarding, experiences and those related to negative ones.
Source: charbonniers.org

Neuroscience: Binge eating may lead to addiction-like behaviors


April 24, 2012

A history of binge eating — consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time — may make an individual more likely to show other addiction-like behaviors, including substance abuse, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. In the short term, this finding…

(via creativityismental)

Source: neurosciencestuff