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Interpersonal Neurobiology

2 Apr

About interpersonal neurobiology- how the brain constantly rewires itself based on daily life, for example, what we pay the most attention to defines us.

Read the recent NYT article here.

How to Apply Compassion in the Workplace

12 May

Chade-Meng Tan speaks of everyday compassion at Google. According to Meng compassion works in 3 steps:

The first step is attention training. Attention is the basis of all higher cognitive and emotional abilities. Therefore, any curriculum for training emotion intelligence has to begin with attention training. The idea here is to train attention to create a quality of mind that is calm and clear at the same time. And this creates the foundation for emotion intelligence. The second step follows the first step.

The second step is developing self-knowledge and self-mastery. So using the supercharged attention from step one, we create a high-resolution perception into the cognitive and emotive processes. What does that mean? It means being able to observe our thoughtstream and the process of emotion with high clarity, objectivity and from a third-person perspective. And once you can do that, you create the kind of self-knowledge that enables self-mastery.

The third step, following the second step, is to create new mental habits. What does that mean? Imagine this. Imagine whenever you meet any other person, any time you meet your person, your habitual, instinctive first thought is, “I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy.” Imagine you can do that. Having this habit, this mental habit, changes everything at work. Because this good will is unconsciously picked up by other people, and it creates trust, and trust creates a lot of good working relationships. And this also creates the conditions for compassion in the workplace. Someday, we hope to open-source “Search Inside Yourself” so that everybody in the corporate world will at least be able to use it as a reference.

Here is the video of his recent TED Talk:

Michael J. Fox Continues Fight Against Parkinson’s Disease

14 Apr

April is Parkinson’s awareness month and Michael J. Fox spoke to New York media outlets about his personal commitment to find a cure. You can watch the recent  ABC News segment and read the  Perez Hilton blog posting.

To learn more about Michael and Parkinson’s, watch the CNN Special: Michael J. Fox Talks to Sanjay Gupta, from earlier this year:

A Year of Drug Development Firsts?

30 Dec

CNBC’s Mike Huckman looks back at pharma’s biggest decade, and also looks ahead at    what’s to come in today’s segment “Big Pharma’s Big Decade.” UCSF’s Chancellor Dr. Susan  Desmond-Hellmann is featured in the program. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann who brought the world’s anti-cancer blockbuster drugs to market says what she’s “most proud of is that we changed the way people think about cancer.”

2010 could be a year of firsts– the first therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer, first Lupus    drug, first once a week drug to treat diabetes, and  the first new flu vaccine technology since the 1950’s.

According to Dr. Desmond-Hellmann, “what is tremendous is how there is literally an explosion of biology – it should be a golden era.” She also believes that there could be a significant break-through in Alzheimer’s disease on the horizon. Drugs today just treat the symptoms but don’t slow the progression.

Dr. Desmond-Hellmann concludes by saying: “If there was a genuine breakthrough in Alzheimer’s we’re talking about the kinds of medicines that could be the biggest products in the world… bigger than Lipitor and Avastin… from a business perspective this could be huge.”

Watch the video here.

How to “Redirect” an Alzheimer’s Patient: Caregiver Tips

28 Feb

joindefeatdementiaHow do you “redirect” a dementia patient who wants to “go home” or  speak to someone who is no longer alive? How do you respond to a loved one who is living in a reality which isn’t yours? Here are a few tips that I posted yesterday on  Defeat Dementia, a Facebook group which provides information and support to caregivers of dementia patients:

• Don’t worry about convincing her that her loved one has already passed away, but to pay attention to the emotion she is expressing.

• Sometimes it is helpful to encourage the patient to talk about her loved one. Try questions like “what did you do with your (mom) when you were little?”, “What do you want to say to your (mom)?”

• Perhaps having a photo of her loved one available that you can look at together, ask her to tell a story about her loved one, might be strategies that would satisfy her.

• If necessary, some caregivers have tried a white lie, like “Your (mother) lives someplace else now.” or “I can’t take you there today. Maybe tomorrow.”

• It’s helpful to try to stay in the patient’s reality, and the death of her loved one is no longer a part of her reality, so saying her (mother) is dead only confuses her.

Source: UCSF Memory and Aging Center

For more information, visit the Defeat Dementia website, join our Facebook Group, visit the UCSF Memory and Aging Channel on YouTube, or check out UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center website.

New Theory About the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease – a Prenatal Link?

22 Feb

pj-ao487_resear_g_20090218123227New research at Genentech provides a provocative theory about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and   suggests potential new targets for therapies to treat it, reports Ron Winslow in the February 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The prevailing view about what causes Alzheimer’s disease is that  deposits called beta amyloid accumulate in the brain, destroying nerve cells and ultimately, the patient’s memory.  Now, new research shows there’s a very different way of looking at the disease.

The Genentech/Salk Institute team of researchers propose that a normal process in which excess nerve cells and nerve fibers are pruned from the brain during prenatal development is somehow reactivated in the adult brain and “hijacked” to cause the death of such cells in Alzheimer’s patients, writes Winslow.

According to Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president, research drug discovery at Genentech, the new findings offer evidence that “Alzheimer’s is not just bad luck, but rather it is the activation of a pathway that is there for development purposes.”

Genentech has identified potential drug candidates based on the findings and says that it may take many years for any potential treatment to be developed.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Nature.

NOTE: The photos of normal and dead nerve fibers above are from Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

links for 2009-02-17

17 Feb