…. Research on the link between relationships and physical health has established that people with rich personal networks — who are married, have close family and friends, are active in social and religious groups — recover more quickly from disease and live longer. But now the emerging field of social neuroscience, the study of how people’s brains entrain as they interact, adds a missing piece to that data.
The most significant finding was the discovery of “mirror neurons,” a widely dispersed class of brain cells that operate like neural WiFi. Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate this sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person.
Mirror neurons offer a neural mechanism that explains emotional contagion, the tendency of one person to catch the feelings of another, particularly if strongly expressed. This brain-to-brain link may also account for feelings of rapport, which research finds depend in part on extremely rapid synchronization of people’s posture, vocal pacing and movements as they interact. In short, these brain cells seem to allow the interpersonal orchestration of shifts in physiology.
Such coordination of emotions, cardiovascular reactions or brain states between two people has been studied in mothers with their infants, marital partners arguing and even among people in meetings. Reviewing decades of such data, Lisa M. Diamond and Lisa G. Aspinwall, psychologists at the University of Utah, offer the infelicitous term “a mutually regulating psychobiological unit” to describe the merging of two discrete physiologies into a connected circuit. To the degree that this occurs, Dr. Diamond and Dr. Aspinwall argue, emotional closeness allows the biology of one person to influence that of the other.
John T. Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, makes a parallel proposal: the emotional status of our main relationships has a significant impact on our overall pattern of cardiovascular and neuroendocrine activity. This radically expands the scope of biology and neuroscience from focusing on a single body or brain to looking at the interplay between two at a time. In short, my hostility bumps up your blood pressure, your nurturing love lowers mine. Potentially, we are each other’s biological enemies or allies.
An extraordinary line-up of actors, musicians, athletes and journalists have banded together for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the groundbreaking initiative aimed at raising funds to accelerate innovative cancer research bringing new therapies to patients quickly that will saves lives now.
Stand Up To Cancer will return to primetime TV on September 10, 2010, at 8PM EST & PST / 7PM CT. The one-hour fundraising event will be simulcast live and commercial-free on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Bio, Discovery Health, E!, G4, HBO, HBO Latino, MLB Network, mun2, Showtime, Smithsonian Channel, The Style Network, TV One, and VH1.
CHICAGOBLOOD CANCER FOUNDATION’S “OUT FOR BLOOD” BIKE RIDE – PEDAL TO CURE LYMPHOMA, LEUKEMIA, AND MYELOMA
Join Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation’s “Out For Blood” Team for the North Shore Century Bike Ride on Sunday, September 12, 2010 and raise money for blood cancer research. Every dollar raised by or donated to riders will go to blood cancer research! Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation is underwriting the costs of registration for the first 50 riders committed to raising money for blood cancer research who register on-line for the ”Out for Blood” Team. ”Out For Blood” Team riders are requested (but not required) to raise $1,000 or more for blood cancer research. Those raising $100 or more will received a t-shirt and Riders who raise $350 or more also will receive the coveted “Out For Blood” Jersey. Apart from participating in a scenic and fabulous ride, your efforts will help to cure blood cancer.
Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation will have an on-site greeting area. The ride begins at Evanston Township High School at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning with flexible morning start times. Ride a mile, a 100 miles, or somewhere in between. Riders can choose from a variety of routes: 25-mile; 50-mile; 62-mile; 75-mile, and 100-mile. Free refreshments will be available at the registration area before you begin your ride.
Non-riders may participate by forming on-line “Virtual Vampire Teams” and qualify to earn t-shirts and jerseys. Riders and non-riders alike are welcome to participate in the Post Ride Celebration. This is a great event for an extremely important cause! More important, all of the money you raise or donate will go to blood cancer research. Let’s pedal and cure blood cancer.
Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation is committed to curing lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma; ensuring that cutting edge treatments and world class care and physicians remain available to area patients battling blood cancer, and addressing issues of concern to patients and families impacted by blood cancer. Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization led exclusively by volunteers impacted by blood cancer. Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation invites you to join it on the superhighway to curing cancer. It is proud to partner with Imerman Angels.
I don’t know about you, but I felt like all of the crazy, zaney, hilarious misadventures of my life came to a screeching STOP! when I was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than waking up after a night of hard partying to find a cold, half-eaten slice of pizza in my purse (true story), I was spending my days engaged in deep soul-searching sessions and hour-long conversations about the meaning of life with everyone from my doctor to my cousin to the person in the stall next to me in the ladies’ room. At night, I logged some serious hours researching doctors, hospitals, and my type of cancer. I listened to endless hours of Musak while hold with the insurance company, took lots of naps, and just generally worried about the future. Clearly, this was not how I envisioned life at 26.
Looking back on it, there were entire months after my diagnosis where I didn’t laugh once. Not once! (Ok, so maybe I chuckled at some lame joke while watching Everybody Loves Raymond in the hospital waiting room, but that was more of a pity laugh than a true guffaw).
Of course, cancer takes a while to process—and rightfully so. But the one thing I needed most after all that processing was something to distract me from cancer and allow me to be a goofy twenty-something again. I’ve noticed that I, as well as most of my peers, deal with the ups and downs of life by enlisting a little humor or sarcasm. It doesn’t mean that we’re the jaded, misguided, “me” generation that the media claims we are – it’s just our way of coping.
Surely, I thought, my fellow young adult cancer survivors would be out there laughing in cancer’s face, right? (After all, we can’t expect grandpa to be crackin’ jokes about how testicular cancer has turned him into the Uni-Baller, or a five year-old to come up with a more original line than, “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”). As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Of the many cancer websites, discussion boards, and books I’d read, only one tried to incorporate humor. Other websites on laugh therapy seemed like they were written by our parents, or copied out of those joke books you buy at the check-out line of grocery stores.
So, I started collecting some funny tidbits here and there. I want to share those with you now, in the hopes that someone out there will see them and break that awkward, depressing waiting room silence with a good chuckle, or at least find some pleasant distraction from the heaviness of it all–even if it’s just for a few minutes. After all, if cancer has taught me anything, it’s that every minute counts. So why not spend ‘em laughing?
Below are some links to what I found. If you have any others, please share them, too.