CNN: “Make your rainy brain sunnier”

Author Elaine Fox shares why some people flourish, seemingly resilient to all that life throws at them, while others are vulnerable and at risk of serious problems like anxiety and depression:

“My approach to unraveling this mystery has been to probe the minds of both the vulnerable and the resilient with the traditional tools of cognitive psychology.

Flashing positive and negative images on a computer screen so fast that they duck beneath the radar of consciousness gives us a momentary glimpse of what captivates the unconscious mind. And what have we learned?

Techniques like this tell us that the mind of the pessimist is drawn imperceptibly toward the negative while the upbeat and positive is a magnet for the optimist.

Crucially, these differences — whether we turn toward the bright side of life or the dark — can be traced to specific patterns of activity within the brain itself. Bundles of nerve fibers connecting our “thinking” brain with ancient regions that control our primeval “feeling” brain make up two sides of our emotional mind.

The “rainy” brain part highlights the negative, while our “sunny” brain draws us toward the positive. Of course, both elements are essential to a healthy and successful life, and it’s the checks and balances between these two systems that ultimately make you you and me me. In short, it’s our emotional mind that gives meaning to our lives by tuning us in to what really matters.

At the very root of what captivates our emotional mind are two polar opposite constructs: fear and pleasure.”

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About UWF Center on Aging

The Center on Aging at the University of West Florida was established in the Fall of 2010 when the School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences faculty along with assistance from Sponsored Research submitted a grant to the State University System Board of Governors in support of aging initiatives for Northwest Florida. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of aging adults through the application of science to address challenges associated with aging and to promote healthy aging, with an emphasis on prevention. This will be accomplished through inter-disciplinary and inter-professional efforts of basic and applied research, consultation, and partnerships with community agencies. Education and training, direct services to the aging population, and public awareness and understanding of the contributions and needs of elders will be primary objectives.
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