I was talking with one of my colleagues on the phone – another work-from-homer – and she’d mentioned that she’d just got done dancing? Dancing? Yeah, to wake myself up in the afternoon lull I do some dancing in my home office.
I forgot that I could dance.
I know that if I were to enter the corporate office environment again that I’d probably ‘live it up’ the last few days by dancing and seeing movies all day to work at night. Stuff like that. But I’ve been working from home now for four years so after awhile you’re new work habits become… well, habits.
Kathy points us to an article in Seed magazine about Princeton scientist Elizabeth Gould who found that primates brain grow new neurons – flying in the face of a centruy of research that primates (and humans) are born with a all their brain cells from the start. My favorite part is when Gould figures out why the primates they usually study don’t show this activity. Snippets that blow my mind:
Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured.
Imagine what too much caffeine or harder substances can do if you’re constantly on an adrenaline or uber-happy high.
Gould’s work implies that the symptoms of poverty are not simply states of mind; they actually warp the mind. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance.
I’ve often thought about poverty as ultimately a poverty of options. That not seeing any options or possibilities in front of you causes you entire worldview to shrink. (I’m by no means negating the socio-economic structures that prevent economic mobility)
As Christian Mirescu, one of Gould’s post-docs, put it, “When a brain is worried, it’s just thinking about survival. It isn’t interested in investing in new cells for the future.”
I’ve become pretty forgetful as all this book stuff starts to churn – yes, I have a lot on my mind – but maybe the added stress and worry are actually harming my neurons.
Gould also spends a lot of time researching the serotonergic theory behind anti-depressants and why does it take a month for anti-depressants to take full effect.
The theory is appealingly simple: sadness is simply a shortage of chemical happiness. The typical antidepressantâ€”like Prozac or Zoloftâ€”works by increasing the brain’s access to serotonin. Unfortunately, the serotonergic hypothesis is mostly wrong. After all, within hours of swallowing an antidepressant, the brain is flushed with excess serotonin. Yet nothing happens; the patient is no less depressed. Weeks pass drearily by. Finally, after a month or two of this agony, the torpor begins to lift.
Time for those full-spectrum lamps:
What water and sun do for trees, trophic factors do for brain cells. Depression was like an extended drought: It deprived neurons of the sustenance they need.
I LOVE THIS:
Perhaps the time lag of antidepressants was simply the time it took for new cells to be created.
This explains why anti-depressants combined with therapy work better than just meds alone.
The realization that typical laboratory conditions are debilitating for animals has been one of the accidental discoveries of the neurogenesis field.
Talk about obvious and yet overlooked. Unstimulating environments for your subjects or test lab animals skews your data.
Which probably explains why I should move my computer desk every 2 months. And have something to look at above my desk besides a blank wall.
I found this article from a MeFi discussion about CNN’s story about the creator of the cubicle’s original intentions – large workspaces – being perverted by economics to become veal stalls.
Anyway – back to dancing. I resolve to put on some Prince and dance for a good five minutes as a break today. Preferably to the songs ‘7’, ‘Gitt Off’ and ‘Sexy MF’ and while dancing with the cat who will think I finally lost that last marble.
Don’t forget that you can dance, too. If you work at home, close the door and shake it. If you work in an office, go to an empty conference room and do your best krumping.