Monday, March 10, 2014

New #Painting! The #brain and negative vs positive thoughts #sciart

When someone says to you "Don't look over there." What's the first thing you do? You look over there (or at least have a strong desire to)! Of course, because for our minds, it's easier to process something positive rather than negative.

Let's test this...You do NOT want to read the rest of this post....

There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we're faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We'll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.

Cognitive Dissonance
20" x 20"
Acrylic on Canvas
2013 ©Michelle Hunter

About the Painting
There are a few things happening within this painting.

The brain is divided into two lengthwise. On the right side of the brain are words we can associate as positive like “Can,” “Yes,” “Welcome” and “Good” (these words could just have easily been on the left side also). As these words approach the brain, they are being absorbed. That can be seen around the words “Can” and “Welcome.”

On the other side of the brain we have negative words like “Can’t,” Shouldn’t” and “Bad.” Those words are crashing into a brick wall as the brain does not want to accept these terms.

When I first started the painting, I just intended to have the letters work into each other, like “Good” is connected to the word “Should” through the common letter “o.” Then I started thinking about that a little more. Usually when we’re children, it seems like we're always told not to do something. While that was probably in our own best interest so we don’t break something or don’t get hurt, there is probably a more constructive way to get the message across. As noted at the beginning of the post, what are you most likely to do when you are told not to do something – you want to do it! Why is that you shouldn’t? With that in mind, I formed the letters as building blocks that children usually play with. Perhaps instead of saying “Don’t do ____[Fill in the blank]_____]” a request can be framed as “How about you do this instead, and this is why.…” or “This is really dangerous because….”

About the Brain and Negative/Positive Thoughts
There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we're faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We'll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.

One aspect of negative thoughts is how they limit you. Not just in thinking "I can't do __[fill in the blank]____" but also with we feel that we have to make an impulse decision based on fear. Imagine you are faced with something scary, like we are witnessing an incident happening or feel like an incident is about to happen. What do you do in that moment?

Such a setting can trigger our flight or fight response. Forget all the possibilities of getting out of the situation if we were in a clear mindset, we just want to get the hell away. Our options, as a result, become limited; any other options for escaping a situation don't matter. That's one of the reasons a brick wall is running along the side of the brain being hit with negative words. We're in a fight to protect ourselves so nothing from the outside (no other opinions or considerations) is going to make it into my thoughts.

DETAIL - Cognitive Dissonance
20" x 20"
Acrylic on Canvas
2013 ©Michelle Hunter

Another aspect is that it’s easier for the brain to process positive thoughts versus negative. For some people, their minds actually ignore the negative leaving them with just positive or neutral thoughts. 

The information we are exposed to goes through a process involving our frontal lobe in a effort to decide if this information will influence a decision we have to make. Information that in line with how a person already feels could be weighted more than information that is contradictory. Our brain can certainly be bias whether we are aware of that or not. Think about it.....


Now I'm sure you don't want to share this post with one other person right?


Happy thinking!


Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

100 yrs of smoking studies @PopSci | #Brain & #Smoking paintings | @JAMA_current

The Brain and Smoking: Part 1 - 
It Begins: The Brain and Secondhand Smoke - 

There was an article published recently on the Popular Science blog marking 100 years of studies done/reported on regarding the health implications of smoking.[1]

While it has been proven that smoking can be a cause of lung cancer, what is it that makes it hard to quit and how does smoking impact those around you, neurologically?

Well those are the questions that prompted two paintings in my ongoing Brain Series, an image which is included at the beginning of this blog post. Check out the links to those respective blog posts to see how smoking impacts the brain of the first and secondhand smoker.

Regards,
Michelle

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art




[1] "100 Years of Smoking in Popular Sciance" Diep, Francis, http://www.popsci.com/article/science/100-years-smoking-studies-popular-science, January 10, 2014

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

World #Stroke Day! You and your #brain

While the next painting in my brain series will be on the brain and stroke, I wanted to use this post to help bring awareness to the topic.

Do you know what a stroke (aka "Brain attack") is?


It's when blood flow is cut off to any portion of the brain. The brain is a marvelous organ that can suffer great harm if it's not properly taken cared of. So...

How can one prevent a stroke?

Majority of strokes can be prevented! Consult your healthcare professional to determine what your risk factors may be. In addition, consider:
  • Do you monitor your diet? Are you aware of how many fatty foods you may be consuming?
  • Do you stay active? Exercise regularly to help keep the blood flowing?
  • Are you a smoker? It can DOUBLE your risk of a stroke.
  • Do you consume more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day? Strokes have been tied to alcohol consumption.
  • When was the last time your blood pressure was measured? High blood pressure is a strong risk factor and should be regularly monitored.
  • Do you know whether your heartbeat is normal or now? Work with your doctor if you have an irregular heartbeat.
  • What's your cholesterol level? It should be checked by your doctor also. What is cholesterol? When checking your blood, it's a fatty substance that is not only made by the body but can also come in food. Clogged arteries can a side effect of high cholesterol.
Experiencing a stroke can have devastating results from being in a vegetative state or loosing mobility or the ability to speak.

I look forward to exploring more on this with you. In the meantime, here are a couple of links to help you learn more:

"Stroke Prevention" http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PREVENT
"Anatomy of the brain" http://www.uhnj.org/stroke/anatomy.htm
"Effects of a Stroke" http://www.ama-assn.org//ama/pub/physician-resources/patient-education-materials/atlas-of-human-body/brain-effects-stroke.page


Here's to YOUR brain health!
Michelle

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

World Suicide Prevention Day - The #Brain and Serotonin #sciart

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

[The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.]

Whenever we hear of someone that took their life, we ask ourselves, what could make them do that? We try to understand what was going on in the victims heads from the context of our own, which is impossible. Our minds are unique and as such, the way people behave and how we engage with people should be treated as sensitive experiences.

Through advances in neuroscience, scientists are learning more about the brain of ones that take their lives. Below is a resulting drawings stemming from what I read.

 

In a transcript I read, in New York, many suicides are done by either hanging or jumping from heights. For the drawing, I chose to depict the act through hanging.[2]

In the brains of those studies, the chemical Serotonin draws the most attention. Serotonin is understood to regulate our moods, sleep, behavior and sexual desire.[1] Of brains studied, serotonin levels were off (suicide victims had 30% more) compared to the brains of those that died suddenly from either accidents or natural causes. There's more serotonin than there should be, they are also smaller and don't work right. In the drawing above, you notice that the letters spelling out serotonin go around the rope that's forming the noose.

Another key factor for suicidal brains is the workings of the Prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is shaded in the above drawing. This is where our decisions are processed. If this area is damaged or malfunctioning, rash decisions and impulses aren't reasoned out which could lead to someone going through with taking their life.

If you or someone you know are showing signs of distress, please get help:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Regards,
Michelle Hunter
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034
www.hunterart.com
info@hunterart.com

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Get a FREE handwritten postcard from me! Join my mailing list here:http://bit.ly/HunterArtList 
Contact me to commission a painting or drawing (info@hunterart.com / 646-504-5034) 
The Brain Series of Paintings, so far: http://hunterart.blogspot.com/p/brain-paintings.html
Purchase prints to fit your space here: http://www.hunterart.imagekind.com 
Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hunterart 
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artcoholic 
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Sources:
1: "What is Serotonin?" http://health.yahoo.net/articles/depression/what-serotonin January 5, 2012
2: "NPR The End of Life: Biology of Suicide" http://www.npr.org/programs/death/980429.death.html April 29, 1998

In progress #drawing for World #Suicide Prevention Day #sciart #brain #art



via Instagram http://instagram.com/p/eFy2vZsqPA/

#drawing in progress for the #brain and #suicide. #sciart World Suicide Prevention Day. #art #neuroscience



via Instagram http://instagram.com/p/eFxqwYsqNF/

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

OUCH! #Brainfreeze Can be a Real Pain | New #Painting

It's the middle of Summer folks. What do you consume to cool down? Ice cold water, ice cream, cold beer, gelato, etc.

Ever get that painful feeling by your forehead, lasting less than a minute, when you consume these treats too fast? Yes, brain freeze can be painful.

I represented that in my latest Brain Series painting with icicles going into ones forehead. The culprit, ice cream...chocolate ice cream with sprinkles arranged as an image of the brain.

This guy was craving the ice cream, took one big bite, then OUCH! The bite even took out the front part of the brain sprinkles.

[View some pictures of this painting in progress below]
There is a medical term for this phenomenon, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, don't ask me to pronounce that.


What's going in my head?


Well brain freeze is triggered when something of an extreme temperature touches the roof of your mouth. So with something cold, your body's immediate reaction is to want to warm that area up.

In that effort of blood vessels dilating to warm things back up, it causes inflammation and triggers pain receptors which sends signals through the Trigeminal Nerve to the brain. The Trigeminal Nerve is in charge of the sensations we feel in the face and when doing motions like biting and chewing. The Trigeminal Nerve has branches that go to many parts of the face. Since it is a multipurpose (or multi-use) nerve, the brain mistakenly registers the pain as coming from the forehead instead of the roof of your mouth. Hence, your reaction to experiencing brain freeze which could be grabbing your forehead and wincing in pain.



How to I avoid brain freeze?

Take your time when eating cold things. In case you do get that brain freeze sensation, quick relief would be to warm the roof of your mouth with your tongue.

...now I'm craving ice cream. So I'll leave you with some in progress photos of the painting!








Regards,
Michelle Hunter
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034
www.hunterart.com
info@hunterart.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Get a FREE handwritten postcard from me! Join my mailing list here:http://bit.ly/HunterArtList 
Contact me to commission a painting or drawing (info@hunterart.com / 646-504-5034) 
The Brain Series of Paintings, so far: http://hunterart.blogspot.com/p/brain-paintings.html
Purchase prints to fit your space here: http://www.hunterart.imagekind.com 
Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hunterart 
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artcoholic 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sources:
1: http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthingsworkfaqs/f/how-brain-freeze-works.htm
2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigeminal_nerve

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is Your #Brain Being #Honest?

When was the last time you told a lie (small or big)? While you may have had your reasons for doing so, your brain has to put effort in to produce that lie. 

To reflect the ease of being honest, in my brain drawing I simply have the brain, floating. Nothing is going on within it, no specific areas are highlighted or activated, it just is. This is our brain when we're being honest. It is what it is.


However, when telling a lie there are various parts of the brain that need to get to work. Also imagine the effort needed to sustain the lie! Details on that when I do an upcoming drawing on that. BTW, there is a National Tell a Lie Day held on April 4. I'll celebrate honesty over telling a lie any day though.

Regards,
Michelle Hunter
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034
www.hunterart.com
info@hunterart.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Get a FREE handwritten postcard from me! Join my mailing list here: http://bit.ly/HunterArtList 
Contact me to commission a painting or drawing (info@hunterart.com / 646-504-5034) 
The Brain Series of Paintings, so far: http://hunterart.blogspot.com/p/brain-paintings.html
Purchase prints to fit your space here: http://www.hunterart.imagekind.com 
Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hunterart 
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artcoholic 
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