Friday, November 16, 2007

Do You Want To Talk About It?

Don't you love it when science "proves" something we already knew? According to a recent study from UCLA, attaching words to a feeling reduces activity in the part of the brain that controls our biological response to emotion, basically short-circuiting the body's reaction by preventing stress hormones from being released.

In other words, talking about what's bothering you literally makes you feel better. We already knew that, of course. But now we know why.


Charles Gramlich said...

But sometimes science proves that what we thought we knew is wrong.

Steve Malley said...

Creating a verbal record (talking about it) encourages the memory to be written and stored by the hippocampus. That raw, emotional footage is stored using the amygdala.

The amygdala has a tendency to play strong memory on an endless loop, amplifying the emotions time and again. The mechanism keeps toddlers from continued experiments with hot stoves and our ancestors the hell out of bear caves. It can also be the perfect recipe for PTSD.

Writing new version of the memory, especially if they recast the experience in a different light, attaches new, less stressful markers to the memory. It's like a new version is created every time we 'relive' the experience through speech, prose, art, interpretive dance, whatever.

Those new versions help dissipate that original, too strong charge. They alos help clarify the lesson we want to take from the experience. I'm sure no end of campfire stories taught the survivors of the bear cave as well as the rest of the tribe how to think about what had happened.

Heck, my uncle's full of, 'we were sure stupid that day' stories!

Sorry for rambling...

Shauna Roberts said...

That's a news story sure to be cut out by many wives and put at their husband's place at the table.

cs harris said...

Interesting, Steve; that helps explain why blogging about the storm helped me get a handle on my post-Katrina stress--PKSD.

Lana said...

I think it was the creator of the "Dilbert" cartoon who once wrote about a "...blinding flash of the obvious." *LOL*