Archive for October, 2012

Childhood stimulation key to brain development, study finds

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown.

Scientists found that the more mental stimulation a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to language and cognition will be in the decades ahead.

It is known that childhood experience influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has usually come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.


Baxter, Heroic Golden Retriever, Helps Save Brother After Both Were Lost For Two Weeks (VIDEO)

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Two Golden Retrievers were trapped in the woods for two weeks before one was able to break free and lead his owner back to his brother.

Penny Blackwell’s two dogs, Baxter and Bailey, disappeared from her yard in Sandwich, Mass., on September 26, reports MSN Now.

Blackwell plastered her neighborhood and Facebook page with fliers begging for help. Although her neighbors and friends helped search for the dogs, the pair couldn’t be found.

“I had pretty much given up hope that they were going to come home,” Penny told CBS Boston.

But on October 8, one of the people who had seen Blackwell’s Facebook post found a dog matching Baxter’s description, according to

Unfortunately, though, Bailey was nowhere to be seen.

But once Baxter was reunited with his owner, he led her directly back to his brother — who was still tangled in the brush and unable to move.



Friday, October 19th, 2012

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Watch These Rescued Ducks Swim for the Very First Time

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Today 160 rescued ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens are awakening to sunshine, clean bedding and grass under their feet. And for some of these birds saved from a hoarder, they are also having their very first swim!  More than a million people have now watched this incredible footage of the duck’s debut on the pond.

“Initially, we tried working with their owner towards an amicable surrender, pleading with her to consider the quality of life for the birds and we used many of our own resources to help provide a cleaner environment for them,” explains Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary co-Founder Doug Abel.  “The hoarder’s initial intentions were good and her love for the animals apparent, but she neglected to see how their overcrowding, over-breeding, lack of shelter and space and filthy conditions were hurting them. She also continued to buy chicks and ducklings online and mail ordered to her.”
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2 More Reasons Why Crows Are Really, Really Smart (Video)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Ars Technica quotes the researchers that “it is, therefore, possible that the ability to reason about hidden causal agents is far more widespread in the animal kingdom than has been thought previously.”

Another study offers some evidence of how New Caledonian crows’ morphology enables them to use tools. Using an ophthalmoscope video camera, researchers under Jolyon Troscianko of the University of Birmingham in central England, have discovered that the position of these crows’ eyes and their unusually straight bills plays a part in their tool-using ability.

As reported in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists discovered that, because these crows’ eyes are more forward-positioned instead of sideways-positioned, they have “substantially greater binocular overlap” than other species of crows who have similar cognitive abilities. Their “unusually straight bill” also “enables a stable grip on tools, and raises the tool tip into their visual field’s binocular sector.”

Might these crows have evolved specific morphological features to enable them to hunt for food, to better use their intelligence?

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10 Cute Animals Relaxing in Hammocks

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

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Heartbroken Dog Makes Amazing Two-Mile Journey To Find Owner, John Dolan, In Hospital (VIDEO)

Monday, October 15th, 2012

A heartbroken dog so distraught over his owner’s abrupt hospitalization was able to track him down almost two miles away.

Zander, a 7-year-old husky, was able to track down his owner John Dolan, who had checked into New York’s Good Samaritan Medical Center for a skin condition, according to Fox News. The dog traveled two miles, under a busy parkway, by a stream and across a four-lane road, to find Dolan.

Zander cried and sulked for days when his owner, who rescued the dog five years ago and saved him from starvation, went into the hospital, Dolan’s wife, Priscilla, told Fox News.


Dr. Steven Farmer: Soul Calling

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

What’s oatmeal got to do with soul retrieval? Well, I found out in a very personal way recently.

In my shamanic work, one of the more common treatments is called soul retrieval or soul recovery. It’s based on the idea that as we go along in life we may lose pieces of our soul. There can be a few causes but one of the most common is due to an unresolved traumatic experience. The dissociated soul fragment stays away until it is safe, but if the individual’s circumstances are perceived as unsafe, then it stays away.

Soul retrieval typically requires the shamanic practitioner to journey to non-ordinary reality guided by his helping spirits, and there finds the soul piece that most needs to be returned. Once found, the practitioner brings the soul piece back and “installs” it to its rightful place, as an aspect of the client’s primary soul. From there it begins the process of re-integrating, which generally takes a few weeks to become incorporated in totality.

In my healing practice, I’ve been given a variation called “soul calling.” In the description above, it requires a one-on-one session with the client. While this methodology is incredibly effective, about a year ago I began to explore a way to facilitate soul retrieval in groups. This would require individuals to perform the quest themselves. I wasn’t sure at first if it wouldwork, but based on my experiences in a handful of groups, it worked very well.

Healer Heal Thyself

A few days ago it occurred to me that perhaps I could do this for myself. I’d been through a rough patch and was examining certain behavior patterns that most likely had their roots in soul loss. After meditating and considering this, I decided to give it a try. While I’d had a few soul retrieval sessions performed by other practitioners and had facilitated this for a few groups, this would be the first time I’d actually tried this variation for myself.

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Plant based diets lower cancer risks

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

How do our cells know when to tip the scale in favor of more dividing with less dying and when to come back into balance? A key signal is IGF-1, a growth hormone called insulin-like growth factor number one. IGF-1 levels go up when you’re a kid so you grow and then come back down when you’re done growing. Should your levels stay a bit too high as an adult, though, there’s a constant message sent to your cells to grow, grow, grow, divide, don’t die, keep going, keep growing. Not surprisingly, the more IGF-1 we have in our bloodstream, the higher our risk for many types of cancer.

When you’re a kid, growth is good, but too much growth when we’re all grown up can mean cancer. In my 90-second video, Cancer-Proofing Mutation, I describe Laron Syndrome, a type of dwarfism caused by congenital IGF-1 deficiency. Those affected don’t have that IGF-1 spurt in childhood so they grow up short-statured, but not having an excess of IGF-1 in their systems as an adult makes them nearly cancer-proof. This raises the question of whether one can achieve the best of both worlds by ensuring adequate IGF-1 levels during childhood and then suppressing excess growth promotion in adulthood. This can be done with a plant-based diet as I described in last week’s Care2 posts Cancer-Proofing Your Body and Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet, as well as in today’s video pick above.

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Lisa Spector: Top 10 Reasons I’m Feeling Dog Blessed

Friday, October 12th, 2012

October 5, 2012

Yesterday was St. Francis of Assisi Day. While I don’t consider myself a religious person in the traditional sense, I love the “Blessings of the Animals” ritual that comes with this celebration. And it made me think of all the ways that I’m feeling blessed by my dogs, Sanchez and Gina.

1. They remind me to take work breaks and get outside for walks regularly.
2. They are total masters at living in the present moment and are a continuous reminder for me to do the same.
3. They remind me to take time to play, play, play.
4. They listen without judgement to everything going on in my life.
5. They keep me in good shape with agility and off leash hiking.
6. They remind me that life is short. Cherish every moment.
7. They remind me to forgive and forget. And then play!
8. Sanchez was the inspiration for me starting an entirely new career that is helping dogs worldwide.
9. Gina is a real cuddler and reminds me to connect with others through touch.
10. They remind me to count my blessings!

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Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.