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Duration:05:34
Uploaded:2021-10-08
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This episode is sponsored by Endel, an app that creates personalized soundscapes to help you focus, relax and sleep.The first 100 people to sign up here get a one week free trial: https://app.adjust.com/b8wxub6?campaign=scishow_october&adgroup=youtube

Could you enter a flow state with the people around you? Also we've found a promising drug for treating mental illness, and it might not come from where you expect.

Hosted by: Hank Green

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https://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0133-21.2021
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This episode of SciShow is sponsored by  Endel, an app that creates personalized soundscapes to help you focus, relax, and sleep.

The first 100 people to click our description  link will get a one-week free trial. [♪ INTRO]. We’ve all had that feeling of being so in  the zone that time just seems to melt away.

It’s also known in psychology  circles as the flow state. New research published this  week in the journal eNeuro shows what’s going on in the brain  when a team experiences flow. And the researchers say it’s  totally different from when you’re in the zone by  yourself and way more intense.

Now, researchers have  studied flow in teams before. But they always assumed that the  parts of the brain in charge of the social, or team, aspects were separate  from the parts governing flow. But this new study revealed  that team flow is more than the sum of its component brains.

Researchers had 15 participants play  a rhythm-style video game together. The ones where like the notes  fall towards you and you gotta press the keys when they reach the bottom. Participants were paired off in a couple of ways.

In some groups, one person  controlled two keys and the other person controlled the other two. Others were still paired but played  by themselves, with a black screen placed between them so they  couldn't see the other person. The idea was that these setups  would put either the team or the individual in a state of flow.

The study also had a third setup, where  participants would play as a team but the audio for the game was scrambled  so that it wasn’t fun to play and made it really hard to get into the zone. So a team, but no flow. Those setups allowed them to tease  apart the brain areas that were responsible for working as a team  versus working as a team in flow.

All the players were fitted with caps  that would record their brain activity. The researchers saw that players who were in a team flow state had their own  unique pattern of brain activity. Teams had more beta and gamma brain waves in an area called the medial temporal cortex.

That area has been linked to  cognitive functions like attention, memory, and awareness. And  both beta and gamma waves have been linked to focusing  your attention on a task. All of which can get players  in that state of flow.

Individuals experiencing flow  had more beta and gamma waves, although not as much as when playing  as a team, and showed a pattern of brain waves similar to what researchers  had seen before for people in flow. Plus, the brain activity of  teammates in flow actually synced up. The researchers called this  a “hyper-cognitive state”, which sounds like some kind of superpower.

And they think it’s a superpower  that could be harnessed. Say, by picking the most effective team based on how their brain patterns match up. And that could make for some pretty  powerful matchups, from work to sports.

In other news, scientists  may have found a new way to boost memory and cognition  using an already-existing drug. But it’s not a psychiatric drug. It’s  usually used to treat constipation.

It’s just a proof of concept study  for now, but it sets researchers up to develop treatments for the  memory issues that come as part of conditions like  depression or schizophrenia. The research was published this week in the journal Translational  Psychiatry, and presented at a meeting of the European College  of Neuropsychopharmacology. Previous studies have shown that giving  rodents drugs that target a particular chemical receptor in the brain called 5HT4 helps the animals do better  on learning and memory tasks.

Possibly because activating this receptor  leads to more brain cells growing, or strengthening their connections, in areas like the hippocampus -- the brain’s memory center. Researchers wanted to test these  kinds of drugs out in people, but they were worried about  the potential side effects. So instead of trying to  create a new drug in the lab, researchers looked to a drug  that’s already on the market.

They chose prucalopride, which works  by cranking up those 5HT4 receptors. And this is actually how  it helps with constipation, by activating those same receptors but in the gut. Researchers gave the drug to 23  participants, while 21 got a placebo.

Participants took the drug for seven  days, and on the sixth day they did a memory task while getting their brains scanned. The task involved picking out images  of landscapes and animals that they’d seen before, from a  bigger set of around 80 pictures. Those who took prucalopride could  remember which pictures they’d seen better than the placebo group, picking 81 percent  of the images compared to 76 percent.

And that might have been because  the prucalopride group had more activity in the hippocampus overall. The drug also seemed to increase  activity in the right angular gyrus, an area involved in recalling memories,  particularly personal experiences. It lit up more than in the placebo  group when those on the drug saw a picture that they knew.

These brain areas are often affected  in conditions that affect memory, like dementia, but also  schizophrenia, depression, and more. Which makes the researchers hopeful  that prucalopride could be used to help counter some of the cognitive issues that  go along with certain mental illnesses, potentially as part of a targeted  treatment approach tailored to the patient. They say the next step is figuring out the  right dose to give to patients, where it could help them without giving  them too many side effects like abdominal pain, headaches or dizziness.

Plus, of course, they’ll need to see how it interacts with other drugs like antidepressants. Just goes to show that there  are solutions out there in places you might least expect. We’ll need to wait for  researchers to understand more about the potential of this treatment.

But in the meantime, there may at least  be a way to sleep a little easier. Endel is an app that creates personalized soundscapes to help you focus, relax, and sleep. Sound can really make us feel better,  helping us feel safe and comfortable.

Endel takes everything we know about  sound and combines it with technology. They use the pentatonic scale and pure intonation to produce simple,  natural-seeming sounds. Their tech also takes inputs like time  of day, weather, heart rate, and location into account when creating  your personalized soundscape.

The first 100 people to click the  link in the description will get a one week free trial of Endel. So  thank you for checking them out. [ OUTRO ].