Laura’s Psychology Blog

One Professor’s Observations of the World of Psychology….   

May 8, 2014

readings in psychology for 8 may 2014 #PsychScience @psychology

"Am I so beautiful that you've no words left?" -- Midna

“Am I so beautiful that you’ve no words left?” — Midna

Here is what I am reading today:

“Dogs first surprised cognition researchers when scientists showed that the animals readily follow a human’s pointing finger or gaze to find food. Both wolves, dogs’ closest relative, and chimpanzees, our near-cousin, have trouble doing this. Now, scientists have raised the dogs-only bar: The canines can also use the sound of a human voice alone to find that tasty treat. Researchers carried out the auditory test on adult dogs and 8- to 14-week-old puppies as their owners watched.”

“Liverpool Psychologist, Dr Georg Mayer , explained: “This suggests that the correlated brain patterns were the result of using areas thought to be involved in language processing. Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechansims utilised for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language.””

“Laura Freberg, a psychologist at California Polytechnic State University and Google Glass owner, believes society will develop a new etiquette for using head-mounted technology in social situations, but it will take time. People will need to work out where and when the use of such devices is acceptable to others.

“I walked into the restroom and was like, ‘oh my gosh… I’m going to make people really uncomfortable’,” she says. “It’s a learning process for the person who is wearing it as much as it is for the people around you. I think developing good manners will help us work through a lot of these problems.””

When Brent Williams got to RadioShack that day in the spring of 2012, he knew exactly what he was looking for: a variable resistor, a current regulator, a circuit board, and a 9-volt battery. The total came to around $20. Williams is tall and balding, with wire-rim glasses that make him look like an engineer, which he is. He directs a center on technology in education at Kennesaw State University and is the kind of guy who spends his free time chatting up people on his ham radio or trying to glimpse a passing comet with his telescope. But this project was different.”

“The problem with figuring out how nerve cells work in the eye, of either mice or humans, is the inability to watch what happens in action—everything is too tiny and intricate. To get around that problem, researchers have been building three dimensional models on computers. But even that gets untenable when considering the complexity and numbers of nerves involved. That’s where the EyeWire gamers came in….”

“So cognitive scientist Andreas Lind and his colleagues at Lund University in Sweden wanted to see what would happen if someone said one word, but heard themselves saying another. “If we use auditory feedback to compare what we say with a well-specified intention, then any mismatch should be quickly detected,” he says. “But if the feedback is instead a powerful factor in a dynamic, interpretative process, then the manipulation could go undetected.””

“The unidentified patient is a health care professional who had been working in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of the viral outbreak of MERS, federal health officials said Friday.

MERS has sickened hundreds of people in the Middle East, and kills about a quarter of the people who contract the virus, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Friday news conference.”

February 5, 2014

reading in psychology for 5 february 2014 @PsychScience

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 6.28.00 PM

Here’s what we are reading today:

“The last thing you’d expect to see out your airplane window is a bumblebee cruising by. But a new study suggests that the insects might be capable of such high-altitude jaunts. Researchers trapped six male bumblebees (pictured) living at an altitude of 3250 meters in Sichuan, China, and placed them, one at a time, in a plexiglass flight chamber.”

“Nine years after an accident caused the loss of his left hand, Dennis Aabo Sørensen from Denmark became the first amputee in the world to feel – in real-time – with a sensory-enhanced prosthetic hand that was surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. Silvestro Micera and his team at EPFL (Switzerland) and SSSA (Italy) developed the revolutionary sensory feedback that allowed Sørensen to feel again while handling objects. A prototype of this bionic technology was tested in February 2013 during a clinical trial in Rome under the supervision of Paolo Maria Rossini at Gemelli Hospital (Italy). The study is published in the February 5, 2014 edition of Science Translational Medicine, and represents a collaboration called Lifehand 2 between several European universities and hospitals.”

“”Our study shows that within three minutes of meeting in real life, women find more dominant, wider-faced men attractive for short-term relationships, and want to go on another date with them,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Katherine Valentine of Singapore Management University.

According to Valentine, there’s considerable academic debate about whether physical dominance is advantageous in mating – that is, actually attractive to women. At the same time, researchers have been exploring facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) as a possible physical indicator of male dominance.”

“Rather, the memory rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences.

Love at first sight, for example, is more likely a trick of your memory than a Hollywood-worthy moment.

“When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of love and euphoria,” said lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But you may be projecting your current feelings back to the original”

“According to Yerkes researchers Larry Young, PhD, and Bill Hopkins, PhD, co-authors of the study, receptive joint attention is important for developing complex cognitive processes, including language and theory of mind, and poor joint attention abilities may be a core feature in children with or at risk of developing ASD.”

“Video gaming is a highly pervasive activity, providing a multitude of complex cognitive and motor demands. Gaming can be seen as an intense training of several skills. Associated cerebral structural plasticity induced has not been investigated so far”

“The Black Death didn’t just wipe out millions of Europeans during the 14th century. It left a mark on the human genome, favoring those who carried certain immune system genes, according to a new study. Those changes may help explain why Europeans respond differently from other people to some diseases and have different susceptibilities to autoimmune disorders.

Geneticists know that human populations evolve in the face of disease. Certain versions of our genes help us fight infections better than others, and people who carry those genes tend to have more children than those who don’t. So the beneficial genetic versions persist, while other versions tend to disappear as those carrying them die. This weeding-out of all but the best genes is called positive selection. But researchers have trouble pinpointing positively selected genes in humans, as many genes vary from one individual to the next.”

October 30, 2013

readings in psychology for 30 october 2013 @PsychScience

I always thought their was a LINK at Cal Poly!

I always thought there was a LINK at Cal Poly!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Video gaming causes increases in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills. This has been shown in a new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus. The positive effects of video gaming may also prove relevant in therapeutic interventions targeting psychiatric disorders.”

“The research project leader Linda Brzustowicz, Rutgers professor and chair of the Department of Genetics, in the School of Arts and Sciences, says that genes in a narrow region of two chromosomes (15q23-26 and 16p12) responsible for oral and written language impairments can result in similar behavioral characteristics with one family member developing autism and the other having only language difficulties.

Specific language impairment is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 7 percent of children. It is not considered to be an autism spectrum disorder. Autism effects one in 88 children nationally – with nearly five times as many boys than girls diagnosed – about half of whom have some degree of language impairment.”

“”These adolescents had noisier neural activity than their classmates, even when no sound was presented,” said Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern and corresponding author of the study.

In addition, the neural response to speech for the adolescents from a lower maternal educational background was erratic over repeated stimulation, with lower fidelity to the incoming sound.”

“”As ethics researchers, we had been running experiments examining various unethical behaviors, such as lying, stealing, and cheating,” researchers Maryam Kouchaki of Harvard University and Isaac Smith of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business explain. “We noticed that experiments conducted in the morning seemed to systematically result in lower instances of unethical behavior.”

This led the researchers to wonder: Is it easier to resist opportunities to lie, cheat, steal, and engage in other unethical behavior in the morning than in the afternoon?”

“Within the brain, researchers “think that rich clubs have a key role to play in making global communication efficient and are also important for supporting integration of information,” said Olaf Sporns, a computational neuroscientist at Indiana University in Bloomington. Sporns first described the rich club in the brain, along with collaborator Martijn van den Heuvel, a neuroscientist at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus in the Netherlands.”

“In an interview with Medical Xpress, PhD candidate Dan-Mikael Ellingsen discussed the paper he and his colleagues published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “In recent years, functional brain imaging studies have shown that expecting a treatment to relieve negative symptoms – like pain, anxiety or unpleasant taste – leads to not only subjective reports of relief, but also suppressed brain activity in sensory circuitry during aversive stimuli, such as noxious heat or touch, threatening images, and unpleasant taste,” Ellingsen tellsMedical Xpress.”

“Preserved specimens of the brains of mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and Göttingen physician Conrad Heinrich Fuchs, taken over 150 years ago, were switched – and this probably happened soon after the death of both men in 1855. This is the surprising conclusion reached by Renate Schweizer, a neuroscientist at Biomedizinische NMR Forschungs GmbH at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. She has now correctly identified the two brains, both of which are archived in a collection at the University Medical Center Göttingen.”

October 6, 2013

readings in psychology for 6October 2013 @PsychScience

Do you remember? Princess Bride was released 26 years ago!

Do you remember? Princess Bride was released 26 years ago!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Tony Goldberg had been back from Uganda for only about a day when he felt a distressingly familiar itch in his nose. A veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he had just spent a few weeks in Kibale National Park studying chimpanzees and how the diseases they carry might make the jump to humans. Now, he realized, he might have brought one of their parasites home with him.”

“New research from the University of Missouri indicates escapism, social interaction and rewards fuel problematic video-game use among “very casual” to “hardcore” adult gamers. Understanding individual motives that contribute to unhealthy game play could help counselors identify and treat individuals addicted to video games”

“A team of researchers from several research centers in Japan has together found what appears to be a connection between the hormone vasopressin and jet-lag. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes experiments they conducted with test mice that indicate that repressing neural connections that respond to vasopressin reduced the time it took for them to readjust their circadian clock.”

“It’s a question that has long fascinated and flummoxed those who study human behavior: From whence comes the impulse to dream? Are dreams generated from the brain’s “top” – the high-flying cortical structures that allow us to reason, perceive, act and remember? Or do they come from the brain’s “bottom” – the unheralded brainstem, which quietly oversees such basic bodily functions as respiration, heart rate, salivation and temperature control?”

“The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.”

“A trio of British researchers has conducted a study that has revealed that tests given to jailed psychopaths to predict the likelihood of engaging in future violence, are less accurate than chance. In their paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Jeremy Coid, Simone Ullrich and Constantinos Kallis describe how they interviewed and gave tests to inmates in British prisons and then followed up later to see if they engaged in violent activities after release—they found that tests given to predict such behavior in psychopaths were no better than 50 percent accurate.”

“The study, authored by psychology researchers Elliot Tucker-Drob, Daniel Briley and Paige Harden, shows how genescan be stimulated or suppressed depending on the child’s environment and could help bridge the achievement gap between rich and poor students. The findings are published online in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

To investigate the underlying mechanisms at work, Tucker-Drob and his colleagues analyzed data from several studies tracking the cognitive ability and environmental circumstances of twin and sibling pairs. According to the findings, genetic factors account for 80 percent of cognition forchildren in economically advantaged households. Yet disadvantaged children – who rank lower in cognitive performance across the board – show almost no progress attributable to their genetic makeup.”

“”There is a lot of cultural lore about the power of eye contact as an influence tool,” says University of British Columbia Prof. Frances Chen, who conducted the research at the University of Freiburg in Germany. “But our findings show that direct eye contact makes skeptical listeners less likely to change their minds, not more, as previously believed.””

March 2, 2013

readings in psychology for 2 march 2013 @PsychScience

Anyone looking forward to a new season of Doctor... WHO??

Anyone looking forward to a new season of Doctor… WHO??

Here is what I am reading today:

“”I had heard women reporting changes in their shoe size with pregnancy, but found nothing about that in medical journals or textbooks,” says Neil Segal, M.D., UI associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation. “In order to study this more scientifically, we measured women’s feet at the beginning of their pregnancy and five months after delivery. We found that pregnancy does indeed lead to permanent changes in the feet.” The UI study followed 49 pregnant women and collected static and dynamic arch measurements during the first trimester of pregnancy and again about five months after childbirth. The researchers found that for about 60 to 70 percent of the women in the study, their feet became longer and wider.”

“”Current information we give families may not be enough to reduce exposures,” said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, lead author on the study and an environmental health pediatrician in the UW School of Public Health and at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She is a physician at Harborview Medical Center’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, and a UW assistant professor of pediatrics.

Phthalates and bisphenol A, better known as BPA, are synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Previous studies have linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to abnormalities in the male reproductive system. Associations have also been shown between fetal exposure to BPA and hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression in girls.”

infection and stress play a role in schizophrenia

“…a research group headed by Urs Meyer, a senior scientist at the Laboratory of Physiology & Behaviour at ETH Zurich, has now made a breakthrough: for the first time, they were able to find clear evidence that the combination of two environmental factors contributes significantly to the development of schizophrenia-relevant brain changes and at which stages in a person’s life they need to come into play for the disorder to break out. The researchers developed a special mouse model, with which they were able to simulate the processes in humans virtually in fast forward. The study has just been published in the journal Science.”

“”Action video games enhance many aspects of visual attention, mainly improving the extraction of information from the environment,” said Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua and the Scientific Institute Medea of Bosisio Parini in Italy. “Dyslexic children learned to orient and focus their attention more efficiently to extract the relevant information of a written word more rapidly.””

“Cannabis is second only to alcohol for causing impaired driving and motor vehicle accidents. In 2009, 12.8% of young adults reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs and in the 2007 National Roadside Survey, more drivers tested positive for drugs than for alcohol. These cannabis smokers had a 10-fold increase in car crash injury compared with infrequent or nonusers after adjustment for blood alcohol concentration.”

 

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Quote to Ponder

It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages
-------- Nietzsche

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