Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

January 26, 2012

readings in psychology for 26 January 2012

"Push On! You can rest when you are dead!" -- famed textbook author

Here is what I am reading today:

“Brain scans of people under the influence of the psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, have given scientists the most detailed picture to date of how psychedelic drugs work. The findings of two studies being published in scientific journals this week identify areas of the brain where activity is suppressed by psilocybin and suggest that it helps people to experience memories more vividly.”

“A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, provides even more reason for people to read a book or do a puzzle, and to make such activities a lifetime habit.”

“Getting an autism diagnosis could be more difficult in 2013 when a revised diagnostic definition goes into effect. The proposed changes may affect the proportion of individuals who qualify for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, according to preliminary data presented by Yale School of Medicine researchers at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association.”

“A simple program involving color-coded food labeling and adjusting the way food items are positioned in display cases was successful in encouraging more healthful food choices in a large hospital cafeteria. The report from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers will appear in the March American Journal of Public Health and has received early online release.”

“Research has found that small-group dynamics — such as jury deliberations, collective bargaining sessions, and cocktail parties — can alter the expression of IQ in some susceptible people.”

“The Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual Student and Faculty Scholarship Competition. The Beck Institute will award 10 recipients (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, and faculty in psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, and counseling) with full tuition scholarships to our 3-day Student and Faculty Workshop, in Philadelphia, PA, on August 13 – 15, 2012.”

“Researchers from the University of California have found that negative social interactions can cause internal inflammation that may over time lead to possible health consequences. In the study, the results of which the team has published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team writes that stressful events can lead to increased production of cytokines, molecules that are produced when inflammation occurs.”

January 17, 2012

UPDATES in Psychology for 17 January 2012

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Here is what I am reading today:

“Scientists at Tokyo’s Yamazaki Gakuen University wondered why dogs do not seem to feel the cold in their paws, even though the paws have less insulating fur than their trunks. The paws have pads containing a high fat content, which freezes less easily than other tissues, but they also have a high surface area-to-volume ratio, which means they should lose heat easily.”

“Dr. Adam Perkins, lead author of the study at the IoP at King’s says: ‘Our research group focuses on understanding the causes of anxiety. No one knows exactly what anxiety is. However many animal studies link it to risk assessment behaviour, suggesting anxiety can be explained as a defensive adaptation. We wanted to see if this was also the case in humans.’”

“One daughter in social media who knows how to get the word out!”
“Some 3,100 exhibitors attended the show, and although there were plenty of mainstream technologies on display, the show attracted a fair share of off-beat gadgets. Here’s a roundup of some of the weirdest devices:- SOLOWHEEL. Picture a unicycle without a frame or saddle, and you have the Solowheel. Not working for you? Ok, add this to the picture: footboards that fold out from the wheel. To ride it, you stand on the footboards and straddle the wheel. Lean forward, and the wheel engages a battery-powered electric motor that can send it -and hopefully its rider- zooming along at 10 miles per hour. The wheel has a gyroscope that helps keep the rider upright. In other words, it’s like a Segway with only one wheel.”

“College can be some of the best years of your life, but what happens after graduation? With the tough economy, increased costs of living and outsourcing of jobs, what’s a recent graduate to do?

We partnered with prominent blogger and author of Life After College, Jenny Blake, to develop a post-college decision making roadmap. Whether you live at home, are job hunting or not sure what to do with your life, it may be a good idea to start brainstorming and planning your future.”

“It’s common for people to pick up on each other’s movements. “This is the notion that when you’re having a conversation with somebody and you don’t care where your hands are, and the other person scratches their head, you scratch your head,” says Sasha Ondobaka of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. He cowrote the paper with Floris P. de Lange, Michael Wiemers, and Harold Bekkering of Radboud and Roger D. Newman-Norlund of the University of South Carolina. This kind of mimicry is well-established, but Ondobaka and his colleagues suspected that what people mimic depends on their goals.”

“To find out why teens might be more prone to such maladies, the team started with the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that produces so-called happy chemicals in response to rewards such as food or sex. As many are aware, various chemicals (such as recreational drugs) can cause the same effect. In this study, the researchers taught a group of rats to respond to a tone by dipping their nose in a certain hole. Doing so resulted in a tasty treat. In the brain, the tone resulted in the production of happy chemicals which served as a reward, causing the rats to learn to do as they were bid. Both teens and adults made the same amount of the happy chemicals, but, when the researchers compared the reaction of another brain part, the dorsal striatum, to such chemicals in teen rats versus adults they found that this particular brain region responded with more activity in the teen rats.”

“Apple is scheduled to host an education-related event Jan. 19 — shrouded with a veil of mystery, as always. A new report from  Ars Technica says the company is about to unveil a set of tools to create interactive ebooks.

Previous rumors said Apple will show no new devices, and that the event will center around Apple’s new partnerships with textbook publishers.”

January 8, 2012

psychology updates for 8 january 2012

Always take time to laugh!

Here is what i am reading today:

“Did you stop to watch, even briefly, the Kardashian circus when it was in town? Or pick up on the tweets from Warnie about where he was taking Liz for breakfast? Such celebrity gossip is much more than a fascination with the rich and famous. It is an in-demand social skill that picks up on our intense curiosity about the lives of others, a trait evolutionary psychologists say is deeply encoded in our DNA.

The rise of social media taps in to our innate nosiness and creates an ersatz intimacy with people who are, in reality, strangers.”

“”What’s most interesting about this study is the idea that thinking is flexible, not rigid or innately pre-programmed. We are able to attune our style of thinking to the needs of the situation,” explains Li-Jun Ji, the study’s co-author and a social psychologist who studies the relationships between culture and thinking. “However, the specific ways we might attune our thinking seems to depend on our cultural background.””

“Older people tend to be happier. But why? Some psychologists believe that cognitive processes are responsible — in particular, focusing on and remembering positive events and leaving behind negative ones; those processes, they think, help older people regulate their emotions, letting them view life in a sunnier light. “There is a lot of good theory about this age difference in happiness,” says psychologist Derek M. Isaacowitz of Northeastern University, “but much of the research does not provide direct evidence” of the links between such phenomena and actual happiness.”

“Women and men differed significantly in their conception of the FWB relationship. Women tended to view the relationship as more involved and emotional with the emphasis on friends while men tended to view the relationship as more casual with an emphasis on benefits (sexual).”

 

November 9, 2011

readings in psychology for 9 November 2011

in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", the patriarch of the family "Gus" prepares and tastes his lamb cooked on his front yard. We always smile when we see this movie!

Here are some of the things I am reading today:

“Exclusive Interview with Facebook Leadership: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO/Co-Founder & Sheryl Sandberg, COO”

“The scientists discovered a 67 percent excess of cortical cells – a type of brain cell only made before birth – in children with autism. The findings suggest that the disorder may arise from prenatal processes gone awry, according to lead researcher Eric Courchesne, PhD, professor of neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Autism Center of Excellence.

Relying on meticulous, direct cell counting, the study – to be published Nov. 9 by the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA) and funded in part by the National Institutes of Health – confirms a relatively recent theory about possible causes of autism.”

“In a small study published in the November issue of the peer-reviewed journal Archives of General Psychiatry, UCLA researchers used a unique brain scan to assess the levels of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in older adults with a type of severe depression called major depressive disorder (MDD).

Previous research has suggested that plaque and tangle deposits in the brain — hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease and many dementias — are associated not only with memory loss but also with mild symptoms of depression and anxiety in middle-aged and older individuals. The team wanted to see what the brain-scanning technique developed at UCLA would find in older people with MDD.”

“Discussions about the epidemic are everywhere, from the latest best-selling novels to academic discussions on college campuses, to passionate discussions between Frat brothers & Sister circles. The question everyone wants answered is “WHY?” Unfortunately, many of the traditional reasons you have been given for the premature romantic meltdowns amongst Blacks are inaccurate and insufficient. These very same factors were present when successful Black marriages, created 30 or 40 years ago, were forged but yet many a couple managed to stay together.”

“Today’s topic is Relationship Baggage and how we can avoid bringing it into our next relationship.  You’ve probably heard some guy say, ‘Just because there was one bad apple doesn’t mean the whole barrel’s rotten!’ 

Most of us go on dates with a truckload of invisible suitcases that we then pile onto the table between us and our date.  This baggage has nothing to do with him (or her).  It has everything to do with loves long past.

So why not clean house and travel a bit lighter?”

 

October 13, 2011

readings in psychology for 13th october 2011

Over the years, I have been an advisor to many clubs. Being around students is fun, it is one of the perks of the job!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Staining performed by Konrad Talbot, PhD, targeting a marker for nerve cells involved in inhibition are shown in cross sections of the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain known to be affected in schizophrenia and involved in memory and cognition. In normal mice (top; A and B) a number of inhibitory cells are found. This staining is reduced in mice with reduced dysbindin….”

“Neurons within the cerebellum are responsible for the construction of motor memory, which is associated with the learning of physical activities and behaviors”

Personally, I like the Luna Lovegood ‘Spectrespecs!

“This finding, described online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds light on what researchers call “theory of mind” abilities—our intuitive skill for figuring out what other people think, intend, and believe. One key aspect of such abilities in terms of social interactions is to be able to figure out what others think of us—in other words, to know what our social reputation is. It is well known that social reputation usually has a very powerful influence on our behavior, motivating us to be nice to others.”

“Melatonin, best known for its role in sleep regulation, delayed the onset of symptoms and reduced mortality in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, show for the first time that certain receptors for the hormone reside in the mitochondria, and that there are fewer of them both in affected mice and human brains.”

“Previous studies have found that health outcomes improve during an economic downturn. Job loss means less money available for potentially unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, according to existing literature on employment and alcohol consumption. A new study by health economist Michael T. French from the University of Miami and his collaborators has concluded just the opposite–heavy drinking and alcohol abuse/dependence significantly increase as macroeconomic conditions deteriorate.”

“New research to be published Oct. 13 confirms The Beatles’ lyrical hypothesis and finds that “the kind of thing that money just can’t buy” is a happy and stable marriage”

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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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