Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

September 5, 2012

readings in psychology for 5 September 2012 @PsychScience

where we were once engaged!

41 years ago, Roger proposed to me at the ‘Blue Bayou’ at Disneyland, married 40 years this month, we wanted a return tour!

Here is what I am reading today:

“The way that the visual centers of men and women’s brains works is different, finds new research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Biology of Sex Differences. Men have greater sensitivity to fine detail and rapidly moving stimuli, but women are better at discriminating between colors. In the brain there are high concentrations of male sex hormone (androgen) receptors throughout cerebral cortex, especially in the visual cortex which is responsible for processing images. Androgens are also responsible for controlling the development of neurons in the visual cortex during embryogenesis, meaning that males have 25% more of these neurons than females.”

“The malaria species rampant in the Asia-Pacific region has been a significant driver of evolution of the human genome, a new study has shown. An international team of researchers has shown that Plasmodium vivax malaria, the most prevalent malaria species in the Asia-Pacific, is a significant cause of genetic evolution that provides protection against malaria.”

“Evolving to become less aggressive could be key to saving the Tasmanian devil — famed for its ferocity — from extinction, research suggests. The species is being wiped out by Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a fatal infectious cancer spread by biting. The new study, published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology, found the less often a devil gets bitten, the more likely it is to become infected with the cancer.”

“The psychologists asked 88 people with a fear of spiders to approach a large, live tarantula in an open container outdoors. The participants were told to walk closer and closer to the spider and eventually touch it if they could. The subjects were then divided into four groups and sat in front of another tarantula in a container in an indoor setting. In the first group, the subjects were asked to describe the emotions they were experiencing and to label their reactions to the tarantula—saying, for example, “I’m anxious and frightened by the ugly, terrifying spider.”

August 14, 2011

readings in psychology for august 14th 2011

Here is what I am reading today:

“…But new Northwestern University research suggests that you did not group your gloves and shoes in a single glance. Instead, you may only be able to see one group at a time, requiring you to take two mental ‘glances’ at your wardrobe.

Intuitively, without any work on our part, our visual systems produce groupings with similar characteristics such as color, shape or motion, said Steven Franconeri, an assistant professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and a co-author of the study.”

“Previous studies on twins and adopted people suggested that there is a substantial genetic contribution to thinking skills, but this new study — published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry — is the first to find a genetic contribution by testing people’s DNA for genetic variations.”

“In both chimpanzees and humans, portions of the brain that are critical for complex cognitive functions, including decision-making, self-awareness and creativity, are immature at birth. But there are important differences, too. Baby chimpanzees don’t show the same dramatic increase in the volume of prefrontal white matter in the brain that human infants do.”

“The study, “Cleared for Takeoff? CEO Personal Risk-Taking and Corporate Policies,” documents a link between the personality traits of high-flying executives and business moves such as mergers, acquisitions and accumulation of debt. The study is co-authored by Stephen McKeon, an assistant professor of finance at the UO’s Lundquist College of Business; and Matthew Cain, an assistant professor of finance at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.”

“If you see this lady turning clockwise you are using your right brain.
If you see her turning anti-clockwise, you are using your left brain.
Some people can see her turning both ways, but most people see her only one way.”

“It seems we do, at least according to the results of a study by a team of Johns Hopkins University psychologists. Led by Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the study — published online in a recent issue of Developmental Science — indicates that math ability in preschool children is strongly linked to their inborn and primitive “number sense,” called an “Approximate Number System” or ANS.”

June 26, 2011

readings in psychology for june 26th 2011

2011 has been an amazing year! My girls and me at APS!

Here is what I am reading today:

“In many migratory animals, the light-sensitive chemical reactions involving the flavoprotein cryptochrome (CRY) are thought to play an important role in the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. In the case of Drosophila, previous studies from the Reppert laboratory have shown that the cryptochrome protein found in these flies can function as a light-dependent magnetic sensor.

To test whether the human cryptochrome 2 protein (hCRY2) has a similar magnetic sensory ability, Steven Reppert, MD, the Higgins Family Professor of Neuroscience and chair and professor of neurobiology…..”

“The data the researchers gathered in recent studies are the first to show that negative arousal following successful retrieval of information enhances later recall of that information.”

“The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears online in Psychological Science.

“Our findings suggest that women’s prejudice, at least in part, may be a byproduct of their biology,” said Melissa McDonald, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper”

“Imagining something with our mind’s eye is a task we engage in frequently, whether we’re daydreaming, conjuring up the face of a childhood friend, or trying to figure out exactly where we might have parked the car. But how can we tell whether our own mental images are accurate or vivid when we have no direct comparison? That is, how do we come to know and judge the contents of our own minds?”

June 22, 2011

readings in psychology for june 22nd 2011

no rest for authors!

No Rest for Authors! In our modern world, work can follow you anywhere, even on a working vacation! In truth, I met some great people in Florida!

Here is what I am reading today:

“The research, published in Evolutionary Psychology, confirmed the prediction that participants who believed they were being watched, although possibly not conscious of that thought, would express greater disapproval of moral transgressions, than those did not.

The increased expression of disapproval is attributed to people’s sensitivity to perceptions of their own reputation.”

“The series of studies, “Peacocks, Porsches and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous Consumption as a Sexual Signaling System,” was conducted with nearly 1,000 test subjects and published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks,” said Jill Sundie, assistant professor of marketing at UTSA and lead author of the paper.”

“In the past, many researchers have believed that testing is good for memory, but only for the exact thing you are trying to remember: so-called “target memory.” If you’re asked to recall the Lithuanian equivalent of an English word, say, you will get good at remembering the Lithuanian, but you won’t necessarily remember the English. Vaughn wondered whether practice testing might boost other types of memory too. It does.”

“Human affective systems evolved from mammalian affective systems, and when mammals are young and incapable of thinking, their brain systems have to make these pups able to perform the ‘correct’ behavior,” write authors Dan King (NUS Business School, Singapore) and Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida, Gainesville). One way the brain encourages correct behavior is to use the mammal’s affective state to change the pleasure response to major sensory channels.

June 4, 2011

readings in psychology for june 6th 2011

My daughter gave me some ‘light reading’ — it was a copy of her dissertation!

Here is what I am reading today:

“What links speed, power, and the color red? Hint: it’s not a sports car. It’s your muscles. A new study, published in the journal Emotion, finds that when humans see red, their reactions become both faster and more forceful. And people are unaware of the color’s intensifying effect.”

“Though people with autism face many challenges because of their condition, they may have been capable hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, according to a paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in May.”

“Males within two human ancestral species that existed roughly 2.7 to 1.7 million years ago were stay-at-home fellows, while females of these same species travelled, according to a new Nature paper.”

“3. I teach all about obedience to authority and influence and the bystander effect and critical thinking…but  I listen and say “yes, sir” when a guy in an orange vest (who didn’t look like a cop) asks me to move my car away from the airport when I’m idling for two minutes waiting to pick up my wife. Another time, I was with a fellow psychology professor and we saw a very drunk guy wandering in the middle of the road. We both agreed that someone else should call the police.”

““What I like about the research happening in PR is that it’s really all across the board,” she said. “We are looking at how corporations are using social media. We have interviews with professionals determining what their use is and their opportunities. And then there’s looking at perceptions with reputation management, looking at how people perceive someone as credible or not. As each year goes by it’s becoming more rigorous and definitely more interdisciplinary.””

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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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