Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

December 3, 2013

readings in psychology for 3 december 2013 #PsychScience

LaurasMagic

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Here is what I am reading today:

“Conjuring up a visual image in the mind—like a sunny day or a night sky—has a corresponding effect on the size of our pupils, as if we were actually seeing the image, according to new research.”

“”These data suggest that increased body weight is not a benign condition, even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, and argue against the concept of healthy obesity or benign obesity,” said researcher Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.”

“”We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD, and Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor of the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and the Friedman Brain Institute, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.”

“By making Jesus’ left-cheek prominent, crucifixion artists may have taken unknowing advantage of other facts from neuroscience too. With his head turned to the right, Jesus’ face will be processed mostly by the viewer’s right hemisphere – the side of the brain that is preferentially activated when interpreting emotion, especially negative emotion. There’s even researchsuggesting that turning the head to one side activates the brain hemisphere on the opposite side. “Since the left hemisphere mediates positive emotions and the right negative emotions, the rotation of Christ’s head during the crucifixion may have helped reduce his suffering,” write Acosta and her colleagues.”

“”This is the first study to evaluate the impact of oxytocin on brain function in children with autism spectrum disorders,” said first author Ilanit Gordon, a Yale Child Study Center postdoctoral fellow, whose colleagues on the study included senior author Kevin Pelphrey, the Harris Professor in the Child Study Center, and director of the Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience at Yale.”

“In one of the largest studies looking at the “connectomes” of the sexes, Ragini Verma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues found greater neural connectivity from front to back and within one hemisphere in males, suggesting their brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. In contrast, in females, the wiring goes between the left and right hemispheres, suggesting that they facilitate communication between the analytical and intuition.”

 

 

 

June 18, 2013

readings in psychology for 18 june 2013 @PsychScience

Research never stops with a team member in Dalian, China. My daughter Karen was an invited speaker!

Research and presentations never stop with a team member in Dalian, China. My daughter Karen is an invited speaker!

Here are my readings for today:

“”Head circumference is an indicator of brain volume, so a greater increase in head circumference in a newborn baby suggests more rapid brain growth,” says the lead author of the study, Dr Lisa Smithers from the University of Adelaide’s School of Population Health.

“Overall, newborn children who grew faster in the first four weeks had higher IQ scores later in life,” she says.”

“”Our findings raise concerns since, depending on the pollutant, 20% to 60% of the women in our study lived in areas where risk of autism was elevated,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in the HSPH Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The study appeared online June 18, 2013 inEnvironmental Health Perspectives.”

“Dr Cristina Dye, a lecturer in child language development, found that two to three- year-olds are using grammar far sooner than expected.

She studied fifty French speaking youngsters aged between 23 and 37 months, capturing tens of thousands of their utterances.

Dr Dye, who carried out the research while at Cornell University in the United States, found that the children were using ‘little words’ which form the skeleton of sentences such as a, an, can, is, an, far sooner than previously thought.”

“This study supports the idea that subjective sleepiness is influenced by the quality of experiences right before bedtime. Are you reluctantly awake or excited to be awake?” said Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, professor of molecular genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern. He is principal author of the study published online in May in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“The latest addition to the growing field of fast four-legged robots is no bigger than a housecat, yet it can tackle more realistic terrain than its larger predecessors. Three years in the making, “Cheetah-cub” runs about 5 kilometers per hour and can descend steps up to 20% its leg length. For its size—23 centimeters long and 1 kilogram in weight—it may be a record-holder among other robo-quadrupeds, its developers say, attaining speeds seven times its body length per second. It even has an advantage over real cats: It runs with no brain telling it what to do.”

“BOSTON, MA–(Marketwired – Jun 18, 2013) – Lazy, self-absorbed and entitled? Practical, heads-down and resourceful might be more accurate descriptors for today’s College Millennial Consumers (CMCs), according to a new survey of 1,600+ U.S. college students. The survey was conducted May 13-20, 2013 by fluent, a Boston-based College Millennial Consumer marketing agency (www.fluentgrp.com).

Specializing in “translating brands for the college world,” fluent works with clients who want to understand and engage College Millennial Consumers (CMCs) nationwide, both on- and off-campus. Clients have included major brands such as Microsoft, Macy’s, PacSun, Zipcar, Sun Drop, Kotex, Dove and L’Oreal. Building on an exclusive affiliation with the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), fluent has insider access to nearly 1,000 colleges and universities and engages students in a variety of brand experiences that complement everyday college life.”

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2013

readings in psychology for 13 march 2013 @PsychScience

My Daughter Karens Sociam Media presntation in one of my 4 classes. It was a busy day for Professor Freberg 2.0

My Daughter Karen’s Social Media presentation (“Managing your on-line reputation) in one of my 4 classes. It was a busy day for Professor Freberg 2.0

Here is what I am reading today:

“In a playground filled with gleeful shouts, you approach a group of children. Suddenly, your vision turns blurry and pixelated. The echoing screams become raucous.

It’s the experience of sensory overload, according to a new game called Auti-Sim. The simulation, created by a three-member team at the Vancouver Hacking Health hackathon, aims to raise awareness of the challenges of hypersensitivity disorder and help people understand how it can lead to isolation.”

“Three-dimensional mapping of the brains of 7 adults with a rare brain birth defect has shed new light on the cause of autism.

Known as agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC), the defect is characterized by complete or partial absence of the corpus callosum, which connects the left and right sides of the brain. One of the primary genetic causes of autism, it was part of the brain physiology of Laurence Kim Peek, the savant portrayed by actor Dustin Hoffman in the 1987 film Rain Man.”

“The study, to be published in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that participants given more powerful roles in two experiments attributed fewer uniquely human traits—characteristics that distinguish people from other animals—to their peers who were given less powerful roles. “I think a lot of us have the intuition that some powerful people can be pretty dehumanizing,” said Jason Gwinn, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and lead author of the study. “But our goal was to test if power, when randomly assigned to ordinary students, would have that effect. That would say something about power itself rather than about the sort of people who have the drive to take power.””

“Overall, participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn’t chew gum. This was especially true toward the end of the task, according to the study, which was published March 8 in the British Journal of Psychology. “Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end,” Kate Morgan, of Cardiff University, said in a journal news release. “This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.””

“…”These regions are important for social behaviors, particularly mating behavior,” said lead author Maggie Mohr, a doctoral student in neuroscience. “So, we thought maybe cells that are added to those parts of the brain during puberty could be important for adult reproductive function.” To test that idea, Mohr and Cheryl Sisk, MSU professor of psychology, injected male hamsters with a chemical marker to show cell birth during puberty. When the hamsters matured into adults, the researchers allowed them to interact and mate with females.”

“We humans love us some caffeine. The mild stimulant have saved many a student, parent, and hard working adult from nodding over their desks. And it’s a natural product of plants like the coffee plant and the tea bush. But the question is, why do these plants have it in the first place?

It turns out that there are two answers to that question. First, caffeine is a natural pesticide, which can paralyze and kill insects that want to chomp on the leaves, berries, or other parts of the plant. It’s good for keeping a bug off your back.”

 

July 10, 2012

readings in psychology for 10 july 2012 @PsychScience

Here I am in the front row with my sister-in-law Laurie riding Splash Mountain!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Scientists say they have assembled more completely the string of genetic letters that could control how well parrots learn to imitate their owners and other sounds.”

“Women infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, which is spread through contact with cat feces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables, are at increased risk of attempting suicide, according to a new study of more than 45,000 women in Denmark. A University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist with expertise in suicide neuroimmunology is the senior author of the study, which is being published online July 2 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.”

“How people make choices depends on many factors, but a new study finds people consistently prefer the options that come first: first in line, first college to offer acceptance, first salad on the menu — first is considered best.”

“In a study published in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, led by Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, presented findings that show that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.”

“Professor Paul Thornalley from Warwick Medical School heads the team that discovered extracts from strawberries positively activate a protein in our bodies called ‘Nrf2′ which is shown to increase antioxidant and other protective activities. This protein works to decrease blood lipids and cholesterol, the very things which can lead to cardiovascular problems.”

“Dr Rob Jenkins and his team at the University of Glasgow took a sample of photos from the internet to show the wide range of differing images of one person. In a series of experiments, viewers unfamiliar with the subject of the photograph believed that the photos they were viewing were of different people — when in fact they were simply different presentations of the same person.”

“The alternative that Henkjan Honing and Annemie Ploeger of the UvA propose is, first, to distinguish between the notion of ‘music’ and ‘musicality’, with musicality being defined as a natural, spontaneously developing trait based on and constrained by our cognitive system, and music as a social and cultural construct based on that very musicality. And secondly, to collect accumulative evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., psychological, physiological, genetic, phylogenetic, and cross-cultural evidence) to be able to show that a specific cognitive trait is indeed an adaptation.”

“Students were more likely to gain weight if they had friends who were heavier than they were. Conversely, students were more likely to get trimmer — or gain weight at a slower pace — if their friends were leaner than they were.

Results of the study by David Shoham, PhD, and colleagues are published in the journal PLoS ONE. Shoham is an assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.”

rating movies that contain ‘smoking’

“New research from Norris Cotton Cancer Center estimates, for the first time, the impact of an R rating for movie smoking. James Sargent, MD, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, emphasizes that an R rating for any film showing smoking could substantially reduce smoking onset in U.S. adolescents — an effect size similar to making all parents maximally authoritative in their parenting, Sargent says.”

May 19, 2012

readings in psychology for 29 may 2012 #aps2012

We love to take a walk every day and sometimes we find a little friend along the way!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Exercise clears the mind. It gets the blood pumping and more oxygen is delivered to the brain. This is familiar territory, but Dartmouth’s David Bucci thinks there is much more going on.”

“Contrary to recent scholarship and popular belief, parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children, according to researchers from the University of California, Riverside, the University of British Columbia and Stanford University. Parents also are happier during the day when they are caring for their children than during their other daily activities, the researchers found in a series of studies conducted in the United States and Canada.”

“Whether you’re an iPerson who can’t live without a Mac, a Facebook addict, or a gamer, you know that social media and technology say things about your personality and thought processes. And psychological scientists know it too — they’ve started researching how new media and devices both reveal and change our mental states.”

“Posting views on Facebook and other social media sites delivers a powerful reward to the brain similar to the pleasure from food and sex, a Harvard study concludes. The study led by two neuroscientists and published this week concluded that “self disclosure” produces a response in the region of the brain associated with dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure or the anticipation of a reward.”

“Poor Phineas Gage. In 1848, the supervisor for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Vermont was using a 13-pound, 3-foot-7-inch rod to pack blasting powder into a rock when he triggered an explosion that drove the rod through his left cheek and out of the top of his head. As reported at the time, the rod was later found, “smeared with blood and brains.””

“THE problem of the self – what it is that makes you you – has exercised philosophers and theologians for millennia.

Today it is also a hotly contested scientific question, and the science is confirming what the Buddha, Scottish philosopher David Hume and many other thinkers maintained: that there is no concrete identity at the core of our being, and that our sense of self is an illusion spun from narratives we construct about our lives.

Bruce Hood’s The Self Illusion is a thoroughly researched and skillfully organised account of the developments in psychology and neuroscience that are helping to substantiate this unsettling vision of selfhood. He casts a long line, exploring subjects such as free will, the unconscious, the role of (false) memories in building identity, as well as myriad social psychology experiments showing how people behave differently according to the situation they are in. His aim is to illustrate the interchangeability of our multiple selves, and why much of our cognition seems to have evolved to protect the illusion that we are who we think we are.”

 

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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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