Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

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 22, 2012

readings in psychology for 22 may 2012 #aps2012

Did you watch the solar eclipse through a 'pinhole camera'? 1) here I am observing the eclipse 2) a photo of the eclipse from San Luis Obispo in California and 3) the hundreds of eclipses that filter through our local Alders surrounded by shadows on the ground.

Here is what I am reading today:

“A single brief therapy session for adults with a lifelong debilitating spider phobia resulted in lasting changes to the brain’s response to fear.”

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but an apple? Well it may be more than just an apple. Is it normal? Local? Organic? Is that piece of cheese low fat, is the coffee fair trade?

Psychologists have known of a “health halo”, centered around foods thought to be “healthy”, whether or not they actually are (like low fat yogurt, which may be low fat, but is often high in sugar). There is also a “health halo” around foods that are organic. People think organic foods are lower in fat and lower calorie than foods without the organic label.”

“The anterior insular cortex is a small brain region that plays a crucial role in human self-awareness and in related neuropsychiatric disorders. A unique cell type – the von Economo neuron (VEN) – is located there. For a long time, the VEN was assumed to be unique to humans, great apes, whales and elephants. Henry Evrard, neuroanatomist at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, now discovered that the VEN occurs also in the insula of macaque monkeys. The morphology, size and distribution of the monkey VEN suggest that it is at least a primal anatomical homolog of the human VEN. This finding offers new and much-needed opportunities to examine in detail the connections and functions of a cell and brain region that could have a key role in human self-awareness and in mental disorders including autism and specific forms of dementia.”

“Larry Benowitz, PhD, and colleagues at the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, showed that mice with severe optic nerve damage can regain some depth perception, the ability to detect overall movement of the visual field, and perceive light, allowing them to synchronize their sleep/wake cycles. Findings were published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of May 21. “

A disturbing trend that begs the question,” why are men less likely to attend college?” ( trend started in early 90’s)

“The result is that 40 percent of all children born in Maine last year were born to unwed mothers, up significantly from 10 years ago. What it will mean to the state if the trend continues is not clear; there are few hard numbers on the phenomenon and few people studying the impact.

But at least one scholar says the shift from two-parent to single-parent households means tough decisions ahead.”

It’s not just rising college tuition and room and board charges. It’s all those incidentals–from student activity and health fees to lab fees and books–that are turning higher education into such a financial burden. According to the College Board’s latest Trends In College Pricing report,  in 2011-2012, books and supplies cost students at four year public colleges an average of $1,168, and at private non-profit four-year colleges an average of $1,213.  Nor is this a new problem. A 2005 report by Congress’ Government Accountability Office found that from 1986 through 2004, text book prices nearly tripled, rising at twice the rate of inflation.

May 12, 2012

readings in psychology for 12 may 2012 #aps2012

My colleague and daughter Karen (University of Louisville -- Assistant Professor of Strategic Communications) will be presenting on Social Media at the APS Convention in Chicago this month!

Here is what I am reading today:

“A self-writing diary in one of J K Rowling’s books on Harry Potter has inspired researchers to create a paper that spells out a person’s blood type. “

“As if you needed another reason to despise your alarm clock. A new study suggests that, by disrupting your body’s normal rhythms, your buzzing, blaring friend could be making you overweight.

The study concerns a phenomenon called “social jetlag.” That’s the extent to which our natural sleep patterns are out of synch with our school or work schedules. Take the weekends: many of us wake up hours later than we do during the week, only to resume our early schedules come Monday morning. It’s enough to make your body feel like it’s spending the weekend in one time zone and the week in another.”

“WORDS IN ALL CAPS can be annoying, but since they look larger than their neighbors, they capture our attention. Words displayed in large fonts have a similar effect-and they also elicit stronger emotional responses, according to a new study. Researchers measured brain activity in 25 German adults while showing them 72 emotionally positive, negative, and neutral words. They included German words for gift, death, and chair….   “

“Talking about ourselves — whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter — triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported.”

““Superwoman has been rumbled,” declared a Daily Telegraph article in 2001 that chronicled how the human brain’s inability to “multitask” undercuts the prospects for a woman to juggle career and family with any measure of success. The brain as media icon has emerged repeatedly in recent years as new imaging techniques have proliferated—and, as a symbol, it  seems to confuse as much as enlighten.”

“The Association for Psychological Science’s Annual Convention brings together psychological researchers and academics for an exciting program that covers the entire spectrum of innovative research in psychological science.

We’re pleased to offer you this Online Program with detailed information about every presentation and event at the APS Convention.”

LAURA’S Note: I hope to see you there!!


March 2, 2012

update in psychology for 2 March 2012

Here is what I am reading today:

“A new study reveals for the first time that activating the brain’s visual cortex with a small amount of electrical stimulation actually improves our sense of smell. The finding published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, McGill University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, revises our understanding of the complex biology of the senses in the brain.”

“Most of us know what it means when it’s said that someone is depressed. But commonly, true clinical depression brings with it a number of other symptoms. These can include anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues, and sleep disturbances.”

“In the 2009 film Surrogates, humans live vicariously through robots while safely remaining in their own homes. That sci-fi future is still a long way off, but recent advances in technology, supported by EU funding, are bringing this technology a step closer to reality in order to give disabled people more autonomy and independence than ever before.”

“Millions of people suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and worsens over time. As the world’s population ages, it’s estimated that the number of people with the disease will rise sharply. Yet despite several effective therapies that treat Parkinson’s symptoms, nothing slows its progression.”

“Caffeine will get you going during the day but could leave you tossing and turning at night  unless you’re  a “night owl” to begin with, a new study suggests.

In the study, “morning people” who consumed caffeine during the day appeared more likely than late risers to awaken in the middle of their nighttime sleep.”

February 15, 2012

readings in psychology for 15 february 2012

One of the many occupation memes floating around facebook lately! For those of us who enjoy writing, it does have some truth to it!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Is weight loss “contagious”? According to a new study published online in the journal Obesity, teammates in a team-based weight loss competition significantly influenced each other’s weight loss, suggesting that shedding pounds can have a ripple effect.”

“That day I saw that climbing Mt. Science would always be hard but that the view from the peak was life changing. Now, years later, I see that while my experience is pretty common somehow we have lost that key connection when teaching science to the next generation.”

“UCLA scientists previously developed a brain-imaging tool to help assess the neurological changes associated with these conditions. The UCLA team now reports in the February issue of the journal Archives of Neurology that the brain-scan technique effectively tracked and predicted cognitive decline over a two-year period.

The team has created a chemical marker called FDDNP that binds to both plaque and tangle deposits — the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease — which can then be viewed using a positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan, providing a “window into the brain.” Using this method, researchers are able to pinpoint where in the brain these abnormal protein deposits are accumulating.”

turmeric is more than a spice, it is a drug

“Curcumin, a substance extracted from turmeric, prolongs life and enhances activity of fruit flies with a nervous disorder similar to Alzheimers, according to new research. The study conducted at Linköping University, indicates that it is the initial stages of fibril formation and fragments of the amyloid fibrils that are most toxic to neurons.”

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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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