Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

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?”


November 3, 2011

readings in psychology for 3rd November 2011

This Halloween I wore my 'Slytherin" shirt holding two 'ANGRY BIRDS!'

Here is what I am reading today:

Too cute no to share

“New research from the University of Missouri indicates that at 10 months, babies start to understand another person’s thought process, providing new insights on how humans acquire knowledge and how communication develops.”

A pioneering neuroscientist reveals the reasons for loneliness and what to do about it.John T. Cacioppo’s groundbreaking research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure, and analyzing immune function, he demonstrates the overpowering influence of social context—a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrecognized syndrome—chronic loneliness—brings it out of the shadow of its cousin depression, and shows how this subjective sense of social isolation uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior, and physiology, becoming a trap that not only reinforces isolation but can also lead to early death. He gives the lie to the Hobbesian view of human nature as a “war of all against all,” and he shows how social cooperation is, in fact, humanity’s defining characteristic. Most important, he shows how we can break the trap of isolation for our benefit both as individuals and as a society.”

(BTW, I use this book as part of our readings in my Introductory Psychology Classes)

“What drives addicts to repeatedly choose drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, overeating, gambling or kleptomania, despite the risks involved? Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have pinpointed the exact locations in the brain where calculations are made that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior.”

“”It’s not just a product of very lonely individuals having poor sleep. The relationship between loneliness and restless sleep appears to operate across the range of perceived connectedness,” said lead author Lianne Kurina, PhD, of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago.”

“The use of credit scores as employment screening tools is a hotly debated topic. According to a 2010 poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of surveyed employers conducted credit checks for some or all candidates as part of the hiring process.”

“Nicotine causes changes in gene regulation that enhance the brain’s subsequent response to cocaine. The finding, in mice, provides the first clear evidence for a molecular mechanism supporting the idea of ‘gateway drugs’. “

“In the opening scene of The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg portrays a cold Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend, who is exasperated by the future Facebook founder’s socially oblivious and obsessive personality. Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg is the stereotypical Silicon Valley geek — brilliant with technology, pathologically bereft of social graces. Or, in the parlance of the Valley: ‘on the spectrum’.”

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”

September 17, 2011

readings in psychology for september 17th 2011

Here is an interesting game I was given that I hope I have a chance to play!

My reading for today:

“Lonely gamers who have felt the pain of being separated by a screen from their favorite personalities now have a way to reach out and touch their game characters, and that new way is RePro3D. A group of researchers from Keio University in Japan have come up with a 3-D screen that lets the user, glasses-free, see and “touch” characters on the screen. The word “touch” is in quotes because the technology is about a 3-D parallax display with infrared camera that recognizes the movements of the user’s hand and the character on the screen reacts to the movements instantly. “

“A “hidden” code linked to the DNA of plants allows them to develop and pass down new biological traits far more rapidly than previously thought, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.”

“Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin 5 times more than exposure to the light of High Pressure Sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. “Just as there are regulations and standards for ‘classic’ pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for the pollution stemming from artificial light at night,” says Prof. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa.”

“Soon a simple blood test will be able to tell newly pregnant women if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome – raising the prospect, and perhaps peril, of a world with fewer imperfections.”

“A video game fan delivered one of the most unusual proposals ever – by contacting the creators of his favourite game, and asking them to create a  a ‘proposal’ delivered by an evil artificial intelligence from the far future. Designer Gary Hudston, from Preston, Lancashire, contacted the makers of Portal 2, who recorded a proposal from the voice actor of a lethal robot who attempts to kill the player using lasers and other traps.

The 23-year-old then asked photographer girlfriend Stephanie Harbeson to play three hand-built levels – one of which looked like a wedding chapel – until a ring appeared on screen, and the evil robot popped the question.”


October 24, 2010

Readings in psychology for october 24th 2010

With Halloween Coming I am going to wear my 'Slytherin' Shirt that I wore at APS!

With Halloween Coming I am going to wear to Cal Poly my 'Slytherin' Shirt that I wore at APS! Of course, I always bring candy!

Here is what I am reading today:

“… Apparently, they play, too.In fact, according to Gordon Burghardt, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, many animals — not just dogs, cats, and monkeys — need a little play time”

“According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend $66.28 on Halloween this year. Second only to costumes, candy eats up the largest chunk of this budget with American families spending an average of $22 each Halloween on confections”

“Halloween, celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic  and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts.”

the rich get richer — online and offline social connectivity predicts loneliness

“…A critical aspect of psychological well-being is the perception of being socially connected. Without this perception, people experience loneliness (Cacioppo & Patrick, 2008). University students, especially those who are in their first year, are likely to experience significant loneliness as they adjust to their new environment (Cutrona, 1982). These same university students are also likely to use SNSs, and Facebook in particular (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007).”

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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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