Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

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.”

 

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!!

 

April 17, 2012

readings in psychology for 18 april 2012

Here I am with my daughters and fellow researchers at last years APS Convention!

Here is what I am reading today:

“The study reflects a major transition in the focus of neuroscience from disease to well being, says first author Richard Davidson, professor of psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The brain is constantly changing in response to environmental factors, he says, and the article “reflects one of the first efforts to apply this conceptual framework to techniques to enhance qualities that we have not thought of as skills, like well-being. Modern neuroscience research leads to the inevitable conclusion that we can actually enhance well-being by training that induces neuroplastic changes in the brain.”"

“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 a study by Yale Child Study Center researchers published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Ac”…

“We all have them — positive memories of personal events that are a delight to recall, and painful recollections that we would rather forget. A new study reveals that what we do with our emotional memories and how they affect us has a lot to do with our gender, personality and the methods we use (often without awareness) to regulate our feelings.”

“Notice that, even as you fixate on the screen in front of you, you can still shift your attention to different regions in your peripheries. For decades, cognitive scientists have conceptualized attention as akin to a shifting spotlight that “illuminates” regions it shines upon, or as a zoom lens, focusing on things so that we see them in finer detail. These metaphors are commonplace because they capture the intuition that attention illuminates or sharpens things, and thus, enhances our perception of them.”

“”The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight,” said lead author Julia Boehm, research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH. “For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers,” she said.”

March 13, 2012

readings in psycholgy for 13 March 2012

This is what I am reading today:

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown — by each of a range of measures, in men and women of all ages, in Caucasians and minorities — that consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFAs) is associated with irritability and aggression.”

“Scientists have gained insight into why lithium salts are effective at treating bipolar disorder in what could lead to more targeted therapies with fewer side-effects.”

“Studies show that maintaining routines and exercise helps reduce stress. Lemon Tree Inn of Naples, Florida and Hotel Caravelle of St Croix, US Virgin Islands offer discounts to local yoga studios to help guests continue routines, relax and unwind.”

“Sometime college dorm rooms make for strange bedfellows. Such was the case for Lindsay Blankmeyer, a former student at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., who filed a suit against the school claiming that her roommate’s alleged inappropriate sexual behavior drove her into a deep depression.”

“Every year, thousands of teens and young adults celebrate Spring Break by drinking large amounts of alcohol — binge drinking — a dangerous right-of-passage for some and one linked to possible brain damage later as adults, says an expert.”

“How do neurons in the brain communicate with each other? One common theory suggests that individual cells do not exchange signals among each other, but rather that exchange takes place between groups of cells. Researchers from Japan, the United States and Germany have now developed a mathematical model that can be used to test this assumption. Their results have been published in the current issue of the journal “PLoS Computational Biology.”"

 

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.”

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It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages
-------- Nietzsche

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