Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

August 3, 2014

readings in psychology for 3 august 2014 #PsychScience #psychology #biopsych

Ronnie makes taking a selfie very challenging!

Ronnie makes taking a selfie very challenging!

Here his what I am reading today:

“”A fundamental aspect of the human experience is the desire to punish harmful acts, even when the victim is a perfect stranger. Equally important, however, is our ability to put the brakes on this impulse when we realize the harm was done unintentionally,” said Rene Marois, the Vanderbilt University professor of psychology who headed the research team. “This study helps us begin to elucidate the neural circuitry that permits this type of regulation.””

“”These animals ate fat and sugar, and did not gain weight, while their control littermates did,” said lead author Sabrina Diano, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. “We showed that the PPAR gamma receptor in neurons that produce POMC could control responses to a high-fat diet without resulting in obesity.””

“The research titled ‘Flexibility of the father’s brain’ was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

‘Shifts in society and culture have led to increases in men’s involvement in the care of infants,’ writes researcher Dr Sarina Saturn of Oregon State University.”

“”Our results suggest that use of contemporary oral contraceptives [birth control pills] in the past year is associated with an increased breast cancer risk relative to never or former oral contraceptive use, and that this risk may vary by oral contraceptive formulation,” said Elisabeth F. Beaber, PhD, MPH, a staff scientist in the Public Health Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.”

“During brain development, nerve fibers grow and extend to form brain circuits. This growth is guided by molecular cues (Fig. 1), but exactly how these cues guide axon extension has been unclear. Takuro Tojima and colleagues from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute have now uncovered the signaling pathways responsible for turning growing nerve fibers, or axons, toward or away from guidance cues.”

“introducing eNeuro: a new open access neuroscience journal committed to scientific excellence and innovation in publishing.

“Nadine Gogolla and her colleagues in the laboratory of Takao Hensch at Harvard University have now searched for common neural circuit alterations in mouse models of autism. They concentrated on the insular cortex, a brain structure that contributes to social, emotional and cognitive functions. ‘We wanted to know whether we can detect differences in the way the insular cortex processes information in healthy or autism-like mice’, says Nadine Gogolla, who was recently appointed Leader of a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology.”

 

 

May 18, 2014

readings in psychology for 18 may 2014 # glass #PsychScience @psychology #aps14sf

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 10.40.52 PM

My daughter Karen calls us “Dr. Freberg and Dr. Freberg 2.0 (two point oh). We’ll be presenting at this years Association for Psychological Sciences Convention in San Francisco this month… and demonstrating and discussing Google Glass… catch us and we’ll show you how it works!

“Paleontologists in Argentina say they recently discovered fossils belonging to the largest dinosaur on record. During its lifetime, the new species of titanosaur is believed to have stood 65-feet-tall, was more than 130-feet-long, and weighed 77 tons (155,000 pounds).

“Given the size of these bones, which surpass any of the previously known giant animals, the new dinosaur is the largest animal known that walked on Earth,” researchers Dr. Jose Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol told the BBC.”

“In his epic encyclopedia Natural History, the great Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote of the bonnacon, a sort of bull whose defensive strategy was to hit its foes with blasts of dung “so strong and hot, that it burneth them that follow after him in chase, like fire, if haply they touch it.” Natural history in Pliny’s time, you see, consisted of a good amount of hearsay. From 12-year-old boys, apparently.”

““The loss of bitter taste is a complete surprise, because natural toxins typically taste bitter,” says zoologist Huabin Zhao of Wuhan University in China who led the study. All whales likely descend from raccoon-esque raoellids, a group of herbivorous land mammals that transitioned to the sea where they became fish eaters.”

“The technique relies on electrically stimulating the nerve pathways in the spinal cord. “In the injured area, the nerve cells have been damaged to such an extent that they no longer receive usable information from the brain, so the stimulation needs to be delivered beneath that,” explains Dr. Peter Detemple, head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology’s Mainz branch (IMM) and NEUWalk project coordinator.”

“”I think if anybody ever had a doubt that this was just some sort of odd pickiness or something like that in people with autism, this shows, no, there really is a brain basis for this,” said Dr. Paul Wang, head of medical research for nonprofit advocacy group Autism Speaks.”

“”The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation,” says Svend Davanger, a neuroscientist at the University of Oslo, and co-author of the study.”

“Social isolation has been recognized as a major risk factor for mobidity and mortality in humans for more than three decades. The brain is the key organ of social connections and processes, however, and hte same objective social relationships can be experienced as caring and protective or as exploitive and isolating. We have provided evidence that the perception of social isolation (i.e. loneliness) impacts the brain and behavior and is a risk factor for broad based morbidity and mortality….”

Discover the Association for Psychological Science

“The 26th APS Annual Convention will begin on Thursday, May 22, 2014, and will end on Sunday, May 25, 2014.”

March 1, 2014

readings in psychology for 1 march 2014 @PsychScience

 

springIShere

 

Well, spring is finally here… in California!

Here is what we are reading today:

“Google Glass, the tech giant’s experimental eyewear-based computer, may soon give epidemiologists a faster and more reliable way to track infections and other diseases. Researchers report online today in ACS Nano that they’ve created an app that allows Google Glass wearers to snap pictures of common immunology-based diagnostic tests and immediately beam those images back to a central computer server.”

“A couple weeks earlier a team of researchers led by Diana Reiss and Preston Foerder, then at City University New York, had visited Kandula’s home at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. They placed sticks and sturdy cubes around the yard and strung a kind of pulley system similar to a laundry line between the roof of the elephant house and a tree….”

“For human beings, feelings of romantic love and sexual desire are often intertwined in complex ways. Recent work by neuroscientists, however, has pointed out ways these two feelings are actually different.”

“Bill Watterson went back to the drawing board for one more round.

The celebrated but reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator agreed to illustrate the movie poster for a feature-length documentary about comics titled Stripped. The film tells the story of the decline of newspapers and how it’s affecting the medium of strip comics. Watterson also gave a rare audio interview for the film.”

“Professors Pradeep G. Bhide and Jinmin Zhu have found evidence that ADHD associated with nicotine can be passed across generations. In other words, your child’s ADHD might be an environmentally induced health condition inherited from your grandmother, who may have smoked cigarettes during pregnancy a long time ago. And the fact that you never smoked may be irrelevant for your child’s ADHD.”

“Bisphenol A is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products and exhibits hormone-like properties. Fetuses, infants, children or adults exposed to the chemical have been shown to exhibit numerous abnormalities, including cancer, as well as reproductive, immune and brain-behavior problems.”

“So the scientists turned to human embryonic stem cells. Co-authors Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director and physician-in-chief of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine and director of the Stem Cell Derivation Laboratory of Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Nikica Zaninovic, assistant professor of reproductive medicine, generated stem cell lines from donated embryos that tested positive for fragile X syndrome.”

“”One of the major problems with the nervous system is that it doesn’t regenerate very well after injury,” said Chay Kuo, M.D., Ph.D., the George W. Brumley assistant professor of cell biology, neurobiology and pediatrics. “Neurons don’t multiply, so when they’re injured, there’s a loss of function. We’d like to know how to get it back.””

“The researchers were looking for these noncoding genes, Kosik continued, because as organisms become more complex through evolution, the number of these noncoding genes has greatly expanded. “But the coding genes—the ones that make proteins—have really not changed very much,” he said. “The action has been in this noncoding area and what that part of the genome is doing is controlling the genes.””

“If you don’t listen closely to what patients with Wernicke’s aphasia are saying, you might not notice that it makes very little sense. Their speech “sounds” normal. 

Wernicke’s aphasia affects comprehension, usually for both written and oral language. Patients with this condition cannot repeat sentences they hear. They can’t understand what they hear. Surprisingly, they do not seem upset about their deficits.”

“A new study by Professor Jeff Bowers and colleagues at the University of Bristol argues that highly selective neural representations are well suited to co-activating multiple things, such as words, objects and faces, at the same time in short-term memory.”

“”Phantom-limb pain is very common in amputees,” said study researcher Max Ortiz Catalan, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, in Sweden. “Unfortunately, today there is no single treatment that works for everybody.””

January 13, 2014

readings in psychology for january 13 2014 @PsychScience

Everyone loves the Mantis Shrimp because of their many colors.

Everyone loves the Mantis Shrimp because they can see many colors.

Here is what we are reading today:

“”Ultrasound has great potential for bringing unprecedented resolution to the growing trend of mapping the human brain’s connectivity,” said William “Jamie” Tyler, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, who led the study. “So we decided to look at the effects of ultrasound on the region of the brain responsible for processing tactile sensory inputs.””

“”It opens the door to understanding opioid related drugs for treating pain and mood disorders, among others,” said lead author Dr. Gustavo Fenalti, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Raymond C. Stevens of TSRI’s Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology.

“This discovery has helped us decipher a 40-year-old mystery about sodium’s control of opioid receptors,” said Stevens, who was senior author of the paper with UNC pharmacologist Professor Bryan Roth. “It is amazing how sodium sits right in the middle of the receptor as a co-factor or allosteric modulator.””

“The research is published online today in the Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. It was led by Robin Hansen, director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the UC Davis School of Medicine.

“In our Northern California study population, it does not appear that families use complementary and alternative treatments due to the lack of availability of conventional services, as has been suggested by other research,” Hansen said. “Rather, they use the treatments in addition to conventional approaches.””

In the following interview, Dr. Freberg offers a rare glimpse of her struggle to gain the education required to become an accomplished professional psychologist. Dr. Freberg also discusses her range of experiences during a typical workday now, and when she was a young mother juggling all the demands of career and home life. The span of her accomplishments and assortment of outreach to wide variety of populations is a central component of this highly informative interview.”

“”Sleep is the price the brain must pay for learning and memory,” says Dr. Giulio Tononi, of the UW Center for Sleep and Consciousness. “During wake, learning strengthens the synaptic connections throughout the brain, increasing the need for energy and saturating the brain with new information. Sleep allows the brain to reset, helping integrate, newly learned material with consolidated memories, so the brain can begin anew the next day. “

Tononi and his co-author Dr. Chiara Cirelli, both professors of psychiatry, explain their hypothesis in a review article in today’s issue of the journal Neuron. Their laboratory studies sleep and consciousness in animals ranging from fruit flies to humans; SHY takes into account evidence from molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral studies, as well as from computer simulations. “Synaptic homeostasis” refers to the brain’s ability to maintain a balance in the strength of connections within its nerve cells.”

“Such body language, known as a “dominance threat display” and labeled as “triumph” in other studies, was observed in winners of Olympic and Paralympic judo matches. It appears to be innate and stems from an evolutionary need to establish order and hierarchy in society, said San Francisco State University Professor of Psychology David Matsumoto, who co-authored the study with Hyisung Hwang, an adjunct faculty member in psychology at SF State.”

 

 

 

November 18, 2013

readings in psychology for 18 november 2013 @PsychScience

It made me smile! Assemble the minions!

It made me smile! Assemble the minions!

Here’s what I am reading today:

“”We’re interested in how your brain is able to allow you to navigate in complex social environments,” study researcher MaryAnn Noonan, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, in England, said at a news conference. Basically, “how many friends can your brain handle?” Noonan said.

Scientists still don’t understand how the brain manages human behavior in increasingly complex social situations, or what parts of the brain are linked to deviant social behavior associated with conditions like autism and schizophrenia.”

“Our research showed that playing video games can improve a young person’s mood, help them reduce their stress levels, and promote feelings of competence and autonomy,” said Dr Johnson, from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty.

“Playing video games with others in particular increases a person’s brain activity, improves their social wellbeing and helps them feel more connected with others.

“If you’re trying to reach out to the teenager in your house, spending time with them playing a cooperative video game you both enjoy could be the bridge you’re looking for – and you’ll likely feel the same positive impacts on your wellbeing, too.”

“Morality is not just something that people learn, argues Yale psychologist Paul Bloom: It is something we are all born with. At birth, babies are endowed with compassion, with empathy, with the beginnings of a sense of fairness. It is from these beginnings, he argues in his new book Just Babies, that adults develop their sense of right and wrong, their desire to do good — and, at times, their capacity to do terrible things. Bloom answered questions recently from Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook.  “

“”Currently, interventions consist of training children to look at the other’s face and gaze,” said Chen Yu, associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington. “Now we know that typically developing children achieve joint attention with caregivers less through gaze following and more often through following the other’s hands. The daily lives of toddlers are filled with social contexts in which objects are handled, such as mealtime, toy play and getting dressed. In those contexts, it appears we need to look more at another’s hands to follow the other’s lead, not just gaze.””

“”We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes,” Sanguinetti said. “The specific question was, ‘Does the brain process those hidden shapes to the level of meaning, even when the subject doesn’t consciously see them?”

The answer, Sanguinetti’s data indicates, is yes.”

“”The big message is that your brain is reflecting your current social environment, and your social skills at a wider level. The brain is flexible and reflecting all of these behaviors,” said study author Maryann Noonan, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University, who worked on the study while at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

There’s also the question of which comes first. Is the brain pre-programmed to turn certain people into more social creatures? Or does your brain change as a result of whether you’re willing to engage with lots of other people in your life?”

“ARX is among the top four types of intellectual disability linked to the X-chromosome in males. So far, 115 families, including many large Australian families, have been discovered to carry an ARX (Aristaless related homeobox) mutation that gives rise to intellectual disability.

“There is considerable variation in the disability across families, and within families with a single mutation. Symptoms among males always include intellectual disability, as well as a range of movement disorders of the hand, and in some cases severe seizures,” says Associate Professor Cheryl Shoubridge, Head of Molecular Neurogenetics with the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute.”

 

 

 

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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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