Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

December 9, 2014

readings in psychology for 9 december 2014 #PsychScience #psychology

Part of the Family at a favorite Greek Restaurant called the "Wild Donkey."

Part of the Family at a favorite Greek Restaurant called the “Wild Donkey.”

Here is what I am reading today:

“”It is well-established that being inactive is perilous, and that regular physical activityimproves health, quality of life and life expectancy”, says Professor Carl Johan Sundberg, Principal Investigator at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “However, exactly how the positive effects of training are induced in the body has been unclear. This study indicates that epigenetics is an important part in skeletal muscle adaptation to endurance training.””

“….It also changes the release of multiple gut-related hormones, explains clinical endocrinologist Stephen O’Rahilly of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who wasn’t involved with the study. That’s important, because years of eating a diet high in fat and sugar can throw a person’s metabolism into disarray. Cells undergo genetic reprogramming that negatively impacts how they process sugar and store fat, locking in obesity. This pattern makes it harder and harder to lose weight, even if a person changes their diet and begins exercising.”

“UBC zoologists Benjamin Goller and Douglas Altshuler projected moving spiral and striped patterns in front of free-flying hummingbirds attempting to feed from a stationary feeder.

Even minimal background pattern motion caused the hummingbirds to lose positional stability and drift. Giving the birds time to get used to the stimuli didn’t eliminate the disruption. Projecting a combination of moving and stationary patterns in front of the birds didn’t help either, although birds were able to regain some stability.”

““We found significant associations between preeclampsia and ASD that increased with severity. We also observed a significant association between severe preeclampsia and developmental delay,” said Cheryl Walker, study senior author, assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and a researcher affiliated with the UC Davis MIND Institute.

While preeclampsia has previously been examined as a risk factor for autism, the literature has been inconsistent. The current study provides a robust population-based, case-controlled examination of the association between autism and preeclampsia and whether risk was associated with preeclampsia severity.”

“The findings are published in the December issue of Sleep, a joint publication of the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The lead author is Carol Everson, Ph.D., professor of neurology, cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy at MCW. Co-authors are Christopher Henchen, B.S., Clinical Research Coordinator at MCW; Aniko Szabo Ph.D., associate professor of biostatistics and director of the Biostatistics Consulting Service at MCW; and Neil Hogg, Ph.D., professor of biophysics and assistant dean of recruitment for MCW’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.”

“The effort led by Joshua Johansen from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan and New York University scientists Lorenzo Diaz-Mataix and Joseph LeDoux, tested an influential theory proposed in 1949 by the Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb that neurons that are connected and fire electrical impulses at the same time increase the strength of their connections to form a memory.”

“Zach Sims, co-founder and CEO of Codecademy, tells Mashable that learning how to code is reasonably easy for beginners, especially people under 18.

This year, Codecademy set up initiatives in England, Estonia and Argentina to bring coding education to young students — England and Estonia both added coding to their national curricula. As a result, Sims and the team found that “people in high schools can start with actual programming, and more advanced students in middle school can do the same,” he says.”

September 23, 2014

readings in psychology for 23 september 2014 #psychScience #psychology

Ronnie gets a little tired after our big walks!

Ronnie gets a little tired after our big walks!

Here’s what we are reading today!

“I’m not alone in this experience. A handful of studies in recent years have examined the prevalence of phantom cellphone vibrations, and they’ve come up with impressive numbers, from 68 percent of the medical staff at a Massachusetts hospital to 89 percent of undergraduates at a midwestern university, to more than 90 percent of Taiwanese doctors-in-training in the middle of their internships”

“‘We are hoping that this type of programme will eventually be useful in several different practical applications. Personally, I think a versatile household robot would be tremendously valuable, but we’re not there yet,’ says Strannegård.

The research team included Claes Strannegård, Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, and at the Department of Applied Information Technology, Chalmers University of Technology.”

“Most studies investigating P300 and recognition have been conducted in lab settings that are far removed from the kinds of information a real witness or suspect might be exposed to. This new study marks an important advance, says lead research John B. Meixner of Northwestern University, because it draws on details from activities in participants’ normal, daily lives.

“Much like a real crime, our participants made their own decisions and were exposed to all of the distracting information in the world,” he explains.”

“Professor Quentin Sattentau, who led the research at the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, says: ‘This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a potential trigger for peanut allergy has been directly shown.’

Previous studies have shown that roasting modifies peanut proteins leading to altered recognition by the immune system, but they did not show that roasted peanuts can trigger an allergic immune response.”

“But in this new study, conducted by doctoral student Adaikkan Chinnakkaruppan in the laboratory of Prof. Kobi Rosenblum of the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa, in cooperation with the Riken Institute, the leading brain research institute in Tokyo, the researchers demonstrate for the first time that there is a functional link between the two brain regions.”

“Researchers do not yet know how exactly gut bacteria might influence behavior, but one hypothesis is that a leaky gut may allow substances to pass into the bloodstream that harm the brain. In the mouse study, the probiotic may have helped reshape the microbial ecosystem and made the intestines more robust, preventing the leakage of such substances, says co-author Elaine Y. Hsiao, a microbiologist at Caltech.”

“An earlier study by Dr. Molholm and colleagues suggested that brainwave electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings could potentially reveal how severely ASD individuals are affected. That study found that children with ASD process sensory information—such as sound, touch and vision—less rapidly than typically developing children do.”

“Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, assistant professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, and Hannes Saal, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in Bensmaia’s lab, reviewed more than 100 research studies on the physiological basis of touch published over the past 57 years. They argue that evidence once thought to show that different groups of receptors and nerves, or afferents, were responsible for conveying information about separate components of touch to the brain actually demonstrates that these afferents work together to produce the complex sensation.

“Any time you touch an object, all of these afferents are active together,” Bensmaia said. “They each convey information about all aspects of an object, whether it’s the shape, the texture, or its motion across the skin.””

 

September 15, 2014

readings in psychology for 15 september 2014 #PsychScience #psychology

the 12th was Roger and my 42nd wedding anniversary! Here we are in 1974 ( married 2 years) dressed very 70's California.

the 12th was Roger and my 42nd wedding anniversary! Here we are in 1974 ( married 2 years) dressed very 70’s California.

“Dizzy and nauseated? You could be dehydrated or have high blood pressure—or there could be a giant hole in your brain. After a 24-year-old woman complained of these symptoms at a hospital in China, doctors scanned her brain anddiscovered that her cerebellum was missing, a new study in Brain reports. Despite missing the entire region, which helps control movement, balance, and speaking, the woman displays only mild clumsiness and slightly slurred speech—a remarkable example of the brain’s ability to compensate, New Scientist reports today.”

“”Our aim was to investigate what is going on in the brains of people when they watch violent movies,” said lead investigator Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Friedman Brain Institute and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We hypothesized that if people have aggressive traits to begin with, they will process violent media in a very different way as compared to non-aggressive people, a theory supported by these findings.””

“Taski found that the mechanical pulse was modified at the collision point, but he did not completely examine the details of annhilation itself. Apparently, no other studies have replicated the original 1949 experiments. Falsification of the annhilation scenario really only requires showing sufficient exception, enough that there no longer is a “general case”. Thomas Heimburg, from the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhangen, has recently been able to do just that. Using a simple worm axon preparation where spikes could be timed and measured after stimulation from both ends, Heimburg showed that pulses survive collision.”

“Researchers Jose Fernandez and Dhaval Dave analyzed the number and wages of auxiliary health providers based on California Department of Developmental Services data from 2002 to 2011. Each time autism cases doubled, the number of autism health providers grew by as much as 14 percent over that of non-autism health providers, they found.”

“The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project of its kind.”

“”Responding sensitively to infant crying is a difficult yet important task,” notes Esther M. Leerkes, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who led the study. “Some mothers may need help controlling their own distress and interpreting babies’ crying as an attempt to communicate need or discomfort. Home visiting programs or parenting classes that help parents become more aware of stress and teach ways to reduce it, as well as individualized parent education efforts, may help build these skills.””

“Results show that past use of benzodiazepines for three months or more was associated with an increased risk (up to 51%) of Alzheimer’s disease. The strength of association increased with longer exposure and with use of long-acting benzodiazepines rather than short-acting ones.

Further adjustment for symptoms that might indicate the start of dementia, such as anxiety, depression or sleep disorders, did not meaningfully alter the results.”

“Dr Robert Dickinson from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “After a blow to the head, most of the damage to the brain doesn’t occur immediately but in the hours and days afterwards. At present we have no specific drugs to limit the spread of the secondary injury, but we think that is the key to successful treatment.

“This study shows that xenon can prevent brain damage and disability in mice, and crucially it’s effective when given up to at least three hours after the injury. It’s feasible that someone who hits their head in an accident could be treated in the hospital or in an ambulance in this timeframe.”

“Led by Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine, the team found that those with larger volume in a particular part of the parietal cortex were willing to take more risks than those with less volume in this part of the brain. The findings are published in the Sept. 10 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.”

““If you ask any psychiatrist seeing patients with autistic behavior their most striking observation from the clinic, they will say there are more males compared to females,” said Dr. Anilkumar Pillai, MCG neuroscientist and corresponding author of the study in Molecular Autism.”

September 2, 2014

readings for psychology for 2 september 2014 #psychscience #psychology

Our 2nd edition of Introductory and my 3rd edition of Behavioral Neuroscience

Our 2nd edition of Introductory and my 3rd edition of Behavioral Neuroscience

Here is what we are reading today:

“A study by Melissa Koenig of the University of Minnesota and colleagues shows that by the time they reach the age of seven, children can think strategically, in an adult manner. The researchers found that when playing games, children older than 6.5 use strategies comparable to those used by adults. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“”In a recent study by psychologists Colin Camerer and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, chimps and humans played a strategy game – and unexpectedly, the chimps outplayed the humans.”

“”Like people, each animal has unique experiences as it goes through its life. And we suspect that these life experiences can alter the expression of genes, and as a result, affect an animal’s susceptibility to stress,” says senior author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology. “We have taken an important step toward explaining the molecular origins of this stress gap by showing that inbred mice react differently to stress, with some developing behaviors that resemble anxiety and depression, and others remaining resilient.””

“Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent social support and exchanges in the home that benefit adolescents’ well-being, Elgar suggests that this family contact and communication can also reduce some of the distressing effects of cyberbullying.”

“”It is the last nail in the coffin for the hypothesis that Neanderthals were cognitively inferior to modern humans,” said Paul Tacon, an expert in rock art at Australia’s Griffith University. Tacon, who was not involved in the study, said the research showed that the engravings were made with great effort for ritual purposes, to communicate with others, or both.

“We will never know the meaning the design held for the maker or the Neanderthals who inhabited the cave but the fact that they were marking their territory in this way before modern humans arrived in the region has huge implications for debates about what it is to be human and the origin of art,” said Tacon.”

“”Our work has shown that two types of first-order tactile neurons that supply thesensitive skin at our fingertips not only signal information about when and how intensely an object is touched, but also information about the touched object’s shape” says Andrew Pruszynski, who is one of the researchers behind the study.

The study also shows that the sensitivity of individual neurons to the shape of an object depends on the layout of the neuron’s highly-sensitive zones in the skin.”

“It looks like environmental enrichment is a way to improve the treatment of children with autism and perhaps other mental disorders. Moreover, the therapy can be done at almost no cost and with no need for any kind of expertise. But the really big idea is that there may be no reason to wait until you or your child has a neurological disorder to enrich your mind. We are currently working to evaluate the notion that it may be possible to use this approach to maximize our mind’s capabilities throughout our lifetime.”

 

 

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.”

 

 

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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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