Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

June 23, 2012

readings in psychology for 23 june 2012 @PsychScience

Here is what I am reading today:

Concentrating closely on a conversation can leave us ‘deaf’ to other sounds, reveals Dr Polly Dalton from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

“Yogi Bear always claimed that he was smarter than the average bear, but the average bear appears to be smarter than once thought. Psychologists Jennifer Vonk of Oakland University and Michael J. Beran of Georgia State University have taken a testing methodology commonly used for primates and shown not only that the methodology can be more widely used, but also that bears can distinguish among differing numerosities.”

“Babies were thought to begin seeing in stereo at about four months after their due date. They actually learn to do it four months after they are exposed to light, even if they are born early.

Ilona Kovács at Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary and her colleagues gave 15 premature and 15 full-term babies goggles that filtered out red or green light. Once a month for eight months, the team sat the babies in a dark room and got them to stare at patterns of dots on a screen. The goggles made the dots invisible unless viewed in 3D.”

“A phenomenon known as the sardine run — involving millions of the small fish swimming in formation as part of their annual migration — may be one of the most alluring spectacles of the marine universe, and it was captured beautifully by renowned wildlife photographers Chris and Monique Fallows during their recent expedition off the Wild Coast region of South Africa (see the following images).”

“…The raw fMRI data will likely show an eruption of signals. “You see this frothing cauldron with this little blip of extra activity,” says computer scientist Francisco Pereira, a researcher at Princeton University…”

“Do animals other than humans have a sense of humor? Perhaps in some ways, yes. But in other ways there are likely uniquely human properties to such emotions. Aside from anecdotes, we know very little about nonhuman primate laughter and humor, but some of the most significant findings to emerge in comparative science over the past decade have involved the unexpected discovery that rats—particularly juvenile rats—laugh. That’s right: rats laugh. At least, that’s the unflinching argument being made by researcher Jaak Panksepp, who published a remarkable, and rather heated, position paper on the subject in Behavioural Brain Research.”

 

 

June 4, 2012

readings in psychology for 4 june 2012

Here is what I am reading today:

“In an article published online June 3rd by the journal Nature, a team of electrical engineers and neuroscientists working at Stanford University propose a new theory of the brain activity behind arm movements. Their theory is a significant departure from existing understanding and helps to explain, in relatively simple and elegant terms, some of the more perplexing aspects of the activity of neurons in motor cortex.

In their paper, electrical engineering Associate Professor Krishna Shenoy and post-doctoral researchers Mark Churchland, now a professor at Columbia, and John Cunningham of Cambridge University, now a professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, have shown that the brain activity controlling arm movement does not encode external spatial information—such as direction, distance and speed—but is instead rhythmic in nature.”

“”I think there’s enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain,” says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.””

“Anyone who has studied psychology or neuroscience will be familiar with the incredible case of Phineas Gage, the railroad worker who had a metre-long iron rod propelled straight through his head at high speed in an explosion. Gage famously survived this horrific accident, but underwent dramatic personality changes afterwards.

In recent years researchers reconstructed his skull and the passage of the rod through it, to try to understand how these changes were related to his brain damage. Now, neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles have produced Gage’s connectome – a detailed wiring diagram of his brain, showing how its long-range connections were altered by the injury. “

“It’s well established that exercise substantially changes the human brain, affecting both thinking and emotions. But a sophisticated, multifaceted new study suggests that the effects may be more nuanced than many scientists previously believed. Whether you gain all of the potential cognitive and mood benefits from exercise may depend on when and how often you work out, as well as on the genetic makeup of your brain.”

 

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!!

 

May 10, 2012

50 most social media savvy professors, moi? #aps2012

John Cacioppo and I working with Social Media at one of our last conferences!

John Cacioppo and I working with Social Media at one of our last conferences!

Recently I was selected as one of the ‘Most Savvy Social Media Professors’ by an on-line college blog. Although I am very honored, I have to say that I know one young and up and coming professor that taught me all I know… my daughter Karen, who is now a recent Ph.D. and an assistant professor at the University of Louisville in Strategic Communications.

Check out my daughter’s blog and see if you don’t agree!

http://www.karenfreberg.com/blog

In the mean time, I think I’ll tweet this!  :)

March 22, 2012

readings in psychology for 22 march 2012

Do you know where this is? Disney World's Grand Floridian! woo-hoo!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele (left) and Randy Blakely pose at the entrance to the Vanderbilt Laboratory for Neurobehavior, where their studies in mice have revealed a clue to autism. Credit: Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt University”

“According to a recent pilot study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, group cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered via video teleconferencing is a safe, feasible, and effective treatment for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants in the current study included 13 veterans diagnosed with PTSD at VA clinics in the Hawaiian Islands; each was randomly assigned to receive group cognitive processing therapy (a form of cognitive behavior therapy originally developed by Patricia Resick, Ph.D.) in an in-person therapy group or video teleconferencing therapy group. According to results, both groups displayed reductions in PTSD symptoms, without between-group differences on process outcome variables. In addition, participants in each group expressed high levels of treatment credibility, satisfaction with treatment, and homework adherence. A full randomized control trial (RCT) is currently underway to more rigorously evaluate the clinical effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy delivered via video teleconferencing.”

“A new study by researchers including Bosco Tjan of psychology suggests that facial recognition hinges on recognizing the face’s features more than the “holistic” picture they add up to create.”

“Researchers from Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg have shown that nanocellulose stimulates the formation of neural networks. This is the first step toward creating a three-dimensional model of the brain. Such a model could elevate brain research to totally new levels, with regard to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, for example.”

“Distinct patterns of activity — which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants– appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face — even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan.”

“Just like a road atlas faithfully maps real-word locations, our brain maps many aspects of our physical world: Sensory inputs from our fingers are mapped next to each other in the somatosensory cortex; the auditory system is organized by sound frequency; and the various tastes are signaled in different parts of the gustatory cortex.”

“Word extinction. The English word “Roentgenogram” derives from the Nobel prize winning scientist and discoverer of the X-ray, Wilhelm Röntgen (1845-1923). The prevalence of this word was quickly challenged by two main competitors, “X-ray” (recorded as “Xray” in the database) and “Radiogram.””

“Hidden in the landscape of the fertile crescent of the Middle East, scientists say, lurk overlooked networks of small settlements that hold vital clues to ancient civilizations.”

“”Scans of the brain’s tissue composition, wiring, and activity produced converging evidence of genetically-caused abnormalities in the structure and function of the front part of the insula and in its connectivity to other brain areas in the circuit,” explained Karen Berman, M.D., of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).”

“”Epidemiologic findings suggest that the type of anesthesia we do for cancer surgery influences recurrence rate, and laboratory studies demonstrate that opioids influence tumor progression and metastasis,” said Jonathan Moss, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago Medicine and co-author of the commentary, a summary of research on the topic. “

“What characterizes many people with depression, schizophrenia and some other mental illnesses is anhedonia: an inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences.”

 

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