Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

July 20, 2014

coming soon! my new edition Discovering Behavioral Neuroscience an Introduction to Biological Psychology #BioPsych #Neuroscience #PsychScience #Psychology

I am very proud of my latest edition! (Cengage has all the details)

I am very proud of my latest edition! (Cengage has all the details)

If you are familiar with the first and second editions of this textbook, you know that we like to pick colorful visuals that portray the biology behind the behavior. For this third edition, we selected an image of a “brainbow” of the hippocampus of a transgenic mouse. Brainbows are constructed by promoting the expression of different ratios of red, green, and blue fluorescent proteins by individual neurons. This imaging process has assisted researchers interested in mapping the connectome, or the neural connections of the brain. The brainbow technique was developed in 2007 by researchers under the direction of Joshua Sanes and Jeff Lichtman.

My books were written with my love of the subject and an attention to currency, detail and the direction of the field. I endeavor to teach students at the level I find them.  My books are used around the world based on their clarity and the importance of making complex concepts easily understandable. Meeting the unique needs of the gifted in presenting complex concepts and ensuring those with challenges are not left behind are major efforts in my writing. The great Psychologist William James said it best when it comes to teaching:

“…in teaching, you must simply work your pupil into such a state of interest in what you are going to teach him that every other object of attention is banished from his mind; then reveal it to him so impressively that he will remember the occasion to his dying day; and finally fill him with devouring curiosity to know what the steps in connection with the subject are.” –William James (1899, p. 10)

 James’ goals for the classroom instructor might seem lofty to some, but many of us who teach neuroscience have enjoyed the peak experience of seeing students “turn on” to the material in just the way James describes.

This is an exciting time to be a neuroscientist. Every day, science newsfeeds announce some new and dramatic breakthroughs in our knowledge about the nervous system and the human mind. Important questions raised in the past now have definitive answers. In 1890, James also commented that “Blood very likely may rush to each region of the cortex according as it is most active, but of this we know nothing” (vol. 1, p. 99). With today’s technology, it is safe to say we now know much more than “nothing” about this phenomenon James described. 

I hope you will become as fond of my book as I am!

laura@laurafreberg.com

and/or CONTACT CENGAGE

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 29, 2014

readings in psychology for 29 january 2014 @PsychScience

A puppy makes all the difference!

A puppy makes all the difference!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Humans are very social. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had neither fearsome claws or teeth, so posed little threat to other species. Groups of humans working together, however, can be formidable. We defend our groups, sometimes viciously, against the threat of “them.” Distinctions as trivial as the sports team for whom you cheer have been the basis of killings.”

“”Our group has been fascinated with circadian rhythms for over 10 years now, as they represent a marvelous example of robust control at the molecular scale in nature,” said Frank Doyle, chair of UCSB’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the principal investigator for the UCSB team. “We are constantly amazed by the mechanisms that nature uses to control these clocks, and we seek to unravel their principles for engineering applications as well as shed light on the underlying cellular mechanisms for medical purposes.””

“The study, led by Professor Daniel Freeman at the University of Oxford, tested 60 adult women from the general population who were prone to having ‘mistrustful thoughts’. The participants experienced an underground tube ride virtual reality simulation. They experienced the same ‘journey’ twice, with the only difference being a reduction in height of about a head (25cm). In both instances, the other virtual passengers were programmed to be ‘neutral’, and not a cause of fear in the participants.”

“During his lifetime, Henry G. Molaison (H.M.) was the best-known and possibly the most-studied patient of modern neuroscience. Now, thanks to the postmortem study of his brain, based on histological sectioning and digital three-dimensional construction led by Jacopo Annese, PhD, at the University of California, San Diego, scientists around the globe will finally have insight into the neurological basis of the case that defined modern studies of human memory.”

“Star Trek’s food replicator may soon become more science fact than science fiction. Back in May, 2013, NASA — as it sets its sights on manned missions to Mars — revealed that it was teaming up with Systems & Materials Research Consultancy (SMRC) on a 3D printer that can produce… food, and more specifically, pizza. SMRC actually won a six-month, $125,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant from NASA to explore the feasibilty of utilizing 3D-printed food for lengthy space operations.”

Rosie Ensor, Claire Hughes, and their colleagues at University of Cambridge tackled this question by testing children over the course of eight years. They first visited the homes of two-year-olds during a family meal and recorded how often the mother and child used ‘thought words’ such as know, forget, think, idea, interest, and understand. One year later, they administered standard false-belief tests and a verbal comprehension test to each child.

“Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment.

“We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over.”

Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said.”

December 3, 2013

readings in psychology for 3 december 2013 #PsychScience

LaurasMagic

CLICK on the picture for the entire interview with Google Glass! #googleglass

 

Here is what I am reading today:

“Conjuring up a visual image in the mind—like a sunny day or a night sky—has a corresponding effect on the size of our pupils, as if we were actually seeing the image, according to new research.”

“”These data suggest that increased body weight is not a benign condition, even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, and argue against the concept of healthy obesity or benign obesity,” said researcher Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.”

“”We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD, and Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor of the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and the Friedman Brain Institute, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.”

“By making Jesus’ left-cheek prominent, crucifixion artists may have taken unknowing advantage of other facts from neuroscience too. With his head turned to the right, Jesus’ face will be processed mostly by the viewer’s right hemisphere – the side of the brain that is preferentially activated when interpreting emotion, especially negative emotion. There’s even researchsuggesting that turning the head to one side activates the brain hemisphere on the opposite side. “Since the left hemisphere mediates positive emotions and the right negative emotions, the rotation of Christ’s head during the crucifixion may have helped reduce his suffering,” write Acosta and her colleagues.”

“”This is the first study to evaluate the impact of oxytocin on brain function in children with autism spectrum disorders,” said first author Ilanit Gordon, a Yale Child Study Center postdoctoral fellow, whose colleagues on the study included senior author Kevin Pelphrey, the Harris Professor in the Child Study Center, and director of the Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience at Yale.”

“In one of the largest studies looking at the “connectomes” of the sexes, Ragini Verma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues found greater neural connectivity from front to back and within one hemisphere in males, suggesting their brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. In contrast, in females, the wiring goes between the left and right hemispheres, suggesting that they facilitate communication between the analytical and intuition.”

 

 

 

October 30, 2013

readings in psychology for 30 october 2013 @PsychScience

I always thought their was a LINK at Cal Poly!

I always thought there was a LINK at Cal Poly!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Video gaming causes increases in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills. This has been shown in a new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus. The positive effects of video gaming may also prove relevant in therapeutic interventions targeting psychiatric disorders.”

“The research project leader Linda Brzustowicz, Rutgers professor and chair of the Department of Genetics, in the School of Arts and Sciences, says that genes in a narrow region of two chromosomes (15q23-26 and 16p12) responsible for oral and written language impairments can result in similar behavioral characteristics with one family member developing autism and the other having only language difficulties.

Specific language impairment is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 7 percent of children. It is not considered to be an autism spectrum disorder. Autism effects one in 88 children nationally – with nearly five times as many boys than girls diagnosed – about half of whom have some degree of language impairment.”

“”These adolescents had noisier neural activity than their classmates, even when no sound was presented,” said Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern and corresponding author of the study.

In addition, the neural response to speech for the adolescents from a lower maternal educational background was erratic over repeated stimulation, with lower fidelity to the incoming sound.”

“”As ethics researchers, we had been running experiments examining various unethical behaviors, such as lying, stealing, and cheating,” researchers Maryam Kouchaki of Harvard University and Isaac Smith of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business explain. “We noticed that experiments conducted in the morning seemed to systematically result in lower instances of unethical behavior.”

This led the researchers to wonder: Is it easier to resist opportunities to lie, cheat, steal, and engage in other unethical behavior in the morning than in the afternoon?”

“Within the brain, researchers “think that rich clubs have a key role to play in making global communication efficient and are also important for supporting integration of information,” said Olaf Sporns, a computational neuroscientist at Indiana University in Bloomington. Sporns first described the rich club in the brain, along with collaborator Martijn van den Heuvel, a neuroscientist at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus in the Netherlands.”

“In an interview with Medical Xpress, PhD candidate Dan-Mikael Ellingsen discussed the paper he and his colleagues published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “In recent years, functional brain imaging studies have shown that expecting a treatment to relieve negative symptoms – like pain, anxiety or unpleasant taste – leads to not only subjective reports of relief, but also suppressed brain activity in sensory circuitry during aversive stimuli, such as noxious heat or touch, threatening images, and unpleasant taste,” Ellingsen tellsMedical Xpress.”

“Preserved specimens of the brains of mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and Göttingen physician Conrad Heinrich Fuchs, taken over 150 years ago, were switched – and this probably happened soon after the death of both men in 1855. This is the surprising conclusion reached by Renate Schweizer, a neuroscientist at Biomedizinische NMR Forschungs GmbH at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. She has now correctly identified the two brains, both of which are archived in a collection at the University Medical Center Göttingen.”

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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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