Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

October 11, 2013

readings in psychology for 11 october 2013 @PsychScience

 

I am really enjoying my time as an "ANSWERS.com" Psychology expert. They asked for an updated photo, so I just sent them one and it should be appearing soon.

Here is what I am reading today:

“”By showing that African elephants spontaneously understand human pointing, without any training to do so, we have shown that the ability to understand pointing is not uniquely human but has also evolved in a lineage of animal very remote from the primates,” says Richard Byrne of the University of St Andrews, noting that elephants are part of an ancient African radiation of animals, including the hyrax, golden mole, aardvark, and manatee.”

“Kissing in human sexual relationships is incredibly prevalent in various forms across just about every society and culture,’ says Rafael Wlodarski, the DPhil student who carried out the research in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. ‘Kissing is seen in our closest primate relatives, chimps and bonobos, but it is much less intense and less commonly used.

‘So here’s a human courtship behaviour which is incredibly widespread and common and, in extent, is quite unique. And we are still not exactly sure why it is so widespread or what purpose it serves.’

To understand more, Rafael Wlodarski and Professor Robin Dunbar set up an online questionnaire in which over 900 adults answered questions about the importance of kissing in both short-term and long-term relationships.”

“A research team headed by Tania Singer from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences has discovered that our own feelings can distort our capacity for empathy. This emotionally driven egocentricity is recognised and corrected by the brain.”

“The research focuses on dendrites, the string-like extensions of sensory nerves that penetrate tissues of the skin, eyes and other sensory organs. “The formation of dendritic branches—’arbors’ as we call them—is vital for allowing sensory nerves to collect information and sample the environment appropriately,” said Hannes Buelow, Ph.D., senior author of the Cellpaper and associate professor of genetics at Einstein.”

“”This is the first study to find that this genetic variation can significantly affect how people see and experience the world,” says Prof. Rebecca Todd of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “The findings suggest people experience emotional aspects of the world partly through gene-coloured glasses – and that biological variations at the genetic level can play a significant role in individual differences in perception.”"

“The team, based at U-M’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, used an innovative approach to make its findings. They combined advanced brain scanning that can track chemical release in the brain with a model of social rejection based on online dating. The work was funded by the U-M Depression Center, the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Phil F Jenkins Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.”

“Pictures of food. Snapping photos of meals is one of the less expected viral social media trends. That megaburger, the cheesy burrito, the strawberry shortcake, captured forever as an object of desire.

But food photography can backfire. Because a recent study finds that looking at a lot of photos of food can make foods similar to those pictured less enjoyable to eat. Due to what scientists call “sensory boredom.””

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September 27, 2013

readings in psychology for 27 september 2013 #PsychScience

Professors are people,too! You can never tell what we do when we aren't teaching, researching and advising!

Professors are people,too! You can never tell what we do when we aren’t teaching, researching and advising!

Here’s what I am reading today:

“After 31-year-old Zac Vawter lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident, a team of doctors set out to create a new kind of prosthetic limb: one whose motions he could manipulate with his mind, by “flexing” a foot that was no longer there. The method is similar to one already tried in people who have lost an arm: The doctors at Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago removed nerves from damaged muscle in Vawter’s amputated leg and connected them to hamstring muscle in his thigh, which had been left intact.”

“”The study underscores that obesity and other eating disorders have a neurological basis,” said senior study author Garret Stuber, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and department of cell biology and physiology. He’s also a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. “With further study, we could figure out how to regulate the activity of cells in a specific region of the brain and develop treatments.”"

“Thousands of North Texans are asking, “What are those long, silky strings floating in the air?”  Turns out they’re the webs of spiders in their annual migration to better hunting grounds, and surprising a lot of people.

“I thought it was weird; I’d never seen it before,” said Myrna Olivas, who first noticed it driving in her car;”

“One theory about autism is that it may start in the gut, because some children with the disorder also suffer from gastrointestinal problems. Many are put on strict gluten-free diets in the hopes that avoiding wheat proteins will improve their behavior.

“Studies have not really shown that this works, but it is a common belief,” said Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The new study, which was published online Sept. 25 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, offers the most definitive proof yet that many autistic kids don’t benefit from restrictive, wheat-free diets.”

“Inconcievable!”

“University of Sussex neuroscientists took fMRI scans of champion ‘mental calculator’ Yusnier Viera during arithmetical tasks that were either familiar or unfamiliar to him and found that his brain did not behave in an extraordinary or unusual way.

The paper, published this week (23 September 2013) in PloS One, provides scientific evidence that some calculation abilities are a matter of practice. Co-author Dr Natasha Sigala says: “This is a message of hope for all of us. Experts are made, not born.”"

““I also shattered illusions of my immortality. I was paralyzed from here”—she hold her hands at her hips—“down. No movement and no sensation.” That life changed radically for her right then is difficult to dispute. But Boxtel eventually embraced a road to recovery. “It took time to turn wounds into wisdom. It took guts. This is a cruel injury. It is so much more than not being able to walk,” she tells us.”

“Peter Turchin, a population dynamicist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and his colleagues set out to understand why social institutions came about when they were costly for individuals to build and maintain. “Our model says they spread because they helped societies compete against each other,” says Turchin. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.”

 

September 19, 2013

readings in psychology for 19 september 2013 @PsychScience

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 9.44.13 AM(Something a little special for my birthday last month!)

 

Here is what we are reading today:

“The work was led by Dr Caroline Goujon and Professor Mike Malim at the Department of Infectious Diseases, King’s College London. Professor Malim said: “This is an extremely exciting finding which advances our understanding of how HIV virus interacts with the immune system and opens up opportunities to develop new therapies to treat the disease. Until now we knew very little about the MX2 gene, but now we recognise both its potent anti-viral function and a key point of vulnerability in the life cycle of HIV.”

“Beluga whales at an aquarium near Tokyo are learning how to paint pictures as part of an autumn art programme for visitors, an official said Wednesday.

The sea creatures at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama will be showing off their skills with specially adapted paintbrushes that they can hold in their mouths, a spokeswoman for the aquarium said.”

“Simon said that the team also noted that the children’s social deficits might be more a function of their developmental delay and intellectual disability than autism.

“If you put them with their younger siblings’ friends they function very well in a social setting,” Simon continued, “and they interact well with an adult who accommodates their expectations for social interaction.”

Angkustsiri said that further study is needed to assess more appropriate treatments for children with 22q, such as improving their communication skills, treating their anxiety, helping them to remain focused and on task.”

“Social behaviours in species as diverse as honey bees and humans promote group survival but often come at some cost to the individual. Although reinforcement of adaptive social interactions is ostensibly required for the evolutionary persistence of these behaviours, the neural mechanisms by which social reward is encoded by the brain are largely unknown.”

“Women at peak fertility tend to have a stronger preference for sexually desirable men, many past studies have shown. An open question, however, is whether these variations affect women’s long-term relationships. Psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles, gave 65 women in committed relationships a questionnaire to assess their feelings about their partnerships at different times of the month. Results indicate that on high-fertility days, women who considered their partners less sexually desirable felt less close to them and were more critical of their faults.”

“The study—the first to provide biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds—has significant implications for reading, according to Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.”

“”We may have found an anatomical marker for chronic pain in the brain,” said Vania Apkarian, Ph.D., a senior author of the study and professor of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Chronic pain affects nearly 100 million Americans and costs the United States up to $635 billion per year to treat. According to the Institute of Medicine, an independent research organization, chronic pain affects a growing number of people.”

  1. cell aging

“”Our genes, and our telomeres, are not necessarily our fate,” said lead author Dean Ornish, MD, UCSF clinical professor of medicine, and founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

“So often people think ‘Oh, I have bad genes, there’s nothing I can do about it,’” Ornish said. “But these findings indicate that telomeres may lengthen to the degree that people change how they live. Research indicates that longer telomeres are associated with fewer illnesses and longer life.”"

Megan E. Patrick, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the prevalence and predictors of binge drinking (five or more drinks) and extreme binge drinking (10 or more and 15 or more drinks in a row) in nationally representative sample of 16,332 high school seniors (52.3 percent female, 64.5 percent white, 11 percent black, 13.1 percent Hispanic and 11.5 percent of other race/ethnicity). A drink was defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler, a mixed drink or a shot glass of liquor.

“Now, in a just-published paper, they have shown, in a series of four studies, that individuals behave more selfishly when interacting with men with wider faces and this selfish behavior elicits selfish behavior in others.

“This clearly shows that this behavior is also socially driven, not just biologically driven,” said Michael P. Haselhuhn, an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside’s School of Business Administration, who is the lead author of the paper.

He co-authored the paper with Elaine M. Wong, also an assistant professor of management at UC Riverside, and Margaret E. Ormiston, an assistant professor of organisational behavior at London Business School. The paper, “Self-Fulfilling Prophecies as a Link between Men’s Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and Behavior,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE.”

 

September 7, 2013

readings in psychology for 7 september 2013 @PsychScience

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 9.10.04 AM

Visiting with our daughter Karen. I had a chance to see how she teaches Social Media at the University of Louisville, see the 8th ranked Cardinals win at football and actually place some bets on the horses at Churchill downs!

Here is what I am reading today:

“”We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the ‘perfect storm’ with regard to shopping and food purchasing — leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases,” said first author Colin Chapman, MSc, of Uppsala University.”

What would happen if these two sets of microbes got mixed up in the gut, the researchers wondered. Led by microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon and graduate student Vanessa Ridaura, the team took advantage of one of the rodents’ least endearing habits: They eat each other’s poop. After letting this happen, the researchers discovered that microbes from the lean twins seemed to be particularly good at taking hold in the gut ecosystems of the mice that started with obesity-associated microbes.

“”The finding is a powerful example of how plastic the older brain is,” said Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, UCSF associate professor of neurology, physiology and psychiatry and director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center. Gazzaley co-founded the company, Akili Interactive Labs, which is developing the next generation of the video game.”

“What happens when you tell a lie? Set aside your ethical concerns for a moment—after all, lying is a habit we practice with astonishing dexterity and frequency, whether we realize it or not. What goes on in your brain when you willfully deceive someone? And what happens later, when you attempt to access the memory of your deceit? How you remember a lie may be impacted profoundly by how you lie, according to a new study by LSU Associate Professor Sean Lane and former graduate student Kathleen Vieria.”

“In the current study, Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, measured gene activity in oligodendrocytes from mice that slept or were forced to stay awake. The group found that genes promoting myelin formation were turned on during sleep. In contrast, the genes implicated in cell death and the cellular stress response were turned on when the animals stayed awake.

“These findings hint at how sleep or lack of sleep might repair or damage the brain,” said Mehdi Tafti, PhD, who studies sleep at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and was not involved with this study.”

“After someone betrays you, do you continue to trust the betrayer? Your answer depends on the length of the relationship, according to research by sociologist Karen Cook of Stanford University and her colleagues. The researchers found that those who have been deceived early in a relationship use regions of the brain associated with controlled, careful decision making when deciding if they should continue to trust the person who deceived them. However, those betrayed later in a relationship use areas of the brain associated with automatic, habitual decision making, increasing the likelihood of forgiveness. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

September 3, 2013

readings in psychology for 3 september 2013 @PsychScience

This is just what I wanted for my birthday lunch! It is a South African Curry dish of shrimp on saffron rice. Simple and delicious!

This is just what I wanted for my birthday lunch! It is a South African Curry dish of shrimp on saffron rice. Simple and delicious!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Unlike ancient bones and stone tools, language does not fossilize. Researchers have to guess about its origins based on proxy indicators. Does painting cave walls indicate the capacity for language? How about the ability to make a fancy tool? Yet, in recent years, scientists have made some progress. A series of brain imaging studies by Dietrich Stout, an archaeologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and Thierry Chaminade, a cognitive neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille University in France, have shown that toolmaking and language use similar parts of the brain, including regions involved in manual manipulations and speech production. Moreover, the overlap is greater the more sophisticated the toolmaking techniques are.”

“”This is a case of a science fiction sounding idea becoming science fact, with strong potential for positive impact on patients,” said Guillermo Aguilar, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE).

Aguilar is part of 10-person team, comprised of faculty, graduate students and researchers from UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering and School of Medicine, who recently published a paper “Transparent Nanocrystalline Yttria-Stabilized-Zirconia Calvarium Prosthesis” about their findings online in the journalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.”

“Prof Delijanin Ilic, the lead investigator, from the Institute of Cardiology, University of Nis, Serbia, said: “When we listen to music we like then endorphins are released from the brain and this improves our vascular health. There is no ‘best music’ for everyone – what matters is what the person likes and makes them happy.”

She said other studies examining the impact of music suggested there might be some types of music which were less good for the heart – with heavy metal more likely to raise stress levels, while opera, classical and other types of ‘joyful’ music were more likely to stimulate endorphins.”

“Connected at UNU-BIOLAC workshops in Montevideo, Uruguayan chemistry professor Francisco Carrau and scientist Massimo Delledonne of Italy recently collaborated on sequencing the Tannat grape, pressings of which, thanks partly to its many seeds, produces the largest concentration of tannins — an anti-oxidant that combats the ageing of cells.

Wines made from the Tannat are known as the most healthy of red wines due to their high levels of procyanidins, said to be good for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and encouraging healthy blood clotting.”

“”The lawsuit is not a scientific issue, it’s a legal and political issue,” Randolph said. “There is absolutely no credible scientific data to suggest an increase of neurological risk from playing professional football.”

Under the tentative settlement, the NFL would pay up to $5 million for each player who has Alzheimer’s disease and up to $4 million for each death from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). But a recent study by Randolph and colleagues of retired NFL football players found no evidence that CTE even exists. The study was published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.”

“Timothy J. Hatton, Professor of Economics at the University of Essex and the Research School of Economics at Australian National University in Canberra, examined and analysed a new dataset for the average height (at the age of around 21) of adult male birth cohorts, from the 1870s to 1980, in fifteen European countries. The data were drawn from a variety of sources. For the most recent decades the data were mainly taken from height-by-age in cross sectional surveys. Meanwhile, observations for the earlier years were based on data for the heights of military conscripts and recruits. The data is for men only as the historical evidence for women’s heights is severely limited.”

“Like humans, Drosophila fruitflies become forgetful with age.

But at least their memory deficits can be reversed by eating a diet rich in polyamines, according to a study published online today1 in Nature Neuroscience.

“There’s a great need for cognitive enhancers to keep us healthy into old age — now polyamines are offering a new approach,” says learning and memory specialist Ronald Davis at the Scripps Research Institute Florida in Jupiter, who was not involved in the study. “There are reasons for optimism that this fly work will translate into human.”

“Our reputation is important to us; we’ve experienced natural selection to care about our reputation. Recently, the neural processing of gains in reputation (positive social feedback concerning one’s character) has been shown to occur in the human ventral striatum. It is still unclear, however, how individual differences in the processing of gains in reputation may lead to individual differences in real-world behavior.”

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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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