Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

April 29, 2011

readings in psychology

Karla does love to color eggs every year! Can you see the one representing a video game of hers?

Here is what I am reading today:

“The ability to discriminate spontaneous from planned (rehearsed) behaviour is important when inferring others’ intentions in everyday situations, for example, when judging whether someone’s behaviour is calculated and intended to deceive. In order to examine such basic mechanisms of social abilities in controlled settings, Peter Keller, head of the research group “Music Cognition and Action” at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig and his research associate Annerose Engel investigate musical constellations ranging from solos and duos to large musical ensembles. In a recent study, they investigated the brain activity of jazz musicians while these musicians listened to short excerpts of improvised melodies or rehearsed versions of the same melodies. The listeners judged whether each heard melody was improvised.”

“The findings, reported April 28 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, are based on a genetic analysis of in one Turkish family and two Pakistani families with offspring born with the most severe form of microcephaly. The children have brains just 10 percent of normal size. They also lacked the normal cortical architecture that is a hallmark of the human brain. This combination of factors has not been seen in other genes associated with the development of the human brain, the authors note.”

“Artists and engineers have come together to demonstrate that digital technology can be romantic as well as practical.”

“Our own social status influences the way our brains respond to others of higher or lower rank, according to a new study reported online on April 28 in Current Biology. People of higher subjective socioeconomic status show greater brain activity in response to other high-ranked individuals, while those with lower status have a greater response to other low-status individuals.”

“Neurocuisine is a blog about the neuroscience behind the dining experience, from cooking to eating. The author refers to the primary scientific literature to try and answer some interesting questions about our daily encounters with food. What happens in our brain when we come across a new flavor? What goes on the brain of a chef during the creative process? What are the psychological processes involved when rating a dining experience? Is our diet related to the onset of certain diseases? Does chocolate realy help with depression?”

April 28, 2011

readings in psychology for april 28th 2011

Kristin and Sushi

My daughter Kristin will be receiving her second Masters next month and here she is enjoying her first sushi. I really don't think this was but a few days ago.

Here is what I am reading today:

“Family life remains highly satisfying for most Americans. Three-quarters are very satisfied with their family life, and 19% are somewhat satisfied. Fewer than one-in-ten (6%) are dissatisfied with this aspect of their life. In general, family life is considered more satisfying than social life, community life or career. And there doesn’t seem to be much yearning for the good ol’ days. Survey respondents say their families today are at least as close as the families in which they grew up. When asked to make this comparison, 40% say their family today is closer, 45% say it’s about the same and 14% say their family is less close now than when they were growing up. Similarly, among respondents who are married or living with a partner, half (51%) say they have a closer relationship with their spouse or partner than their parents had with each other. An additional 43% say their relationship is about the same as their parents’ relationship. Only 5% describe their relationship with their spouse or partner as less close.”

“The battle of the sexes has just heated up—in dogs. A new study finds that when a ball appears to magically change size in front of their eyes, female dogs notice but males don’t. The researchers aren’t sure what’s behind the disparity, but experts say the finding supports the idea that—in some situations—male dogs trust their noses, whereas females trust their eyes.”

“Right-handedness reaches back a half million years in the human evolutionary family, at least if scratched-up fossil teeth have anything to say about it.”

“Recovering addicts are often told to avoid the people, places, and things connected with their addiction—tried-and-true advice that may be gaining support from neuroscience. A view widely accepted among addiction researchers is that drug abuse can cause the brain to form persistent, enduring associations between a drug and the environment in which it is purchased and consumed. These mental ties represent a subconscious form of learning and contribute to the tenacious grip of addictions.”

April 26, 2011

readings in psychology for april 26th 2011


We love technology around our house! We finally got the entire family switched over to iPhones!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Kids who score higher on IQ tests will, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life: academic achievement, economic success, even greater health, and longevity. Is that because they are more intelligent? Not necessarily. New research concludes that IQ scores are partly a measure of how motivated a child is to do well on the test. And harnessing that motivation might be as important to later success as so-called native intelligence.”

“Functional MRI images were obtained while current smokers, former smokers and never smokers performed tasks designed to assess specific cognitive skills that were reasoned to be important for smoking abstinence. These included a response inhibition task to assess impulse control and the ability to monitor one’s behavior and an attention task which assessed the ability to avoid distraction from smoking-related images, which tend to elicit an automatic attention response in smokers.”

“In a commentary article released ahead of the print version in the April 19, 2011 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, physicians affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center cite data noting that in 2007 unintentional deaths due to prescription opioid pain killers were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.”

“But men actually are more likely to utter those three loaded little words first, and men admit thinking about confessing love six weeks earlier than their female partners, according to an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.”

April 25, 2011

readings in psychology for april 25th 2011

Filed under: a current story,Biological Psychology,General Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 2:56 pm

My daughter Karen and her friend Monica's Baklava Cheesecake!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Recent crowd disasters, such as those seen in 2006 during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and in 2010 at the Love Parade in Duisburg, have underlined the need to better understand what determines the collective behavior of crowds. In a study published in PNAS on 18 April, scientists from CNRS and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Zurich managed to simulate collective movements resulting from interactions between pedestrians within a crowd. Their work enables them to predict potentially dangerous situations and to propose a regulation of movements in the event of a proven risk.”

“Engineering researchers the University of Southern California have made a significant breakthrough in the use of nanotechnologies for the construction of a synthetic brain. They have built a carbon nanotube synapse circuit whose behavior in tests reproduces the function of a neuron, the building block of the brain.”

“People may advise you to listen to your gut instincts: now research suggests that your gut may have more impact on your thoughts than you ever realized. Scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Genome Institute of Singapore led by Sven Pettersson recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that normal gut flora, the bacteria that inhabit our intestines, have a significant impact on brain development and subsequent adult behavior.”

“Zhenzhen Zhang from the Department of Epidemiology at Michigan State University and his colleagues decided to Meta-analyze and systemically review previous studies. They searched electronic records from MEDLINE, EMBASE, Agricola, and Cochrane Library and gathered information from six previous studies that had followed coffee drinkers over long periods of time, some as long as 33 years.”

“Based on the study results, Europeans who described themselves as being “very happy” went from 28 percent down to 23 percent as their work hours increased. Americans, on the other hand, remained at 43 percent regardless of how many hours they worked.”

“The romantic relationships of active Twitter users apparently don’t last as long as the rest of the population.

Dating trends website OKCupid studied more than 800,000 of its users. The study showed people who use Twitter every day tend to have shorter relationships. And the problem gets worse as the person gets older.”

April 22, 2011

readings in psychology for april 22 2011

Here is what I am reading today:

“Those childhood music lessons could pay off decades later – even for those who no longer play an instrument – by keeping the mind sharper as people age, according to a preliminary study published by the American Psychological Association.

The study recruited 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 who were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience. The musicians performed better on several cognitive tests than individuals who had never studied an instrument or learned how to read music. The research findings were published online in the APA journal Neuropsychology.”

“A new study from The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry finds that mothers who feed their babies breast milk exclusively, as opposed to formula, are more likely to bond emotionally with their child during the first few months after delivery. The breastfeeding mothers surveyed for the study showed greater responses to their infant’s cry in brain regions related to caregiving behavior and empathy than mothers who relied upon formula as the baby’s main food source.”

“In a new study suggesting pesticides may be associated with the health and development of children, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health have found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides — widely used on food crops — is related to lower intelligence scores at age 7.”

“The happiest countries and happiest U.S. states tend to have the highest suicide rates, according to research from the UK’s University of Warwick, Hamilton College in New York and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.”

“Jean Meyer gets compared to Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook, quite a lot these days; and he doesn’t mind one bit. Meyer is a business student at Columbia University and the co-founder of “Date My School” a dating website exclusively for students of certain colleges.

Meyer originally launched “Date My School” at Columbia, but has also launched the site for New York University, Fashion Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley, too. In April the site will go live at Harvard and MIT.”

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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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