Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

September 27, 2011

readings in psychology for 27th September 2011

Two of our daughters birthdays sre coming up: Karen (Sept. 29th) and Kristin (Sept. 30th)! Happy Birthday!

Here is what I am reading today:

“A few cups of coffee a day may help keep the blues at bay. According to a large new study, women who drink caffeinated coffee are less likely to become depressed — and the more they drink, the more their risk of depression goes down.”

“hough not very well known in the United States, at least until the past few years, the miracle fruit is a cranberry like fruit that has the unique property of being able to make acidic or bitter foods taste sweet. And while the protein that makes this possible has been known for quite a while, just how exactly it did its trick has been a mystery; until now. A team of Japanese and French researchers working together have solved the puzzle and have published the results of their efforts in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“Perception of race is altered by cues as simple as the clothes worn. Researchers at Tufts University, Stanford and University of California, Irvine found that computerized faces accompanied by business attire were more likely to be seen as white, whereas faces with blue-collar attire were more likely to be seen as black. More subtle evidence of bias was revealed by a novel-mouse tracking technique that recorded participants’ hand movements while using a computer mouse to choose a racial category. Even when participants ultimately decided that a face with low-status attire was white or a face with high-status attire was black, they were still drawn to the other race that was stereotypically tied to the status cue and moved the mouse slightly closer to that response before making their final decision. “

September 25, 2011

readings in psychology for 25th September 2011

CLICK on the picture for the wonderful recipe!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Humans live in a world of uncertainty. A shadowy figure on the sidewalk ahead could be a friend or a mugger. By flooring your car’s accelerator, you might beat the train to the intersection, or maybe not. Last week’s leftover kung pao chicken could bring another night of gustatory delight or gut agony.

People’s paltry senses can’t always capture what’s real. Luckily, though, the human brain is pretty good at playing the odds. Thanks to the brain’s intuitive grasp of probabilities, it can handle imperfect information with aplomb.”

“A meticulous study has failed to confirm a connection between chronic fatigue syndrome and a family of viruses that includes XMRV. Nine laboratories — including the two that originally identified a link — could not reliably detect the viruses in blood cells from patients with the mysterious and controversial condition, researchers report online September 22 in Science.”

“Recognizing relations between relations is what analogy is all about. What lies behind this ability? Is it uniquely human? A study carried out by Joël Fagot of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (CNRS/Université de Provence) and Roger Thompson of the Franklin & Marshall College (United States) has shown that monkeys are capable of making analogies.”

“Throughout history, science and religion have appeared as being in perpetual conflict, but a new study by Rice University suggests that only a minority of scientists at major research universities see religion and science as requiring distinct boundaries.”

“Here’s a second video, said to be shot from a backyard in Blaine, Washington and claiming to be the satellite, but this one looks to us and to many others like a Chinese lantern. However, the voices on the video are certainly convinced they’re witnessing a fiery reentry”

“Whether you’re cooking a gourmet meal, ordering food from your favorite take-out place or eating on the go, rest assured that what your kids really want during dinnertime is YOU! Family meals are the perfect time to talk to your kids and to listen to what’s on their mind.  “

September 22, 2011

readings in psychology for 22nd september 2011

death before decaf

Dilbert has always amused me and this strip hangs on a bulletin board outside my office!

Here is what I am readng today:

“Research led by Dwayne Jackson of the Departments of Medical biophysics and Biomedical Engineering has identified a particular neurotransmitter released in response to stress, that stimulates both cancer cell growth and migration in breast cancer.

Working with Ph.D candidate Philip Medeiros, Jackson looked at a branch of the nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, and how it “talks” to cells in various organs throughout the body. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, like it is during stress, it communicates with receptors on cells through the release of neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and neuropeptide Y or NPY. This is a normal response that prepares the body for “fight or flight”.”

“The study, co-authored by University of Texas at Austin psychologist Todd Maddox, found older adults, at least 60 years old, are better at strategizing their decisions than those in their late teens and early 20s, who tend to focus on instant gratification.

Findings from the study, led by Darrell Worthy, professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, will be published in Psychological Science. 
Collaborators on the study include University of Texas psychologists David Schnyer, Jennifer Pacheco and Marissa Gorlick.

Contradicting negative stereotypes of age and reasoning ability, the results show that the wisdom that comes with age can allow people to make better decisions under some conditions. Maddox says the study gives insight into the decision-making process, which will help researchers learn more about the effects of aging in the brain.”

“Over the past couple of decades, many people in and out of the science community have watched the steady progress being made in robotics. It’s an exceptionally interesting field due to the anthropomorphic nature of the results. Each new step brings such machines closer to emulating us even as we look forward to the next step. One interesting thing about robotics is that certain areas seem to be advancing faster than others. Robot arms for example are old news, new research is focused more on hand movements. And has advances in hand movements have been made, more research has come to focus on finger movements and finally tactile sensations. Now new work by a trio of researches from the National University of Singapore describe in their paper published on the preprint server arXiv, how affixing artificial fingerprints to robot fingers can increase tactile “sensation” allowing such a robot to discern the differences in curvature of objects.”


September 20, 2011

readings in psychology for 20th september 2011

Here is what I am reading today:

“Online daters are reluctant to use partisan politics to attract a potential mate, according to new research co-authored by Brown political scientist Rose McDermott. The study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, shows that singles are more likely to admit they are overweight on their online dating profiles than to say they are politically liberal or conservative.”

“For decades, researchers have observed that, on average, firstborns score higher on intelligence tests than their later-born siblings. The further down a child is in birth order rank, the lower his or her IQ compared to older siblings.This is nothing I’d brag about. I think it inspires resentment and eye-rolling among later-borns. (Not to mention that intelligence tests and what they really measure are a controversial bugaboo.  But let’s put that aside for now.)  There’s no obvious reason for the difference in test scores because siblings often have the same parents and grow up in the same family environment. “

“Rambunctious one-year-old Teco, a third-generation captive-born bonobo at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, has an ape’s usual fondness for games and grapes. But perhaps because of trauma from a difficult birth (his mother was in labor for 60 hours) or a genetic predisposition, Teco is different from his bonobo peers in ways that resemble autism in young children. He could not cling to his mother or nurse the way healthy young apes do instinctively, mimicking the aversion to physical contact seen in children with autism. Teco also tends to fixate on shiny objects and avoids eye contact, and he has trouble coordinating his four limbs. A genetic analysis of bonobos, already under way, may shed light on Teco’s condition and offer new perspectives on autism’s genetic roots in humans.”

“A study led by Andrew Gallup, a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is the first involving humans to show that yawning frequency varies with the season and that people are less likely to yawn when the heat outdoors exceeds body temperature. Gallup and his co-author Omar Eldakar, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Arizona’s Center for Insect Science, report this month in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience that this seasonal disparity indicates that yawning could serve as a method for …”


September 17, 2011

readings in psychology for september 17th 2011

Here is an interesting game I was given that I hope I have a chance to play!

My reading for today:

“Lonely gamers who have felt the pain of being separated by a screen from their favorite personalities now have a way to reach out and touch their game characters, and that new way is RePro3D. A group of researchers from Keio University in Japan have come up with a 3-D screen that lets the user, glasses-free, see and “touch” characters on the screen. The word “touch” is in quotes because the technology is about a 3-D parallax display with infrared camera that recognizes the movements of the user’s hand and the character on the screen reacts to the movements instantly. “

“A “hidden” code linked to the DNA of plants allows them to develop and pass down new biological traits far more rapidly than previously thought, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.”

“Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin 5 times more than exposure to the light of High Pressure Sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light. “Just as there are regulations and standards for ‘classic’ pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for the pollution stemming from artificial light at night,” says Prof. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa.”

“Soon a simple blood test will be able to tell newly pregnant women if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome – raising the prospect, and perhaps peril, of a world with fewer imperfections.”

“A video game fan delivered one of the most unusual proposals ever – by contacting the creators of his favourite game, and asking them to create a  a ‘proposal’ delivered by an evil artificial intelligence from the far future. Designer Gary Hudston, from Preston, Lancashire, contacted the makers of Portal 2, who recorded a proposal from the voice actor of a lethal robot who attempts to kill the player using lasers and other traps.

The 23-year-old then asked photographer girlfriend Stephanie Harbeson to play three hand-built levels – one of which looked like a wedding chapel – until a ring appeared on screen, and the evil robot popped the question.”


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It is not a lack of love,
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-------- Nietzsche

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