Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

January 31, 2012

a NEW way to Teach & think about Psychology!

CLICK on the above picture to listen to my brief 10 minute interview .

John Cacioppo and I are proud to introduce our new textbook:

Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind. ( March 2012)

CLICK to visit my web pages on our revolutionary new approach to understanding and teaching Psychological Science

This is not your typical ‘modular’ textbook that treats each topic
as a separate, stand-alone unit.

In the spirit of the great American psychologist William James, our
textbook integrates the formerly disparate fields of psychology into an
interrelated, breathing and living discipline. Just as we struggle to
understand the nature of our being, we also study the ways we are
nurtured and how this interaction of nature and nurture changes
over time. We discuss how psychology is also one of the “hub
sciences”–a major contributor to human knowledge and to our
understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Here is how our publisher describes a recorded webinar with John
Cacioppo in which he discusses this new approach:

“We’d like to invite you to view author John Cacioppo’s recorded
webinar on:

The Discipline of Psychology: How it’s changing,
and implications for how psychology is now taught.

Join us!



(available: March 2012)

psychology for 31 January 2012

Chance are that if you know "Jacek' you are a SciFi fan!

Here is what I am reading today:

“… I believe it’s important for patients to know what to expect in a typical cognitive behavior therapy session, not only so they can assess the treatment they’re receiving, but also so they’re prepared for therapy and understand and agree with how treatment typically proceeds….”

“Recent research in Oxford and elsewhere has shown that one type of brain stimulation in particular, called transcranial direct current stimulation or TDCS, can be used to improve language and maths abilities, memory, problem solving, attention, even movement.

Critically, this is not just helping to restore function in those with impaired abilities. TDCS can be used to enhance healthy people’s mental capacities. Indeed, most of the research so far has been carried out in healthy adults.”

(READ the NEXT post!)

“HDCkit is a cost-effective modular system for Direct Current (DC) stimulation, designed specifically for both research and clinical use. It consists of a stimulator (HDCstim), a programmer (HDCprog) and a set of electrodes (HDCel), which also has the option of a headcap).”

“THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning. “

…”Memories in our brains are maintained by connections between neurons called “synapses”. But how do these synapses stay strong and keep memories alive for decades? Neuroscientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have discovered a major clue from a study in fruit flies: Hardy, self-copying clusters or oligomers of a synapse protein are an essential ingredient for the formation of long-term memory.”

“…The pupil is best known for changing size in reaction to light. In a dark room, your pupils open wide to let in more light; as soon as you step outside into the sunlight, the pupils shrink to pinpricks. This keeps the retina at the back of the eye from being overwhelmed by bright light. Something similar happens in response to psychological stimuli, says Bruno Laeng of the University of Oslo, who cowrote the paper with Sylvain Sirois of Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and Gustaf Gredebäck of Uppsala University in Sweden. When someone sees something they want to pay closer attention to, the pupil enlarges. It’s not clear why this happens, Laeng says. “One idea is that, by essentially enlarging the field of the visual input, it’s beneficial to visual exploration,” he says….”

““Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success,” said Asst. Prof. Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Determining how to best resist desires is not as easy as it seems, say personality and social psychologists presenting new research Jan. 27 in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.”

“On the surface, it’s simple: when night falls, our bodies get sleepy. But behind the scenes, a series of complex molecular events, controlled by our genes, is hard at work to make us groggy. Now, research suggests that a newly identified gene known as insomniac is an important reason why we don’t stay up all night. By cloning and testing this gene in fruit flies, Rockefeller University researchers say they have discovered an entirely new mechanism by which sleep is regulated.”



January 26, 2012

readings in psychology for 26 January 2012

"Push On! You can rest when you are dead!" -- famed textbook author

Here is what I am reading today:

“Brain scans of people under the influence of the psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, have given scientists the most detailed picture to date of how psychedelic drugs work. The findings of two studies being published in scientific journals this week identify areas of the brain where activity is suppressed by psilocybin and suggest that it helps people to experience memories more vividly.”

“A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, provides even more reason for people to read a book or do a puzzle, and to make such activities a lifetime habit.”

“Getting an autism diagnosis could be more difficult in 2013 when a revised diagnostic definition goes into effect. The proposed changes may affect the proportion of individuals who qualify for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, according to preliminary data presented by Yale School of Medicine researchers at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association.”

“A simple program involving color-coded food labeling and adjusting the way food items are positioned in display cases was successful in encouraging more healthful food choices in a large hospital cafeteria. The report from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers will appear in the March American Journal of Public Health and has received early online release.”

“Research has found that small-group dynamics — such as jury deliberations, collective bargaining sessions, and cocktail parties — can alter the expression of IQ in some susceptible people.”

“The Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual Student and Faculty Scholarship Competition. The Beck Institute will award 10 recipients (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, and faculty in psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, and counseling) with full tuition scholarships to our 3-day Student and Faculty Workshop, in Philadelphia, PA, on August 13 – 15, 2012.”

“Researchers from the University of California have found that negative social interactions can cause internal inflammation that may over time lead to possible health consequences. In the study, the results of which the team has published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team writes that stressful events can lead to increased production of cytokines, molecules that are produced when inflammation occurs.”

January 23, 2012

UPDATES in psychology for 23 January 2012

Dr. Freberg and Dr. Freberg 2.0

As my daughter Karen often quips," Dr. Freberg and Dr. Freberg 2.0"

Here is what I am reading today:

“A program designed to boost cognition in older adults also increased their openness to new experiences, researchers report, demonstrating for the first time that a non-drug intervention in older adults can change a personality trait once thought to be fixed throughout the lifespan.”

“The hippocampus is an important brain structure for recollection memory, the type of memory we use for detailed reliving of past events. Now, new research published by Cell Press in the December 22 issue of the journal Neuron reveals characteristics of the human hippocampus that allow scientists to use anatomical brain scans to form predictions about an individual’s recollection ability. The new research helps to explain why this relationship has been hard to find in the past and provides evidence for a possible underlying mechanism.”

“People with dyslexia often struggle with the ability to accurately decode and identify what they read. Although disrupted processing of speech sounds has been implicated in the underlying pathology of dyslexia, the basis of this disruption and how it interferes with reading comprehension has not been fully explained. Now, new research published by Cell Press in the December 22 issue of the journal Neuron finds that a specific abnormality in the processing of auditory signals accounts for the main symptoms of dyslexia.”

“A canine chorus barks a familiar tune. Keep an eye out for our 2012 Game Day commercial—it will all make sense. Love Star Wars and Volkswagen? Create an Intergalactic Invite to your Big Game party here:”

“If you’ve ever been watching a movie or attending a concert and someone’s ringtone interrupts the proceedings, you’ll appreciate this video that’s recently gone viral on YouTube. As Slovakian musician Lukáš Kmit played a beautiful piece on his viola, suddenly the obnoxious Nokia ringtone blasted through the reverie. What a wonderful reaction he had! Instead of stopping the music altogether (like what happened at a New York Philharmonic concert earlier this month when an iPhone’s “marimba” ringtone so blatantly interrupted the music that the conductor stopped the entire orchestra), Lukáš picked up on the Nokia noise, playing it more beautifully than we’ve ever heard.”

January 18, 2012

UPDATE in psychology for 18 January 2012

A nice home made Biscotti makes the afternoon perfect!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease patients may benefit from a controversial experiment that implanted microchips into lab rats. Scientists say the tests produced effective results in brain damage research.

Rats showed motor function in formerly damaged gray matter after a neural microchip was implanted under the rat’s skull and electrodes were transferred to the rat’s brain. Without the microchip, rats with damaged brain tissue did not have motor function. Both strokes and Parkinson’s can cause permanent neurological damage to brain tissue, so this scientific research brings hope.”

“”Gossip gets a bad rap, but we’re finding evidence that it plays a critical role in the maintenance of social order,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a coauthor of the study published in this month’s online issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The study also found that gossip can be therapeutic. Volunteers’ heart rates increased when they witnessed someone behaving badly, but this increase was tempered when they were able to pass on the information to alert others.”

“A chance discovery has yielded a “treasure trove” of fossils, including specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The collection, marked “unregistered fossil plants”, has been gathering dust in a gloomy corner of the British Geological Survey for more than 150 years.”

“You won’t see a blank page at on Wednesday, but the company will use its homepage to register its opposition to SOPA.

A Google spokesperson told Mashable that its homepage will include a link where users can learn more about SOPA, confirming a Bloomberg report.”

“Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA. “

“I had an epiphany today. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.”

Next Page »

Quote to Ponder

It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages
-------- Nietzsche

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