Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

March 27, 2012

readings in psychology for 27 march 2012

San Luis Obispo, California

What I am reading today:

“Exactly why this happens is unclear. But new research led by neuroscientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine may have literally shined a light on the answer, one that could lead to the discovery of new mental health therapies. A report of the study appears March 22 in the journal Neuron.”

“This result when watching such a formal dance as ballet is striking in comparison to the similar enhanced response the authors found in empathic observers when watching an Indian dance rich in hand gestures. This is important because it shows that motor expertise in the movements observed is not required to have enhanced neural motor responses when just watching dance performances.

The authors suggest that spectators covertly simulate the dance movements for styles that they regularly watch, causing the increased corticospinal excitability.”

“There are no acknowledged biomarkers for autism today. Researchers at Berzelii Centre and the Science for Life Laboratory in Uppsala who, in collaboration with colleagues at Linnaeus University in Sweden and the Faculty of Medicine in Tehran, Iran, who have discovered some promising biomarkers.”

“In the 1930s, the psychologist B. F. Skinner devised the operant conditioning chamber, or “Skinner box,” in which a lever press by an animal triggered either a reinforcing stimulus, such as delivery of food or water, or a punishing stimulus, such as a painful foot shock. Rats placed in a Skinner box will rapidly learn to press a lever for a food reward and to avoid pressing a lever that delivers the shock. “

 

March 22, 2012

readings in psychology for 22 march 2012

Do you know where this is? Disney World's Grand Floridian! woo-hoo!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele (left) and Randy Blakely pose at the entrance to the Vanderbilt Laboratory for Neurobehavior, where their studies in mice have revealed a clue to autism. Credit: Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt University”

“According to a recent pilot study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, group cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered via video teleconferencing is a safe, feasible, and effective treatment for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants in the current study included 13 veterans diagnosed with PTSD at VA clinics in the Hawaiian Islands; each was randomly assigned to receive group cognitive processing therapy (a form of cognitive behavior therapy originally developed by Patricia Resick, Ph.D.) in an in-person therapy group or video teleconferencing therapy group. According to results, both groups displayed reductions in PTSD symptoms, without between-group differences on process outcome variables. In addition, participants in each group expressed high levels of treatment credibility, satisfaction with treatment, and homework adherence. A full randomized control trial (RCT) is currently underway to more rigorously evaluate the clinical effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy delivered via video teleconferencing.”

“A new study by researchers including Bosco Tjan of psychology suggests that facial recognition hinges on recognizing the face’s features more than the “holistic” picture they add up to create.”

“Researchers from Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg have shown that nanocellulose stimulates the formation of neural networks. This is the first step toward creating a three-dimensional model of the brain. Such a model could elevate brain research to totally new levels, with regard to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, for example.”

“Distinct patterns of activity — which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants– appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face — even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan.”

“Just like a road atlas faithfully maps real-word locations, our brain maps many aspects of our physical world: Sensory inputs from our fingers are mapped next to each other in the somatosensory cortex; the auditory system is organized by sound frequency; and the various tastes are signaled in different parts of the gustatory cortex.”

“Word extinction. The English word “Roentgenogram” derives from the Nobel prize winning scientist and discoverer of the X-ray, Wilhelm Röntgen (1845-1923). The prevalence of this word was quickly challenged by two main competitors, “X-ray” (recorded as “Xray” in the database) and “Radiogram.””

“Hidden in the landscape of the fertile crescent of the Middle East, scientists say, lurk overlooked networks of small settlements that hold vital clues to ancient civilizations.”

“”Scans of the brain’s tissue composition, wiring, and activity produced converging evidence of genetically-caused abnormalities in the structure and function of the front part of the insula and in its connectivity to other brain areas in the circuit,” explained Karen Berman, M.D., of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).”

“”Epidemiologic findings suggest that the type of anesthesia we do for cancer surgery influences recurrence rate, and laboratory studies demonstrate that opioids influence tumor progression and metastasis,” said Jonathan Moss, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Chicago Medicine and co-author of the commentary, a summary of research on the topic. “

“What characterizes many people with depression, schizophrenia and some other mental illnesses is anhedonia: an inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences.”

 

March 17, 2012

readings in psychology for 17 march 2012

John Cacioppo’s and my new textbook! (Click on the picture to read more)

Here is what I am reading today:

“”This is the first experimental evidence that fetal exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cellular telephones does in fact affect adult behavior,” said senior author Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.”

“If there’s supposed to be a stigma attached to living with mom and dad through one’s late twenties or early thirties, today’s “boomerang generation” didn’t get that memo. Among the three-in-ten young adults ages 25 to 34 (29%) who’ve been in that situation during the rough economy of recent years, large majorities say they’re satisfied with their living arrangements (78%) and upbeat about their future finances (77%).”

“The administered doses of MEHP, the chemical that results when animals metabolize the industrial phthalate DEHP, were much higher than any normal environmental exposure that people or animals would encounter, said Mary Hixon, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine (research) in The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a study co-author.

“For these doses, you’d have to be eating the plastic or drinking the plastic,” she said. “The real risk is probably minimal for most people.”

But when toxicologists set out to determine the effect of a chemical on an organism, they often start with atypically high doses and work their way down to the levels where any adverse effects disappear. Until now, no one had done such a study on the effects of expo”

“The UCSF-led team made its discovery by studying the impact of smoke on human embryonic stem cellsas they differentiated, or specialized into various cell types, in the culture dish.

They determined that both nicotine and non-nicotine components of tobacco smoke impede the cells from specializing into a broad range of cell types, including those of the blood, heart, musculoskeletal systems and brain.”

“According to research at the Alcohol and Substance Use Research Institute at the University of South Florida, alcohol use by college students follows seasonal patterns.

Consumption peaks during holidays, such as Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with the biggest peak of all being spring break week.

“Spring break is a holiday defined by drinking,” said Richard Reich, a researcher at the institute and assistant professor of psychology at USF Sarasota-Manatee.”

 

March 13, 2012

readings in psycholgy for 13 March 2012

This is what I am reading today:

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown — by each of a range of measures, in men and women of all ages, in Caucasians and minorities — that consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFAs) is associated with irritability and aggression.”

“Scientists have gained insight into why lithium salts are effective at treating bipolar disorder in what could lead to more targeted therapies with fewer side-effects.”

“Studies show that maintaining routines and exercise helps reduce stress. Lemon Tree Inn of Naples, Florida and Hotel Caravelle of St Croix, US Virgin Islands offer discounts to local yoga studios to help guests continue routines, relax and unwind.”

“Sometime college dorm rooms make for strange bedfellows. Such was the case for Lindsay Blankmeyer, a former student at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., who filed a suit against the school claiming that her roommate’s alleged inappropriate sexual behavior drove her into a deep depression.”

“Every year, thousands of teens and young adults celebrate Spring Break by drinking large amounts of alcohol — binge drinking — a dangerous right-of-passage for some and one linked to possible brain damage later as adults, says an expert.”

“How do neurons in the brain communicate with each other? One common theory suggests that individual cells do not exchange signals among each other, but rather that exchange takes place between groups of cells. Researchers from Japan, the United States and Germany have now developed a mathematical model that can be used to test this assumption. Their results have been published in the current issue of the journal “PLoS Computational Biology.””

 

March 10, 2012

readings in psychology for 10 March 2012

Roger and me enjoying a fun time in Laguna Beach, California

Here is what I am reading today:

“How do we recognize a face? To date, most research has answered “holistically”: We look at all the features — eyes, nose, mouth — simultaneously and, perceiving the relationships among them, gain an advantage over taking in each feature individually. Now a new study overturns this theory. The researchers — Jason M. Gold and Patrick J. Mundy of the Indiana University and Bosco S. Tjan of the University of California Los Angeles — found that people’s performance in recognizing a whole face is no better than their performance with each individual feature shown alone. “Surprisingly, the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts,” says Gold. The findings appear in the journal Psychological Science, which is published by the Association for Psychological Science.”

“UT Southwestern Medical Center investigators have identified a genetic manipulation that increases the development of neurons in the brain during aging and enhances the effect of antidepressant drugs.”

“A new study in Science suggests that thrill-seeking is not limited to humans and other vertebrates. Some honey bees, too, are more likely than others to seek adventure. The brains of these novelty-seeking bees exhibit distinct patterns of gene activity in molecular pathways known to be associated with thrill-seeking in humans, researchers report.”

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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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