Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

November 3, 2011

readings in psychology for 3rd November 2011

This Halloween I wore my 'Slytherin" shirt holding two 'ANGRY BIRDS!'

Here is what I am reading today:

Too cute no to share

“New research from the University of Missouri indicates that at 10 months, babies start to understand another person’s thought process, providing new insights on how humans acquire knowledge and how communication develops.”

A pioneering neuroscientist reveals the reasons for loneliness and what to do about it.John T. Cacioppo’s groundbreaking research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure, and analyzing immune function, he demonstrates the overpowering influence of social context—a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrecognized syndrome—chronic loneliness—brings it out of the shadow of its cousin depression, and shows how this subjective sense of social isolation uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior, and physiology, becoming a trap that not only reinforces isolation but can also lead to early death. He gives the lie to the Hobbesian view of human nature as a “war of all against all,” and he shows how social cooperation is, in fact, humanity’s defining characteristic. Most important, he shows how we can break the trap of isolation for our benefit both as individuals and as a society.”

(BTW, I use this book as part of our readings in my Introductory Psychology Classes)

“What drives addicts to repeatedly choose drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, overeating, gambling or kleptomania, despite the risks involved? Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have pinpointed the exact locations in the brain where calculations are made that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior.”

“”It’s not just a product of very lonely individuals having poor sleep. The relationship between loneliness and restless sleep appears to operate across the range of perceived connectedness,” said lead author Lianne Kurina, PhD, of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago.”

“The use of credit scores as employment screening tools is a hotly debated topic. According to a 2010 poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of surveyed employers conducted credit checks for some or all candidates as part of the hiring process.”

“Nicotine causes changes in gene regulation that enhance the brain’s subsequent response to cocaine. The finding, in mice, provides the first clear evidence for a molecular mechanism supporting the idea of ‘gateway drugs’. “

“In the opening scene of The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg portrays a cold Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend, who is exasperated by the future Facebook founder’s socially oblivious and obsessive personality. Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg is the stereotypical Silicon Valley geek — brilliant with technology, pathologically bereft of social graces. Or, in the parlance of the Valley: ‘on the spectrum’.”

22 Responses to “readings in psychology for 3rd November 2011”

  1. giulianna.riso Says:

    The clues to the addicted brain was very interesting to read! I will definitely try to stay updated with this study. So many people are affected by addiction, so these findings will help a lot of people once treatment options can be better planned and executed. It will be very interesting to see where these research findings will head!

  2. Rssolomo Says:

    I found the article on sleep and loneliness extremely relevant to what we are learning in class right now. It is amazing to me the impact sleep and sleep deprivation can have on a person’s health and sociableness. I do not think many people, especially college students, realize the significance of getting enough sleep. This article provided good support however its lack of solution caused me to ask many questions. If a person has continued fragmented sleep, would socializing fix this problem? Or would medications be needed? Similarly, can one night of fragmented sleep be associated with loneliness or does it have to be continuous over a certain amount of time? I will definitely place sleep higher on my list of priorities after reading this article and learning about it in class.

  3. Rssolomo Says:

    The human brain is truly extraordinary and the study on babies processing the thought process of others just proves it. Before taking biopsychology, I had no idea how complex and capable the human brain is. I found the study described in the article interesting, yet questionable. There is no real way to confirm the hypothesis that babies understand other people’s thought processes because we can not fully tell what a baby is thinking. The article even portrays that the researchers used some assumption in the amount of time an infant gazed. How do we know that the infant’s gaze is an “indication of infant knowledge” rather than an infant’s curiosity or simply zoning out. Nonetheless, this article displays that the development of the brain is especially crucial in infants.

  4. mkitselman Says:

    I thought the study on loneliness and sleep was really interesting. It is a good reminder of how important social interaction is for human beings. I thought that the most interesting part was that while it didn’t cause participants to lose sleep overall, it resulted in them waking up more often throughout the night. Since we just learned that depression causes people to awaken more throughout the night, I think this study shows just how much the feeling of loneliness can impact a person. I also thought it was interesting that the perceived loneliness of a person is the most important aspect. I would definitely be interesting in learning more about what other aspects of health can be negatively impacted by emotions similar to loneliness.

  5. mkitselman Says:

    The study on the correlation between credit scores and different types of personalities was really interesting. Although I wasn’t surprised that conscientiousness was correlated with better credit scores, it seemed strange to me that agreeableness with correlated with lower credit scores. It does make sense, however, when considering the fact that more agreeable people would most likely be willing to co-sign for friends or family who might not have such reliable credit. I think studies like this are important, so that people can become more aware of what might be causing their poor credit and how to change it. Instead of focusing so much on paying bills on time, etc., focusing on how to monitor certain personality traits may be able to help more people with their credit in the long run.

  6. CCrosson Says:

    It amazes me how well these articles go with not only the information we learn in biopsych, but also in some of my other psychology courses. The brain is so complex, and that is shown in this study that suggests that at only 10 months old babies begin to understand another person’s thought processes. I have seen similar studies using the same technique in my developmental psychology class. I think timing the infant’s gaze is an interesting way of studying an infant who can’t verbally convey their thoughts and feelings.

  7. Jerusha Says:

    The article on the study of ten month old children was really interesting to me. Personally, I don’t think much of what children can and cannot do aside from the exciting basic phases of walking, talking, crawling, etc. I thought it was crazy that they can interpret our actions at such a young age. It made me wonder how much more they can do at that age. I’d love to hear more research come out about their abilities so that I can pay close attention to my 7 month old niece and see if I can tell if she’s analyzing me!

  8. dlheller Says:

    I found the correlation between sleep and loneliness interesting as I would assume that the more lonely someone is, the more they would sleep (and well) as a result of their emotional state of mind or mood. However, the fact “we may all be dependent on feeling secure in our social environment in order to sleep soundly” sparks discussion on why so many individuals may be sleep deprived since it seems as if many age groups struggle to feel accepted. Although, overall this study appears to make sense since individuals who are stressed or suffer from other mood disorders like depression have difficulty sleeping which can all result from societal pressures.

  9. mbise Says:

    I had always assumed that any truth to the idea of “gateway drugs” would have to be social, either through stronger connections and ties into the world of drug abuse, or behavioral escalation. I found the changes in mice’s experience with cocaine after using nicotine very interesting. I met a few girls last year who began using (or abusing?) cocaine recreationally, and all of them smoked cigarettes, so now I wonder if the two are related. I also wonder if the same changes are at all extendable to other “gateway” drugs, or other comparatively “illict” drugs. I’m excited for the research on this subject to grow.

  10. mbise Says:

    Any college student, whether it be the first year away from home for the first time or an upperclassman left alone on a Friday night, has experienced loneliness. I agree with dlheller in that I was surprised that more lonely people slept the same amount as less lonely people. However, I had reasoned that worrisome thoughts without social support would keep more lonely people up at night, though they would have to wake up at the same time. Either way, the benefits of being less lonely seem apparent, and the discoveries on quality of sleep only further emphasize the importance of our social worlds.

  11. Lfromm Says:

    The article discussing nicotine and smoking as a “gateway” drug was particularly interesting. I was surprised to read that there was a resistance against labeling certain substance as gateway drugs, as it seems as though some who deal with such things (such as police officers) do consider certain substances to be indicators of potential future use of harder drugs. In considering this thought, it is possible that those who are not in the scientific testing side of this subject may use this reference simply to refer to the pattern of usage, rather than the scientific idea of a gateway drug. The article briefly suggested marijuana as a gateway drug, and I have heard it considered as a place where many state their drug use, and would be interested to hear more of a biological perspective on that substance as well.

  12. mdewitt Says:

    I found the article on brain addiction to be really interesting, particularly that the neural activity of in addicts and people with damage to their orbitofrontal cortex doesn’t change regardless of the gravity of the decision they are trying to make. I also thought that it was interesting that people with malfunctioning anterior cingulate cortex can’t decide if their decisions had reached their expectations. This article somewhat made people with addictions seem like they cannot make the right decisions at all, which I’m not sure I entirely agree with, especially since college campuses are a good environment for some people to develop temporary addictions (especially to alcohol and caffeine).

  13. akinsella Says:

    My favorite reading for this week was the one about the link between credit score and personalities. This article came as a surprise to me as I’m sure it did to many other people who read this article. This study showed that easy-going individuals have worse credit scores than those who are “rude”. Even more shocking, there is no connection between bad credit and bad behavior in a job setting. This study should serve as a surprise to many employers and make them think again regarding what they look at when choosing a future employee!

  14. akinsella Says:

    The article about loneliness and sleeplessness made a very interesting observation. Rather than finding the more obvious observation the the lonelier you are, the less sleep you get; this study found a slightly different result. The more lonely you are, the more fragmented your sleep is. My grandpa died at the beginning of this year, and ever since my grandma has been complaining of a hard time sleeping. She mentions how she often times wakes up in the middle of the night and has a hard time falling back asleep. This article is very interesting and I wonder what the effect is across different ages of people.

  15. carlyk Says:

    The article about the understanding of thought process by infants as young as ten months was very interesting to read. I find it absolutely amazing that babies at such a young age have the ability to pick up on the communication cues and thought processes of those around them. This is definitely something that I believe is important to know, especially for parents, because it proves that it is very easy to underestimate the abilities of young children. Children are our future and we must recognize the importance of bringing them up in a loving, nurturing environment starting at the earliest age possible. I hope more studies are done to follow up on this one and I would definitely be interested in learning more about this.

  16. carlyk Says:

    In reading the article about the connection between loneliness and sleeplessness, I was actually quite surprised by their findings. I expected that loneliness would relay into sleep problems, but I expected that it would also affect the total number of hours a lonely individual sleeps. The findings simply describe that those who were lonely had a much more disrupted, uneven sleeping pattern than those who were not. I wonder why the total number of hours sleeping is not affected? I would be interested into investigating this study and more like it on a deeper level. Is there a difference for people of different ages? Is there a difference between males and females?

  17. mfitzpatrick Says:

    The article about “what babies know at 10 months” was incredibly impressive. I cannot believe that we begin to learn at such a yong age. Although it’s not surprising, because, as infants, we do a lot of growing in the first months of life in terms of our body, brain, nervous system, etc. We overall become more aware and perceptive about what is going on around us. I feel like this information and research could be exponentially helpful to new parents learning how to actually be parents. It may teach moms and dads to be more careful about what they do and how they react around their children, which in turn could drastically influence the child’s attitude and personality.

  18. mfitzpatrick Says:

    I found the article about “clues to the addicted brain” to be very interesting. I knew that certain or most addictions could affect your body in many different ways, however, the fact that I actually know and know about the parts of the brain that are being affected makes this article even more awesome! The anterior cingulate cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex do both participate in decision-making. Addictions causes damage to these two important parts of the brain which in turn would obviously impair any addicts judgement. I cannot wait to hear about further research and potential treatments for addictions!

  19. Kbginger08 Says:

    The article regarding smoking and cocaine addiction caught my attention. The word “gateway drug” has been floating in and out of my ears for the past 19 years. The term has become so common that I think it is often disregarded. When I read this article, I was intrigued to learn that there is a true cause and effect relationship between nicotine and cocaine. I think this could provide a lot of information to drug educators for youth. I also found it interesting that they decided to do on mice. I agree that there can be a lot of confounding variables if this were done on humans

  20. Kbginger08 Says:

    The article investigating sleep and loneliness was not surprising. I think an unhealthy person, both psychologically or physically, is prone to poor sleep patterns. The fact that loneliness leads to more interrupted sleep may suggest that loneliness can lead to other health problems. If a person’s sleep in interrupted because of loneliness, then the restorative properties of sleep may also be affected. This could lead to a weaker immune system and other health problems. Ultimately, I interpreted this article as displaying strong evidence that loneliness is more serious matter than it appears.

  21. kai zajac Says:

    The article about the addicted brain was very interesting. I especially liked it since I actually knew about the brain structures they were talking about! It will be interesting to see if in the future we are able to develop treatments, such as lesions, or alterations to these brain structures in order to cure addictive behaviors!

  22. megconstant Says:

    The article regarding sleeplessness and loneliness was very interesting to me. At first when I saw this article, I was very interested in the correlation between how loneliness affects sleep because when my parents got divorced 5 years ago, my mother had a very hard time sleeping and often woke up during the next almost every night. It got so bad that she had to see her doctor and get medication to help her sleep. After reading this article, it makes sense that going from being married over 20 years to being alone would drastically affect sleeping patterns. I remember she also was getting sick a lot, which I’m sure correlates with lack of sleep. Overall, I thought this correlation was very interesting, especially since I can see this as being the main cause of what my mom was going through.

 

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