Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

October 23, 2012

readings in psychology for 23 october 2012 @PsychScience

Here I am in my office with a Rolling Stones poster in the background!

Here is what I am reading today:

“In a study of more than 90 men, scientists from the University of Bonn, Germany, found that subjects treated with a dose of testosterone before the study told fewer lies than those who received a placebo. “Testosterone has always been said to promote aggressive and risky behavior and posturing,” says researcher and neuroscientist Bernard Weber. However, more recent studies indicate that it also fosters social behavior.”

“Why does making direct eye contact with someone give you that feeling of a special connection? Perhaps because it excites newly discovered “eye cells” in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions and social interactions.”

“On average, the residents of Sun City, Arizona, occupy their domiciles for a dozen years. When they depart—almost always by dying—they often leave their brains behind. The stages of physical and mental decline take them from their dream house to a hospital off Del Webb Boulevard, then to a nursing home, and finally back to the medical complex, where researchers harvest their most important organ. “

” Bob Moreno took these images of the possible meteor just outside of Santa Rosa.”

“A potential new treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which affects thousands of soldiers, auto accident victims, athletes and others each year, has shown promise in laboratory research, scientists are reporting. TBI can occur in individuals who experience a violent blow to the head that makes the brain collide with the inside of the skull, a gunshot injury or exposure to a nearby explosion. The report on TBI, which currently cannot be treated and may result in permanent brain damage or death, appears in the journal ACS Nano.”

“The international team of scientists, led by Professor Inder Verma and geneticist Dr Dinorah Friedmann Morvinski, both of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies at La Jolla in California, studied the development of malignant glioblastoma tumors in mice. They had earlier developed a new method of researching cancer by using viruses to introduce cancer-causing genes (oncogenes) into the mice brains, as reported in Phys.Org.”

“The University of Exeter study says such injuries can lead maturing brains to “misfire”, affecting judgement and the ability to control impulses.

It calls for greater monitoring and treatment to prevent later problems.”

“Findings showed that when resting, the right hemisphere of the brain communicates more with itself and the left side of the brain, than when the left hemisphere talks to itself and communicates to the right side of the brain, regardless of participants’ dominant hand. Neuroscientists did note that right-handed people used their left hemisphere at a higher rate, and vice versa.

The authors of this study say that during rest, the right hemisphere is “doing important things, we don’t yet understand.” The activities that are being processed by the right hemisphere could be storing and processing acquired information, daydreaming, or similar creative tasks. Andrei Medvedev, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging at Georgetown explains….”

“Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep.

A team of researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).”

“Oliver Sacks, HBO and others have chronicled the life of autistic savant Temple Grandin. The unique patterns of thought produced by Grandin’s brain enabled her to design now-ubiquitous methods to treat cattle more humanely, and she has served as inspiration to others diagnosed with the condition. Until now, no one has tried to assess the actual brain physiology of the professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University.”

“Brain scans of 638 people past the age of retirement showed those who were most physically active had less brain shrinkage over a three-year period. Exercise did not have to be strenuous – going for a walk several times a week sufficed, the journal Neurology says.

But giving the mind a workout by doing a tricky crossword had little impact.”

“Eating a raw food diet is a recipe for disaster if you’re trying to boost your species’ brainpower. That’s because humans would have to spend more than 9 hours a day eating to get enough energy from unprocessed raw food alone to support our large brains, according to a new study that calculates the energetic costs of growing a bigger brain or body in primates. But our ancestors managed to get enough energy to grow brains that have three times as many neurons as those in apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. How did they do it? They got cooking, according to a study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “

 

 

 

24 Responses to “readings in psychology for 23 october 2012 @PsychScience”

  1. laurenstanfield23 Says:

    “big brains need more than raw food”
    I found this article very interesting as there has been a huge increase in positive support for an all ‘natural’ diet, where people are supposed to consume raw vegetables and lean proteins. I actually just watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dying where two men went on an all juice cleanse and saw amazing results. This causes me to question the validity of the article and perhaps more research should be done to clarify what exactly in cooking makes the nutrients/calorie intact more efficient. It seems to me that more macro nutrients are available in raw food than the food modern day Americans are cooking compared to our ancestors.

  2. laurenstanfield23 Says:

    “Men with higher testosterone are often more honest”
    I found this article very interesting because it contradicts the usual assumptions and negative association with testosterone. Usually, when we consider testosterone levels to much is viewed as negative and unwanted. However, this article presents a new option for testosterone to be associated with pro-social behavior like less lying. It would be interesting to see if this research could be applied to a study of men’s likelihood to cheat in a monogamous relationship based on testosterone level.

  3. tpoulin Says:

    I thought it was quite interesting that an article claims that testosterone very well could make men be more honest. Testosterone is looked at as promoting aggressive and risky behavior. Most men like to think they have a lot of testosterone, but if they knew this new aspect to it, maybe they wouldn’t be so fond of having high levels of testosterone. In this article, “Men with high testosterone may be more honest: study”, it is stated that test subjects that had been given testosterone showed a clear difference in speaking the truth than did subjects who had received a placebo. As experiments go, this does not prove anything; however, it shows a strong correlation between testosterone levels and honesty.

  4. BenSimon Says:

    “Brain Shrinkage” was extremely interesting because it makes me wonder what psychological benefits crossword puzzles give if they do not stop brain shrinkage. I also found it interesting on a personal level because my grandmother, who just turned 78, never learned to drive and takes walks around town multiple times a day, so I am glad that according to this article, she is not in danger.

  5. BenSimon Says:

    I also was intrigued by “eye-contact detector found in the brain” because I had strong difficulties making eye contact when I was younger and now believe that like many other individuals on the autistic spectrum or with autistic symptoms, these neurons in the amygdala may have been the problem. However, today, when I make direct eye contact with people, I almost always feel a “special connection,” so perhaps my neurons were repaired?

  6. csommo Says:

    I think that having “eye cells” is a very plausible hypothesis because I personally feel more connected to someone while making eye contact. While reading this article, I could not help but be reminded of my childhood. As a kid, I was very shy and eye contact made me nervous (this is why I feel that it is very possible that we have eye cells in our amygdalas). After each conversation I had with someone, my mom used to make me tell her the eye color of each person. This way she knew I was practicing my eye contact skills, even though I hated it. Good news is, it worked! I now actually love making eye contact with people and love the feeling of that “special connection.”

  7. LauraGregorich Says:

    “Big brains need more than raw food”
    - I found this article very interesting, especially with so many people concerned with what they eat these days. I’ve heard about some people who only eat raw foods or limited processed foods as a form of a diet- it seems to be recognized as healthier and better for the body. I never knew how much cooking impacted how we digest and absorb food; I always thought that uncooked vegetables were better for your body. I can see how eating more calories would increase the body size and weight, but I am curious on the actual difference of brain size and if raw foods would decrease the brain size and capacity, or just prevent the brain from increasing in size as age progresses. With all the new natural and whole food grocery stores, the main types of foods that seem to be promoted are those that are considered raw and natural, while the term “processed” has more of a negative connotation. I’m pretty sure that if more people knew about this proposition of raw foods, some might think twice about going all natural.

  8. LauraGregorich Says:

    Brain Shrinkage
    - Wow. I think its commonly known that memory decreases as people age, but I was a little surprised that activities such as crosswords and suduku had little effect on brain memory/decreasing brain shrinkage. I would have thought that these mental tasks “exercise” the brain just as much and have more positive outcomes. I think its good to promote physical health, especially with middle age and increasing age groups because of the risk now for obesity, but people are finally starting to realize how important mental health is with physical health. I wish more people knew this, especially because when most people retire at this age frame, they have tons of new opportunities that they could get exercise in without making it seem like a chore- such as traveling and exploring the world- which could also potentially have a positive impact on the brain based on their experience.

  9. taylorkilbride Says:

    “Men with Higher testosterone Are Often More Honest”
    I found this article so interesting! When people think about the side effects of this hormone normally the thoughts reflect aggression, risk tasking, and other “manly” behaviors. Although, most hormones in the body are multifaceted so it doesn’t surprise me that testosterone has multiple functions. In an evolutionary sense this new finding also makes sense. Testosterone potentially acts in this way because honesty makes it easier to find a mate in order to pass your genes on to the next generation. Lying is obviously offensive and usually is punishable by exclusionary behavior. Considering we are such a social species, being excluded in hunter-gather times could be a recipe for death, leading to the reasons honesty is found hand in hand with testosterone.

  10. taylorkilbride Says:

    “Raw Food Not Enough to Feed Big Brains”
    Although I found this article interesting, I am not sure how accurate it is. There are so many high calorie raw foods like nuts and olive oils that also contain the essential fatty acids that aid in brain development and function. If your diet is raw but balanced, and you are getting around 2,000 calories per day I don’t see how this would negatively impact you at all. Also, many vegetarians and vegans eat significant amounts of raw food and, when done correctly, there has only been a positive result from these two types of diets.

  11. AlexandraKanemaru Says:

    I found the reading, “Lefty And Righties Benefit Differently From Naps” to be a very interesting article. I recently read the article on ScienceDaily.com that was very similar and titled, “Do Lefties, Righties Benefit Differently from Power Nap? At ‘Rest,’ Brains Right Hemisphere ‘Talks’ More Than Left Hemisphere Does.” Both of these articles referred to the research study done at Georgetown University about the effects of handedness on sleep patterns. However, I found both of these articles both inconclusive (because not much research has been done) and a bit perplexing. The article seems to negate itself a couple times, by saying the right hemisphere was more “integrated in right-handed participants” whereas earlier in the article it mentioned that left-handed people tend to be more right hemisphere oriented. I do realize however, that much of the research that need be done in this field, has yet to be established in the medical world. Which is why both authors have a call to action for neuroscientists to study this field in a little more depth. I also, highly agree with the article and it’s focus on doing more research on the importance on handedness and hemisphere use. As a left handed person I find the data both informational and intriguing since little information is known about lefties.

  12. AlexandraKanemaru Says:

    I found the article “Brain injuries ‘link’ to young offenders” very interesting and relevant to research done in neuropsychology and abnormal psychology field. In a neuropsychology field it is fascinating to learn that such injuries can mentally handicap a persons moral maturation to such an extent. At an abnormal or delinquent level, it shows that there is not only biological reasons for abnormal behavior but also physiological reasons for this type of behavior. Another interesting part of this article is that it touches on confounding variables related to the data set (children) like the aggressive actions may come from stunted cognitive ability, which may lead to frustration. However, an adverse affect that may occur whilst the judicial looks deeper into neurodevelopment problems is that defending attorney’s may rely to heavily on this defense.

  13. ndjohnson Says:

    After reading the “eye contact detector” it is amazing to think that there may be a new found link that could help us understand the behaviors and nuances of disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. If humans do in fact have eye cells like the Rhesus macacques, then this could explain the social interactions shared by autistic people, as the article mentions. When I first learned of autism and other disorders, I thought they were purely related to irregular brain growth, but the lack of eye cells could explain the decreased eye contact common in autistic people. It is exciting to hear that there could be a potential treatment for such disorders, and that research is underway.

  14. ndjohnson Says:

    In “reading your dreams,” it seems as though there is potentially a valid reason for why people dream! People have been forever fascinated by dreams and struggle to receive some insight or interpretation of their significance. As the article mentions, after taking repeated functioning brain scans, a person uses higher visual areas of the brain while dreaming. In waking the subjects after brain activity is recorded, the researchers found that people dreamed about the main categories of “male,” “female,” “cars,” and “computers.” Although dreams seem so personal and to exceed the imagination, people seem to be dreaming about similar categories. Perhaps dreams activate certain parts of the brain, as the researches attempt to discover. It would be interesting to finally understand the purpose of dreaming, beyond acting in the subconscious level.

  15. vylu Says:

    I agree with a lot of the previous comments that the results of the testosterone study results were surprising. I wouldn’t think that testosterone, a hormone which stimulates aggression and risk behaviors, would cause a person to be more honest in a situation where they couldn’t be caught lying, and where lying would make them more money. I do think this study isn’t quite set up well because the scientists could not tell when the people were lying, and it was a dice game. The lot of the men involved in the study may have just gone on a few lucky streaks or a few bad streak, in which case they weren’t lying about the dice, but actually just making more or less money than statistics say they should.

    I would love to see these studies done on men with human interactions instead of interactions with monkeys. I feel that men with higher testosterone would act very differently around other men or other women than they did around animals.

    Also, I was really bummed when I saw that I had missed a meteor when I saw that you had posted pictures taken from San Luis Obispo, but Santa Rosa is actually a city in the Bay Area, so the meteor wasn’t quite local.

  16. ckobinsk Says:

    I was very fascinated by the article about being able to read a person’s dream. I couldn’t believe that scientist were able to detect the existence of a specific image in the dream, such as whether there was a man present. This is a strong foundation that will help scientists in the future predict other more detailed aspects of a dream. I am interested in whether this will eventually result in scientist being able to reconstruct the entire dream. If the scientists can successfully complete the experiments with REM sleep, our understanding of dreams will be much greater. I’m excited for all of the prospective research in this field.

  17. crfan_21 Says:

    I thought that the article about testosterone levels indicating honesty was quite interesting. As many other people have said, I was surprised by this additional role that testosterone fills. I previously had just associated it with characteristic male behaviors like aggression and roughhousing. This article provides a more gentle, virtuous aspect to testosterone, as it has a strong correlation with honesty. However, I feel that this article did not reflect adequate research and that there were quite a few loopholes that made the results of the study questionable. There were not enough details provided and the part about how the researchers did not know if the participants were lying made me question the validity of the article. I also feel that a lot of other variables need to be taken into account before making this direct correlation between testosterone/honesty such as the temperament and familial/religious backgrounds of the males being studied.

  18. jblangle Says:

    The “raw food not enough to feed big brains” article was a really interesting because of how much change has happened in the “food world”. Over the past few years it seems that more and more people are becoming aware of new/different ideas regarding food, which range from people learning more about organic foods to different types of diets like paleo ect. The problem that I see, also being stated in the article, is that the individual is going to have to eat a rather large amount of food to be able to get enough energy for the day and still hopefully getting to the appropriate requirement for your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat). This doesn’t even take into affect if the individual is doing any type of fitness related exercising, which will create an even bigger energy deficit (calories) if the individual wants to be eating at maintenance. Good Read

  19. crfan_21 Says:

    The information provided in the article on brain injury correlated to criminal offenses was quite interesting. I think that this information could be quite revolutionary in the realm of criminal justice. Taking into consideration how sports, fights, and other youth-like activities can effect our brains and in turn how the brain matures, are interesting phenomenon. Seeing as how we know that our decision-making parts of the brain are not fully myelinated until early adulthood, I could see how altering laws according to age would be a good idea. This could also effect how criminal youth are tried in court. Working with a lot of at-risk youth who have been involved in crimes and fights, I wonder now if some of their behaviors could potentially be perpetuated by brain injuries.

  20. laurenstanfield23 Says:

    In the article Men and Women Can’t be Just “Friends” I am not at all surprised by the findings that men are more likely to consider romantic relationships with their friends (even when in a relationship) and that they are more likely to overestimate the level of sexual interest from their ‘friend’ then women. Not only has this been a trend in my own experiences but also has been studied using anthropology. For example, in my Behavioral Ecology class and we have examined men and women relationships with the view that all behavior is driven by reproductive success which for men’s means access to women and for women’s the need for resources. Thus, it is seems to apply in this situation where the men is more likely to be attracted to women in general whereas women tend to be much more discerning based on cost and benefits of having a romantic relationship with the other person. However, this finding is still problematic in that we all must interact and work together with those of the opposite sex! Perhaps people social awareness of this potential may help keep cross-sex relationships purely platonic.

  21. laurenstanfield23 Says:

    Besides the fact that the poor participants had to keep being woken up by researchers, it is very exciting to see headway made toward understanding dreams and how their interact with our higher brain activity. I found it particularly fascinating that we visual dreams six or seven times every hour. Also that they could predict the content of the dreams with such accuracy is so amazing to me! It will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between NREM and REM sleep/dreaming in content and also the brain activity. I would predict that even more abnormal dreams with be recorded in REM sleep, which, brings rise to the question what purpose do these types of dreams have?

  22. jblangle Says:

    In the “Eye-contact detector found in the brain” article it was really fascinating that there could possibly be a connection between eye contact. The study that the researchers seems to suggest that it is possible because of how different neurons fired only at specific times; firing more when the monkeys gazed into each others eyes (4 more). I can totally see the brain having an eye contact detector in the brain because it seems plausible that when two individuals make eye contact there seems to be some type of “connection” being made. That “connection” is being processed in the brain and since the amygdala processes emotion and social interactions it plays in the role as how we view the individual, similar to having a first impression without having the ability to speak to that person.

  23. CaitlinMorris Says:

    “Brain Shrinkage”
    Regardless of the age, exercise is GOOD for you! There is so much evidence for this, for instance resistance training throughout early adulthood slows osteoporosis in later life. Although nothing is a guarantee, you can only hope that every little helps boost the immunity encoded by the genes you were given. Honestly there is no getting around it, we all need to take the time each day to move around in order to keep our bodies in optimal working condition.

  24. fionachung. Says:

    In the “Brain Shrinkage” article, I found it interesting that crossword puzzles and other mental activities don’t have any positive impact to the brain. I always thought playing sudoku and crosswords puzzle helped keep the brain going, but instead it’s exercise that helps keep the brain from shrinking as people age. I knew that exercising can contribute to good health, but I never thought it can actually help people’s brain from shrinking.

 

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