Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

November 9, 2012

readings in psychology for 9 november 2012 @PsychScience

My daughters and I love to collaborate on each of our projects. Karen had this great idea inspired by John Cacioppo’s book entitled “Loneliness” and her interest in social media!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Society for Neuroscience archival interview with American neuroscientist and Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel. The interview took place July 24, 2001. This video is part of the Society for Neuroscience’s autobiography series, “The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography,” detailing the lives and discoveries of eminent senior neuroscientists.”

“MRSA infections acquired outside of hospital settings – known as community-acquired MRSA or CA-MRSA– are on the rise and can be just as severe as hospital-acquired MRSA. However, we still do not fully understand the potential environmental sources of MRSA or how people in the community come in contact with this microorganism,” says Amy R. Sapkota, assistant professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and research study leader. “This was the first study to investigate U.S. wastewater as a potential environmental reservoir of MRSA.”

“Dr James Flanagan, Breast Cancer Campaign scientific fellow at Imperial College London and co-author of the research, said: “This research may help to build a test that will be able to look at a person’s epigenetic information at the molecular level and measure in great detail the added risk of cancer from exposures such as smoking. “Previous research into smoking has often asked people to fill out questionnaires, which have their obvious drawbacks and inaccuracies. Using this approach, we will be able to read the fingerprint on a person’s DNA to tell us a story of how their habit may have changed over the course of their life.”

“In the fraught, emotional world of speed dating, scientific calculations don’t usually hold much sway. But the brain runs a complex series of computations to tally the allure of a prospective partner in just seconds, a new study finds. And the strength of these brain signals predicted which speed daters would go on to score a match.

The results help explain how people evaluate others — a process that happens at lightning speed, says neuroscientist Daniela Schiller of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “It’s a gut feeling, but here, the paper dissects it for us and tells us, ‘This is what we calculate.”

“”The research is not clear yet on the effects of swishing with glucose on long-term self-control,” he said. “So, if you are trying to quit smoking, a swish of lemonade may not be the total cure, but it certainly could help you in the short run.” Martin, in collaboration with co-author Matthew Sanders, a doctoral candidate also in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, believes the motivation comes in the form of self-values, or emotive investment. “

“This post is a bit off the beaten path for me. I am trying to publicize an opportunity to participate in research conducted by one of my students based on the recent Inbar and Lammers (2012) study in Perspectives in Psychological Science about political diversity among personality and social psychologists. My student addressed some of the concerns about the methodology raised by some of our colleagues in the same issue, and wants to have participation by psychologists across perspectives (if you identify with personality and social psych, we’d still love to have you weigh in!). So if you are a graduate teaching assistant or faculty member in psychology, I hope you can help us out. Please feel free to share this information with any of your colleagues who might be willing to help. Participants from outside the US are also welcome (and this would be very interesting to us!).

If you’re interested in participating, the survey takes about 15 minutes and can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BS5WZ5X

“Caffeine perks up most coffee-lovers, but a new study shows a small dose of caffeine also increases their speed and accuracy for recognizing words with positive connotation. The research published November 7 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lars Kuchinke and colleagues from Ruhr University, Germany, shows that caffeine enhances the neural processing of positive words, but not those with neutral or negative associations.”

“Daniel Oldis, a software engineer and former teacher from Costa Mesa, Calif. uses little more than a special EEG headband called the Zeo, a red light bulb, some clever programming skills and an Internet connection to engage in what he calls “social dreaming” with another person. It stems from his four decades of research into lucid dreaming, and his recent invitations to other lucid dreamers that he found online, to take part in his “open protocol” experiment.”

“Humans can smell fear and disgust, and the emotions are contagious, according to a new study. The findings, published Nov. 5 in the journal Psychological Science, suggest that humans communicate via smell just like other animals. “These findings are contrary to the commonly accepted assumption that human communication runs exclusively via language or visual channels,” write Gün Semin and colleagues from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.”

 

27 Responses to “readings in psychology for 9 november 2012 @PsychScience”

  1. taylorkilbride Says:

    “can you SMELL fear”
    This article was interesting but not completely surprising. It is not necessary for humans in today’s society to be able to have a strong sense of smell, like it is for our animal ancestors, but animals would not have continued to evolve to the level they/we are at now if it went for their scene of smell playing a role in finding food and keeping them safe. Smell is strongly tied to memory in humans as well and memories contain emotions so it makes sense that smell and emotion are somewhat connected.

  2. taylorkilbride Says:

    “smokers leave addiction in their DNA”
    This article was so interesting! I never knew that smoking could make measurable epigenetic changes to a person’s DNA but considering how bad it is for you this makes sense. Using this new technology, so many medical leaps can be made to assess peoples cancer risks, beyond the habit of smoking, with this “fingerprint.” If you know your risks early on you can take preventative measures in order to keep yourself safe and cancer free for longer. I would love to follow this issue and see how helpful this assessment could become!

  3. jennamcbee890 Says:

    During my reading of the article “Smokers leave a history of their addiction in DNA” I thought it was incredibly interesting to read that further research upon smokers goes beyond damage to internal organs of the body but that it could actually be imprinting upon our DNA cells. This is relatable to me because me father smokes and has never been able to quit. He started at about 20 years old and has continued throughout the duration of his life. It is interesting to think about because knowing that he smoked before I was born, I wonder if this DNA affected by smoking is something that is transferable or heritable. I think that this is incredibly important research because it is helping scientists build “ a molecular profile of cancer risk, where we can screen people and qualify the exposure they’ve had to a number of risk factors over their lifetime, just be examining a blood sample.” This could also help with the affect of smoking and the risk involved in a given’s individual’s future with involvement to cancer.

  4. jennamcbee890 Says:

    I thought the article “caffeine improves recognition of positive words” was extremely interesting pertaining to my life, being a huge coffee lover myself. I obviously knew the side affects of caffeine from my own person experience as well as learning in class that caffeine keeps us awake by blocking receptors for adenosine, thus keeping alertness maintained. But learning this new information, that being that caffeine can actually increase the speed and accuracy for recognizing words with positive connotation is very interesting to me. This is exciting news for me and will aid to my continual caffeine addiction especially through college after learning that a positive correlation will become enhanced after drinking it.

  5. viviannethorbecke Says:

    “Your brain on speed dating”
    This article was very informative. It seems like the brain knows when you are looking at someone for looks or for personalty. Different parts of the brain light up when these things happen. I infer that this can be expanded to first impressions also. It might be subconsciously, but your brain rates the personality and attractiveness of the other person, even at friend, without you even knowing it. It is also ironic that the rostromedial prefrontal cortex lights up when you are looking for personality, even though this is closer to the eyes. It is just ironic but not affecting the biological structure.

  6. viviannethorbecke Says:

    “Caffeine improves recognition of positive words”
    This article was very informative to me! it is so interesting that you can recognize positive things better than negative things. I do wonder how they did this experimental test, though. Personally, I believe that caffeine has not effect on my level of alertness. I do not become more or less alert after drinking coffee, even a lot of it. I have the ability to drink coffee ten minutes before bed and be able to sleep right away. This makes me wonder about the study. Would the results be the same with someone who has no caffeine effect on themselves. Would I be able to recognize more positive things after having 2-3 cups of coffee or would it not have the same effect on me?

  7. CaitlinMorris Says:

    The article “Your brain on speed dating,” by Laura Sanders was quite an interesting read. I found myself wondering if there was a dichotomy between men and women’s rostromedial prefrontal cortex activity during the dating process. I also was curious to see if there was a difference in the activity levels of this region between age groups assuming that traditionally younger individuals are more motivated to find one night stands as opposed to long term partners. Although neither of these points were addressed in the article, this piece provided a nice summary of Jeffrey Cooper’s scientific findings regarding the functions performed by the human mind while in a speed dating scenario.

  8. CaitlinMorris Says:

    “Humans can smell fear – and it’s contagious” by Tia Ghose
    I find it interesting that only ten men were used for this study. I feel that limiting the number of sweat donors to such a small pool undermines the credibility of this study to some degree. It is interesting to learn that the pheromones associated with fear and disgust, although limited compared to that of animals, are still an integral part of our interactions with one another. This article also serves to make wonder how well people would fair in an emergency situation inside of the Abercrombie and Fitch store downtown. Perhaps someone should tell the staff that all that cologne that they spray inside their store is limiting their communication capacities.

  9. jblangle Says:

    After reading the “caffeine improves recognition of positive words” article it was quite interesting to find out that caffeine had that type of response. It seems plausible because after taking caffeine the typical response would to be more alert, which probably why is it correlated to recognizing the positive words. It is interesting to see that the negative or neutral associations do not have an effect from the the caffeine. It would be quite fascinating to see if other stimulants have similar effects in the language dominant regions or if caffeine would be the only one.

  10. Arielle Plavnick PSY 340-01 Says:

    “Smokers Leave Addiction in their DNA” caught my eye because I have family members that are smokers that I have been trying to make quit since a very young age. This study will be an excellent way to dissuade people from smoking and a great teaching tool. I’m sure that if a new smoker goes in to see their risk and realize it can only get higher if they continue to smoke, they would have more of an incentive to quit smoking. For teaching purposes, this is study is a way to prove the type of correlation between smoking and cancer. Perhaps preventive and other treatments to cancer can be made because of the findings of this study.

  11. lportiz Says:

    “Caffeine and the positive” After reading this article I don’t feel as guilty drinking coffee anymore. I usually try to only have one cup of coffee in the morning and resist from having another cup when I don’t feel that “pick me up”. I knew that caffeine was associated with feeling more alert but sometimes one cup just doesn’t do the trick. It was interesting to read that “2-3 cups of coffee before a task increased speed and accuracy for recognizing words with positive connotation”. Forget the calories, I will definitely be enjoying more than one cup of coffee in the morning.

  12. csommo Says:

    I found the article on smoking and DNA to be very interesting. I almost find it hard to believe that smoking can affect someone so much that it actually causes one’s DNA to alter. I think that if more people knew about this there would not be as many smokers. Of course, some are adamant about smoking and will probably never stop, but there are some who I’m sure would be disturbed to know that what they’re putting into their bodies is altering their DNA.

  13. csommo Says:

    The article on fear and sense of smell presented some really interesting findings. It does seem plausible that humans can sense fear through smell, but no where near what other animals can do. Conducting this experiment was a cool idea; I never thought about sensing emotions through smell. Though, now I know the smelling abilities of humans!

  14. lportiz Says:

    “Your brain on speed dating” definitely made sense especially after learning about attraction and potential mates in class. It is true that looks aren’t everything because although we may be very attracted to someone and even our brain can tell us that, we might not always pursue that person in the long run. We usually seek mates that are healthy, reliable, and trustworthy, also personality goes a long way. Just as the article mentioned, the rostromedial prefrontal cortex is associated with personality instead of looks, how likeable a person seems, and focuses on their mental state and similarities with the observer. This article was very interesting to read and tied in with what I learned in my class.

  15. tpoulin Says:

    In the article, “Your Brain on Speed Dating”, Laura Sanders writes that the brain runs a complex series of computations to figure out if they are interested in their partner even in the slightest bit. In a study, the brain’s dorsomedial prefrontal cortex can predict whether viewers would later pursue the people after the speed dating. The rostromedial prefrontal cortex also plays a role. It helps people think about other people’s mental states and comparing themselves with others. This all proves to be very interesting because one never really relates how the brain works when speed dating. They seem to us to be very different things that don’t interact; however, they interact a lot more than we think.

  16. tpoulin Says:

    In the article, “Smokers leave a history of their addiction in DNA”, research is presented that states this may help to measure the risk of cancer in the future. Smoking leaves a footprint on the surface of DNA, but the genetic code remans the same. This would add an entirely new aspect to the biological world. Instead of filling out questionnaires if one’s parents smoked, they can just do a DNA test to see if there is any harm done to the person being tested. If this study proves to be true, many doors would open and this could lead to research of medicine to prevent cancer from occurring in the first place. Blood samples could be the way to prevent cancer, but it would be a long process with lots of trial and error.

  17. AlexandraKanemaru Says:

    I found the article, “Smokers leave a history of their addiction in DNA” to be very interesting and informative about the future of addiction research. The fact that smoking leaves an imprint on an individual who is exposed to this behaviors DNA is enough evidence to call for more research. It will be interesting to find out how much exactly this minor change to an individuals DNA will be able to tell the medical world and how it will change treatments. This also leaves the question, if an individuals DNA is altered by their behavioral habits, what effects do these habits have on the individuals offspring (if any)? This bit of research opens the door to many more questions about substance abuse and the biological processes.

  18. PaigeBroderick Says:

    In response to “what your brain does on speed dating”, I found this article to be a little unnerving. It appears that people are evaluating one another more superficially and quickly than ever before. But what’s even worse is that we’re adapting to it! With online media and dating becoming increasingly popular, simply gazing upon one’s photo may be enough to determine whether or not you want to date someone. I admit, I am guilty of this. In the age of facebook, who hasn’t looked up someone they found attractive and scrolled through all their pictures trying to decipher their personality? Our paracingulate cortex determines how attractive we find a person to be simply by looking at their picture and our rostromedial prefrontal cortex tries to decipher how similar or compatible of a match the subject in the photo would be. Maybe media like facebook will become the go to dating precursor and the old fashioned days of courtship will be a thing of the past.

  19. PaigeBroderick Says:

    The article “making sleeping more social???” discussed how technological advancements in EEG equipment and the internet may some day open up the dreaming world into something resembling an avatar based virtual reality game. Frankly, this sounds terrifying to me. With the furtherance of technology, our lives are becoming increasingly digitized and publicised. Dreams are one of the few precious private commodities we have! The key to this dream sharing is the ability to be a lucid dreamer, so you have the control to prevent any unwanted or embarrassing mishaps. However, what if you want a peaceful night’s rest but all your friends little icons keep popping up in your dream letting you know they’ve “logged on” or “requested a chat” with you? I like people, but I need some time for myself. I don’t understand why we need yet another outlet to communicate with loved ones in a ridiculous, indirect manner. Whatever happened to picking up the phone and just calling? Or maybe even seeing someone in person?

  20. Carolynn Kern Says:

    On ” can we smell fear? ”

    This study is interesting but not surprising because of the relationship between smell and attraction. We smell each other to see if our immune systems are compatible, so it would make sense (pun intended) that we could also smell fear or excitation in another. Also, in an experiment where men walked across a “scary” bridge and were met by an attractive, female, experimenter; the men mistook fear for sexual attraction. Since the production of odor is a physiological response, maybe our feelings are affected by how we perceive others perceive us, and how we are responding to a particular situation or stimulus. I could guess that this would alter our initial physiological response altogether into something else.

  21. a.schlachter Says:

    I read the article “What Your Brain Does On Speed Dating” and I found myself wanting to learn more. It was a nice introduction into the findings of the experiment, but I wanted to learn more about how exactly the rostromedial prefrontal cortex works in analyzing other people and comparing them to ourselves. I watched a documentary on Netflix called “The Science of Sexuality” and it touches on how people become attracted to and fall in love with others. The documentary talked about the first impression and how the sense of smell, the sound of the voice, and the style of walk all were analyzed in the first few seconds to see if that person is a potential mate.

  22. a.schlachter Says:

    I read through the article “Saying ‘Hi’ Through a Dream: How the Internet Could Make Sleeping More Social” and I feel fairly creeped out now. I find it scary that scientists can find ways into our dreams and connect them to other dreamers. It is very interesting, but it does not make me feel comfortable knowing that scientists are trying to find more efficient ways into our minds. It makes me wonder what implications the dream disturbance might have. If scientists find a way for dreamers to always contact other dreamers, would we ever get the right dose of sleep at night? Would sleeping with the technology necessary to have social dreaming cause cancer or other problems?

  23. crfan_21 Says:

    The article on how we can smell fear discussed a very interesting phenomena. This concept was also talked about in my family psychology class. Our professor adamantly told us to not wear perfumes and to use as many unscented products as possible. By doing so she told us that people would be able to smell the natural smells of others and find who they were most attracted to. By using artificially smelling products, she said we block our ability to test our immune system compatibility with potential mates. While I agree that the validity of the study done in this article was questionable, their concepts bring up interesting ideas. I think that particularly their idea of how emotions brought about by smell are contagious should be pursued further.

  24. LeahMonteleone Says:

    In the article, “Hormone affects distance men keep from unknown women they find attractive” I was intrigued by the explanation of how men are affected by the hormone, oxytocin, because usually we only hear about how women experience the hormone. Oxytocin is known mostly for its release when women give birth to their children and when they engage in sexual relations. Although single men had no reaction to the experiment, men in monogamous relationships reacted differently. Men in relationships kept their distance from the attractive female experimenter and although oxytocin produces trust, they kept their distance from her. This is interesting to me because it shows that there is some hope for men and that men can in fact be committed in monogamous relationships.

  25. VeronicaVasquez Says:

    “Saying ‘Hi’ Through A Dream: How the Internet Could Make Sleeping More Social”

    After reading this article I had two conflicting thoughts. First of all it amazes me how far along we have come in technology and if this communication between sleepers is perfected it will definitely blow many peoples minds, because again this is something you only see in movies like “Inception.” The second reaction I had is that, this type of technology really is unnecessary and its almost saddening that researchers are spending money on trying to make sleep something social. Instead they should use this money to research issues that are more relevant and will help people.

  26. fionachung. Says:

    I was really happy after reading”Caffeine and the positive,” because now I have a point to make when people tell me coffee is bad. My parents and close friends constantly tell me to stop drinking coffee because of its negative effects, and I drink only 1 cup of black coffee a day. It’s nice to know that there are positive effects of coffee other than making a person more awake. In the article, “Can you smell fear,” I was surprised at the results. I really didn’t think by smelling someone else’s sweat while they were watching a scary movie can actually be interpreted as fear in studies done after collecting the sweat. I know that our immune system plays a big role in attraction so wouldn’t other emotions be testable as well? (ie: collecting tears when men watch a sad movie) Definitely an interesting article.

  27. laurenstanfield23 Says:

    It is interesting that the change from the past use of the ‘gut’ to judge ones character/potential for dating has now changed to using brain mechanisms to calculate and categorize almost immediately. I found it most interesting that the research found that not only is appearance and attractiveness being judged but that our brain is also comparing personalities and compatibility in this initial reaction using our rostromedial prefrontal cortex. However, the results also showed that very few of the speed daters actually found any resemblance of love as very few even went on multiple dates. Thus, this causes me to question the effectiveness of these immediate calculations in choosing qualified potential mates.

 

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



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