Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

December 21, 2012

readings in psychology for 21 december 2012 @PsychScience

Well, I guess that the Mayan Calendar starts over.

Well, I guess that the Mayan Calendar starts over.

Here is what I am reading today:

 

“…Clusters of mutations or “hotspots” are not unique to the autism genome but instead are an intrinsic characteristic of the human genome, according to principal investigator Jonathan Sebat, PhD, professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecule medicine, and chief of the Beyster Center for Molecular Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Diseases at UC San Diego. “Our findings provide some insights into the underlying basis of autism—that, surprisingly, the genome is not shy about tinkering with its important genes” said Sebat. “To the contrary, disease-causing genes tend to be hypermutable.””

“Traces of dairy fat in ancient ceramic fragments suggest that people have been making cheese in Europe for up to 7,500 years. In the tough days before refrigerators, early dairy farmers probably devised cheese-making as a way to preserve, and get the best use out of, milk from the cattle that they had begun to herd.

 

“”Research has shown differences in the brains of teens who use alcohol and marijuana as compared to teens who do not use these drugs or report only very infrequent, minimal use,” said Joanna Jacobus, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego as well as corresponding author for the study. “Alcohol and marijuana may have a negative impact by altering important cellular communication in the brain, preventing development of new healthy cells, and/or causing inflammation, which can adversely impact healthy brain development in many ways. For example, the results can lead to changes in brain structure such as volume, and function such as activity.””

 

“According to the study – to appear in the forthcoming Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – two sets of behaviours will accurately predict future leadership and catch people’s attention. The first is prestige – the appearance of skill and competency. The second is dominance, which includes the ability to impose ideas on others through bullying and intimidation. “Our findings suggest there are really two ways to top the social ladder and gain leadership – impressing people with your skills or powering your way through old-fashioned dominance,” says lead author Joey Cheng, a PhD candidate in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “By measuring levels of influence and visual attention, we find that people defer to and readily spot the prestigious and dominant leaders.””

“”The idea of paying it forward is this cascade of goodwill will turn into a utopia with everyone helping everyone,” said lead researcher Kurt Gray, PhD. “Unfortunately, greed or looking out for ourselves is more powerful than true acts of generosity.” The study, published online in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, is the first systematic investigation of paying forward generosity, equality or greed, according to the authors. “The bulk of the scientific research on this concept has focused on good behavior, and we wondered what would happen when you looked at the entire gamut of human behaviors,” said Gray, an assistant professor of social psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who conducted the study with researchers at Harvard University.”

 

“We know that genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of cocaine abuse, but the potential role of epigenetic influences – how the expression of certain genes related to addiction is controlled – is still relatively unknown,” said senior author R. Christopher Pierce, PhD, associate professor of Neuroscience in Psychiatry at Penn. “This study is the first to show that the chemical effects of cocaine use can be passed down to future generations to cause a resistance to addictive behavior, indicating that paternal exposure to toxins such as cocaine can have profound effects on gene expression and behavior in their offspring.””

 

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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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