My Presentation "Be the Scientist" at the Western Psychological Association Conference in Reno, Nevada this past weekend! So many interesting young scholars!

My Presentation “Be the Scientist” at the Western Psychological Association Conference in Reno, Nevada this past weekend! So many interesting young scholars!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Senior author Harvey Kliman, M.D., research scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, and research collaborators at the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, have found that abnormal placental folds and abnormal cell growths called trophoblast inclusions are key markers to identify newborns who are at risk for autism.”

“”The injury recovery process is complex,” said senior author Chay T. Kuo, M.D., PhD, George W. Brumley Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, Pediatrics and Neurobiology at Duke University. “There is a lot of interest in how new neurons can stimulate functional recovery, but if you make neurons without stopping the bleeding, the neurons don’t even get a chance. The brain somehow knows this, so we believe that’s why it produces these unique astrocytes in response to injury.””

“Prof. Michael E. McCullough discussed the research he and his colleagues, Eric J. Pedersen and Dr. Robert Kurzban, conducted. “As a psychologist who does a fair amount of laboratory experimentation,” McCullough tells, “I was rather surprised by some of the inferential holes in the studies that others were holding up as ‘proof’ for the existence of altruistic punishment. For starters, much of the most widely-touted work had been conducted in such a fashion that subjects were simply asked, in advance of interacting with a stranger, whether they would punish that the stranger if the stranger were to harm, help, or treat indifferently the participant. Generally,” he notes, “I think we can all agree that we expect the behavioral effects of life’s slings and arrows to come after those slings and arrows, but the economic third-party punishment games that are so important for the claim that altruistic punishment exists shine a spotlight on behaviors that occurred before their supposed causes had even happened. It was easy to design an experiment that solved this problem – and actually, I was also surprised to discover that no one had conducted this experiment before us.””

“”The mechanisms that control the expansion and folding of the brain during fetal development have so far been mysterious,” says Professor Magdalena Götz, a professor at the Institute of Physiology at LMU and Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Research at the Helmholtz Center Munich. Götz and her team have now pinpointed a major player involved in the molecular process that drives cortical expansion in the mouse. They were able to show that a novel nuclear protein called Trnp1 triggers the enormous increase in the numbers of nerve cells which forces the cortex to undergo a complex series of folds. Indeed, although the normal mouse brain has a smooth appearance, dynamic regulation of Trnp1 results in activating all necessary processes for the formation of a much enlarged and folded cerebral cortex.”

“People who may feel forced to exercise could include high school, college and professional athletes, members of the military or those who have been prescribed an exercise regimen by their doctors, said Benjamin Greenwood, an assistant research professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology.

“If exercise is forced, will it still produce mental health benefits?” Greenwood asked. “It’s obvious that forced exercise will still produce peripheral physiological benefits. But will it produce benefits to anxiety and depression?””

“Overweight or obese women were randomly allocated to one of two study groups an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group received an MRP Support app. The control group received a static app based on the information available with the MRP. A total of 58 adult women) participated in the 8-week trial.”

“Looking at the results from twenty overweight and obese individuals after 3 months of a weight loss program at a weekly clinic delivered via face-to-face or virtual reality and then 6 months of weight maintenance delivered via virtual reality, the investigators found virtual reality compares favorably with face-to-face for weight loss and may facilitate greater weight maintenance. Debra Sullivan, lead investigator, adds, “Although we found weight loss was significantly greater for face-to-face compared to virtual reality, weight maintenance was significantly better for virtual reality.””




kedodge · April 30, 2013 at 6:34 pm

It doesn’t surprise me that forced exercise still protects from anxiety and stress. Many people exercise just for the purpose of reducing their stress, so it kind of does makes sense that even “forced” exercise would help eliminate stress. I know that exercising definitely helps me personally in regards to reducing my stress and anxiety!

kedodge · April 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

And in response to weight loss with virtual reality..

It’s good that these people are getting administered some sort of weight-loss information, but I feel like if they actually spent time actively trying to lose weight instead of learning about healthy eating habits on Second Life it would make a lot more sense. Cool… you made an avatar that goes to the gym 10 times a day and eats a salad for every meal, while in reality you sat in a chair for 9 hours straight staring at a computer monitor….

mparisi · May 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm

The article about anxiety and exercise interested me. When they mentioned PE classes in grade school, I felt like I could relate. I was extremely self conscious, shy and anxious throughout junior high (as many young teenagers are), with PE being a main stressor. The anxiety would control my mood, and the exercise just made me more self conscious, I never left the class feeling good or “de-stressed.” While on a neurological level there may be differences in the brain after any type of exercise, I really think that perception is a more prominent factor in reducing anxiety. Not to mention that continuing exercise over a long period of time requires motivation, which will not come from an anxiety/forced atmosphere.

jhaskett · May 2, 2013 at 10:44 am

Response to the importance of brain healing:
This article is very pertinent to biological psychology especially since it discusses astrocytes which can be produced from stem cells in the brain after injury. The brain produces these special astrocytes because if the brain continued to produce neurons without ceasing the bleeding, there would be no point. These astrocytes help stop the bleeding. This article is really interesting to me because a few years ago I had a severe concussion and that’s when I realized just how detrimental brain injuries can be and how they really can happen to anyone. This is also why there are always many articles surrounding sports like football and even cheerleading which both have had many cases of permanent brain damage for competitors which affects their lives after sports indefinitely.

jhaskett · May 2, 2013 at 10:50 am

Response to anxiety and stress article:
College is surrounded by this notion of exercising and trying to stay healthy. There are many health benefits behind this “push.” Some benefits are obvious, but others are not so much. For example, there is a correlation between exercising and reduction in anxiety and stress. I know that, for me, this is very true when I have an especially stressful week. However, I do not necessarily agree with the article’s notion of forcing people to exercise because it is better for them. Honestly if people do not want to help themselves in more than one way, than it is no one else’s job to force them against their will. Hopefully those less active people will find some motivation to get healthier and in turn reduce any stress or anxiety them may have. It is for only their personal benefit.

ncamat · May 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

The article about Trnp1 was interesting. I have always wondered how our brain’s unique folds formed. Now that there is a possible mechanism I wonder how the gene knows how to create specific folds and separations in the brain like the central sulcus. Is it the same gene or is there another?

ncamat · May 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

The article about using apps as a diet/exercise support as opposed to support groups had a surprising conclusion. However, today people are generally with their phone more than they are with people. So phone’s can enforce the diet based on the amount of time the person spent on it. Another interesting experiment would be to vary the amount of times one could look at the app to reinforce the results of this experiment.

miacolbert · May 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

In response to the article “Forced Exercise May Still Protect Against Anxiety and Stress,” I 100% percent agree that even “forced” exercise has many benefits, including protection against anxiety. However, I think that the word “forced” is used too strongly throughout this article. The article gave examples of college and professional athletes, or exercise regimens given by doctors as “forced exercise.” But in my opinion, exercise can never 100% be forced. To do the physical activity that a professional or college athlete endures, or exercise even when your doctor isn’t present, you have to have some will power. Practice and game times may be mandatory, but even coaches cannot force you to physically move your body and exercise if you don’t want to. Because exercise (whether forced or not) has so many benefits and releases hormones, like endorphins, it makes sense that forced exercise would still help protect against anxiety.

miacolbert · May 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

In response to the article “Weight Loss Programs Via Virtual Reality,” If the virtual reality program can help people maintain their weight, then that is awesome! I think that if a person is obese though, they should first exercise in a face-to-face program or with a personal trainer to reach a healthy weight, and then they can rely on the virtual reality program to maintain their weight from there on out. While I am certain this type of program may work for some, I don’t think it is the best idea for everybody. The program sounds kind of like a video game, and while that appeals to some people, it may not motivate everybody. And just like video games or TV programs, there is usually a point where people become tired of doing/watching the same thing over and over again. It wouldn’t surprise me if after a few months people were getting tired of the virtual reality program. For me, exercising outside or at the gym works best because there is so much variety, but if the virtual reality program works for some people, more power to them!

rileywenger · May 15, 2013 at 10:57 pm

When reading Why Rituals Work, I was very intrigued when I read that it was proven that rituals actually do help a persons performance weather before a game, performance, test, etc. I found the section in the article really interesting when it stated that even people who don’t believe that rituals work or have any rituals they perform generally performed better if someone says something ritualistic to them such as “I’ll cross my fingers for you”. Clearly the person does not do better to prove that the crossing of fingers helped them, but it may be more of a subconscious booster, therefore helping them relax knowing they have support or maybe just giving them the confidence to do their best. More research about how and why this relationship exists would be very compelling.

rileywenger · May 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

In the article, “Forced Exercise May Still Protect Against Anxiety and Stress”, I found the conclusion to the experiment to be rather surprising. I hypothesized that the rats who were forced to exercise would not have the same benefits as those who chose to exercise, yet the experiment concluded that both had the same effect in reducing anxiety. Though more tests and experiments should be performed, if the conclusion remains the same, more young adults who experience high levels of stress should have more exterior pressure to exercise. Maybe 3 laps around the high school gym once a week just isn’t cutting it in this highly stressful world we live in. Therefore, it may be helpful for school supervisors to investigate more ways to make kids exercise.

ketom · May 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm

“Anxiety and exercise”

The thought of being forced into an action automatically implies corresponding increased stress levels. Interestingly, when the action is part of a normal and non axiety inducing routine the elevated stress may not occur. I never thought of it this way but I can understand how exercise, assuming it is a comon activity, triggers factors in the brain in similar ways as when under normal conditions. With this information from current research, people may be encouraged to keep a consistent daily or weekly routine regardless of whether they are under stress or not.

karlyalysonchapman · May 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Response to “Forced Exercise May Still Protect Against Anxiety and Stress”

After reading the title to this article but before reading the article entirely I thought that the results would show that forced exercise does not have as much impact on anxiety and stress in comparison to freely exercising. Therefore, the results of this study were extremely surprising to me. I expected that the sedentary rats would freeze for a similar amount of time as those rats forced to run however, the results showed contrary. I think this research is incredibly helpful for humans because it shows that no matter how one is exercising, forced or choosing, that exercise really does impact our overall health. The next time I go to the gym to workout by force from peers or some other circumstance where I have no control I can smile and believe that at least my anxiety will be lowered regardless of my wishes!

karlyalysonchapman · May 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Response to “Using Mobile Phone Apps in Weight-Loss Programs”

I decided to read this article and found it particularly interesting because I have used these types of phone applications before. In today’s time so many people have their phones on them at all times and therefore mobile apps that deliver objectives, summaries, or positive messages to those trying to lose weight could definitely have a lot of positive effects. I was not surprised by the results because apps that are constantly sending messages throughout the day are a constant reminder to stay on track and also, a good source of motivation (especially when someone is seeing positive results). I have tried out apps that monitor my food intake for the day and I would say that when using those apps I was more aware of what I was eating and therefore saw my weight staying the same or dropping a little unlike other times where I am not using an app and my weight seems to fluctuate a little more. I feel that for individuals who struggle with losing weight that these apps could be very helpful and allow someone to feel more positive, stay motivated, and reach a goal no matter how big or small that goal is!

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