Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

September 9, 2014

readings in psychology for 9 september 2014 #PsychScience #psychology

Filed under: behavioral neuroscience,Biological Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 8:39 am
Taking an afternoon walk and a bit of coffee is relaxing after a day at the computer!

Taking an afternoon walk and a bit of coffee is relaxing after a day at the computer!

Here is what I am reading today:

They are wounded veterans, and after serving America, this week in London they will compete for America against other wounded veterans at the first-ever Invictus Games.

“Invictus” means “unconquered,” and that is exactly what these games will represent, said Sgt. Major Chris Self, who lost his leg after being shot in Iraq and is now captain of Team USA.

“It’s just telling everybody that hey, you know, we can overcome, and if we can do it, then those that are sitting at home watching or those that are sitting at home reading about it, they can do it too,” Self said.

“Intelligence, cognitive ability or cognitive performance is usually measured by a battery of tests that aim to quantify skills such as memory and analytical ability. There is loads of variation between people in how they perform on such tests, and these differences can be due to genetic and environment factors, and their interplay.”

“”This gets right to the heart of understanding, possibly, the mechanism by which one form of lipid is impacting the process of neuron degeneration,” said Dr. Guy Caldwell, UA professor of biological sciences and one of the study’s co-authors.”

“Laura Cacciamani, who recently earned her doctorate in psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has found supporting evidence. Cacciamani’s is the lead author on a co-authored study, published online in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, shows that the brain’s subconscious processing has an impact on behavior and decision-making.”

“”While we cannot say whether obesity is a cause or an effect of these patterns of dopamine activity, eating based on unconscious habits rather than conscious choices could make it harder to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, especially when appetizing food cues are practically everywhere,” said Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D., lead author and a senior investigator at National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of NIH. “This means that triggers such as the smell of popcorn at a movie theater or a commercial for a favorite food may have a stronger pull for an obese person – and a stronger reaction from their brain chemistry – than for a lean person exposed to the same trigger.””

“In a statement accompanying the publication of these findings, Dr. Jacques Blacher, the study’s lead author, said that new research like this should play a prominent role in determining public health initiatives for reducing epidemic hypertension: “Hypertension is the world’s most prevalent chronic disease. It affects more than 30% of adults aged 25 and above, and accounts for 9.4 million deaths every year. Given its increasing prevalence and the difficulty we as a global health community have in managing it, more should be done to identify causal behavioral relationships to blood pressure outcomes that can lead to better strategies for preventing hypertension.””

“”This increased sensitivity to animacy suggests that people are casting a wide net when looking for people they can possibly relate to—which may ultimately help them maximize opportunities to renew social connections,” explains psychological scientist and lead researcher Katherine Powers of Dartmouth College.”

“This study is the first experimental evidence of these effects, said Saurabh Thosar, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon Health & Science University, who led the study as a doctoral candidate at IU’s School of Public Health-Bloomington.

“The UB research has the potential to identify novel therapies for treating cocaine addiction and other psychostimulants, for which no effective drug therapy exists.

“Why is it that after staying clean for a month or a year, an addict will, seemingly without reason, start using drugs again?” asks David Dietz, PhD, principal investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It’s because addiction has rewired the brain.””

 

September 2, 2014

readings for psychology for 2 september 2014 #psychscience #psychology

Our 2nd edition of Introductory and my 3rd edition of Behavioral Neuroscience

Our 2nd edition of Introductory and my 3rd edition of Behavioral Neuroscience

Here is what we are reading today:

“A study by Melissa Koenig of the University of Minnesota and colleagues shows that by the time they reach the age of seven, children can think strategically, in an adult manner. The researchers found that when playing games, children older than 6.5 use strategies comparable to those used by adults. The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“”In a recent study by psychologists Colin Camerer and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, chimps and humans played a strategy game – and unexpectedly, the chimps outplayed the humans.”

“”Like people, each animal has unique experiences as it goes through its life. And we suspect that these life experiences can alter the expression of genes, and as a result, affect an animal’s susceptibility to stress,” says senior author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology. “We have taken an important step toward explaining the molecular origins of this stress gap by showing that inbred mice react differently to stress, with some developing behaviors that resemble anxiety and depression, and others remaining resilient.””

“Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent social support and exchanges in the home that benefit adolescents’ well-being, Elgar suggests that this family contact and communication can also reduce some of the distressing effects of cyberbullying.”

“”It is the last nail in the coffin for the hypothesis that Neanderthals were cognitively inferior to modern humans,” said Paul Tacon, an expert in rock art at Australia’s Griffith University. Tacon, who was not involved in the study, said the research showed that the engravings were made with great effort for ritual purposes, to communicate with others, or both.

“We will never know the meaning the design held for the maker or the Neanderthals who inhabited the cave but the fact that they were marking their territory in this way before modern humans arrived in the region has huge implications for debates about what it is to be human and the origin of art,” said Tacon.”

“”Our work has shown that two types of first-order tactile neurons that supply thesensitive skin at our fingertips not only signal information about when and how intensely an object is touched, but also information about the touched object’s shape” says Andrew Pruszynski, who is one of the researchers behind the study.

The study also shows that the sensitivity of individual neurons to the shape of an object depends on the layout of the neuron’s highly-sensitive zones in the skin.”

“It looks like environmental enrichment is a way to improve the treatment of children with autism and perhaps other mental disorders. Moreover, the therapy can be done at almost no cost and with no need for any kind of expertise. But the really big idea is that there may be no reason to wait until you or your child has a neurological disorder to enrich your mind. We are currently working to evaluate the notion that it may be possible to use this approach to maximize our mind’s capabilities throughout our lifetime.”

 

 

August 21, 2014

readings in psychology for 21 august 2015 #PsychScience #psychology

a Hawaii Laura

 

Here is what we’re reading today:

“Though the psychologists may have been surprised, many of the people with dyslexia I speak with are not. In our laboratory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics we have carried out studies funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate talents for science among those with dyslexia. The dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described to me his sense of this as a sensitivity to “things out of place.”  He’s easily bothered by the weeds among the flowers in his garden, and he felt that this sensitivity for visual anomalies was something he built on in his career as a professional scientist.  Such differences in sensitivity for causal perception may explain why people like Carole Greider and Baruj Benacerraf have been able to perform Nobel prize-winning science despite lifelong challenges with dyslexia.”

Smoking during pregnancy has also been linked with miscarriage, premature birth, lower birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and learning problems.

The findings provide new information and also reinforce other research, said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“There’s no safe smoking,” he said, “and there doesn’t seem to be much safe second-hand smoking either.””

“Professor Jim Deuchars, Professor of Systems Neuroscience in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “You feel a bit of a tickling sensation in your ear when the TENS machine is on, but it is painless. It is early days—so far we have been testing this on healthy subjects—but we think it does have potential to improve the health of the heart and might even become part of the treatment for heart failure.””

“Our work shows that there is also an association between the type of cognitive training performed and the resulting effect. This is true for healthy seniors who want to improve their attention or memory and is particularly important for patients who suffer from damage in specific areas of the brain. We therefore need to better understand the ways to activate certain areas of the brain and target this action to get specific results,” explained Sylvie Belleville, who led the research.”

“For dog lovers, comparative psychologists Friederike Range and Zsófia Virányi have an unsettling conclusion. Many researchers think that as humans domesticated wolves, they selected for a cooperative nature, resulting in animals keen to pitch in on tasks with humans. But when the two scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna studied lab-raised dog and wolf packs, they found that wolves were the tolerant, cooperative ones. The dogs, in contrast, formed strict, linear dominance hierarchies that demand obedience from subordinates, Range explained last week at the Animal Behavior Society meeting at Princeton University. As wolves became dogs, she thinks, they were bred for the ability to follow orders and to be dependent on human masters.”

Check out some of the most unbelievable correlations!!

August 19, 2014

readings in psychology for 19 august 2015 #PsychScience #psych #BioPsych

One of the many illustrations in my new edition of Behavioral Neuroscience - and Introduction to Biological Psychology... available JANUARY 2015 through CENGAGE>

One of the many illustrations in my new edition of Behavioral Neuroscience – and Introduction to Biological Psychology… available JANUARY 2015 through CENGAGE.

Here is what we are reading today:

“Clinicians and researchers have known for decades that gender shapes the kinds of risks and protections people are exposed to in everyday life, causing men and women to experience different types of health problems. The study by medical sociologist Brea Perry is unique because it adds the genetic dimension.

“It is likely that gene-environment interactions may operate differently for men and women, perhaps because they experience some aspects of the social world in divergent ways,” Perry said.”

“In 2011, research published in the journal Cell by EPFL’s Laboratory of Neuroenergetics and Cellular Dynamics in collaboration with a U.S. team unveiled the critical role of lactate. “In vivo, when the transfer of lactate from astrocytes to neurons is blocked, we found that the memorization process was also blocked,” explains EPFL professor Pierre Magistretti, head of the lab. “We thus knew that it was an essential fuel for that process.””

““We wanted to understand how children acquire new knowledge, and determine why some children learn to retrieve facts from memory better than others,” said Vinod Menon, PhD, the Rachael L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and the senior author of the study. “This work provides insight into the dynamic changes that occur over the course of cognitive development in each child.””

“Dr Katie Lunnon, first author on the study, from the University of Exeter Medical School, added: “It’s intriguing that we find changes specifically in the regions of the brain involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Future studies will focus on isolating different cell-types from the brain to see whether these changes are neuron-specific.””

“Bats demonstrate remarkable skill in tracking targets such as bugs through the trees in the dark of night. James Simmons, professor of neuroscience at Brown University, the review paper’s author, has long sought to explain how they do that.”

“Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making,” explained the study’s lead author, Sam Dewitt. “Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network.””

Fish gotta school, birds gotta flock, and robots, it seems, gotta swarm. At least, that’s what they’re doing on the workbench of Harvard University computer scientists Michael Rubenstein and Radhika Nagpal and Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Alejandro Cornejo. Each of their 1024 robots, called Kilobots, is a three-legged disk the size of a U.S. quarter, sporting a single curl of metallic hair. En masse, they form a mechanical multitude an order of magnitude larger than any robot swarm ever built—a possible precursor to future robot work squads choreographed for chores such as cleaning up oil spills.

“But Martin Blaser, a microbiologist at New York University in New York City, suspected that the microbiome’s development has a bigger impact on metabolism later in life. Studies with livestock such as pigs and chickens showed that low doses of antibiotics administered when animals are young caused them to grow faster and increased the amount of fat they gained. Blaser and colleagues wanted to determine if the metabolic changes are driven by how the antibiotics altered the animal’s microbiome, and they turned to mice to investigate the link.”

 

August 9, 2014

readings in psychology for 9 august 2014 #PsychScience #psychology

Walking around my neighborhood with Google Glass testing out their map function! Awesome!

Walking around my neighborhood with Google Glass testing out their map function! Awesome!

Here is what we are reading today:

“”There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” said senior study author Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist. “Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.”

Zee is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.”

“However, new research led by Michigan State University psychology professor David Z. Hambrick suggests that, unfortunately for many of us, success isn’t exclusively a product of determination — that despite even the most hermitic practice routine, our genes might still leave greatness out of reach.”

“Jia-huai Wang, PhD, who led the work at Dana-Farber and Peking University in Beijing, is a corresponding author of a report published in the August 7 online edition of Neuron that explains how one guidance protein, netrin-1, can either attract or repel a brain cell to steer it along its course. Wang and co-authors at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg, Germany, used X-ray crystallography to reveal the three-dimensional atomic structure of netrin-1 as it bound to a docking molecule, called DCC, on the axon of a neuron. The axon is the long, thin extension of a neuron that connects to other neurons or to muscle cells.”

“Last month, a great white shark nearly killed a surfer off the California coast. Stopping such attacks is tricky: Slaying sharks angers environmentalists, and, according to research, it doesn’t actually reduce the attack rates. Shark nets, meanwhile, kill large numbers of by-catch, such as dolphins, seals, manatees, rays, turtles, and birds. So officials in Recife, Brazil, sought another solution to address the abnormally high numbers of shark attacks—55 incidents resulting in 19 deaths between 1992 and 2011—along a 20-kilometer stretch of the country’s shoreline.”

“”Uric acid may play a direct, causative role in the development of metabolic syndrome,” said first author Brian J. DeBosch, MD, PhD, an instructor in pediatrics. “Our work showed that the gut is an important clearance mechanism for uric acid, opening the door to new potential therapies for preventing or treating type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

Recent research by the paper’s senior author, Kelle H. Moley, MD, the James P. Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and her collaborators has shown that a protein called GLUT9 is an important transporter of uric acid.”

“Writing in the August 7 early online edition ofNeuron, lead scientist Paul Lu, PhD, of the UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences and colleagues said the human iPSC-derived axons extended through the white matter of the injury sites, frequently penetrating adjacent gray matter to form synapses with rat neurons. Similarly, rat motor axons pierced the human iPSC grafts to form their own synapses.

The iPSCs used were developed from a healthy 86-year-old human male.”

“”We are finding that developmental pathways that appear to be quiescent during adulthood are transiently reactivated to allow new memory formation to occur,” says Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and senior author of the paper.

The first author of the paper is postdoctoral fellow Brian Dias, PhD, and co-authors include undergraduates Jared Goodman, Ranbir Ahluwalia and Audrey Easton, and post-doctoral researcher Raul Andero, PhD.”

If you ask a child which is the world’s fastest animal, they may tell you anything from cheetah, falcon or swift, to sailfish. If you ask a neuroscientist what is the fastest spiking neuron, you probably won’t even get an answer right away. A few might offer that the neurons that form the auditory nerve can track a sound waveform with spikes at up to 1000hz—for a little while at least. Others might note that cells in several brainstem complexes can blast away at over half that speed for much longer periods of time when stabilizing the eyeballs. But if you continue to press them, they might respond with the familiar manta: “fast-spiking parvalbumin-positive interneurons””

“An international team, led by Dr David Llewellyn at the University of Exeter Medical School, found that study participants who were severely Vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The team studied elderly Americans who took part in the Cardiovascular Health Study. They discovered that adults in the study who were moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 per cent increased risk of developing dementia of any kind, and the risk increased to 125 per cent in those who were severely deficient.”

“Gerlinde Metz, senior author of the article, says: “We show that stress across generations becomes powerful enough to shorten pregnancy length in rats and induce hallmark features of human preterm birth. A surprising finding was that mild to moderate stress during pregnancy had a compounding effect across generations. Thus, the effects of stress grew larger with each generation.””

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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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