Laura’s Psychology Blog

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

October 8, 2014

readings in psychology for 8 october 2014 #PsychScience. #psychology

Filed under: a current story,behavioral neuroscience,General Psychology,Psychology — Laura Freberg @ 8:55 am
a fusion of Greek and Mexican foods

a fusion of Greek and Mexican foods in San Luis Obispo

Here is what I am reading today:

““As we have now discovered in cell cultures, exosomes seem to have a whole range of functions,” explained Dr. Eva-Maria Krämer-Albers. By means of their transmission activity, the small bubbles that are the vesicles not only promote electrical activity in the nerve cells, but also influence them on the biochemical and gene regulatory level. “The extent of activities of the exosomes is impressive,” added Krämer-Albers. The researchers hope that the understanding of these processes will contribute to the development of new strategies for the treatment of neuronal diseases. Their next aim is to uncover how vesicles actually function in the brains of living organisms.”

“If you sailed through school with high grades and perfect test scores, you probably did it with traits beyond sheer smarts. A new study of more than 6000 pairs of twins finds that academic achievement is influenced by genes affecting motivation, personality, confidence, and dozens of other traits, in addition to those that shape intelligence. The results may lead to new ways to improve childhood education.  

“I think this is going to end up being a really classic paper in the literature,” says psychologist Lee Thompson of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, who has studied the genetics of cognitive skills and who was not involved in the work. “It’s a really firm foundation from which we can build on.””

““We have a new way to regulate T-cell activation and potentially better control immune-mediated diseases,” said senior author Eyal Raz, MD, professor of medicine.

The receptor, called a TRPV1 channel, has a well-recognized role on nerve cells that help regulate body temperature and alert the brain to heat and pain. It is also sometimes called the capsaicin receptor because of its role in producing the sensation of heat from chili peppers.”

“”Height is almost completely determined by genetics, but our earlier studies were only able to explain about 10 percent of this genetic influence,” says Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, leader of the GIANT Consortium and co-senior investigator on the study. “Now, by doubling the number of people in our study, we have a much more complete picture of how common genetic variants affect height—how many of them there are and how much they contribute.””

“A high alcohol intake is linked to a heightened risk of human papillomavirus infection among men, suggests research in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. The findings seem to be independent of other risk factors for the infection, such as number of sexual partners and smoking.”

“For decades, researchers have been trying to nail down what influences eyewitness testimony and how much confidence to place in it. After a year of sifting through the scientific evidence, a committee of psychologists and criminologists organized by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) has now gingerly weighed in. “This is a serious issue with major implications for our justice system,” says committee member Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist at New York University in New York City. Their 2 October report, Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification, is likely to change the way that criminal cases are prosecuted, says Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, who was an external reviewer of the report.”

September 23, 2014

readings in psychology for 23 september 2014 #psychScience #psychology

Ronnie gets a little tired after our big walks!

Ronnie gets a little tired after our big walks!

Here’s what we are reading today!

“I’m not alone in this experience. A handful of studies in recent years have examined the prevalence of phantom cellphone vibrations, and they’ve come up with impressive numbers, from 68 percent of the medical staff at a Massachusetts hospital to 89 percent of undergraduates at a midwestern university, to more than 90 percent of Taiwanese doctors-in-training in the middle of their internships”

“‘We are hoping that this type of programme will eventually be useful in several different practical applications. Personally, I think a versatile household robot would be tremendously valuable, but we’re not there yet,’ says Strannegård.

The research team included Claes Strannegård, Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, and at the Department of Applied Information Technology, Chalmers University of Technology.”

“Most studies investigating P300 and recognition have been conducted in lab settings that are far removed from the kinds of information a real witness or suspect might be exposed to. This new study marks an important advance, says lead research John B. Meixner of Northwestern University, because it draws on details from activities in participants’ normal, daily lives.

“Much like a real crime, our participants made their own decisions and were exposed to all of the distracting information in the world,” he explains.”

“Professor Quentin Sattentau, who led the research at the Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, says: ‘This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a potential trigger for peanut allergy has been directly shown.’

Previous studies have shown that roasting modifies peanut proteins leading to altered recognition by the immune system, but they did not show that roasted peanuts can trigger an allergic immune response.”

“But in this new study, conducted by doctoral student Adaikkan Chinnakkaruppan in the laboratory of Prof. Kobi Rosenblum of the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa, in cooperation with the Riken Institute, the leading brain research institute in Tokyo, the researchers demonstrate for the first time that there is a functional link between the two brain regions.”

“Researchers do not yet know how exactly gut bacteria might influence behavior, but one hypothesis is that a leaky gut may allow substances to pass into the bloodstream that harm the brain. In the mouse study, the probiotic may have helped reshape the microbial ecosystem and made the intestines more robust, preventing the leakage of such substances, says co-author Elaine Y. Hsiao, a microbiologist at Caltech.”

“An earlier study by Dr. Molholm and colleagues suggested that brainwave electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings could potentially reveal how severely ASD individuals are affected. That study found that children with ASD process sensory information—such as sound, touch and vision—less rapidly than typically developing children do.”

“Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, assistant professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, and Hannes Saal, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in Bensmaia’s lab, reviewed more than 100 research studies on the physiological basis of touch published over the past 57 years. They argue that evidence once thought to show that different groups of receptors and nerves, or afferents, were responsible for conveying information about separate components of touch to the brain actually demonstrates that these afferents work together to produce the complex sensation.

“Any time you touch an object, all of these afferents are active together,” Bensmaia said. “They each convey information about all aspects of an object, whether it’s the shape, the texture, or its motion across the skin.””

 

September 15, 2014

readings in psychology for 15 september 2014 #PsychScience #psychology

the 12th was Roger and my 42nd wedding anniversary! Here we are in 1974 ( married 2 years) dressed very 70's California.

the 12th was Roger and my 42nd wedding anniversary! Here we are in 1974 ( married 2 years) dressed very 70’s California.

“Dizzy and nauseated? You could be dehydrated or have high blood pressure—or there could be a giant hole in your brain. After a 24-year-old woman complained of these symptoms at a hospital in China, doctors scanned her brain anddiscovered that her cerebellum was missing, a new study in Brain reports. Despite missing the entire region, which helps control movement, balance, and speaking, the woman displays only mild clumsiness and slightly slurred speech—a remarkable example of the brain’s ability to compensate, New Scientist reports today.”

“”Our aim was to investigate what is going on in the brains of people when they watch violent movies,” said lead investigator Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Friedman Brain Institute and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We hypothesized that if people have aggressive traits to begin with, they will process violent media in a very different way as compared to non-aggressive people, a theory supported by these findings.””

“Taski found that the mechanical pulse was modified at the collision point, but he did not completely examine the details of annhilation itself. Apparently, no other studies have replicated the original 1949 experiments. Falsification of the annhilation scenario really only requires showing sufficient exception, enough that there no longer is a “general case”. Thomas Heimburg, from the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhangen, has recently been able to do just that. Using a simple worm axon preparation where spikes could be timed and measured after stimulation from both ends, Heimburg showed that pulses survive collision.”

“Researchers Jose Fernandez and Dhaval Dave analyzed the number and wages of auxiliary health providers based on California Department of Developmental Services data from 2002 to 2011. Each time autism cases doubled, the number of autism health providers grew by as much as 14 percent over that of non-autism health providers, they found.”

“The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project of its kind.”

“”Responding sensitively to infant crying is a difficult yet important task,” notes Esther M. Leerkes, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who led the study. “Some mothers may need help controlling their own distress and interpreting babies’ crying as an attempt to communicate need or discomfort. Home visiting programs or parenting classes that help parents become more aware of stress and teach ways to reduce it, as well as individualized parent education efforts, may help build these skills.””

“Results show that past use of benzodiazepines for three months or more was associated with an increased risk (up to 51%) of Alzheimer’s disease. The strength of association increased with longer exposure and with use of long-acting benzodiazepines rather than short-acting ones.

Further adjustment for symptoms that might indicate the start of dementia, such as anxiety, depression or sleep disorders, did not meaningfully alter the results.”

“Dr Robert Dickinson from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “After a blow to the head, most of the damage to the brain doesn’t occur immediately but in the hours and days afterwards. At present we have no specific drugs to limit the spread of the secondary injury, but we think that is the key to successful treatment.

“This study shows that xenon can prevent brain damage and disability in mice, and crucially it’s effective when given up to at least three hours after the injury. It’s feasible that someone who hits their head in an accident could be treated in the hospital or in an ambulance in this timeframe.”

“Led by Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine, the team found that those with larger volume in a particular part of the parietal cortex were willing to take more risks than those with less volume in this part of the brain. The findings are published in the Sept. 10 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.”

““If you ask any psychiatrist seeing patients with autistic behavior their most striking observation from the clinic, they will say there are more males compared to females,” said Dr. Anilkumar Pillai, MCG neuroscientist and corresponding author of the study in Molecular Autism.”

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.”

 

 

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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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