Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Group Processes, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: So now, based on the previous post, you have heard of the Zika virus. While we are safe from this virus in Canada as the mosquitoes which bear it cannot survive here seems to be creeping into the United States where the climate is warmer. From a social psychological, rather than a developmental, perspective it is interesting to reflect upon the impact of a creeping threat on people’s reactions and psychological well-being.

Source: The Great Zika Freakout: A Teaching Moment in the Psychology of Fear, Davind Ropeik, Huffington Science

Date: January 29, 2016

Zika Fear

Photo Credit: Christophe Simon Via Getty Images

Links: Article Link —

So imagine that you live in the United States in an area where mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus are encroaching. Think about how you might react to this news. What information would you like to have access to? Where would you look for this information? How calmly and rationally do you think you would be able to evaluate this information? What sort of authorities or sources would you trust to provide you with appropriate information for making up your mind about how to think, feel, and act, in relation to this threat? Finally, are you aware of how you, either like or in contrast to other people, react to the sorts of threats? There is a lot to think about here.


Questions for Discussion:

  1. How big a risk does the Zika virus represent to those living in areas where mosquitoes bearing the virus live and survive?
  2. Thinking about the World Health Organization’s reaction to this issue in the way it’s been handled by the director of that organization you think it’s being managed well?
  3. Should we have specific guidelines readily prepared for how potential threats like this one are approached, and more importantly, about how information related to these threats is compiled and disseminated? What might psychology have to offer this regard?

References (Read Further):

Ropeik, D. (2010). How risky is it, really. Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts. McGraw-Hill Education, New York.

Posted by & filed under Child Development.

Description: Have you heard about the Zika virus? You may have run across a reference to it as a new concern for travelers and aid to countries like Brazil. However, have you heard about the possibility that exposure to this virus might be linked to increased rates of microcephaly in babies born in these regions? With the articles linked below and think about the implications of these possible connections for understanding of the potential teratogenic effects and issues.

Source: Possible association between music virus infection and microcephaly.

Date: January 29, 2016


Photo Credit: National Post

Links: Article/Video Link —

Center for Disease Control Update:

Any discussion of the prenatal effects on fetal development will at some point focus upon the potential impacts of the astonishingly large array of teratogens. The list of potential teratogens continues to increase partly as we discover new influences and, unfortunately, as new teratogens emerge. The zika virus, which is passed from human to human through mosquito intermediaries is one of these newer influences. While the World Health Organization is currently convening an investigation into the relationship between this virus and the rates of microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small heads and the potential for neurologic abnormalities) in countries such as Brazil and in areas that are already affected by another mosquito borne pathogen called dengue fever. Currently there is no known treatment or immunization available against the sink a virus consequently government actions have focused upon finding ways to limit exposure to mosquitoes and to reduce mosquito population.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do these articles suggest might be the role played by physical virus in the rates of microcephaly amongst infants born within Brazil recently?
  2. What factors might we need to consider in trying to understand the specific ways in which physical virus produces its possible teratogenic effects?
  3. What policies and practices and interventions might be considered in trying to deal with the impact of this possible connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly?

References (Read Further):

Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.


Tetro, J. A. (2016). Zika and microcephaly: causation, correlation, or coincidence?. Microbes and Infection.


Schuler-Faccini, L. (2016). Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly—Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.


Petersen, E. E. (2016). Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak—United States, 2016. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Psychological Health, Research Methods, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: What sort of activities make for healthier mental aging? Read this article and find out about some possibilities.

Source: Mentally Challenging Activities Key to a Healthy Aging Mind

Date: January 15, 2016


Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —–+ScienceDaily%29

So here is a research question. Are older people who engage in mentally challenging hobbies or activities able to do so because they are mentally adept or does engagement in those activities make or keep them mentally adept? What sort of study design would be required to test this question and what would the result be? Read the article linked above and find out.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sort of study design is needed to address the question raised above?
  2. Are there limitations to the interpretability and applicability of the research study discussed in the article?
  3. What implications would this line of research (assuming it turns out to be replicable) have for advice on cognitive aging?

References (Read Further):

Ian M. McDonough, Sara Haber, Gérard N. Bischof, Denise C. Park. The Synapse Project: Engagement in mentally challenging activities enhances neural efficiency. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2015; 33 (6): 865

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Persuasion, Social Psychology.

Description: Have you heard of the Netflix documentary called Making a Murder? Regardless think about this question. Is it possible to get someone to confess to a crime they did not commit or to even believe they actually did it? Read on!

Source: Making of a Murder Memory

Date: January 18, 2016

Murder Memory

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Links: Article Link —

Have you heard of the Netflix documentary called Making a Murder? If not then you are likely not paying attention to media trends but if so you are likely interested in the question of whether it is possible to make someone confess to something they did not do and if so is it possible to do so in such a way that they themselves believe they are actually guilty! The article linked above is written by Julia Shaw who conducts research and write on this question. The research results on this question may surprise you.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why (or when) might people confess to things they did not actually do?
  2. Do some people who confess to things they did not do actually believe they did those things?
  3. What implications does this area of research hold for criminal Justice investigation and adjudication?

References (Read Further):

Kessler, R. C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., Shipherd, J. C., & Salters-Pedneault, K. (2015). False Memories: Effect of Post-Event Visual and Linguistic Information. Encephalon, 218, 32.

Kurkela, K. A., & Dennis, N. A. (2016). Event-related fMRI studies of false memory: An Activation Likelihood Estimation meta-analysis. Neuropsychologia, 81, 149-167.

Patihis, L., & Loftus, E. F. (2015). Crashing Memory 2.0: False Memories in Adults for an Upsetting Childhood Event. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, Memory, Research Methods, Social Influence.

Description: It is heading towards another exam time (of course it is!) and you are swamped with reading – maybe if you took a speed reading course your life would become manageable! Well, as we say in Psychology, how about looking to see if there is any data on the efficacy of that sort of decision?

Source: Speed Reading Promises are Too Good to be True, Scientists Find

Date: January 14, 2016

SPeed Reading

Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science

Links: Article Link —

There are many bold claims made about the positive outcomes that are available to those who take speed reading courses. It is important to note that those claims are typically made by individuals or companies who are marketing their particular speed reading systems. When you see positive claims being offered it is worth digging in to see if there has been any objective research done on the topic or technique. Better still, look for a meta-analysis or a review article that collects together a large number of studies on the topic of interest and looks to see what sorts of claims can or cannot be made based on the weight of the overall evidence. In the case of speed reading the results of this sort of general review of research conducted by the authors of the paper referred to in this article suggests that you should save your money and make sure you have set aside enough time to do your required reading at your current pace. Take a couple of minutes (time well spent!) and read the article linked above to see what claims about speed reading make sense and which ones are just marketing hype and then get back to your required course reading!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does speed reading training help one to read faster?
  2. Some people seem to be able to read certain things very quickly. What sort of people and what sort of things does this work for and with?
  3. What do you do to ensure you get through your required readings over the term?

References (Read Further):

Rayner, Keith, Schotter, Elizabeth R., Masson, Michael E.J., Potter, Mary C. and Treiman, Rebecca (2016) So Much to Read, So Little Time: How do we Read, and Can Speed Reading Help? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(1), 4-34.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Neuroscience, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in CP, Schizophrenia, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: The social withdrawal and emotional blunting that often present as symptoms amongst individuals struggling with schizophrenia have been hypothesized to not be linked to the neuro-chemical functioning within an area or areas of the brain. The suggestion was made due to the lack of response of these symptoms to neuro-chemical treatments that were producing positive results in relation to other symptoms of schizophrenia. This article in the research study upon which it reports suggest, positively, that we may need to rethink this hypothesis.

Source: Mouse Study May Offer Clues to Mysteries of Schizophrenia, Health Day, USNews, Robert Preidt

Date: January 6, 2016


Photo Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Links: Article Link –

The distinction between positive (e.g., hearing voices, feeling paranoid) and negative (e.g., social withdrawal and emotional blunting) symptoms of schizophrenia used to be partially based on the observation that the positive symptoms responded to drug therapy and negative symptoms did not. This lead to the suggestion that positive symptoms were due to neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain while negative symptoms were more likely due to physical changes in the brain as a consequence of struggling with schizophrenia. This article describes a study using a mouse model brain of schizophrenia which suggests that this distinction may not be a useful one. It’s worth reading because of what it has to say about this distinction but also as a way to understand how brain based research on schizophrenia is being conducted using mouse models.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How have we historically distinguished between positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia?
  2. What area or areas of the brain may be involved in the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia?
  3. What might some of the implications be if the results of this study are supported through replication for our thinking about and her treatment approaches to symptom patterns that are characteristic of schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

Piskorowski, Rebecca A., Nasrallah, Kaoutsar, Diamantopoulou, Anastasia, Mukai, Jun, Hassan, Sami I., Siegelbaum, Steven A., Gogos, Joseph A., and Chevaleyre, Vivien (2016) Age-Dependent Specific Changes in Area CA2 of the Hippocampus and Social Memory Deficit in a Mouse Model of the 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, Neuron, Volume 89, Issue 1, 163-176.

Arguello, P. A., & Gogos, J. A. (2006). Modeling madness in mice: one piece at a time. Neuron, 52(1), 179-196.

Paus, T., Keshavan, M., & Giedd, J. N. (2008). Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence?. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 947-957.

Edwards, A. C., Bigdeli, T. B., Docherty, A. R., Bacanu, S., Lee, D., de Candia, T. R., … & Walsh, D. (2015). Meta-analysis of Positive and Negative Symptoms Reveals Schizophrenia Modifier Genes. Schizophrenia bulletin, sbv119.

Dyck, D. G., Short, R. A., Hendryx, M. S., Norell, D., Myers, M., Patterson, T., … & McFarlane, W. R. (2014). Management of negative symptoms among patients with schizophrenia attending multiple-family groups. Psychiatric services.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: The recently released Will Smith film, Concussion, dramatizes a rising concern over the long-term effects of head injuries suffered by professional football players (among other athletes). This video story reports on a study in which the brains of former NFL players would passed away were autopsied and studied in detail for the effects of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Even if you haven’t seen the will Smith movie this is video story is worth a look and worth reflecting upon

Source: Landmark Study Focuses on NFL Players Brains: Study Finds Brain Disease in 96% of Dead NFL Players Tested, Newsy.

Date: January 10, 2016

Football Brain Injury

Photo Credit: Getty/Images / Doug Pensinger

Links: Article Link –

Video Link –

The research described in this video story indicates that there are signs in virtually all postmortem studies of the brains of former NFL players of the effects of concussions experienced while they’re playing the game and reflected in the form of what is referred to as CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL has clearly been struggling with how to deal with this emerging corpus of medical data. It is certainly true that the former football players who died at a relatively young age are very likely that a biased sample within which one might expect higher rate of brain injury. As well, it is very difficult to do good research on the effects of repeated injury on the brains of individuals currently involved in the game. Of course, it is also clear that the NFL has a deep financial interest in the game of football as it is currently played. There have been a number of rule changes initiated in an effort to reduce the number of “head shots” and other on field actions which clearly players brains at increased risk. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years whether research techniques are developed or other forms of data acquired such to this question could be more directly addressed with current players and with former players who are still alive. Ethically, whose decisions are these to make?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is CTE and how might regular routine participation in professional football contribute to its development?
  2. Ethically, is it possible to balance the long-term physical effects of participation in a particular professional activity against the large sums of money that can be earned by engaging in that activity currently within large sports organizations like the National Football League?
  3. What sorts of policy implications might there be this line of research, should it continue to show the kinds of data that have already been revealed, but only for professional football but also for all of its precursors from college football all the way back to child football leagues?

References (Read Further):

Asplund, C. A., & Best, T. M. (2015). Brain damage in American football. BMJ, 350, h1381.


Edlow, B. L., & Hinson, H. E. (2015). Blowing the whistle on sports concussions Will the risk of dementia change the game?. Neurology, 85(17), 1442-1443.


Filley, C. M., & Bernick, C. (2015). Children and football A cautionary tale. Neurology, 84(11), 1068-1069.


Johnson, L. S. M. (2015). Sport-Related Neurotrauma and Neuroprotection: Are Return-to-Play Protocols Justified by Paternalism?. Neuroethics, 8(1), 15-26.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Psychology, Disorders of Childhood, Health Psychology, Intervention: Children Adolescents, The Self.

Description: Have you heard anybody say that they think they might be addicted to video games? Have you wondered that about yourself? At least you certainly heard some mention in the media of the possibility of young people becoming addicted to video games. The question of whether video games ought to be included in the diagnostic and statistical manual as a genuine addiction was debated at length prior to the release of the fifth edition of the DSM. Read this article and then reflect on what your view on this matter might be.

Source: When Video Games Become and Addiction, Vital Signs, CNN, Samantha Bresnahan and Will Worley

Date: January 6, 2016

Addiction to Gameing

Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —

The psychologist interviewed as part of the beauty article linked above takes the position that it is possible for someone to become addicted to video gaming. Considering whether or not to include Internet Gaming Disorder as a diagnostic category within the DSM when work was underway on the recently released fifth edition was quite intense. In the end it was decided to include Internet Gaming Disorder as a “Condition for Further Study” in the DSM and that the American Psychiatric Association would request additional research on this question. In reflecting on this decision it is important to look closely to see how addiction is defined and also to look closely at the research focusing upon whether or not Internet gaming meets the criteria for acceptable definition of addiction. The article linked above discusses some of these criteria and more information can be gathered from the additional links below if you want to look at this matter a little more deeply.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you think that Internet Gaming Disorder should be included as a type of addiction within the DSM and within our efforts through research and clinical practice to understand the behaviour of serious gamers?
  2. What sort of evidence have you noted that supports or that argues against your answer to the previous question?
  3. What criteria would a pattern of behaviour need to meet if it were to be considered seriously for inclusion within the DSM as a disorder reflecting and addiction?

References (Read Further):

Internet Gaming Disorder Fact Sheet: (if a pop up screen opens asking you to sign in to just close it and the pdf should download anyway.

King, D. L., & Delfabbro, P. H. (2014). The cognitive psychology of Internet gaming disorder. Clinical psychology review, 34(4), 298-308.

Kaptsis, D., King, D. L., Delfabbro, P. H., & Gradisar, M. (2016). Withdrawal symptoms in internet gaming disorder: A systematic review. Clinical psychology review, 43, 58-66.

Forrest, C. J., King, D. L., & Delfabbro, P. H. (2016). The measurement of maladaptive cognitions underlying problematic video-game playing among adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 399-405.

Gentile, D. (2009). Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18 A National Study. Psychological science, 20(5), 594-602.
Choo, H., Sim, T., Liau, A. K., Gentile, D. A., & Khoo, A. (2015). Parental influences on pathological symptoms of video-gaming among children and adolescents: A prospective study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(5), 1429-1441.

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Development of the Self, Motivation-Emotion, The Self.

Description: So why do we make New Year’s resolutions? We typically don’t stick to them and yet the beginning of a new year, a birthday, or even just a start of a new month are all possible times we might decide that we need to change. Why is that?

Source: Can Psychology Teach us How to Stick to Our New Years Resolutions? NPR, All Things Considered

Date: December 21, 2015


Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —

Download Story (Audio)

According to the researchers interviewed in this National Public Radio story New Year’s Day is one of a number of what might be referred to as temporal markers. Such markers are used by individuals as possible points at which they’re going to endeavor to change some aspect of themselves or their behaviour, hopefully for the better. Essentially what people are doing is imagining a future self that is going to be better than a current self and then they’re committing to work towards becoming that better self. Rather than feeling badly about resolutions that you don’t stick with, researchers have suggested that picking a temporal landmark and then setting one sites on a better version of oneself actually helps us to change our behaviour and positive ways. So we won’t always be successful but we will do better than if we decide at the outset the change is not going to work. Give this article a listen and then decide whether you want to make any New Year’s resolutions.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the role played by temporal landmarks such as New Year’s Day in our ongoing efforts toward self-improvement?
  2. How effective have your experiences with resolutions at various temporal landmark points in your life been?
  3. What sorts of things should we do in order to increase the likelihood that will be at least somewhat successful in attaining the sorts of behaviours contained within a resolutions for personal change?

References (Read Further):

Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. (2014). The fresh start effect: Temporal landmarks motivate aspirational behavior. Management Science, 60(10), 2563-2582.

Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. (2014). Put your imperfections behind you: Why and how meaningful temporal landmarks motivate aspirational behavior. Available at SSRN 2420476.

Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. (2015). Put Your Imperfections Behind You Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Initiation When They Signal New Beginnings. Psychological science, 0956797615605818.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Child Development, Intergroup Relations, Moral Development, Neuroscience.

Description: Within Western society, we typically view the basic psychological unit of analysis to be an autonomous self-interested individual person. This basic unit of analysis gives rise to problems only consider concepts like empathy or prosocial behaviour where individuals act apparently against their self-interest by helping others. So if we are self-interested why would we ever care about strangers? The study discussed in this article looks at this question directly. What kinds of experiences do you think might be necessary for individuals to begin to show signs of caring empathically for a stranger?

Source: Study Shows Empathy for Strangers Can Be Learned, Janice Wood, Psych Central

Date: December 21, 2015


Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —

Empathy is a problematic construct when viewed from within a Western psychological framework that focuses upon autonomous self-interested individuals is the basic unit of psychological analysis. If empathy and prosocial behaviour involve caring for someone in ways that lead want to put someone else’s interests ahead of one’s own it becomes hard to understand why individuals would feel this way towards others to whom they are not related or otherwise strategically connected. And yet, it is clear that people behave empathically not only towards direct relatives but also occasionally towards complete strangers. If we want to increase the level of caring particularly amongst people who don’t know one another very well it is important to focus on the kinds of interactions and behaviours that can give rise to and support empathic responses to others particularly when those others are strangers. The study described in this article looked specifically at the question of whether a relatively small number of positive interactions between individuals who did not know one another would have an impact on the areas of the brain that are typically activated when one is experiencing empathic emotions. The findings were encouraging in that they suggested that a relatively small number of positive interactions among strangers were sufficient to significantly increase the brain based neural activities associated with empathic responses.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why it might it be that Western psychological theories struggle with the concept of empathy?
  2. What brain-based responses does the research discussed in this article look at as markers of empathic responding?
  3. What kinds of parental or school-based experiences might be worth considering if we wanted to increase the level of general empathic responding in children being raised within Western cultures?

References (Read Further):

Hein, G., Engelmann, J. B., Vollberg, M. C., & Tobler, P. N. (2015). How learning shapes the empathic brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201514539.