Posted by & filed under Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: In introductory psychology classes like the one I teach we often talk about the critical role that the hippocampus seems to play in memory processes. But we don’t do is talk about just what goes on in the hippocampus as its playing its role in the memory formation process. The article discussed in this Science Daily blog looks at one of these processes: the one concerning how memory processes are turned on in the hippocampus.

Source: ScienceDaily Discovering the brain’s memory switch

Date: October 2, 2015


Photo Sources

Links: Article Link —

If you have had an introductory psychology course with a section on memory you’ve probably heard about HM, a man who had most of his hippocampus removed an effort to cure his epileptic seizures. HM was Henry Molaison and the consequence of this surgery was that he completely lost the ability to form new long-term memories. Research described in this article conducted by the Institute for brain science in Korea seems to have identified mechanisms by which a memory inhibitor in the hippocampal region is turned off when novel information is presented allowing the hippocampus to process that new information into memory.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. In general terms what does this research suggest about how the hippocampus performs its contribution to the memory process?
  2. Do you have any concerns about the claims made the threat to human memory in light of the fact that this research was conducted with mice?
  3. How does the experience of HM relate to the information on hippocampal function described in this article?

References (Read Further):

Penfield, W. (2015). Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain. Princeton University Press.

Moustafa, A. A. (2015). On and Off switches in the brain. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 9.

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Given our exposure to American media, you may have noticed that a number of organizations are referring to this week as mental health awareness week in the United States. In Canada the Canadian mental health Association runs a mental health awareness a week in May. If you follow the links below you can review the materials that the CMHA made available last May and you can review their general and specific recommendations for helping to ensure that people are not saying phine when they mean fine.

Source: Canadian Mental Health Association: Fine or phine?.

Date: October 4, 2015


Photo Source: CMHA

and inLinks: Article Links —

Psychology and Psychiatry researchers have provided us with a great deal of information about the behaviours that other determinants support the development and maintenance of mental health. However, large number of people who need assistance and would benefit from such assistance don’t go and find it. As a great of discussion about the notion of stigma, or the people who need assistance in or struggling with mental health issues may not seek that assistance out for fear of the negative attributions either they make themselves or that they believe others will make about them if they let on that they’re not doing well. The Canadian Mental Health Association works hard to try and develop ways to reduce the stigma associated with difficulties in the area mental health and to increase the likelihood that Canadians who need help will get help. Go to the web link above and look through the general and themed fact sheets to get a sense of the nature of the issues involved in relation to mental health and stigma.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do you think it is that many people who need assistance for issues related to mental health seem reluctant to seek out that assistance?
  2. What sorts of things should we as individuals or as members of society be doing to reduce the impact of stigma on the efforts of those who need assistance gaining access to that assistance?
  3. What are some of the things you can think of that you could do to help a friend who you think might benefit from an opportunity to speak to mental health professional?

References (Read Further):

Canadian Mental Health Association (2015) Mental health week toolkit for general public,

Betton, V., Borschmann, R., Docherty, M., Coleman, S., Brown, M., & Henderson, C. (2015). The role of social media in reducing stigma and discrimination. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(6), 443-444.

Koike, S., Yamaguchi, S., Ojio, Y., Shimada, T., Watanabe, K. I., & Ando, S. (2015). Long-term effect of a name change for schizophrenia on reducing stigma. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 1-8.



Posted by & filed under Aggression, Child Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Social Psychology.

Description: With the 2015 2016 NHL season about to start seemed like a good idea to see what sports psychologists have had to say recently about the development of young hockey players. So, here’s the question; What sorts of people or environmental events influence the development of positive or negative behaviours among young hockey players. In other words where does unsportsmanlike behaviour come from?.

Source: Various articles cited in reference list below.

Date: October 4, 2015

Hockey 1 Hockey 2

Photo Sourses: Mike Zegil, YouTube and

Links: Article Links —;jsessionid=560811E820E0ABD887F4AD612E8BE43B

You can think of sportsmanship is essentially an evolving questions of ethics. A big part of learning sportsmanlike or unsportsmanlike behaviour involves learning more than the behaviours themselves, and includes the development of positive attitudes towards how one’s competes when playing sports like hockey. The articles linked above in reference below examine the question of whether unsportsmanlike behaviour amongst young hockey players is simply a part of the game, part of the individual differences that make up the range of players within the game, or influenced by coaches, parents, teammates or others. Pick one or two of the articles and in reading through them see what you can come up with in the way of answers to the question of how unsportsmanlike players are made or perhaps more appropriately how unsportsmanlike behaviour is encouraged.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is unsportsmanlike behaviour among young hockey players simply a reflection of individual differences that were there prior to the players lacing up for the first time raises something that’s learned from parents, coaches, and others?
  2. What are the sorts of things that parents, coaches, and young players themselves could or should do to encourage the development of sportsmanlike play in hockey?
  3. Who should be responsible for managing the psychological growth and development of young hockey players?

References (Read Further):

Weiss, M. R., Kipp, L. E., & Goodman, D. (2015). Unsportsmanlike play in youth ice hockey: gender and age differences in attitudes and perceived social approval. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(1), 1-17.

Davies, M. J., Babkes Stellino, M., Nichols, B. A., & Coleman, L. M. (2015). Other-Initiated Motivational Climate and Youth Hockey Players’ Good and Poor Sport Behaviors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 1-19.


Weiss, Maureen R., Kipp, Lindsay E. and Goodman, David (2015) Youth hockey players attitudes, perceived social approval, situational temptation, and role models.

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Clinical Neuropsychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Neuroscience, Psychological Intervention.

Description: There has been a lot of concern about the effective videogame violence, but what about positive effects of gaming? This article discusses the possibility that engaging in action gaming may have a long-term positive effect on the executive function of the brains of gamers.

Source: The Inquisitive Mind, Experience in Action Games and the Effects on Executive Control, Tilo Stroback and Torsten Schubert.

Date: October 3, 2015

Exective function and gaming2

Links: Article Links —

Despite concern about the negative effects of using certain kinds of games other positive effects of gaming? Is been a great deal of interest over the last two years across a broad range of research topics in executive functions. Executive functions are the ways by which people (or people’s brains) control their thoughts, their emotions, and their ongoing behaviour. Basically executive functions regulate how we process information and manage our thought processes. The turn out to be quite important and we manage ourselves and the world.

Gaming, particularly in action games, seems to lead to positive effects on our ability to shift between different informational inputs which in turn can positively affect our ability to process information generally. The article describes a number of studies that provide us with a good overview of how the sort of research proceeds and what sort of things we can learn by paying attention to what happens in people’s brains while they game.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which gaming, particularly in action games, might positively influence our mental functioning?
  2. Are there implications of the parent effects of gaming on executive function for how we approach and possibly plan for cognitive aging?
  3. What are some of the other areas we might see potential benefits of gaming experience in relation to broader aspects of everyday life?

References (Read Further):

See the list of references attached to the article linked to above in this blog.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Health Psychology, Health Psychology, Research Methods, Substance-Related Disorders.

Description: The pitch about e- cigarettes seems to be that they both help people quit smoking can provide people with a safer alternative to smoking if they’re so inclined. But just what is the relationship between smoking E cigarettes and smoking real cigarettes?

Source: PsychCentral, Do E–Cigarettes Lead to Smoking Tobacco? Rick Nauert.

Date: October 3, 2015


Photo Credit:

Links: Article Links —

Most people use E cigarettes or “vapes” argue that they are safe alternatives to real cigarettes as they provide nicotine without the multitude of additional harmful substances contained in cigarette smoke and otherwise only expose the users to water vapour. The important question however concerns the relationship between the use of E cigarettes and the use of real cigarettes. From an addictions point of view, it is worth investigating whether having people switched E cigarettes helps them quit using real cigarettes. However another very important question concerns whether the use of E cigarettes increases the likelihood that people might switch from them to real cigarettes and all of the health complications associated with their use. This article describes a research study that examined this question directly.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a relationship between the use of E cigarettes and the eventual use of real cigarettes?
  2. What are some of the limitations noted by the authors of the study described in this article of the conclusions they were able to draw from the research?
  3. What sorts of things as research like this suggest we need to think about informing and implementing social policy related to smoking and particularly to the use of cigarettes and E cigarettes to my adolescents and young adults?

References (Read Further):

Primack, Brian A, Soneji, Samir, Stoolmiller, Michael, Fine, Michael J., and Sargent, James D. (September 8, 2015) Progression to Traditional Cigarette Smoking After Electronic Cigarette Use Among US Adolescents and Young Adults. Online first, JAMA Pediatrics,


Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Do E-Cigarettes Lead to Smoking Tobacco?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 4, 2015, from


Bullen, C., Howe, C., Laugesen, M., McRobbie, H., Parag, V., Williman, J., & Walker, N. (2013). Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 382(9905), 1629-1637.


Khan, M., Stanbrook, M. B., & Allehebi, R. O. (2015). Efficacy And Safety Of Electronic Cigarettes For Smoking Cessation: A Systematic Review. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 191, A3715.

Posted by & filed under Intergroup Relations, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: If you found out that you had an implicit bias towards one racial group for another that have an impact on how you acted when dealing with people in the world? The implicit associations test used by social psychologists make it possible to ask people that question directly. How would you respond?

Source: The Inquisitive Mind, Does it matter if people are aware of their implicit racial bias? Aaron Moss.

Date: September 26, 2015

Implicit Associations Test

Photo Credit:

Links: Article Links —

General social norms in North America indicate that is unacceptable to hold negative or prejudiced beliefs about minority groups. Nevertheless something called the implicit associations test can show when people, despite not publicly taking a prejudice position, Harbor implicit negative biases or beliefs about minority groups. It turns out we are rather good at noting explicit racial biases and others an important question would be whether finding out about our own level of implicit bias has any sort of impact on our social actions. In addition to using the implicit associations test to simply look for the presence of racial biases, so psychologists have begun to see whether providing people with information about their current level of bias might help further reduce those same biases.

If you’re interested in the implicit Association test you can take it here:

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are implicit associations about race different than clear conscious prejudiced beliefs?
  2. Would knowing that one holds biased beliefs about a particular minority group have an impact on those beliefs?
  3. How might the implicit associations test be used to expand efforts to reduce the prejudicial treatment of minority groups?

References (Read Further):

Axt, J. R., Ebersole, C. R., & Nosek, B. A. (2014). The rules of implicit evaluation by race, religion, and age. Psychological Science, 25, 1804-1815. doi:10.1177/0956797614543801

Cooley, E., Payne, B. K., Loersch, C. & Lei, R. Who owns implicit attitudes? Testing a metacognitive perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 103-115. doi: 10.1177/0146167214559712

Crandall, C. S., Eshleman, A., & O’Brien, L. (2002). Social norms and the expression and suppression of prejudice: The struggle for internalization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 359-378. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.3.359

Frantz, C. M., Cuddy, A. J., Burnett, M., Ray, H., & Hart, A. (2004). A threat in the computer: The race implicit association test as a stereotype threat experience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1611-1624. doi:10.1177/0146167204266650

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.6.1464

Hahn, A., Judd, C. M., Hirsh, H. K., & Blair, I. V. (2014). Awareness of implicit attitudes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 1369-1392. doi:10.1037/a0035028

Howell, J. L., Collison, B., Crysel, L., Garrido, C. O., Newell, S. M., Cottrell, C. A., Smith, C. T., & Shepperd, J. A. (2013). Managing the threat of implicit attitude feedback. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 714-720. doi:10.1177/1948550613479803

Monteith, M. J., Voils, C. I., & Ashburn-Nardo, L. (2001). Taking a look underground: Detecting, interpreting, and reacting to implicit racial biases. Social Cognition, 19, 395-417. doi:10.1521/soco.19.4.395.20759

Plant, E., & Devine, P. G. (1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 811-832. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.75.3.811

Perry, S. P., Murphy, M. C., & Dovidio, J. F. Modern prejudice: Subtle, but unconscious? The role of bias awareness in Whites’ perceptions of personal and others’ biases. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2015), doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.06.007


Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: Piagetian and Vygotskian Approaches, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Persuasion, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: The next time you’re in a large store go have a look at the toy section. What you’ll probably notice are that the toys are divided essentially into pink girls’ aisles and blue boys’ aisles. Think about why this might be the case and then think about what the impact might be doing away with this stereotyped approach to offering toys for sale.

Source: The Inquisitive Mind, Why gender-neutral toy aisles might help children’s development stay on target. Cathleen Clerkin.

Date: September 21, 2015

Gendered toys

Photo Credit:

Links: Article Links —

The aisles in in the toy departments of most large stores are typically gender divided with “girl” toys separated from “boy” toys. While this might simply be a marketing strategy it likely also has implications for gender role socialization. What might the developmental application to be of doing away with the stereotyped way of marketing children’s toys. A large box store company (Target, which recently closed all its Canadian stores) has provided us with a natural experimental opportunity by making all of its toy store aisles gender-neutral mixing what might be thought of stereotypically as boys toys with girls toys. This article provides an overview of the research that suggests that the sort of toy department arrangement is not simply a passive reflection of societally driven gender stereotypes but that such arrangements may actually play a role in the development of those gender role stereotypes. While no data has yet been collected in the toy department at target as to whether there gender-neutral approach to the arrangement of their toy department will have an impact on the development of the children who shop their it does suggest a study that is worth doing.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might the arrangement of typical toy departments influence children’s gender role development?
  2. How might children’s gender role development change if most toy departments were changed to be organized along gender-neutral lines?
  3. Outline how you would design a study to examine the effects of Target’s shift to gender-neutral toy aisles on the development of children’s gender role stereotypes?

References (Read Further):

Bigler, R.S. & Liben, L.S. (2006). A developmental intergroup their of social stereotypes and prejudice, In R. V. Kail (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior. 34, 39-89. San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

Blakemore, J. E. O., & Centers, R. E. (2005). Characteristics of boys’ and girls’ toys. Sex Roles, 53(9-10), 619-633.

Clerkin, C., & Cherney, I. D. (2006, November). Where do children draw the line between pink and blue? Talk given at the Nebraska Psychological Society and Association for Psychological & Educational Research in Kansas Convention, Hays, KS.

Cherney, I. D., & Dempsey, J. (2010). Young children’s classification, stereotyping, and play behavior for gender neutral and ambiguous toys, Journal of Educational Psychology30(6), 651-669. doi: 10.1080/01443410.2010.498416

Cherney, I. D., Kelly-Vance, L., Glover, K., Ruane, A., & Ryalls, B. O. (2003). The effects of stereotyped toys and gender on play-based assessment in 18-48 months old children. Educational Psychology, 23,95-106. doi: 10.1080/01443410303222

Martin, C. L., Eisenbud, L., & Rose, H. (1995). Children’s Gender‐Based Reasoning about Toys. Child Development66(5), 1453-1471.

Venker, S (2015). How Target just roved Donald Trump right about something. Retrieved from:


Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: We talk about how the hippocampus is involved in processing memories but when some researchers looked specifically at how we process information about when an event occurred and where that same event occurred it turns out that information is processed earlier and fed separately into the hippocampus.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “How the brain encodes time and place: Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that is critical for forming episodic memories.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2015. <>.

Brain cells and memory

Date: September 23, 2015

Links: Article Links —

In the research described within this article MIT researchers Chen Sun and Takashi Kitamura report findings that show that the previous belief that information about the physical location or context of events at the time at which they occur are separated within the hippocampus are not correct. Specifically their data indicates that that location and temporal information are actually fed separately to the hippocampus indicating that these features of memories have been processed earlier in the memory processing flow. They found that an area known as the entorhinal cortex contains two types of cells that they refer to as island cells and ocean cells. Their research indicates that island cells seem to be involved in processing timing information while ocean cells seem to play a role in locating where events have occurred.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. If we think of memories simply as recorded information describing the entirety of events that happened in our past, what does this research suggest about ways in which we need to change that understanding if we want to understand precisely how our brain creates and stores memories?
  2. Given the results of this research what would be the most appropriate way to describe the role of the hippocampus in the processing of memory?
  3. How does this research relate to the distinction between episodic and semantic memory that is often talk about as a basic difference in the structure human memories?

References (Read Further):

Takashi Kitamura, Chen Sun, Jared Martin, Lacey J. Kitch, Mark J. Schnitzer, Susumu Tonegawa. Entorhinal Cortical Ocean Cells Encode Specific Contexts and Drive Context-Specific Fear Memory. Neuron, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.036


Posted by & filed under Intervention: Adults-Couples, Prevention, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: So to continue with the upbeat theme of students and stress, the articles linked below focus on the impact of traumatic events, such as personal or family serious illness or the death of a loved one on members of the College and University student population. The web article suggests ways in which faculty and students can help students cope with traumatic life events all the research articles cited below focus more on the incidence and the consequences of traumatic events experienced by undergraduate students

Source: When the unexpected happens: What can students and professors do to help students in crisis successfully balance work and life stressors? Monitor on Psychology,

Date: July/August 2015

Traumatic events

Photo Credit: American psychological Association

Links: Article Links — When the unexpected happens: What can students and professors do to help students in crisis successfully balance work and life stressors? Monitor on Psychology, 46(7), 42.

The day-to-day stress that builds over a typical term at college or university is one thing, but adding into that the stress and demands of a traumatic life event such as a serious illness or the death of a loved one can add exponentially to the burden carried by undergraduate students. The articles cited in this post focus on events such as these and examine their impacts as well as making recommendations for ways in which professors and fellow students to assist those students cope with such events.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of events might be considered to be particularly traumatic or stressful when added to a typical undergraduate term load and what sorts of things might we do to help students cope with such events?
  2. What sorts of things would you recommend that colleges and universities do in order to assist students coping with traumatic life events?
  3. According to the research articles cited below, what are some of the ways in which college students seem to cope with traumatic life events and it is very over the first three years of college or university?
  4. What are some of the factors that mediate (influence) the level of distress observed following experience of a potentially traumatic event?

References (Read Further):

Shallcross, Sandra L.; Frazier, Patricia A.; Anders, Samantha L. (2014) Social resources mediate the relations between attachment dimensions and distress following potentially traumatic events. Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 61(3), Jul 2014, 352-362.

Read, Jennifer P.; Griffin, Melissa J.; Wardell, Jeffrey D.; Ouimette, Paige (2014) Coping, PTSD symptoms, and alcohol involvement in trauma-exposed college students in the first three years of college. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 28(4), Dec 2014, 1052-1064.

Posted by & filed under Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Prevention, Psychological Intervention, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: For many students but especially for first year students, the first (fall) term can be rather stressful This is especially true for students who have not found their education particularly stressful prior to entering university or who have not developed or built strategies for recognizing and preparing to cope with the stress of the evolving term. Are you ready for the term?

Source: Stress and the College Student

Stress (Brown University Health Services)

Date: Various 2014/2015

stressed student

Photo Credit: Viridian Housing Charity

Links: Article Links — Stress and the College Student

Brown University – Stress:

Ok, so you are probably aware that a college or a university can be a stressful place to be. As well, even if you are a first year student, you are probably aware that your fall term will be more manageable if you plan now (near the start of term) for the stressful times to come later in the term. If you do not have a solid place, now is a good time to put one together. The link above contain some good, psychologically grounded, advice about the nature of stress and about the kinds of things you can do to prepare for it and to deal with it when you experience it. The article cited below in the reference section, describes systematic research into the effectiveness of several stress management strategies. You know you’re only getting get busier as the term moves along, and so a bit of time spent now investigating and investing in some stress management strategies would certainly be time well spent.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are your expectations, or perhaps rather what should your expectations and be, regarding the nature and extent of stress you anticipate experiencing later this term?
  2. What strategies and plans do you have in place to help you cope with stress in which additional strategies might you be considering now that you’ve read the articles noted here?
  3. Thinking about what, if anything, your college or university has done to help you prepare for the stressful aspects of the upcoming term and what recommendations would you have them consider going forward?

References (Read Further):

Baghuhrst, Timothy and Kelly, Betty C. (2014) An examination of stress in college students over the course of semester. Health Promotion Practice, 15(3) 438-447.