Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Development of the Self, Disorders of Childhood, Group Processes, Human Development, Social Perception, Somatic Symptoms Dissociative Disorders, Stress.

Description: For this blog entry I would like to suggest that you do things in a very specific order. First, click on each of the news coverage links below and read what each of them has to say about a news event that occurred in Calgary in early November, 2015. After you’ve looked at the news coverage links, read the blog entry just below the links and carry on your investigations from there.

Source: Mass Hysteria Can Strike Anywhere, Anytime, Psychology Today, Brain Bootcamp, Gary Small, M.D.

Date: November 2, 2015

The Falling

Photo Credit: The Falling: IMDB.com

Links: Article Link — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-bootcamp/201009/mass-hysteria-can-strike-anywhere-anytime

News Coverage Links: http://globalnews.ca/news/2318170/children-evacuated-from-woodlands-elementary-school/

http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/students-return-to-school-following-mysterious-illnesses-evacuation

http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/officials-investigate-mysterious-illnesses-at-school-1.2642378

 

The news articles you read talk about an unexplained incident in which a number of elementary school children showed signs of becoming ill. Hazmat teams were unable to detect carbon monoxide or any other environmental substance or event that could account for the sudden onset and the widespread nature of symptoms amongst the children. Beyond describing the steps taken by the school to evacuate the children temporarily, ensure that the school environment was safe, reassure parents and their children were safe, and eventually the reopening of the school and the resumption of classes the articles all ended by stating in one way or another that the cause of the symptoms of illness remain a complete mystery. There is, however, a perfectly reasonable possible explanation for this event. Unfortunately, this possible explanation involves introducing the concept of psychological contagion, more commonly referred to as mass hysteria.

Before going on to read the link I provided above to a Psychology Today blog entry on this topic and before going on to read any of the references below on this topic I want you to pause and think for a minute about what your reaction would be had you seen a television news account or read a section of a newspaper account suggesting mass hysteria as a possible explanation for the sudden onset of illness in so many elementary school children. Think carefully about what thoughts you may have entertained about what this possible explanation might suggest to you about the children in that particular school at that particular time. My expectation is that you at least had a passing thought or two about the character of those students: for example something along the lines of what happens when overly excitable children get caught up in an overly dramatic way in a perhaps confused social situation. Perhaps you even thought that such a thing would not have happened to you at that age or that the children who did not display symptoms of illness were in some way displaying stronger character, more stable self-concepts, or just more positively grounded mental states. What even passing versions of these kinds of thoughts show us is the subtle and invasive nature of stigma in the area mental health. Specifically, the idea that physical symptoms of illness could routinely be caused psychologically threatens the notion that we are in charge of our selves psychologically and so we assume that showing such symptoms is a sign of weakness. My suspicion is that the media avoided raising this as a possibility so as not to, in effect, “open that particular can of worms”. Larger media depictions of this phenomena typically result in films like The Falling which will fascinating are also edgy that frankly creepy (based on a true event, see the “Tumbling Down link below).

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with groups of young children will inevitably have observed the situation where one child becomes dramatically ill, throwing up all over the place, and observed at least one and sometimes several other children being so caught up in the vividness of that event that they themselves start to feel ill or perhaps even start to throw up as well. Even some of the adults will acknowledge feeling less than perfect as the number of vomiting children increases. Young children live very much in the moment and can easily and thoroughly become engaged in whatever is going on around them. Add to this that young children typically experience stress not as a psychological event but as a somatic or physical event, reporting “stress” as a stomach ache or is nausea and the more interesting question become “why doesn’t this happen more often?

The questions for discussion below asked you to consider these events in relation to the concept of stigma associated with the possible attribution of physical illness to psychological events and to think a little bit of what we may need to do individually, educationally, and in terms of public and media awareness to deal with the sorts of issues more humanely and more effectively.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe how it might be possible and perhaps even normal and expected, for a group of elementary school children to possibly show signs of psychological contagion that would be reflected in behaviour similar to that described in the news links above.
  2. If it were actually the case (and be clear, I don’t know that it is) that the media covering this story made a conscious decision not to include information on psychological contagion or mass hysteria in their coverage why might they have made that decision?
  3. How might we proceed individually educationally and in terms of public and media awareness in including the concept of psychological contagion in our reporting and discussion around events such as that reported on in the links above if we want to ensure that doing so does not contribute negatively to the stigma possibly associated with the idea that psychological events can lead to physical illness?

References (Read Further):

Silverman, Jacob (2015) What is Collective Hysteria? How Stuff Works Science, The Human Brain, accessed November 8, 2015 http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/collective-hysteria.htm

Wigman, B. (2015). Mass hysteria in schools: a worldwide history since 1566. History of Education Review, 44(1).

Wessely, S. (2015). Tumbling down. The Lancet Psychiatry. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366%2815%2900228-X/fulltext

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Disorders of Childhood, Disorders of Childhood, Families and Peers, Human Development, Research Methods, Research Methods in ChD.

Description: Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems that moving a lot during childhood might be associated with poorer mental health outcomes. Before we move too quickly to advising parents and adding to public mental health policy with having a close look at the methodology of the study.

Source: Moving during childhood links to poor mental health, Reuters, health, Lisa Rappaport.

Date: November 6, 2015

Moving Kids

Photo Credit: fewmoves.com

Links: Article Link — http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/06/us-health-kids-moving-idUSKCN0SV2JT20151106

Suggesting that children who move a lot, and as a consequence experience the stresses of moving on a number of occasions, may not do as well from the point of view general mental health as children to move less often seems like a fairly straightforward hypothesis. Before looking at this article however, pause and think for a moment about why that might be. As well, think about what kind of study you might conduct or what kind of data you would like to access if you wanted to investigate whether or not this hypothesis makes sense. Now read the Reuters article and, if you like, obtain and read the Irish research article that it describes. Pay particular attention in the Reuters article to the various variables that are said to be correlated with moving. Also pay particular attention to how the authors operationalized the question of whether or not children experienced chronic mental health problems. Now consider the questions below.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does the description of the research article discussed here as investigating the relationship between number of moves in childhood and later chronic mental health problems make sense to you after having read the description of the study?
  2. What are some of the issues you might point to that make the results of this study less straightforward than the title of the article might suggest?
  3. Before we start offering parents advice on how to prepare their children for moves what sorts of additional research might we want to undertake?

References (Read Further):

Tseliou, F., Maguire, A., Donnelly, M., & O’Reilly, D. (2015). The impact of childhood residential mobility on mental health outcomes in adolescence and early adulthood: a record linkage study. Journal of epidemiology and community health, jech-2015.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Human Development, Language Development, Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Who do you think would learn a new language faster a baby, a preschooler, or a teenager? Have A Listen to this Ted talk on infant language development (oh that’s a bit of a giveaway!) and find out.

Source: The Science of Baby Talk, by Gary Stix for Scientific American, and a Ted talk video by Patricia Kuhl

Date: October 20, 2015

Baby talk

Photo Credit: https://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies?language=en

Links: Article Link — http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/babies-the-science-of-baby-talk-video/l#

Video Link: https://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies?language=en

If you started trying to learn a new language in junior high or high school you probably recall that it was not a particularly straightforward enterprise. The other hand you have no memory whatsoever of learning your first language or first languages in that process began happening when you were a baby. This Ted talk by Patricia Kuhl explores some of the amazing things infants seem to arrive in the world ready to do in relation to language. The inescapable conclusion is that humans are prepared to learn a spoken language just as they are prepared to learn to crawl to walk. It’s an important part of our basic adaptation to our environment, it is a truly amazing thing to watch.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that “learning” a language in infancy might be different than say learning to play the guitar at 12 years of age?
  2. What is it mean to say that infants “take statistics” on the languages being spoken around them and to them in their first year of life?
  3. Are there differences in language learning in infants when the language they are hearing is presented in person or on television or in an audio format only?

References (Read Further):

Casasola, Marianella Research sheds light on how babies learn and develop language: Insights for parents, teachers, and educators from research. http://www.human.cornell.edu/hd/outreach-extension/upload/casasola.pdf

Tips on learning to talk, Zero to Three, Early Experiences Matter http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/early-language-literacy/helping-learn-to-talk.html accessed November 8, 2015.

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Neuroscience.

Description: Imagine that as part of a psychology experiment you pour sugar into two bowls and you label one of them sucrose and the other sodium cyanide (which is poisonous) and then you place them both in your kitchen table. Even though you know that both bowls just contain plain old sugar which one do you think you’d be most likely to use when you add sugar to your coffee or tea every morning?

Source: Jane Risen and David Nussbaum, Believing what you don’t believe, Grey Mater, The New York Times

Date: October 30, 2015

Beleiving Not

Photo Credit: Golden Cosmos

Links: Article Link http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/opinion/believing-what-you-dont-believe.html

In the experimental situation described above, avoiding the sugar bowl labelled sodium cyanide would be irrational given that you would know that both bowls just contain sugar. However, most people would not use the sugar in the pool labelled sodium cyanide in the same way that a baseball player on hitting streak might wear the same socks or underwear every day for fear that his luck would run out if he did not. So why is it that we often behave in these irrational or superstitious ways? Psychologists studying human decision-making build on the work of Daniel Kahneman focused on fast and slow decision making systems in the brain. Fast thinking is intuitive and leads to quick judgments without reflection while slow thinking is much more deliberate and effortful and is often used to correct errors that it might detect in decisions arrived at by the fast system. However, the way humans behave in areas involving superstition or magical thinking would suggest that our slow system is not always successful in correcting our thinking and making us more rational and in fact sometimes the slow system might even make matters worse by trying to rationalize decisions made by the fast system rather than attending to the data it is aware of that shows that those decisions are wrong. The authors of the article suggest that if we want to avoid the effects of these powerful intuitions that are very difficult to shake what we ought to do is make what amount to “policy” decisions that are intended to apply to all similar circumstances. So for example a baseball manager (yes, I know, the World Series are on) that calls for a sacrifice bunt despite knowing the data that says in the long run he will generate more base-runners and runs by having the batter swing away might benefit from deciding at the start of the season that he is never going to make such a call. That sort of “policy” decision will help avoid his strong intuition at a sacrifice pond is the thing to do in a tight game situation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Come up here some examples from your own experience of beliefs that you hold or decisions that you regularly make that fly in the face of clear data regarding their irrational nature.
  2. What is the difference between what Daniel Kahneman refers to as the fast and the slow systems we use for making decisions?
  3. Looking back at the examples you potentially came up with in response to the first question above what sorts of general “policy” statements or decisions might you make to reduce the likelihood of your behaving irrationally in future?

References (Read Further):

Risen, J. L. (2015). Believing What We Do Not Believe: Acquiescence to Superstitious Beliefs and Other Powerful Intuitions. Psychological review.

Pravichai, S., & Ariyabuddhiphongs, V. (2014). Superstitious Beliefs and Problem Gambling Among Thai Lottery Gamblers: The Mediation Effects of Number Search and Gambling Intensity. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1-17.

Hamerman, E. J., & Morewedge, C. K. (2015). Reliance on Luck Identifying Which Achievement Goals Elicit Superstitious Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0146167214565055, http://psp.sagepub.com/content/41/3/323.

Strawson, Galen (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – review An Outstandingly clear and precise study of the “dual process” model of the brain and our embedded self-delusions, Science and Nature, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/dec/13/thinking-fast-slow-daniel-kahneman

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Eating Disorders, mental illness, Personality, Social Influence, The Self.

Description: While you may have an opinion about possible differences between people who do and people who do not regularly take and post “selfies” online what do you think about the possibility that self these can be used as data to tell us about the people who take them?

Source: Lecia Bushak, Selfies can reveal personality traits: What your duckface says about you. Medical Daily.

Date: August 18, 2015

Duckface selfie

Photo Credit: Gerry Stergiopoulos https://www.pinterest.com/pin/35254809556145652/

Links: Article Link http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/10/29/elders-may-beat-young-adults-at-correcting-mistakes/94128.html

So what do you think? Is there a relationship between the nature of people’s selfies and their personality or their general mental health? The study discussed in this article (and cited below) suggests a number of different possible connections. They found for example that “people who scored higher levels agreeableness were likely to emit a positive vibe from their selfies, as well as hold the camera lower.” Further they found the people who scored high on conscientiousness are more likely to be secretive about the location of their selfie, suggesting privacy concerns. Finally, though perhaps not surprisingly, “people pulled duck faces [that exaggerated pouty lips look] are more likely to score higher on skills of neuroticism or emotional instability. They also found that people were able to fairly accurately predict other people’s scores on openness and extroversion by simply viewing their selfies, again no real surprise. So now you have to decide whether to stop taking selfies entirely or to simply give more thought to the posing and production values of the ones that you do take and post online.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the relationships between aspects of selfies and personality found in the in the research discussed within the article linked above?
  2. What sort of hypotheses might you generate in relation to both the act of taking selfies in the construction of the selfies themselves and people’s personality if you were designing future research studies in this area?
  3. What other social media components and items might we examine in the same way as a follow-up to this research project?

References (Read Further):

Qiu L, Lu J, Yang S, Qu W, Zhu T. What does your selfie say about you? Computers in Human Behavior. 2015.

Poe, J. (2015). The Link Between “Likes” and Self-Worth: How Women Use Selfies on Instagram for Self-Presentation and the Effects of Social Comparison. http://digitalcommons.hope.edu/curcp_14/24/

Mascheroni, G., Vincent, J., & Jimenez, E. (2015). “Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(1), 5. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/62933/1/__lse.ac.uk_storage_LIBRARY_Secondary_libfile_shared_repository_Content_Vincent,%20J_Girls%20addicted_Vincent_2015_Girls%20addicted_2015.pdf

Sample Selfies: http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2014/04/scientists-link-selfies-to-narcissism-addiction-and-mental-illness.html

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

Description: Who do you think would be most likely to benefit from feedback about which answers on a test they had gotten wrong (and what the correct answers were) and make the appropriate changes in their knowledge so as not to recommit those errors in future? Do you think this would be more true of young adults in their mid-20s or older adults in their mid-70s? What you answered this question to yourself and read the article linked below.

Source: Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Elders May Beat Young Adults at Correcting Mistakes. Psych Central

Date: November 1, 2015

Older Correcting

Photo Credit: http://www.psychcentral.com/

Links: Article Link http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/10/29/elders-may-beat-young-adults-at-correcting-mistakes/94128.html

It’s quite a common assumption that young adults are mentally quicker and systematically better at processing information and building on or correcting their knowledge as result of that information. This study examined that assumption directly by comparing the performance of a group of mid-20-year-old young adults with that of a group of mid-70-year-old Elder adults. All participants were asked a series of general knowledge questions (such as which ancient city was famous for its hanging gardens?). In addition to providing answers to each question participants were asked to rate their level of certainty that their answers were correct (i.e., were they confident or uncertain that their answers were correct). All participants were then provided with feedback in which they were told which questions they got wrong and were provided with the correct answers. At the end of the study they were given a pop quiz in which they were asked a number of questions again. They were asked to re-answer some questions they were originally confident in but wrong, some questions they were uncertain about and wrong, and some questions where they indicated that they did not know the answer. What the researchers found was that while both groups were more likely to have reorganized their knowledge and corrected their answers to questions originally confident about but got wrong, it was only the elder group that showed a significant improvement in their knowledge for questions that there were originally not sure about and got wrong. Using EEG data the researchers were also able to show direct evidence of the increased activation of attention centres of the brain only among the older group in this latter condition. The researchers suggested that their results tell us something about the older adults’ priorities and specifically suggested that “they care more very much about the truth, they don’t want to make mistakes, and they recruit their attention to get it right”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What differences in attention and information processing to the results of this study suggest might exist between younger and elder adults?
  2. Do these results suggest anything about how you might approach practice study questions prior to writing exams?
  3. How might we need to adjust our assumptions about information processing in elderly populations as a result of study such as this?

References (Read Further):

Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Elders May Beat Young Adults at Correcting Mistakes. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/10/29/elders-may-beat-young-adults-at-correcting-mistakes/94128.html

Metcalfe, J., Casal-Roscum, L., Radin, A., & Friedman, D. (2015). On Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks. Psychological science.

 

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Research has consistently shown positive effects of skin to skin contact between parents and premature infants while the infants are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units or NICU’s. The study discussed in this article looked at the possible effects of this practice on mothers rather than infants. What do you think they found?

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics – Press Release – Skin-to-Skin Contact with Baby in Neonatal Unit Decreases Maternal Stress Levels

Date: October 26, 2015

Kangaroos Style

Photo Credit: http://www.kangaroomothercare.com/

Links: Article Link https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Skin-to-Skin-Contact-with-Baby-in-Neonatal-Unit-Decreases-Maternal-Stress-Levels.aspx

Research (samples cited below) has consistently shown that her parents are allowed into neonatal intensive care nurseries and involved in the day-to-day care of their premature infants that infant development up to their appropriate gestational age proceeds in more positive ways. One of the key features of the sort of parental involvement is something called kangaroo style contact which essentially involves is the picture show direct skin to skin contact between either parent and the premature infant. Observed benefits include stabilization of heart rate and breathing patterns, increase in blood oxygen levels, gains in both sleep time and wait, less crying, more effective breast-feeding, and earlier hospital discharge. The study, rather than examining the effects of this kind of care on the premature developing infant, looked at its effects on the infant’s mother. What they found was a significant reduction in the mother’s reports of their stress levels especially as these related to the parents general feelings of helplessness and inability to protect their infants from pain and their overall general experience in the NICU.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the reasons you might suggest for the observed effect of kangaroo style contact a maternal stress levels?
  2. What are some of the ways in which positive changes in maternal stress levels might affect both short and long-term (after hospital discharge) development for premature infants?
  3. What are some of the policy implications for how hospitals manage their neonatal intensive care units and their birthing units in general of the results of this particular study?

References (Read Further):

Neu, M. (2004). Kangaroo care: Is it for everyone?. Neonatal Network, 23(5), 47-54.

Feldman, R., Weller, A., Sirota, L., & Eidelman, A. I. (2003). Testing a family intervention hypothesis: the contribution of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) to family interaction, proximity, and touch. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(1), 94.

Feldman, R., Eidelman, A. I., Sirota, L., & Weller, A. (2002). Comparison of skin-to-skin (kangaroo) and traditional care: parenting outcomes and preterm infant development. Pediatrics, 110(1), 16-26.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Psychological Disorders.

Description: When clinical psychologists and psychiatrists diagnose depression they do so with reference to a list of diagnostic criteria (essentially a list of symptoms) contained within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition. This article describes a research study that examined the pattern of symptoms presented by nearly 3500 depressed patients to see if in fact it makes sense to treat all depressive symptoms more or less equally. Based on what you know about depression what do you think they concluded?

Source: Depression too often reduced to a checklist of symptoms, Ku Leuven News.

Date: October 23, 2015

Depression Symptoms

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Links: Article Link — https://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2015/depression-too-often-reduced-to-a-checklist-of-symptoms

This article discusses a research paper in which the authors raise the question of whether or not the DSM-V list of symptoms of depression typically consulted by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists when diagnosing depression can or should be treated in a checklist fashion. This approach would involve perhaps suggesting that if a certain minimum number of symptoms are present regardless of which symptoms comprise that list then a diagnosis of depression is made. The authors of this research paper take issue with such a checklist approach and argue instead that all symptoms of depression are not equal. They point out for example that insomnia, a very common symptom of depression, may lead to fatigue which over time may also lead to problems with concentration and general cognitive functioning. In such a case insomnia is the primary symptom of the others are consequences of that symptom. They conclude that while the use of a checklist of some sort is helpful in diagnosis it may be time to come up with the more comprehensive list, that more accurately reflects the diversity of symptom patterns presented by individuals struggling with depression.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have a look at the link below to the list of depression symptoms currently contained within the DSM – V. How would you suggest clinicians ought to use that list in considering a diagnosis of depression?
  2. Why might it be important to consider the interaction amongst specific symptoms on a patient by patient basis when diagnosing depression?
  3. What are some of the risks of providing a specific list of symptoms for depression or for any mental disorder?

References (Read Further):

Fried, E. I., Epskamp, S., Nesse, R. M., Tuerlinckx, F., & Borsboom, D. (2015). What are’good’depression symptoms? Comparing the centrality of DSM and non-DSM symptoms of depression in a network analysis. Journal of affective disorders. http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327%2815%2930538-3/abstract

DSM-V Depression – Diagnostic Criteria http://www2.nami.org/content/navigationmenu/intranet/homefront/criteria_major_d_episode.pdf

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Clinical Neuropsychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: We’ve known for a while about the positive effects of aerobic activity on slowing the aging process. The question hasn’t been addressed is the effect of light weight training not just on muscle mass but on brain health. This article describes a study by researchers at the University bridge calm your that examined this question directly.

Source: Lifting Weights, Twice a Week, May Aid the Brain. The New York Times Well Blog, Gretchen Reynolds

Date: October 21, 2015

Weight work and Brain

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Links: Article Link — http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/21/lifting-weights-twice-a-week-may-aid-the-brain/?_r=0

We know that exercise is good for the brain. But most of the research in this area is focused on aerobic activity such as running or walking. The brain like other matter in our body is negatively affected by time. Brain scan studies have consistently shown that by late middle age many of us begin to develop age-related holes or lesions in the white matter of our brain. While these changes appear to have little effect initially they eventually may start to affect our cognitive functioning. This particular study made use of a large sample of healthy women between the ages of 65 and 75 were enrolled in a large scale brain health study. In this study the researchers focused on 54 of these women whose brain scans showed existing white matter lesions. They studied these women’s gate, speed, and stability and then created three different groups using random assignment. One group engaged in late upper and lower body weight training once a week while a second group did the same thing twice a week. The third group was a control group and were provided a twice-weekly program of stretching and balance training. Each group continued their regime for a year and at the end of that year had their brains scanned again in their white matter lesions examined. The findings were clear, with women in the control group and those in the once a week weight training group showing increases in the size and number of white matter lesions as well as a significant slowing in their walking gates. Those would lift weights twice a week showed less shrinkage or chattering of their white matter and while there lesions had grown and multiplied somewhat this is not occurred nearly to the same extent as those in the other groups. While it is not clear what these differences translate into noticeable changes in cognitive functioning it is worth considering insuring that a light weight training component exists in the exercise regimes of aging individuals.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did the researchers investigate the question of whether weight training makes a difference in the brains of aging individuals?
  2. Why might it be important, and studies such as these, to investigate the question of dosage (that is, how much of a treatment is needed for effective be observed)?
  3. Why do you think the effects reported in this study occurred?

References (Read Further):

Bolandzadeh, N., Tam, R., Handy, T. C., Nagamatsu, L. S., Hsu, C. L., Davis, J. C., … & Liu‐Ambrose, T. (2015). Resistance Training and White Matter Lesion Progression in Older Women: Exploratory Analysis of a 12‐Month Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

 

Cotman, C. W., Berchtold, N. C., & Christie, L. A. (2007). Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends in neurosciences, 30(9), 464-472.

 

Erickson, K. (2015). Effects of exercise on the hippocampus and memory in older adults. In Proceedings of The Physiological Society. The Physiological Society.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development.

Description: We know that stimulation provided by postnatal experience and perhaps also through dream state sleep plays an important role in the development of neural connections in the newborn brain. With this in mind what would you predict about the complexity of neural connections in the brains of infants born 10 weeks early and who consequently had a higher degree of stimulation, at least prior to their originally projected birthdate?

Source: Premature Birth May Weaken Brain Connections, Study Reveals. Times Gazette, Ben Kochman

Date: October 20, 2015

Prematuruity and Brain connections

Photo Credit: www.thetimesgazette.com

Links: Article Link — http://www.thetimesgazette.com/premature-birth-may-weaken-brain-connections-study-reveals/8610/

Research has shown that infants born prematurely at a higher risk for motor problems cognitive difficulties in ADHD as well as anxiety and autism spectrum disorders. In an effort to investigate why this might be the case researchers in a paper presented at the neuroscience 2015 annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 76 infants born 10 or more weeks early to the brains of 58 full-term infants. Each infant was scanned in the first few days after their birth and the premature infants were also scanned within a couple of days of their originally projected due date. The largest finding was that the brain networks involved in indication, attention and emotion are less complex in the brains of the infant’s been born premature even at their projected due dates. Interesting to speculate as to why this might be and to think about what sorts of studies one might design to look into this question a little more deeply.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the differences noted in the brains of infants born 10 or more weeks prematurely when compared with the brains of infants born close to their projected birthdates.
  2. What sorts of factors might contribute to these differences?
  3. What sorts of interventions might we suggest you would like to reduce or eliminate these differences?

References (Read Further):

Chen, L., Huang, X., He, N., Hu, X., Chen, Y., Li, Y., … & Gong, Q. (2015). Microstructural abnormalities of the brain white matter in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci, 1, 8872147.

 

Qiu, A., Mori, S., & Miller, M. I. (2015). Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Understanding Brain Development in Early Life. Annual review of psychology, 66, 853-876.

 

Travis, K. E., Leitner, Y., Feldman, H. M., & Ben‐Shachar, M. (2015). Cerebellar white matter pathways are associated with reading skills in children and adolescents. Human brain mapping, 36(4), 1536-1553.