Posted by & filed under Intelligence, Neuroscience.

Description: Very intelligent people are sometimes referred to as “eggheads” which entails a general suggestion that if they’re smart than they must have big brains which by extension would also require big heads making them look like eggheads. The research discussed in this article looks directly at this claim and suggests there is not a lot to it.

Source: University of Vienna. “Larger brains do not lead to high IQs, new meta-analysis finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 October 2015. < >.

Date: October 15, 2015

Brain size

Links: Article Link — www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151014121103.htm

So are big headed people smarter than small headed people? Well if it is the size of one’s brain that makes one intelligent then there are species on the planet other than human beings such as whales and elephants that should be very much smarter than us given the size of their brains relative to the size of ours. The fact that this doesn’t seem to be true is also reflected in a large meta-analytic study described in this research article which drew together data from a large number of studies resulting in a pooled sample of 8000 individuals for whom IQ scores were available as well as detailed brain size information. The research report’s authors indicate having found a weak relationship between brain size, referred to as brain volume, and intelligence and indicate that the weakness of this relationship suggests that brain size alone is an insufficient predictor of intelligence. They also point out that while male brains on average a larger than female brains, there’s no systematic indication that male IQs are higher than female IQs. They go on to suggest that it is the structure found within the brain that it is much more significantly related to intelligence and to adaptation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a relationship between brain size and intelligence and if so how strong is this relationship and doesn’t have any real world applicability?
  2. Why might it be that some species such as whales and elephants have larger brains than we do yet we can fairly confidently suggest that they are less intelligent than we are?
  3. What are some of the assumptions that might lead people, theorists, and even researchers, to think that there might be a relationship between brain size and intelligence?

References (Read Further):

Jakob Pietschnig, Lars Penke, Jelte M. Wicherts, Michael Zeiler, Martin Voracek. Meta-analysis of associations between human brain volume and intelligence differences: How strong are they and what do they mean? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.09.017

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Human Development, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues, Psychological Disorders, Sexual Disorders Gender Dysphoria, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination.

Description: What was considered a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association until 1973? Would you be surprised to hear that it was homosexuality? Despite this, there is still some strong sentiment out there that what LGBTQ youth require is not understanding support or affirmation but therapy to convert them “back” to heterosexuality. This article describes a recently released report that talks about this important issue and offers advice to parents youth and professionals against the use of conversion therapy with LGBTQ youth.

Source: Reuters RPT-U.S. report calls for end to ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ youth, Andrew M. Seaman

Date: October 15, 2015

LGBT Conversion

Photo Credit: www.samhsa.gov

Links: Article Link — http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/15/health-lgbt-conversion-idUSL1N12F1GZ20151015

The idea that a non-heterosexual sexual identity is a typical and in need of therapeutic intervention and change is been around for a long time. The report discussed in this article focuses specifically on conversion therapies which are “therapies” or other actions aimed at changing individual’s sexual orientation and shifting their gender identity in the direction of heterosexuality. The report draws on substantial amounts of research in pointing out that conversion therapies are “not effective, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and are not appropriate mental health treatments…. And furthermore, the practice is potentially harmful… [having been linked to] increases in depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and poor self-esteem”. The report suggests that bands need to be put in place against conversion therapy as is currently the case in four United States states.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is conversion therapy and who practices it?
  2. What sorts of ethical considerations arise in relation to the use of conversion therapy with LG BTQ youth especially in relation to help research evidence on this practice?
  3. What are some of the implications of this article and the report to which it refers for our parents, schools, communities, and peers want to be thinking about and responding to their LGBTQ children, students, citizens and friends?

References (Read Further):

SAMHSA (2015) Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, DC. http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Ending-Conversion-Therapy-Supporting-and-Affirming-LGBTQ-Youth/SMA15-4928

Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (2012) The history of psychiatry and homosexuality. Accessed October 18, 2015, http://www.aglp.org/gap/1_history/

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Consciousness, Language-Thought.

Description: It is quite common for those talking about the nature of human rationality to point out that a number of the shortcuts or heuristics that we use in analyzing information that the world is presenting us may in fact lead us in the direction of making decisions that are ultimately less rational. This review focuses on a book on this topic that suggests that we might want to reconsider this typically negative view of the nature of human rationality.

Source: PsycCritiques, (August 2015) In the Twilight of Probabilities: Link Below

SImply Rational

Date: August 31, 2015

Links: Review: http://psqtest.typepad.com/blogPostPDFs/InTheTwilightOfProbabilities_10-08-2015.pdf

There is no denying that much of human decision-making is driven by utilities or heuristics that in a strict sense are somewhat less than rational in nature. It is quite common to point out how in matters of economics or simply in the matter of automobile selection human sometimes behave in ways that are not rational and make decisions that are potentially sub- optimal on the basis of built-in heuristics and biases. The author of the book that is the subject of this review asks us to step back a bit and to look at the context in which this thinking typically occurs. He points out that many of the decisions we are required to make throughout our regular lives are not the simple defined questions that we might find in laboratories that allow themselves to be dealt with using more formal rational processes but are rather what is sometimes described as messy and wicked problems due to their fundamental complexity and uncertainty. The author points out that the strategies we’ve developed for coping with uncertain situations to provide us with messy and wicked problems are in fact a large part of how we evolved or adapted to our current reality. He invites us to think of the real-life contexts in which decisions are made before we become too critical of the “natural” human cognitive processes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the differences between the sorts of problems research participants are asked to confront in cognitive psychology laboratories in the sorts of problems those same individuals face in the outside world?
  2. From an adaptive perspective what are the strengths and weaknesses of utilities or heuristics human beings used to solve problems?
  3. How do you think we ought to think about the relationship between logical rationality and human adaptation to the world?

References (Further Reading):

Gigerenzer, Gerd (2015) Simply Rational: Decision Making in the Real World New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 312 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-939007-6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039672

 

Lieder, F., & Griffiths, T. L. (2015). When to use which heuristic: A rational solution to the strategy selection problem. In Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the cognitive science society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Falk_Lieder/publication/274375628_When_to_use_which_heuristic_A_rational_solution_to_the_strategy_selection_problem/links/551c9ef40cf20d5fbde5583c.pdf

Boudry, M., Vlerick, M., & McKay, R. (2015). Can evolution get us off the hook? Evaluating the ecological defence of human rationality. Consciousness and cognition, 33, 524-535. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810014001962

Posted by & filed under Group Processes, Legal Ethical Issues, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Psychology.

Description: The stories behind two of the most well-known and perhaps notorious social psychology experiments remain fascinating as well as topically applicable to the current human situation. Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment and Milgram’s study on the suppose it affects of punishment upon human learning are the basis of two recent documentary style films and both are well worth looking for.

Source: Film Websites and Film Festival Sites

Date: October 12, 2015

Links: Experimenter web site http://experimentermovie.com/

Trailer http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3715871513?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

Quiet Rage Web site http://www.prisonexp.org/quiet-rage Trailer https://youtu.be/RKW_MzREPp4

Much has been said about the ethical issues related to Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s experiments but in addition much is also been said about the questions raised by these two studies. Recently, documentary films focusing on these studies and the research psychologists who conceptualized and ran them to become available. Both films released this year and are currently making the rounds film festivals big and small from the Sundance festival to the Calgary film Festival. I have not had an opportunity yet to view these films but from what I’ve read they’re both worth viewing and would certainly be worth viewing with a group of other people interested in discussing their applications for psychology and for society. If you go to the film websites you can find updated information about the availability of these films on DVD and/or through theatrical release. We strongly encourage you to find them and watch them.

You could say we are puppets. But I believe that we are puppets with perception, with awareness. Sometimes we can see the strings. And perhaps our awareness is the first step in our liberation.

— Stanley Milgram

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does the unethical nature of both of these studies have implications for how we ought to think about and view their results those results suggest about human nature and the human condition?
  2. What were the fundamental big questions that Zimbardo and Milgram sought out to address in their studies?
  3. What other sorts of studies or other investigative strategies might we try we are still interested in addressing the kinds of questions raised by Zimbardo and Milgram, especially if we wish to do so in an ethical manner?

References (Further Reading):

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil. New York. lucifereffect.com.

Griggs, R. A., & Whitehead, G. I. (2015). Coverage of Milgram’s Obedience Experiments in Social Psychology Textbooks Where Have All the Criticisms Gone?. Teaching of Psychology, 42(4), 315-322.

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Eating Disorders, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Neuroscience, Physiology, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: It turns out that individuals struggling with anorexia seem to have a narrower array of microbes in their gut than do people without the disorder. What might this observed relationship suggest?

Source: Today Health and Wellness

Date: October 6, 2015

anorexia

Links: Article Link – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005121310.htm

The Study: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/26428446

In this study a small group of individuals struggling with anorexia were assessed at admission to a treatment facility and specifically had stool samples taken and assayed in order to determine the nature and complexity of the bacteria living in their gut. What was consistently found was that these individuals upon admission for treatment for anorexia had lower bacteria counts and less complexity in the types of bacteria found in their gut at admission. Further it was found upon discharge that the nature and complexity of the bacteria in their gut had increased significantly and move much closer to what would otherwise be considered normal levels. As you can imagine the authors speculate as to the nature and potential causal direction of this relationship will and whether or not it might suggest addition to the treatment of anorexia. While this might seem entirely correlational, has been quite a bit of work lately pointing to a relationship between the gut and the brain, referred to as the gut brain axis and suggesting what happens in the gut may have implications for what happens in the brain.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might face-to-face interaction as opposed to social media use, email or texting be associated with lower depression scores? What is it about face-to-face contact that promotes well-being?
  2. Given that the sample in this study is comprised entirely of adults over the age of 50, what questions, if any, does this give rise to when you think about whether or not the results of the study could be generalized across the entire population (all ages)?
  3. How might the results of the study be different if it had been conducted among a typical young adult undergraduate population? Or would you expect the results to be similar and why?

References (Further Reading):

Susan C. Kleiman, Hunna J. Watson, Emily C. Bulik-Sullivan, Eun Young Huh, Lisa M. Tarantino, Cynthia M. Bulik, Ian M. Carroll. The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2015; 1 http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/26428446

 

Fetissov, S. O., & Dechelotte, P. (2011). The new link between gut–brain axis and neuropsychiatric disorders. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 14(5), 477-482. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Serguei_Fetissov/publication/51563106_The_new_link_between_gut-brain_axis_and_neuropsychiatric_disorders/links/54d4e6c20cf2970e4e63dab0.pdf

 

Pärtty, A., Kalliomäki, M., Wacklin, P., Salminen, S., & Isolauri, E. (2015). A possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial. Pediatric research, 77(6), 823-828.

Posted by & filed under Aging Psychological Disorders, Aging-Psychological Disorders, Clinical Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Successful Aging.

Description: Are all social contacts more or less equal in terms of what they do for us? The study described in this article looked at the relationships between the frequency of several types of social contact and symptoms of depression among people over 50 years of age. What do YOU think they found?

Source: Today Health and Wellness

Date: October 6, 2015

Depression and face to face

Photo Credit: shutterstock/Today.com.

Links: Article Links –http://www.today.com/health/face-face-interaction-may-be-vitamin-depression-study-suggests-t48101

The Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/doi/10.1111/jgs.13667/pdf

You’ve probably heard mention of the positive relationship between social contact and well-being particularly in an aging population. It’s also the case of the use of social media has provided a potentially large increase in the opportunities for social connection. Given this, what would you expect to find in a current study examining the relationship between social contact and levels of depression within a particular population? The study described in this article, and referenced below, looked at precisely this question in a group of individuals over the age of 50. What they found was that only face to face contact was related to symptoms of depression; specifically more face-to-face contact was associated with lower depressive symptomatology scores in this group. It is interesting to try and think about why this might be the case.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might face-to-face interaction as opposed to social media use, email or texting be associated with lower depression scores? What is it about face-to-face contact that promotes well-being?
  2. Given that the sample in this study is comprised entirely of adults over the age of 50, what questions, if any, does this give rise to when you think about whether or not the results of the study could be generalized across the entire population (all ages)?
  3. How might the results of the study be different if it had been conducted among a typical young adult undergraduate population? Or would you expect the results to be similar and why?

References (Further Reading):

Teo, A. R., Choi, H., Andrea, S. B., Valenstein, M., Newsom, J. T., Dobscha, S. K., & Zivin, K. (2015). Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression in Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (link above).

 

McIntyre, E., Wiener, K. K., & Saliba, A. J. (2015). Compulsive Internet use and relations between social connectedness, and introversion. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 569-574. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Erica_Mcintyre2/publication/272832165_Compulsive_Internet_use_and_relations_between_social_connectedness_and_introversion/links/54f16d250cf24eb8794285bf.pdf

 

de Vries, D. A., Peter, J., de Graaf, H., & Nikken, P. (2015). Adolescents’ Social Network Site Use, Peer Appearance-Related Feedback, and Body Dissatisfaction: Testing a Mediation Model. Journal of youth and adolescence, 1-14. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-015-0266-4/fulltext.html

 

 

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

HM

Photo Sources https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQASyR0w8Qo

Links: Article Link — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151002082303.htm

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. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4413777/

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

CMHA

Photo Source: CMHA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JcNIoSpLZs

and inLinks: Article Links — http://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/your-mental-health/mental-health-week/mental-health-week-toolkit-for-general-public/#.VhGjjUZvkwD

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, http://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/your-mental-health/mental-health-week/mental-health-week-toolkit-for-general-public/#.VhGkjkZvkwD

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 http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-they-ban-fighting-in-hockey

Links: Article Links — http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20153153506.html;jsessionid=560811E820E0ABD887F4AD612E8BE43B

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10413200.2015.1071297

http://www.cehd.umn.edu/mnysrc/PDF/hockey_summary_report_FINAL.pdf

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.

http://www.cehd.umn.edu/mnysrc/PDF/hockey_summary_report_FINAL.pdf

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 — http://www.in-mind.org/article/experience-in-action-games-and-the-effects-on-executive-control?

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.