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.

Posted by & filed under Families and Peers, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Persuasion, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Are our decisions in situations with positive or negative financial outcomes governed solely by the pluses and minuses of gain and loss or are there other factors such as the nature of our relationship with the people with whom we are buying selling or trading that are important influences on our decision-making strategies?

Source: Science Daily: Trust me: Research sheds light on why people trust

Date: August 11, 2015

Trust me

Photo Credit: michaeljung / Fotolia.

Links: Article Link

Social Psychologists have conducted a lot of research into how people behave in gaming situations that involves opportunities for gain and loss of money or other resources. Recently published research from Dartmouth College to just another important factor beyond gains and losses in how people perform and how they think about gaming situations they will be their relationships with the other people who are in the “game” with them. In this particular study participants played a financial investment game and were led to believe that they were playing this game either with a close friend, a stranger, or simply with a slot machine. In fact they’re playing against a computer program that basically reciprocated trust choices 50% of the time. The researchers also use neuroimaging to look at the areas of the brain that were most active in each of these conditions. What they found was a participants reported that positive interactions or wins but occurred when they were playing with a close friend were perceived as more rewarding in such situations when they occurred while interacting with a stranger or with the machine. The researchers suggested that their results reflect the importance of social relationships and how we make our day-to-day decisions.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why might it be that we would find positive events more enjoyable when they involve people with whom we have trusting relationships?
  2. What might be the adaptive value in humans tracking the level of trust they feel with those with whom they are interacting on an ongoing basis?
  3. To what extent do you think the situations created by the researchers in this study do or do not accurately reflect our real-world experience in situations where making investment like decisions?

References (Watch Further):

Dartmouth College. “Trust me: Research sheds light on why people trust.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2015. <>.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Health Psychology, Depression, Disorders of Childhood, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Ignoring the title of the article this post focuses upon for a second what would be your prediction? Is hanging around with depressed people likely to make you depressed? What about the opposite (hanging around with happy – or at least well-adjusted stable people)?

Source: Science Daily: Happiness spreads but depressions doesn’t

Date: August 19, 2015

Happiness spreads

Photo Credit: Kalim / Fotolia.

Links: Article Link

So do the mental or mood states of other “rub off” on us? Do happy people make us happier and do depressed people make us more depressed? Well research by social psychologists at the University of Warwick suggests that only half of the above statement is true. Having friends who were depressed did not increase the likelihood that adolescents would show signs of depression over a 6 to 12 month period. However, adolescents were likely to show fewer signs of depression or were, in fact, half as likely to start to show signs of depression if they had at least 10 friends who could be described as having healthy moods. Healthy moods were generally defined as being happier or lower in symptoms of depression. So while perhaps you don’t need to pick all your friends carefully, it would seem advisable to at least be sure to have a good number of friends that display healthy mood states. The authors of this research are not entirely clear as to why this might be their likely a number of concepts, principles, and theories within social psychology that could help us put together some hypotheses for why this might occur.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What Social Psychological theories or concepts are there that might support your hypothesis in response to the question at the top of this posting?
  2. What about the findings discussed in the article?
  3. What do these findings suggest about adolescent and your adult life planning?

References (Watch Further):

  1. M. Hill, F. E. Griffiths, T. House. Spreading of healthy mood in adolescent social networks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1180

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Interviewing Observation, Classification Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, General Psychology, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Sensation-Perception.

Description: Oliver Sacks, renowned and beloved neurologist, author and teller of captivating stories about his patients, their experiences, the human brain and ultimately of the human experience and condition passed away today (August 30, 2015) at the age of 82. I posted on Oliver not long ago (April 2015 search his name on this blog or click his name in the Tag Cloud over on the right margin of this pager to see the post) when he wrote about his experiences as a terminal cancer patient. Oliver and his caring insight into human neurology and human experience will be greatly missed.

Source: Various (NY Times Obit)
Date: August 30, 2015

Oliver Sacks

Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

Links: Article Links –Obituary NY Times

Video Obituary

I listed Oliver’s books in the April blog entry and would re-iterate my advice that if you are interested in Psychology, the brain, the mind and human experience you should read one or all of his books. In the meantime I have placed several links below to YouTube videos that contain Oliver Sacks himself talking about a broad range of things. Take a few minutes and watch one or two and meet the man himself or be reminded of what an engaged and engaging science storyteller Oliver was.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did the video you watched tell you about the nature of people or the human experience in general that you may not have learned from your psychology courses or your psychology textbooks?

References (Watch Further):

Oliver Sacks on Hallucinations

Neurological Disorders as Alternative Ways of Being

Human Beings and Myth Making

Oliver Sacks’ YouTube Channel