Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Assessment: Intellectual Cognitive Measures, Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, General Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Schizophrenia, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Executive function or the process by which parts of your brain essentially tell other parts of your brain what to do, is a topic of intense interest as executive functioning, or [problems in executive functioning, may be related to a very broad range of issues from ADHD, to anxiety to OCD to name a few. The article linked below describes research by Robert Reinhart that looks at the synchronization of two brain regions, the medial frontal cortex and the right lateral prefrontal cortex. If these functioning of these two brain regions are synchronized we show more executive function (think smarter) and when they are de-synchronized we act with less executive function or dumber. While interesting observationally, Reinhart has developed a way of directly affecting the level of synchronization in an immediate and targeted fashion using a form of electronic stimulation called high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-tACS).  When synchronized people show more executive function and more self-control and make better decisions. The quick and short-lived nature of these effects have some interesting implications for treatment possibilities for disorders like autism, ADHD and anxiety. Give the article a read and then think about what would need to be done to even start to examine possible treatment applications of this technique.

Source: Turbo charge for your brain?  ScienceDaily.

Date: October 9, 2017

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171009154941.htm

The ability and apparent benefit to being able to “turn on” or stimulate executive function without having to use the messy tools that are drugs could well be a valuable management or even treatment tool. The key with suggestive finding like this (as the researcher who wrote the linked article suggests) is to further investigate what works, understand why it works and then to begin to carefully investigate treatment possibilities. More research IS needed but the opposites are quite exciting, given the central role of executive function in so many processes and disorders.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does (HD-tACS) do?
  2. What disorders and conditions might this technique and the functioning of these brain areas be related to?
  3. What do you see as the next steps necessary to looking further into the treatment possibilities of this technique?

References (Read Further):

Robert M. G. Reinhart. Disruption and rescue of interareal theta phase coupling and adaptive behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201710257 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1710257114

Agoston, A. M., & Rudolph, K. D. (2016). Interactive contributions of cumulative peer stress and executive function deficits to depression in early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 36(8), 1070-1094. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0272431615593176

Craig, F., Margari, F., Legrottaglie, A. R., Palumbi, R., de Giambattista, C., & Margari, L. (2016). A review of executive function deficits in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 1191. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4869784/

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Legal Ethical Issues.

Description: An economist named Richard Thaler just won the Nobel prize in Economics for his work in an area called Behavioral Economics. What is behavioral economics? Well it is the study of how human beings make decisions. Sound like Psychology, well yes it does because it really is. I am not getting Psychologically petty and picky here but Daniel Kahneman along with Vernon Smith won the 2002 Nobel prize in economics for his work in behavioral economics based in his cognitive science work on human judgement and decision making. Psychology IS everywhere, but that is not what I want you to think about here. Both Kahneman and Thaler have contributed mightily our understanding of how non-rational and illogical human thinking can be. Despite what we might like to believe (that most of the time we are clear rational thinkers) it turns out we are actually influenced by biases and use heuristics (quick solutions) rather than logic. Thaler built on Kahneman’ s (much done with Amos Tversky prior to his death in 1996) work and developed applications to consumer behavior and to health related human decision making. Basically Thaler has shown that while we typically know what is good for us and we would like to believe that we make decisions in rational ways that are to our short and long term benefit we simply do not. We eat too much we eat the wrong things we do not get enough exercise we do not agree to donate out organs if we die unexpectedly. Economic theorists call the person we are NOT (that we like to think we are) Homo Economicus (rational thinking and rational investor of time, money and other choices). Thomas Leonard, the author of the book (Thaler’s) review linked below suggests we are instead Homer Economicus (after that prototypical self-serving irrational thinker Homer Simpson). Now, while the psychology of human irrationality is become well established and known what Thaler’s work has given rise to is interesting. He suggests that what is needed in order for us to behave better (in ways that are “better” for us and for us to make “better” decisions) we need Nudges. That is, we need to be lightly bumped into better decisions and better behavior. An example? Well when people are asked to check of a box on their driver license application indicating that they would be willing to donate their organs and tissues when they die about 10% of drivers do so and the health care community bemoans the resulting long wait times and lost transplant opportunities that result. However, many jurisdictions have simply moved to a negative option (a kind of nudge) in which license applicants are asked to check a box if they do not wish to donate their organs and in those countries 90% of drivers “agree” to donate their organs. Other “nudges” include outlawing or heavily taxing super large sugared soft drinks as many cities are doing, allowing only fruit, water and milk in school vending machines, and heavily taxing cigarette and alcohol. Arguable all of these things are economics that are good for us. As sometimes happens at various points in the development of a scientific area of enquiry, what a line of research tells us about ourselves raised philosophical questions often having to do with whether we are comfortable not with the results of the research but with what the results lead psychologists and economists to suggest about how we should proceed in dealing with or managing human behavior and human decisions. You can and should read the articles linked below and figure out what your own thoughts are on these questions but let me suggest that what we should consider is how comfortable we are with Thaler’s “Nudge” approach to marketing and human decision driving. There is a paternalistic feel to what Thaler is suggesting. If we are Homer Economicus then someone better nudge us in the direction of better behavior. But who? Do you recall Plato’s allegory of the cave from a philosophy class you may have taken? If I recall correctly (and my philosophy course was a long time ago), he suggested that most people see only the reflections or shadows of the world on the walls of the caves they are living in and that only philosopher kings, the truly enlightened, who have seen the real outside world, should be making decisions for all the rest of us. The third article linked below is by a philosopher and he discusses this particular question. So give the articles a read and then see what you think. Should we resist where psychology done by economists is taking us or should we all embrace it and go in to marketing as there may be a lot of money to be made with this Nobel prize winning research in hand.

Source: Various, see links below

Date: October 14, 2017

Photo Credit:  Scott Olson/Getty Images and PD-USGov-NIH

Links:  Article Links — https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankarmstrong/2017/10/13/richard-thaler-a-giant-in-economics-awarded-the-nobel-prize/#350088323a10

https://blog.nus.edu.sg/henrylim/files/2015/04/Leonard_Review-Nudge-1z2qpyn.pdf

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/like-it-or-not-we-need-a-nudge-to-make-better-choices/article36570743

So, I have no bright snappy conclusions to draw at this point as I believe the questions are too big for quick conclusions to be drawn. It IS, however, important to at least be aware of the philosophical issues arising from well-regarded front line psychological research and it is the case that when philosophy pops up in psychology ethical reflection and possible policy guidelines should not be far behind.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How rational or human decision makers??
  2. Should we try to be rational thinkers?
  3. Should we dive into the task of figuring out what nudges are needed to improve the lives of the general population?

References (Read Further):

Leonard, T. C. (2008). Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. Constitutional Political Economy, 19(4), 356-360. (Second link above)

Thaler, R. H., Sunstein, C. R., & Balz, J. P. (2014). Choice architecture. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/C_Sunstein/publication/269517913_Choice_Architecture/links/548db1850cf225bf66a5f4e6.pdf

Oullier, O., Cialdini, R., Thaler, R. H., & Mullainathan, S. (2010). Improving public health prevention with a nudge. Economic Perspectives, 6(2), 117-36. http://oullier.free.fr/files/2010_Oullier-Cialdini-Thaler-Mullainathan_Neuroscience-Prevention-Public-Health_Nudge-Behavioral-Economics.pdf

Blumenthal-Barby, J. S., & Burroughs, H. (2012). Seeking better health care outcomes: the ethics of using the “nudge”. The American Journal of Bioethics, 12(2), 1-10. http://www.academia.edu/download/7908886/AJOB%20PROOF%20FINAL%20NUDGE.pdf

Posted by & filed under Human Development, Learning, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: I have done some research looking at factors involved in how (or how not) first year students adapt to their first year of post-secondary study. A LOT of the research into that question focuses on all of the things that can go wrong or be otherwise challenging about being a new college or university student. Stress, anxiety, depression, avoidant coping to name but a few, are commonly measured concepts and variables. While there has been a lot of work done on how to reduce the rates of these issues in the first year student population it is not clear whether things are getting significant better (actually to be fair things ARE better for a LOT of students by the time they enter 2nd or third year) for first year students. The research article linked below describes a single study aimed at shifting focus from a “what can go or is wrong” focus to a focus arising out of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is a relatively recent area of theory and research in psychology that try’s, instead of focusing on problems, challenges, and negative functioning, to focus upon positive aspects of human functioning and looks at ways to increase positive ways of being rather than reduce negative ways of being. So have a look through the article and see what it suggests may be of assistance in increasing the positive experiences of first year students.

Source: Stress and subjective well-being among first year UK undergraduate students (see reference below).

Date: October 8, 2017

Photo Credit:  Piotr Marcinski – Fotolia

Links:  Article Link — http://shura.shu.ac.uk/12114/3/Macaskill%20Stress%20and%20Subjective%20Well-Being.pdf

Much advice to new college and university students involves some version of the statement that “it is up to you”. The article linked above takes that a little bit further by suggesting that learner autonomy and learner self-efficacy and how they play off relative to one another especially when things do not go strongly or well in first year are important parts of understanding how students manage first year and how they can do so more positively. These variables are the ones that shift and change not the stress levels that students experience. The goal of adjustment then is perhaps not making the stress go away but, rather, developing ways to positively address it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What happens to the levels of stress experienced by students over their first year of college or university?
  2. What are self-efficacy, academic alienation and leaner autonomy and how do they relate to one another and to student stress levels?
  3. What sorts of things might we do to help first year student better manage their transition to first year (according to the results of the linked study)?

References (Read Further):

Denovan, A., & Macaskill, A. (2017). Stress and subjective well-being among first year UK undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 18(2), 505-525. http://shura.shu.ac.uk/12114/3/Macaskill%20Stress%20and%20Subjective%20Well-Being.pdf

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Learning, Neuroscience.

Description: How do our brains go about producing our  mind or the experience of thoughts and mind we have? If that sounds like an odd restatement of Descartes’s statement of thinking therefore being you are not far off. How do those of us who do not have specific training in neuroscience learn about how our brains work? Well we can read what neuroscientists have to say on the subject. The problem is that much of what neuroscientists write they write for one another and not for us and reading enough of the scientific research literature to develop a big picture view of how the brain works would be an onerous and time consuming task, assuming it would be doable at all without post-graduate training. Luckily many neuroscientists have come to the realization that some knowledge translation work aimed at assisting the rest of us in building a big picture understanding of how our brains (minds) work would be greatly appreciated, if done well and accessibly. The review linked below looks at 4 books written by neuroscience researchers but aimed at us in the “lay” (non-expert) community. Usefully, the reviewer not only provides a brief overview of what the author of ach book seemed to him to be trying to accomplish but also some comments on the extent to which the authors succeeded in their translation efforts and, in some cases, about what seemed to have been left out that might have helped us build a useful understanding of the areas of brain and mind functioning described. Critical looks and the extent to which efforts to translate expert knowledge in ways that make it usefully available to otherwise bright and well informed community members is becoming more and more necessary and the specialization of our fields of knowledge deepen. So as you read through the review linked below pay attention not just to what you might learn if you were to invest time in reading the books that were reviewed but also, reflect upon what the author of the review raises in the way of concerns about what is issuing or less than optimally handled in the books reviewed. This sort of reflective guidance will be increasing important for us as we try to engage in the important goal of life-long learning in a world of increasing esoteric knowledge specialties.

Source: How We Make Up Our Minds, Book Reviews, Christopher Chabris, The New York Times

Date: September 22, 2017

Photo Credit:  John Gall

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/books/review/the-influential-mind-tali-sharot-decision-making.html

So how many of the 4 books reviewed do you now want to read (if you can find the time)?) Diverse and complex disciplines like Psychology are going to have to address questions of how they might optimally inform people (non-psychologists) about what they are up to and, most importantly, about how they can make their insights into human functioning (and fixes for human malfunctioning) genuinely available to the rest of the world. The need to properly and effectively inform others about the research done and insights gained in Psychology trough psychological research is an ethical principle advocated by both the Canadian and American Psychological Associations. Reviews of efforts to do so such as that linked above and, form that matter, blogs like this one which I post each week, are potentially important parts of Psychology’s and Psychologists’ efforts to live up to this ethical expectation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why will the idea that we only use 10% of our brains stay around when Psychology and Psychologists have said it is not true for years now?
  2. How might we change general or typical behaviour (like handwashing by health workers) for the better?
  3. What are some key advantages of having critical reviews of these sorts of books (in this case written by neuroscientists to inform non-neuroscientists about how their own brains work?

References (Read Further):

Shtulman, A. (2017). Scienceblind: Why our intuitive theories about the world are so often wrong. Hachette UK.

Sigman, Mariano (2017) The Secret Life of the Mind, Little Brown.
Kravetz, Lee Daniel (2017) Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves, Harper Wave
Sharot, Tali (2017) The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, Henry Holt and Co.

Levin, D. Z., & Cross, R. (2004). The strength of weak ties you can trust: The mediating role of trust in effective knowledge transfer. Management science, 50(11), 1477-1490. http://www.providersedge.com/docs/km_articles/the_strength_of_weak_ties_you_can_trust.pdf

Adler, C., Hadorn, G. H., Breu, T., Wiesmann, U., & Pohl, C. (2017). Conceptualizing the transfer of knowledge across cases in transdisciplinary research. Sustainability Science, 1-12. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-017-0444-2

CPA (2017) Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists. http://www.cpa.ca/aboutcpa/committees/ethics/codeofethics/#

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, General Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: When I was in high school (back in the old days of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) I had a good friend whose mother was a practitioner of Janov’s Primal Scream therapy. Part of the basement in their house was lined with mattresses and there were bins of stuffed animals, boxing gloves and foam bats. Sessions, heard from the main and second floors of their house were full of screams, shrieks and other loud noises. There was no Primal Scream Therapy room in my house but my parents were involved in what was called the Human Potential Movement which included a number of psychologists and other “gurus” who, before many of them shifted to psychologically coaching Olympic athletes ran workshops on getting in touch with one’s inner children and one’s deeper potentials (sometimes with and sometimes without strong emotions and screaming). We lent space every other month or so to a therapist who practiced Rolfing which apparently (I found out with research later on) involves deep massage intended to reorganize the body’s connective tissue, improve posture and thus well-being. What it DID seem to involve, at least from what I heard of sessions on the second floor of our house, was a LOT of screaming that sounded like it was driven by serious pain. My friend and I would often compare notes regarding the “therapeutic” noise levels in our respective houses when “work” was being done. When studying psychology later in life I did not spend really any time at all studying Primal Scream Therapy or Rolfing. I did, however, spend a bit of time in a couple of history of psychology courses reflecting on the socio-historical context of the 1960’s and 70’s and the psychology that it produced. So, why might we think it might possibly be therapeutic for people to delve into early childhood deep emotional reactions tied to fears of parental abandonment? Why might screaming out the anguish of those feelings be good for us? Instead of dismissing theories like this out of hand as “weird” (and yes, they ARE that) have a read through Arthur Janov’s obituary linked below and, in addition to considering the theoretic foundations of Janov’s approach, also consider why and how the socio-historical context of the 1960’s can be viewed as a perfect environment for encouraging the emergence of Primal Scream therapy and Rolfing and the Human  Potential Movement among many other theories, therapies and ideas. Also, be aware, that there is serious debate about whether Primal Scream Therapy should be taken seriously within Psychology at all (see further reading below).

Source: Arthur Janov, 93, Dies; Psychologist Caught World’s Attention with Primal Scream, Margalit Fox, Obituaries, New York Times

Date: October 2, 2017

Photo Credit:  Ann Summa/Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/obituaries/arthur-janov-dead-developed-primal-scream-therapy.html

We do not often think of the socio-historical climates within which our current psychological theories and our current therapy approaches have been developed. Their being immersed in our own current historical moments makes the influences harder to see because they are simply parts of how we see the world that is right in front of us right now. It is easier to see historical contextual effects when we look into the more distant past. Of course Freud and the theory he developed were influenced by the socio-historical forces that were at play in the later 1800’s and early 1900’s. Likewise, Janov’s context of the 1960’s and the profound social changes that were in the works, are reasonable accessible (even if it is hard to get our heads around those ways of seeing the world, human functioning and therapeutic needs).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would you describe Janov’s theory and therapy to someone who had not heard anything about it?
  2. What is the nature of the relationship between socio-historical contexts and the psychological theories and therapies that arise within them?
  3. Thinking about Janov’s theory and therapy what are some possible connections you could see between them and the current popularity of “Escape Rooms” (https://globalnews.ca/news/1957421/its-like-solving-a-puzzle-escape-room-game-trend-sweeping-canada/ )?

References (Read Further):

Norcross, J. C., Koocher, G. P., & Garofalo, A. (2006). Discredited psychological treatments and tests: A Delphi poll. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(5), 515. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Norcross/publication/228663686_Discredited_psychological_treatments_and_tests_A_Delphi_poll/links/0912f508a7c65bf8fc000000.pdf

Furnham, A., Pereira, E., & Rawles, R. (2001). Lay theories of psychotherapy: perceptions of the efficacy of different’cures’ for specific disorders. Psychology, health & medicine, 6(1), 77-84. http://www.brown.uk.com/laytheories/furnham3.pdf

Kellermann, P. F. (1984). The place of catharsis in psychodrama. Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry, 37, 1-13. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Natan_Kellermann/publication/232577668_The_place_of_catharsis_in_psychodrama/links/567d308e08ae197583879861.pdf

Powell, E. (2007). Catharsis in psychology and beyond: A historic overview. The Primal Psychotherapy Page, 1. http://www.primalmatters.com/images/Catharsis%20.pdf

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, General Psychology, Group Processes, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Social Influence, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Substance-Related Disorders.

Description: What do you think you know about the addictive nature of opioid drugs like heroin or morphine? Have you heard that they can be addictive on first use? Have you heard that they work on the brain chemistry of all users to create a need for the drug or a dependency that is purely physio logical? Have you heard that they are addictive to mice and lab rats in the same ways they are addictive to humans? Well, it may well be that the last of these the questions (and only the last one) may actually be true. The link below will take you to a novel presentation of research into these questions. The research was conducted by Bruce Alexander from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby BC. The unique presentation is in the form of a comic or graphic novel depiction of Alexander’s research program created by Australian artist Stuart McMillen.  It is a unique and quite informative way to present the key features and findings of this line of research (kudos to the artist, Stuart McMillen!). Have a look through it at the link below and then revisit the questions I started with above.

Source: Rat Park, Stuart McMillen.

Date: October 1, 2017

Photo Credit:  Stuart McMillen

Links:  Article Link — http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comic/rat-park/#page-1

So what did you think of the graphic novel/comic approach top research presentation? Aside from that what did you think of the findings of Bruce Alexander’s research? Does it make sense to view rats in research cages as similar to humans in solitary confinement? When regardless of what that suggestion may or may not give rise to in the way of issues related to animal treatment (have you heard of the documentary film Blackfish? www.blackfishmovie.com ) the research using the “Rat Park” environment raises a number of fascinating issues about addiction and specifically about the nature of addictiveness in relation to opioids. Social factors might be important even in core neuroscience research areas.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How automatically addictive are opioid drugs like heroin or morphine? Are they can be addictive on first use?
  2. Does it make sense to say that the danger with opioids is entirely due to how they work on brain chemistry?
  3. Assuming it makes sense to generalize somewhat from the rat studies described in the link comic above (and maybe comment on the nature and make-ability of that assumption) what would approaches to treatment or approaches to otherwise dealing with drug addiction to illegal narcotics involve? Oh and before answering this question check out this link: https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/portugal-drug-decriminalization-statistics

References (Read Further):

Alexander, B. (2010). The globalization of addiction: A study in poverty of the spirit. Oxford University Press.

Alexander, B. (2017) Addiction: Hopeful prophecy from a time of despair. http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/289-addiction-a-hopeful-prophecy-from-a-time-of-despair

Domoslawski, A., & Siemaszko, H. (2011). Drug policy in Portugal: the benefits of decriminalizing drug use. New York, NY: Open Society Foundations. https://www.tni.org/en/issues/decriminalization/item/2725-drug-policy-in-portugal

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Emerging Adulthood, General Psychology, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: OK, think back to your own early adolescence (when you were 13 to 15 years old).  Thinking about what the world and your place in it looked like back then would you say you had a clear sense of what your purpose in life was (is)? Probably not. What about now? Is the purpose of life, of your life, any clearer now? Think for a little bit about what a sense of purpose in life (that is yours and not one that has been handed to you by others or my life circumstances) might mean for how things go (or will go) for you in your post-secondary developmental adventures (in college or university or in the world in general). After you have those thoughts in order, use this link (https://www.mediafire.com/file/admyn4hzbe39g2p/Purpose%20Scales.pdf ) to download a document containing two measures that assess parts of concept of life purpose (of YOUR life propose). Answer the questions and calculate your scores using the instructions in the document and compare your scores to the scores of a large sample of firth year university students using the average scores contained in the download document. Once you have done that go and have a look through the article linked below. It is a full research article but you do not have to read it in deep detail to find some useful things to think about. Skim through the introduction to see what the study involved. In the methods section have a look at what the researchers measured and how they described what they thought they were measuring (e.g., their operationalizations of the variable of interest). Then, skim the results section and have a closer look at the discussion section to see what they found in the study. What does a sense of life purpose relate to among the university students who participated in the research. Think about whether the finding make sense to you and thinks about what else you might like to know about the variables measured and the concepts studies in this research project.

Source: Purpose in Life in Emerging Adulthood: Development and Validation of a New Brief Measure, see reference below.

Date: October 1, 2017

Photo Credit:  tinybudda.com

Links:  Article Link — hhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779362/    

So what did you come to by way of conclusions? What purpose in life well defined? Does it seem to be important (matter in real life)?  Did the your results on the two measure you completed (if you did that) make sense? The research article suggested that your scores on the two measures should be quite similar and they reported a correlation of .6 between scores on the two measures in their data. So what next? If the results and the researchers discussion of their results did not make sense to you what research do you think is needed to make things clearer. If the results DID make sense (e.g., that wellbeing is positively correlated with life purpose in this population) what sorts of things might we try and do to help folks develop a clearer sense of life purpose and how would we measure whether or not doing so works and whether doing so makes a difference.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is Life Purpose (both in general terms AND in terms of how it was measured in this study?
  2. Is there a gap, in your mind, between what Life Purpose is and what was measured in this study and if so how might we narrow that gap?
  3. How might you design a study to assess the effectiveness of two of three ways in which, hypothetically, we might strengthen people’s Life Purpose?

References (Read Further):

Hill, P. L., Edmonds, G. W., Peterson, M., Luyckx, K., & Andrews, J. A. (2016). Purpose in life in emerging adulthood: Development and validation of a new brief measure. The journal of positive psychology, 11(3), 237-245. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779362/

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Consciousness, Language-Thought, Learning, Memory, Neuroscience, Physiology, Psychological Disorders.

Description: Typically when the specific areas of the brain are described and their role in general functioning discussed (at least at the introductory course level) we describe brain areas in what might be called “flat terms”. That’s is, we talk about the behaviours or body fictions that seem to be associated with that area of the brain (like saying the occipital lobes are involved in visual information processing). We sometimes put thing together a bit by noting that while visual inputs are processed in one area of the brain emotional responses are driven from another (the limbic system). What is not typically presented in any detail at the introductory course level is how the brain functions holistically from moment to moment. For example, you may have heard about how the hippocampus has connections (called projections) to the whole array of “higher” areas of the brain referred to as the cortex. We talk about this when discussing how memories are distributed through the brain by the hippocampus, for example. The article linked below talks about research that adds an important layer or level to our understanding of the role of the hippocampus that leads to that are of the brain sometimes being referred to as the “heart” of the brain because of the potential roles played by the low frequency (1 hz) pulses that are generated in the hippocampus and which may play an important role in brain-wide connectivity important for managing sensory information processing. Read the article linked below to find out about this potential critical role played by the hippocampus and the implications of understanding  this role for understanding, predicting and perhaps better managing disorders like Alzheimer’s.

Source: New functions of hippocampus unveiled: Scientists achieve major breakthrough in untangling mysteries of the brain, ScienceDaily,

Date: September 29, 2017

Photo Credit:  DECADE3D/IstockPhoto

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929093215.htm

So it may be that the low frequency activity of the hippocampus may drive the higher areas of the cortex and facilitate complex processing related to memory, attention, perception, cognition, language and consciousness as well as the consolidation of learning and memory during deep sleep (leading the hippocampus as the “heart of the brain” observation). Brain-wide connectivity is clearly an important part of how complex processing occurs and the low frequency rhythms driven by the hippocampus may play an important role in how this inter-connectivity works. The thalamus also plays a similar role in initiating and coordinating brain-wide neural interactions. The importance of understanding these brain-wide interactions is underscored by the NIH Human Connectome Project initiative launched in 2010 to coordinate the compilation of the complex datasets necessary to explore issues of brain-wide connectivity. As work I this area expands it will need to be added to our basic (and this our introductory course) understandings of how the human brain functions.

.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things does the hippocampus do for us in terms of our brain functioning?
  2. How do location specific discussions of brain area function differ from those discussing brain-wide activation?
  3. What might an understanding of the role of low frequency pacing of the hippocampus do for our understanding of brain function that our previous understanding of what the hippocampus does not?

References (Read Further):

Russell W. Chan, Alex T. L. Leong, Leon C. Ho, Patrick P. Gao, Eddie C. Wong, Celia M. Dong, Xunda Wang, Jufang He, Ying-Shing Chan, Lee Wei Lim, Ed X. Wu. Low-frequency hippocampal–cortical activity drives brain-wide resting-state functional MRI connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 114 (33): E6972 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1703309114 http://www.pnas.org/content/114/33/E6972.full

The Human Connectome Project http://www.humanconnectomeproject.org/   or https://www.neuroscienceblueprint.nih.gov/connectome/

Redish, A. D., & Touretzky, D. S. (1997). Cognitive maps beyond the hippocampus. Hippocampus, 7(1), 15-35. http://redishlab.neuroscience.umn.edu/papers/1997%20HC.pdf

Posted by & filed under Families and Peers, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: Ok, this post is not going to be anywhere near long enough to convey all that it should. That said, I am going to introduce you to two HUGE developmental concepts and then after only a bare “hello” I am going to toss an article at you that smacks them together in an interesting way. Thirty years ago I completed my doctoral dissertation on Cognitive, Epistemic, and Identity development among adolescents and university students. The general view at that time (early to mid-1980’s) was that young people would and should have their identity developmental business pretty much in hand by the time they started their post-secondary adventures or at least shortly after they took them up (either in a college or university or elsewhere in life itself).

Over the past 6 years I have gathered a lot more data from students taking my introductory psychology courses and things are clearly different now than way way back when I gathered my dissertation data (and please don’t agree with the way way back part so quickly as it makes me feel very old indeed!). One of the big changes is the one that has cleared space for a new developmental stage or life phase called Emerging Adulthood (see the book picture cover and reference below). the world is a more complicated place thanks to globalization and general diversity and also thanks to changes in employment options all of which means that it take longer to for many people in  their 20’s to get it figured out to the extent necessary for them to make proper commitments to career and other life plans or courses. While this can make them seem uncertain or “Diffused” to use a long lived and still viable identity status or style label it may actually be that they are holding off on taking strong life positions while they explore a massively broader array of perspective, options, and opportunities. I will be writing more about emerging adulthood and related developmental issues and possibilities in coming weeks.

But, for now, if emerging adulthood is about taking time to explore and more deeply understand ones options and possibilities how do you think that developmental opportunity might be effected if the one had experienced several significant, prolonged adverse childhood experiences? I am not talking here about not winning a ribbon at sports day in elementary school. Rather, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) involve a number of things like child abuse, parental neglect, being bullied, personal or parental mental illness (for the standard list see the Further Reading list) any or all of which have serious impacts on the developmental pathways and outcomes of those who experience them.  So the article linked below asks what the effects of ACE’s might be on emerging adulthood.

OK, with that thin introduction to the concepts involved, what do you think? What would you hypothesize as possible effects of ACE’s on emerging adulthood (development through the 20’s)?

Oh and welcome to emerging adulthood if you are in the range!

Source: Davis, J. P., Dumas, T. M., & Roberts, B. W. (2017). Adverse Childhood Experiences and Development in Emerging Adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, pdf full text article link is below under the Source heading.

Date: September 20, 2017

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

Links:  Article Link — https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jordan_Davis2/publication/319567713_Adverse_Childhood_Experiences_and_Development_in_Emerging_Adulthood/links/59b56c98a6fdcc3f88987a2b/Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-and-Development-in-Emerging-Adulthood.pdf

I will leave you to evaluate how your hypotheses fared (at least in terms of the data gathered in the article linked above). What I WILL suggest you consider is whether you are comfortable with the interpretations and conclusions drawn by the authors of the linked article as to how ACE’s effect development in emerging adulthood. While there is a lot there to think about and a lot to like I would just offer one more thing to think about. There is substantial evidence in the developmental research literature on resilience that suggests two things. First, that adverse childhood experiences can have serious developmental impacts both because of opportunities lost as a result of exposure and as a result of alternative developmental pathways trodden as a result of early adverse experiences. The resilience literature (search on that key term on this blog if you would like some references) indicates that an important necessary step towards overcoming early adverse experience is a conscious realization that there was a developmental impact of early adverse experiences and a related conscious commitment to doing things differently (e.g., like a young adult contemplating parenthood and realizing they want to and are determined to be a different kind of parent for their own child or children they their own parent or parents were of them). Something of that degree of reflectivity is, in my mind, a central and defining feature of emerging adulthood. So perhaps it is only partly the ACE’s in our lives we need to worry about and what we get more developmental mileage from is focusing on how we are thinking about and focusing upon the developmental baggage that are any ACE’s in our childhood with eyes on how were are working on them and moving forward away from or in spite of them. Anyway, more on emerging adulthood in weeks to come!

 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is emerging adulthood?
  2. What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and why do they matter developmentally?
  3. How might we think about the interface and possible interference of ACE’s with development in emerging adulthood?

References (Read Further):

Jensen, J. (2014). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. (2nd Edition) Oxford University Press.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale https://www.mediafire.com/file/6nmr3tfoz6fmn3p/The%20Adverse%20Childhood%20Experiences%20Scale.pdf

Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American psychologist, 55(5), 469. http://jeffreyarnett.com/ARNETT_Emerging_Adulthood_theory.pdf

Foege, W. H. (1998). Adverse childhood experiences. A public health perspective. Am J Prev Med, 14(4), 354-55. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.471.2693&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Human Development, Learning, Moral Development, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Ok here is a “simple” question. What are the effects of praise (parental praise delivered to children) on those children’s moral development and their moral behaviour? Put more specifically, are children who are praised more or less likely to cheat if given an opportunity? What is your hypothesis reading the nature of this relationship? Ok and yes, I know, it depends. But upon what factors does it (your answer to the question above) depend? A good psychological researcher is as quick, or quicker, with hypothesis caveats than direct question answers. So, once you have yours sorted out read the article linked below and see how your hypotheses fared.

Source: Praising Children May Encourage them to Cheat, Talking Apes, David Ludden, Psychology Today.

Date: September 20, 2017

Photo Credit:  kdnovelties.com

Links:  Article Link — https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-apes/201709/praising-children-may-encourage-them-cheat

So how did your hypotheses, caveats and all, fare? Was the type of praise offered something that occurred to you? Did you think about how you might test your hypotheses? Did the research discussed make sense as a test of the questions at hand? Finally, have you heard about the work on “growth mindset”? it seems to fit here and is worth thinking about in relation both the parenting AND in terms of your own performance in academic and life challenge settings.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship between praise and cheating in elementary school children?
  2. The previous question asks for a pretty general conclusion. What else should we consider if we are to properly answer that question?
  3. What sort of parent and teacher advice might arise from an applied developmental consideration of the research discussed in the Article linked above?

References (Read Further):

Zhao, L., Heyman, G. D., Chen, L., & Lee, K. (2017). Praising young children for being smart promotes cheating. Psychological Science, first published September 12, 2017

Dweck, C. (2015). Carol dweck revisits the’growth mindset’. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24. https://www.stem.org.uk/system/files/community-resources/2016/06/DweckEducationWeek.pdf

O’Rourke, E., Haimovitz, K., Ballweber, C., Dweck, C., & Popović, Z. (2014, April). Brain points: a growth mindset incentive structure boosts persistence in an educational game. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 3339-3348). ACM. http://grail.cs.washington.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/orourke2014bpa.pdf

Hochanadel, A., & Finamore, D. (2015). Fixed and growth mindset in education and how grit helps students persist in the face of adversity. Journal of International Education Research, 11(1), 47. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1051129.pdf