Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, Physical Illness, Psychological Health, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness.

Description: Someone at some point it may have suggested to you that at least part of remaining healthy involves maintaining an upbeat positive attitude. While that may sound all bit like the old statement that an apple a day might keep the doctor away interesting research is starting to show us some of the ways in which emotions and their related brain activities may be contributing factors to disease.

Source: Why Sadness Might Lead to Physical Disease, Psych Central, Traci Pedersen

Brain and illness

Photo Credit: psyccentral.com- shutterstock

 Links: Article Link –http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/12/22/why-sadness-may-lead-to-physical-disease/96563.html

Author’s University Media Post: https://www.uth.edu/media/story.htm?id=66c23eba-d01b-4bfd-b1de-c76183df1421

As the opening statement above suggests, the idea that our emotions or general mood states may have an impact on our physical well-being may not just be something that our grandparents or great-grandparents believed, but may in fact have some basis in neurological reality. It’s not enough however to simply suggest that one’s attitude has a role to play in one’s health. Of course, a positive attitude may make it more likely you’ll get out and engage in physical activity or perhaps make more positive health related decisions but the article discussed in this blog post involves one line of research that looks directly at the role that the brain based expressions of emotions like sadness may have to play in our general physical well-being. It is worth paying attention to this and related lines of research as they will likely have a powerful role to play in our future lifestyle and general well-being planning.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the neurological mechanisms discussed in this article by which sadness may have a role to play in physical health and well-being?
  2. Do the results described in this study make sense to you in terms of your thoughts or beliefs about the relationship between emotions like sadness and general physical well-being? If so why and if not why not?
  3. What sort of things might the results of this study suggest in terms both of individual decisions with regards to personal wellness and in terms of medical advice or adjustments the general practitioners might routinely offer to their patients?

References (Read Further):

Prossin, A. R., Koch, A. E., Campbell, P. L., Barichello, T., Zalcman, S. S., & Zubieta, J. K. (2015). Acute experimental changes in mood state regulate immune function in relation to central opioid neurotransmission: a model of human CNS-peripheral inflammatory interaction. Molecular psychiatry.

https://www.uth.edu/media/story.htm?id=66c23eba-d01b-4bfd-b1de-c76183df1421

Posted by & filed under General Psychology.

Description: While there are many winter events to celebrate, Christmas is one of the big ones. Given the amount of energy and effort put into Christmas and all that it entails for some people from surprising there has not been a lot of research done on the psychology of Christmas. This little piece gives us a light overview.

Source: Christmas and Psychological Well-being

Date: December 24, 2015

Christmas

Photo Credit: Trent University, Nottingham

Links: Article Link — https://christmasunwrapped.wordpress.com/tag/psychology/

So, what do you like about the Christmas holiday? Certainly it is nice after fall term final exams are done to have a little bit of downtime even without some sort of Winter Festival. The research described in this brief article examined what it was that people enjoyed most about Christmas experience in terms of their life satisfaction. Perhaps not surprisingly the high scores in this pretty study were for things like spending time with family, enjoying food and drink, religious activities, traditional activities, spending money and other people, (which was actually rated higher than) receiving gifts from other people, and helping others. The study also found that levels of reported happiness were higher when more weight was placed upon family and religious experiences then on spending money or receiving gifts. So perhaps like most times of the year, how this time of year goes for you depends on what you decide to make of it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the factors that want to talk about if one were asked to speak briefly about what a psychology of Christmas might look like?
  2. What advice might you give to people or families that might increase their sense of well-being over this winter festival?
  3. What about your own Christmas psychology? Training in particular you’re going to do to improve or optimize your own well-being during the time off you have between now and when classes start again sometime in January?

References (Read Further):

Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2002). What makes for a merry Christmas?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(4), 313-329.

Petrelli, Daniela, and Ann Light. “Family rituals and the potential for interaction design: a study of Christmas.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 21, no. 3 (2014): 16.

Birg, L., & Goeddeke, A. (2014). Christmas Economics-A Sleigh Ride. Available at SSRN 2526055. http://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/103883/1/804404429.pdf

Suicides at Christmas: Is there a relationship?

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Social Influence, Social Perception.

Description:
A number of years ago, a researcher by John Gottman made the claim that he could predict, based on a single observational session of a couple interacting with one another while talking about an issue that mattered to them, 94% accuracy within that couple but still be together in one year. He did this not based so much on what the members of that couple said to one another but more on the basis of how they said things and how they physically position themselves relative to one another while interacting as well as a tone of voice that they used. So what you think, can you tell simply by watching a couple interact with their likelihood of staying together or not?

Source: Words Can Deceive, but Tone of Voice Cannot, Science Daily

Date: November 23, 2015

Words

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Links: Article Link http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151123202344.htm

You may have had the experience of watching a couple interact can listing into their conversation (no of course you shouldn’t of been doing that but you did) and saying yourself either “others a happy couple” or alternatively something like “that I can be together for a long”. Social psychological research question is, of course, on what grounds are you making your determination about the viability of the relationship of which you of the deserved perhaps a whole minute or two of interaction. The authors of this research article suggest that the tone of voice being used by the participants in the conversation is more predictive of the viability of their relationship than the specific things are actually saying to one another in that conversation. This leads to an existing research question. Does our ability to predict the viability of relationships based on the tone of voice being used by the participants in that relationship tell us anything at all that might be useful in any effort that we might make to work with that couple to increase the likelihood that they will remain together as a couple in the medium to long term. Does it make sense to you to say to a friend something like “you know you are to speak in a kinder tone of voice to your partner that I noticed you speaking in last night”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the research article focus upon as key predictors of the long-term viability of the relationships that they observed as part of their research?
  2. Is simply observing the tones of voice with which people address one another sufficient as an explanation for why their relationships are viable or not? Alternatively, what sort of hypothetical relationship might you offer to explain the relationship between tone of voice and relationship viability?
  3. Are there things presented within this research that would be of assistance to clinicians working with couples who come in for counselling because they perceive that their relationships are not functioning particularly well?

References (Read Further):

Md Nasir, Wei Xia, Bo Xiao, Brian Baucom, Shrikanth S. Narayanan and Panayiotis Georgiou. Still Together?: The Role of Acoustic Features in Predicting Marital Outcome. Proceedings of Interspeech, 2015

Research FAQs

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Disorders of Childhood, Disorders of Childhood, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness.

Description: When you think of disorders such as Autism or Asperger’s syndrome which of the following words comes was quickly to mind? Would be inferior? Or perhaps disordered? Or how about simply different? This radio interview with Steve Silverman author of the book noted below might cause you to rethink your initial reaction to the above question.

Source: Rethinking Autism through the Prism of Neurodiversity, The Current, CBC Radio December 8, 2015.

Date: December 8, 2015

Autism

Photo Credit: cbc.ca

Links: Article Link http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-december-8-2015-1.3355145/rethinking-autism-through-the-prism-of-neurodiversity-1.3355184

Podcast of Radio Piece Link: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-december-8-2015-1.3355145/rethinking-autism-through-the-prism-of-neurodiversity-1.3355184

So how did you respond to the above question? While we might wonder about the prospect of a “cure” for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia does it make sense to speak the same way about disorders along the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum of disorders? Steve Silverman, the author of a book entitled Nero Tribes: the legacy of autism in the future of Neurodiversity, suggests that we need to challenge your thinking in relation to this spectrum of disorders. The concept of Neurodiversity suggest that we need to consider whether some ways of being that are currently described within diagnostic manuals like the DSM might better be understood simply as alternative human ways of thinking and being. Listen to the interview and see what sort of thoughts come to mind for you in relation to this interesting question. Silverman’s history of psychology and psychiatry’s approach to autism and related disorders as detailed in absolutely fascinating and most certainly worth a read if you have any interest in this area at all.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does Steve Silverman suggest needs to change in relation to how we think about disorders along the autism spectrum of disorder?
  2. What other areas of human experience or human ways of being might be approached more effectively through thinking in terms of Neurodiversity?
  3. What sort of social conventions and practices might we consider revising if we are to take this approach to thinking about autism spectrum disorders seriously?

References (Read Further):

Silberman, S. (2015). NeuroTribes: The legacy of autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently. Allen & Unwin.

Silverman, C. (2015). NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman (review). Anthropological Quarterly, 88(4), 1111-1121. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/anthropological_quarterly/v088/88.4.silverman.html

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Health Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Despite the general position of politicians and police officers that we will not be intimidated by acts of terror it is perfectly understandable that the occurrence of such events can create feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Politics aside, how might we think about these sorts of issues from a psychological perspective?

Source: How to Cope with Anxiety During Terror Threats, Katie Rogers, New York Times

Date: November 19, 2015

Terror THreats

Photo Credit: Hilary Swift, The New York Times

Links: Article Link — http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/health/how-to-cope-with-anxiety-during-terror-threats.html?_r=0

It largely goes without saying that the intended purpose behind acts of terrorism is to create and fan feelings of anxiety and fear in large populations. Politicians and other officials take the understandable stand that we will not give in to the psychological intent of such actions. However, it is understandable that some feelings of anxiety and uncertainty may arise when such events occur in the world. What might we do to cope effectively with such situations and feelings? The article linked above provides a brief overview of some of the areas where psychology has some useful things to say about how we might think about and approach the sorts of events as they happen at various places in the world.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Given that the vast majority of us have no direct control over events in the world that come to be described as acts of terrorism what sorts of things can we do in order to cope when such events occur in to help us deal with anxiety that we may feel at those times?
  2. Additional things might be necessary or helpful for parents and others who interact with children in the course of their daily lives to think about in this sort of situation?
  3. Why might it be particularly important for people in Paris too, as they have done, return to Parisian cafés?

References (Read Further):

Gabay, G. (2015). Extending Psychophysics Methods to Evaluating Potential Social Anxiety Factors in Face of Terrorism. J Psychol Psychother, 4(167), 2161-0487. http://omicsonline.org/open-access/extending-psychophysics-methods-to-evaluating-potential-social-anxiety-factors-in-face-of-terrorism-2161-0487.1000167.pdf

Baker, C. (2015). Shades of intolerance: the influence of terrorism on discriminatory attitudes and behaviors in the United Kingdom and Canada (Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University-Graduate School-Newark). https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/47632/PDF/1/

Kahn, M. E. (2015). Urban adaptation to low-probability shocks: contrasting terrorism and natural disaster risk. Benefit Cost Analyses for Security Policies: Does Increased Safety Have to Reduce Efficiency?, 157. http://164.67.163.139/Documents/areas/ctr/ziman/2010-09.pdf

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Disorders of Childhood, Human Development, Neuroscience.

Description: Is attention deficit disorder a true brain disorder or a functional disorder based on such things as lack of motivation and insufficient training and attention management? This article addresses part of this question.

Source: A peek at Brain Connections May Reveal Attention Deficits, Shots: Health News from APR, Jon Hamilton

Date: November 30, 2015

ADHD and Brain

Photo Credit: IStock, npr.org

Links: Article Link — http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457139705/a-peek-at-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits

Audio Link http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/457139705/a-peek-at-brain-connections-may-reveal-attention-deficits#

While it is been generally thought that attention deficit disorder or ADHD is likely a brain-based Challenger disability, the evidence supporting this view has been somewhat slow to arrive. The research article upon which this media report is based argues that they have taken a step in the direction of sorting this issue out. Using functional MRI imaging techniques they monitored the brains of 25 typical people while they did an incredibly boring task. He then examined the brain scan data on just over 100 children and adolescents looking for characteristic differences between these two populations. The researchers looked specifically at the connections between regions of the brain and found they were able to fairly consistently discern the difference between the ADHD and non-ADHD brain scans. For many of the participants the researchers were able to predict who had ADHD but also how severe the problem was within those individuals who carried an ADHD diagnosis. While the technique requires further study before being viewed as a potential diagnostic tool the results are certainly suggestive.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are your general beliefs about the nature of ADHD and its underlying causes?
  2. What did the researchers in the article discussed here believe they have discovered about the nature of the brains of ADHD children?
  3. If the results of this study are supported through replication and extension, what might some of the implications be for the identification and treatment of ADHD?

References (Read Further):

Rosenberg, M. D.*, Finn, E. S.*, Scheinost, D., Papademetris, X., Shen, X., Constable, R. T., Chun, M. M. (In press). A neuromarker of sustained attention from whole-brain functional connectivity. Nature Neuroscience.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Persuasion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: So think about it, what role might psychology have to play in saving the world from climate change?

Source: How Psychology Can Save the World from Climate Change, Tania Lombrozo, Cosmos and Culture (13.7)

Date: November 30, 2015

Climate Change

Photo Credit: Laurent Cipriani/AP

Links: Article Link — http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/11/30/457835780/how-psychology-can-save-the-world-from-climate-change

The core issues and climate change sure of course about the environment and about the changes human behaviour has wrought upon the environment and the implication of those changes for global warming. So what does that have to do is psychology? While, what it has to do with his human behaviour. And one of the biggest issues involved with human behaviour is the difficulty particularly on a global scale in getting it to change. And it must change if the issues underlying global warming are to be addressed. This article, looks at what psychology might provide in the way of assistance in terms of effectively getting the necessary messages out there with regards to global warming, and especially, with regards to necessary individual, and state level change. The insights provided by the review article upon which the article reference here is based are not particularly surprising, but they do point out that the psychological factors involved in changing the global climate picture a probably just about as important as the behavioural and industrial changes that must be implemented if things are going to improve.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of problems in behaviour change related to global warming that psychology brings to light?
  2. What sorts of things that psychology suggest we might do about the issues raised in response to question one above?
  3. Can you think of any ways in which psychology and psychologists might effectively contribute to our, hopefully global, efforts to address this important issue?

References (Read Further):

van der Linden, S., Maibach, E., & Leiserowitz, A. (2015). Improving Public Engagement With Climate Change Five “Best Practice” Insights From Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(6), 758-763.

 

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Gender-Role Development Sex Differences, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships.

Description: Following separation and/or divorce what is your bet is to is lonelier, males or females?

Source: Surprising Differences between Lonely Women and Lonely Men, World of Psychology, Kira Asatryan.

Date: November 30, 2015

loneliness

Photo Credit: psychcentral.com

Links: Article Link — http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/11/26/surprising-differences-between-lonely-women-and-lonely-men/

We know there are gender differences in how males and females react to differences in general happiness and well-being. Women for example, when things are going well, tend to interpret their feelings as depression whereas men in a similar circumstance tends to express their feelings as anger. What about loneliness is this experienced with equal frequency and with equal intensity by males and females? Research seems to show that generally speaking women at all ages and stages of life report higher levels of feelings of loneliness than do men. Interesting it is married women edge out married men for the lonelier group were a single man outnumber single women in the category of lonely. Why might this be? Read the article through and see if you can come up with some answers to this question into the gender differences suggested in the article.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is it about women’s tendencies in relation to social relationships as compared to those of men that may put them in a different place when they find themselves in a situation that might lead to loneliness?
  2. What are some of the other characteristics that need to be considered before we lead to conclusions about even the possibility that there are differences in levels of loneliness? For example, might there be differences in openness to reporting feelings of loneliness amongst males and females?
  3. What are some of the other factors concerning how males and females typically engage in issues related to relationships that might have some impact on their experiences of loneliness when out of relationship or perhaps even while in relationship?

References (Read Further):

Asatryan, Kira, (2016) Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships, New World Library.

Broese Van Groenou, M. I., & Gierveld, J. (2014). Quality of marriage and social loneliness in later life.

Qualter, P., Vanhalst, J., Harris, R., Van Roekel, E., Lodder, G., Bangee, M., … & Verhagen, M. (2015). Loneliness Across the Life Span. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 250-264.

Posted by & filed under Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology.

Description: So how do you feel about shopping? Is it a necessity? Is it a recreational activity for you? Is it something that reduces stress? Well, another possibility, given that all of these are potentially true for some people, is the idea that it’s possible to think of shopping as a sport, yes that’s right a sport.

Source: ‘Sport shoppers’ bargain hunt simply for the thrill of it, new research finds, Science Daily.

Date: November 24, 2015

black friday

Photo Credit: dealnews.com

Links: Article Link — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124122054.htm

Okay so the concept is been suggested, sport shopping, and now think about what that might look like. The researchers have studied and identified this phenomena suggest that sport shopping involves intense personal motivation to get a bargain regardless of whether one needs to save the money or not. Specifically this label seems to be reserved for individuals who aren’t shopping for bargains because they can’t afford things at the regular price but rather for individuals who take particular pleasure in the thrill of getting things at a discounted rate. Essentially sport shoppers enjoy outsmarting the refit retail system and are intensely competitively engaged in that particular enterprise. Just as athletes might build up their training and preparation for race of a particular distance sport shoppers will case out the layout of a particular store and observe the merchandising patterns used by that store in an effort to prepare themselves for their entrance into the sport shopping for a period. The researchers acknowledge that it is very likely that sport shoppers may be found among both males and females, however the indicate that to date that only ever found in studied examples of female sport shoppers.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What characteristics according to the researchers would designate someone as a sport shopper as opposed to perhaps a bargain hunter?
  2. What other psychological concepts and characteristics might possibly apply to individuals identified as sport shoppers?
  3. Does the concept of sport shopping seem appropriate to you as a psychological concept or construct?

References (Read Further):

Kathleen A. O’Donnell, Judi Strebel, Gary Mortimer. The thrill of victory: Women and sport shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2016; 28: 240 DOI: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2015.10.005

Chebat, J. C., Michon, R., Haj-Salem, N., & Oliveira, S. (2014). The effects of mall renovation on shopping values, satisfaction and spending behaviour. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Ser

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Aging-Psychological Disorders, Clinical Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, Physical Changes In Aging, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology.

Description: In relation to Alzheimer’s disease, the races on to properly understand not only the underlying causes of the disorder but also the order in which these causes unfold. This article talks about recent research that seems to be located the point in the disease development process for the actual synapses in the neural system become engulfed by the disease.

Source: Neuron Connections Destroyed Early in Alzheimer’s, PsychCentral, Janice Wood

Date: November 30, 2015

Synapse

Photo Credit: University of New South Wales

Links: Article Link — http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/11/28/connections-between-brain-cells-destroyed-early-in-alzheimers/95464.html

While we know a fair bit about the role played by substances like beta-amyloid’s in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have been searching for related factors in the hope that they might provide insight into new approaches towards treatments that might slow the advancement of the disorder. In the study discussed in this article researchers seem to identified precisely when in the process of the unfolding of the disorder that the membranes responsible for maintaining the synaptic gap across which neural transmission from one cell to another occurs becomes engulfed by the disorder. It appears that this occurs relatively early in the onset of the disorder and may suggest another front in which researchers can look for ways to if not stop the disease, at least slow its onset.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the researchers suggesting occurs in the early stages of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in relation to neural synapses?
  2. What other factors are typically involved in the early and late stages of Alzheimer’s at the neuronal level?
  3. What does this new findings suggest in the way of potential treatment strategies related to the disorder of Alzheimer’s?

References (Read Further):

Wood, J. (2015). Neuron Connections Destroyed Early in Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/11/28/connections-between-brain-cells-destroyed-early-in-alzheimers/95464.html.