Posted by & filed under Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Human Development, Stress, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: I am not prepared to offer any sort of political comments on the current rhetoric being thrown back and forth between American president Donald Trump and Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. What I can do is recommend an insightful piece by Daniel Keating about the impacts of stress and anxiety on us that arise from the sort of bombastic, non-diplomatic diplomacy of The Donald and the supreme leader of North Korea. Before you read the article think a bit about what you may already know about the human stress response (short and long term) and about your own stress related issues and anxieties. As neither President Trump nor Kim Jong-un are within our control (at all, in any way, whatsoever!) what might we or should we do to manage any feelings of stress and anxiety we may be experiencing these two odd people play nuclear hardball?

Source: Cartoon Villains, Stress, and Health: Kim and The Donald, Stressful Lives, Daniel P. Keating, Psychology Today.

Date: September 20, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

SO do you feel better or worse now that you are somewhat better informed about the details of the stresses and anxieties associated with the uncertain possibilities of nuclear events in the world?  Daniel Keating, being a developmentalist, links the stress response not just to its physiological roots but also to our developmental histories (right back to our pre-natal history) showing or reminding us that our current reactions and feelings are linked back to both our physiology (genetics) and our developmental experiences. He also points out the positive impacts of resilience factors (things that we do or things that are around us) that mitigate the impact of stress situations and events and, potentially lessen anxiety levels. It is worth noting that recent work on resilience encourages us to be cautious NOT to view resilience simply as a sort of individual trait (like character strength) but to recognize the ecological nature of resilience. This approach to resilience would suggest that individuals will do better if we can create cultures or environments supportive of positive stress and anxiety reducing habits and life-style suggestions….. something the current political players in this nuclear standoff are most definitely NOT doing. So, as is often the case, it is up to us (and to psychology) to work at making a difference at the individual level. Good Luck!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How to events like the rhetorical salvos being fired back and forth by Trump and Jong-un impact us in terms of stress and anxiety?
  2. What sorts of resilience related actions and habits can we work on in order to better manage the impacts of relatively uncontrollable impacts of world events (especially of the number and magnitude we are currently experiencing)?
  3. From a psychological (well-being) perspective what is wrong (well what is challenging) about Trump and Jong-un’s forms of “diplomacy”?
  4. A final broad question to consider is to think about the similarities between the above circumstances and Pascal’s wager.

References (Read Further):

Keating, Daniel (2017) Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity — and How to Break the Cycle, New York, NY: St Martins Press.

Keating, Daniel (2017) 6 Tips to Reduce Your Daily Stress and Anxiety,

Kaplan, Matt How to Laugh Away Stress, (2008) How to Laugh Away Stress

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3), 227-238.

Meichenbaum, D. (2017). Bolstering resilience. The Evolution of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Personal and Professional Journey with Don Meichenbaum, 172.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Health, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Think about a typical weekday in your recent experience. When are your mental highs and lows (of drive, motivation and distractibility)? Do you know your highs and lows well enough that you build your course or work schedule with them in mind? Oh and it is not just BS (no not THAT, blood sugar, based on what you had for lunch, that drives afternoon mental downswings). So if it is not what you ate for lunch (well not entirely at least, though a 2 martini lunch WILL eat into your mental efficiency and focus!) think about what else might be involved. In particular think about what might be involved in terms of how your brain functions. Once you have a hypothesis or two have a look at the article linked below to see what new research has to say on this matter.

Source: Why Your Brain Want to Take a Break in the Afternoon, David DiSalvo, Psychology Today.

Date: September 10, 2017

Photo Credit:  Pexels Public domain images

Links:  Article Link —   

So have you been organizing your schedule of day to day activities correctly? If the research discussed in the article linked above is correct then mid-afternoon cognitive “slumps” may not be things that you can make go away. Understanding how your brain works and the implications that functioning has for your efficacy and for the fluctuations in your cognitive efficacy over the course of a typical day are well worth understanding and planning or adjusting for. While you do not have complete control you can certainly keep them in mind when selecting class times, meeting times and when scheduling different sorts of work tasks in order to optimize your functioning day over day.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. When are your cognitive “highs” and “lows” over a typical work or school day??
  2. In what ways do you typically take your answers to the precious question into account when planning your daily and weekly activities?
  3. How is the cognitive neuroscience concept of “reward” involved in consideration of these questions cognitive focus and efficacy? In this context what do we mean by the term “reward” and how does this map onto our experiences in the world?

References (Read Further):

Byrne, J. E., Hughes, M. E., Rossell, S. L., Johnson, S. L., & Murray, G. (2017). Time of day differences in neural reward functioning in healthy young men. Journal of Neuroscience, 0918-17.

Richards, J. S., Vásquez, A. A., von Rhein, D., van der Meer, D., Franke, B., Hoekstra, P. J., … & Hartman, C. A. (2016). Adolescent behavioral and neural reward sensitivity: a test of the differential susceptibility theory. Translational psychiatry, 6(4), e771.

Manelis, A., Ladouceur, C. D., Graur, S., Monk, K., Bonar, L. K., Hickey, M. B., … & Bebko, G. (2016). Altered functioning of reward circuitry in youth offspring of parents with bipolar disorder. Psychological medicine, 46(1), 197-208.

Gilbert, K. E., Luking, K. R., Pagliaccio, D., Luby, J. L., & Barch, D. M. (2016). Dampening Positive Affect and Neural Reward Responding in Healthy Children: Implications for Affective Inflexibility. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 1-11.
Deep Reinforcement Learning: An Overview

Mental Health: Cognitive Efficacy,

Posted by & filed under Aggression, Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Group Processes, Psychological Health, Social Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self.

Description: How would you like to spend 8 MONTHS in Hawaii? Are you down with that? OK well what if the 8 months were to be spent on a plateau just below the summit of the still active Mauna Lao volcano on the Big Island on a simulated Mars mission with 5 other people living in a 1200 square foot Martian bubble? Oh you get to go outside but only when wearing a “space suit” and on a science mission. If you are wondering what that would be like keep your eyes on the news over the next couple of weeks because the participants in the 5th of 6 such simulated Mars missions (the latest one was for 8 months and the next will be for a full year) are “coming back to Earth” today (Sunday September 17, 2017). Think about what sort of psychological questions or hypotheses you would like to see addressed by this sort of simulation and think about how the data could be gathered and how it might be applied to the design of actual missions to Mars then read the article linked below that talk about the mission/experiment whose data gathering phase is winding down today.

Source: Psychology experiment kept 6 NASA subjects isolated on a Mars-like volcano for 8 months, Caleb Jones, Associated Press.

Date: September 15, 2017

Photo Credit:  AP

Links:  Article Link —  

So did the article provide you with tidbits of information that addressed at least some of your hypotheses? Well perhaps not if like me you found the article “light” on the psychology. It did, however, provide some interesting bits like the inevitability of conflict in close quarters and the use of virtual reality in ways perhaps like the “holodecks” of the Starship Enterprise as a means of gaining respite while not physically actually getting away. What sort of data should they have gathered (some is described but more information would be more informative).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of social and psychological stressors might arise for participants in this sort of “experiment”?
  2. What sorts of things might be provided, trained, or offered in such situations (real or simulated) to contribute positively to both Psychological the wellbeing and to the cognitive functioning of participants?
  3. What sorts of data gathering methods, including but going beyond those mentioned in passing in the article, would be of assistance in providing data needed to address your questions about psychological issues and impacts of this sort of mission/experience?

References (Read Further):

Ott, T., Wu, P., Morie, J., Wall, P., Ladwig, J., Chance, E., … & Binsted, K. (2016, July). ANSIBLE: A Virtual World Ecosystem for Improving Psycho-Social Well-being. In International Conference on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality (pp. 532-543). Springer International Publishing.

Anderson, A. P., Fellows, A. M., Binsted, K. A., Hegel, M. T., & Buckey, J. C. (2016). Autonomous, Computer-Based Behavioral Health Countermeasure Evaluation at HI-SEAS Mars Analog. Aerospace medicine and human performance, 87(11), 912-920.

Caraccio, A., Hintze, P. E., & Miles, J. D. (2014). Human Factor Investigation of Waste Processing System During the HI-SEAS 4-month Mars Analog Mission in Support of NASA’s Logistic Reduction and Repurposing Project: Trash to Gas.

Text of a TED-X talk about the Hi-SEA project by Bryan Caldwell

Orndorff, E. (2015). Space Wear Vision: Development of a Wardrobe for Life in Space Vehicles and Habitats.

Leveton, L. B. (2014). Review of Isolated, Confined Extreme Environment Studies.

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

Description: Pardon me briefly for doing what older people do and speak historically for a moment (based on somewhat personal experience – as I was around and an adult back when things that now seem very old actually happened). Now don’t worry I am not going to start telling stories about what my introductory classes were like just before and shortly after email just  invented or about what Blockbuster sold before video tapes and recorders were available. Anyway…. When computers first arrived (were invented) artificial intelligence as born as a corollary field. Early on work in AI split into two streams. One that we can think of as the brute force type of AI involved using computers and their exponentially expanding computing power to see if they could be programmed to do things that humans do better than humans do them. The chess playing computer program Deep Blue (and Alan Turing’s code cracking machine). By being able to rapidly generate and evaluate the downstream consequences of a great many decision options this line of AI used computers large processing capacity to do things faster than humans could do. Importantly, however, in so doing, such brute force AI machines do not approach and solve problems the ways humans do. While advantageous for number crunching this meant that there were certain problems (like speech recognition) that computers did not do very well. The other AI stream involved developing expert systems approaches to problems that would have computers doing things more like the ways humans do them. One hope was that this could lead to computers being able to accomplish passable versions of complex tasks that human experts do well such as medical diagnosis (for a fantasy version look up Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I – online of course). The other potential payoff in this line of inquiry basically gave rise to the Information Processing Theory approach to studying human cognition (remember your intro psych course?) and a related payoff of a better understanding of how human cognitive experts do what they do.

Ok, so that is the contextual digression onto history. Now….. Intel and other computer chip manufacturers have grown their businesses over the past 47 years by virtue of what has come to called Moore’s law (you can look that up too, though Moore was ‘real”) which essentially involved the doubling of the processing capacity of core computing chips each year (that’s why you had to buy a new computer every couple of years to keep up). The problem is that chip developers are now starting to bum p up against the physics limits of how much processing capacity can be squeezed onto a chip. One solution is what is referred to as quantum computing (see link below in Further Reading) which could produce a quantum leap in processing capacity. Another solution is to reverse the historical trend of trying to build computers that can out-think human beings and to start to see if building computers that think (process information) like human beings can produce energy efficient (distributed) processing models. So, equipped with a this thin shaving of decades of general wisdom on computer development and Artificial Intelligence and information processing have a read through the article linked below to see where this trend is going. In addition to starting your own (sooner than you will realize) historical reflections it may also suggest some future investment options as well.

Source: Chips Off the Old Block: Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains, Cade Metz, Technology, New York Times.

Date: September 17, 2017

Photo Credit:  Minh Uong/The New York Times

Links:  Article Link —

So can you see how the development pathways laid out in the linked article diverge from previous AI development pathways? As with virtually all technological advances, the impact of this one (the use of human processing models for computer processing strategy and hardware development) will very likely take us in unexpected directions. But whichever ways it goes, pay attention, because it is certainly going to be interesting and this one may tell us (within psychology) more about human information processing than we can imagine.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Historically, how have computer developers and the AI field in general linked to or reflected upon human information processing?
  2. Can you identify one or two areas of human information processing or brain functioning that appear(s) to reflect the sort of “design” principles being used in new cutting edge chip and processor developments?
  3. How might these emerging developments in the field of computing (and AI) have impact upon the emerging Psychology sub-field of Cognitive Neuroscience?

References (Read Further):

McCorduck, P., Minsky, M., Selfridge, O. G., & Simon, H. A. (1977, August). History of Artificial Intelligence. In IJCAI (pp. 951-954).

Buchanan, B. G. (2005). A (very) brief history of artificial intelligence. Ai Magazine, 26(4), (the download link is OK)

Heckerman, D., Horvitz, E., & Nathwani, B. N. (2016). Toward normative expert systems part i. Methods of information in medicine, 31.

Sperling, G. (1998). A Century of Human Information-Processing Theory. Perception and Cognition at Century’s End: History, Philosophy, Theory, 199.

Knill, E. (2010). Physics: quantum computing. nature, 463(7280), 441-443.  (this article is a bit thick!)

Quantum Computing 101, Waterloo University,

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, General Psychology, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Student Success.

Description: I have provided two article links below. The first is to a general online article that talks about the sorts of things parents and teachers should be working on with children that will make those children more employable later on in young adulthood. That article concludes by suggesting that training in empathy for all children would be a good idea. This is certainly true. Check out the Canadian developed program “Roots of Empathy” to see how far-reaching positive developmental support for empathy can be. But what about the employ-ability claims. Well the other article link is to a recently published research article that looks at levels of empathy among emerging adult university students developmentally over time. The claims and findings are rather surprising. Consider this, university students today are significantly less empathic than university students in previous decades. Also consider that employers are consciously interested in the level of empathy shown by potential hires, not simply because it reflects the extent to which they are “nice” or ethical but because it speaks to job candidates a level of Emotional Intelligence or the extent to which they are aware of and competent in acting and getting along in social contexts (and work places are usually social contexts in many ways). SO if empathy is important and if there is not enough of it in current university students what should those university students do to increase their employ-ability?

Source: Skills that improve employability: Empathy (2 links below)

Date: posted June 7, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Links: General article:

                                Research Article:


Even if you are only able to look at the abstract of the research article linked above you can see some of the key findings of this research.  Involvement in academic clubs, and paid employment lead to positive growth in empathy in the longitudinal study whereas involvement in fraternities seems to inhibit empathic growth. However, before you start to write prescriptions for empathy growth among university students think a bit about the results and whether we can make comfortable causal attributions. Also think a bit about what might be done earlier that university in relation to the development of empathy.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might empathy be related to organizational job success (why do employers look for it)?
  2. What sorts of factors or experienced stimulate the development of empathy?
  3. How does the use of a longitudinal design in the research article linked above change how we think about the results compared to how we might think about it is the study were just cross-sectional (comparing the stated experiences of low versus high empathy students at a single point in time)?

References (Read Further):

Hudson-Flege, M., & Thompson, M. P. (2017). Empathy and Extracurricular Involvement in Emerging Adulthood: Findings from a Longitudinal Study of Undergraduate College Males. Journal of College Student Development, 58(5), 674-684.

Rasoal, C., Danielsson, H., & Jungert, T. (2012). Empathy among students in engineering programmes. European journal of engineering education, 37(5), 427-435.

Crossman, J. E., & Clarke, M. (2010). International experience and graduate employability: Stakeholder perceptions on the connection. Higher education, 59(5), 599-613.

Teding van Berkhout, E., & Malouff, J. M. (2016). The efficacy of empathy training: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial.  Journal of Counselling Psychology, 63(1), 32-41.

Roots of Empathy:

Posted by & filed under Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, The Self.

Description: It is a simple fact that we live in a culturally diverse world. It is a further fact that with global access to information and with global human movement (either purposeful or refuge seeking driven) we are locally surrounded by such diversity. Think about cultural variability and then read each of the following words and pick the one that best captures your feels about or your stance on cultural diversity (about how we should think about it and act about it both personally and it terms of public policy);  the words are assimilation, colour-blindness, multiculturalism and polyculturalism. Social psychologists study not just what we think about these words and their related concepts but also how we act in relation to cultures and cultural groups. Once you have thought about and picked a word from the list read thorough the article linked below and see how your choice maps onto current research.

Source: Cultures fuse and connect, so we should embrace Polyculturalism, Nick Haslam, The Conversation.

Date: posted June 7, 2017

Photo Credit:  pixabay, CC BY-CA

Links:  Article Link —

It is clear that the words listed above involve quite different takes on cultural diversity. In Canada the term assimilation carries some serous baggage, linked as it is historically with the treatment of First Nations people, residential schools, child welfare scoops and truth and reconciliation commissions. Multiculturalism is somewhat problematic as a term because it assumes that cultures are static and there is concern that it reifies cultural divides. Polyculturalism is seen as having some advantages over multiculturalism. Primary among them is that polyculturalism reflects the “real” state of the historic world in which cultures blend over time. As you think about whether this term is useful and if it addresses concerns about assimilation (certainly) and multiculturalism (less clear) think about how the term can, is or should be applied: to individuals in the here and now, to individuals over time, to groups here and now, and to groups over time (and over what sort of time frame? Days? Months? Years? Generations?).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is problematic about the term assimilation when applied to culture?
  2. What is problematic about the terms multiculturalism and polyculturalism?
  3. What sorts of limits or caveats should we consider on our theorizing and research about culture as the terms we use or propose relate to people, groups and to individual and historic time and over individual and group or cultural development?

References (Read Further):

Wingfield, A.H. (2015) colour-blindness is counter productive.

Rosenthal, L., Levy, S. R., & Moss, I. (2012). Polyculturalism and openness about criticizing one’s culture: Implications for sexual prejudice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(2), 149-165.

Bernardo, A. B., Rosenthal, L., & Levy, S. R. (2013). Polyculturalism and attitudes towards people from other countries. International journal of intercultural relations, 37(3), 335-344.

Bernardo, A. B., Salanga, M. G. C., Tjipto, S., Hutapea, B., Yeung, S. S., & Khan, A. (2016). Contrasting lay theories of polyculturalism and multiculturalism: Associations with essentialist beliefs of race in six Asian cultural groups. Cross-Cultural Research, 50(3), 231-250.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, General Psychology, Human Development, Language-Thought.

Description: Years ago while sitting in a park watching a couple of my children play I saw a fascinating exchange. A small boy, about 3 years old, tripped getting off of a swing and did what looked like a quite painful face-plant onto the ground (no there was no pea gravel or shredded tires to cushion the blow). What I was amazed by was that the child leapt to his feet and rather than bursting into tears he looked around, zeroed in on his mother’s location (she was sitting on a bench facing away from the swings), and then ran up to his mother and tugged on her coat sleeve. As she turned and looked at him he burst into tears and though he did not make much noise his tears were flowing and he was indicating that his face hurt. What was going on became clear as his mother hugged him and then sat him on her lap and signed a series of questions and, likely, reassurances to him while examining his face closely and wiping his tears away. What amazed me was that the young child had clearly learned that verbal distress signals would not work with his deaf mother and he had adapted to another way of getting the parental support he needed. The cries of human infants are recognized as call for assistance by virtually any human and for most the cries pull on empathy strings that seem evolutionary selected to increase the likelihood that infants will get the help they need. Doubt this? Well think about the last time you heard a crying infant on a plane … it only become noxious when you cannot do anything about it and you cannot walk away from it (and you did not bring noise cancelling earphones). Think about how this adult response is triggered and think about whether it might even be active across species, and then read the article linked below to see what recent psychological research has to say about these questions.

Source: A Baby Wails, and the Adult World Comes Running, Natalie Angier, Basics, Science, New York Times.

Date: September 4, 2017

Photo Credit:  Anita Kunz, New York Times

Links:  Article Link —


So the drive to respond to infant cries is a rather powerful, and basic, thing. When infant mice are genetically altered so they cry without noise they are ignored entirely by their mothers (lucky for the child I talked about above human mothers are a bit more adaptable!). There are cross-species responses to infant cries (at least in Bambi’s mother!). Human parents early on seem to learn how to tell the difference between their infant’s cries, responding differently to the “I am boarded here in bed” cry as compared to the “OMG the cat is trying to kill me” cry.  Researchers noted in the article linked above described the differences in infants’ reactions to fear, frustration and pain (note the fancy ethical footwork in getting this particular data point).  Recent research is starting to show exactly how the human brain is wired to respond to the distress calls of dependent off spring, something that clearly has both individual and species survival value!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do human adults respond only the cries of their own infants?
  2. What might it be about infant cries that lead to even cross-species adult responses (hint: it may not be about the cries themselves)?
  3. If mouse pups that make no noise when distressed die of neglect how did the three year old I talked about at the start of this post with a deaf mother survive?

References (Read Further):

Lingle, S., & Riede, T. (2014). Deer mothers are sensitive to infant distress vocalizations of diverse mammalian species. The American Naturalist, 184(4), 510-522.

Hernandez-Miranda, L. R., Ruffault, P. L., Bouvier, J. C., Murray, A. J., Morin-Surun, M. P., Zampieri, N., … & Fortin, G. (2017). Genetic identification of a hindbrain nucleus essential for innate vocalization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(30), 8095-8100.

Parsons, C. E., Young, K. S., Joensson, M., Brattico, E., Hyam, J. A., Stein, A., … & Kringelbach, M. L. (2013). Ready for action: a role for the human midbrain in responding to infant vocalizations. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 9(7), 977-984.,5&scillfp=15435527558104599162&oi=lle

Chóliz, M., Fernández-Abascal, E. G., & Martínez-Sánchez, F. (2012). Infant crying: pattern of weeping, recognition of emotion and affective reactions in observers. The Spanish journal of psychology, 15(3), 978-988.

Sheinkopf, S. J., Righi, G., Marsit, C. J., & Lester, B. M. (2016). Methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) in placenta is associated with infant cry acoustics. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 10.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Death and Dying, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Are you looking forward to the, likely distant point in the future when you will retire? What will that be like? Having recently “retired” myself I can tell you that it is not (or it need not be) about sitting around and relaxing. In fact I have found myself telling people who ask me how my retirement is going that I think I need another word for what I did (other than retire). The Japanese do not really have a word for retirement and, if by that we mean ceasing work and not working at anything anymore they also lack any such concept. Instead they speak of ikigai and finding one’s ikigai can prolong one’s life. Haven’t heard of the term? Well read the article linked below and find out about it and then start expanding your own retirement planning portfolio!

Source: Want to live longer? Find your ikigai., Hector Garcia, Life and Style, Inner Life, The Guardian.

Date: September 3, 2017

Photo Credit:  Alamy

Links:  Article Link —

The lovely animated film “Up” actually captures the concept of ikigai rather well. To find one’s reason for being is to find a way to carry one live positively and live longer.  As with other phases of life (think emerging adulthood and identity formation, development, and commitment) as Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal  puts it in relation to stress  “It is better to chase meaning that to avoid discomfort (or rest and boredom we might add)” .  So perhaps the Japanese have it right, we should not retire but, rather, move into a different phase of life work.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the Japanese concept of retirement different than that in North America?
  2. Are there ways in which older people in North America may actually already be doing it right from a perspective of ikigai?
  3. What sorts of adjustments might we make in the area of “retirement planning” to more fully take advantage of what the Japanese concept of ikigai suggests? (and what sort of research is needed before we get too far into this idea?

References (Read Further):

Garcia, Hector and Miralles, Francesca (2017) Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life London, UK: Hutchinson.

Kelly McGonigal TED Talk: How to  make stress your friend,

Ailshire, J. A., & Crimmins, E. M. (2011). Psychosocial factors associated with longevity in the United States: Age differences between the old and oldest-old in the Health and Retirement Study. Journal of Aging Research, 2011.

McMunn, A., Nazroo, J., Wahrendorf, M., Breeze, E., & Zaninotto, P. (2009). Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29(5), 765-782.



Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, General Psychology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Psychological Disorders, Social Influence, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: So what are echophenomena? Well if you don’t know, think about yawning. Have you noticed how it seems that when one person yawns the people around them will also yawn? Now it may be that they are ALL sleep deprived, bored, too warm etc. etc…. but, in fact it may simply be that yawns are contagious. If you are not aware of this go to this link ( ) and watch the video clip and see if you yawn. I bet you do, or if you don’t you may still have to stifle a yawn or otherwise come pretty close to yawning. So why are yawns contagious? What are your hypotheses as to why? There may be social factors but what about at the neurological level? What is it about or in our brains that triggers a yawn when we simply observe someone else yawning? No idea? Well you are not alone. Read the article linked below to see what some neuro-psychological researchers in this area are thinking and looking at and to see how yawns might tell us some potential very useful things about other echophenomena.

Source: Yawning: Why is it contagious and why should it matter? ScienceDaily and the University of Nottingham.

Date: August 31, 2017

Photo Credit:  Garrincha/Fotolia

Links:  Article Link —

So yawning is one of potentially quite a few echophenomena.  At the core of echophenomena may be neutrally based response inhibition functions or systems in the brain that inhibit responding. Seeing someone else yawning seems to override our ability to not yawn or to inhibit yawning. Understanding those mechanisms at the neural level could lead us to treatments for disorders that involve other losses of inhibition such as epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, or epilepsy. It is one of many neural “control systems” neuropsychologists are trying to better understand and, through that new understanding, develop better management strategies or treatments.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do yawning when others yawn around us and epilepsy have in common?
  2. Can you think of any social factors that might be associated with contagious yawning?
  3. What sorts of treatment opportunities might arise from a better understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in echophenomena?

References (Read Further):

Schürmann, M., Hesse, M. D., Stephan, K. E., Saarela, M., Zilles, K., Hari, R., & Fink, G. R. (2005). Yearning to yawn: the neural basis of contagious yawning. Neuroimage, 24(4), 1260-1264.

Georgina M. Jackson et al. A neural basis for contagious yawning. Current Biology, August 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.062

Senju, A., Maeda, M., Kikuchi, Y., Hasegawa, T., Tojo, Y., & Osanai, H. (2007). Absence of contagious yawning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Biology letters, 3(6), 706-708.

Holle, H., Warne, K., Seth, A. K., Critchley, H. D., & Ward, J. (2012). Neural basis of contagious itch and why some people are more prone to it. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(48), 19816-19821.

Harr, A. L., Gilbert, V. R., & Phillips, K. A. (2009). Do dogs (Canis familiaris) show contagious yawning?. Animal cognition, 12(6), 833-837.

Palagi, E., Leone, A., Mancini, G., & Ferrari, P. F. (2009). Contagious yawning in gelada baboons as a possible expression of empathy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(46), 19262-19267.

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Depression, General Psychology, Health Psychology, Intergroup Relations, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Motivation-Emotion, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, Substance-Related Disorders, The Self.

Description: As students head off to university and college campuses next week (you may be one of them) think for a minute about what might be a BIG but unexpected issue that new first year students might have to (perhaps unexpectedly) deal with? A hint might be to think more closely about students who are going away (out of their home city or town) to attend college or University. Once you have a possibility or two in mind think about what colleges and universities can or should do to anticipate and address those issues associated with the transition of first year students to their new learning environments. Now read the article linked below and see if it is describing something that occurred to you.

Source: The Real Campus Scourge, Frank Bruni, Sunday Review, New York Times

Date: September 2, 2017

Photo Credit:  Ben Wiseman, New York Times

Links:  Article Link —

Did you have loneliness on your list of possible issues? It may seem hard to imagine that going to a place frequented by 10’s of thousands of similarly aged peers could be loneliness producing. Also raised is the issue of why young people, with perhaps hundreds of friends on social media and available by smart phone, would ever be lonely. It raises the question (addressed increasingly in Psychological research) of how social networks and friend connectedness relates to, augments or diminishes real-world experiences. How much face-to-face interaction and relationship do emerging adults need to NOT feel alone and anxious? Finally, while college or university is new for first year students having first year students arrive on one’s campus is most certainly NOT new for colleges and universities. The article mentions some efforts to address this through the design of student living spaces but what about students on many campuses who are commuting to campus from their local homes? They may have a few friends in place but are still likely alone and isolated within their new college and university learning environments. What should higher learning institutions be doing about that? Finally, how might we help students better prepare for these issues in order to ease their transitions into post-secondary learning environments?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How can college and university first year students be lonely when surrounded by other students?
  2. What sorts of things could or should colleges and universities do to reduce the impact of this issue (and related issues)?
  3. What sorts of things can first year students do to either prepared themselves for these transition issues or to cope with them when they find themselves immersed in them?

References (Read Further):

There are a number of links in the articled linked above to websites talking about practical approaches to these issues.

Wei, M., Russell, D. W., & Zakalik, R. A. (2005). Adult attachment, social self-efficacy, self-disclosure, loneliness, and subsequent depression for freshman college students: A longitudinal study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(4), 602.

HENNINGER, I., WILLIAM, R., Eshbaugh, E. M., OSBECK, A., & MADIGAN, C. (2016). Perceived Social Support and Roommate Status as Predictors of College Student Loneliness. Journal Of College & University Student Housing, 42(2).

Bek, H. (2017). Understanding the Effect of Loneliness on Academic Participation and Success among International University Students. Journal of Education and Practice, 8(14), 46-50.