Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Psychology, General Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Student Success, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Have you ever referred to a friend’s behavior as “so-OCD”? or have your friend ever referred to behaviors of yours that way? OCD, which stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is one of those psychology terms that has become part of common speech and popular culture (like calling someone who is a stickler for order “anal” even if you are not aware of Freud’s notion of Anal Retentiveness). I am not at all opposed to psychology and psychology terms and concepts getting out into their world and becoming part of our day-to-day language. However, when psychology terms become parts of common language, we run the risk of losing sight of how helpful it can be for people who are dealing with psychological symptoms and issues to have opportunities to better understand what is going on and what can be done to reduce or eliminate those things that are bothering or challenging them. In such cases, using psychological terms to humorously tag samples of friends’ behavior may not be helpful at all. I am not saying this should stop but I am going to suggest that once in a while you take the time to find out just what psychological signs, symptoms and disorders these “throw-away” psychology references are actually referring to. I occasionally provide possible links and for doing this in this blog but there are some very good sites out there that provide background, insight, and information about recognizing symptoms and seeking or providing support to find therapeutic assistance for those who may need it (be it you or your friend(s)). The links below, from, provide a very well put together overview of OCD, from symptoms to treatments (and with self-assessment tools like the one in the second link below) in it. It is a valuable source of research tested information that can help you or help you help someone you know who is struggling with symptoms of OCD but does not know what to make of them or what to do about them. Acting from a solid knowledge base is the best way to be helpful when you or someone you know is facing mental health issues. Acting from solid knowledge is also a good way to avoid or reduce the stigmatization that can be associated with psychological issues as well. So, have a read and keel the links handy, Odds are good that you or someone you know will or IS struggling with issues related to OCD and you can reduce their anxiety guide them thoughtfully towards proper assistance with the information you can find at these links.

Source: Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Christina Gregory, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Test& Self-Assessment, Kathleen Smith,

Date: January 28, 2018

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Links – and

So, do you feel better informed and better prepared to act in a supportive way when you or a friend encounters signs or symptoms of OCD? Being knowledgeable about mental health issues is a nature outcome of taking a basic psychology course or two but you can also arm yourself with the reliable, valid, basic mental health knowledge you need to act in your own best mental health interests and to assist others in doing so as well simply by spending a little time with resources like those provided by this blog and by sites like It WILL be time well spent AND it will also be interesting!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the symptoms of OCD?
  2. What are some of the differences between OCD as a disorder and “OCD” as in “that’s so ocd”?
  3. What should you do if you think a friend of yours might be struggling with OCD or if a friends tells you they think they are struggling with OCD?

References (Read Further):

Veale, D., & Roberts, A. (2014). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. BMJ, 348, g2183.

Koen, N., & Stein, D. J. (2015). Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder. In Neurobiology of Brain Disorders (pp. 621-638).–Compulsive_Disorder/links/56fbec6408ae1b40b8063f5c.pdf

Baldwin, D. S., Anderson, I. M., Nutt, D. J., Allgulander, C., Bandelow, B., den Boer, J. A., … & Malizia, A. (2014). Evidence-based pharmacological treatment of anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder: a revision of the 2005 guidelines from the British Association for Psychopharmacology. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28(5), 403-439.

Öst, L. G., Havnen, A., Hansen, B., & Kvale, G. (2015). Cognitive behavioral treatments of obsessive–compulsive disorder. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published 1993–2014. Clinical Psychology Review, 40, 156-169.






Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Personality, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: What do you think about people who brag? What about people to sneak their bragging into the conversation either by complaining (People give me such a hard time because I make them look bad) or by hardly masking it with humble statements (Why am I always asked to work on the most important assignments?). Do you ever do any of these sorts of bragging? Do you respond differently to, or think differently about, people that do each of the types described above? Once you have reflected on each of the questions above (no they were not merely rhetorical) read the article linked below and see what social psychological research into those questions has to suggest.

Source: Humblebragging Makes People Dislike You, According to Science, Jamie Ducharme, Time.

Date: January 18, 2018

Photo Credit:  Time

Links:  Article Link –

Well it is likely no surprise that people do not look positively on braggers, but did it surprise you that they look even less positively on those that try to shroud their bragging in humble statements? And how did the 70% of people have humblebragged in the past sit with you? Can you own up now?  It seems that honesty may actually be the best policy even if you are bragging….. but oooh if you can get someone else to tout you!! Well, that is for your social scheming and planning sessions. Impression management IS important particular in corporate settings so this stuff can be worth paying attention to.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is humblebragging?
  2. Why might humblebragging be viewed more negatively than plain old bragging?
  3. Is impression management an artificial form of self-promotion or is it pragmatic reflection on the realities of social interaction and personal image?

References (Read Further):

Sezer, O., Gino, F., & Norton, M. I. (2018). Humblebragging: A distinct—and ineffective—self-presentation strategy. Journal of personality and social psychology, 114(1), 52.

Bolino, M., Long, D., & Turnley, W. (2016). Impression management in organizations: Critical questions, answers, and areas for future research. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 3, 377-406.

Huang, K., Yeomans, M., Brooks, A. W., Minson, J., & Gino, F. (2017). It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Question-Asking Increases Liking.

Vranka, M., Becková, A., & Houdek, P. (2017). Is Humblebragging an Effective Impression Management Tactic in a Job Interview?.

Grant, S. M., Hodge, F. D., & Sinha, R. K. (2017). How Disclosure Medium Affects Investor Reactions to CEO Bragging, Modesty, and Humblebragging.

Posted by & filed under General Psychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Personality, The Self.

Description: You have very likely heard the story of Phineas Gage, a tale often told in introductory psychology classes to introduce a discussion of functions related to various portions of the brain and to the executive control functions related to the frontal lobes in particular (if not there is a section in the linked article about Phineas or you can have a look at the links in the Further Reading section below). Early functional mapping of brain regions was largely conducted by looking for changes or losses in peoples’ behavior following known brain damage due to injury, surgery or stroke. Most of those case-study-based stories are stories of bad news, of loss of language, motor control, or higher level behavioral inhibitions or planning skills. But might it be possible that some things could improve following such damage? Think about if or how such changes might be possible and then read the article linked below to see what research has shown.

Source: When personality changes from bad to good, Christian Jarrett, BBC, Personology, Psychology.

Date: January 9, 2018

Photo Credit:  Alamy

Links:  Article Link –

So, positive changes in behavior following brain damage or injury are possible (over 20% of the time according to the research reported). As well, it can reduce the likelihood of PTSD in some cases as well. Psychosurgery has a dark reputation (for many good reasons) but perhaps the ability to surgically “dial back” areas of the brain that are causing issues may be something we will see in the future.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are several of the behavioral changes that have been linked to brain damage, stroke, etc?
  2. How might some brain damage produce positive changes in behavior?
  3. Are there any particular ethical issues we will need to consider if research in this area starts to move towards any form of surgical “brain tuning”?

References (Read Further):

King, M. L., Manzel, K., Bruss, J., & Tranel, D. (2017). Neural correlates of improvements in personality and behavior following a neurological event. Neuropsychologia.

Damasio, H., Grabowski, T., Frank, R., Galaburda, A. M., & Damasio, A. R. (1994). The return of Phineas Gage: clues about the brain from the skull of a famous patient. Science, 264(5162), 1102-1105.

Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuasion with case studies. The Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 20-24.

Ratiu, P., Talos, I. F., Haker, S., Lieberman, D., & Everett, P. (2004). The tale of Phineas Gage, digitally remastered. Journal of neurotrauma, 21(5), 637-643.




Posted by & filed under Clinical Psychology, Consciousness, Disorders of Childhood, Human Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Research Methods, Research Methods in ADA, Research Methods in AP, Research Methods in ChD, Research Methods in CP, Research Methods in SP, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: This could be a Criminal Minds script. A physician sees 2 infants from the same family in his sleep laboratory. Both showed signs of sleep apnea and shortly after discharge from the lab they each die of what is certified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, part of which may be linked to prolonged apnea (regularly breathing cessation while sleeping). Three other children in the family, it turned out, had died similarly prior to the post sleep clinic deaths. The physician running the clinic wrote a paper that was published in a scholarly journal discussing the role of apnea in SIDS and in the deaths of all 5 children (one that was as 22 months old. Five children dying of SIDS in the same family is an alarming rate and the fact that one of them was 22 months old (outside of the age range within which SIDS is typically found). The see the “Criminal Minds” – like plot line develop further (driven by a forensic pathologist who read the journal article and became suspicious of the circumstances of the children’s deaths) read the article linked below.

Source: Waneta Hoyt: The Serial Killer Paper, Neuroskeptic, Discover.

Date: January 16, 2018

Photo Credit:  Science (1994)  DOI: 10.1126/scince.8146647

Links:  Article Link –

While there are several interesting, though macabre, lines of possible inquiry in the linked article the one that is of particular relevance to the study of human behaviour and psychology in general is the question of how desire for a particular theory can lead to a sort of blindness to alternative possible explanations on the part of the researcher. In this case the desire to show the apnea/SIDS link was so strong that it lead the researcher to dismiss alternative explanations inclusion the possibility of serial murder. The article also mentioned “facilitated communication” in which disabled individuals are assisted to communicate sometimes by having a person “help” them to move their finger over a keyboard and communicate through typing. While not detailed in the article the concern in such situations is that it is really unclear whose thoughts are actually related in the typing that is produced.  The effect my not be conscious (think of how Ouija boards work – now THERE is an interesting question of the diffusion of intent!).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the type of researcher bias being suggested in the linked article.
  2. What should researchers do to ensure they are not being influenced by such biases?
  3. How might we explain the experiences some people have with Ouija boards without involving a “spirit world”?

References (Read Further):

Steinschneider, A. (1972). Prolonged apnea and the sudden infant death syndrome: clinical and laboratory observations. Pediatrics, 50(4), 646-654.

Steinschneider, A. (1994). Prolonged apnea and the sudden infant death syndrome: clinical and laboratory observations. Pediatrics, 93(6), 944-944.

Lundberg, C., & Gunn, I. (2005). “Ouija board, are there any communications?” Agency, ontotheology, and the death of the humanist subject, or, continuing the ARS conversation. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 35(4), 83-105.

Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A., & Schwartz, A. A. (1995). A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience science working group on facilitated communication. American Psychologist, 50(9), 750.

Wegner, D. M., Fuller, V. A., & Sparrow, B. (2003). Clever hands: uncontrolled intelligence in facilitated communication. Journal of personality and social psychology, 85(1), 5.

Green, G. (1994). Facilitated communication: Mental miracle or sleight of hand. Behavior and Social Issues, 4(1).

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I wrote in general terms about Emotional Intelligence ort EQ in the two blogs before this one ( and ). In addition to a plethora of claims about the potential positive impact of EQ on one’s career success (previous post) there are also many claims that EQ is strongly positively related to life satisfaction and happiness. The article linked below looks directly at this question and tries to go beyond simply searching for a correlational relationship between happiness and EQ but instead looks at how that relationship, if one exists, actually works. Before reading the article think about your hypothesis regarding how EQ and happiness might be linked. What other factors should be considered?

Source: Szczygieł, D., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Why are people high in emotional intelligence happier? They make the most of their positive emotions. (reference and links below).

Date: October, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

Emotional regulation (which is a part of EQ) plays a BIG role in how we manage our emotions (positive AND negative) and on the impacts, they have upon us. The researchers point out in the linked article that EQ seems to be related to life satisfaction and life happiness through the differential use of savoring (enjoying) and dampening (suppressing) our emotional experiences. the bottom line seems to be that high EQ people make the most of their positive emotions by acknowledging them and savoring them and, as a result, reap the related rewards of higher life satisfaction and happiness.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is EQ related to life satisfaction and happiness?
  2. What processes or practices mediate the relationship between EQ and life satisfaction and happiness?
  3. What are some of the practical (life optimization) implications of these results?

References (Read Further):

Szczygieł, D., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Why are people high in emotional intelligence happier? They make the most of their positive emotions. Personality and Individual Differences, 117, 177-181.

Vicente-Galindo, M. P., López-Herrera, H., Pedrosa, I., Suárez-Álvarez, J., Galindo-Villardón, M. P., & García-Cueto, E. (2017). Estimating the effect of emotional intelligence in wellbeing among priests. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 17(1), 46-55.

Afolabi, O. A., & Balogun, A. G. (2017). Impacts of Psychological Security, Emotional Intelligence and Self-Efficacy on Undergraduates’ Life Satisfaction. Psychological Thought, 10(2), 247-261.

Mikolajczak, M., & Van Bellegem, S. (2017). Increasing emotional intelligence to decrease healthcare expenditures: How profitable would it be?. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 343-347.



Posted by & filed under Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Student Success, The Self.

Description: I wrote in general terms about Emotional Intelligence or EQ in the previous blog to this one ( Even if you do not look through psychology research literatures you have probably heard the term EQ and you have probably heard references to the many many things about work life and career success that EQ is related to. The authors of the article linked below mention this point and then indicate that, in fact, little research has been done formally looking at the link between EQ and developmentally downstream outcomes such as career success measured simply though salary levels. Testing to see what is and is not supported by well-produced data is an important part of how psychology works to build our knowledge base. Have a look through the article (it’s the original research paper) and pay particular attention to how things were measured and to whether it feels like the design of the study is a good one for addressing the question of if, or how, EQ is related to downstream career success.

Source: Rode, J. C., Arthaud-Day, M., Ramaswami, A., & Howes, S. (2017). A time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary. (reference and links below).

Date: January 14, 2018

Photo Credit:  and

Links:  Article Link —

So, does the concept of social capital make sense as a way of thinking about and perhaps tracking the “investment” of EQ in organizational and social settings? How are the factors of mentorship and job level related to the main hypothesis of a relationship between EQ and salary? As research digs further into areas of interest like this one we begin to see more work on the mediating and moderating variables that may be at play. A mediating variable can be thought of as a stepping stone that can take one beyond the potential of something like a higher EQ and towards the realization of particular outcomes such as higher salary levels. They help us to better understand how things work. Moderating variables have more to do with conditions under which certain relationships are more or less effective or more or less impactful. So, in the current study, higher EQ seems to have bigger influence on salary levels at higher levels of organizations. The other big finding in this study was based on its longitudinal (over time) nature which meant that EQ levels prior to entering the career path was linked to outcomes a decade or so later making it possible to more closely suggest that EQ caused the different career outcomes. While there may still (and likely are) other variables to be considered in future research the question of how things like EQ are causally related to career outcomes are particularly important if we are to make good decisions about training and career preparation (e.g., when should we be pushing EQ development and training?).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Ho is EQ related to salary 10 years into career?
  2. How might mentorship mediate the effects of EQ and how might job level moderate those same effects?
  3. What training implication are suggested by this study? What should students in college and university settings think about doing in light of these findings (assuming subsequent research supports them)?

References (Read Further):

Rode, J. C., Arthaud-Day, M., Ramaswami, A., & Howes, S. (2017). A time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 101, 77-89.

Young, L., Milner, M., Edmunds, D., Pentsil, G., & Broman, M. (2014). The tenuous relationship between salary and satisfaction. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 7, 1.

Amdurer, E., Boyatzis, R. E., Saatcioglu, A., Smith, M. L., & Taylor, S. N. (2014). Long term impact of emotional, social and cognitive intelligence competencies and GMAT on career and life satisfaction and career success. Frontiers in psychology, 5.

Wilderom, C. P., Hur, Y., Wiersma, U. J., Berg, P. T. V., & Lee, J. (2015). From manager’s emotional intelligence to objective store performance: Through store cohesiveness and sales‐directed employee behavior. Journal of organizational behavior, 36(6), 825-844.

Kiss, M., Kotsis, Á., & Kun, A. I. (2014). The relationship between intelligence, emotional intelligence, personality styles and academic success.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, General Psychology, Human Development, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Intelligence, Neuroscience, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: In VERY general terms what makes you successful and happy in the world? Is being smart important? Well you would think IQ should or could help and in many ways, it certainly contributes BUT it is NOT the best predictor of career success and wellbeing and general life happiness. I suspect you know or have run across people who are very bright but who seem to have difficulties getting along well with others and THAT is the core issue. Much of our day to day activities and much of our general life engagements are socially based. Careers involve social interactions from teamwork to relationship building to product development and marketing. Of course, intimate connections and friendships are social. In addition, the self-talk that we do and especially the self-talk we may find we need to do to guide and manage ourselves as we plan our days weeks and years and as we plan or projects, our careers and our home lives and free time. Self-understanding and self-management can be seen as similar, to (almost the same as) social-understanding and social-management. Self-understanding is, in many ways a prerequisite to social understanding. Work, in psychology, on understanding and measuring intelligence (IQ) goes back many decades (over a century). Active psychological research on social intelligence really only emerged as a explicit area of research the theorizing in the 1990’s with the work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence, usually referred to in a way that is intended to point out its equivalent importance (or even great importance) to Intelligence or IQ, as Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ). Despite its relatively late arrival at the Psychology research table EQ is generating a LOT of research and a LOT of interest. To get a taste of what Goleman had in mind by way if EQ and its potential importance read through the article linked below. It provides you both with a clear overview of what EQ involves AND, due to the article’s intended audience(s) (managers, organizations, and career reflective employees), a clear snapshot of why organizations, HR people and departments and the career world in general are so interested in EQ.

Source: Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence, Olivier Serrat, in Knowledge Solutions: Tools, Methods, and Approaches to Drive Organizational Performance (reference and links below).

Date: January 14, 2018

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link — Download Link:

You can watch a very good talk by Daniel Goleman (who first spoke of Emotional Intelligence) given at Google in which he speaks to the Neuroscience underlying Social Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence (or Quotient) or EQ.

So, as human beings we are built to reflect upon our experiences BOTH cognitively and emotionally. If you are interested in how that is mapped out neurologically in the brain you can watch the video linked above showing Daniel Goleman talking about the neural basis of social intelligence to employees of Google. Basically, we process social information FIRST through the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, and which trades in emotions and emotional reactions. Subsequently, we process the same information (with limbic influence) cognitively in the pre-frontal lobes of the brain. So, we emote first and think later. Our EQ, generally speaking, reflects how aware we are of our limbic responses and how much we are able to understand them, predict them, and manage them. That is why the terms social intelligence and Emotional Intelligence, or Emotional Quotient are used interchangeably. The cognitive components of EQ have developmental trajectories and involve things that can be learned from experience (by paying attention to social interactions and our reactions to them). So, we tend to get better at EQ as we mature but we can also get better at EQ by paying systematic attention to our social experiences and reflecting upon them and our related emotions. The good news here, therefore, is that while EQ is a really good predictor of life success, satisfaction and happiness it is also something that is quite open to change and to improvement with experience, focus and effort. Think of it as social and self-wisdom and you will have it about right. The next move is all yours!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is EQ?
  2. How does EQ relate to IQ?
  3. What are several things you could start doing today that could boost your EQ?

References (Read Further):

Serrat O. (2017) Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence. In: Knowledge Solutions. Springer, Singapore (All chapters available for download).

Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: new ability or eclectic traits?. American psychologist, 63(6), 503.

Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. (2003). Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 29(9), 1147-1158.

Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence. Bantam.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2013). Primal leadership: Unleashing the power of emotional intelligence. Harvard Business Press.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. Why It Can Matter More than IQ. Learning, 24(6), 49-50.

Cherniss, C., Extein, M., Goleman, D., & Weissberg, R. P. (2006). Emotional intelligence: what does the research really indicate?. Educational Psychologist, 41(4), 239-245.



Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Consciousness, General Psychology, Human Development, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Social Psychology.

Description: What brain based activations are associated with your tendency to consider causing harm to others in moral decision-making situations? Typically, we are asked questions in abstract or “hypothetical” manners. Would you consider causing pain to one person if it might result in information to needed to stop a bombing that could harms many others? Would you consider harming a few rats if it might result in a cure for Aids? Tough questions. If your answer to either questions something like “hypothetically yes, but I really don’t think I could actually do those things” then you have already understood some of what the research reported upon in the article linked below has to tell us. Have a look and see if it fits with your thinking on these questions.

Source: Mirror neuron activity predicts people’s decision-making in moral dilemmas, ScienceDaily, Science News.

Date: January 5, 2018

Photo Credit  UCLA Health

Links:  Article Link –

Mirror neurons are fascinating (well, I think, at least). Among other things, they can be viewed as the neural foundation of empathy, which is interesting because Western Psychology has struggled with the concept of empathy for decades. For example, if our behavior is largely controlled by self-interest then where is the self-interest in helping others? Well, perhaps in the functioning of mirror neurons – neurons that fire when we experience certain things AND when we observe others experiencing the same things. That could be a definition of empathy. The linked research suggests that people with string mirror neuron activation when viewing others’ pain are more likely to avoid or refuse to comply in situations where they are asked to harm others, an effect that is NOT there when the questions of harm or hypothetical, as they are in more moral dilemmas. So now, what about the application implications, now there is a can of ethical worms!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there a difference between responding to hypothetical “harm others” dilemmas and actually moving to initiate actions that will potentially harm others??
  2. What role might mirror neurons play in the circumstances described in the previous question?
  3. What are some of the ethical (and research) issues that arise if we consider possible applications of the research results reported in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Moore, L., Conway, P., & Iacoboni, M. (2017). Deontological Dilemma Response Tendencies and Sensorimotor Representations of Harm to Others. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 11, 34.

Linkovski, O., Katzin, N., & Salti, M. (2017). Mirror neurons and mirror-touch synesthesia. The Neuroscientist, 23(2), 103-108.

Jalal, B., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2017). Sleep paralysis,“the ghostly bedroom intruder” and out-of-body experiences: the role of mirror neurons. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11.

Steward, M. (2017). Empathy and the Role of Mirror Neurons.

Campbell, M. E., & Cunnington, R. (2017). More than an imitation game: Top-down modulation of the human mirror system. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.


Posted by & filed under Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: You have, no doubt, heard about the powerful connections between odors and memories. When I talk about this in Psychology classes I suggest that if you ever want to remember your elementary school days just wait for this time of year when schools have been buttoned up tight due to the cold for a while and then step into the main hallway of an elementary school and take a few deep sniffs of the air. (Actually, go to the main office first and explain what you are doing so you do not cause panic huffing and puffing in a building full of children). The combination of craft glue, construction paper, sweaty boot liners, and well hidden aging lunches should bring you elementary school years rushing back to you. (Oh, and another ethical “actually”, think before doing this if you really want to recall your early school years. Perhaps there are good reasons why you cannot do so without odorific priming!). So, how are odors connected with episodic memories in the brain? What storage processes and mechanisms are involved? Well, read the article linked below for one possibility.

Source: How odors are turned into long-term memories, Neuroscience News.

Date: December 27, 2017

Photo Credit:

Links:  Article Link —

The research results reported in the linked article suggests a few interesting things. First are the involvement of the piriform cortex and orbitofrontal cortex in processing odor memories and linking them to other, episodic, memories (and how they were identified using stimulation techniques). Second is the interplay between these two brain areas which is a good example of the increasing number of brain connection we are finding between “lower” level brain based functions that do stuff and higher-level centers that command monitor and organize the stuff of the lower centers. In this case the piriform cortex processes odors into memory but only when the orbitofrontal cortex tells it to do so.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are odors stored in the brain?
  2. How are odor memories linked to episodic memories?
  3. What other research might be interesting to do looking at potential linking mechanisms between odors and episodic memories?

References (Read Further):

Strauch, C., & Manahan-Vaughan, D. (2017). In the Piriform Cortex, the Primary Impetus for Information Encoding through Synaptic Plasticity Is Provided by Descending Rather than Ascending Olfactory Inputs. Cerebral Cortex, 1-13.

Burden, C. M., Elmore, C., Hladun, K. R., Trumble, J. T., & Smith, B. H. (2016). Acute exposure to selenium disrupts associative conditioning and long-term memory recall in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 127, 71-79.

Tonegawa, S., Pignatelli, M., Roy, D. S., & Ryan, T. J. (2015). Memory engram storage and retrieval. Current opinion in neurobiology, 35, 101-109.

Herz, R. S. (2016). The role of odor-evoked memory in psychological and physiological health. Brain sciences, 6(3), 22.

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Child Development, Clinical Neuropsychology, General Psychology, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Legal Ethical Issues, Moral Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Personality, Personality Disorders, Psychological Health.

Description: Have you ever watched an episode of the TV show Criminal Minds which fictionally focusses on the activities of an FBI behavioral analysis unit that hunts psychopaths? In the show there are many discussions of the sorts of developmental histories that amplify some psychopathic behavioral tendencies and of the sorts of things that can “trigger” or “escalate” psychopathic behavior and violence. It can be fascinating and creepy and even terrifying. A question that is NOT often asked in the show is what it is about the brains of psychopaths that gives rise to their particular patterns of immoral, violent behaviour. The article linked below looks at this question more generally, in terms of criminality rather than psychopathy, and involves looking to see if there are correlations between criminal behavior and certain brain issues. What area(s) of the brain do you think might be involved? Think about it and then read the article linked below to see what the research suggests.

Source: Brain lesions, criminal behavior linked to moral decision-making network. ScienceDaily, Science News

Date: December 18, 2017

Photo Credit:  prathaan/Fotolia

Links:  Article Link —

The researchers make a number of important points. First, they are studying something called “acquired sociopathy” or antisocial behavior that does not appear to be based on “inborn” features or tendencies or brain structures. The researchers also showed that the brain lesions that seemed to be associated with criminal behavior were not in a specific place in the brain but, rather, in a network of brain areas that has been shown to be involved in morality and values-based decision making. Beginning understandings of the networked nature of brain functioning have lead to new insights into how the brain works, especially in complex tasks like making moral decisions and regulating one’s behaviour moral/ethical ways. While more research is certainly needed in this and related areas it is time to start thinking about some of the questions that will arise as this line in enquiry develops – like, how shall we, or should we use what it suggests for identifying and regulating particular individuals?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does the brain lesion research discussed in the linked article suggest about one possible correlate of criminal behavior?
  2. What sorts of additional research is needed if we are to better (and to properly) understand this possible connection between moral decision-making brain networks and criminal behavior?
  3. What ethical considerations should we be discussing or at least preparing to discuss in relation to the implications of this type of research?

References (Read Further):

Darby, R. R., Horn, A., Cushman, F., & Fox, M. D. (2017). Lesion network localization of criminal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201706587.

Adolphs, R., Gläscher, J., & Tranel, D. (2017). Searching for the neural causes of criminal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201720442.

Poldrack, R. A., Monahan, J., Imrey, P. B., Reyna, V., Raichle, M. E., Faigman, D., & Buckholtz, J. W. (2017). Predicting violent behavior: what can neuroscience add?. Trends in cognitive sciences.

Nahmias, E. (2017). Your Brain as the Source of Free Will Worth Wanting: Understanding Free Will in the Age of Neuroscience.

Güney, S. (2017). Psychopathy: The Reflection of Severe Psychosocial Dysfunction. In Psychopathy-New Updates on an Old Phenomenon. InTech.