Posted by & filed under Aggression, Anxiety OC PTSD, Attitude Formation Change, Memory, Psychological Health, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: As a Psychologist I have to say that events south of our border over the past two years have a source of fascination, confusion and perplexity not to mention anxiety, fear and anger and that is just from considering the actions of the current president. This past week the confirmation hearings focusing on Brett Kavanaugh’s possible appointment to the American Supreme Court opened up a whole new universe of areas and issues for psychological contemplation. Rather than trying to focus too directly on any one area or issue (given the unfolding nature of this array of issues) I though I would just list a number of questions of psychological relevance that have arisen in the media and based on my own reflection on these recent noxious events. In each case I will point you to an article and/or two, but more information will likely emerge as the events and our reflection upon them unfold. As well, you can dig into the relevant psychological research literatures to see what research has been done in these areas. So, here are some questions arising from the American Senate hearings and from the contexts surrounding those events.

In her testimony before the Senate Committee, Christine Blasey Ford said she could recall every detail of Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged attack on her when she was 15 years old but had difficulty recalling related event details. Does this fit with what we know about memory for traumatic events decades past? The research says yes, see link 4 below.

How DO trauma and the passage of time affect our memories for the events they involve? Answers to this question can get complicated. See link number 3 below.

Does asking women to describe and discuss the impacts that alleged sexual assaults had on them have an impact on the likelihood that they will report such events in the first place? The answer to this question seems to be yes. See link 1 below.

Does the storm of media information and coverage of issues related to trauma and sexual assault have an impact upon those who have suffered such events? The answer to this question is most certainly, yes. The news is loaded with triggers for victims of sexual assault and related traumas. See link 2 below.

Source: Various (The New York Times) see links below.

Date: September 28, 2018

Photo Credit: Fox News

Article Link: 1.


These events are occurring at an important time in the history of societal views and thinking about issues associated with sexual assault and gender-based issues. The #metoo movement has started to shine strong lights on issues of male and power privilege and on the fundamental imbalance between “innocent until proven guilty” and the huge burdens of proof placed on victims before they are believed. We do not just need more research in these areas we need more thought and more action.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the psychological issues arising from, or brought out by, media coverage of the Kavanaugh Senate hearings in the United States?
  2. Can you think of any new areas where psychological research is needed? Are there any areas where it may be that some assumptions underlying past research or at least past research questions might need to be revisited?
  3. What approach (research, investigative, etc.) would be preferable in situations like this if senators were interested in understanding and properly addressing the sexual assault allegations in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings?

References (Read Further):

Millon, E. M., Chang, H. Y. M., & Shors, T. J. (2018). Stressful life memories relate to ruminative thoughts in women with sexual violence history, irrespective of PTSD. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9.

Shields, C. (2018). The Traumatic Effects of Sexual Assault: A literature review of the effects of sexual assault on college students. Angelo State University Social Sciences Research Journal, 4(1).

Treanor, M., Brown, L. A., Rissman, J., & Craske, M. G. (2017). Can memories of traumatic experiences or addiction be erased or modified? A critical review of research on the disruption of memory reconsolidation and its applications. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(2), 290-305.

Au, T. M., Sauer-Zavala, S., King, M. W., Petrocchi, N., Barlow, D. H., & Litz, B. T. (2017). Compassion-based therapy for trauma-related shame and posttraumatic stress: Initial evaluation using a multiple baseline design. Behavior therapy, 48(2), 207-221.

Bordere, T. (2017). Disenfranchisement and ambiguity in the face of loss: The suffocated grief of sexual assault survivors. Family Relations, 66(1), 29-45.

Posted by & filed under Health Psychology, Social Cognition, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: Quick! Answer this question off the top of your head: Is texting good or bad? Well, assuming your mind did not leap to issues arising from presidential tweets your yes or no answer likely reflected your personal preferences regarding texts or perhaps the Psychological researcher in you suggested that the question was too simplistic and uncontextualized to be addressable. So, here is a potentially better question: If you were designing a program of research looking at texting patterns, habits and (psychological) consequences what sorts of things do you think need to be examined and how should they be examined? Once you have given that a bit of thought read through the article, written by someone who has actually done research on texting, and see what she, and others, have done and see how it aligns with your possible research direction thoughts.

Source: Why are People Dependent on Texting? Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, Conscious Communication, Psychology Today.

Date: September 28, 2018

Photo Credit: Rawpixel/Pexels

Article Link:

While there has been a lot of doom and gloom speculation about the developmental and social impacts of texting and social media in general I, at least, am pleased to see that research is being done that does not begin with a dismissive or terrified stance on these new forms of social interaction. Texting is not going away and Psychology needs to help us to understand how it works and how it differentially impacts or is differentially taken up by its diverse array of users. The research discussed in the article linked above provides data-supported dimensions along which text-users seem to vary. Such work is critical to understanding both the core issues associated with new communication mediums as well as the dimensions along which individual users vary. Work like this and the work of the author of the article will help us to build an understanding of how texting is being taken up by users (or not) and will also help us to see or even to anticipate areas where new or unexpected issues or problems may arose for people using new modes of communication.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What issues do you have or potential issues, from a Psychological perspective, do you have or see with texting?
  2. Do you see any potential developmental issues associated with texting (due to its age-related variability of use)?
  3. What are some other areas or aspects of texting or the texting experience that Psychological researchers should be looking at, in your view?

References (Read Further):

Hall, E. D., Feister, M. K., & Tikkanen, S. (2018). A mixed-method analysis of the role of online communication attitudes in the relationship between self-monitoring and emerging adult text intensity. Computers in Human Behavior, 89, 269-278.

Ledbetter, A. M. (2009). Measuring online communication attitude: Instrument development and validation. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 463-486.

Ledbetter, A. M. (2010). Family communication patterns and communication competence as predictors of online communication attitude: Evaluating a dual pathway model. Journal of Family Communication, 10(2), 99-115.

Rosen, L. D., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.

Schwebel, D. C., Stavrinos, D., Byington, K. W., Davis, T., O’Neal, E. E., & De Jong, D. (2012). Distraction and pedestrian safety: how talking on the phone, texting, and listening to music impact crossing the street. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 45, 266-271.

Caird, J. K., Johnston, K. A., Willness, C. R., Asbridge, M., & Steel, P. (2014). A meta-analysis of the effects of texting on driving. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 71, 311-318.

Hall, J. A., & Baym, N. K. (2012). Calling and texting (too much): Mobile maintenance expectations,(over) dependence, entrapment, and friendship satisfaction. New media & society, 14(2), 316-331.




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

Description: If you have spent more than one or two days in a workplace setting you have probably heard of and even completed the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). The MBTI is a personality inventory that, based on your responses, places you somewhere on each of 4 dimensions including Intuitive/Sensing, Introversion/Extroversion, Feeling/Thinking, Perceiving/Judging. If you took the test in a workplace setting think back to what you were told was the purpose of the assessment and about what it was suggested would be the potential uses to which you could put your results. If you think, or were told, that the MBTI is a scientifically based and proven personality inventory then you are misinformed. Industrial Organizational Psychologists who, among other things, work on developing and applying measures and systems for employee section, employee development, and person-organization fit will tell you (in great detail) how the MBTI lack reliability and validity and as such, regardless of its broad use and its broad claims of usefulness is, in fact, not at all scientifically grounded. A measure is reliable if it produces stable, consistent results. This usually assessed by having the same people complete a measure twice in a short period of time so that they have not likely changed much between assessments. To be reliable the measures time 1 scores must correlate with the time scores at about the .9 level of above (1.0 means essentially means the scores are exactly the same). Think about it, if the things being measured should be the same at both assessment times then a much less than perfect correlation likely means that the measure itself is unstable, much like a rubber ruler would be as a length measurement tool. Validity refers to how well the measure predicts what it is supposed to predict (according the relevant theories). Basically, if a measure is not reliable then its validity cannot be assessed. So why use the MBTI? Well listen to the podcast linked below to hear a bit about when, why, and how the MBTI was developed and that may address the question of use (maybe).

Source: Myers-Briggs tests in the workplace help employer, not the employee, says author, The Current, CBC Radio.

Date: September 27, 2018

Photo Credit: Christian Nakarado/Penguin Random House

Article Links:

The Podcast is here:

There are several important points made about the MBTI in the podcast beyond the issues of its lack of reliability and validity. The first is that the dimensions of the MBTI were originally drawn from the work of Jung and tie into his creative thinking about personality and archetypes. Through that work and his related work on things like a collective unconscious, Jung thought deeply and read broadly about the nature and variability of human nature. What Jung did and what the MBTI can do is to get us thinking about who we are and what our basic or preferred social tendencies and needs are as we move about in the world. The results can be broad, dynamic and flexible if not reliable or valid for HR purposes. The historical context of the development of the MBTI is also important. I/O psychology got a huge boost though its contribution to the massive task of assessing and appropriately training and deploying millions of people during the second world war. Just as the massive manufacturing infrastructure built to provision the armed forces in WW2 was repurposed to provision the households and life styles of the retuning veterans and their families so was the I/O Psychological assessment enterprise repurposed to support effective hiring, training, placement and retention practices in organizations. Whether or not this led to an effort, using the MBTI, to convince employees that being personally fulfilled by or at work to the benefit of employers and organizations is debatable. Job and cross-career mobility and contract work have increased massively since the start of the post-war period and a focus of personal well-being and developing a more personal sense of purpose in life, including one’s work-life, is a natural extension of that as well. The bottom line is that if your MBTI results gets you thinking and reflecting then that is likely a good thing but it is also important to note that there are a great many better tools out there not just is the toolboxes of I/O Psychologists and organizations but also available to individuals, like you, who want to take on some of your own talent development initiatives. Go for it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the MBTI based upon?
  2. Why is the MBTI’s lack of reliability an issue?
  3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages for employees and potential hires of the broad use of I/O Psychology developed measures in the processes of selecting, hiring, training, developing and retaining employees by organizations?

References (Read Further):

Emre, Merve (2018) The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, Doubleday.

Block, Melissa (2018) How the Myers-Briggs Personality Test Began in as Mother’s Living Room Lab, All things Considered, September 22, 1018, .

McCrae, R. R., & Costa Jr, P. T. (1989). Reinterpreting the Myers‐Briggs type indicator from the perspective of the five‐factor model of personality. Journal of personality, 57(1), 17-40.

Pittenger, D. J. (2005). Cautionary comments regarding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 57(3), 210.

Case, P., & Phillipson, G. (2004). Astrology, alchemy and retro-organization theory: An astro-genealogical critique of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. Organization, 11(4), 473-495.



Posted by & filed under Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Human Development, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Personality, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: Do you know what the Marshmallow Test is? (No, it does not involve a campfire and smores).  The test was set up by Walter Mischel who recently passed away at the age of 88. As described in the video embedded in the article linked below, the marshmallow test, I its simplest form, provides young children with a simple challenge. They are seated at a table and a marshmallow is placed on a dish before them. They are told they can have the marshmallow whenever they want BUT, if they wait and delay enjoying the treat until the adult returns to the room (time varies) then they will receive a second marshmallow for a total of two. How do you think young children do I this task? What do you think it would predict if they were able to wait for 10 minutes without waiting the first marshmallow in order to get the second marshmallow? What sorts of things do you think should be included in this sort of test (Mischel added a few things beyond just presenting a marshmallow challenge)? Think about this and them read the article linked below and watch the video it contains to hear what Mischel himself said about the test.

Source: Remembrance for Walter Mischel, Psychologist Who Devised the Marshmallow Test, Julie Carli, NPR.

Date: September 21, 2018

Photo Credit: NPR

Article Links:

Walter Mischel produced a LOT of research over the course of his thoughtful and prolific career.  The great empirical debate he was involved in was concerned with whether or not people’s personalities are fixed or whether they are open to change or to personal manipulation or improvement. The often stated (erroneously) finding from the Marshmallow test was that children who were able to delay gratification long enough to get a second marshmallow, went on to ore productive/successful lives than children who could not wait. In fact, Mischel was NOT a theoretic supporter of a “carved in stone” approach to personality. In his original research with the Marshmallow test what he showed was that if he taught children strategies for putting off eating the first marshmallow AND if they deployed those strategies effectively, THEN they were more successful in life. Walter Mischel believed and demonstrated empirically, that personality change and change for the better are possible. Thank you Walter.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the Marshmallow Test?
  2. What does the Marshmallow Test show us?
  3. How did Walter Mischel think and talk about the idea of personality mailability and what did his views suggest?

References (Read Further):

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. I. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244(4907), 933-938.,Shoda,%26Rodriguez%281989%29.pdf

Mischel, W. (1973). Toward a cognitive social learning reconceptualization of personality. Psychological review, 80(4), 252.

Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (1995). A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychological review, 102(2), 246.

Shoda, Y., Mischel, W., & Peake, P. K. (1990). Predicting adolescent cognitive and self-regulatory competencies from preschool delay of gratification: Identifying diagnostic conditions. Developmental psychology, 26(6), 978.

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Peake, P. K. (1988). The nature of adolescent competencies predicted by preschool delay of gratification. Journal of personality and social psychology, 54(4), 687.

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Stereotype Prejudice Discrimination, The Self.

Description: You have likely heard about the Turing test that is intended as a means of testing whether the entity one is conversing with via typed messages is a human being or an artificial intelligence (a computer program). Alan Turing argued that if a program seemed to those corresponding with it to be “human” then we should grant it some sort of “being” status. The hyperlink above will take you to a previous post talking about this test and about a possible “winner.” Now, rather than thinking about what sorts of questions you would ask and what sorts of topics you would raise in such an interaction/investigation what if you were asked to come with ONE WORD that would most likely sound “human” rather than “machine (AI)” generated? One word would likely not be enough but think about what your one word would be and think about what research involving the collection of many peoples’ one words might tell us that could be interesting or useful. Once you have those answers in mind read the article linked below to see what several social Psychologists di with peoples’ one word “Turing Test” responses.

Source: What a “Minimal Turing Test” Says About Humans, Matthew Hutson, Psyched! Psychology Today.

Date: September 21, 2018

Photo Credit: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Article Links:

The frequency and conceptual patterns of words/concepts invoked in this one-word Turing Test research are interesting. Were you surprised at how well some words did in the head-to-head part of the study where participants were asked to consider pairs of words taken from the first part of the study and pick which word sounded more human. “Poop” beat every other word including “love”! Maybe there is another version of the “shit happens” T-Shirt image to be created here! The approach to examining our concepts of humans and robots or AI’s one word at a time might seem a bit artificial but the results suggest much about the nature of our concepts in this area and the conceptual structures that support them and thr stereotypes they produce.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the Turing Test?
  2. What sorts of things does the single word Turing Test allow us to do from a social Psychological perspective?
  3. What might it mean to say we have “stereotypes” about artificial intelligences, robots etc.?

References (Read Further):

McCoy, J. P., & Ullman, T. D. (2018). A Minimal Turing Test. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 79, 1-8.

Abrams, J. (2017). Is Eliza human, and can she write a sonnet?: A look at language technology. Access, 31(3), 4.

Marcus, G. (2017). Am I Human?. Scientific American, 316(3), 58-63.

de Graaf, M. M., & Malle, B. F. (2018). People’s Judgments of Human and Robot Behaviors.

Oliveira, R., Arriaga, P., Correia, F., & Paiva, A. (2018). Making Robot’s Attitudes Predictable: A Stereotype Content Model for Human-Robot Interaction in Groups.’s_Attitudes_Predictable_A_Stereotype_Content_Model_for_Human-Robot_Interaction_in_Groups/links/5aa91bf7aca272d39cd502a6/Making-Robots-Attitudes-Predictable-A-Stereotype-Content-Model-for-Human-Robot-Interaction-in-Groups.pdf

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Interpersonal Attraction Close Relationships, Neuroscience, Physiology, Social Psychology.

Description: The octopus is not a particularly social animal. While that might sound like the start to a fairy tale or to a “Just So” story it is actually simply a scientific fact. Octopi typically avoid social contact entirely including avoiding other members of their species. They Do, however, have to engage socially with at least one other octopus at least once in a while in order to mate. It turns out that octopi seem to use a mechanism to flip this social/asocial switch that is virtually identical to how we manage social connections, using the serotonin system. How did they test this? Well, they used the drug ecstasy or MDMA which alters mood in humans by driving a serotonin “dump” which, in the short term provides strong feelings of social connectedness and positive social affect in humans. How did this work in Octopi? Well read through the article linked below to find out. While you read through it pay attention to and think about what research like this with octopi might tell us about ourselves.

Source: Octopuses given mood drug “ecstasy’ reveal genetic link to evolution of social behavior in humans, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: September 20, 2018

Photo Credit: Ton Kleindinst/ Marine Biological Laboratory

Article Links:

So, exposure to MDMA (ecstasy) lead the octopi to spend time being close with a caged male octopus while most octopi not exposed to the drug avoided the caged male octopi. Their behavior while on the drug paralleled that of human rave attendees on ecstasy (not the dancing but the increased frequency of social touching).  It seems that octopuses’ social behavioral tendencies are there most of the time but suppressed in and by non-mating circumstances in ways that produce the “loner” behavior they are best known for. The functioning of the serotonin system, while referred to most often in humans as region related to mood and being primary site of drug intervention in cases of depression, is likely involved in the evolution of our social connectedness as well.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does ecstasy effect social behavior?
  2. What might studying the effects of ecstasy in octopi tell us about human social behaviors?
  3. Did the octopus “social” behaviors described in the article linked above strike you as genuinely social? Why or why not?

References (Read Further):

Eric Edsinger, Gül Dölen. A Conserved Role for Serotonergic Neurotransmission in Mediating Social Behavior in Octopus. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.061

Fiorito, G., & Scotto, P. (1992). Observational learning in Octopus vulgaris. Science, 256(5056), 545-547.

Turchetti-Maia, A., Shomrat, T., & Hochner, B. (2017). The vertical lobe of cephalopods—a brain structure ideal for exploring the mechanisms of complex forms of learning and memory. In The Oxford Handbook of Invertebrate Neurobiology.


Posted by & filed under Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Neuroscience, Personality, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: I am teaching a course this term on I/O or Industrial Organizational Psychology and I was struck by a quote in one of the sources I was reading in preparation for class that suggested that I/O psychology is a “brainless” science. What might it mean for someone to say that? Well, they were pointing out that while there has been an explosion of research and interest on the brain functioning foundations of many areas and phenomenon in psychology (driven by the cheaper availability of brain scanning etc.), to date there has been little neuroscience informed work in I/O psychology. That is changing. Here is a Neuro-I/O question: How does power change the brains of CEO’s? How does having power change the way you think and behave? Think about what this might involve and then read the article linked below to see where research in this area is going.

Source: How Power Changes the CEO Brain, Jeanne Sahadi, @CNN Money, CNN.

Date: September 4, 2018

Photo Credit: chombosan/Getty Images

Article Links:

So, what does power do to your brain? Well, it may change your perspective making you more self-focused and less empathic. It may cause your perceptions of social constraints to fade and your recall of obstacles to your goals to fade along with them and your behaviours and decisions may become riskier. These and other factors could contribute to incidents of corporate greed and sexual harassment among CEO’s. It DOES seem that what people were like before becoming CEO’s can have a mitigating effect of the potentials for power abuses when at the top. We can and need to look forward to more research into the effects of power on the brains of those who take it up.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are the behavioural patterns and power related tendencies of New CEO’s inborn or a result of the new power they have?
  2. What would a neuroscience of I/O psychology potentially provide us with that we do not already have?
  3. What new areas of research looking at CEO brains should we be undertaking?

References (Read Further):

Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Inesi, M. E., & Gruenfeld, D. H. (2006). Power and perspectives not taken. Psychological science, 17(12), 1068-1074.

Gruenfeld, D. H., Inesi, M. E., Magee, J. C., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Power and the objectification of social targets. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(1), 111.

Bentley, F. S., Fulmer, I. S., & Kehoe, R. R. Payoffs for layoffs? An examination of CEO relative pay and firm performance surrounding layoff announcements. Personnel Psychology.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Death and Dying, General Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Human Development, Stress Coping - Health, Successful Aging, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: Simple question: who is happier a 30 year old or a 70 year old? What do you think? Must be the 30 year old if only for the existential issues, 70 years of age is WAY closer to death than 30 so, of course the 30 year old is happier right? Well, wrong, actually. Think about how or why that could be and then read the article linked below to see how psychologists are addressing these questions.

Source: Why you can look forward to being happier in old age, Jeffery Kluger, Time Magazine.

Date: September 6, 2018

Photo Credit: Time Magazine

Article Links:


What do you think of the happiness curve? Children and old people are happier than most in the middle. While children could be viewed as happy due to their innocence or naivete what is up with older people? Terror management, wisdom and experience all likely play roles in positive aging. Likewise, and noted in the video clip associated with the article, people who maintain a general sense of life purpose age more slowly physically in terms of things like the onset of “slow walking.” So, check you potentially ageist assumptions and think more positive thoughts about aging.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the general findings of happiness levels among older adults compared to middle aged adults?
  2. How might we account for those differences?
  3. When we look at successful, aging CEO’s, what is it about them that supports their continuing success despite some of the changes they experience with age?

References (Read Further): Lacey, H. P., Smith, D. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2006). Hope I die before I get old: Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(2), 167-182.

Oerlemans, W. G., Bakker, A. B., & Veenhoven, R. (2011). Finding the key to happy aging: A day reconstruction study of happiness. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66(6), 665-674.

Jopp, D., & Rott, C. (2006). Adaptation in very old age: Exploring the role of resources, beliefs, and attitudes for centenarians’ happiness. Psychology and aging, 21(2), 266.’_Happiness/links/564dc3ff08ae1ef9296acd54.pdf

Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Neuroscience, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Ok, so what do you think we “know” about the long-term impact of concussions on athletes who play hockey or football? Let’s see, concussions and inappropriate responses to how such injuries are managed or followed up have lead to a serious issue that the sports of hockey and football are now only staring to address with the NHL entering mediation to try and settle a lawsuit regarding the long term impact of concussion brought by former players and football introducing a raft of new rules and enforcement  practices regarding “head shots” and late hits on quarterbacks. We know there is data supporting the need for steps to be taken with all but one of the 111 brains of deceased former NFL players showing clear signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Cases like that of Zarley Zalapski who played for the Calgary Flames in the 1990’s and who died in his sleep at 49 years of age are surfacing regularly. Zalapski’s brain was analyzed and showed clear indications of CTE along with a huge amount of tau (abnormal brain protein) even though Zalapski was NOT a fighter, saying that if you fight you sit in the penalty box and you cannot score goals from there. So, we are seeing and increasingly clear picture of the effects of concussions on the brains of hockey and football players over time, right? Well yes BUT do we really have a clear understanding of how this works? Are there some players who sustain concussions but do NOT have issues with CTE later in life? And what about sub-concussive hits? Are these issues confined to the “hit sports” of hockey and football? And are enough steps being taken to deal with them? There is more we need to know to have a clear understanding of what we essential DO NOT know yet about hits in sports, concussion and CTE. Read the article linked below in which Zarley Zalapsky’s sister talks about her brother and a number of neuro scientists point out some of what we do not know (and must find out) about concussions and CTE.

Source: Zarley Zalapski’s story shows CTE isn’t black and white, Allan Maki, The Globe and Mail.

Date: September 14, 2018

Photo Credit: Glenn Cratty/Getty Images

Article Links:

There IS some puzzling data out there.  A man who never played sports and never suffered a concussion whose brain showed clear signs of CTE and the brain of John Forzani who played for the Calgary Stampeders for 7 seasons as an offensive lineman and who suffered several concussions but whose brain shod no signs of CTE on post mortem analysis. To quote Peter Cummings, a neuropathologist “…to think we have CTE solved in a nice, wrapped little box in the space of four, five years doesn’t make any sense.” His biggest point is that instead of stopping with news media summaries we must read the original research articles if we want to properly understand what we DO know about concussion and CTE in sports AND, more importantly, to understand what we DO NOT know, which is a LOT. Indeed, more research and more reflection are both needed in this important area.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is CTE and how might it be related to concussions?
  2. What data do we have that speaks to ways in which concussions among hockey and football players might be related (is related) to later issues with CTE?
  3. What sorts of research do we need to be doing to expand our understanding of concussion, CTE and sports?

References (Read Further):

Small, G. W., Kepe, V., Siddarth, P., Ercoli, L. M., Merrill, D. A., Donoghue, N., … & Barrio, J. R. (2013). PET scanning of brain tau in retired national football league players: preliminary findings. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(2), 138-144.

Shahim, P., Tegner, Y., Wilson, D. H., Randall, J., Skillbäck, T., Pazooki, D., … & Zetterberg, H. (2014). Blood biomarkers for brain injury in concussed professional ice hockey players. JAMA neurology, 71(6), 684-692.

Shahim, P., Linemann, T., Inekci, D., Karsdal, M. A., Blennow, K., Tegner, Y., … & Henriksen, K. (2016). Serum tau fragments predict return to play in concussed professional ice hockey players. Journal of neurotrauma, 33(22), 1995-1999.

McCrory, P., Meeuwisse, W. H., Aubry, M., Cantu, B., Dvořák, J., Echemendia, R. J., … & Sills, A. (2013). Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med, 47(5), 250-258.

Kamins, J., Bigler, E., Covassin, T., Henry, L., Kemp, S., Leddy, J. J., … & McLeod, T. C. V. (2017). What is the physiological time to recovery after concussion? A systematic review. Br J Sports Med, 51(12), 935-940.

Stein, T. D., Alvarez, V. E., & McKee, A. C. (2015). Concussion in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Current pain and headache reports, 19(10), 47.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Emerging Adulthood, Human Development, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Psychological Disorders, Stress, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing, Student Success.

Description: Have you heard that teenagers these days are effectively having their brains rewired by their massive use of digital technologies? I did not ask if you were aware of this as a truth but just whether you had heard it stated as if it were true. Such ideas, that up-coming generations are being sculpted by their experiences right down to the neuronal level, are not new but have become more frequent in recent years, especially in relation to digital technologies such as smart phones and video games. The author of the article linked below is a clinical psychiatrist and director of a psychopharmacology clinic and as such, one might see him to be perfectly situated to have the clinical experience and data necessary. Before you read the article reflect briefly on the following questions. Are smart phones and digital media changing the brains of teenagers? Are the rates of depression and anxiety disorders higher in the current generation of teenagers than in previous ones? Is it possible for teenagers to become addicted to video games? Are academic related anxiety and stress levels among senior high school and first year university students atypical when compared to previous generations? Once you have thought about these questions have a read through the article and see what the clinical (psychiatric) neurologist has to say.

Source: Teenagers Aren’t Losing Their Minds, Richard A. Friedman, the New York Times.

Date: September 9, 2018

Photo Credit: Erik Carter, The New York Times.

Article Links:   

So, did you see how important it is that we be precise and clear in how we are defining our terms when we are discussing the current state of teenage minds “these days? First, we need to be clear about the difference between anxiety related to the presence of an anxiety disorder and anxiety related to life events, like the end of a relationship or the difficult economic environment one is contemplating having to soon enter. To be clear, it is not that these two examples of life events are not anxiety provoking, but, the author suggests, they do NOT appear to have led to generational increases in rates of anxiety disorders. What might be happened he suggests is that parents are not appropriately preparing their children for the fact that life involves some anxiety from time to time and that we will not and cannot live effectively in a constant state of high happiness. The good news is that while life is stressful and anxiety producing from time to time and something for a lot of the time this does not mean our brains are being re-wired in dysfunctional ways. I mean people like myself who grew up with television (a previous great evil) have done pretty well (at least I think so). From a developmental perspective it is worth noticing that, generation after generation many humans do pretty well regardless of what their parents think is going on for them.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are stress and anxiety levels amongst teenagers higher today than in previous generations?
  2. Even if the levels of stress and anxiety are higher does that mean there are more disorders in today’s teens than in previous generations?
  3. Who needs to talk to who about what to get this in certainty about teenagers’ brains sorted out, and what sort of research might help along the way?

References (Read Further):

Niemer, E. (2012). Teenagers and social media. Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine, 20-29.

O’Keeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). Clinical report—the impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, peds-2011.

Strasburger, V. C., Hogan, M. J., Mulligan, D. A., Ameenuddin, N., Christakis, D. A., Cross, C., … & Moreno, M. A. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. Pediatrics, 132(5), 958-961.

Bolton, R. N., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., … & Solnet, D. (2013). Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda. Journal of service management, 24(3), 245-267.

Denizet-Lewis, B. E. N. O. I. T. (2017). Why are more American teenagers than ever suffering from severe anxiety. New York Times Magazine.