Posted by & filed under Cultural Variation, Group Processes, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Psychological Health, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: Sometimes you may run across references to large scale studies that take broad, general looks at parts or sectors of the population and sometimes those large survey studies take a look at aspects of mental health. Before taking the results of such studies at face value it is well worth taking a moment or two to think about what the reported result do not tell you. The article linked below talks about a timely issue involving the question of how completely people should return to working in office locations following the big pivot to working from home during Covid. You can think of this moment in time as a sort of natural experiment. Many people moved to working from home and now many organizations are trying to decide whether to just switch back to ‘in the office’ work or to support some or a lot of continued remote work. Putting aside questions of organizational health and productivity (important questions but not so psychological), think about the question of employee mental health. Look for the part where the author talks about what the report had to say about employee mental health when working from home and when working at the office and note, particularly, what it says about how this seemed to play out for men. Read the article and then re-read that particular section of the article talking about mental health and then ask yourself what you do NOT know about questions of remote work and mental health. What else would you like to find out about? What additional research could/should be done? Tis is a valuable research opportunity to look at how work-life is organized or could be organized and about how that could affect work-life balance, wellbeing and mental health going forward so give it some thought!

Source: Canadians, especially men, want remote work to stick around, Vanmala Subramaniam, The Globe and Mail.

Date: September 15, 2022

Image by lukasberi from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-remote-work-preference-canada/

What sorts of questions came to mind for you? Could there be differences between those who stayed in the office and those that worked more from home that pre-existed the workplace shift? Were there differences in the work from home experiences of men and women that were more related to issues of domestic task sharing and responsibility than to the work location question? How did the Covid array of challenges, threats and issues play into this? What sort of research do we need to do, and with who should it be done, if we are going to clarify our understanding of what is going on with the back to the office question? Interesting times invariably raised interesting psychological research questions!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did the survey discussed in the article suggest about the impact of working from home on mental health?
  2. What are your thoughts on the reported finding that men had better mental health outcomes when working from home?
  3. What sorts of research questions do you now have about the role of working from home or office on mental health?

References (Read Further):

Future Skills Centre (2022) The shift to remote work: How workers in Canada are adapting to working from home. Link

Oakman, J., Kinsman, N., Stuckey, R., Graham, M., & Weale, V. (2020). A rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home: how do we optimize health?. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-13. Link

Xiao, Y., Becerik-Gerber, B., Lucas, G., & Roll, S. C. (2021). Impacts of working from home during COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental well-being of office workstation users. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(3), 181. Link

Kitagawa, R., Kuroda, S., Okudaira, H., & Owan, H. (2021). Working from home: Its effects on productivity and mental health. Covid Economics, 74, 142-171. Link

Evanoff, B. A., Strickland, J. R., Dale, A. M., Hayibor, L., Page, E., Duncan, J. G., … & Gray, D. L. (2020). Work-related and personal factors associated with mental well-being during the COVID-19 response: survey of health care and other workers. Journal of medical Internet research, 22(8), e21366. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Health Psychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Psychological Health, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Quick question. Is having a dog good for you psychologically? Don’t do any searching on the question, just go with what you have heard or recall. Answer? Good for you, right? Maybe you have heard that regular time with dogs extends the lives of elderly people or that dog companions help their human friend cope with anxiety or depression. However, outside of trained companion dogs for folks with PTSD or other issues, is it systematically true that dogs are good for you? What about the anxiety of worrying about your canine companion, for example? I had a dog for years but after the last one passed I have been leaning more towards not getting another dog given the daily time demands and the limits on travel etc. So, think about what a large study looking into this question might have to suggest and then read the article linked below to see what one such study has to say.

Source: New study sheds light on the positive and negative impacts of dog ownership on psychological wellbeing, Emily Manis, Psypost.

Date: September 15, 2022

Image by Helen Sushitskaya from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.psypost.org/2022/09/new-study-sheds-light-on-the-positive-and-negative-impacts-of-dog-ownership-on-psychological-wellbeing-63908

So, the relationship between dog ownership and wellbeing is not as straightforward as we believed it was. In addition to the direct drawdowns associated with dog ownership on worry, anxiety and time commitments there are the more complex questions of causality. Large survey studies are correlational, meaning that they do not provide opportunity to do more than speculate about the causal connections among the variables studied. Are more anxious or depressed people more or less likely to get a dog? That would affect the observed correlational relationship between dog owner and wellbeing related to anxiety and depression. So, of course, more research is needed. However, for now, do not make your dog ownership decisions dependent on wellbeing concerns, just enjoy the companionship.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is dog owner ship good for you?
  2. What are some conditions that might impact the answer to the previous question?
  3. What sorts of research could/should provide us with a cleaner perspective on these questions?

References (Read Further):

Merkouri, A., Graham, T. M., O’Haire, M. E., Purewal, R., & Westgarth, C. (2022). Dogs and the Good Life: A cross sectional study of the association between the dog-owner relationship and owner mental wellbeing. Frontiers in psychology, 4001. Link

Herzog, H. (2011). The impact of pets on human health and psychological well-being: fact, fiction, or hypothesis?. Current directions in psychological science, 20(4), 236-239. Link

Headey, B., & Grabka, M. M. (2007). Pets and human health in Germany and Australia: National longitudinal results. Social Indicators Research, 80(2), 297-311. Link

Wells, D. L. (2019). The state of research on human–animal relations: Implications for human health. Anthrozoös, 32(2), 169-181. Link

Souter, M. A., & Miller, M. D. (2007). Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression? A meta-analysis. Anthrozoös, 20(2), 167-180. Link

Friedmann, E., Thomas, S. A., & Son, H. (2011). Pets, depression and long-term survival in community living patients following myocardial infarction. Anthrozoös, 24(3), 273-285. Link

Antonacopoulos, N. M. D., & Pychyl, T. A. (2010). An examination of the potential role of pet ownership, human social support and pet attachment in the psychological health of individuals living alone. Anthrozoös, 23(1), 37-54. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physiology.

Description: Have you heard of the phantom limb phenomenon? It occurs sometimes in people who have lost a limb but who, at least in the early weeks after the loss feel pain in the limb that is not here anymore. The explanation usually offered is that the areas of the brain associated with receiving pain signals from the lost limb continue to function for a time sometimes reporting on phantom pain. The phenomenon seems to abate over time. In another direction, we know that if an infant has a stroke (rare but yes it CAN occur) they seem to recover any affected motor functions quite quickly. This is attributed to something called plasticity which, in infants, is usually described as their having more neurons than adults and that those additional neurons can be recruited to serve functions lost by stroke damage. This would suggest that neural plasticity abates quickly with age but, is that the case? As well, might phantom limb phenomena be related to plasticity processes? How might we study these things without waiting for infant strokes or adult limb loss and how might we do so more systematically than using a case study approach? Think for a moment about how you would design a more systematic study (do not worry about cost but be ethical) and then see what some neurological researchers recently did in this area by reading the article linked below.

Source: What Happens to Your Brain If You Lose and Arm? Adam Omary, Psychology Today.

Date: September 17, 2022

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/natured-nurture/202209/what-happens-your-brain-if-you-lose-arm

So, having participants’ dominant arm in a cast for two weeks (without having broken it) and then regularly monitoring arm use and scanning their brains for activity changes is an interesting way to study the question of plasticity. There WERE decreases in activity in the brain areas involved in dominant arm movements AND increased in activity in area involved in non-dominant arm movements (as it took up the new slack). There were also losses in grip strength and dexterity in the dominant arm but NO increases in these functions in the non-dominant arm following cast removal and dominant arm function losses were fully recovered fairly shortly after cast removal. What was unexpected were the appearance of occasional disuse pulses or general bursts or waves of neural activity in the dominant arm brain regions while the arm was casted. This is a new aspect of plasticity amounting to “brain exercise” to keep related neurons active and available once limb mobility was returned. We have a LOT more to learn about neural plasticity.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. If we lose a limb or simple restrict the use of one that we still have how are the brain regions associated with that limb affected?
  2. What is the phantom limb phenomenon?
  3. What sorts of things would be helpful and interesting to look further into in relation to neural plasticity?

References (Read Further):

Marek, S., Tervo-Clemmens, B., Calabro, F. J., Montez, D. F., Kay, B. P., Hatoum, A. S., … & Dosenbach, N. U. (2022). Reproducible brain-wide association studies require thousands of individuals. Nature, 603(7902), 654-660. Link

Newbold, D. J., Laumann, T. O., Hoyt, C. R., Hampton, J. M., Montez, D. F., Raut, R. V., … & Dosenbach, N. U. (2020). Plasticity and spontaneous activity pulses in disused human brain circuits. Neuron, 107(3), 580-589. Link

Radley, J. J., & Morrison, J. H. (2005). Repeated stress and structural plasticity in the brain. Ageing research reviews, 4(2), 271-287. Link

Anderson, V., Spencer-Smith, M., & Wood, A. (2011). Do children really recover better? Neurobehavioural plasticity after early brain insult. Brain, 134(8), 2197-2221. Link

Johansen-Berg, H. (2007). Structural plasticity: rewiring the brain. Current Biology, 17(4), R141-R144. Link

Kim, P. (2016). Human maternal brain plasticity: adaptation to parenting. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2016(153), 47-58. Link

Ballantyne, A. O., Spilkin, A. M., Hesselink, J., & Trauner, D. A. (2008). Plasticity in the developing brain: intellectual, language and academic functions in children with ischaemic perinatal stroke. Brain, 131(11), 2975-2985. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Health Psychology, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Physical Changes In Aging, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: You have heard, I hope, of the supposed power of providing random acts of kindness to others, even strangers, haven’t you? However, have thought much about why that might be a good thin g to do? We may have heard from parents, teachers and others that it is a good thing to be kind or nice to others but beyond making you feel like a good person who is making the world around them a little bit better (not such a small thing really) what do you actually know about the possible impact of a small kindness on its recipient? Sounds like a research question, right? So hypothesize about this. When one person does a small kindness for another (a stranger) how would the givers and recipient’s ratings of how “big” a kindness it was (on a 1-to-10-point scale) compare? Once you have your prediction in order read the article linked below that describes quite a few experiments looking at aspects of this very question to see what the researchers found.

Source: The Unexpected Power of Random Acts of Kindness, Catherine Pearson, The New York Times.

Date: September 2, 2022

Image by willian_2000 from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/well/family/random-acts-of-kindness.html

So, across the board, recipients of small, random, unexpected acts of kindness consistently rated the kindness as great that did the givers AND rated their post receipt level of happiness higher than did the givers after they provided the kindness. As one of the researchers suggested, perhaps we should stop overthinking the cost of providing random acts of kindness and underestimating the positive impacts of those acts and just get into the habit of doing more of them. The research suggests little downside and powerful possible social upside, so get to it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you engaged in small random acts of kindness? Why or why not?
  2. How do random acts of kindness affect the giver and the recipient? How do those affects compare?
  3. How might the positive impact of small random acts of kindness be promoted, other than just telling people to be nice an kind (or nicer and kinder)?

References (Read Further):

Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2022). A little good goes an unexpectedly long way: Underestimating the positive impact of kindness on recipients. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Link

Raposa, E. B., Laws, H. B., & Ansell, E. B. (2016). Prosocial behavior mitigates the negative effects of stress in everyday life. Clinical Psychological Science, 4(4), 691-698. Link

Liu, P. J., Rim, S., Min, L., & Min, K. E. (2022). The surprise of reaching out: Appreciated more than we think. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Link

Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2022). Positive psychology techniques–random acts of kindness and consistent acts of kindness and empathy. Coaching Practiced, 465-468. Link

Bellotti, V., Carroll, J. M., & Han, K. (2013, May). Random acts of kindness: The intelligent and context-aware future of reciprocal altruism and community collaboration. In 2013 International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS) (pp. 1-12). IEEE. Link

Roldan, A. E., & Pastrana, N. B. (2022). Doing Act Of Kindness To Enhance Subjective Happiness: Correlates Of Academic Success. International Journal of Educational Research & Social Sciences, 3(2), 976-981. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Language-Thought, Motivation-Emotion, Research Methods, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: You have heard, I hope, of the supposed power of providing random acts of kindness to others, even strangers, haven’t you? However, have thought much about why that might be a good thin g to do? We may have heard from parents, teachers and others that it is a good thing to be kind or nice to others but beyond making you feel like a good person who is making the world around them a little bit better (not such a small thing really) what do you actually know about the possible impact of a small kindness on its recipient? Sounds like a research question, right? So hypothesize about this. When one person does a small kindness for another (a stranger) how would the givers and recipient’s ratings of how “big” a kindness it was (on a 1-to-10-point scale) compare? Once you have your prediction in order read the article linked below that describes quite a few experiments looking at aspects of this very question to see what the researchers found.

Source: The Unexpected Power of Random Acts of Kindness, Catherine Pearson, The New York Times.

Date: September 2, 2022

Image by willian_2000 from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/well/family/random-acts-of-kindness.html

So, across the board, recipients of small, random, unexpected acts of kindness consistently rated the kindness as great that did the givers AND rated their post receipt level of happiness higher than did the givers after they provided the kindness. As one of the researchers suggested, perhaps we should stop overthinking the cost of providing random acts of kindness and underestimating the positive impacts of those acts and just get into the habit of doing more of them. The research suggests little downside and powerful possible social upside, so get to it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you engaged in small random acts of kindness? Why or why not?
  2. How do random acts of kindness affect the giver and the recipient? How do those affects compare?
  3. How might the positive impact of small random acts of kindness be promoted, other than just telling people to be nice an kind (or nicer and kinder)?

References (Read Further):

Kumar, A., & Epley, N. (2022). A little good goes an unexpectedly long way: Underestimating the positive impact of kindness on recipients. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Link

Raposa, E. B., Laws, H. B., & Ansell, E. B. (2016). Prosocial behavior mitigates the negative effects of stress in everyday life. Clinical Psychological Science, 4(4), 691-698. Link

Liu, P. J., Rim, S., Min, L., & Min, K. E. (2022). The surprise of reaching out: Appreciated more than we think. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Link

Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2022). Positive psychology techniques–random acts of kindness and consistent acts of kindness and empathy. Coaching Practiced, 465-468. Link

Bellotti, V., Carroll, J. M., & Han, K. (2013, May). Random acts of kindness: The intelligent and context-aware future of reciprocal altruism and community collaboration. In 2013 International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS) (pp. 1-12). IEEE. Link

Roldan, A. E., & Pastrana, N. B. (2022). Doing Act Of Kindness To Enhance Subjective Happiness: Correlates Of Academic Success. International Journal of Educational Research & Social Sciences, 3(2), 976-981. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Consciousness, Early Social and Emotional development, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: “Are we nearly there yet?” Even if you have not (yet) heard that question being asked (over and over and over) in a small voice from the backseat of your family car you have heard it used as a sort of social meme tossed out in social situations that are or seem to be tedious and have no end in sight. If you were theorizing and hypothesizing about why children almost universally involved the line while being taken on long trip what would you have to say or suggest? Also, while it is classically a child’s line there ARE situations and places where adults have the same sorts of feelings. When do those adult situations arise? What do they have in common with the experience of the young, bored, wanting be arrive backseat child? Once you hve your hypotheses in order give the linked article a read to see what it suggests.

Source: ‘Are we nearly there yet’: why long car journeys are so excruciating for your kids, Ruth Ogden, The Conversation.

Date: August 26, 2022

Image by Tom Staziker  from Pixabay

Article Link: https://theconversation.com/are-we-nearly-there-yet-why-long-car-journeys-are-so-excruciating-for-your-kids-189347

The idea that time passes differently (and more slowly) for children is perhaps not a huge surprise, and clearly makes sense. The idea that the link between that child experience and some adult experiences in temporal uncertainty made a lot off sense to me, though I did not see it coming. Lack of control and other “watched pots” in life mess rather significantly with our experience of the passage of time (or temporal sense). As with driving on long trips with children, we can manage such situations more effectively with planning (and on-board movies!).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What factors contribute to children constantly asking “are we nearly there yet” on long driving trips?
  2. What sorts of situations lead adults to think if not say versions of “are we nearly there yet”?
  3. What advice might the research discussed in the article offer to families planning road trip and to adults waiting for luggage or caught in a traffic jam or waiting for a pot to boil?

References (Read Further):

Hancock, P. A. (2010). The effect of age and sex on the perception of time in life. The American Journal of Psychology, 123(1), 1-13. Link

Friedman, W. J., & Janssen, S. M. (2010). Aging and the speed of time. Acta Psychologica, 134(2), 130-141. Link

Wearden, J. H. (2005). The wrong tree: Time perception and time experience in the elderly. Measuring the mind: Speed, age, and control, 137-158. Link

Zakay, D. (2015). The temporal-relevance temporal-uncertainty model of prospective duration judgment. Consciousness and cognition, 38, 182-190. Abstract Link

Zakay, D. (2015). The temporal-relevance temporal-uncertainty model of prospective duration judgment. Consciousness and cognition, 38, 182-190. Abstract Link

Block, R. A., & Gruber, R. P. (2014). Time perception, attention, and memory: a selective review. Acta psychologica, 149, 129-133. Link

Ogden, R. S., Henderson, J., McGlone, F., & Richter, M. (2019). Time distortion under threat: Sympathetic arousal predicts time distortion only in the context of negative, highly arousing stimuli. PloS one, 14(5), e0216704. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, mental illness, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Research Methods, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: It is not a big secret so you have likely heard or read references to findings that antidepressant medications do not work for somewhere around 30% of those to whom they are prescribed and that most of those for whom they DO work will find at some point that they no longer work, and a different anti-depressant must be found. Typical antidepressant work by adjusting the mount of serotonin active in our mood management brain areas but saying that depression is due to low levels of serotonin is not sufficient as serotonin levels are adjusted almost immediately following the beginning of an antidepressant treatment regime while it takes days or even a week or longer before positive changes can be felt and seen in the experienced depressive symptoms. Now, What if it were possible to take a medication only two or three times to experience a significant reduction or perhaps even a complete lifting of your depressive symptoms? Now add to your thoughts on this the fact that the drug in question is psychedelic – in the form of magic mushrooms. Oh and one more thing – might it be possible to produce a magic mushroom related medication that has the desired two or three dose impact on depression but without the psychedelic “trip”? Lots to thinks about! Have a read through the linked article which walks through these questions and as you do pay particular attention to the science that is being done and that needs to be done before we can make properly informed regulatory and ethical decisions about magic mushrooms and depression.

Source: Taking the Magic Out of Magic Mushrooms, Dana G. Smith, The New York Times

Date: July 17, 2022

Image by sergewitokmakov from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/15/opinion/hallucinations-psychedelics-depression.html

So, are magic mushrooms on your maybe list as a depression treatment? I think one of the most difficult questions concerns the importance of the individual subjective experiences associated with a magic mushroom “trip” or treatment. Certainly it seems to make sense that such large impacts on depression might require a rather impactful subjective experience. This opens up the fascinating question of whether plasticity, as it is discussed in the article, can or does involve impactful psychological experiences or whether the plasticity dial in targeted brain regions could simply be tweaked up by non-psychedelic magic mushroom extracted molecules. The implications for how we think about plasticity are very interesting. Infancy and childhood are times when we humans experience massively higher levels of brain plasticity compared to adulthood. Does it seem intriguing to refer to childhood as a mind-blowing experience? Why not?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the shortcomings associated with standard drug treatment for depression?
  2. What have studies and individual reports of the use of magic mushrooms to treat depression been suggesting?
  3. What do you make of the debates about whether a non-psychedelic magic mushroom based depression treatment will have the same impact of a full magic mushroom experience and what of the role of the subjective “trip” expereince?

References (Read Further):

Agin-Liebes, G. I., Malone, T., Yalch, M. M., Mennenga, S. E., Ponté, K. L., Guss, J., … & Ross, S. (2020). Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for psychiatric and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 34(2), 155-166. Link

Carhart-Harris, R., Giribaldi, B., Watts, R., Baker-Jones, M., Murphy-Beiner, A., Murphy, R., … & Nutt, D. J. (2021). Trial of psilocybin versus escitalopram for depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(15), 1402-1411. Link

Mitchell, J. M., Bogenschutz, M., Lilienstein, A., Harrison, C., Kleiman, S., Parker-Guilbert, K., … & Doblin, R. (2021). MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study. Nature Medicine, 27(6), 1025-1033. Link

Olson, D. E. (2020). The subjective effects of psychedelics may not be necessary for their enduring therapeutic effects. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, 4(2), 563-567. Link

Cameron, L. P., Tombari, R. J., Lu, J., Pell, A. J., Hurley, Z. Q., Ehinger, Y., … & Olson, D. E. (2021). A non-hallucinogenic psychedelic analogue with therapeutic potential. Nature, 589(7842), 474-479. Link

Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268-283. Link

Roseman, L., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2018). Quality of acute psychedelic experience predicts therapeutic efficacy of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, 974. Link

Davis, A. K., Barrett, F. S., May, D. G., Cosimano, M. P., Sepeda, N. D., Johnson, M. W., … & Griffiths, R. R. (2021). Effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy on major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry, 78(5), 481-489. Link

Hillhouse, T. M., & Porter, J. H. (2015). A brief history of the development of antidepressant drugs: from monoamines to glutamate. Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 23(1), 1. Link

Davidson, R. J., & Lutz, A. (2008). Buddha’s brain: Neuroplasticity and meditation [in the spotlight]. IEEE signal processing magazine, 25(1), 176-174. Link

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Physiology, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: The standard introductory psychology account of how our systems maintains consistent levels of food intake used to involve a couple of components. The first involves close areas within the hypothalamus which seem to be implicated in appetite regulation. The most dramatic data involved rats who had one or the other of these areas surgically cut with the result being either hyperphagic (eating all the time) or hypophagic (never seem hungry) rats. The other levels of explanation include systemic factors such as cyclical calorie reduction due to dieting or famine leading to big increases in efficiency in processing what food is eaten (and thus no or little weight loss in repeated dieting efforts). The most recent factor suggested that the brain, by tracking levels of various hormones circulating in the blood, monitors the general condition of our fat cells which suggested that individual fat cells could “complain” about a lack of nutritive input. Recent research takes this a big step further suggesting that our brains are not just passively monitoring the condition of our fat cells but are actively engaged in surveying and communicating with our fat cells as part of our sensory system activity. Have a read through the linked article that talks about this new work and think a bit about what intervention opportunities might arise from it.

Source: Scientists eavesdrop on communication between fat and brain, ScienceDaily, Science News.

Date: August 31, 2022

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220831113600.htm

So, while the information about how such things work was a bit thin in the linked article, the suggestion was that the rate of fat burning in the body may be regulated by the sport of homeostatic (oppositional) system that is used to regulate things like body temperature or thirst. Perhaps if the rate of fat burning could be slightly increased weight reduction might follow (or being warmer in winter). Maybe too simple an application? Yes, maybe, certainly more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do our body’s regulate out levels of food intake?
  2. What does the linked article tell us that is new?
  3. What sorts of the possible applications (interventions) might arise from this work and what else would we need to know (research) before trying them out?

References (Read Further):

Yu Wang, Verina H. Leung, Yunxiao Zhang, Victoria S. Nudell, Meaghan Loud, M. Rocio Servin-Vences, Dong Yang, Kristina Wang, Maria Dolores Moya-Garzon, Veronica L. Li, Jonathan Z. Long, Ardem Patapoutian, Li Ye. (2022) The role of somatosensory innervation of adipose tissues. Nature. Link

Cypess, A. M., & Kahn, C. R. (2010). Brown fat as a therapy for obesity and diabetes. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity, 17(2), 143. Link

Contreras, C., Gonzalez, F., Fernø, J., Diéguez, C., Rahmouni, K., Nogueiras, R., & López, M. (2015). The brain and brown fat. Annals of medicine, 47(2), 150-168. Link

Reddy, N. L., Tan, B. K., Barber, T. M., & Randeva, H. S. (2014). Brown adipose tissue: endocrine determinants of function and therapeutic manipulation as a novel treatment strategy for obesity. BMC obesity, 1(1), 1-12. Link

Kim, S. H., & Plutzky, J. (2016). Brown fat and browning for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders. Diabetes & metabolism journal, 40(1), 12-21. Link

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Clinical Psychology, Depression, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Psychological Intervention, Stress, Stress: Coping Reducing, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Perhaps you have heard about the alarming increases that are being observed in rates of self-harming behavior and suicidal thoughts and actions among teenagers. These stats are often discussed in relation to the question of whether they might be linked to recent generational jumps in use of social media and the attendant shifts in the nature and extent of social contact (that I have previously posted about). Research into those questions is ongoing but a more important research question is to ask, “for those teens, what helps, what works?” One of the fundamental ethical commitments of clinical psychology and psychiatry is to only use treatment approached tools and techniques that have been shown to be effective not at the individual level but in well designed and large research projects. To have a look not just at the `what works` question but at how psychological researchers take up such questions have a rad through the article linked below. As you go though the article pay particular attention to the research/practice links and discussions.

Source: ‘The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens, Matt Richtel, The New York Times.

Date: August 27, 2022

Image by Wokandapix at Pixabay.com

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/27/health/dbt-teens-suicide.html

Clearly the simple answer to the question of what works is Dialectical Behavior Therapy as demonstrated by the several large well designed, peer reviewed studies noted in the article (see links to some of that work below if you would like a closer look). The bigger picture answer, however, is more complicated and involves consideration of the cost of such treatment and of the number of levels it involves (Individual, group, and parent therapy/instruction and related supports). What is available will vary by jurisdiction (province or state). Many jurisdictions provide insurance coverage if the therapy is provided by medical professionals (Psychiatrists) or by others such as Psychologists or social workers in hospitals or other funded health settings. There are a few sample links below but you will need to research your local resources to know what is available in your area.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why are issues of self-harm or suicide particularly challenging when they involve teenagers?
  2. What are some of the developmental issues that contribute to a full answer to the previous question?
  3. What works by way of treatment and how do we know?

References (Read Further):

University of Washington (2022) Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Link

Brown, G. K., Ten Have, T., Henriques, G. R., Xie, S. X., Hollander, J. E., & Beck, A. T. (2005). Cognitive therapy for the prevention of suicide attempts: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 294(5), 563-570. Link

Iyengar, U., Snowden, N., Asarnow, J. R., Moran, P., Tranah, T., & Ougrin, D. (2018). A further look at therapeutic interventions for suicide attempts and self-harm in adolescents: an updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 583. Link

Berk, M. S., Starace, N. K., Black, V. P., & Avina, C. (2020). Implementation of dialectical behavior therapy with suicidal and self-harming adolescents in a community clinic. Archives of suicide research, 24(1), 64-81. Link

Tebbett-Mock, A. A., McGee, M., & Saito, E. (2021). Efficacy and sustainability of dialectical behaviour therapy for inpatient adolescents: a follow-up study. General Psychiatry, 34(4). Link

University Health Network (2022) A guide to finding dialectical behaviour therapy (Ontario). Link

eMentalHealth.ca (2022) Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Link

 

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cultural Variation, Development of the Self, Early Social and Emotional development, Families and Peers, Human Development, Learning, Legal Ethical Issues, The Self.

Description: Ok, here is a challenging question. Imagine you are a parent, and your child is 4 years old, and you need some butter for a recipe you are working on for a large family dinner, but you have several things in the oven and on the stove and you cannot leave (Covid inspired delivery will take too long). There is a corner store 2 blocks from your house that your child is very familiar with because you walk with them to the store every Friday for “treat day” (where your child gets to pick a small amount of candy from the offerings at the store. You have a passing thought that your 4-year-old could be given some money and a note saying, “a pound of butter please” and could walk to the store and get you the butter you need…. What are your thoughts? Wow, I just had a crazy daydream? Or I better get back on my meds, that is a crazy thought? They are not old enough for that (and if you think that how old WOULD they have to be before you would send them on the butter errand)? How about “that’s against the law isn’t it?” Well, let me date myself rather severely. When I was in grade 1 I would walk from my family home 4 blocks to my school, and I would also walk home for lunch everyday too. Sometimes I would walk with friends but really only if we happened to run into each other along he way. I walked past a corner store that was across the street from the school (which had crossing guards who were grade 6 and 7 students, not adults). My mother would often send me to the store with a note and money to get something she needed for a meal preparation or baking task. I, and no one else, thought my life was in jeopardy when I did those things. Was my Mom crazy? No. That was how we (and most other families) did things back then. Yes, I know, maybe if I rode my pet dinosaur to school I would have been better off. Would you do this today? Well before you snort or laugh dismissively consider that there is a TV show made in Japan called Old Enough! That follows young children doing just those sorts of errands (check them out on YouTube and maybe on Netflix). Oh, and as crazy as this might sound to you consider the possibility that having young children do things like this might actually be good for them. Dubious? Aghast? Well, have a read through the article linked below and consider one or two of the articles in the Further Reading list and see if you budge a bit from your position in this area.

Source: A 4-year-old can run errands alone … and not just on reality TV, Maichaeleen Doucleff, Goats and Soda, Stories of Life in a Changing World.

Date: April 22, 2022

Image by langll from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/04/20/1093153651/a-4-year-old-can-run-errands-alone-and-not-just-on-reality-tv?utm_source=pocket-newtab

OK as crazy as the premise of a young child walking alone to and from a local store (or a relative’s hose, a park or a neighbor’s or a friend’s house) there IS data that indicates that many of our neighbourhood have become safe and safer over the past 25 years. And what about the matter of being able to practice autonomy? Growth in the area of autonomy is a vital part of positive development. In Erikson’s psychol social model, it is the second thing to start to emerge as a need or developmental issue at around 2 years of age, proceeded only by trust, which is at the core of the development of attachment relationships in the first 2 years of life. So, while checking local laws and regulations would be a good idea maybe this idea of encouraging autonomy is not as crazy as it may have seemed when I first mentioned it above.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are your concerns about the idea of having a young child run such errands?
  2. What about being responsible to doing something helpful with an adult hand-holder be good for your children developmentally?
  3. What are some longer-term developmental and adjustment implications for today’s children and youth of their NOT having autonomy opportunities like the ones that I had as a child (not that I am perfect in any way)?

References (Read Further):

Ochs, E., & Izquierdo, C. (2009). Responsibility in childhood: Three developmental trajectories. Ethos, 37(4), 391-413. Link

Lancy, D. F. (2012). The chore curriculum. African Children at Work: Working and Learning in Growing Up., 23. Link

Frankenhuis, W. E., & Amir, D. (2021). What is the expected human childhood? Insights from evolutionary anthropology. Development and psychopathology, 1-25. Link

Vasquez, A. C., Patall, E. A., Fong, C. J., Corrigan, A. S., & Pine, L. (2016). Parent autonomy support, academic achievement, and psychosocial functioning: A meta-analysis of research. Educational Psychology Review, 28(3), 605-644. Link

Haidt, J., & Rodin, J. (1999). Control and efficacy as interdisciplinary bridges. Review of general psychology, 3(4), 317-337. Link

Schiffrin, H. H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K. A., Erchull, M. J., & Tashner, T. (2014). Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being. Journal of child and family studies, 23(3), 548-557. Link

Pimentel, D. (2016). Protecting the free-range kid: recalibrating parents’ rights and the best interest of the child. Cardozo L. Rev., 38, 1. Link

Free Range Kids Web Site