Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Learning, Memory, Neuroscience.

Description: What do you know about how memory works? You likely have a basic understanding of how information comes in through or senses (via a very short term sensory store), pauses in working memory (if we work on it) and perhaps eventually gets processed into long term memory. Does that take you bac to a basic Psychology course? You may also recall that the hippocampus seems to be particularly important as the area of the brain where short-term, working, memory contents are processed into long term memory. The well known case study of HM who had his hippocampus removed for medical reasons and who, after, could recall long term memories he had before surgery but who could not lay down any new long term memories most clearly showed that the hippocampus is critical to long term memory storage. Now, here is an important question. How are memories actually stored? How do we manage to keep the similarities and, sometimes, subtle differences in people, objects, or events we take in sorted out? And do we humans do this in similar or different ways than do animals? Answering this question requires that we go beyond talking generally about memory stores and get specific about how memories get stored at the level of neurons, because they are doing the storage work right? Now THAT is something you probably have not heard anything about. It is new to me and I teach Introductory Psychology. To begin to follow what the linked article has to say (and to even glimpse why it might be a huge deal), it will help if you have a definition of pattern separation in mind. Pattern separation involves amplifying the, sometimes subtle, differences between similar people, places, event, or things so they can be recalled later as distinct and not get mushed together as more of the same. How we do that (perhaps within the hippocampus or in an area called the dentate gyrus) has been considered an important part of how we can get down to understanding memory at the level of neurons or patterns of neuronal firing. Ok, now with that in mind I am not going to ask you to generate nay hypotheses, just hold onto your hat and read the article linked below.

Source: Human intelligence just got less mysterious, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: November 5, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201105113006.htm

OK, so, are you enthused about  the whole new way of looking at human memory as compared to animal memory and about the potential insights this view might provide use with regarding our ability to think in complex reflective ways? Well, I have to admit that I am still a bit foggy about the details of this new perspective, but I am very interested to see what comes of it. I will be looking for more work on the concept of pattern separation and on this new way to look at human memory that may not be built on pattern separation they way our animal models of memory currently are.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways that human thought might be seen as different than animal thought or information processing (look past our desire to attribute all sorts of deep thoughts to our pets)?
  2. What is pattern separation and why might it be an important part of memory?
  3. Now the tough question, what is the discussion within the linked article saying about pattern separation an human memory that might be very important?

References (Read Further):

Quiroga, Rodrigo Quian (2020) No Pattern Separation in the Human Hippocampus. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2020.09.012

Quiroga, R. Q. (2019). Plugging in to human memory: advantages, challenges, and insights from human single-neuron recordings. Cell, 179(5), 1015-1032. Link

Quiroga, R. Q. (2019). Neural representations across species. Science, 363(6434), 1388-1389.

Yassa, M. A., & Stark, C. E. (2011). Pattern separation in the hippocampus. Trends in neurosciences, 34(10), 515-525. Link

Rolls, E. (2013). The mechanisms for pattern completion and pattern separation in the hippocampus. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 7, 74. Link

Stark, S. M., Yassa, M. A., Lacy, J. W., & Stark, C. E. (2013). A task to assess behavioral pattern separation (BPS) in humans: Data from healthy aging and mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychologia, 51(12), 2442-2449. Link

Azab, M., Stark, S. M., & Stark, C. E. (2014). Contributions of human hippocampal subfields to spatial and temporal pattern separation. Hippocampus, 24(3), 293-302. Link

Engle, R. W. (2018). Working memory and executive attention: A revisit. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 190-193. Link

Ji, Y., Gamez, D., & Huyck, C. (2018, December). A brain-inspired cognitive system that mimics the dynamics of human thought. In International Conference on Innovative Techniques and Applications of Artificial Intelligence (pp. 50-62). Springer, Cham. Link

Rolls, E. T. (2018). The storage and recall of memories in the hippocampo-cortical system. Cell and tissue research, 373(3), 577-604. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Human Development, Motivation-Emotion, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Stress Biopsychosocial Factors Illness, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: As I write this we are right on top of our semi-annual exercise in time-shifting; we are “falling back” as we move off of daylight savings time and back to standard time, at least assuming you do not live in Saskatchewan or Russia or Morocco or any of the other places that stick with standard time year-round. You have likely heard of the health issues associated with the changes in time, especially the spring forward one, but here is a question. Assuming we decide to stick with one time which one should we pick? Think about it these ways. First, which would YOU pick if it was just up to you, and why? Second, which would science suggest we should pick and why? Once you have your answers and arguments in mind have a read through the article linked below for a light scratch of the options or dive into the Further Reading list below for more Psychological science on the subject.

Source: Daylight saving or standard time? Should we stick with one or the other? Joanne Laucius, Health, Ottawa Citizen.

Date: October 30, 2020

Photo Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Article Link: https://ottawacitizen.com/health/daylight-saving-or-standard-time-should-we-just-stick-with-one-or-the-other

So, did your answers to the questions posed fall out along the same lines as discussed in the article? It seems that individuals want permanent daylight savings time. I once got to play a full 18 holes of golf AFTER a later dinner in Whitehorse in June (though the mosquitoes were nasty).  Retailers want permanent daylight savings time as it stimulates consumer spending and children are often said to enjoy permanent daylight savings time as it gives them more after school outdoor play time. But, but, but…. What does the science say? Well, it says we evolved on solar time, our circadian rhythms are deeply linked to our sleep patterns and general health AND to morning light which calibrates and regulates us and as such daylight saving time has rolling and accumulating negative consequences. So, like some other decisions lately, do we listen to what we want that we think feels good or do we listen to science? Hmmm……

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which time would you pick if you got to pick one for us ALL to stay on all year and why?
  2. Now, be scientifically honest …. which time should we pick and why?
  3. Now the tough question…. How should we decide which time to pick or should we just wimp out and stay with things as they are, and why would/should we do that?

References (Read Further):

Flynn-Evans, Erin & Hilditch, Cassie (2020) Why we should let the sun set on Daylight Saving Time, Clocks in the Spotlight, Society for Research in Biological Rhythms. Link

Smith, A. C. (2016). Spring forward at your own risk: Daylight saving time and fatal vehicle crashes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 8(2), 65-91. Link

Poteser, M., & Moshammer, H. (2020). Daylight saving time transitions: impact on total mortality. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(5), 1611. Link

e Cruz, M. M., Miyazawa, M., Manfredini, R., Cardinali, D., Madrid, J. A., Reiter, R., … & Acuña-Castroviejo, D. (2019). Impact of Daylight Saving Time on circadian timing system: An expert statement. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 60, 1-3. Link

Tarquini, R., Carbone, A., Martinez, M., & Mazzoccoli, G. (2019). Daylight saving time and circadian rhythms in the neuro-endocrine-immune system: impact on cardiovascular health. Internal and emergency medicine, 14(1), 17-19. Link

Skeldon, A. C., & Dijk, D. J. (2019). School start times and daylight saving time confuse California lawmakers. Current Biology, 29(8), R278-R279. Link

Roenneberg, T., Winnebeck, E. C., & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Daylight Saving Time-A Battle Between Biological and Social Time. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 944. Link

Rishi, M. A., Ahmed, O., Barrantes Perez, J. H., Berneking, M., Dombrowsky, J., Flynn-Evans, E. E., … & Abbasi-Feinberg, F. (2020). Daylight saving time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 16(10), 1781-1784. Link

Zhang, H., Dahlén, T., Khan, A., Edgren, G., & Rzhetsky, A. (2020). Measurable health effects associated with the daylight saving time shift. PLOS Computational Biology, 16(6), e1007927. Link

Posted by & filed under Anxiety OC PTSD, Child Development, Consciousness, Cultural Variation, Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Human Development, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: As I write this it is October 31 and thus Halloween in a very different social space and time than previous All Hallows Eves. I am not going to try and make a case for how hard it will be for children to survive without their annua blast of cheap treats (they will be fine). I would like you to think about why it is that creepy crawly things like bugs, spiders and snakes are so, well, creepy. Those to decorate their yards for Halloween do not use versions of cute puppies or kittens. What is it about the creepy stuff that creeps us out? Think about that for a moment and then read the linked article that talk about some of the research into, likely at least some, of what your are already considering for your hypothesizing about this question.

Source: Have a Creepy, Crawly Halloween, Judy Mandell, At Home, The New York Times.

Date: October 31, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/well/mind/spiders-snakes-bugs-fear-disgust-psychology.html

At a deep visceral, likely genetic, level we find bugs and creepy crawlers creepy and disgusting. How was this laid down into our genes? Well, simply survival of the fittest is the usual argument. Imagine how long a person would last in an environment rife with poisonous snakes if they thought that snakes were cute and cuddly? Not long, right? Well, think of it this way, it is likely that anyone with those tendencies would be removed from the gene pool by the very things they find cute and cuddly before they are able to reproduce and pass those dodgy genes along. Likewise, bugs, worms, etc. tend to be found in places ripe with bacteria (damp, unclean) and so for the same reasons those that are reticent about or who find such things disgusting were more likely to survive and reproduce and, by extension, produce us. The fact we see evidence of this in the pupil dilation of young infants supports this nicely, they show it before they could have learned it so it must be wired in. It IS interesting that there is cultural variation in this. I visited a bug market in Shanghai a few years ago and saw that for some bugs (crickets most notably) many people were able to get past their fears and creepy feelings. I was amazed by the large numbers of people sitting near one stall or another opening screw-top tin after tin and probing something inside the tins with a piece of straw. I found out that each tin contained a small c ricket and they were testing its “character” looking for promising acquisitions to their cricket pet array. We are quite a species are we not?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is it that makes some things, like bugs, worms, spider, and snakes creepy?
  2. How are the feelings of disgust that many have with creepy things developed or learned?
  3. Some have suggested that insects may actually serve as a very good, sustainable source of protein (yes, we would eat them). Given this article what would you do to make it possible to effectively market insects as food?

References (Read Further):

Fears, R. A. S. T. (2018). Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Link

Hoehl, S., Hellmer, K., Johansson, M., & Gredebäck, G. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider…: Infants react with increased arousal to spiders and snakes. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1710. Link or Press Release

It is not fear of bugs, it is disgust. Link

Oaten, M., Stevenson, R. J., & Case, T. I. (2009). Disgust as a disease-avoidance mechanism. Psychological bulletin, 135(2), 303. Link

Prokop, P. (2016). Universal Human Fears. TK Shackelford, VAWeekes-Shackelford Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science Cham: Springer International Publishing. Link

Gerdes, A. B., Uhl, G., & Alpers, G. W. (2009). Spiders are special: fear and disgust evoked by pictures of arthropods. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(1), 66-73. Link

Muris, P., Merckelbach, H., de Jong, P. J., & Ollendick, T. H. (2002). The etiology of specific fears and phobias in children: a critique of the non-associative account. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40(2), 185-195. Link

Rottman, J. (2014). Evolution, development, and the emergence of disgust. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(2), 147470491401200209. Link

Rozin, P., & Haidt, J. (2013). The domains of disgust and their origins: Contrasting biological and cultural evolutionary accounts. Trends in cognitive sciences, 17(8), 367-368. Link

Curtis, V., De Barra, M., & Aunger, R. (2011). Disgust as an adaptive system for disease avoidance behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1563), 389-401. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Depression, Health and Prevention In Aging, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: If you have had an introductory Psychology course, and perhaps even if you have not yet,  you are likely aware of the challenges faced when researchers and clinicians want to introduce drugs in to specific brain regions or to influence specific neurotransmitter systems within the brain. Trying to increase the functional levels of a neurotransmitter, say serotonin, in a specific system within the brain, say the mood management system, could be tried by pumping a synthetic version of the neurotransmitter substance into body generally. Olive Sacks (as described in his book Awakenings and in the film by the same name where Sacks was played by Robin Williams) did that with L-dopa, a substance the acts like dopamine with patients infected with sleeping sickness (Encephalitis Lethargica) but the effect was temporary due to the system adapting to the new levels of dopamine-like substances and by the many systems within the brain the work with dopamine. The general, difficult to manage effects of drugs like LSD which mimic neurotransmitters and influence vast numbers of brain areas also reflect aspects of this challenge. Likewise, if the goal is to get a therapeutic substance, say a chemotherapy drug, into a very specific area of the brain then the challenge is to get the drug past the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) and into just the targeted brain area in sufficient quantity to have the desired therapeutic impact. Sure, one could inject it directly into the brain but that involves breaching the BBB and the skull and some parts of the brain to get to where the treatment is needed. What to do? Well, I will not ask you to guess as the possible solution was not something I would have come up and I suspect the same is true for you. So, have a look through the article linked below and perhaps at the abstracts of one or two of those in the Further Reading list below to become informed about this amazing emerging procedure.

Source: Fan, C. H., & Yeh, C. K. (2014). Microbubble-enhanced focused ultrasound-induced blood–brain barrier opening for local and transient drug delivery in central nervous system disease. Journal of Medical Ultrasound, 22(4), 183-193.

Date: October 23, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Article Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0929644114001635

So, it sounds like serios science fiction, right? Introduce a solution containing micro-bubbles and then using an MRI to help target your work you hit the bubbles with a tight ultrasound stream and make a small area of the BBB temporarily permeable allowing a therapeutic substance to get into a very specific area of the brain.  Developers suggest it could be useful in the delivery of treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and a range of brain cancers. Cool stuff!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why are disorders linked to very specific brain areas hard to treat even when we are pretty sure we have drugs that would help?
  2. How does the focused ultrasound procedure work in creating temporary BBB (blood-brain barrier) permeability?
  3. What other disorders or conditions might see increases in their treatability with this focused ultrasound procedure?

References (Read Further):

Allan C. (2007). Awakenings. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 334(7604), 1169. Link

Chen, K. T., Wei, K. C., & Liu, H. L. (2019). Theranostic strategy of focused ultrasound induced blood-brain barrier opening for CNS disease treatment. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 86. Link

Legon, W., Adams, S., Bansal, P., Patel, P. D., Hobbs, L., Ai, L., … & Gillick, B. T. (2020). A retrospective qualitative report of symptoms and safety from transcranial focused ultrasound for neuromodulation in humans. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-10. Link

Schlesinger, I., Sinai, A., & Zaaroor, M. (2017). MRI-guided focused ultrasound in Parkinson’s disease: a review. Parkinson’s Disease, 2017. Link

Miller, D. B., & O’Callaghan, J. P. (2017). New horizons for focused ultrasound (FUS)–therapeutic applications in neurodegenerative diseases. Metabolism, 69, S3-S7. Link

Ji, R., Smith, M., Niimi, Y., Karakatsani, M. E., Murillo, M. F., Jackson-Lewis, V., … & Konofagou, E. E. (2019). Focused ultrasound enhanced intranasal delivery of brain derived neurotrophic factor produces neurorestorative effects in a Parkinson’s disease mouse model. Scientific Reports, 9. Link

 

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: I hope you are washing your hands A LOT these days! In fact, might you say that you are washing your hands compulsively? That is not really an appropriate descriptor but here is something to think about. What effect do you think the appropriate jump in hand washing over the past 8 months and its associated concerns and fears about Covid infections has had on Psychologists’ and Psychiatrists’ ability to diagnose Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Add to that the fact that many client-Psychologist contacts thee days are being conducted using tele-health models and the question get even more complicated. Compulsive handwashing and associated fears of contamination ARE among a number of possible indicators of OCD. So, if you were a Clinical Psychologist, how would you sort out symptoms of OCD from signs a good health practice? Think about that for a moment and then read the article linked below that discusses this questions along with some relevant Psychological research.

Source: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Research Update, Candace Good, Own Your Present, Psychology Today.

Date: October 23, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/own-your-present/202010/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-research-update

So, you can see the challenge in treating a disorder like OCD when the treatment could involve leaving the house and not washing one’s hands “excessively”. The research into bio-(brain) markers of treatment efficacy is interesting as it could suggest ways to evaluate treatment progress without the complexities of client self-report (or at least with a way to calibrate the self-reports). I found the discussion of the research project looking at the effects of cannabis on symptom severity in OCD patients interesting as well. Cannabis has been seen to be quite effective in helping individuals with PTSD manage their symptoms and the research reported in the linked article shows another potential area of application, though there were concerns about the design of that study and the longevity of effects. As is usually the case, more research is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might the current Covid pandemic make diagnosis of OCD more challenging?
  2. How might the current Covid pandemic make the treatment of OCD more challenging?
  3. What do you think the next steps should be in relation to the possible efficacy of cannabis in the management of symptoms of OCD: give up or do more research and if the latter what sorts of designs should be used?

References (Read Further):

Sheu, J. C., McKay, D., & Storch, E. A. (2020). COVID-19 and OCD: Potential impact of exposure and response prevention therapy. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 102314. Link

Norman, L. J., Mannella, K. A., Yang, H., Angstadt, M., Abelson, J. L., Himle, J. A., … & Taylor, S. F. (2020). Treatment-Specific Associations Between Brain Activation and Symptom Reduction in OCD Following CBT: A Randomized fMRI Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry, appi-ajp.

Mauzay, D., LaFrance, E. M., & Cuttler, C. (2020). Acute Effects of Cannabis on Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders.

Rangaprakash, D., Tadayonnejad, R., Deshpande, G., O’Neill, J., & Feusner, J. D. (2020). FMRI hemodynamic response function (HRF) as a novel marker of brain function: applications for understanding obsessive-compulsive disorder pathology and treatment response. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 1-19. Link

Szejko, N., Fremer, C., & Müller-Vahl, K. R. (2020). Cannabis Improves Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—Case Report and Review of the Literature. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 681. Link

LaFrance, E. M., Glodosky, N. C., Bonn-Miller, M., & Cuttler, C. (2020). Short and long-term effects of cannabis on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of affective disorders. Link

Lake, S., Kerr, T., Buxton, J., Walsh, Z., Marshall, B. D., Wood, E., & Milloy, M. J. (2020). Does cannabis use modify the effect of post-traumatic stress disorder on severe depression and suicidal ideation? Evidence from a population-based cross-sectional study of Canadians. Journal of psychopharmacology, 34(2), 181-188. Link

Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, General Psychology, Group Processes, Intergroup Relations, Motivation-Emotion, Physical Illness, Physiology, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: You are wearing a mask when you need to right? Its has become clear that mask wearing is perhaps the most important thing we can do to limit exposure to Covid-19 until a vaccine become readily available. What is also clear is that there are many factors involved in determining when people feel more or less deeply inclined to wear masks and otherwise social distance. For example, how do YOU define your bubble? Wo do you feel more comfortable around? Who or what sorts of people do you feel less comfortable (Covid-safe) around? Research into what has been called out Behavioral-Immune System looks at the ways in which we detect and avoid signs of infectious disease. What sorts of factors are involved? Well, think of the automatic feeling of disgust that arises when you encounter the odor of bodily wastes in unexpected locations. Avoiding such wastes has survival value as they can contain pathogens. Now that you have a feel for what sorts of things the Behavioral-Immune System might include, take a moment and see what sort of list of additional core factors or mitigating factors might be at play and then have a look at the article linked below for an overview and a 3 study look at aspects of the Behavioral-Immune System that may be at play in relation to our actions around the Covid pandemic.

Source: Tybur, J. M., Lieberman, D., Fan, L., Kupfer, T. R., & de Vries, R. E. (2020). Behavioral Immune Trade-Offs: Interpersonal Value Relaxes Social Pathogen Avoidance. Psychological Science, 0956797620960011.

Date: October 25, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Article Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797620960011

As the researchers state, the balance between pathogen avoidance and social acceptance/connection is a critical one. We are, after all, a social species which means that completely avoiding everyone is not an option. Our social connections have ranges of interpersonal value for us. Obviously, family is close, and we use different “rules” with family. However, outside of the family the behavioral-immune factors are more complicated. We need friends, we need social contacts, sometimes with people we do not know well, and we make judgments about safety in such situations based on perceived trustworthiness.

In terms of research process, did you notice how the studies described in the linked article were designed and run using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? Mechanical Turk creates samples for researchers that are demographically broad and potentially more representative of the general population that the past typical samples of undergraduate students in many Social Psychology studies. That means that the research has more generalizability.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is our Behavioral-Immune System and how are we using it these days?
  2. What are some implications of the Behavioral-Immune System for how we engage in public health messaging during the Covid pandemic?
  3. How do your routine social behaviors these days map into the Behavioral-Immune System and are there aspects of your social behavior you are thinking about different or more closely now?

References (Read Further):

Schaller, M., & Park, J. H. (2011). The behavioral immune system (and why it matters). Current directions in psychological science, 20(2), 99-103. Link

Schaller, M. (2015). The behavioral immune system. The handbook of evolutionary psychology, 1-19. Link

Terrizzi Jr, J. A., Shook, N. J., & McDaniel, M. A. (2013). The behavioral immune system and social conservatism: A meta-analysis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 34(2), 99-108. Link

Ackerman, J. M., Hill, S. E., & Murray, D. R. (2018). The behavioral immune system: Current concerns and future directions. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 12(2), e12371. Link

van Leeuwen, F., & Petersen, M. B. (2018). The behavioral immune system is designed to avoid infected individuals, not outgroups. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39(2), 226-234. Link

Makhanova, A., & Shepherd, M. A. (2020). Behavioral immune system linked to responses to the threat of COVID-19. Personality and Individual Differences, 167, 110221. Link

YANG, Y., ZHU, H. J., ZHOU, W., ZHANG, M. Y., XIE, Y. P., BAO, H. W. S., … & CAI, H. J. The behavioral immune system: A multi-level reconsideration. Advances in Psychological Science, 28(11), 1865. Link

Troisi, A. (2020). Fear of COVID-19: Insights from evolutionary behavioral science. Link

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Cultural Variation, Higher-Order Cognitive Functions in Aging, Human Development, Indigenous Psychology.

Description: Do you know anyone that you would say is wise? If not think about a real person or a character in a book or film that you know about that you would say is wise. What is it about them that leads you to say they are wise? What is wisdom and what does it involve? Is it different from smart? From stable? How is wisdom related to age? If it IS related to age, how is it related to age? Indigenous people revere “Elders” and yet, while Elders are typically elderly not all indigenous elderly are viewed as Elders. So, here is the challenge. Think about the concept of wisdom as you understand it, or at least as you use it when thinking of or referring to others even if you do not have a concise definition. Mentally, or on paper, sketch out the conceptual cloud of attributes that seem to you to define wisdom. After you have done that, think about how you might test or validate your “wisdom model.” How would you identify and sort out the conceptual components of your concept of wisdom? Once you have your model and methodology in mind read the article linked below to see what some researchers in the area of wisdom have to say.

Source: Is Spirituality a Component of Wisdom? Neuroscience News.

Date: October 22, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Article Link: https://neurosciencenews.com/wisdom-spirituality-psychology-17204/

So, was spirituality a part of your wisdom model? The concepts that they mention at the outset of the article; prosocial behaviors, emotional regulation, self-reflection, acceptance of divergent perspectives, and social decisiveness make sense and I bet you had versions of most of them in your model. But, spirituality? Well, think about what spiritualty, not necessarily formal religion, involves. How about saying spirituality involves being thoughtfully connected to those around you, to family, friends, community and fellow human beings. Does that definition bring it closer to the territory you have marked out in your wisdom theory? So now that you have the start of an articulated theory of wisdom the next step is to draw it out developmentally. Where does wisdom come from and how would you advise people who are of the view that getting wiser might be good for them and those around them. Goodness know we could use MORE wisdom around and among us these days so keep working on your theory!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is wisdom?
  2. How is wisdom different from intelligence?
  3. How might we nurture wisdom? Is it an individual process or acquisition or does it involve more of a group or community focus?

References (Read Further):

Jeste, D. V., Thomas, M. L., Liu, J., Daly, R. E., Tu, X. M., Treichler, E. B., … & Lee, E. E. (2020). Is Spirituality a Component of Wisdom? Study of 1,786 Adults Using Expanded San Diego Wisdom Scale (Jeste-Thomas Wisdom Index). Journal of Psychiatric Research. Link

Grossmann, I. (2017). Wisdom in context. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(2), 233-257. Link

Grossmann, I., & Kung, F. (2020). Wisdom across cultures. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. Link

Grossmann, I. (2017). Wisdom and how to cultivate it. European Psychologist. Link

Thomas, M. L., Bangen, K. J., Palmer, B. W., Martin, A. S., Avanzino, J. A., Depp, C. A., … & Jeste, D. V. (2019). A new scale for assessing wisdom based on common domains and a neurobiological model: The San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE). Journal of psychiatric research, 108, 40-47. Link

Zacher, H., & Staudinger, U. M. (2018). Wisdom and well-being. Handbook of Well-Being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers. Link

Koster, J., Bruno, O., & Burns, J. L. (2016). Wisdom of the elders? Ethnobiological knowledge across the lifespan. Current Anthropology, 57(1), 113-121. Link

Borunda, R., & Murray, A. (2019). The wisdom of and science behind indigenous cultural practices. Genealogy, 3(1), 6. Link

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Health Psychology, Human Development, Intelligence, Language-Thought, Research Methods, Research Methods in ChD, Stress Coping - Health, Stress: Coping Reducing.

Description: Imagine you volunteer for a research study. As part of the study you are shown a pair of pictures (two men or two women) and you are asked to pick the one that is the most attractive. After you make your choice you are handed the picture you chose and asked to explain why you chose that picture, or that person, as the more attractive one. Would you be able to provide an explanation? If you are thinking, “sure, yes, of course I could do that” you are not alone, most people have no difficulty providing and explanation for their choices. But what if, after you had provided your explanation, the experimenter explained that they had used some sleight of hand (magician) skills they possess and actually handed you the picture of the person you did NOT select as the most attractive? Sure, you think you would have noticed, but almost nobody does notice in such situations. So here are two questions to puzzle and hypothesize about form an information processing perspective: First, how well, if at all, do you (we) know how we make decisions about things like attractiveness? And Second, why are we blind to changes like the photo swap described above? Once you have your thoughts and hypotheses in place have a read through the article linked below to see what Psychology research suggests.

Source: Choice Blindness: Do you know yourself as well as you think? David Edmonds, BBC World Service.

Date: October 3, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54349897

So, did you see the shift from attractiveness rating to political choices and issues related to political polarization coming? It looks like we may not be particularly clear about how we make all kinds of decisions, even ones that we end up voting on. On one hand this suggests we should try and be a bit more consciously analytic about the importance choices we make. On another hand, we perhaps need to think harder about the explosion of social media and “fake news” that has been discussed in the real and the fake news lately as we are likely open to much more influence in terms of our choices, preferences and votes than we realized.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is change blindness?
  2. Why might we not be particularly aware of how we make general judgements on things like attractiveness?
  3. Based on this research, what sorts of things might you do differently in future and/or what sorts of research do you think we needs to do next?

References (Read Further):

Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Sikström, S. (2008). From change blindness to choice blindness. Psychologia, 51(2), 142-155. Link

Hall, L., & Johansson, P. (2008). Using choice blindness to study decision making and introspection. Cognition–A smorgasbord, ed. P. Gärdenfors & A. Wallin, 267-83. Link

Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Strandberg, T. (2012). Lifting the veil of morality: Choice blindness and attitude reversals on a self-transforming survey. PloS one, 7(9), e45457. Link

Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Chater, N. (2012). Preference change through choice. In Neuroscience of preference and choice (pp. 121-141). Academic Press. Link

Strandberg, T., Sivén, D., Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Pärnamets, P. (2018). False beliefs and confabulation can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(9), 1382. Link

Strandberg, T., Olson, J. A., Hall, L., Woods, A., & Johansson, P. (2020). Depolarizing American voters: Democrats and Republicans are equally susceptible to false attitude feedback. Plos one, 15(2), e0226799. Link

Sivén, D., Strandberg, T., Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Pärnamets, P. (2016). Lasting Political Attitude Change Induced by False Feedback About Own Survey Responses. In CogSci. Link

Trouche, E., Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Mercier, H. (2016). The selective laziness of reasoning. Cognitive Science, 40(8), 2122-2136. Link

Smith, T. J., & Martin-Portugues Santacreu, J. Y. (2017). Match-action: The role of motion and audio in creating global change blindness in film. Media Psychology, 20(2), 317-348. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Consciousness, Language-Thought, Learning, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: Imagine you volunteer for a research study. As part of the study you are shown a pair of pictures (two men or two women) and you are asked to pick the one that is the most attractive. After you make your choice you are handed the picture you chose and asked to explain why you chose that picture, or that person, as the more attractive one. Would you be able to provide an explanation? If you are thinking, “sure, yes, of course I could do that” you are not alone, most people have no difficulty providing and explanation for their choices. But what if, after you had provided your explanation, the experimenter explained that they had used some sleight of hand (magician) skills they possess and actually handed you the picture of the person you did NOT select as the most attractive? Sure, you think you would have noticed, but almost nobody does notice in such situations. So here are two questions to puzzle and hypothesize about form an information processing perspective: First, how well, if at all, do you (we) know how we make decisions about things like attractiveness? And Second, why are we blind to changes like the photo swap described above? Once you have your thoughts and hypotheses in place have a read through the article linked below to see what Psychology research suggests.

Source: Choice Blindness: Do you know yourself as well as you think? David Edmonds, BBC World Service.

Date: October 3, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54349897

So, did you see the shift from attractiveness rating to political choices and issues related to political polarization coming? It looks like we may not be particularly clear about how we make all kinds of decisions, even ones that we end up voting on. On one hand this suggests we should try and be a bit more consciously analytic about the importance choices we make. On another hand, we perhaps need to think harder about the explosion of social media and “fake news” that has been discussed in the real and the fake news lately as we are likely open to much more influence in terms of our choices, preferences and votes than we realized.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is change blindness?
  2. Why might we not be particularly aware of how we make general judgements on things like attractiveness?
  3. Based on this research, what sorts of things might you do differently in future and/or what sorts of research do you think we needs to do next?

References (Read Further):

Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Sikström, S. (2008). From change blindness to choice blindness. Psychologia, 51(2), 142-155. Link

Hall, L., & Johansson, P. (2008). Using choice blindness to study decision making and introspection. Cognition–A smorgasbord, ed. P. Gärdenfors & A. Wallin, 267-83. Link

Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Strandberg, T. (2012). Lifting the veil of morality: Choice blindness and attitude reversals on a self-transforming survey. PloS one, 7(9), e45457. Link

Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Chater, N. (2012). Preference change through choice. In Neuroscience of preference and choice (pp. 121-141). Academic Press. Link

Strandberg, T., Sivén, D., Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Pärnamets, P. (2018). False beliefs and confabulation can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(9), 1382. Link

Strandberg, T., Olson, J. A., Hall, L., Woods, A., & Johansson, P. (2020). Depolarizing American voters: Democrats and Republicans are equally susceptible to false attitude feedback. Plos one, 15(2), e0226799. Link

Sivén, D., Strandberg, T., Hall, L., Johansson, P., & Pärnamets, P. (2016). Lasting Political Attitude Change Induced by False Feedback About Own Survey Responses. In CogSci. Link

Trouche, E., Johansson, P., Hall, L., & Mercier, H. (2016). The selective laziness of reasoning. Cognitive Science, 40(8), 2122-2136. Link

Smith, T. J., & Martin-Portugues Santacreu, J. Y. (2017). Match-action: The role of motion and audio in creating global change blindness in film. Media Psychology, 20(2), 317-348. Link

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Consciousness, Emerging Adulthood, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Learning, Neuroscience, Persuasion, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Student Success.

Description: Ok, imagine you are sitting in your first class in a new course at college or university (yes in the old world where you were sitting in a lecture hall with 200 to 300 other students). Further, imagine that the professor arrives and announces that they have a few rules that MUST be followed in their class. Laptops may ONLY be used to take class notes and may NOT be used to engage with social media, watch You Tube videos or send or receive email while the class is in session and phone cannot be used for any purpose. Those breaking the rules will be told to leave the class.  So, how would you feel? What would you think of the professor? Would it help you be less put out by their statement, rules and general attitude if they went on and explained that research indicates that the use of social media another other such things while attending a lecture has been shown to be distracting and to significantly reduce student learning and so they are setting the rules for your own good? Oh and also, what about NOW when most if not all of your classes are being run on line and rules, or not, such a prof would simply never know what you were or were not during while you watch a virtual lecture or took in a podcasted or vodcasted lecture? Besides, you are an adult, and you know how you learn and how to mange distractors right? Ok well, yes, but wait a minute, ARE you managing your learning distractors effectively? Are you REALLY? Think about it for a few moments and then read the article linked below to see what a review of research in this area suggests.

Source: Distracted learning a big problem, golden opportunity for educators, students, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: October 14, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201014140932.htm

The hypothetical class with dictatorial rules regarding social media use and other distractions does suggest a professor who is old, cranky, and out of date with current student realities and attention management skills. BUT, as an old, not cranky and, I hope, no so out of date, prof, I can tell you that it was not that long ago that a common bit of advice being offered to all who wanted to “stay up with new realties” was that they had to learn to multitask as the ability to juggle several tasks at once was going to be an adaptive requirement of our then increasingly wired world. Now, think about one word of advice you have likely seen so many times in your online wanderings lately that you have almost stopped noticing it. What comes to mind? … beginning with an M…….? Mindfulness? And what is mindfulness but an ability or state that involves setting aside distractors and focusing on the here and now. Could be called “unitasking”, couldn’t it? The main point of the linked article is that perhaps the virtues of multitasking have been pushed so hard for so long that it is difficult for many people and particularly for those relatively new to the scene to consider the alternative hypothesis that perhaps some strategic focus and avoidance or at least rationing of distractors might be valuable or perhaps even essential. Look at the data, reflect on your own experience as objectively as possible, perhaps try a few adjustments to gather some personally relevant data and then decide if distraction management should be a routine part of you moment to moment, day, week, course or life planning. The data is there to be read and used to guide planning and future adjustment. What are you waiting for, or are you too distracted to see the value?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How distractable are you?
  2. What do you do by way of multitasking that provides you with advantages over others who do not do it and what do you do by way of multitasking that messes you up (be honest)?
  3. Do you have a clear strategy or array of strategies for managing your attention and competing distractors while you are learning (online) these days? What areas work and which area need work?

References (Read Further):

Schmidt, S. J. Distracted learning: Big problem and golden opportunity. Journal of Food Science Education. 19(4), 278-291. Link

Barker, B. B. (2017). Multitasking and distracted learning: motivation and norms (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University). Link

Riordan, B. C., Cody, L., Flett, J. A., Conner, T. S., Hunter, J., & Scarf, D. (2018). The development of a single item FoMO (fear of missing out) scale. Current Psychology, 1-6. Link

Sulissusiawan, A., & Salam, U. (2017). Students’ Use of Online Resources to Enhance Learning Endeavors. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE), 7(2), 44-53. Link

Lueke, A., & Lueke, N. (2019). Mindfulness improves verbal learning and memory through enhanced encoding. Memory & Cognition, 47(8), 1531-1545. Link

Gorman, T. E., & Green, C. S. (2016). Short-term mindfulness intervention reduces the negative attentional effects associated with heavy media multitasking. Scientific reports, 6(1), 1-7. Link