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October 29, 2009, 11:16 PM CT

Seeing is relieving

Seeing is relieving
An f1000 assessment examines how pain relief improves greatly when the sufferer can actually see the area where the pain is occurring.

In an Anglo-Italian study, thirty healthy subjects were invited to look at either their own hand, the experimenter's hand, or an object, while their hand was subjected to laser-induced pain.

The results, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that, when the sufferer could see their own hand, they felt less pain than if they were looking at the experimenter's hand or a neutral object. Longo and his colleagues found there were subjective (self-report) and objective (brain potential) measures of the person's pain sensation.

Scientists also found the result was the same whether the subjects were looking at their actual hand or a mirror image; the latter using a technique previously used to reduce phantom limb pain in amputees.

Importantly, this is the first time such an experiment has been done on subjects who did not suffer from pre-existing body image issues.

Faculty of 1000 reviewer Alumit Ishai, of the University of Zurich, was very impressed. "These novel findings suggest that viewing the body modulates the subjective perception of pain," she said. "Eventhough the mechanism that mediates this analgesic effect is unclear the potential therapeutic implications for patients with chronic pain are huge".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 10:04 PM CT

Pregnant women using psychiatric medications

Pregnant women using psychiatric medications
The odds triple for premature child delivery pregnant women with a history of depression who used psychiatric medication, as per a newly released study.

Scientists at the University of Washington, University of Michigan and Michigan State University observed that a combination of medicine use and depression either before or during pregnancy was strongly associated with delivery before 35 weeks' gestation.

Amelia Gavin, main author and UW assistant professor of social work, said the findings highlight the need for carefully planned studies that can clarify associations between depression, psychiatric medications and preterm delivery.

"Women with depression face difficult decisions regarding the benefits and risks of using psychotropic medications in pregnancy," Gavin said. "Therefore, a focus on disentangling medicine effects and depression effects on mother and offspring health should be a major clinical priority".

"Medication use appears to be an indicator of depressive symptom severity, which is a direct or indirect contributing factor to pre-term delivery," added Kristine Siefert, co-author and a Michigan professor of social work.

Most physicians initiated preterm deliveries after the women suffered complications, such as pre-eclampsia, poor fetal growth or acute hemorrhage.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 7:19 AM CT

People with depression have more physical symptoms

People with depression have more physical symptoms
New research shows people who feel depressed tend to recall having more physical symptoms than they actually experienced. The study indicates that depression -- not neuroticism -- is the cause of such over-reporting.

Psychology expert Jerry Suls, professor and collegiate fellow in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, attributes the findings to depressed individuals recalling experiences differently, tending to ruminate over and exaggerate the bad.

Published electronically this month in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, the study was conducted by researchers in the UI Department of Psychology, the Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice (CRIISP) at the Iowa City VA Medical Center, and the UI College of Nursing.

The 109 study participants, all female, completed baseline surveys to assess their levels of neuroticism and depression. Each day for three weeks, they reported whether they felt 15 common physical symptoms including aches and pains, gastrointestinal and upper-respiratory issues. On the 22nd day, they were asked to remember how often they had experienced each physical symptom in the preceding three weeks. People who scored higher in depression were more likely to overstate the frequency of their past symptoms.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 28, 2009, 6:25 AM CT

Crushing cigarettes in a virtual reality environment

Crushing cigarettes in a virtual reality environment
Smokers who crushed computer-simulated cigarettes as part of a psychosocial therapy program in a virtual reality environment had significantly reduced nicotine dependence and higher rates of tobacco abstinence than smokers participating in the same program who grasped a computer-simulated ball, as per a research studydescribed in the current issue of CyberPsychology and Behavior, a peer-evaluated journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/cpb.

Benoit Girard, MD, Vincent Turcotte, and Bruno Girard, MBA, from the GRAP Occupational Psychology Clinic (Quebec, Canada), and Stphane Bouchard, PhD, from the University of Quebec in Gatineau, randomly assigned 91 smokers enrolled in a 12-week anti-smoking support program to one of two therapy groups. In a computer-generated virtual reality environment, one group simulated crushing virtual cigarettes, while the other group grasped virtual balls during 4 weekly sessions. The authors document the results in the article "Crushing Virtual Cigarettes Reduces Tobacco Addiction and Treatment Discontinuation".

The findings demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in nicotine addiction among the smokers in the cigarette-crushing group versus those in the ball-grasping group. Also, at week 12 of the program, the smoking abstinence rate was significantly higher for the cigarette-crushing group (15%) in comparison to the ball-grasping group (2%).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 27, 2009, 9:49 AM CT

Married with children the key to happiness?

Married with children the key to happiness?
Having children improves married peoples' life satisfaction and the more they have, the happier they are. For unmarried individuals, raising children has little or no positive effect on their happiness. These findings (1) by Dr. Luis Angeles from the University of Glasgow in the UK have just been published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.

Prior research suggests that increasing numbers of children do not make people any happier, and in some cases the more children people have, the less satisfied they are with their lives. Rather bleakly, this has been attributed to the fact that raising children involves a lot of hard work for only a few occasional rewards.

Dr. Angeles believes that this explanation is too simplistic. When asked about the most important things in their lives, most people place their children near or even at the top of their list. Contrary to prior work, Dr. Angeles' analysis of the relationship between having children and life satisfaction takes into account the role of individual characteristics, including marital status, gender, age, income and education.

For married individuals of all ages and married women in particular, children increase life satisfaction and life satisfaction goes up with the number of children in the household. Negative experiences in raising children are reported by people who are separated, living as a couple, or single, having never been married. Children take their toll on their parents' satisfaction with social life, and amount and use of leisure time.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 26, 2009, 7:46 AM CT

Mutation dramatically increasing schizophrenia risk

Mutation dramatically increasing schizophrenia risk
An international team of scientists led by geneticist Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), has identified a mutation on human chromosome 16 that substantially increases risk for schizophrenia.

The mutation in question is what researchers call a copy number variant (CNV). CNVs are areas of the genome where the number of copies of genes differs between individuals. The CNV is located in a region referred to by researchers as 16p11.2. By studying the genomes of 4,551 patients and 6,391 healthy individuals, Sebat's team has shown that having one extra copy of this region is linked to schizophrenia. The study appears online today ahead of print in the journal Nature Genetics

The mutation identified in this study is a potent risk factor. "In the general population this duplication is quite rare, occurring in roughly one in 5,000 persons", says Sebat, "but for people that carry the extra copy, the risk of developing schizophrenia is increased by more than eight-fold". This finding is the latest in a series of studies that have pinpointed rare CNVs that confer substantial risk of schizophrenia. Others include deletions on chromosomes 1, 15 and 22.



Schizophrenia and autism: two sides of the same coin?


"This is not the first time that the 16p11.2 region has caught our eye," says Sebat. It was previously spotted in a 2007 study with Professor Michael Wigler at CSHL -- a deletion of the identical region was identified in a girl with autism. Studies by several other groups have shown that losing one copy of 16p11.2 confers high risk of autism and other developmental disorders in children.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 21, 2009, 11:32 PM CT

Psychological trauma in HIV patients

Psychological trauma in HIV patients
The feeling of stigmatization that people living with HIV often experience doesn't only exact a psychological toll new UCLA research suggests it can also lead to quantifiably negative health outcomes.

As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, scientists from the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA observed that a large number of HIV-positive individuals who reported feeling stigmatized also reported poor access to care or suboptimal adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART).

In fact, individuals who experienced high levels of internalized stigma were four times as likely as those who didn't to report poor access to medical care; they were three times as likely to report suboptimal adherence to HIV medications.

These findings were due, at least in part, to the poor mental health found among a number of of the participants. Scientists observed that HIV stigma was one of the strongest predictors of poor access to medical care and that both HIV stigma and poor mental health predicted suboptimal adherence to medication. Adherence to HIV medications is already known to lead to better health outcomes, including survival, among people living with HIV.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 20, 2009, 10:21 PM CT

Who believe in equality are more likely to buy on impulse

Who believe in equality are more likely to buy on impulse
A newly released study from Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business finds that Americans who believe in equality are more-impulsive shoppers. And it has implications for how to market products differently in countries where shoppers are more likely to buy on impulse.

The study, "Power-Distance Belief and Impulsive Buying," was authored by Rice management professor Vikas Mittal and recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Power-distance belief (PDB) is the degree of power disparity the people of a culture expect and accept. It is measured on a scale of zero to 100, and the higher the PDB, the more a person accepts disparity and expects power inequality. Americans have a low PDB score relative to people in countries like China and India. The study observed that people who have a high PDB score tend to exhibit more self-control and are less impulsive when shopping.

"In our studies, people with low PDB scores spent one-and-a-half times the amount spent by high-PDB individuals when buying daily items like snacks and drinks," Mittal said.

This effect was even more pronounced for "vice goods" -- tempting products like chocolate and candy -- than for "virtue goods" like yogurt and granola bars. The scientists hypothesized that people with low PDB scores -- who also should have lower self-control -- would show even stronger impulsive buying for vice goods because of their desire for immediate gratification. Indeed, the scientists found low-PDB people spent twice as much on vice goods as high PDB people spent.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 7:08 AM CT

Making depression treatments better

Making depression treatments better
New research clarifies how neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, are regulated a finding that may help fine-tune therapies for depression.

Current drugs for depression target the regulatory process for neurotransmitters, and while effective in some cases, do not appear to work in other cases.

Recent findings suggest that synucleins, a family of small proteins in the brain, are key players in the management of neurotransmitters -- specifically, alpha- and gamma-synuclein. Additionally, scientists have found elevated levels of gamma-synuclein in the brains of both depressed animals and humans.

In a study presented at the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center scientists observed increased depressive-like behavior in mice where gamma-synuclein acts alone to regulate neurotransmitters, confirming earlier studies by this group.

"These findings show the importance of, and clarify a functional role for, gamma synuclein in depression and may provide new therapeutic targets in therapy of this disease," says Adam Oaks, a student researcher in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurochemistry at GUMC. "Understanding how current therapies work with the synucleins is important because the drugs don't work for all patients, and some are linked to side effects including an increased risk of suicide".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 14, 2009, 7:19 AM CT

Candy bar or healthy snack?

Candy bar or healthy snack?
If you think choosing between a candy bar and healthy snack is totally a matter of free will, think again. A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that the choices we make to indulge ourselves or exercise self-control depend on how the choices are presented.

Author Juliano Laran (University of Miami) tested subjects to determine how certain words and concepts affected consumers' decisions for self-control or indulgence. He observed that consumer choices were affected by the actions most recently suggested to them by certain key words.

The tests involved a word-scramble containing words that suggested either indulgence ("weight") or self-control ("delicious"). "Participants who unscrambled sentences linked to self-control were more likely to choose a healthy snack (a granola bar) to be consumed right now, but an indulgent snack (a chocolate bar) to be consumed in the future," writes Laran. Participants who unscrambled sentences linked to indulgence were more likely to choose an indulgent snack to be consumed right now but a healthy snack to be consumed in the future".

A second study examined the same phenomenon, but it involved information linked to saving versus spending money. Again, when information about saving money was active (participants had been exposed to words linked to saving money), participants said that they imagined themselves trying to save money while shopping in the present, but spending a lot of money while shopping in the future. When words about spending money were suggested, the study showed the opposite result.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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