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July 1, 2010, 6:59 AM CT

Can money buy happiness?

Can money buy happiness?
A worldwide survey of more than 136,000 people in 132 countries included questions about happiness and income, and the results reveal that while life satisfaction commonly rises with income, positive feelings don't necessarily follow, scientists report.

The findings, from an analysis of data gathered in the first Gallup World Poll, appear this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

"The public always wonders: Does money make you happy?" said University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization. "This study shows that it all depends on how you define happiness, because if you look at life satisfaction, how you evaluate your life as a whole, you see a pretty strong correlation around the world between income and happiness," he said. "Conversely it's pretty shocking how small the correlation is with positive feelings and enjoying yourself."

The Gallup World Poll conducted surveys on a wide range of subjects in a representative sample of people from 132 countries from 2005 to 2006. The poll used telephone surveys in more affluent areas, and door-to-door interviews in rural or less-developed regions.

The countries surveyed represent about 96 percent of the world's population, the scientists report, and reflect the diversity of cultural, economic and political realities around the globe.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 24, 2010, 11:14 PM CT

Teens and alcohol study

Teens and alcohol study
Parents appears to be surprised, even disappointed, to find out they don't influence whether their teen tries alcohol.

But now for some good news: Parenting style strongly and directly affects teens when it comes to heavy drinking - defined as having five or more drinks in a row - as per a new Brigham Young University study.

The scientists surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. Specifically, they examined parents' levels of accountability - knowing where they spend their time and with whom - and the warmth they share with their kids. Here's what they found:
  • The teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.
  • So-called "indulgent" parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.
  • Strict" parents - high on accountability and low on warmth - more than doubled their teen's risk of heavy drinking.


Previous research on parenting style and teen drinking was a mixed bag, showing modest influence at best. Unlike prior research, this study distinguished between any alcohol consumption and heavy drinking.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 24, 2010, 10:52 PM CT

Addiction: a loss of plasticity of the brain?

Addiction: a loss of plasticity of the brain?
Why is it that only some drug users become addicts? This is the question that has been addressed by the teams of Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Olivier Manzoni, at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux (Inserm unit 862). These scientists have just discovered that the transition to addiction could result from a persistent impairment of synaptic plasticity in a key structure of the brain. This is the first demonstration that a correlation exists between synaptic plasticity and the transition to addiction. The results from the teams at Neurocentre Magendie call into question the hitherto held idea that addiction results from pathological cerebral modifications which develop gradually with drug usage. Their results show that addiction may, instead, come from a form of anaplasticity, i.e. from incapacity of addicted individuals to counteract the pathological modifications caused by the drug to all users.

This research is reported in the journal Science on 25 June 2010.

The voluntary consumption of drugs is a behaviour found in a number of species of animal. However, it had long been considered that addiction, defined as compulsive and pathological drug consumption, is a behaviour specific to the human species and its social structure. In 2004, the team of Pier Vincenzo Piazza showed that the behaviours which define addiction in humans, also appear in some rats which will self administer cocaine*. Addiction exhibits astonishing similarities in men and rodents, in particular the fact that only a small number of consumers (humans or rodents) develop a drug addiction. The study of drug dependent behaviour in this mammal model thus opened the way to the study of the biology of addiction.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 14, 2010, 10:22 PM CT

link between IVF treatments and autism?

link between IVF treatments and autism?
The first "test tube baby" was born in 1978. With advances in reproductive science, an estimated one percent of all American babies are now born each year through in vitro fertilization (IVF). But IVF and other assisted fertility therapys appears to be solving one problem by creating another, suggests new evidence from Tel Aviv University.

In a recent study, Dr. Ditza Zachor of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine reported a strong link between IVF and mild to moderate cases of autism. Her findings were presented last month at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia.

As per her research at the Autism Center at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, which Dr. Zachor directs, 10.5% of 461 children diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum were conceived using IVF, a significantly higher number than the 3.5% autism rate in the general Israeli population.

Other factors in play

While the study doesn't draw any definitive conclusions, it presents some urgent questions, says Dr. Zachor. "It's too early to make a serious deduction based on that evidence alone," she says, citing other birth-related factors in her study, such as low birth rate and prematurity. Dr. Zachor's ongoing research will attempt to separate out these risk factors to come up with more precise numbers for autism and other prenatal conditions in IVF.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 9, 2010, 10:59 PM CT

Depression and Abdominal Obesity

Depression and Abdominal Obesity
A newly released study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) confirms the relationship between depression and abdominal obesity, which has been associated with an increased risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"We observed that in a sample of young adults during a 15-year period, those who started out reporting high levels of depression gained weight at a faster rate than others in the study, but starting out overweight did not lead to changes in depression," said UAB Assistant Professor of Sociology Belinda Needham, Ph.D. The study appears in the recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health.







........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 7, 2010, 6:36 AM CT

Exercise to reduce depression

Exercise to reduce depression
Quebec You don't always need to build up a big sweat to reap the healing benefits of physical activity. Research has observed that even a low-intense exercise program can reduce depression symptoms and boost physical treatment results in recovering stroke patients.

"The power of physical activity to raise the spirits of recovering stroke patients is stronger than anyone suspected," Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr. Jocelyn Harris told Canadian Stroke Congress, co-hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.

She says that a number of stroke survivors experience feelings of depression in the weeks and months following stroke, which can interfere with the recovery process. This appears to be due in part to the fact that depression can cause a lack of motivation, increased fatigue, and trouble concentrating.

Intense physical activity has a positive effect on reducing depression for most stroke patients. But some stroke patients undergoing medical therapys have special challenges and can't reach high activity levels, she says.

"A number of stroke patients could never reach aerobic levels high enough to alleviate depressive symptoms," says Dr. Harris, who works at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 7:27 AM CT

First drug to demonstrate therapeutic effect in a type of autism

First drug to demonstrate therapeutic effect in a type of autism
Scientists from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a drug that improves communication between nerve cells in a mouse model of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS). Behavioral symptoms of PMS fall under the autism spectrum disorder category. The research will be presented Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Philadelphia.

Prior research has shown that a gene mutation in the brain called SHANK3 can cause absent or severely delayed language abilities, intellectual disability, and autism. Mount Sinai scientists developed mice with a mutant SHANK3 gene and observed a lapse in communication between nerve cells in the brain, which can lead to learning problems. This communication breakdown indicated that the nerve cells were not maturing properly.

The scientists then injected the mice with a derivative of a compound called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), which is FDA-approved to treat growth failure in children. After two weeks of therapy, nerve cell communication was normal and adaptation of nerve cells to stimulation, a key part of learning and memory, was restored.

"The result of IGF1 therapy of these mice is an exciting development on the road to ultimate therapies for individuals with PMS," said Joseph Buxbaum, PhD, Director of the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "If these data are further verified in additional preclinical studies, individuals with a SHANK3 mutation appears to benefit from therapys with compounds like this one".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 7:09 AM CT

The sound of seduction

The sound of seduction
Flirtation may seem largely visual the preening, the coy eye contact but voice plays a role, too.

Lowering your voice appears to be a means of demonstrating attraction, says Susan Hughes, assistant professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., in a study, "Vocal and Physiological Changes in Response to the Physical Attractiveness of Controversial Partners," to be reported in the fall by the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

"We observed that both sexes used a lower-pitch voice and showed a higher level of physiological arousal when speaking to a more attractive opposite-sex target," she says.

The study examined 48 Albright students using Skype to leave scripted voice-messages while viewing a picture of a fictitious person "receiving" the message. The men and women the participants looked at varied in attractiveness.

Hughes who expected that women would raise their voices to sound more feminine and attractive was surprised.

"There may be a common stereotype in our culture that deems a sexy female voice as one that sounds husky, breathy, and lower-pitched," she says. "This suggests that the motivation to display a sexy/seductive female voice may conflict with the motivation to sound more feminine".

Female voice manipulation suggests that altering their tone appears to be a learned behavior based on sexual voice stereotypes rather than actual vocal characteristics of attractiveness. "When a woman naturally lowers her voice, it appears to be perceived as her attempt to sound more seductive or attractive, and therefore serves as a signal of her romantic interest," she adds.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 7:08 AM CT

Molecular heart of collective behavior

Molecular heart of collective behavior
Research by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics at Princeton, and others is shedding light on the molecular basis of collective behavior, seen throughout nature from geese to fish to amoebae. The researchers have found strong evidence pointing to the fact that collective behavior can arise in cells that initially may not be moving at all, but are prodded into action by an external agent such as a chemical. (Photo: Brian Wilson)
Birds flock. Fish gather in schools. Bees swarm. Even amoebae clump together in mystifyingly clever constellations.

Researchers have long wondered what is happening at the cellular and molecular level to bring about this amazing coordination of so a number of individual animals, insects and organisms into groups. It's a choreography seen throughout nature from the large-scale to the miniscule, with synchronized movements as precise as the dance lineup of a Broadway musical.

Is there a secret drum major, a leader among the group setting the pace and instigating participation? Or is it that organisms and cells already are moving rhythmically but independently and then find themselves provoked into harmony by an external beat?

A group of researchers seeking the answer to the mystery of collective motion has found good evidence pointing to a third possibility -- collective behavior can arise in cells that initially may not be moving at all, but are prodded into action by an external agent such as a chemical. Research led by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics at Princeton, and Satoshi Sawai, a former postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Princeton biologist Edward Cox and now at the University of Tokyo, has shown that food-deprived amoebae are prodded into their coordinated clumping by the chemical cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), effectively changing the parameters of the cell environment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 6:43 AM CT

Books in home as important as parents' education

Books in home as important as parents' education
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, as per a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home in comparison to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) in comparison to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Being a sociologist, Evans was especially interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada's rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.

"What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed." .........

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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