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March 3, 2009, 6:13 AM CT

TV viewing before the age of 2

TV viewing before the age of 2
A longitudinal study of infants from birth to age 3 showed TV viewing before the age of 2 does not improve a child's language and visual motor skills, as per research conducted at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. The findings, reported in the recent issue of Pediatrics, reaffirm current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that recommend no television under the age of 2, and suggest that maternal, child, and household characteristics are more influential in a child's cognitive development.

"Contrary to marketing claims and some parents' perception that television viewing is beneficial to children's brain development, no evidence of such benefit was found," says Marie Evans Schmidt, PhD, main author of the study.

The study analyzed data of 872 children from Project Viva, a prospective cohort study of mothers and their children. In-person visits with both mothers and infants were performed immediately after birth, at 6 months, and 3 years of age while mothers completed mail-in questionnaires regarding their child's TV viewing habits when they were 1 and 2 years old. It was conducted by scientists in the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's and the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 3, 2009, 6:02 AM CT

Schizophrenia linked to signaling problems

Schizophrenia linked to signaling problems
Schizophrenia could be caused by faulty signalling in the brain, as per new research published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry In the biggest study of its kind, researchers looking in detail at brain samples donated by people with the condition have identified 49 genes that work differently in the brains of schizophrenia patients in comparison to controls.

A number of of these genes are involved in controlling cell-to-cell signalling in the brain. The study, which was carried out by scientists at Imperial College London and GlaxoSmithKline, supports the theory that abnormalities in the way in which cells 'talk' to each other are involved in the disease.

Schizophrenia is thought to affect around one in 100 people. Symptoms vary but can include hallucinations, lack of motivation and impaired social functioning. The disorder has little physical effect on the brain and its causes are largely unknown.

Some researchers think that schizophrenia could be caused by the brain producing too much dopamine, partly because drugs that block dopamine action provide an effective therapy for the condition. Another theory is that the coat surrounding nerve cells, which is made of myelin, is damaged in people with schizophrenia. However, the newly released study observed that the genes for dopamine and for myelin were not acting any differently in schizophrenia patients compared with controls.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 25, 2009, 6:22 AM CT

Stress among vets

Stress among vets
Veterinarians frequently suffer psychosocial stress and demoralization linked to heavy workloads. Research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology analyses the extent of the problem and reveals a complex relationship with binge drinking, tobacco consumption and drug use.

A team of scientists co-ordinated by Melanie Harling, from the Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in Hamburg, Gera number of, reviewed 1060 practicing vets in north Gera number of via a carefully-designed, self-administered questionnaire. The scientists observed that the likelihood of psychosocial stress increased with the number of working hours and was a consequence of time pressure due to a heavy workload, difficulties in balancing professional life with private life, insufficient free time and dealing with difficult customers. The authors observed that a number of of the vets reported symptoms of demoralization - they were frequently dissatisfied with themselves, rarely optimistic or confident and almost never felt proud.

By close examination of their tobacco, alcohol and medical drug habits, Melanie and her colleagues described a series of complex inter-relationships. As per M. Harling "these results indicate that psychosocial stress at work is linked to a poor psychological state, high-risk alcohol consumption and regular drug use while demoralization is linked to tobacco consumption, problem drinking and regular drug intake. Furthermore psychosocial stress leads to demoralization which in turn leads to an increased consumption of psychotropic substances. One way of coping with psychosocial stress in the veterinary profession might be the consumption of psychotropic substances".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 25, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Diabetes can lead to postpartum depression

Diabetes can lead to  postpartum depression
BOSTON, Mass. (Feb 23, 2009) Postpartum depression is a seriousand often undiagnosedcondition affecting about 10 to 12 percent of new mothers. Some of the causes might include personal history of depression, stressful life events, and lack of social, financial or emotional support. Left untreated, it can have lasting negative effects not only on the mother but on her child's development.

In the first study of its kind, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health report that low-income women with diabetes have a more than 50% increased risk of experiencing this serious illness.

"While prior studies have linked diabetes and depression in the general population, this is the first time, to our knowledge, that the relationship has been studied specifically in pregnant women and new mothers," says Katy Backes Kozhimannil, research fellow in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "We believe these findings may help clinicians better identify and treat depression in new mothers".

These findings are published in the February 25 edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association

For over 25 years, clinicians have been aware that new mothers are at risk for postpartum depression. However, the condition is difficult to identify. A number of symptoms are attributed to the every-day struggles of being a new mother. Others, such as irrational thoughts about harming the baby or, on the other hand, obsessing over the baby's health, are simply difficult for new mothers to admit.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 24, 2009, 6:13 AM CT

Do experiences or material goods make us happier?

Do experiences or material goods make us happier?
Should I spend money on a vacation or a new computer? Will an experience or an object make me happier? A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research says it depends on different factors, including how materialistic you are.

Even though conventional wisdom says choose the vacation, authors Leonardo Nicolao, Julie R. Irwin (both University of Texas at Austin), and Joseph K. Goodman (Washington University, St. Louis) say the answer is more complicated than previously thought.

"Dating as early as David Hume and through Tibor Scitovsky and a number of others, the sentiment has been that individuals will be happier if they spend their money on experiences (theatre, concerts, and vacations) as opposed to material purchases (fancy cars, bigger houses, and gadgets)" write the authors.

The authors say this advice holds true for purchases that turn out well. But when it comes to negative purchases (a disappointing sofa, a bad vacation), their research shows that experiences decrease happiness more than material goods. "In other words, we show that the recommendation should include a caveat: Purchases that decrease happiness are less damaging when they are material purchases than when they are experiential purchases," the authors explain.

Highly materialistic individuals, the authors found, were equally happy with their positive purchases and equally unhappy with negative purchases whether they were experiences or material goods. The scientists also observed that emotional intensity decreases more quickly after material purchases than experiential ones.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 23, 2009, 10:11 PM CT

Are women more generous?

Are women more generous?
Why would women give more to the victims of Hurricane Katrina than to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami? A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research sheds light onto the way gender and moral identity affect donations.

Authors Karen Page Winterich (Texas A&M University), Vikas Mittal (Rice University), and William T. Ross, Jr. (Pennsylvania State University) focused their research on how people choose among charities. With so a number of worthy charities soliciting donations, the scientists wanted to understand how people make these critical decisions.

"We gave people in the United States $5 that they could allocate to Hurricane Katrina victims, Indian Ocean tsunami victims, or themselves," explain the authors. "On average, people kept $1.10 for themselves and donated the rest. However, the actual amount donated to each charity depended on people's gender and moral identity".

The authors described moral identity as the extent to which being moral, fair, and just is part of someone's self-identity. Gender identity (which generally correlates with biological sex) is defined by how much a person focuses on communal goals, like considering the welfare of others (considered "feminine") versus "agentic" goals, like assertiveness, control, and focus on the self (considered "masculine").........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 18, 2009, 6:11 AM CT

What would be the right way to cope with tragedy?

What would be the right way to cope with tragedy?
Researcher Mark Seery says there is no 'right' way to cope with a traumatic event.

After a collective trauma, such as Thursday's crash of Continental Flight 3407, an entire community (or even the nation) can be exposed to the tragedy through media coverage and second-hand accounts, as per Mark Seery, Ph.D., University at Buffalo assistant professor of psychology.

"Individuals potentially suffer negative effects on their mental and physical health, even if they have not 'directly' experienced the loss of someone they know or have not witnessed the event or its aftermath in person," Seery says.

In this type of situation, it is common for people to believe that everyone exposed to the tragedy will need to talk about it, and if they do not, they are suppressing their "true" thoughts and feelings, which will only rebound later and cause them problems.

This is not always the case, Seery explains.

"Expressing one's thoughts and feelings to a supportive listener can certainly be a good thing, whether it is to family and friends or to a professional therapist or counselor. However, this does not mean that it is bad or unhealthy to not want to express thoughts and feelings when given the opportunity".

Seery's perspective results from his research of people's responses following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He and his colleagues studied a national sample of people, most of whom did not witness the events in person or lose a loved one. They did, however, experience the events through media coverage.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 12, 2009, 6:01 AM CT

Are you in control of your own actions?

Are you in control of your own actions?
The underlying sense of being in control of our own actions is challenged by new research from UCL (University College London) which demonstrates that the choices we make internally are weak and easily overridden in comparison to when we are told which choice to make.

The research, which is published recently in Cerebral Cortex, is one of the first neuroscientific studies to look at changing one's mind in situations where the initial decision was one's own 'free choice'. Free choices can be defined as actions occurring when external cues are largely absent for example, deciding which dish to choose from a restaurant menu.

The scientists asked study participants to choose which of two buttons they would press in response to a subsequent signal, while their brain activity was recorded using EEG (electroencephalogram). Some choices were made freely by the volunteers and other choices were instructed by arrows on a screen in front of them. The volunteers' choices were occasionally interrupted by a symbol asking them to change their mind, after they had made their choice, but before they had actually pressed the button.

First author Stephen Fleming, UCL Institute of Neurology, said: "When people had chosen for themselves which action to make, we observed that the brain activity involved in changing one's mind, or reprogramming these 'free' choices was weak, relative to reprogramming of choices that were dictated by an external stimulus. This suggests that the brain is very flexible when changing a free choice rather like a spinning coin, a small nudge can push it one way or the other very easily.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 11, 2009, 6:01 AM CT

Students who interact with peers

Students who interact with peers
Students who feel connected to their peers and teachers are more inclined to alert a teacher or principal if they hear a fellow student "wants to do something dangerous," as per a newly released study published by the American Psychological Association.

But those students who don't feel connected are less likely to act. Scientists from The Pennsylvania State University and Missouri State University looked into why some students adopt a "code of silence" when faced with a fellow student's dangerous intentions. Their findings are reported in the February Journal of Educational Psychology, published by APA.

The scientists presented a hypothetical scenario of a peer's plan "to do something dangerous" to 1,740 middle and high school students from 13 schools. The students were asked if they would (1) intervene directly, (2) tell a teacher or principal, (3) talk it over with a friend but not tell an adult, or (4) do nothing.

High school students (964) were less likely than middle school students (776) to talk directly to the peer planning to do something dangerous or tell a teacher or principal, said main author Amy K. Syvertsen, MEd. "High schools are generally larger than middle schools and provide less opportunity for teachers and students to interact, which is the foundation for building trust, caring and community between the two."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 10, 2009, 6:00 AM CT

Reading minds with infrared scan

Reading minds with infrared scan
Scientists at Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital have developed a technique that uses infrared light brain imaging to decode preference with the goal of ultimately opening the world of choice to children who can't speak or move.

As per a research findings published this month in The Journal of Neural Engineering, Bloorview researchers demonstrate the ability to decode a person's preference for one of two drinks with 80 per cent accuracy by measuring the intensity of near-infrared light absorbed in brain tissue. http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1741-2552/6/1/016003.

"This is the first system that decodes preference naturally from spontaneous thoughts," says Sheena Luu, the University of Toronto PhD student in biomedical engineering who led the study under the supervision of Tom Chau, Canada Research Chair in pediatric rehab engineering.

Most brain-computer interfaces designed to read thoughts require training. For example, in order to indicate yes to a question, the person needs to do an unrelated mental task such as singing a song in their head.

The nine adults in Luu's study received no training. Previous to the study they rated eight drinks on a scale of one to five.

Wearing a headband fitted with fibre-optics that emit light into the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, they were shown two drinks on a computer monitor, one after the other, and asked to make a mental decision about which they liked more. "When your brain is active, the oxygen in your blood increases and depending on the concentration, it absorbs more or less light," Luu says. "In some people, their brains are more active when they don't like something, and in some people they're more active when they do like something".........

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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