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December 23, 2009, 7:59 AM CT

Tylenol against psychological pain?

Tylenol against psychological pain?
Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have long been used to alleviate physical pain, while a host of other medications have been employed in the therapy of depression and anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches, but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by psychology expert C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology has uncovered evidence indicating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) may blunt social pain.

"The ideathat a drug designed to alleviate physical pain should reduce the pain of social rejectionseemed simple and straightforward based on what we know about neural overlap between social and physical pain systems. To my surprise, I couldn't find anyone who had ever tested this idea," DeWall said.

As per a research studydue to be reported in the journal Psychological Science, DeWall and his colleagues were correct. Physical and social pain appear to overlap in the brain, relying on some of the same behavioral and neural mechanisms.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 7:09 PM CT

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana
Marijuana is the most usually used illicit drug in the United States. Roughly eight to 12 percent of marijuana users are considered "dependent" and, just like alcohol, the severity of symptoms increases with heavier use. A newly released study has observed that use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana are influenced by a common set of genes.

Results would be reported in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Results from a large annual survey of high-school students show that in 2008, 41.8 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana," explained Carolyn E. Sartor, a research instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Eventhough a number of may have used the drug on only a few occasions, 5.4 percent of 12th graders reported using it daily within the preceding month".

"The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which mimics natural cannabinoids that the brain produces," added Christian Hopfer, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The cannabinoid system is critical for learning, memory, appetite, and pain perception. Most users of marijuana will not develop an 'addiction' to it, but perhaps one in 12 will. What is not usually appreciated about marijuana use is that good evidence has emerged that it increases the risk of developing mental illnesses and possibly exacerbates pre-existing mental illnesses".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 17, 2009, 8:06 AM CT

Michelangelos make smart lovers

Michelangelos make smart lovers
Is that really Bob? You've seen him hundreds of mornings for the last 10 years at local coffee shops. Since he started dating Sara, he looks you in the eye -- and smiles. Sara takes every opportunity to let coffee shop cronies know that Bob is her guy and to gush about how funny he is. And he is. Who knew?

Think of Sara like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of marble to release the ideal figure slumbering within.

A new international review of seven papers on "the Michelangelo phenomenon" shows that when close partners affirm and support each other's ideal selves, they and the relationship benefit greatly.

"To the degree that the sculpting process has gone well, that you have helped mold me toward my ideal self, the relationship functions better and both partners are happier. And over the long term, I more or less come to reflect what my partner sees and elicits from me," said Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

Finkel co-authored the review with Caryl E. Rusbult, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Madoka Kumashiro, Goldsmiths, University of London. "The Michelangelo Phenomenon" appears in the recent issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 7, 2009, 9:47 PM CT

Craving a Cigarette?

Craving a Cigarette?
A new University of Pittsburgh study reveals that craving a cigarette while performing a cognitive task not only increases the chances of a person's mind wandering, but also makes that person less likely to notice when his or her mind has wandered.

The paper, titled "Out for a Smoke: The Impact of Cigarette Craving on Zoning Out During Reading," provides the first evidence that craving disrupts an individual's meta-awareness, the ability to periodically appraise one's own thoughts.

The research is reported in the recent issue of "Psychological Science".

Pitt professor of psychology Michael Sayette and his colleagues Erik Reichle, associate professor and chair of Pitt's cognitive program in psychology, and Jonathan Schooler, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recruited 44 male and female heavy smokers to take part in the study. All smoked nearly a pack a day and refrained from smoking for at least six hours before arriving at the lab.

Participants were assigned at random to either a crave-condition or low-crave group. Those in the latter group were permitted to smoke throughout the study; members of the crave-condition group had to abstain. Participants were asked to read as a number of as 34 pages of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" from a computer screen. If they caught themselves zoning out, they pressed a key labeled ZO. Every few minutes, a tone sounded, and they were asked via the computer, "Were you zoning out?" to which they responded by pressing a "Yes" or "No" key. After 30 minutes, a reading comprehension test was administered.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2009, 8:24 AM CT

Fear of anxiety may cause depression

Fear of anxiety may cause depression
Anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of feeling anxious, may put people who are already above-average worriers at risk for depression, as per Penn State researchers. Understanding how sensitivity to anxiety is a risk factor for depression may make anxiety sensitivity a potential target for treating depression in the future.

"Anxiety sensitivity has been called a fear of fear," said Andres Viana, graduate student in psychology. "Those with anxiety sensitivity are afraid of their anxiety because their interpretation is that something catastrophic is going to happen when their anxious sensations arise."

Statistical analyses of questionnaire responses showed that anxiety sensitivity, after controlling for worry and generalized anxiety symptoms in above-average worriers, significantly predicted depression symptoms. In addition, two of the four dimensions that make up anxiety sensitivity - the "fear of cognitive dyscontrol" and the "fear of publically observable anxiety symptoms" specifically predicted depression symptoms. The third and fourth dimensions, the fear of cardiovascular symptoms and the fear of respiratory symptoms, were not significant predictors.

"We were interested in examining the relationship between anxiety sensitivity as a whole and depression," said Viana. "In addition, we looked at the different dimensions of anxiety sensitivity to see which correlated with depression symptoms. One of the novel aspects of our study was to look at anxiety sensitivity in a sample of moderate to high worriers".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 30, 2009, 8:00 AM CT

Intervention for children with autism

Intervention for children with autism
A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism some as young as 18 months is effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction, a comprehensive newly released study has observed.

"This is the first controlled study of an intensive early intervention that is appropriate for children with autism who are less than 2 years of age. Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all 18- and 24-month-old children be screened for autism, it is crucial that we can offer parents effective therapies for children in this age range," said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer of Autism Speaks and the study's main author. "By starting as soon as the toddler is diagnosed, we hope to maximize the positive impact of the intervention." .

The study, published online today in the journal Pediatrics, examined an intervention called the Early Start Denver Model, which combines applied behavioral analysis (ABA) teaching methods with developmental 'relationship-based' approaches. This approach was novel because it blended the rigor of ABA with play-based routines that focused on building a relationship with the child. While the youngest children in the study were 18 months old, the intervention is designed to be appropriate for children with autism as young as 12 months of age. Eventhough prior studies have observed that early intervention can be helpful for preschool-aged children, interventions for children who are toddlers are just now being tested. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors and impairment in verbal communication and social interaction. It is reported to affect one in 100 children in the United States.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 29, 2009, 11:07 PM CT

Men and women may respond differently to danger

Men and women may respond differently to danger
Scientists using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activation have observed that men and women respond differently to positive and negative stimuli, as per a research studypresented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Men may direct more attention to sensory aspects of emotional stimuli and tend to process them in terms of implications for mandatory action, whereas women direct more attention to the feelings engendered by emotional stimuli," said Andrzej Urbanik, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Radiology at Jagiellonian University Hospital in Krakow, Poland.

For the study, Dr. Urbanik and his colleagues recruited 40 right-handed volunteers, 21 men and 19 women, between the ages of 18 and 36. The volunteers underwent fMRI while viewing pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS), a widely used, standardized testing system comprised of several thousand slides of various objects and images from ordinary life designed to evoke defined emotional states. The images were displayed in two runs. For the first run, only negative pictures were shown. For the second run, only positive pictures were shown.

While viewing the negative images, women showed decidedly stronger and more extensive activation in the left thalamus, which relays sensory information to and from the cerebral cortex, including the pain and pleasure centers. Men exhibited more activation in the left insula, which gauges the physiological state of the entire body and then generates subjective feelings that can bring about actions. Information from the insula is relayed to other brain structures involved in decision making.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 25, 2009, 8:15 AM CT

What do Female Breadwinners Bring Home?

What do Female Breadwinners Bring Home?
In nearly a third of U.S. households, women are the sole or main breadwinners for their families, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is increasing as a number of families experience layoffs of highly paid husbands during the economic recession. University of Missouri researcher Rebecca Meisenbach has observed that women who take the role of lead breadwinner for their families experience both benefits and tensions.

"The female breadwinner is becoming increasingly more common and important in contemporary society," said Meisenbach, who is assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science. "They challenge and impact traditional middle and upper class views of familial relations, individual identities and organizational policies".

In the qualitative study, Meisenbach interviewed 15 female breadwinners in professional occupations in the United States and had them describe their own experiences as breadwinners. Meisenbach observed that the female breadwinners described six essential experiences: opportunities for control, independence, pressure and worry, valuing partner's contributions, guilt and resentment, and ambition.

Societal standards still exist among white collar families in the United States, such as men are expected to be the breadwinners of married families, and women are expected to take care of the children, even if they are working. These societal expectations and gender norms can leave the female breadwinner with feelings of worry, pressure, guilt and resentment, Meisenbach said. For example, female breadwinners experience moments of guilt about care giving, pressure to perform at work and for their families, and occasional resentment at the demands of their multiple and atypical roles.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 20, 2009, 8:48 AM CT

Depression in the mother and asthma in the child

Depression in the mother and asthma in the child
Kristin Riekert, PhD
Asthma symptoms can worsen in children with depressed mothers, as per research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center published online in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Analyzing data from interviews with 262 mothers of African-American children with asthma - a population disproportionately affected by this inflammatory airway disorder - the Hopkins researchers observed that children whose mothers had more depressive symptoms had more frequent asthma symptoms during the six-months of the study. On the other hand, children whose mothers reported fewer depressive symptoms had less frequent asthma symptoms.

Scientists tracked ups and downs in maternal depression as correlation to the frequency of symptoms among children.

"Even though our research was not set up to measure just how much a mom's depression increased the frequency of her child's symptoms, a clear pattern emerged in which the latter followed the earlier," says senior investigator Kristin Riekert, Ph.D., a pediatric psychology expert and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Center.

But while maternal depression appeared to aggravate a child's asthma, the opposite was not true: How often a child had symptoms did not seem to affect the mother's depressive symptoms, an important finding that suggests maternal depression is an independent risk factor that can portend a child's symptoms, scientists say.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2009, 0:05 AM CT

Transcendental meditation for college students

Transcendental meditation for college students
The Transcendental Meditation technique appears to be an effective method to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and anger among at-risk college students, as per a newly released study to be reported in the American Journal of Hypertension, December 2009.

"The Transcendental Meditation Program, a widely-used standardized program to reduce stress, showed significant decreases in blood pressure and improved mental health in young adults at risk for hypertension," said David Haaga, PhD, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at American University in Washington, D.C.

This study was conducted at American University with 298 university students randomly allocated to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or wait-list control over a three-month intervention period. A subgroup of 159 subjects at risk for high blood pressure was analyzed separately. At baseline and after three months, blood pressure, psychological distress, and coping ability were assessed.

For the students at risk for developing hypertension, significant improvements were observed in blood pressure, psychological distress and coping. In comparison to the control group, students practicing the Transcendental Meditation program showed reductions of 6.3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 4.0 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure. These reductions are linked to a 52% lower risk for development of high blood pressure in later years.........

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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