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May 6, 2010, 6:40 AM CT

Spouses who care for partners with dementia

Spouses who care for partners with dementia
Husbands or wives who care for spouses with dementia are six times more likely to develop the memory-impairing condition than those whose spouses don't have it, as per results of a 12-year study led by Johns Hopkins, Utah State University, and Duke University. The increased risk that the scientists saw among caregivers was on par with the power of a gene variant known to increase susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease, they report in the May Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

A few small studies have suggested that spousal caregivers frequently show memory deficits greater than spouses who aren't caregivers. However, none examined the cognitive ability of caregivers over time using standard, strict criteria to diagnose dementia, a serious cognitive disorder characterized by deficits in memory, attention, judgment, language, and other abilities.

To get some answers, Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor Peter Rabins, M.D., M.P.H., and a team led by associate professor Maria Norton, Ph.D., of Utah State University, examined 1,221 married couples ages 65 or older. These individuals were part of the Cache County (Utah) Memory Study, which has identified over 900 persons with dementia in the community since 1995. All of the study participants live in Cache County, whose residents topped the longevity scale in the 1990 United States census.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 4, 2010, 7:04 AM CT

Exposure to prenatal smoking

Exposure to prenatal smoking
It is well-known that maternal smoking during pregnancy can have long-term effects on the physical health of the child, including increased risk for respiratory disease, ear infections and asthma. New research shows that prenatal smoking also can lead to psychiatric problems and increase the need for psychotropic medications in childhood and young adulthood.

Finnish scientists observed that adolescents who had been exposed to prenatal smoking were at increased risk for use of all psychiatric drugs particularly those uses to treat depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and addiction in comparison to non-exposed youths. The study will be presented Tuesday, May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

"Recent studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy may interfere with brain development of the growing fetus," said Mikael Ekblad, main author of the study and a pediatric researcher at Turku University Hospital in Finland. "By avoiding smoking during pregnancy, all the later psychiatric problems caused by smoking exposure could be prevented".

Ekblad and colleagues collected information from the Finnish Medical Birth Register on maternal smoking, gestational age, birthweight and 5-minute Apgar scores for all children born in Finland from 1987 through 1989. They also analyzed records on mothers' psychiatric inpatient care from 1969-1989 and children's use of psychiatric drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 1, 2010, 6:43 AM CT

Perception of poor sleep may predict postpartum mood

Perception of poor sleep may predict postpartum mood
A study of healthy new mothers in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep observed that the perception of poor sleep and the conscious awareness of its impact on daytime functioning might be stronger predictors of immediate postpartum mood disturbances than actual sleep quality and quantity.

Results indicate that both objective and subjective nighttime sleep significantly worsened with decreased total sleep time and sleep efficiency after giving birth. However, variables correlation to the subjective perception of sleep and sleep-related daytime dysfunction were stronger predictors of postpartum mood. After giving birth, subjective total sleep time at night fell from 437 minutes to 348 minutes, and mean subjective sleep efficiency decreased from 79 percent to 66 percent. Seventeen participants (46 percent) experienced some deterioration of mood after delivery.

Main author Bei Bei, DPsych, clinical psychology expert at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, said that while pregnancy is a joyous and exciting time, it also exposes women to a number of stressors, including disturbed sleep.

"We were surprised that while objective sleep was not irrelevant, subjective perception of sleep shared a much stronger relationship with mood," said Bei. "Women who are concerned about their sleep and/or mood should speak to health care professionals about cognitive-behavioral treatment, which is effective for improving both sleep and mood".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 25, 2010, 7:53 PM CT

Notion of 'group think' questioned

Notion of 'group think' questioned
A University of Alberta researcher is questioning the notion of "group think" a common psychological phenomenonthat has been used to explain some of the extreme things people do once they are within the confines of a group. Rob Wilson, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, rejects the popular idea that groups tend to have a mind of their own and says the notion of a collective mind is problematic.

"Groups are not thinking entities and do not share a collective consciousness," Wilson said. "The mind does not begin or end in the skull, but it's still the mind of the individual. It is individual minds, not group minds, that exists. The idea of group minds [is] either an ontological extravagance or an outright mystery".

In addition to arguing that groups don't have minds, Wilson says also in a recently published book, Boundaries of the Mind, that groups can have positive effects on people by helping them overcome challenges in their lives. He says groups (and by his definition "group" can mean two people) can play a key role in augmenting the cognitive abilities of individuals suffering from certain diseases, and could help those trying to lose weight.

"If someone is suffering from a degenerative disease and they're with a lifelong partner, they can remember things they couldn't otherwise recall, partly because they need their partner's support to compensate for their deficits, for example," Wilson said. "Likewise, someone in a dieting class would be able to regiment themselves and stick to a plan that's more demanding, more readily if they're in a group that's doing the same thing. They get reinforcement from their group".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 19, 2010, 7:40 AM CT

Failed college dreams don't spell depression

Failed college dreams don't spell depression
High school seniors, take note: A wise person once said, "It is better to shoot for the stars and miss than aim at the gutter and hit it".

That's right on, says Florida State University Sociology Professor John R. Reynolds, who just completed a study to determine whether unrealized educational expectations are linked to depression among adults. Reynolds also is the director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy at Florida State.

He and co-author Chardie L. Baird, an assistant professor of sociology at Kansas State University, found no long-term emotional costs of aiming high and falling short when it comes to educational aspirations, despite several social psychological theories that would seem to suggest otherwise. The researchers' conclusion: Society should not discourage unpromising students who have dreams of earning a college degree.

"We should not be in a hurry to dissuade these students from planning to go to college," Reynolds said. "In fact, the only way to guarantee negative mental health outcomes is not trying. Aiming high and failing is not consequential for mental health, while trying may lead to higher achievements and the mental and material benefits that go along with those achievements".

"Is There a Downside to Shooting for the Stars? Unrealized Educational Expectations and Symptoms of Depression," which was reported in the American Sociological Review (http://asr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/full/75/1/151), is the first large, national study to look at the mental health consequences of failing to meet educational expectations.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 17, 2010, 8:19 PM CT

Feeling lonely adds to rate of blood pressure increase

Feeling lonely adds to rate of blood pressure increase
Chronic feelings of loneliness take a toll on blood pressure over time, causing a marked increase after four years, as per a newly released study at the University of Chicago.

A newly released study shows, for the first time, a direct relation between loneliness and larger increases in blood pressure four years latera link that is independent of age and other factors that could cause blood pressure to rise, including body-mass index, smoking, alcohol use and demographic differences such as race and income.

The scientists also looked at the possibility that depression and stress might account for the increase but observed that those factors did not fully explain the increase in blood pressure among lonely people 50 years and older.

"Loneliness behaved as though it is a unique health-risk factor in its own right," wrote researcher Louise Hawkley in an article, "Loneliness Predicts Increased Blood Pressure," reported in the current issue of the journal Psychology and Aging

Hawkley, Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, is part of a University of Chicago research team that has been doing pioneering work on the impact of loneliness on health and quality of life issues. It includes Ronald Thisted, Chairman of Health Studies; Christopher Masi, Assistant Professor in Medicine; and John Cacioppo, the Tiffany & Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 15, 2010, 7:49 PM CT

Smoking may impair mental function

Smoking may impair mental function
Men and women with a history of alcohol abuse may not see long-term negative effects on their memory and thinking, but female smokers do, a newly released study suggests.

In a study of 287 men and women ages 31 to 60, scientists observed that those with past alcohol-use disorders performed similarly on standard tests of cognitive function as those with no past drinking problems.

The findings were not as positive when it came to tobacco, however.

In general, women who had ever been addicted to smoking had lower scores on certain cognitive tests than their nonsmoking counterparts. The same pattern was not true of men, however, the scientists report in the recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The reasons for the disparate findings on alcohol and smoking are not fully clear. Nor do they necessarily mean that serious alcohol problems would not affect long-term memory and other cognitive abilities; most study participants who had ever had drinking problems met the criteria for alcohol abuse rather than the more serious diagnosis of dependence.

Alcohol abuse was diagnosed when people reported one symptom of problem drinking -- drinking and driving, for instance, or failing to meet work or school obligations as a result of drinking. Dependence, conversely, mandatory people to have at least three symptoms -- such as needing to drink more and more to achieve the same effects and experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when they did not drink.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 14, 2010, 8:10 PM CT

Psychopaths' brains wired to seek rewards

Psychopaths' brains wired to seek rewards
The brains of psychopaths appear to be wired to keep seeking a reward at any cost, new research from Vanderbilt University finds. The research uncovers the role of the brain's reward system in psychopathy and opens a new area of study for understanding what drives these individuals.

"This study underscores the importance of neurological research as it relates to behavior," Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said. "The findings may help us find new ways to intervene before a personality trait becomes antisocial behavior".

The results were published March 14, 2010, in Nature Neuroscience

"Psychopaths are often thought of as cold-blooded criminals who take what they want without thinking about consequences," Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and main author of the newly released study, said. "We observed that a hyper-reactive dopamine reward system appears to be the foundation for some of the most problematic behaviors linked to psychopathy, such as violent crime, recidivism and substance abuse."

Prior research on psychopathy has focused on what these individuals lackfear, empathy and interpersonal skills. The new research, however, examines what they have in abundanceimpulsivity, heightened attraction to rewards and risk taking. Importantly, it is these latter traits that are most closely linked with the violent and criminal aspects of psychopathy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 12, 2010, 7:58 AM CT

R-rated movies and underage alcohol

R-rated movies and underage alcohol
R-rated movies portray violence and other behaviors deemed inappropriate for children under 17 year of age. A newly released study finds one more reason why parents should not let their kids watch those movies: adolescents who watch R-rated movies are more likely to try alcohol at a young age.

Reported in the recent issue of Prevention Science, a scientific journal of the Society for Prevention Research, the study of 6,255 children examined the relationship between watching R-rated movies and the probability of alcohol use across different levels of "sensation seeking," which is a tendency to seek out risky experiences. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and conducted by James D. Sargent, MD, a pediatrician at Dartmouth Medical School. The children were surveyed every 8 months for a period of two years from 2003 through 2005.

"The study observed that watching R-rated movies affected the level of sensation seeking among adolescents. It showed that R-rated movies not only contain scenes of alcohol use that prompt adolescents to drink, they also jack up the sensation seeking tendency, which makes adolescents more prone to engage in all sorts of risky behaviors" Sargent said.

"There is another take home point in the findings. When it comes to the direct effect on alcohol use, the influence of R-rated movies depends on sensation seeking level. High sensation seekers are already at high risk for use of alcohol, and watching a lot of R-rated movies raises their risk only a little. But for low sensation seekers, R-rated movies make a big difference. In fact, exposure to R-rated movies can make a low sensation seeking adolescent drink like a high sensation seeking adolescent." Sargent explained.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 10, 2010, 8:22 AM CT

After a fight with a partner

After a fight with a partner
Common wisdom tells us that for a successful relationship partners shouldn't go to bed angry. But new research from a psychology expert at Harvard University suggests that brain activityspecifically in the region called the lateral prefrontal cortexis a far better indicator of how someone will feel in the days following a fight with his or her partner.

Individuals who show more neural activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex are less likely to be upset the day after fighting with partners, as per a research studyin this month's Biological Psychiatry The findings point to the lateral prefrontal cortex's role in emotion regulation, and suggest that improved function within this region may also improve day-to-day mood.

"What we found, as you might expect, was that everybody felt badly on the day of the conflict with their partners," says main author Christine Hooker, assistant professor of psychology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "But the day after, people who had high lateral prefrontal cortex activity felt better and the people who had low lateral prefrontal cortex activity continued to feel badly".

Hooker's co-authors are zlem Ayduk, Anett Gyurak, Sara Verosky, and Asako Miyakawa, all of the University of California at Berkeley.........

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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