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April 2, 2009, 5:13 AM CT

Stress Affects Financial Decision Making

Stress Affects Financial Decision Making
It is not surprising that as our economy continues its freefall, we are feeling increasingly more stressed and worried. A number of of us are feeling extreme unease about the security of our jobs and being able to make our next mortgage payment. However, as per a new report in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, stress could make our financial troubles even worse.

The study, conducted by psychology experts Anthony J. Porcelli and Mauricio R. Delgado of Rutgers University, reveals that acute stress affects risk taking during financial decision making. A group of volunteers chose between various financial gambles after being asked to immerse their hand for a period of time in either ice-cold (used to induce stress) or room-temperature (no-stress) water. Some of the choices were risky (less likely but with a high payout) and others conservative (more likely but with a lower value).

The results were consistent with a phenomenon known as the reflection effect - we tend to show increased conservatism when choosing between two potentially positive outcomes, but increase our risky behavior when choosing between two gambles that result in a loss. However, this study suggests that stress exaggerates this effect; while exposed to stress volunteers were more conservative when choosing between potentially positive outcomes and were riskier when choosing between gambles that could result in a loss.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

A sweeping new theory for autism

A sweeping new theory for autism
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have proposed a sweeping new theory of autism that suggests that the brains of people with autism are structurally normal but dysregulated, meaning symptoms of the disorder might be reversible.

The central tenet of the theory, reported in the recent issue of Brain Research Reviews, is that autism is a developmental disorder caused by impaired regulation of the locus coeruleus, a bundle of neurons in the brain stem that processes sensory signals from all areas of the body.

The new theory stems from decades of anecdotal observations that some autistic children seem to improve when they have a fever, only to regress when the fever ebbs. A 2007 study in the journal Pediatrics took a more rigorous look at fever and autism, observing autistic children during and after fever episodes and comparing their behavior with autistic children who didn't have fevers. This study documented that autistic children experience behavior changes during fever.

"On a positive note, we are talking about a brain region that is not irrevocably altered. It gives us hope that, with novel therapies, we will eventually be able to help people with autism," says theory co-author Mark F. Mehler, M.D., chairman of neurology and director of the Institute for Brain Disorders and Neural Regeneration at Einstein.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2009, 4:56 AM CT

Autism stress hormone level Link

Autism stress hormone level Link
Some of the symptoms of the autistic condition Asperger Syndrome, such as a need for routine and resistance to change, could be associated with levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggests new research led by the University of Bath.

Normally, people have a surge of this hormone shortly after waking, with levels gradually decreasing throughout the day. It is thought this surge makes the brain alert, preparing the body for the day and helping the person to be aware of changes happening around them.

However, a study led by Dr Mark Brosnan and Dr Julie Turner-Cobb from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, and Dr David Jessop from the University of Bristol, has observed that children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) do not experience this surge.

The scientists believe these findings may help to explain why individuals with this condition have difficulties with minor changes to their routine or changes in their environment.

The study has been reported in the peer-evaluated journal Psychoneuroendocrinology

Dr Brosnan explained: "Cortisol is one of a family of stress hormones that acts like a 'red alert' that is triggered by stressful situations allowing a person to react quickly to changes around them.

"In most people, there is a two hundred percent increase in levels of this hormone within 30 minutes of waking up, with levels gradually declining during the day as part of the internal body clock.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 31, 2009, 5:21 AM CT

Link Between Schizophrenia And Diabetes

Link Between Schizophrenia And Diabetes
People with schizophrenia are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, Medical College of Georgia scientists have found.

In a study of 50 people newly-diagnosed with schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder with no other known risk factors, 16 percent had either diabetes or an abnormal rate of glucose metabolism, says Dr. Brian Kirkpatrick, vice chair of the MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior. In a similar size control group of people without schizophrenia, none had signs of or had developed the disease.

People with diabetes cannot produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that converts glucose, starches and other food into energy.

"These findings point toward there being some shared environmental factors or genetic factors between the development of schizophrenia and diabetes," he says.

Dr. Kirkpatrick presented his findings at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research in San Diego March 28-April 1.

Scientists have long suspected that schizophrenia led to an increased risk of diabetes, Dr. Kirkpatrick says.

To find out whether there was a link, he and his colleagues at the University of Barcelona in Spain and the University of Maryland administered a two-hour oral glucose test to patients who had still not been placed on anti-psychotic medication. Catching them before prescriptive therapy was important because scientists already knew that some of the most effective schizophrenia drugs also cause rapid weight gain - a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 30, 2009, 5:28 AM CT

How autism skews developing brain?

How autism skews developing brain?
Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to stare at people's mouths rather than their eyes. Now, an NIH-funded study in 2-year-olds with the social deficit disorder suggests why they might find mouths so attractive: lip-syncthe exact match of lip motion and speech sound. Such audiovisual synchrony preoccupied toddlers who have autism, while their unaffected peers focused on socially meaningful movements of the human body, such as gestures and facial expressions.

"Typically developing children pay special attention to human movement from very early in life, within days of being born. But in children with autism, even as old as two years, we saw no evidence of this," explained Ami Klin, Ph.D., of the Yale Child Study Center, who led the research. "Toddlers with autism are missing rich social information imparted by these cues, and this is likely to adversely affect the course of their development."

Klin, Warren Jones, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Yale, report the findings of their study, funded in part by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Mental Health, online March 29, 2009 in the journal Nature

For the first time, this study has pinpointed what grabs the attention of toddlers with ASDs," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "In addition to potential uses in screening for early diagnosis, this line of research holds promise for development of new therapies based on redirecting visual attention in children with these disorders."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 30, 2009, 5:04 AM CT

Multiple births and postpartum blues

Multiple births and postpartum blues
Mothers of multiples have 43 percent increased odds of having moderate to severe depressive symptoms nine months after giving birth in comparison to mothers of single-born children, as per scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Scientists examined the relationship between multiple births and maternal depressive symptoms and observed that multiple births increased the odds of maternal depression, and that few mothers with depressive symptoms, regardless of the multiple births status, reported talking to a mental health specialist or a general medical provider. The results are reported in the April 1, 2009, issue of Pediatrics

"Our findings suggest that 19 percent of mothers of multiples had moderate to severe depressive symptoms nine months after delivery, in comparison to 16 percent among mothers of singletons," said Yoonjoung Choi, DrPH, main author of the study and a research associate with the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health. "Mothers with a history of hospitalization due to mental health problems or a history of alcohol or drug abuse also had significantly increased odds. Non-Hispanic black mothers had higher odds in comparison to non-Hispanic white mothers. Mothers who were currently married, Hispanic, or with a high household socioeconomic status were less likely to have depressive symptoms".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 27, 2009, 5:28 AM CT

Zopiclone over use and impaired decision making

Zopiclone over use and impaired decision making
A newly released study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health shows a positive link between the amount of the hypnotic (sleeping medicine) zopiclone in the blood and the chance of being assessed as impaired in a clinical examination. The study also included drivers who only showed alcohol in their blood test.

- This could be important background knowledge in the discussion about establishing legal limits in traffic for sedatives or sleep-inducing medicines as we have for alcohol, says Ingebjørg Gustavsen from the Division for Forensic Toxicology and Drug Research.

Common sleeping medicines

Hypnotics that contain zopiclone and zolpidem (e.g. Imovane® and Stilnoct®) are widely used throughout the world and it is reported that between 3 and 7 % of the adult population uses these drugs. Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have now studied if there is a link between the concentration of zopiclone or zolpidem in the blood and being assessed as impaired during a clinical examination. The study was done on anonymised material by comparing blood samples and results from clinical tests for the period January 2000 to December 2007. The same study waccording toformed on another group of drivers who only had alcohol in the blood.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 26, 2009, 9:53 PM CT

Anorexia and psychiatric disorders

Anorexia and psychiatric disorders
Credit: Ben Kokolas
The study was initiated in 1985. A total of 51 teenagers with anorexia nervosa were studied, together with an equally large control group of healthy persons. The groups have been investigated and compared several times as the years have passed.

"This study is unique in an international perspective. It is the only study in the world that reflects the natural course of anorexia nervosa in the population", says Elisabet Wentz, Associate Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

The research group has published new results from the study in two scientific journals: the British Journal of Psychiatry and the International Journal of Eating Disorders

Three women have not yet recovered from anorexia, 18 years after the start of the study. Thirteen people, or around 25%, are on disability benefit or have been signed off sick for more than six months due to an eating disorder or other psychiatric disorder. Thirty-nine percent have at least one other psychiatric disorder, in addition to the eating disorder. The most common of these is obsessive compulsive disorder.

But the results also contain some positive surprises.

"Prior studies have shown that anorexia is a diagnosis with a very poor prognosis, with as a number of as one in five patients dying as a result of the disease. In contrast, we have not had a single death among the subjects of our study", says Elisabet Wentz.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 26, 2009, 9:36 PM CT

Do Americans have an identity crisis?

Do Americans have an identity crisis?
Say goodbye to Italian-Americans and German-Americans and say hello to Vietnamese-Americans, Salvadoran-Americans and a bunch of other hyphenated Americans.

The way people identify themselves in the United States is changing, and the way the federal census classifies them by race or ethnicity isn't painting a clear portrait of America, as per new research.

University of Washington demographers who analyzed 2000 census data contend that because of the way the census was structured a number of Hispanics or Latinos were eventually lumped into a category called "some other race." So a number of were placed in that category that it was the third-largest group behind whites and blacks in the census. This led to mistaken reports last year that whites, as opposed to non-Hispanic whites, were projected to be a minority in the U.S. by 2050. Actually, whites including Hispanic whites are expected to comprise upwards of 70 percent of the population in 2050.

"The truth is a number of people probably can't accurately report the origins of their ancestors," said Anthony Perez, main author of a newly released study and a UW post-doctoral fellow in sociology and the university's Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology. His co-author is Charles Hirschman, a UW professor of sociology and former president of the Population Association of America. The research appears in the recent issue of the journal Population and Development Review........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 25, 2009, 10:02 PM CT

Daily consumption cannabis may lead to psychosis

Daily consumption cannabis may lead to psychosis
The daily consumption of cannabis predisposes to the appearance of psychosis and schizophrenia, and those episodes of psychosis which are fruit of this substance present certain specific characteristics, both before their appearance and in the clinical presentation of the psychosis. This is one of the conclusions of the doctoral thesis "Neurodevelopment and environmental stress in initial psychosis: transversal analysis of the ESPIGAS study", carried out by researcher Miguel Ruiz Veguilla, of the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Granada (Spain) and supervised by professors Manuel Gurpegui Fernndez de Legaria and Jorge Cervilla Ballesteros Ruiz Veguilla is also the person in charge fo the Unit of Development Neuropsychiatry of Jan (Spain).

This work has studied the risk factors linked to schizophrenia, identifying and characterizing in depth those psychosis linked to a continual consumption of cannabis. They carried out a study with 92 subjects, 50 of which had developed a psychosis without presenting signs of an "abnormal neurodevelopment", this is, they had been doing well academically, they had a group of friends (no social isolation) and they presented a good motor coordination. In addition, these subjects did not show a family history of episodes of psychosis in first or second degree.........

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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