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October 1, 2008, 9:30 PM CT

Television Viewing and Aggression

Television Viewing and Aggression
The effect of media violence on behavior is not only an interesting psychological question but is also a relevant public policy and public health issue. Eventhough a number of studies have been conducted examining the link between violence on TV and aggressive behavior, most of these studies have overlooked several other potentially significant factors, including the dramatic context of the violence and the type of violence depicted as well as the race and ethnicity of the viewers.

In a new study appearing in the recent issue of Perspecitves on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychology experts Seymour Feshbach from the University of California, Los Angeles and June Tangney from George Mason University investigated the effect that exposure to violent TV programs has on negative behavior in children from different ethnic backgrounds. To investigate this connection, the psychology experts conducted a study that reviewed TV viewing habits, intelligence, and behavior in 4th, 5th and 6th grade children. To assess these qualities, the children's parents and teachers completed behavioral questionnaires detailing the children's aggression, delinquency and cruelty. The children took IQ tests and completed surveys indicating the TV programs (which were later categorized as violent or non-violent by the researchers) they had watched during a seven day time period.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 1, 2008, 8:23 PM CT

PTSD impacts veterans' well-being

PTSD impacts veterans' well-being
Deployed peacekeeping veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have significant impairments in health-related quality of life as per research by Dr. J. Donald Richardson of The University of Western Ontario and his co-investigators.

The research, published this month in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found anxiety disorders such as PTSD are linked to impaired emotional well-being, and this applies just as much to peacekeeping veterans as to combat veterans. "This finding is important to clinicians working with the newer generation of veterans, as it stresses the importance of including measures of quality of life when evaluating veterans to better address their rehabilitation needs," says Dr. Richardson. "It is not enough to measure symptom changes with therapy; we need to objectively asses if therapy is improving their quality of life and how they are functioning in their community".

Richardson is a consultant psychiatry expert with the Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Parkwood Hospital, part of St. Joseph's Health Care, London and a psychiatry professor with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western. His team studied 125 male, deployed Canadian Forces peacekeeping veterans who were referred for a psychiatric assessment. The average age of these men was 41, and they averaged 16 years of military service. The most common military theatre in which they served were the Balkan states (Bosnia, Croatia, former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo), with 83 per cent having exposure to combat or a war zone.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 29, 2008, 10:31 PM CT

Second-hand smoke may trigger nicotine dependence

Second-hand smoke may trigger nicotine dependence
Montreal, September 29, 2008 Parents who smoke cigarettes around their kids in cars and homes beware second-hand smoke may trigger symptoms of nicotine dependence in children. The findings appear in the September edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors in a joint study from nine Canadian institutions.

"Increased exposure to second-hand smoke, both in cars and homes, was linked to an increased likelihood of children reporting nicotine dependence symptoms, even though these children had never smoked," says Dr. Jennifer O'Loughlin, senior author of the study, a professor at the Universit de Montral's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and a researcher at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universit de Montral.

"These findings support the need for public health interventions that promote non-smoking in the presence of children, and uphold policies to restrict smoking in vehicles when children are present," adds Dr. O'Loughlin, who collaborated with scientists from the Universit de Sherbrooke, the Universit de Moncton, the University of British Columbia, McGill University, Concordia University and the Institut national de sant publique du Qubec.

Study participants were recruited from 29 Quebec schools as part of AdoQuest, a cohort investigation that measures tobacco use and other health-compromising behaviours. Some 1,800 children aged 10 to 12 years old, from all socioeconomic levels, were asked to complete questionnaires on their health and behaviours. Scientists also asked questions about symptoms of nicotine dependence and exposure to second-hand smoke.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 28, 2008, 8:42 PM CT

'Hub' of fear memory formation identified in brain cells

'Hub' of fear memory formation identified in brain cells
A protein mandatory for the earliest steps in embryonic development also plays a key role in solidifying fear memories in the brains of adult animals, researchers have revealed. An apparent "hub" for changes in the connections between brain cells, beta-catenin could be a potential target for drugs to enhance or interfere with memory formation.

The results are published online this week and appear in the recent issue of Nature Neuroscience

The protein beta-catenin acts like a Velcro strap, fastening cells' internal skeletons to proteins on their external membranes that connect them with other cells. In species ranging from flies to frogs to mice, it also can transmit early signals that separate an embryo into front and back or top and bottom.

During long-term memory formation, structural changes take place in the synapses the connections between neurons in the brain, says Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Ressler is a researcher at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center, where the research was conducted, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

"We thought beta-catenin could be a hub for the changes that take place in the synapses during memory formation," says Ressler. "But because beta-catenin is so important during development, we couldn't take the standard approach of just knocking it out genetically".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 22, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Statins increase risk of postoperative delirium

Statins increase risk of postoperative delirium
The use of statins is linked to a 28% increased risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients, found University of Toronto professor Dr. Donald Redelmeier and his colleagues in a retrospective cohort analysis involving more than 280 000 patients.

Ontario's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) looked at elderly patients who underwent elective surgery in Ontario and who had received 2 or more prescriptions for statins in the year before surgery, including at least one prescription in the 90 days preceding surgery. A number of patients took multiple medications, underwent abdominal, musculoskeletal or urogenital surgery which had a mean duration of about 115 minutes.

Delirium, in addition to causing anxiety in patients and families, contributes to longer hospital stays, a prolonged need for intensive care, and can disrupt and delay care.

They observed that 1 in 14 elderly patients were taking statins before surgery and 1 in 90 experienced delirium. Longer surgeries and age over 70 years increased the risk of delirium.

"Our results suggest that this association was more than a coincidence, especially among patients who received higher doses of statins and had longer duration noncardiac surgeries," state Dr. Redelmeier and his colleagues. "The association between statins and risk of delirium was distinct and was not observed with other lipid-lowering medications, cardiovascular medications or common drugs that reflect underlying chronic diseases but have no major effects on the cardiovascular system".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 16, 2008, 10:25 PM CT

Emotions are key in the study of face recognition

Emotions are key in the study of face recognition
Recognizing the faces of family and friends is commonly an effortless process. However, a minority of people have difficulties identifying the person they are meeting or remembering people they have met before. These problems can be quite dramatic, to the point where those affected fail to recognize the face of their spouse or child or even their own face. New research on face blindness demonstrates the importance of using naturalistic emotional faces and bodies for a better understanding of developmental face disorders.

The study, which is reported in the open-access journal PLoS ONE this week, by scientists in the Netherlands and at Massachusetts General Hospital, led by Beatrice de Gelder, shows that the presence of emotional information in the face increases neural activity in the area of the brain linked to face recognition (the fusiform face area, or FFA), a finding that could be used to design novel assessment and training programs. The study also provides evidence that body and face sensitive processes are less categorically segregated in people with face blindness and points to a possible cause of face blindness in cortical specialisation.

Recent research has shown that as much as 2% of the population suffers from face recognition difficulties. On analogy with developmental dyslexia, these cases are usually referred to as developmental prosopagnosia, referring to the possible origin of the adult face recognition deficit in anomalous development of the full face recognition skills.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 15, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Steady work and mental health - is there a connection?

Steady work and mental health - is there a connection?
Despite low overall unemployment, Canada's manufacturing industry has cut 88,000 jobs this year, with nearly all the losses occurring in Ontario. Also, part-time employment has grown by 3.5 per cent in 12 months, much faster than the 0.9 per cent growth in full time work. A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the social determinants of health demonstrates that these kind of employment changes can affect more than your wallet. Research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. Carles Muntaner in the WHO report highlights the profound impact of employment conditions on health.

Dr. Muntaner and his research team observed that poor mental health outcomes are linked to precarious employment (e.g. temporary contracts or part-time work with low wages and no benefits). When compared with those with full-time work with benefits, workers who report employment insecurity experience significant adverse effects on their physical and mental health.

The research team have also observed that stress at work is linked to a 50 per cent excess risk of coronary heart disease, and there is consistent evidence that jobs with high demands, low control, and effort-reward imbalance are risk factors for mental and physical health problems (major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders). Canada and many other wealthy countries such as the U.K., the United States, Australia and New Zealand all face similar challenges, Dr. Muntaner notes, because there's a greater tolerance for inequities than in some other countries such as Sweden and Denmark.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 14, 2008, 10:30 PM CT

Depressed dialysis patients more likely to be hospitalized

Depressed dialysis patients more likely to be hospitalized
Dr. Susan Hedayati, assistant professor of internal medicine, has demonstrated that depressed patients undergoing dialysis are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized or die within a year than those who are not depressed.
Dialysis patients diagnosed with depression are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized or die within a year than those who are not depressed, a.

UT Southwestern Medical Center researcher has found.

In the study, available online and in the Sept. 15 issue of Kidney International, scientists monitored 98 dialysis patients for up to 14 months. More than a quarter of dialysis patients received a psychiatric diagnosis of some form of depression based on a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition (DSM IV).

This is the first reported link between adverse clinical outcomes in dialysis patients and depression made through a formal psychiatric interview based on the DSM-IV standards. More than 80 percent of the depressed patients died or were hospitalized, compared with 43 percent of non-depressed patients. Cardiovascular events, which previously have been associated with depression, led to 20 percent of the hospitalizations.

"Twenty percent of patients who start dialysis will die by the end of the first year," said Dr. Susan Hedayati, assistant professor of internal medicine and the study's lead author. "What we don't know yet is, if their depression is treated, could it extend dialysis patients' survival and improve their quality of life".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 10, 2008, 10:03 PM CT

Abuse of painkillers can predispose to addiction

Abuse of painkillers can predispose to addiction
No child aspires to a lifetime of addiction. But their brains might. In new research to appear online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology this week, Rockefeller University scientists reveal that adolescent brains exposed to the painkiller Oxycontin can sustain lifelong and permanent changes in their reward system changes that increase the drug's euphoric properties and make such adolescents more vulnerable to the drug's effects later in adulthood.

The research, led by Mary Jeanne Kreek, head of the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, is the first to directly compare levels of the chemical dopamine in adolescent and adult mice in response to increasing doses of the painkiller. Kreek, first author Yong Zhang, a research associate in the lab, and their colleagues observed that adolescent mice self-administered Oxycontin less frequently than adults, suggesting that adolescents were more sensitive to its rewarding effects. These adolescent mice, when re-exposed to a low dose of the drug as adults, also had significantly higher dopamine levels in the brain's reward center in comparison to adult mice newly exposed to the drug.

"Together, these results suggest that adolescents who abuse prescription pain killers may be tuning their brain to a lifelong battle with opiate addiction if they re-exposed themselves to the drug as adults," says Kreek. "The neurobiological changes seem to sensitize the brain to the drug's powerfully rewarding properties."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 5:26 PM CT

Explaining winter blues

Explaining winter blues
Why do a number of Canadians get the winter blues? In the first study of its kind in the living human brain, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered greater levels of serotonin transporter in the brain in winter than in summer. These findings have important implications for understanding seasonal mood change in healthy people, vulnerability to seasonal affective disorders and the relationship of light exposure to mood.

CAMH's scientific team discovered that the serotonin transporter levels were significantly higher in all investigated brain regions in individuals studied in fall/winter, in comparison to those studied in spring/summer in a study of healthy subjects. Serotonin transporters remove serotonin so this discovery argues that there is more serotonin removal in the fall/winter as in comparison to spring/summer. Also, the higher serotonin transporter binding values occurred at times when there is less sunlight. This is the first time researchers have found differences in serotonin transporter levels in the brain in fall/winter versus spring/summer.

Serotonin is involved in regulating physical functions such as eating and energy balance, and emotional functions like mood and energy levels. These phenomena vary across the seasons and the molecular background for why this happens was previously unknown. For this study, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his team used a world-leading positron emission tomography (PET) technology (originally created at CAMH by Dr. Alan Wilson) to detect these seasonal variations in serotonin transporter binding (the process that removes serotonin) in the living human brain and correlations between serotonin binding and duration of daily sunshine.........

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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