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December 2, 2007, 8:21 PM CT

Exercise gene could help with depression

Exercise gene could help with depression
Boosting an exercise-related gene in the brain works as a powerful anti-depressant in micea finding that could lead to a new anti-depressant drug target, as per a Yale School of Medicine report in Nature Medicine.

The VGF exercise-related gene and target for drug development could be even better than chemical antidepressants because it is already present in the brain, said Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study.

Depression affects 16 percent of the population in the United States, at a related cost of $83 billion each year. Currently available anti-depressants help 65 percent of patients and require weeks to months before the patients experience relief.

Duman said it is known that exercise improves brain function and mental health, and provides protective benefits in the event of a brain injury or disease, but how this all happens in the brain is not well understood. He said the fact that existing medications take so long to work indicates that some neuronal adaptation or plasticity is needed.

He and colleagues designed a custom microarray that was optimized to show small changes in gene expression, especially in the brains hippocampus, a limbic structure highly sensitive to stress hormones, depression, and anti-depressants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 2, 2007, 8:19 PM CT

A real attention grabber

A real attention grabber
The person youre speaking with may be looking at you, but are they really paying attention" Or has the person covertly shifted their attention, without moving their eyes" Dr. Brian Corneil, of the Centre for Brain and Mind at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada has found a way of actually measuring covert attention. His research Neuromuscular consequences of reflexive covert orienting is posted on the Advance Online Publication of "Nature Neuroscience".

Our results demonstrate for the first time that covert attention can be measured in real-time via recordings of muscle activity in the neck, says Corneil, an assistant professor of physiology & pharmacology and psychology. This finding may fundamentally change how attention is measured, grounding it in an objective and straightforward technique.

Until now, measuring attention was based on indirect measures of changes in reaction time, or stimulus detection. In furthering our understanding of how the brain works, Corneil has discovered that neck muscles are recruited during covert orienting, even in the absence of eye movements. This finding could help in assessing the effectiveness of therapies for stroke or other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 29, 2007, 10:29 PM CT

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness

Personality Traits Influence Perceived Attractiveness
A new study published in Personal Relationships examines the way in which perceptions of physical attractiveness are influenced by personality. The study finds that individuals - both men and women - who exhibit positive traits, such as honesty and helpfulness, are perceived as better looking. Those who exhibit negative traits, such as unfairness and rudeness, appear to be less physically attractive to observers.

Participants in the study viewed photographs of opposite-sex individuals and rated them for attractiveness before and after being provided with information on personality traits. After personality information was received, participants also rated the desirability of each individual as a friend and as a dating partner. Information on personality was found to significantly alter perceived desirability, showing that cognitive processes and expectations modify judgments of attractiveness.

"Perceiving a person as having a desirable personality makes the person more suitable in general as a close relationship partner of any kind," says study author Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. The findings show that a positive personality leads to greater desirability as a friend, which leads to greater desirability as a romantic partner and, ultimately, to being viewed as more physically attractive. The findings remained consistent regardless of how "attractive" the individual was initially perceived to be, or of the participants' current relationship status or commitment level with a partner.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 28, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Pedophilia may be the result of faulty brain wiring

Pedophilia may be the result of faulty brain wiring
For Immediate Release November 28, 2007 (TORONTO) Pedophilia might be the result of faulty connections in the brain, as per new research released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The study used MRIs and a sophisticated computer analysis technique to compare a group of pedophiles with a group of non-sexual criminals. The pedophiles had significantly less of a substance called white matter which is responsible for wiring the different parts of the brain together.

The study, reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, challenges the usually held belief that pedophilia is brought on by childhood trauma or abuse. This finding is the strongest evidence yet that pedophilia is instead the result of a problem in brain development.

Prior research from this team has strongly hinted that the key to understanding pedophilia might be in how the brain develops. Pedophiles have lower IQs, are three times more likely to be left-handed, and even tend to be physically shorter than non-pedophiles.

There is nothing in this research that says pedophiles shouldnt be held criminally responsible for their actions, said Dr. James Cantor, CAMH Psychology expert and lead scientist of the study, Not being able to choose your sexual interests doesnt mean you cant choose what you do.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 28, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Morality and pro-social behaviors

Morality and pro-social behaviors
Eventhough a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe.an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.

With these words, Charles Darwin proposed an evolutionary explanation for morality and pro-social behaviors individuals behaving for the good of their group, often at their own expensethat anticipated the future discipline of Sociobiology. A century after this famous passage was published in The Descent of Man (1871), however, Darwins explanation based on group selection had become taboo and has not recovered since. In a landmark article for The Quarterly Review of Biology, Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology, eminent evolutionary researchers David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilsonwhose book Sociobiology:The New Synthesis brought widespread attention to the field in 1975call for an end to forty years of confusion and divergent theories. They propose a new consensus and theoretical foundation that affirms Darwins original conjecture and is supported by the latest biological findings.

Wilson and Wilson trace much of the confusion in the field to the 1960s, when most evolutionists rejected for the good of the group thinking and insisted that all adaptations must be explained in terms of individual self-interest. In an even more reductionistic move, genes were called the fundamental unit of selection, as if this was an argument against group selection. Scientific dogma became entrenched in popular culture with the publication of Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene (1976). Eventhough evidence in favor of group selection began accumulating almost immediately after its rejection, its taboo status prevented a systematic re-evaluation of the field until now.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 26, 2007, 10:09 PM CT

Burning out? Try logging off

Burning out? Try logging off
You might believe that a long vacation is the way to beat job burnout. But the kind of vacation you have is just as important if not more important than its length, concludes Prof. Dov Eden, an organizational psychology expert from Tel Aviv Universitys Faculty of Management.

The key to a quality vacation, he says, is to put work at a distance. And keep it there.

Using work cell phones and checking company email at the poolside is not a vacation, Prof. Eden says. Persons who do this are shackled to electronic tethers which in my opinion is little different from being in jail.

For the past ten years, Prof. Eden has been studying respite effects, which measure relief from chronic job stress before, during, and after vacations away from the workplace. Electronic connectivity exacts a price from those who stay wired into the office while away from work. It marks the end of true respite relief, says Prof. Eden, and is a cause of chronic job stress.

If I were a manager, I would insist that my employees leave their cell phones at work during vacation and not check their email while away, Prof. Eden warns. In the long run, the employee will be better rested and better able to perform his or her job because true respite affords an opportunity to restore depleted psychological resources.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 21, 2007, 5:20 AM CT

Asthma link to post-traumatic stress disorder

Asthma link to post-traumatic stress disorder
For the first time, a study by scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is linking asthma with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among adults. The study of male twins who were veterans of the Vietnam era suggests that the association between asthma and PTSD is not primarily explained by common genetic influences.

The study included 3,065 male twin pairs, who had lived together in childhood, and who had both served on active military duty during the Vietnam War. As per the findings, among all twins, those who suffered from the most PTSD symptoms were 2.3 times as likely to have asthma compared with those who suffered from the least PTSD symptoms.

The study included both identical twins, who share all the same genetic material, and fraternal twins, who share only half of the same genetic material. "If there had been a strong genetic component to the link between asthma and PTSD, the results between these two types of twins would have been different, but we didn't find substantial differences between the two," said lead researcher Renee D. Goodwin, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Several other studies have observed a relationship between asthma and other anxiety disorders, Dr. Goodwin noted, yet this study is the first to investigate the link between asthma and PTSD. This new research also confirmed prior findings that linked asthma with a higher risk of depression. "The reason (s) for the association between asthma and mental disorders is not known," she said. "Asthma could increase the risk of anxiety disorders, or anxiety disorders might cause asthma, or there could be common risk factors for both asthma and anxiety disorders. Our study found the association between asthma and PTSD does not appear to be primarily due to a common genetic predisposition".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

Schizophrenics more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix

Schizophrenics more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix
People with mental illness suffer more than just psychological problems. People with schizophrenia are more likely to suffer from ruptured appendix than others, as per research reported in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health.

Most studies of healthcare provision for patients with mental illness commonly focus on psychological problems but often ignore physical disease. Jen-Huoy Tsay and his colleagues at the National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C., have compared the outcomes of appendicitis sufferers, looking specifically at patients with and without mental illness, including schizophrenia and different major mental illnesses.

The team used Taiwanese National Health Insurance (NHI) hospital-discharge data and compared the likelihood of a ruptured appendix among almost 100,000 people aged 15 and over who were hospitalized for acute appendicitis in Taiwan during the period 1997-2001.

Tsay and his colleagues observed that a ruptured appendix occurred in 46.7 percent of the schizophrenic patients, in 43.4 percent of the patients with other major mental disorders, and in 25.1 percent of the patients with no major mental diseases. More ruptured cases were found among males and older patients.

After adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and hospital characteristics, the team observed that patients with schizophrenia were still almost three times as likely to suffer a ruptured appendix as the general population. The presence of affective psychoses or other major mental disorders did not, however, remain linked to a significantly increased risk of rupture.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 10:11 PM CT

Early academic skills, best predict school success

Early academic skills, best predict school success
An educational study unprecedented in scope finds that children who enter kindergarten with elementary mathematics and reading skills are the most likely to experience later academic success -- whether or not they have social or emotional problems.

We find the single most important factor in predicting later academic achievement is that children begin school with a mastery of early math and literacy concepts, said Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan and the study's primary author. Attention-related skills, though more modestly, also consistently predict achievement.

But it is the seeming lack of association between social and emotional behaviors and later academic learning that most surprised the scientists -- a lack of association as true for boys as for girls and as true for children from affluent families as for those from less affluent families.

Children who engage in aggressive or disruptive behavior or who have difficulty making friends wind up learning just as much as their better behaved or more socially adjusted classmates provided that they come to school with academic skills, said Northwestern's Duncan. We do not know if their behavior affects the achievement of other children.

Appearing in the recent issue of Developmental Psychology, the study findings are based on an analysis of existing data from more than 35,000 preschoolers in the United States, Canada and England.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

Mechanism For Acne Drug's Link To Depression

Mechanism For Acne Drug's Link To Depression
As per a research findings reported in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers reveal a potential mechanism that might link the drug Roaccutane (Accutane in the US) to reported cases of depression in some patients taking the medication.

The scientists had previously reported that the drug caused depressive behaviour in mice but, until now, the mechanism by which this might happen was unknown.

Using cells cultured in a laboratory, researchers from the University of Bath (UK) and University of Texas at Austin (USA) were able to monitor the effect of the drug on the chemistry of the cells that produce serotonin.

They observed that the cells significantly increased production of proteins and cell metabolites that are known to reduce the availability of serotonin.

This, says scientists, could disrupt the process by which serotonin relays signals between neurons in the brain and may be the cause of depression-related behaviour.

"Serotonin is an important chemical that relays signals from nerve cells to other cells in the body," said Dr Sarah Bailey from the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at the University of Bath.

"In the brain it is thought to play an important role in the regulation of a range of behaviours, such as aggression, anger and sleep.........

Posted by: George      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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