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May 22, 2008, 10:26 PM CT

High-school girls who consider themselves attractive

High-school girls who consider themselves attractive
University of Alberta Educational Psychology PhD student Lindsey Leenaars has completed a study that assessed what types of high school students are being indirectly victimized. This includes being involved in emotionally damaging scenarios such as receiving hurtful anonymous notes, being socially excluded, or having rumours spread about them, including threats of physical harm.

Leenaars analyzed data that was collected in Ontario in 2003. More than 2,300 students aged 1218 filled out an anonymous questionnaire asking them questions, including how they rate their attractiveness, their sexual activity, their friendships and school social problems.

Leenaars found the females who viewed themselves as attractive had a 35 per cent increased chance of being indirectly victimized. On the other hand, for males who perceived themselves as good looking, their risk of being bullied decreased by 25 per cent. Leenaars also found older teens (aged 1618) were at a 35 per cent increased risk of being victimized if they were sexually active.

Leenaars says this information could be used to raise awareness amongst parents, teachers and counselors. She adds it would also be helpful when schools are working on a variety of anti-bullying programs to include all students, not just those who may be traditionally perceived as victims.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 20, 2008, 10:58 PM CT

Incense is psychoactive: Biology behind the ceremony

Incense is psychoactive: Biology behind the ceremony
Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), an international team of scientists, including scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity, said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research studys co-authors. We observed that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.

To determine incenses psychoactive effects, the scientists administered incensole acetate to mice. They observed that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 20, 2008, 9:47 PM CT

Research tool can detect autism at 9 months of age

Research tool can detect autism at 9 months of age
The ability to detect autism in children as young as nine months of age is on the horizon, as per scientists at McMaster University.

The Early Autism Study, led by Mel Rutherford, associate professor of psychology in the Faculty of Science, has been using eye tracker technology that measures eye direction while the babies look at faces, eyes, and bouncing balls on a computer screen.

Rutherford presented her peer-evaluated research at the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research in London. (www.autism-insar.org).

Whats important about this study is that now we can distinguish between a group of siblings with autism from a group with no autism at nine months and 12 months, says Rutherford. I can do this in 10 minutes, and it is objective, meaning that the only measure is eye direction; its not influenced by a clinicians report or by intuition. Nobodys been able to distinguish between these groups at so early an age.

Currently, the earliest diagnostic test for autism is reliable around the age of two, and most children in Ontario are diagnosed around age three or four. The earlier the diagnosis the better the overall prognosis, says Rutherford.

There is an urgent need for a quick, reliable and objective screening tool to aid in diagnosing autism much earlier than is presently possible, she says. Developing a tool for the early detection of autism would have profound effects on people with autism, their parents, family members, and future generations of those at risk of developing autism.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 15, 2008, 8:33 PM CT

Having less power impairs the mind and ability to get ahead

Having less power impairs the mind and ability to get ahead
New research appearing in the recent issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that being put in a low-power role may impair a person's basic cognitive functioning and thus, their ability to get ahead.

In their article, Pamela Smith of Radboud University Nijmegen, and his colleagues Nils B. Jostmann of VU University Amsterdam, Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Wilco W. van Dijk of VU University Amsterdam, focus on a set of cognitive processes called executive functions. Executive functions help people maintain and pursue their goals in difficult, distracting situations. The scientists observed that lacking power impaired people's ability to keep track of ever-changing information, to parse out irrelevant information, and to successfully plan ahead to achieve their goals.

In one experiment, the participants completed a Stroop task, a common psychological test designed to exercise executive functions. Participants who had earlier been randomly assigned to a low-power group made more errors in the Stroop task than those who had been assigned to a high-power group. Smith and his colleagues also observed that these results were not due to low-power people being less motivated or putting in less effort. Instead, those lacking in power had difficulty maintaining a focus on their current goal.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 14, 2008, 8:46 PM CT

Middle class relaxing with marijuana

Middle class relaxing with marijuana
A variety of middle-class people are making a conscious but careful choice to use marijuana to enhance their leisure activities, a University of Alberta study shows.

A qualitative study of 41 Canadians surveyed in 2005-06 by U of A scientists showed that there is no such thing as a typical marijuana user, but that people of all ages are selectively lighting up the drug as a way to enhance activities ranging from watching television and playing sports to having sex, painting or writing.

For some of the participants, marijuana enhanced their ability to relax by taking their minds off daily stresses and pressures. Others found it helpful in focusing on the activity at hand, said Geraint Osborne, a professor of sociology at the University of Albertas Augustana Campus in Camrose, and one of the studys authors.

The study was published recently in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.

The focus was on adult users who were employed, ranging in age from 21 to 61, including 25 men and 16 women from Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland whose use of the drug ranged from daily to once or twice a year. They were predominantly middle class and worked in the retail and service industries, in communications, as white-collar employees, or as health-care and social workers. As well, 68 per cent of the users held post-secondary degrees, while another 11 survey participants had earned their high school diplomas.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 14, 2008, 7:48 PM CT

Mothers' Depression, Young Children's Injuries

Mothers' Depression, Young Children's Injuries
Infants and toddlers whose mothers are severely depressed are almost three times more likely to suffer accidental injuries than other children in the same age group, as per a new study. The study's findings, published recently in the Advanced Access edition of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, suggest that proper therapy for depression would improve not only the mothers' health, but the health of young children as well.

Previous studies have shown that mothers who reported symptoms consistent with clinical depression had children who experienced a significant number of accidental injuries between the ages 3 months to 2 years.

In his study, UAB psychology expert David Schwebel, Ph.D., director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, examined the difference between mothers with severe, chronic depression and those who were moderately depressed as their children grew from birth to first grade.

A likely cause for the link between severe maternal depression and young children's injury risk is that chronically depressed mothers may not appropriately safeguard the physical environments that children engage in, Schwebel said. Another cause may be that symptoms of depression include inattention, poor concentration and irritability, which "might lead to poor or inconsistent supervision and enforcement of safety-related rules," he said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 11, 2008, 9:04 AM CT

Is divorce bad for the parents?

Is divorce bad for the parents?
The elderly are cared for by their adult children regardless of their marital status. In a unique study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, scientists found British adult children help their elderly parents as per current need (i.e. health) rather than past behaviour. This contrasts with other countries such as the US, where parents with a history of divorce see less of their children and receive less help from them.

So in the UK a parent that is living alone is more likely to receive help from children than parents with partners. Children also give more help as the parent ages. For every extra year of the parents age, he/she is 9% more likely to receive help from children not living at the same address. And parents with health problems are 75% more likely than those without health problems to be helped by their children. Curiously, divorced parents get more help from children than if they are widowed, but both groups receive more help than if they still have a partner. And it helps to have more children. Parents with more children receive more support; however, step children give step parents less support.

The research was carried out by a team from the Institute of Gerontology at Kings College London. They analysed data from an annual survey of over five thousand British households (British Household Panel Survey) from 1991 to 2003. They compared this information with a survey of over 3500 people at around retirement age (55-69 years) in 1988, and an Italian family survey.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 8, 2008, 8:59 PM CT

Do antidepressants enhance immune function?

Do antidepressants enhance immune function?
Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is an epidemic of global concern. As per the most recent estimates, released in November 2007, by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 33.2 million worldwide are living with HIV infection currently. Eventhough the rates of infection appear to be decreasing, there are obviously immense implications for achieving improvements in HIV/AIDS therapy.

The functioning of natural killer (NK) cells, which are a major element of the innate immunity system and are involved in the bodys first line of defense against infections such as HIV, is decreased in both HIV and depression. A group of scientists who have previously observed that stress and depression impair NK cell function and accelerate the course of HIV/AIDS are now publishing a new report in the May 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry.

In this study, they recruited both depressed and non-depressed HIV-infected women and studied the ex vivo effects of three drugs, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a substance P antagonist, and a glucocorticoid antagonist, on their NK cell activity. These drugs were selected because, as the authors state, each affect[s] underlying regulatory systems that have been extensively investigated in both stress and depression research as well as immune and viral research. The researchers observed that the SSRI citalopram, and the substance P antagonist CP 96,345, but not the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486, increased NK cell activity. As per Dr. Dwight Evans, corresponding author of the article: The present findings provide evidence that natural killer cell function in HIV infection may be enhanced by selective serotonin reuptake inhibition and also by substance P antagonism in both depressed and non-depressed individuals.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 7, 2008, 6:56 PM CT

Mental Fitness and Multi-Lingualism

Mental Fitness and Multi-Lingualism
Dr. Gitit Kave
Children who speak a second or third language may have an unexpected advantage during the later part of life, a new Tel Aviv University study has observed. Knowing and speaking a number of languages may protect the brain against the effects of aging.

Dr. Gitit Kave, a clinical neuro-psychology expert from the Herczeg Institute on Aging at Tel Aviv University, together with her colleagues Nitza Eyal, Aviva Shorek, and Jiska Cohen-Manfield, discovered recently that senior citizens who speak more languages test for better cognitive functioning. The results of her study were reported in the journal Psychology and Aging.

However, Kave says that one should approach these findings with caution. "There is no sure-fire recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of mental aging. But using a second or third language may help prolong the good years," she advises.

Exercising the Brain

A person who speaks more languages is likely to be more clear-minded at an older age, she says, in effect "exercising" his or her brain more than those who are monolingual. Languages may create new links in the brain, contributing to this strengthening effect.

The research was based on a survey taken in 1989 on people between the ages of 75 and 95. Each person was asked how a number of languages he or she knew, what his or her mother tongue was, and which language he or she spoke best. The scientists compared bilingual speakers to tri- and multilingual speakers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 8:51 PM CT

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws

Youths in towns with smoke-free restaurant laws
Young people who live in towns where regulations ban smoking in restaurants may be less likely to become established smokers, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A number of studies have examined the risk factors that lead young people to try their first cigarette, as per background information in the article. However, fewer scientists have differentiated these factors from those that cause children and teens to progress to established smoking, or having smoked 100 or more cigarettes. Yet understanding this difference is critical, the authors write. It would allow us to determine the age and stage at which youths are most sensitive to various types of interventions, thus enabling the more specific tailoring and more effective delivery of smoking prevention interventions.

Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston University School of Public Health, and his colleagues studied 3,834 Massachusetts youths who were age 12 to 17 at the first interview, conducted between 2001 and 2002. Of those, 2,791 were interviewed again two years later and 2,217 were interviewed four years later.

Overall, 9.3 percent of the participants became established smokers over the study period, including 9.6 percent of those living in towns with weak restaurant smoking regulations (where smoking is restricted to designated areas or not restricted at all), 9.8 percent of those in towns with medium regulations (smoking is restricted to enclosed or ventilated areas, or no smoking is allowed but variations are permitted) and 7.9 percent of those in towns with strong regulations (complete smoking bans). The strength of local smoking regulations was not linked to the transition from non-smoking to experimentation, but was linked to the transition from experimentation to established smoking.........

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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