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July 19, 2007, 9:49 PM CT

Medication That Helps Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Medication That Helps Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
Scientists at the University of Minnesota have observed that a drug originally developed to fight tuberculosis may help people with obsessive-compulsive disorder make more progress in treatment sessions.

Now they want to see if this drug could have a similar effect on people who want to quit smoking.

The research, led by Matt Kushner, Ph.D., was reported in the online edition of Biological Psychiatry, and will appear in an upcoming print edition. Kushners collaborators include Suck Won Kim, M.D., and Christopher Donahue, Ph.D.

The drug, D-Cycloserine, is believed to help accelerate extinction learning. On a basic level, people associate positive or negative feelings with various cues from the external world. Behavioral treatment attempts to help the person disassociate problematic reactions that are either positive (e.g., craving to use an addictive substance) or negative (e.g., fear of some catastrophic outcome) from the cues that trigger these feelings.

This offers another therapeutic approach where we can attempt to manipulate the memory process and the brains reward/punishment system so people can learn healthier responses to various cues, Kushner said.

For example, a person with OCD may have negative feelings before or after touching a doorknob. In psychotherapy, the person would work on disassociating the negative feeling with the external cue of seeing or touching a doorknob.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 18, 2007, 9:37 PM CT

The end of barroom brawls

The end of barroom brawls
The link between alcohol and aggression is well known. Whats not so clear is just why drunks get belligerent. What is it about the brain-on-alcohol that makes fighting seem like a good idea" And do all intoxicated people get more aggressive" Or does it depend on the circumstances".

University of Kentucky psychology expert Peter Giancola and his student Michelle Corman decided to explore these questions in the laboratory. One theory about alcohol and aggression is that drinking impairs the part of the brain involved in allocating our limited mental resourcesspecifically attention and working memory. When we can only focus on a fraction of whats going on around us, the theory holds, drunks narrow their social vision, concentrating myopically on provocative cues and ignoring things that might have a calming or inhibiting effect.

The researchers tested this idea on a group of young Kentucky men. Some of the men drank three to four screwdrivers before the experiment, while others stayed sober. Then they had them all compete against another person in a somewhat stressful game that mandatory very quick responses. Every time they lost a round, they received a shock varying in intensity. Likewise, when they won a round they gave their opponent a shock. The idea was to see how alcohol affected the mens belligerence, as measured by the kinds of shocks they chose to hand out.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 17, 2007, 10:37 PM CT

Ability to listen to 2 things

Ability to listen to 2 things
Your ability to listen to a phone message in one ear while a friend is talking into your other earand comprehend what both are sayingis an important communication skill thats heavily influenced by your genes, say scientists of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health. The finding, reported in the August 2007 issue of Human Genetics, may help scientists better understand a broad and complex group of disorderscalled auditory processing disorders (APDs)in which individuals with otherwise normal hearing ability have trouble making sense of the sounds around them.

Our auditory system doesnt end with our ears, says James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIDCD. It also includes the part of our brain that helps us interpret the sounds we hear. This is the first study to show that people vary widely in their ability to process what they hear, and these differences are due largely to heredity.

The term auditory processing refers to functions performed primarily by the brain that help a listener interpret sounds. Among other things, auditory processing enables us to tell the direction a sound is coming from, the timing and sequence of a sound, and whether a sound is a voice we need to listen to or background noise we should ignore. Most people dont even realize they possess these skills, much less how adept they are at them. Auditory processing skills play a role in a childs language acquisition and learning abilities, eventhough the extent of that relationship is not well understood.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 17, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Hereditary Link To Premenstrual Depression

Hereditary Link To Premenstrual Depression
A specific genetic variation may be tied to an increased.

risk for severe premenstrual depression, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Mental Health have found.

Known medically as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, this.

psychiatric condition affects roughly 8 percent of women in their.

childbearing years. It's characterized by bouts of major depression and/or anxiety and severe irritability during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms subside with the onset of each menstrual period.

While PMDD has been believed to be associated with hormonal changes over the.

course of the menstrual cycle, until now an explanation for the susceptibility to hormone-related mood changes has been elusive. "Our initial hope in the study was that by looking at steroid-related genes like those for receptors for steroid hormones such as estrogen, we would be able to find gene differences that might explain why some women have these mood disorders and others don't," said Dr. David R. Rubinow, the study's senior author and the Meymandi distinguished professor and chair of psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine. "This study may begin to provide important clues to the nature of that susceptibility".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

July 16, 2007, 10:13 PM CT

Poor Sleep And Cognitive Decline

Poor Sleep And Cognitive Decline
Women who experienced cognitive decline over a 13 to 15 year period after age 65 were more likely to sleep poorly than women whose cognition did not decline, as per a research studyled by scientists at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

The womens cognitive decline was linked to interrupted or fitful sleep. Total sleep time per night made no difference, says lead author Kristine Yaffe, MD, chief of geriatric psychiatry at SFVAMC and professor of psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

This indicates that its not how long you sleep, but how well you sleep, she says.

The study appears in the July 17, 2007 issue of Neurology.

Yaffe speculates that there are three possible explanations for the association between cognitive decline and disturbed sleep. She says the first and most likely reason is that whatever neurodegenerative condition is starting to cause cognitive decline, such as Alzheimers disease, is also affecting areas of the brain that govern sleep.

Sleep is very complex, notes Yaffe. It involves a coordinated series of neurologic functions that we dont entirely understand. Its not unlikely that early neurodegenerative disease could start having an effect on sleep centers as well.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 15, 2007, 9:14 PM CT

Mechanism Behind Fear

Mechanism Behind Fear
Scientists from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have uncovered a molecular mechanism that governs the formation of fears stemming from traumatic events. The work could lead to the first drug to treat the millions of adults who suffer each year from persistent, debilitating fears - including hundreds of soldiers returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The team will report their results in the July 15 advance online publication of Nature Neuroscience.

A study conducted by the Army in 2004 observed that one in eight soldiers returning from Iraq reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As per the National Center for PTSD in the United States, around eight percent of the population will have PTSD symptoms at some point in their lives. Some 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year, the center reports.

Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and his colleagues show that inhibiting a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context. On the other hand, the learned fear persisted when the kinase's activity was increased in the hippocampus, the brain's center for storing memories.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 11, 2007, 5:40 AM CT

Late nights may impact preteen behavior

Late nights may impact preteen behavior
A propensity for activities in the evening rather than in the morning may offer clues to behavioral problems in early adolescence, as per psychology experts who have observed that kids who prefer evenings are more likely to exhibit antisocial behavior, rule-breaking, and attention problems.

Results from the study further suggest that atypical secretions of the hormone cortisol and early puberty are both associated with antisocial behavior, though the findings are stronger for boys than girls.

Elizabeth J. Susman, the Jean Phillips Shibley professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, and her colleagues are trying to understand how a characteristic titled 'morningness/eveningness', along with the ratio of cortisol readings taken in the morning and afternoon, influences young adolescent behavior.

"Morningness/eveningness refers to individual differences in sleep-wake patterns and preferences for activity and alertness during mornings or evenings," Susman said. Prior studies with older adolescents show that it is associated with various psychological problems.

Susman thinks eveningness could make young adolescents vulnerable to antisocial behavior as well, and is studying how atypical patterns of cortisol secretion might add to the problem.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 5, 2007, 9:31 PM CT

Wives Have Greater Power In Marriage

Wives Have Greater Power In Marriage
Men may still have more power in the workplace, but apparently women really are "the boss" at home. That's as per a new study by a team of Iowa State University researchers.

The study of 72 married couples from Iowa observed that wives, on average, exhibit greater situational power -- in the form of domineering and dominant behaviors -- than their husbands during problem-solving discussions, regardless of who raised the topic. All of the couples in the sample were relatively happy in their marriages, with none in counseling at the time of the study.

Associate Professor of Psychology David Vogel and Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Megan Murphy led the research. The ISU research team also included Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Ronald Werner-Wilson, Professor of Psychology Carolyn Cutrona -- who is director of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research at Iowa State -- and Joann Seeman, a graduate student in psychology. They authored a paper titled "Sex Differences in the Use of Demand and Withdraw Behavior in Marriage: Examining the Social Structure Hypothesis," which appeared in last month's issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology -- a professional journal published by the American Psychological Association.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 2, 2007, 9:49 PM CT

Most middle-school boys play violent video games

Most middle-school boys play violent video games
A new study by scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospitals (MGH) Center for Mental Health and Media dispels some myths and uncovers some surprises about young teens and violent video and computer games. The study, reported in the recent issue of Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to ask middle-school youth in detail about the video and computer games they play and to analyze how a number of of those titles are rated M (Mature meant for ages 17 and up). It is also the first to ask children why they play video games. Some of the more striking findings include:
  • Almost all young teens play video games. Just six percent of the sample had not played any electronic games in the prior six months.
  • Most 7th and 8th graders (ages 12 to 14) regularly play violent video games. Two-thirds of boys and more than one in four girls reported playing at least one M-rated game a lot in the past six months.
  • A third of boys and one in ten girls play video or computer games almost every day.
  • A number of children are playing video games to manage their feelings, including anger and stress. Children who play violent games are more likely to play to get their anger out. They are also more likely to play games with strangers on the Internet.

Contrary to the stereotype of the solitary gamer with no social skills, we observed that children who play M-rated games are actually more likely to play in groups in the same room, or over the Internet, says Cheryl K. Olson, ScD, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media and lead author of the study. Boys friendships in particular often center around video games.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 2, 2007, 11:41 AM CT

You can't make up for lost sleep

You can't make up for lost sleep
Weve all experienced that occasional all-too-short night of sleep -- staying out too late at a party on a weeknight, studying into the wee hours for a morning exam or being kept up during the night with a sick child. Our bodies try to catch up by making us sleep more and/or more deeply the following night.

It is well established that following an acute period of sleep loss, the body responds this way in order to maintain a homeostatic balance between sleep and wakefulness. Very little is known, however, about the health consequences of chronic partial sleep loss -- losing a little bit of sleep over a period of days, months or even years.

Now sleep scientists at Northwestern University have discovered that when animals are partially sleep deprived over consecutive days they no longer attempt to catch up on sleep, despite an accumulating sleep deficit. Their study is the first to show that repeated partial sleep loss negatively affects an animals ability to compensate for lost sleep. The body responds differently to chronic sleep loss than it does to acute sleep loss.

The results, which shed light on a problem prevalent in industrialized nations with 24/7 societies such as the United States, where Americans get nearly an hour less sleep a night than they did 40 years ago, were published online recently by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).........

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. Archives of psychology news blog

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