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March 1, 2007, 5:00 AM CT

Children with sleep disorders

Children with sleep disorders
Parents of children with sleep problems are more likely to have sleep-related problems themselves, including more daytime sleepiness, as per a new study by scientists at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School.

"While most parents can testify that having a child with sleeping problems affects their own sleep, few scientific studies have looked at the relationship between children's and parents' sleep," says lead author Julie Boergers, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School, and co-director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic of Hasbro Children's Hospital.

The authors studied 107 families seeking therapy for their children aged 2 to 12 at a pediatric sleep disorders clinic, and found a link between children's and parents' sleep problems. For both parents, having a child with more than one sleep disorder was linked to greater parental daytime sleepiness. Children in the study had a broad range of sleep problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, sleep terrors, insomnia, and bedtime refusal.

The study appears in the March 2007 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.

They also observed that the link between parental and child sleep was especially apparent for mothers. That is, within families, mothers of children with sleep disorders had significantly greater daytime sleepiness than fathers, even though they reported about the same number of hours of sleep per night.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 28, 2007, 9:39 PM CT

Internet Does Not Provide Behavioral Counseling

Internet Does Not Provide Behavioral Counseling
A national survey of commercial health plans has observed that most plans provide online information regarding mental health and substance abuse but few provide clinical services such as counseling via the Internet. The nationally representative health plan survey, published in Psychiatric Services, and led by Dr. Constance Horgan at Brandeis University, is one of the first to examine the prevalence of health plan-sponsored online resources for behavioral health.

"Our study is part of an ongoing effort to determine how health insurers allocate resources for alcohol and substance abuse therapyhistorically an undermet need," said Horgan, director of the Institute for Behavioral Health, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis.

The survey sampled 60 nationally representative markets and included health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and point-of-service plans. Most private health plans offered online provider directories; 81 percent offered educational information; two thirds offered behavioral self-assessment tools, and almost half offered online referral. About one-third offered personalized responses to questions or problems. Only two percent offered online counseling.

"Delivering behavioral health services such as counseling certainly raises more complex clinical, professional, privacy, and legal issues, than, for example, offering educational information," said Horgan. "At least in the short term, increasing use of Internet-based tools designed to facilitate and complement, rather than replace, traditional clinical services seems most likely".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 28, 2007, 9:30 PM CT

Color Red Can Affect How People Function

Color Red Can Affect How People Function
The color red can affect how people function: Red means danger and commands us to stop in traffic. Scientists at the University of Rochester have now observed that red also can keep us from performing our best on tests.

If test takers are aware of even a hint of red, performance on a test will be affected to a significant degree, say scientists at Rochester and the University of Munich. The scientists article in the recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General on the effect of red on intellectual performance reveals that color associations are so strong and embedded so deeply that people are predisposed to certain reactions when they see red.

Andrew J. Elliot, lead author and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, and his co-authors observed that when people see even a flash of red before being tested, they associate the color with mistakes and failures. In turn, they do poorly on the test. Red, of course, is traditionally linked to marking errors on school papers.

"Color clearly has aesthetic value, but it can also carry specific meaning and convey specific information," says Elliot. "Our study of avoidance motivation is part and parcel of that".

Four experiments demonstrated that the brief perception of red previous to an important testsuch as an IQ test or a major examactually impaired performance. Two further experiments also established the link between red and avoidance motivation when task choice and psychophysiological measures were applied.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 26, 2007, 8:00 PM CT

Antidepressants to decrease alcohol consumption

Antidepressants to decrease alcohol consumption
CIHR-funded study explored the relationship between use of antidepressants and level of alcohol consumption, examining whether using antidepressants affected the link between depression and level of alcohol consumption. The research conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) concluded that women suffering from depression consumed more alcohol than women who did not experience depression, regardless of antidepressant use. This finding differs significantly from rates found in male counterparts. While men suffering from depression generally consume more alcohol than non-depressed men, those who use antidepressants consume alcohol at about the same level as non-depressed men.

Dr. Kathryn Graham, Senior Scientist with CAMH and Agnes Massak, Ph.D student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, published the study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on February 27, 2007.

"Our results agree with prior clinical research that suggests that the use of antidepressants is linked to lower alcohol consumption among men suffering from depression," said Dr. Graham. "But this does not appear to be true for women".

Overall, participants in the survey experiencing depression (both men and women) drank more alcohol than did non-depressed respondents. However, men taking antidepressants consumed significantly less alcohol than depressed men who did not use antidepressants. Non-depressed men consumed 436 drinks per year, in comparison to 579 drinks for depressed men not using antidepressants, and 414 drinks for depressed men who used antidepressants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 23, 2007, 4:53 AM CT

Why they are having trouble communicating

Why they are having trouble communicating
Especially among close associates, sharing even a little new information can slow down communication.

Some of peoples biggest problems with communication come in sharing new information with people they know well, newly published research at the University of Chicago shows.

Because they already share quite a bit of common knowledge, people often use short, ambiguous messages in talking with co-workers and spouses, and accordingly unintentionally create misunderstandings, said Boaz Keysar, Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

"People are so used to talking with those with whom they already share a great deal of information, that when they have something really new to share, they often present it in away that assumes the person already knows it," said Keysar, who with graduate student Shali Wu tested Keysars communication theories and presented the results in an article, "The Effect of Information Overlap on Communication Effectiveness," reported in the current issue of Cognitive Science.

"Sharing additional information reduces communication effectiveness precisely when there is an opportunity to informwhen people communicate information only they themselves know," the scientists said.

In order to test the theory, the two created a communications game in which parties had unequal amounts of information. They prepared line drawings of unusual shapes and gave them made-up names and then trained University of Chicago students to recognize different numbers of the shapes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 21, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

Reduced Brain Growth In Alcoholics

Reduced Brain Growth In Alcoholics
The brains of alcohol-dependent individuals are affected not only by their own heavy drinking, but also by genetic or environmental factors linked to their parents drinking, as per a new study by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Scientists found reduced brain growth among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism or heavy drinking in comparison to those with no such family history. Their report has been published online in Biological Psychiatry at as an article in press.

"This is interesting new information about how biological and environmental factors might interact to affect children of alcoholics," notes George Kunos M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, NIAAA.

A number of studies have shown that alcohol-dependent men and women have smaller brain volumes than non-alcohol-dependent individuals. It is widely believed that this is due to the toxic effects of ethanol, which causes the alcoholics brain to shrink with aging to a greater extent than the non-alcoholics.

"Our study is the first to demonstrate that brain size among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism is reduced even before the onset of alcohol dependence," explains first author Jodi Gilman, B.S., a NIAAA research fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Brown University working with senior author Daniel Hommer, M.D., of the NIAAA Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies (LCTS) and co-author James Bjork, Ph.D., also of the NIAAA/LCTS.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

February 20, 2007, 8:04 PM CT

Tracking Personality Traits to Learn More About Alcoholism

Tracking Personality Traits to Learn More About Alcoholism
A long-term research project at the University of Missouri-Columbia is producing valuable information about alcoholism and individuals who are affected by a family history of the disease. MU psychology researchers, now several years into a multi-year study, have discovered that individuals from alcoholic homes maintain personality traits that could eventually lead to alcohol dependency.

Kenneth J. Sher, professor of clinical psychology in the College of Arts and Science's Department of Psychological Sciences, and psychology graduate student Jenny Larkins, have compared personality differences of individuals from alcoholic homes to those from non-alcoholic environments. They are monitoring the neuroticism and psychoticism levels of individuals from both groups. The neuroticism scale measures characteristics such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shyness, moodiness and emotionality. The psychoticism scale measures traits correlation to aggression, egocentrism, impulsivity and anti-social behavior. When the study began in 1987, individuals with family histories of alcoholism scored higher than their counterparts.

Over time and as participants in both groups aged, the scientists found an overall decrease in neuroticism and psychoticism levels. However, Sher said those from alcoholic homes maintained relatively higher levels of deviant behavioral and emotional traits during adult maturation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 20, 2007, 7:54 PM CT

Mental And Physical Health Of Caregivers

Mental And Physical Health Of Caregivers
Having positive cultural beliefs about caring for elders and strong religious beliefs can ward off depression and other mental health difficulties for female caregivers of spouses and parents with dementia, but sustained elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, puts these women at risk for physical health problems, as per a research studyreported in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychology.

"Caregiving for someone with dementia is stressful for almost everyone and can negatively influence mental and physical health," said T. J. McCallum, assistant professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University.

Since stress is common in caregiving, McCallum, along with Kristen H. Sorocco from the University of Oklahoma's Health Sciences Center, and Thomas Fritsch, formerly of Case's University Memory and Aging Center (who is now at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee), set out to study how different cultural and religious beliefs in different ethnic groups impact the overall health of the caregivers.

In a pilot study, the scientists studied 54 caregivers (30 African Americans and 24 European Americans) and compared their mental health and cortisol levels with 64 non caregivers (48 African Americans and 15 European Americans). The participants were closely matched for their income levels, college education and length of time caring for their family members (less than five years). Each caregiving group spent a similar amount of time bathing, dressing, preparing food and other activities to care for their loved ones.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 19, 2007, 8:33 PM CT

Sometimes People Can Be Trusted

Sometimes People Can Be Trusted Multitier Framework for Analyzing Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems.
Government ownership is not always the best way to protect natural resources, said Elinor Ostrom, director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University.

In a presentation given on Saturday (Feb. 17) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she described a diagnostic framework to help policymakers develop sustainability plans for each unique resource. Contradicting the standard approach to environmental protection, the Multi-tier Framework for Analyzing Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems relies on her conviction that "most people can be trusted if the institutions enhance trust."

The framework, pictured in this release, demonstrates how different characteristics of a social-ecological system influence one another. Each of these broad categories contains several variables, which can in turn be further broken down.

During the past several years, Ostrom's research has focused on testing the framework by mapping different social-ecological situations using these universal components. She is now working to identify the crucial characteristics that can determine which type of solution is indicated for the particular resource system. Solutions might range from grassroots governance in certain circumstances to government regulation or a private property system in others, she said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 13, 2007, 8:41 PM CT

Patients And Therapists Are 'Wired To Connect'

Patients And Therapists Are 'Wired To Connect'
Empathy is well known to be an important component of the patient-therapist relationship, and a new study has revealed the biology behind how patients and therapists connect during a clinical encounter. In the February Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report the first physiologic evidence of shared emotions underlying the experience of empathy during live psychotherapy sessions. The scientists observed that, during moments of high positive emotion, both patients and therapists had similar physiologic responses and that greater levels of similarity were correlation to higher ratings of therapist empathy by patients.

This research supports brain imaging data that shows humans are literally wired to connect emotionally, says Carl Marci, MD, director of Social Neuroscience in the MGH Department of Psychiatry and the papers lead author. There is now converging evidence that, during moments of empathic connection, humans reflect or mirror each others emotions, and their physiologies move on the same wavelength.

As part of a research study that's ongoing of the role of empathy in psychotherapy, the MGH scientists videotaped therapeutic sessions of 20 unique patient-therapist pairs. The patients were being treated as outpatients for common mood and anxiety disorders in established therapeutic relationships. The participating therapists practiced psychodynamic treatment, an approach that uses the therapeutic relationship to help patients develop insight into their emotions.........

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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