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November 18, 2008, 5:37 AM CT

Individualists more likely to be problem drinkers

Individualists more likely to be problem drinkers
What makes residents of certain states or countries more likely to consume more alcohol? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, high levels of individualism lead to more problem drinking.

"We looked at the extent to which consumer levels of individualism (vs. collectivism) were related to their beer and problem alcohol consumption," write authors Yinlong Zhang and L.J. Shrum (both University of Texas-San Antonio).

"We found that the higher a region scored on valuing individualism, the greater their beer and alcohol consumption, and this was true even when taking into account the effects of other variables such as income, climate, gender, and religion."

The researchers first used archival data to conduct comparisons of beer and alcohol consumption. They compared countries and compared states within the United States. They found that individualism, on a whole-country basis, could significantly predict alcohol consumption. In the United States, individualism correlated with teen drinking, teen heavy drinking, and adult binge drinking.

The researchers went on to manipulate the cultural orientation of individuals in the study. "We did this by simply asking people to either think and then write about enjoying their own life (independent self-construal) or think and then write about enjoying relationships with family and friends (interdependent selfconstrual)," the authors wrote. "We found that people who were temporarily induced to have an independent self-construal were more receptive to immediate beer consumption than were people who were temporarily induced to have an interdependent self-construal." Study participants did not actually consume beer; they merely indicated whether they felt like it.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 5:36 AM CT

Families, friends, schools and neighborhoods

Families, friends, schools and neighborhoods
Characteristics present in the four social environments in which young people livefamilies, peers, schools, and neighborhoodscontribute both positively and negatively to whether teens misuse alcohol, with risk from one area possibly being magnified or decreased by attributes of another.

That's the finding of a new longitudinal study conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California at Davis, and the University of California at Irvine. The study appears in the November/December 2008 issue of the journal Child Development

Prior research on teen drinking has focused mostly on individuals' ties to friends and family members. This study suggests the need for a more inclusive view of the social world of adolescents and highlights the importance of examining the connections between all of the social environments in which they live.

The scientists used data from 6,544 teens ages 11 to 17 enrolled in three public school systems in North Carolina, surveying them every six months for a total of five times. The adolescents were in grades 6, 7, and 8 when they were first surveyed, and in grades 8, 9, and 10 at the end of the study. The study used information from the teens to measure their misuse of alcohol, including heavy drinking, and to gauge negative consequences linked to drinking, such as getting into fights.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 5:34 AM CT

Relationships with caregivers key to children's stress

Relationships with caregivers key to children's stress
How children are affected by out-of-home care depends not only on the qualities of their teacher and the classroom, but also on the nature of the children's relationship with their caregivers. That's the finding of a new study on the level of the stress hormone cortisol in children in full-day child care.

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone in humans, tends to be at its highest levels in the early morning and gradually declines over the course of the day. But recent research has observed that a number of preschoolers in full-day child care have increases in cortisol from morning to afternoon.

This study observed that children in classrooms with closer to 10 children were more likely to show cortisol decreases from morning to afternoon, while children in classrooms with closer to 20 children tended to show greater increases in cortisol across the day. Children with more clingy relationships with their teachers showed greater rises in cortisol from morning to afternoon, and children with more conflicted relationships with their teachers showed greater cortisol boosts during a one-on-one session with their teachers. Conflicted relationships were said to occur when teachers tried to control resistant children, when children perceived their teachers as unfriendly, or when teachers or children reported that the teachers found the interaction frustrating.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 5:26 AM CT

New program teaches preschoolers reading skills

New program teaches preschoolers reading skills
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies shows that it's possible to teach preschoolers the pre-reading skills they need for later school success, while at the same time fostering the socials skills necessary for making friends and avoiding conflicts with their peers.

The findings address long standing concerns on whether preschool education programs should emphasize academic achievement or social and emotional development.

"Fostering academic achievement in preschoolers need not come at the expense of healthy emotional development," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which provided much of the funding for the study. "This study shows that it's possible to do both at the same time".

The study appears in the November/recent issue of Child Development and was conducted by Karen Bierman, Ph.D., distinguished professor of Psychology at Penn State University.

In recent years, education officials and scientists who study early childhood education have struggled with whether to emphasize academics in preschool programs or to instead try to advance preschoolers' social skills, explained the NICHD project officer for the study, James Griffin, Ph.D., deputy chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch. The current study marks the first attempt to develop a curriculum that addresses both concerns equally, Dr. Griffin added.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2008, 9:37 PM CT

Teens at risk for psychosis

Teens at risk for psychosis
Emory University in Atlanta is playing a key role in the largest, most comprehensive study ever funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of adolescents and young adults at risk for developing a psychotic disorder. The five-year, $25-million study joins the resources of Emory and seven other major research universities, with the goal of identifying more precise predictors for psychosis, and a better understanding of the neural mechanisms involved.

"This is a critical, watershed study," said Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Emory. "To date, no one has systematically studied brain development, patterns of electrical brain activity and changes in gene expression in youth at risk for psychosis".

Schizophrenia, the most extreme psychosis, affects about 1 percent of the population and can have devastating consequences. Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia are unable to hold a job or live independently for most of their lives. They often suffer from homelessness, major depression and anxiety disorders.

"Because schizophrenia is severely debilitating, commonly chronic and very costly, preventing its onset has become a major area of emphasis of the NIMH," said Walker, who has studied the origins and precursors of psychosis for 30 years.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 6, 2008, 8:17 PM CT

Unusual use of toys in infancy a clue to later autism

Unusual use of toys in infancy a clue to later autism
Scientists at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute have observed that infants later diagnosed with autism exhibited unusual exploration of objects long before being diagnosed. Studying a group of children at high risk for developing autism, the scientists observed that those eventually diagnosed with the disorder were more likely to spin, repetitively rotate, stare at and look out of the corners of their eyes at simple objects, including a baby bottle and a rattle, as early as 12 months of age.

These findings could help pediatricians diagnose and treat autism earlier, reducing some of the social and educational challenges linked to the disorder.

"There is an urgent need to develop measures that can pick up early signs of autism, signs present before 24 months," said M.I.N.D. researcher Sally Ozonoff, first author of the current study, which was reported in the recent issue of Autism, the journal of the National Autistic Society.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all infants be screened for autism twice before their second birthdays. Currently, pediatricians look for the hallmark social and communication signs of autism, which include language delays and lack of interest in people.

"The finding that the unusual use of toys is also present early in life means that this behavior could easily be added to a parent check-list or quickly assessed during a visit to a pediatrician's office," Ozonoff said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 4, 2008, 10:53 PM CT

Psychoses among migrant groups

Psychoses among migrant groups
Scientists examining the occurrence of psychoses among migrant groups have shown a raised incidence for all black and ethnic minority subgroups compared with white British counterparts, and reveal that the risk of psychoses for first and second generations varies by ethnicity. Findings from the East London First Episode Psychosis Study, which recommend that further research should focus on differential rates of psychoses by ethnicity, rather than between generations, are reported in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry on 3rd November, 2008.

Led by Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Jeremy Coid, and Dr James Kirkbride from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, the research shows that both first and subsequent generation groups in England are at higher risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses (in line with prior literature). Unknown previous to this study, was whether rates were further elevated in second and later generations (i.e. UK born) ethnic minority groups, than in their first generation counterparts.

Professor Coid's and Dr Kirkbride's research suggests that in fact rates are not consistently elevated to a greater extent for later generations (compared to the first) but that much depends on the ethnic group in question, and more specifically their age profile. The study, for example, shows incidence rates of psychoses are significantly (statistically) greater for second compared with first generation black Caribbean immigrants, yet their respective age profiles reveal that this is primarily because the second generation are more likely to be in the peak at-risk ages for psychoses (under 30) and that the first generation, having migrated in the 1950s and 1960s whilst in their 20s and 30s, have now moved out of the critical age period of risk for psychoses into their 50s, 60s and 70s.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 28, 2008, 5:15 AM CT

Study Reveals That Red Enhances Men

Study Reveals That Red Enhances Men
A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychology experts would be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color-literally and figuratively-to the age-old question of what attracts men to women.

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

The research provides the first empirical support for society's enduring love affair with red. From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today's red-light districts and red hearts on Valentine's Day, the rosy hue has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia. But this study, said Elliot, is the only work to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships.

"It's only recently that psychology experts and scientists in other disciplines have been looking closely and systematically at the relationship between color and behavior. Much is known about color physics and color physiology, but very little about color psychology," said Elliot. "It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as color can be having an effect on our behavior without our awareness".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 27, 2008, 10:31 PM CT

Methamphetamine abuse linked to underage sex

Methamphetamine abuse linked to underage sex
Children and adolescents who abuse alcohol or are sexually active are more likely to take methamphetamines (MA), also known as 'meth' or 'speed'. Research published recently in the open access journal BMC Pediatrics reveals the risk factors linked to MA use, in both low-risk children (those who don't take drugs) and high-risk children (those who have taken other drugs or who have ever attended juvenile detention centres).

MA is a stimulant, commonly smoked, snorted or injected. It produces sensations of euphoria, lowered inhibitions, feelings of invincibility, increased wakefulness, heightened sexual experiences, and hyperactivity resulting from increased energy for extended periods of time. As per the lead author of this study, Terry P. Klassen of the University of Alberta, Canada, "MA is produced, or 'cooked', quickly, reasonably simply, and cheaply by using legal and readily available ingredients with recipes that can be found on the internet".

Because of the low cost, ready availability and legal status of the drug, long-term use can be a serious problem. In order to assess the risk factors that are linked to people using MA, Klassen and his team carried out an analysis of twelve different medical studies, combining their results to get a bigger picture of the MA problem. They said, "Within the low-risk group, there were some clear patterns of risk factors linked to MA use. A history of engaging in behaviors such as sexual activity, alcohol consumption and smoking was significantly linked to MA use among low-risk youth. Engaging in these kinds of behaviors may be a gateway for MA use or vice versa. A homosexual or bisexual lifestyle is also a risk factor".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 27, 2008, 10:28 PM CT

New brain link as cause of schizophrenia

New brain link as cause of schizophrenia
A lack of specific brain receptors has been linked with schizophrenia in new research by researchers at Newcastle University.

In work published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team has observed that NMDA receptors are essential in modifying brain oscillations electrical wave patterns which are altered in patients with schizophrenia.

They now want to investigate whether optimising the function of the receptors, which are already know to be involved in making memories, could lead to a new way of treating the mental illness.

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions in the UK and can cause a range of different psychological symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. One in 100 people will experience at least one episode of acute schizophrenia during their lifetime and it affects men and women equally. While its exact cause is unknown, most experts think that the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Dr Mark Cunningham, who led the research at Newcastle University, UK, says: "We have shown that by selectively targeting receptors we can modify the dynamics of the brain. Our hope would be that in the long term this could lead to a method for actually improving brain function, not only for people with schizophrenia but potentially for a number of other brain conditions.........

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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