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January 22, 2008, 10:57 PM CT

A good fight may keep you and your marriage healthy

A good fight may keep you and your marriage healthy
A good fight with your spouse may be good for your health, research suggests.

Couples in which both the husband and wife suppress their anger when one attacks the other die earlier than members of couples where one or both partners express their anger and resolve the conflict, as per preliminary results of a University of Michigan study.

Scientists looked at 192 couples over 17 years and placed the couples into one of four categories: both partners communicate their anger; in the second and third groups one spouse expresses while the other suppresses; and both the husband and wife suppress their anger and brood, said Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus with the U-M School of Public Health and the Psychology Department, and lead author. The study is a longitudinal analysis of couples in Tecumseh, Mich.

"Comparison between couples in which both people suppress their anger, and the three other types of couples, are very intriguing," Harburg said.

When both spouses suppress their anger at the other when unfairly attacked, earlier death was twice as likely than in all other types.

"When couples get together, one of their main jobs is reconciliation about conflict," Harburg said. "Commonly nobody is trained to do this. If they have good parents, they can imitate, that's fine, but commonly the couple is ignorant about the process of resolving conflict. The key matter is, when the conflict happens, how do you resolve it?".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 14, 2008, 5:16 PM CT

Aggression as rewarding as sex, food and drugs

Aggression as rewarding as sex, food and drugs
Bull fight
New research from Vanderbilt University shows for the first time that the brain processes aggression as a reward - much like sex, food and drugs - offering insights into our propensity to fight and our fascination with violent sports like boxing and football.

The research will be published online the week of Jan. 14 by the journal Psychopharmacology.

Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food, Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics, said. We have observed that the reward pathway in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved.

It is well known that dopamine is produced in response to rewarding stimuli such as food, sex and drugs of abuse, Maria Couppis, who conducted the study as her doctoral thesis at Vanderbilt, said. What we have now found is that it also serves as positive reinforcement for aggression.

For the experiments, a pair of mice - one male, one female - was kept in one cage and five intruder mice were kept in a separate cage. The female mouse was temporarily removed, and an intruder mouse was introduced in its place, triggering an aggressive response by the home male mouse. Aggressive behavior included tail rattle, an aggressive sideways stance, boxing and biting.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 14, 2008, 5:13 PM CT

Decision-making deficits in older adults

Decision-making deficits in older adults
We often read or hear stories about elderly adults being conned out of their life savings, but are older individuals really more susceptible to fraud than younger adults? And, if so, how exactly does aging affect judgment and decision-making abilities?

Recent work led by University of Iowa neuroscientist Natalie Denburg, Ph.D., suggests that for a significant number of elderly adults, measurable neuropsychological deficits do seem to lead to poor decision-making and an increased vulnerability to fraud. The findings also suggest that these individuals may experience disproportionate aging of a brain region critical for decision-making.

"Our research suggests that elders who fall prey to fraudulent advertising are not simply gullible, depressed, lonely or less intelligent. Rather, it is truly more of a medical or neurological problem," said Denburg, who is an assistant professor of neurology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "Our work sheds new light on this problem and perhaps may lead to a way to identify people who are at risk of being deceived".

Being able to identify how aging affects judgment and decision-making abilities could have broad societal implications. How to combat deceptive advertising targeted at older individuals -- some of whom appear to be especially vulnerable to fraud -- is one important area of concern. In addition, older age is a time when individuals often are faced with a number of critical life decisions, including health care and housing choices, investment of retirement income, and allocation of personal wealth.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 8, 2008, 9:18 PM CT

Teen girls who regularly eat family meals

Teen girls who regularly eat family meals
Adolescent girls who frequently eat meals with their families appear less likely to use diet pills, laxatives, or other extreme measures to control their weight five years later, as per research led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., lead investigator of Project Eating Among Teens (Project EAT) at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Neumark-Sztainer and Project EAT colleagues studied 2,516 adolescents at 31 Minnesota schools over the course of five years. Participants completed two surveysan in-class survey in 1999 and a mailed survey in 2004regarding how often they ate with their families as well as their body mass index, feelings of family connectedness, and eating behaviors.

Among teen girls, those who ate five or more meals with their families each week in 1999 were significantly less likely to report using extreme measuresincluding binge eating and self-induced vomitingto control their weight in 2004, regardless of their sociodemographic characteristics, body mass index, or family connectedness. Among adolescent boys, regular family meals did not predict lower levels of disordered eating behaviors five years later.

The reasons for the gender differences are unclear. Boys who engage in regular family meals may be different in some way that increases their risk for disordered eating behaviors. It is also possible that adolescent boys and girls have different experiences at family meals. For example, girls may have more involvement in food preparation and other food-related tasks, which may play a protective role in the development of disordered eating behaviors. Girls also may be more sensitive to, and likely to be influenced by, interpersonal and familial relationships present at family meals than adolescent boys.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 8, 2008, 9:14 PM CT

When shorter waits increase stress

When shorter waits increase stress
People hate to wait, says common customer service insight. Marketers will hype their earnest attempts to shorten waiting times or at least promise to provide customers with information or distractions to make the waiting time more palatable. However, when it comes to waiting for stressful events, such as a doctors appointments or a job interview, these types of well-meaning wait management strategies may backfire. New research reported in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that the effectiveness of wait-related customer service depends upon the nature of the waited-for event.

Wait management strategies that are effective in Disney World may cause more stress if implemented in a hospital waiting room, explain Elizabeth Gelfand Miller (Boston College), Barbara E. Kahn (University of Miami), and Mary Frances Luce (Duke University). Given that waiting has historically been viewed as negative and that it is likely the only stressor during a number of (positive) service encounters, shorter waits are generally viewed as better than longer waits. However, we propose that the wait itself can facilitate coping with negative events, and thus, that longer waits may result in less stress.

For example, one study in the paper involved college students waiting to participate in a group discussion about an undisclosed topic. Some students were informed that they were expected to give an impromptu speech as part of a Career Services exercise and would be judged on demeanor and appearance. Others were told they would merely observe. In the follow-up questionnaire, students who had been in the neutral waiting condition were far more likely to rate the waiting duration as their biggest source of annoyance. In contrast, those who had been told they had to give a speech used the waiting time to mentally prepare for the discussion group.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 6, 2008, 10:12 PM CT

Assembling the jigsaw puzzle of drug addiction

Assembling the jigsaw puzzle of drug addiction
Using an integrative meta-analysis approach, scientists from the Center for Bioinformatics at Peking University in Beijing have assembled the most comprehensive gene atlas underlying drug addiction and identified five molecular pathways common to four different addictive drugs. This novel paper appears in PLoS Computational Biology on January 4, 2008.

Drug addiction is a serious worldwide problem with strong genetic and environmental influences. So far different technologies have revealed a variety of genes and biological processes underlying addiction. However, individual technology can be biased and render only an incomplete picture. Studying individual or a small number of genes is like looking at pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - only when you gather most of the pieces from different places and arrange them together in an orderly fashion do interesting patterns emerge.

The team, led by Liping Wei, surveyed scientific literature reported in the past 30 years and collected 2,343 items of evidence linking genes and chromosome regions to addiction based on single-gene strategies, microarray, proteomics, or genetic studies. They made this gene atlas freely available in the first online molecular database for addiction, named KARG (, with extensive annotations and friendly web interface.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 3, 2008, 9:55 PM CT

Children sipping and tasting alcohol in the home

Children sipping and tasting alcohol in the home
Most studies of alcohol use among youth have focused on drinking by children in middle or high school. This study is one of the few to examine the earliest exposure to alcohol sipping or tasting in a large community sample of children. Findings indicate that the introduction to alcohol occurs long before adolescence, and it is an experience that occurs in the home.

Results are published in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Almost all of the limited scientific literature on alcohol use in children has focused on drinking, not sipping or tasting alcohol, said John E. Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Local community studies seem to show that drinking by children not sipping correlates with higher levels of disinhibition, more positive alcohol expectancies, more peer alcohol use, and lower school grades, just as it does in adolescence.

Donovan, also the corresponding author for the study, added that most surveys of adolescent and child drug and alcohol use ask about ever having had more than a few sips of alcohol. This type of question essentially ignores the alcohol experience of those who have only had sips and tastes of alcohol, which can be a substantial number of children, he said. I wanted to determine what percentage of young children have had this level of experience with alcohol, and to find out if children who have only sipped alcohol are different from those who have not.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 3, 2008, 9:51 PM CT

Surprising findings about drinking behavior

Surprising findings about drinking behavior
Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behavior days, weeks or months previous and such recall is not always accurate, noted J.D. Clapp, director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services at San Diego State University and corresponding author for the study. By going out into the field and doing observations and surveys, including breath tests for alcohol concentrations, we were able to mitigate a number of of the problems linked to recall of behavior and complex settings.

In addition, said James A. Cranford, research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, this study is unique in its focus on both individual- and environmental-level predictors of alcohol involvement. Rather than relying on students' reports of the environment, scientists actually gained access to college-student parties and made detailed observations about the characteristics of these parties.

For three academic semesters, scientists conducted a multi-level examination of 1,304 young adults (751 males, 553females) who were attending 66 college parties in private residences located close to an urban public university in southern California. Measures included observations of party environments, self-administered questionnaires, and collection of blood-alcohol concentrations (BrACs).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 3, 2008, 9:32 PM CT

Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression

Bright light therapy eases bipolar depression
Bright light treatment can ease bipolar depression in some patients, as per a research studyreported in the journal Bipolar Disorders. Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicines Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic studied nine women with bipolar disorder to examine the effects of light treatment in the morning or at midday on mood symptoms.

There are limited effective therapys for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, said Dorothy Sit, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and the studys first author. While there are therapys that are effective for mania, the major problem is the depression, which can linger so long that it never really goes away.

In this study, women with bipolar depression were given light boxes and instructed on how to use them at home. The women used the light boxes daily for two-week stretches of 15, 30 and 45 minutes. Some patients responded extremely well to the light treatment, and their symptoms of depression disappeared. The responders to light treatment stayed on the light treatment for an additional three or four months. Four patients received morning light, and five used their light boxes at midday. Participants also continued to take their prescribed medications throughout the study period.

Three of the women who received morning light initially developed what we call a mixed state, with symptoms of depression and mania that occur all at once racing thoughts, irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety and low mood, said Dr. Sit. But when another group began with midday light treatment, we found a much more stable response.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

January 3, 2008, 9:19 PM CT

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses
Can't smell the roses? Maybe you're depressed. Smell too much like a rose yourself? Maybe you've got the same problem. Researchers from Tel Aviv University recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands. It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume.

Scientific research that supports this theory was published this year in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. "Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell, and may overcompensate by using more perfume," explains researcher Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a member of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. "We also think that depression has biological roots and may be an immune system response to certain physiological cues".

Women who are depressed are also more likely to lose weight. With a reduced sense of smell, they are less likely to have a healthy appetite, he says.

Prof. Shoenfeld draws his conclusions from lifetime research on autoimmune diseases, focusing on conditions such as lupus, arthritis and rheumatism.

More Than a Feeling

Affecting about 1.5 million Americans, depression accompanying lupus, Prof. Shoenfeld has found, is much more than an emotional reaction to being ill. It appears to have a biological cause.........

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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