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August 31, 2007, 4:52 AM CT

Children stressed 6 months before starting school

Children stressed 6 months before starting school
The first few days at school can be an anxious time as children face the challenge of a new environment and making new friends but as per new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, children show signs of stress three to six months before term even starts.

The researchers, led by Dr Julie Turner-Cobb at the University of Bath, were studying the effect of childrens temperament and behaviour on how stressful they found the experience of starting school.

To do this, they measured the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children two weeks after they had started primary school and then measured them again six months later. They also took cortisol measurements three to six months before the children started school to provide baseline levels for comparison.

But the scientists were surprised to find that, far from providing a baseline, childrens cortisol levels were already high several months before the start of the school term. This suggests that stress levels in anticipation of starting school begin to rise much earlier than we expected, says Dr Turner-Cobb.

Why a preschool child should be anxious about an event so far in the future is something of a mystery but Dr Turner-Cobb speculates that parents were getting stressed about their children starting school and that their stress was being passed on to the children.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 9:51 PM CT

Mothers' baby cradling habits are indicator of stress

Mothers' baby cradling habits are indicator of stress
Le berceau (The Cradle)
1872 Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 cm (22 x 18"); Musee d'Orsay, Paris
The models are her sister Edma and Edma's daughter Blanche.
Mothers who cradle their baby to their right hand side are displaying signs of extreme stress, a new study suggests.

Eventhough most mums feel stressed in the early stages of their babys life, the study by Durham University scientists suggests their baby cradling habits are a key indicator of whether this stress could become overwhelming and lead to depression.

Prior research has already shown that the majority of mothers prefer to cradle their baby to their left regardless of whether they are left or right handed.

As at least one in ten women develop post-natal depression, studying non-verbal cues such as baby cradling could potentially help doctors and health visitors identify which mothers are in need of extra professional support before it gets too late.

Experts say that stress in mums can lead to depression which can have a detrimental effect on their babys mental development and wellbeing.

The study, reported in the on-line version of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, studied 79 new mothers and their babies, who were an average age of seven months.

In their own homes, mothers were asked to pick up their babies and cradle them in their arm. They also completed a survey which quizzed them on their mental state. The research methodology established there was no link between cradling side and left or right handedness.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

We Remember The Bad Times Better Than The Good

We Remember The Bad Times Better Than The Good
Do you remember exactly where you were when you learned of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? Your answer is probably yes, and scientists are beginning to understand why we remember events that carry negative emotional weight.

In the recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston College psychology expert, Elizabeth Kensinger and his colleagues, explain when emotion is likely to reduce our memory inconsistencies.

Her research shows that whether an event is pleasurable or aversive seems to be a critical determinant of the accuracy with which the event is remembered, with negative events being remembered in greater detail than positive ones.

For example, after seeing a man on a street holding a gun, people remember the gun vividly, but they forget the details of the street. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), studies have shown increased cellular activity in emotion-processing regions at the time that a negative event is experienced.

The more activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala, two emotion-processing regions of the brain, the more likely an individual is to remember details intrinsically associated with the emotional aspect of the event, such as the exact appearance of the gun.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

Hypnosis reduces pain in breast cancer surgery

Hypnosis reduces pain in breast cancer surgery
The use of hypnosis previous to breast cancer surgery reduced the amount of anesthesia administered during the operation, the level of pain reported afterwards, and the time and cost of the procedure, as per a research studypublished online August 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Breast cancer surgery patients often suffer side effects such as pain, nausea, and fatigue during and after their operation. These complications can lengthen their hospital stay, lead to hospital readmission, or require additional medicationsall of which increase medical costs. Several prior studies have suggested that hypnosis may reduce pain, recovery time, and the need for medications after surgery.

Guy Montgomery, Ph.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial to examine the effects of hypnosis when it is given within one hour before surgery. Two hundred women were randomly assigned to either 15 minutes of hypnosis by a psychology expert or a control session in which they spoke with a psychology expert. The scientists then compared the use of pain medications and sedatives during surgery, as well as the levels of pain and other side effects reported afterwards.

The hypnosis session began with suggestions for relaxation and pleasant visual imagery. The patients were also given suggestions on how to reduce pain, nausea, and fatigue, and instructions on how to use hypnosis on their own.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 8:49 PM CT

Not all risk is created equal

Not all risk is created equal
A camper who chases a grizzly but won't risk unprotected sex. A sky diver afraid to stand up to the boss. New research shows that not all risk is created equal and people show a mixture of both risky and non-risky behaviors.

The survey also shows that men are significantly riskier than women overall.

The University of Michigan research refutes the standard theories of risk that group people as either risk-seeking or risk-avoiding, and suggests that we can have a mix of both risky and non-risky behavior depending on the type.

The study appears in the journal Evolutionary Psychology. Daniel Kruger, a research scientist at the U-M School of Public Health, and his colleagues X.T. Wang, University of South Dakota, and Andreas Wilke, UCLA, identified areas of risk taking (risk domains) based on the types of challenges that our ancestors faced during a number of thousands of years of human evolution.

"People are complex," said Kruger. "Just because somebody seems to be a big risk taker in one area doesnt mean they will take risks in all areas."

The types of risks identified include competition with other individuals; competition with other groups; mating and allocating resources for mate attraction; environmental risks (chasing a bear or skydiving); and fertility risks. The study showed that our tendencies for risk taking follow these different types of challenges.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 26, 2007, 10:58 AM CT

First Out-of-body Experience In Laboratory

First Out-of-body Experience In Laboratory
The study participant sits in a chair wearing a pair of head-mounted video displays. These have two small screens over each eye, which show a live film recorded by two video cameras placed beside each other two metres behind the participant's head. The image from the left video camera is presented on the left-eye display and the image from the right camera on the right-eye display. The participant sees these as one 'stereoscopic' (3D) image, so they see their own back displayed from the perspective of someone sitting behind them. (Credit: Image courtesy of University College London)
A neuroscientist working at UCL (University College London) has devised the first experimental method to induce an out-of-body experience in healthy participants. In a paper published in Science, Dr Henrik Ehrsson, UCL Institute of Neurology, outlines the unique method by which the illusion is created and the implications of its discovery.

An out-of-body experience (OBE) is defined as the experience in which a person who is awake sees his or her own body from a location outside the physical body. OBEs have been reported in clinical conditions where brain function is compromised, such as stroke, epilepsy and drug abuse. They have also been reported in association with traumatic experiences such as car accidents. Around one in ten people claim to have had an OBE at some time in their lives.

Dr Ehrsson said: "Out-of-body experiences have fascinated mankind for millennia. Their existence has raised fundamental questions about the relationship between human consciousness and the body, and has been much discussed in theology, philosophy and psychology. Eventhough out-of-body experiences have been reported in many clinical conditions, the neuro-scientific basis of this phenomenon remains unclear.

"The invention of this illusion is important because it reveals the basic mechanism that produces the feeling of being inside the physical body. This represents a significant advance because the experience of one's own body as the centre of awareness is a fundamental aspect of self-consciousness".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 26, 2007, 10:42 AM CT

Clues To Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Clues To Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
SAPAP3 knockout mouse has a raw bald patch on its face from compulsive grooming behavior. (Credit: Guoping Feng, Ph.D., Duke University)
Mice born without a key brain protein compulsively groom their faces until they bleed and are afraid to venture out of the corner of their cages. When given a replacement dose of the protein in a specific region of the brain, or the drugs used to treat humans suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a number of of these mice seem to get better.

Duke University Medical Center investigators, in their basic research into how individual brain cells communicate with each other, discovered serendipitously that mice with a genetic mutation that prevents their brain cells from producing one key protein exhibited OCD-like behavior.

The finding may have uncovered important clues about a possible mechanism for OCD, a debilitating psychiatric condition affecting up to 2 percent of the world's people.

The international team of researchers, led by Duke molecular geneticist Guoping Feng, Ph.D., reported its findings in the August 23 issue of the journal Nature. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, and the Hartwell Foundation.

"The mice that could not produce this protein exhibited behaviors similar to that of humans with OCD, a compulsive action coupled with increased anxiety," Feng said. "We obviously cannot talk to mice to find out what they are thinking, but these mutant mice clearly did things that looked like OCD".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 24, 2007, 5:08 AM CT

Bipolar disorder relapses halved

Bipolar disorder relapses halved
Melbourne mental health scientists have succeeded in halving the number of relapses experienced by people with bipolar disorder which strikes two in 100 Australians, accounts for 12 per cent of suicides each year and costs the country at least $1.5 billion annually(1).

With funding from the MBF Foundation and Beyond Blue, a team led by the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria has developed an innovative structured group program to help people with bipolar disorder to better manage their condition.

The 12-session program, led by trained mental health clinicians, enables people battling the disorder to effectively monitor their mood, assess personal triggers and early warning signs of oncoming illness and take the necessary steps to stay well.

In a controlled randomised study of 84 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, those on the special intervention program had half the number of relapses after 12 months as the control group which continued with normal therapy. Even with modern drug therapies that act as mood stabilisers, relapse rates for people with bipolar disorder are as high as 40 per cent in the first year and almost 75 per cent over five years.

MBF general manager health product, Michael Carafillis, said the new program provides a much-needed bridge between the mental health services that treat people when they are acutely ill and the GPs and private psychiatry experts who provide ongoing care.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 23, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Techniques For Better Learning

Techniques For Better Learning
People have incredible amounts to learn throughout their lives, whether it be preparing for a test in middle school or training for a new job late in life. Given that time is often at a premium, being able to efficiently learn new information is important.

One way people can learn efficiently is to accurately evaluate their learning and decide how to proceed. For example, if you were studying for a final exam, you could most efficiently use your time if you were able to accurately judge between those concepts that you have learned and understood well versus those that you have not learned well. In doing so, you can invest your time on the latter.

This ability is known as metacomprehension, and psychological research has repeatedly demonstrated that people are not very accurate at judging how well they have learned complex materials. As a result, scientists have been searching for techniques to improve the accuracy of peoples judgments of their text learning, and most recently, some important discoveries have been made.

In an article reported in the recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Kent State scientists John Dunlosky and Amanda Lipko examined techniques that can improve peoples comprehension of texts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 21, 2007, 5:44 PM CT

Baby talk is universal

Baby talk is universal
A major function of speech is the communication of intentions. In everyday conversation between adults, intentions are conveyed through multiple channels, including the syntax and semantics of the language, but also through nonverbal vocal cues such as pitch, loudness, and rate of speech.

The same thing occurs when we talk to infants. Regardless of the language we speak, most adults, for example, raise their voices to elicit the infants attention and talk at a much slower rate to communicate effectively. In the scientific community, this baby talk is termed infant-directed speech.

There are direct relationships between the way we speak and what we wish to convey. For example, when we see a child reaching for the electrical socket, we do not call out their name as we would during a game of hide-and-go-seek.

Scientists Greg Bryant and Clark Barrett, at the University of California, Los Angeles, propose that the relationships between sounds and intentions are universal, and thus, should be understood by anyone regardless of the language they speak.

To test their hypothesis, Bryant and Barrett recorded native English-speaking mothers as if they were talking to their own child and then as if they were speaking to an adult. The speech varied across four categories: prohibitive, approval, comfort, and attention. Then, they played the recordings to habitants of a Shuar (South American hunter-horticulturalists) village in Ecuador to see if the participants could discriminate between infant-directed (ID) and adult-directed (AD) speech, and whether they could tell the difference between the categories in both types of speech.........

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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