How do organisms evolve into individuals that are distinguished from others by their own personal brain structure and behaviour? Scientists in Dresden, Berlin, Münster, and Saarbrücken have now taken a decisive step towards clarifying this question. Using mice as an animal model, they were able to show that individual experiences influence the development of new neurons, leading to measurable changes in the brain. The results of this study are published in Science on May 10th. The DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden – Cluster of Excellence at the TU Dresden (CRTD), the Dresden site of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin played a pivotal role in the study.... Read more »
Britta Grigull. (2013) Experience leads to the growth of new brain cells. Max Planck Institute for Human Development. info:/
As part of our objective and subjective rationality model, we want a focal agent to learn the probability that others will cooperate given that the focal agent cooperates () or defects (). In a previous post we saw how to derive point estimates for and (and learnt that they are the maximum likelihood estimates): , […]... Read more »
Suicide rates have fallen among farmers
Among the various risk factors for suicide, psychologists have recognised for some time that a person's occupation plays an important part. Suicide rates have tended to be unusually high in professions that provide ready access to guns, drugs, or open water, such as in farming, medicine, dentistry and maritime careers.
A new analysis has examined whether this still holds true. Stephen Roberts and his colleagues accessed the UK suicide rates for dozens of occupations in 1979 to 1983 and compared these with similar data recorded between 2001 and 2005.
Consistent with the ready access theory, vets, pharmacists, dentists, doctors, and farmers were all among the top 15 occupations with the highest suicide rates back in the late 70s, early 80s. But this had all changed when looking at the more recent data. In the early noughties, none of these professions were in the top 30 occupations in terms of suicide rates. Instead, the occupations with the highest rates of suicide were largely manual, including coal miners, builders, window cleaners, plasterers and refuse collectors.
Stated differently, of 55 high-risk occupations, 14 showed reductions in suicide rate in the noughties compared with the late seventies, and these were almost exclusively highly educated professional roles like doctors, radiographers and judges, as well as farmers, actors and authors. In contrast, five of the 55 high-risk professions showed an increased rate of suicide in the later data, and these were exclusively manual professions - coal miners, labourers, plasterers, fork-lift drivers and carpenters.
The new findings are published at a time when arguments are raging over the relative prominence that should be given to biological or social explanations of mental illness.
According to this new analysis, socio-economic forces appear to have become an increasingly major factor in occupational suicide risk. The percentage of variation in suicide rates explained by an occupation's socioeconomic grouping (e.g. managerial, trade, admin etc) almost doubled from 11.4 per cent in the early data to 20.7 per cent in the early noughties. Bear in mind these figures were from before the recession, so if anything it seems likely this trend will have intensified in more recent years.
The data also showed that suicide rates were much higher among men than women, and that among men, the most at-risk occupations tended to be manual, whereas in women they were more often (non-manual) professional.
If the pattern of these results are replicated in other European and Western countries, the researchers said this "could help in developing new suicide prevention interventions that can be targeted at specific occupational groups."
Roberts, S., Jaremin, B., and Lloyd, K. (2013). High-risk occupations for suicide Psychological Medicine, 43 (06), 1231-1240 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291712002024
More Digest reports on suicide.
Men, suicide and society - why disadvantaged men in mid-life die by suicide (Samaritans report).
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
... Read more »
Escape from Camp 14 is deeply disturbing, and I highly recommend it. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine HardenEscape from Camp 14 is a chilling tale of Shin Dong-hyuk's escape from a North Korean prison camp. What is so interesting about Shin Dong-hyuk's story as written by Blaine Harden is that he was born inside this North Korean prison camp. Apparently they allow breeding between prisoners as a reward for 'good behavior.'Escape from Camp 14 reveals the obscene violations of human rights that occur in North Korean prison camps, and was especially poignant because I am a similar age to Shin Dong-hyuk and could directly compare my memories during the specified years to his. For example he escapes on January 2nd, 2005 and I couldn't help but think of the New Years party I was at that year and how absurdly different my life has been from his.This book struck me in a way that reading about the horrors of the Holocaust never could. Those atrocities happened long before I was born. But the atrocities in North Korea are happening right now. I mean right this minute in a prison camp, a child is likely being beaten, a woman is likely being raped by a guard (later to be killed if she happens to become pregnant), someone may be picking undigested corn kernels from cow dung to ease hir starving belly, and maybe two lucky prisoners are getting to have 'reward breeding' time. Right now. This minute. That is just nuts.The other thing that struck me about this whole situation is that having children born into a hostile prison environment is an inadvertent psychological experiment. These children are raised without love and without trust. One of the sharpest points in the book is the reveal that Shin Dong-hyuk turned his own mother and brother in to the guards for planning an escape. He watched his mother's execution shortly thereafter and felt nothing but anger at her for planning an escape.When he finally escaped, it was shocking to him to see people talking and laughing together without guards coming over to (violently) stop it. In Camp 14, gathering of more than 2 people was forbidden. These prison children are being raised on fear of the guards and suspicion of each other. One of the easiest ways to be rewarded is to tattle on another prisoner for something (stealing food, for example), and the children learn this quickly.If something drastic happens and North Korea dissolves, these children raised in prison camps will have a near impossible time trying to adjust to a life of freedom and will have a difficult time forming attachments and trusting others (as seen in Shin Dong-hyuk and other refugees from North Korea). Their personalities and psychological profiles could be fundamentally different from any other group on earth. These atrocities should be stopped and these people should be studied and rehabilitated. © TheCellularScaleLee YM, Shin OJ, & Lim MH (2012). The psychological problems of north korean adolescent refugees living in South Korea. Psychiatry investigation, 9 (3), 217-22 PMID: 22993519... Read more »
Lee YM, Shin OJ, & Lim MH. (2012) The psychological problems of north korean adolescent refugees living in South Korea. Psychiatry investigation, 9(3), 217-22. PMID: 22993519
Nodding syndrome.Ever heard of it? Well, up until a few days ago I hadn't. That is before coming across articles on the topic by Richard Idro and colleagues* (open-access) and Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige and colleagues** (open-access). Whilst not specifically my line of expertise or interest, I was intrigued to read about how nodding and other symptoms of the epileptic variety, at least in some cases, seemed to be precipitated by food and showed a potential nutritional angle.Curving spacetime @ Wikipedia Granted, the hows and whys of nodding syndrome are still a mystery, but the first thought that went through my mind was whether any specific types of food(s) might be implicated. Y'know in a similar vein to Marios Hadjivassiliou and the notion of gluten ataxia*** for example? Just speculating...With all that talk of food and behaviour in mind there are a few things that piqued my attention towards the paper by Herbert & Buckley**** seemingly part of a string of articles looking at the topic of dietary intervention published in the Journal of Child Neurology. The first thing was the title of the paper: "Autism and Dietary Therapy" simply because I have some research interest in this area. Perhaps I might have mentioned it before...Next was the authorship list, focused on at least one of the authors, Dr Martha Herbert (no disrespect intended to Dr Buckley). Alongside an already distinguished career in autism research, Dr Herbert is also making some waves with her new book: 'The Autism Revolution' co-authored with Karen Weintraub who wrote that very interesting Nature article on autism prevalence a few years back.Finally, a sentence from the paper abstract: "Over the course of several years following her initial diagnosis, the child’s Childhood Autism Rating Scale score decreased from 49 to 17, representing a change from severe autism to nonautistic, and her intelligence quotient increased 70 points".Such a dramatic description of change in presentation might once have been received with a very, very sceptical eye. Indeed I assume that still might be the case in some quarters. The publication of the Deborah Fein study (see here and here) on optimal outcome in relation to autism in conjunction with the rising tide of research looking at the potential benefits of early intervention for cases of autism, have perhaps made such observations slightly more 'acceptable', at least to some elements of the autism research community. Indeed I was also very taken by the recent BBC interview of Kristine and Jacob Barnet which discussed similar changes to symptom presentation in a young man now tipped for some absolutely amazing things. The fact that said changes detailed in the Herbert & Buckley paper seemed to occur at the same time that a "gluten-free casein-free ketogenic diet" was being followed is... interesting.Now round about this time, some people might be thinking what does this study actually show? A case study of a girl / young woman with autism where comorbid epilepsy was controlled both by anti-seizure medication and a ketogenic diet (yes, such a diet has been linked to the control of cases of epilepsy). Said dietary intervention originating in the gluten- and casein-free (GFCF) dietary domain. As time went on, seizures dissipated and over time her clinical scores on the CARS reduced indicative of quite a change in her autism presentation.One of course might say, a single case study, it means very little in the grand methodological scheme of things. That is unless you think back to the mantra 'if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism' highlighting the power of the N=1 where autism is concerned (see here). That and the interesting viewpoint expressed by people like Gary Mesibov on the issue of evidence-based medicine when applied to a extremely heterogeneous condition like autism, sorry the autisms.I am interested in the coincidental factors reported in this paper. I have questions: did the (almost) resolution of the epileptic symptoms carry any influence on the presentation of autism? In particular, I'm thinking back to that very interesting piece of research which suggested one particular type of autism (and epilepsy) might be related to a metabolic issue with the branched-chain amino acids (see here). Is this a potential model for that epilepsy-autism relationship for some people on the spectrum? What about the "resolution of morbid obesity" also reported; could this similarly have had any effect on symptom presentation?I have questions about the role of the diet adopted in this case. A ketogenic diet, as well as finding some value in cases of epilepsy or seizure disorders, has also been looked at with autistic behaviours in mind. Yep, at least one trial***** albeit preliminary, suggested that this might be an option for some people on the spectrum bearing in mind I'm not making any recommendations. Down the years I've also heard anecdotal reports about how the GFCF diet might have aided in the reduction/amelioration of certain signs and symptoms linked to autism. The paper by Stephen Genuis (see this post) is one example. Just before you say something along the lines of 'there is no methodologically sound experimental evidence for dietary effect'; well, yes and no (see here) accepting the need for much more rigorous experimental study and that the evidence is not all one-way (see here).If anyone has alternative explanations for the change in symptoms outside of just healthier eating, any placebo effect or just the research attention paid to the participant in question, please feel free to post them in the comments section. That being said, no mumbo-jumbo please like I've being reading today which has been roundly answered by psychiatry. Going back to the Fein study and the promise of more details to come, I'll be interested to see whether they report any of their optimal outcomers were following such a dietary intervention alongside other interventions.A... Read more »
Herbert, M., & Buckley, J. (2013) Autism and Dietary Therapy: Case Report and Review of the Literature. Journal of Child Neurology. DOI: 10.1177/0883073813488668
Cooperation is a puzzle because it is not obvious why cooperation, which is good for the group, is so common, despite the fact that defection is often best for the individual. Though we tend to view this issue through the lens of the prisoner’s dilemma, Artem recently pointed me to a paper by Joanna Masel, […]... Read more »
In my last post, I mentioned a hypothetical relatively-average psychologist (caveat: the term doesn’t necessarily apply to any specific person, living or dead). I found him to be a bit strange, since he tended to come up with hypotheses that … Continue reading →... Read more »
Cornwell, R., Palmer, C., Guinther, P., & Davis. H. (2005) Introductory Psychology Texts as a View of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology’s Role in Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology, 355-374. info:/
Recently I’ve been contemplating giving up on the modern
world and moving to a cabin in the woods. I mean – what is with all of this
technology, the 50+ hour work week, and guilt over the simple pleasures like
spending time with friends and family on the weekends? Maybe I would be able to
feel happier and more fulfilled if I turned my back on the world of today and instead
started living a simple life. After all, despite the fact that technology has
made our lives easier over the past century, people do not report being happier
than they were before smart phones, computers, and the internet.
Picture it – a cabin in the woods next to a gurgling river,
a garden out back with beautiful flowers and delicious produce, a feeling of
being close to nature, like my ancestors. More time for important social
interactions, which are really at the heart of a meaningful life. No more
random interneting or hours spent ignoring my husband in favor of my smart
phone. Instead I’ll spend my days doing meaningful things, going to bed with
the setting sun and sleeping as much as I need. Really, imagine it. Don’t you
all want to come and join me in the woods?
But would I really be
happier if I gave up modern conventions and moved to an isolated cabin? Up
until a few hours ago, I really thought that might be the solution. But then I
read an article by a 26 year-old, Paul, who had given up the internet for a year.
He felt that the internet was preventing him from figuring out who he truly
was, and it was time to take back his life and his identity. And giving up the
internet was good – for the first few months. He spent more time with friends,
used his boredom to write more and explore his creativity in other ways. He
read more and went out more. But then Paul adjusted to not having the internet
and soon found himself developing bad habits offline. He was unable to keep in
touch with people who were far away, and his snail mail began to overwhelm him
until he was unable to cope with sending responses to his fans. The moral of his story – we are who we are
and we will be who we will be, internet or no internet.
Read More->... Read more »
Somewhere in Germany, a group of 40 genetically identical females are being constantly watched. Implanted with radio-frequency identification transponders (RFID) since 4 weeks old, they are allowed to roam free in a rich, 5-storey mansion, with 20 antennas monitoring and recording their whereabouts. 3 months later their brains will be examined for traces of emerging […]... Read more »
Freund, J., Brandmaier, A., Lewejohann, L., Kirste, I., Kritzler, M., Kruger, A., Sachser, N., Lindenberger, U., & Kempermann, G. (2013) Emergence of Individuality in Genetically Identical Mice. Science, 340(6133), 756-759. DOI: 10.1126/science.1235294
Researchers found that the children with autism are twice as fast as the normal children of their age in the sensitivity of motion.
Journal of Neuroscience
Previously, researchers found that the autistic people have enhanced visual abilities with still images. Now, this is the first study to show that they are also highly sensitive to the motion.
In this study, researchers exposed the children to the brief video clips of moving black and white bars to check the ability of the children with autism to perceive motion and found that the “kids with autism, got much, much better—performing twice as well as their peers,’ said Jennifer Foss-Feig, a postdoctoral fellow at the Child Study Center at Yale University.
According to the researchers, this hypersensitivity to the motion may show the condition of autism and may explain why some patients of autism are sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.
“We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses.
“Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication,” Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, said in a statement.
“Overall, we report a pattern of motion perception abnormalities in ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) that includes substantial enhancements at high contrast and is consistent with an underlying excitatory/inhibitory imbalance,” Researchers wrote.
Foss-Feig, J., Tadin, D., Schauder, K., & Cascio, C. (2013). A Substantial and Unexpected Enhancement of Motion Perception in Autism Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (19), 8243-8249 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1608-12.2013... Read more »
Foss-Feig, J., Tadin, D., Schauder, K., & Cascio, C. (2013) A Substantial and Unexpected Enhancement of Motion Perception in Autism. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(19), 8243-8249. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1608-12.2013
by amikulak in Daily Observations
Supporters of a political measure are more influenced by their initial preferences than cold, hard evidence suggesting that the measure won’t go their way, according to new research published in The post When Voting, Political Preferences Outweigh the Evidence appeared first on Association for Psychological Science.... Read more »
Krizan, Z., & Sweeny, K. (2013) Causes and Consequences of Expectation Trajectories: "High" on Optimism in a Public Ballot Initiative. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797612460690
"There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny". So said a very sceptical Han Solo.Regular readers might know that I'm a bit of fan of the whole gut-brain axis; indeed other kinds of axes too. I know that to some it might sound a bit daft that what goes on in our deepest, darkest bowels might actually have some important effects on the operations of the grey-pinkish matter floating around in skull central - and vice-versa - but nonetheless it interests me. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is not quite the mystical energy field that Captain Solo was referring to, but make no mistake, we are still very much in the infancy of looking at the connection between the two systems*.Black dog @ Wikipedia I've tended to discuss/speculate on the gut-brain relationship with regards to cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on this blog. In this post I'm branching out to look at the paper by Mary Rogers and colleagues** (open-access) on a potentially new dimension to the gut-brain conversation with depression and Clostridium difficile infection in mind.The Rogers paper is open-access and has also attracted some media attention as a result (see here and here for the press release). The long-and-short of it was that based on two studies - a sort of scientific BOGOF - looking at the rates of C.diff infection (CDI) in participants with and without depression and the potential effects of antidepressant medication use and hospital-acquired CDI, some interesting correlations were noted. Note that word 'correlations'...Primary among the findings was the suggestion that the chances of CDI were higher in those presenting with depression: "After adjusting for demographic characteristics, comorbidities and frequency of medical visits, there was a 36% increase in the odds of developing CDI for individuals with major depression compared with those without major depression" (CI: 1-06-1.74, p=0.016). Indeed when it came to the label of "emotional, nervous or psychiatric problems", the CDI risk was found to be even higher (OR: 1.47). Certainly some interesting data, made all the more credible by the fact that the total sample size numbered in the thousands. When it came to medication use, there were some equally interesting associations (not) made. So for example, laboratory confirmed CDI (via stool testing) seemed not to correlate with the majority of medicines participants were also taking at the time of testing. The exceptions were mirtazapine (OR: 2.14) and fluoxetine (OR: 1.92) which were individually associated with an approximate doubling of CDI risk and also carrying some dose-related associations.Authors also reported that polypharmacy - if I can use that word with less than 5 meds being taken - might also impact on CDI risk, as per the "significant interaction between mirtazapine and trazodone" where "the odds of a positive C. difficile test were 5.72 times greater" bearing in mind the small participant numbers who were prescribed these two drugs combined. As per the press on this paper: "People who have been prescribed these types of anti-depressants need to keep taking them unless otherwise advised by their physician"; a viewpoint that I can only echo at this stage.You can perhaps see why I might be interested in this line of research. There is of course the chicken-and-egg question about which came first: microbial changes which place a person at greater risk of CDI and perhaps depression, or depression leading to changes to the gut microbiota and onwards elevated CDI risk. I'm not going to speculate too much on what came first because I dare say the clinical picture is going to be much more complicated than such a simple question. I've talked before about the possibility of a bi-directional relationship between gut bacteria and behaviour (at least in mice) and my viewpoint has changed very little in the intervening years. Bear also in mind that the hows and whys of depression (in all its forms) are likely to be numerous; perhaps even related to our earliest years****It's interesting that the authors discuss quite a few important overlapping pieces of research in their summary of their findings related to things like the presence of bowel disease in cases of depression*** and that magical word 'inflammation'*****. To quote: "It is possible that there is a lifelong liaison between the gut microbiota and neurologic response to external stimuli" which certainly does seem to link in with at least some of the current research literature.Alongside the tentative associations made by Rogers et al on the issue of depression and CDI, I find my mind wandering back to the question of whether such an association might be something which could be translated into therapeutic options. Y'know whether treating the CDI actually had any quantifiable impact on the presentation of depression or vice-versa. Indeed whether one of the more unusual methods suggested to help combat CDI - yep, the fecal transplant - might also impact on depression via changes to the gut microbiota as per the very preliminary reports from other conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)? That and possibility that gut bacteria might, just might, be in cahoots with other more barrier-related issues******, makes for some interesting suggestions for further scientific inquiry*******.To end, y'know I prefer Constantiople over Istanbul....----------* Collins SM. & Bercik P. Gut microbiota: intestinal bacteria influence brain activity in healthy humans. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology. May 2013.** Rogers MAM. et al. Depression, antidepressant medications, and risk of Clostridium difficileinfection. BMC Medicine 2013; 11: 121.*** Graff LA. et al. Depression and anxiety in inflammatory bowel disease: a review of comorbidity and management. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009; 15: 1105-1118.**** Parboosing R. et al. Gestational influenza and bipolar disorder in adult offspring. JAMA Psychiatry. May 2013.***** Vogelzangs N. et al. Association of depressive disorders, depression characteristics and antidepressant medication with inflammation. Transl Psychiatry. 2012; 2: e79.****** Maes M. et al. Increased IgA and IgM responses against gut commensals in chronic depression: further evidence for increased bacterial translocation or leaky gut. J Affect Disord. 2012; 141: 55-62.******* Hughes PA. et al. Immune activation in irritable bowel syndrome: can neuroimmune interactions explain symptoms? Am J Gastroenterol. May 2013----------... Read more »
Rogers, M., Greene, M., Young, V., Saint, S., Langa, K., Kao, J., & Aronoff, D. (2013) Depression, antidepressant medications, and risk of Clostridium difficile infection. BMC Medicine, 11(1), 121. DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-121
(source)Hi Julie, WOW!Dogs in clothes. Corgis in bikinis at the beach. Greyhounds in onesies. We people do some weird things to our canine friends, no?! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy being dressed up in a padded outfit all day long, so I think I'll pass on sharing that experience with my dogs. As you said, cultural perceptions, ethics and expectations add a whole layer of extra consideration. It's not always easy to work out what dogs want or need. That's why I like science. It helps us work this stuff out.I've been super busy this week - working hard (as always!) and still thinking a lot about dogs living in kennel facilities. So I wanted to pull your head away from dogs dressed as flowers, back to dogs getting the opportunity to smell the flowers. No, really. Lavender in fact.(source)Dogs should stop to smell the flowers. Especially lavender.When I talk to people about the body of research that's been conducted in the area of environmental enrichment for dogs housed in kennels, they never fail to be amazed at what has been studied. Or what hasn't. One topic that usually results in a snort, a laugh or a quizzical raised eyebrow is olfactory (smelly) stimulation. Which is kind of weird. Because we know that dogs can smell on a level that's basically in another galaxy compared to our smelling experiences. Research conducted in a rescue shelter kennel in 2005 exposed dogs to five different diffused aromas: - a blank control, or essential oil of- chamomile - lavender - peppermint- rosemary The study showed that olfactory stimulation had a significant effect on behaviour. Dogs were more likely to rest and less likely to bark when exposed to the smells of lavender and chamomile. Peppermint and rosemary exposure resulted in more active and noisy behaviour. The researchers suggested that the welfare of dogs in shelter kennel environments (and also their attractiveness to potential adopters) could be improved by using this kind of aromatherapy. What a dog's nose knows.Further research has shown a similar effect of lavender in effecting the behaviour of dogs with travel-induced excitement in cars: they spent more time sitting, resting and less time vocalising when they were exposed to the smell of lavender.Interestingly, human studies show a similar effect of lavender on us: reduced mental stress.So if a dog is in a kennel environment and can't get out to romp in a field of flowers, or chomp them up (as dogs tend to do!), perhaps we can help them out by giving them something... Read more »
Wells Deborah L. (2009) Sensory stimulation as environmental enrichment for captive animals: A review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 118(1-2), 1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.01.002
Graham Lynne, Wells Deborah L., & Hepper Peter G. (2005) The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 91(1-2), 143-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.024
Wells Deborah L. (2006) Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229(6), 964-967. DOI: 10.2460/javma.229.6.964
When you were young(er), did you also engage in personality predictions with your peers based on order in the family? For example, that the oldest of three siblings would be the bossiest and the youngest the most spoiled? Almost everyone (90% of us) have one or more siblings. And we know they play an important role in our lives. Scientists have now combined international research examining siblings’ role in children’s mental health. ... Read more »
Buist KL, Deković M, & Prinzie P. (2013) Sibling relationship quality and psychopathology of children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, 33(1), 97-106. PMID: 23159327
Different brain areas are activated when we choose to suppress an emotion, compared to when we are instructed to inhibit an emotion, according a new study from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Ghent University. In this study, published in Brain Structure and Function (citation below), the researchers scanned the brains of healthy participants and … Read More →... Read more »
Kühn, S., Haggard, P., & Brass, M. (2013) Differences between endogenous and exogenous emotion inhibition in the human brain. Brain Structure and Function. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0556-0
NC3Rs-funded PhD student Kamar Ameen-Ali, Department of Psychology, Durham University, takes us on a trip to the House of Commons SET for BRITAIN event, where she presented her research recently to MPs and VIPs.... Read more »
Ameen-Ali, K., Eacott, M., & Easton, A. (2012) A new behavioural apparatus to reduce animal numbers in multiple types of spontaneous object recognition paradigms in rats. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 211(1), 66-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.08.006
The Greek Stoic Epictetus wrote that "Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them." A new study involving 185 children and teenagers, 88 fathers and 97 mothers shows how this same principle applies to children's fear of the dentist. This is an important topic because many children avoid the dentist out of fear, and around half of dentally anxious adults trace their fears to childhood.
Antonio Crego and his colleagues assessed the children's fear of the dentist, any bad experiences they'd had, their personality, their relatives' fear and, most importantly for this study, their "cognitive vulnerability". This last measure looked at how much the children had feelings of uncontrollability (e.g. feeling trapped), unpredictability (not knowing what will happen), dangerousness (expecting pain) and disgustingness (expecting it to turn their stomach) about a visit to the dentist. The mothers and fathers answered the same questionnaires.
As you'd expect, all the non-cognitive factors were associated with the children's dental fear. So having a bad experience, having a more fearful temperament and having fearful parents were all associated with being more scared of the dentist. But none of these were as strongly related to the children's fear as their cognitive vulnerability, which explained an additional 20 per cent of variation in fear levels.
Particularly striking was the finding that a bad experience was no longer associated with children's dental fear once cognitive vulnerability was taken into account. The implication is that a bad experience only leads children to fear the dentist if it increases their feelings of uncontrollability, dangerousness and so forth. Of the various components of children's cognitive vulnerability, it was perceived disgustingness that was most strongly related to their fear of the dentist.
Another finding was an association between children's cognitive vulnerability and their parents' cognitive vulnerability. Although there's no proof here that the parents are passing their thinking style onto their children, the researchers said this could reflect a kind of "cognitive transfer" among family members. This suggests that interventions aimed at reassuring children may need to target parents too.
Some further curiosities - the dental fear of children younger than 13 was more closely associated with their father's fear; for teenagers over 13, their fear was tied more with their mother's fear. Overall, cognitive vulnerability was more strongly associated with dental fear in teenagers, perhaps because of their increasingly mature thought processes.
Crego and his colleagues said their "cognitive approach may help explain why some children develop dental fear problems after suffering a negative dental experience and how dental anxiety is passed from parents to children."
Crego, A., Carrillo-Diaz, M., Armfield, J., and Romero, M. (2013). Applying the Cognitive Vulnerability Model to the analysis of cognitive and family influences on children's dental fear. European Journal of Oral Sciences DOI: 10.1111/eos.12041
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.
... Read more »
Crego, A., Carrillo-Diaz, M., Armfield, J., & Romero, M. (2013) Applying the Cognitive Vulnerability Model to the analysis of cognitive and family influences on children's dental fear. European Journal of Oral Sciences. DOI: 10.1111/eos.12041
How accurately do lawyers predict their case outcomes? These forecasts play a pivotal role in practical legal decision-making, and affect many stakeholders: the lawyer; the client; and the justice environment as a whole. Prediction errors can cost the client and their lawyer. Prediction errors can make cases become an unnecessary burden on the system. [...]The post Legal Case Management: Prediction of Case Outcomes, Overconfidence, and Lawyers’ Need for Calibration Tools – Part 1 appeared first on Psycholawlogy.... Read more »
Goodman-Delahunty, J., Granhag, P., Hartwig, M., & Loftus, E. (2010) Insightful or wishful: Lawyers' ability to predict case outcomes. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 16(2), 133-157. DOI: 10.1037/a0019060
You may have heard that we now live in something called a “knowledge economy.” One big implication is the premium put on the ability to ramp up your knowledge about new topics. Whatever else students are learning in school, they also need to practice study skills that can help them learn more quickly. Having a [...]... Read more »
Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K., Marsh, E., Nathan, M., & Willingham, D. (2013) Improving Students' Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58. DOI: 10.1177/1529100612453266
In spite of the evidence to the contrary and a lack of rationality in the claim, we continue to be told that increasing the number of people with a title, such as paramedic, will result in better care.
Here is more evidence that dividing the skills among more people leads to less skilled care.
The authors begin by referring to other studies that demonstrate the high failure rate of doctors performing procedures on children.
How is that relevant to EMS? We have a low frequency of use of critical skills – and that is with our adult patients. With children, our absence of experience is even more of a problem. When we do use our infrequently used skills, we often use them inappropriately.,... Read more »
Mittiga, M., Geis, G., Kerrey, B., & Rinderknecht, A. (2013) The Spectrum and Frequency of Critical Procedures Performed in a Pediatric Emergency Department: Implications of a Provider-Level View. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 61(3), 263-270. DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.06.021
Blaivas M. (2010) Inadequate needle thoracostomy rate in the prehospital setting for presumed pneumothorax: an ultrasound study. Journal of ultrasound in medicine : official journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, 29(9), 1285-9. PMID: 20733183
Tanz RR, & Charrow J. (1993) Black clouds. Work load, sleep, and resident reputation. American journal of diseases of children (1960), 147(5), 579-84. PMID: 8488808
Meyr, A., Gonzalez, O., & Mayer, A. (2011) Quantification and Perception of On-call Podiatric Surgical Resident Workload. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, 50(5), 535-536. DOI: 10.1053/j.jfas.2011.04.035
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