A pair of new studies has found that the stereotype of the aloof professor—you know, the one that is accomplished in her field but I'd like to see her come teach the kids in my school—might be, surprise surprise, a little unfair.
Researchers found that the superior content knowledge of mathematics professors (8 assistant professors and 7 full professors) relative to secondary teachers was associated with a significantly greater amount of conceptual explanations, as opposed to........ Read more »
Lachner, A., & Nückles, M. (2015) Tell me why! Content knowledge predicts process-orientation of math researchers’ and math teachers’ explanations. Instructional Science. DOI: 10.1007/s11251-015-9365-6
New findings by French researchers show that the brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat than those that are benign. The results may help explain the apparent “sixth sense” we have for danger. This is the first time that specific regions of the brain have been identified to be involved in the phenomenon. The human brain is able to detect social threats in these regions in a fast, automatic fashion, within just 200 milliseconds.... Read more »
El Zein, M., Wyart, V., & Grèzes, J. (2015) Anxiety dissociates the adaptive functions of sensory and motor response enhancements to social threats. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10274
Does the pain of mental anguish rely on the same neural machinery as physical pain? Can we treat these dreaded ailments with the same medications? These issues have come to the fore in the field of social/cognitive/affective neuroscience.As many readers know, Lieberman and Eisenberger (2015) recently published a controversial paper claiming that a brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC, shown above) is “selective” for pain.1 This finding fits with their long-time narr........ Read more »
Panksepp, J., & Yovell, Y. (2014) Preclinical Modeling of Primal Emotional Affects (SEEKING, PANIC and PLAY): Gateways to the Development of New Treatments for Depression. Psychopathology, 47(6), 383-393. DOI: 10.1159/000366208
Woo CW, Koban L, Kross E, Lindquist MA, Banich MT, Ruzic L, Andrews-Hanna JR, & Wager TD. (2014) Separate neural representations for physical pain and social rejection. Nature communications, 5380. PMID: 25400102
Yovell, Y., Bar, G., Mashiah, M., Baruch, Y., Briskman, I., Asherov, J., Lotan, A., Rigbi, A., & Panksepp, J. (2015) Ultra-Low-Dose Buprenorphine as a Time-Limited Treatment for Severe Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15040535
"In this population of Mexican children, current blood lead level among children with low exposure (< 5µg/dL) was positively associated with hyperactive/impulsive behaviors, but not with inattentiveness. These results add to the existing evidence of lead-associated neurodevelopmental deficits at low levels of exposure."That quote from the paper by Siying Huang and colleagues  (open-access available here) kinda says it all when it comes particularly to childhood exposure to lead (Pb)&........ Read more »
Huang S, Hu H, Sánchez BN, Peterson KE, Ettinger AS, Lamadrid-Figueroa H, Schnaas L, Mercado-García A, Wright RO, Basu N.... (2015) Childhood Blood Lead Levels and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Cross-Sectional Study of Mexican Children. Environmental health perspectives. PMID: 26645203
As long as you don't become obsessive and defensive about it, there's a wealth of evidence to show that having a passion in life is good for you psychologically – people with a so-called "harmonious passion" (but not so much those with an "obsessive passion") tend to be happier, to enjoy more positive emotions and be more satisfied with life, as compared with people who don't have a passion. As we look ahead to the new year, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies poses a simple ........ Read more »
Schellenberg, B., & Bailis, D. (2014) Can Passion be Polyamorous? The Impact of Having Multiple Passions on Subjective Well-Being and Momentary Emotions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(6), 1365-1381. DOI: 10.1007/s10902-014-9564-x
“Will you exercise this year?” That simple question can be a game-changing technique for people who want to influence their own or others’ behavior, according to a recent study spanning 40 years of research. The research is the first comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the ‘question-behavior effect,’ a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behavior influences whether they do it in the future. The effect has been shown to last more than six month........ Read more »
Spangenberg, E., Kareklas, I., Devezer, B., & Sprott, D. (2015) A meta-analytic synthesis of the question-behavior effect. Journal of Consumer Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2015.12.004
"The results indicate that 41 % of the prisoners met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] in childhood and continued to meet criteria for ADHD as adults."So said the study results from Romana Farooq and colleagues  continuing a theme of how ADHD may very well have some important associations with the prison population (see here). This time around surveying "both childhood and adult ADHD symptoms using the Barkley Adult ADHD Rating Scale-IV" amo........ Read more »
Farooq, R., Emerson, L., Keoghan, S., & Adamou, M. (2015) Prevalence of adult ADHD in an all-female prison unit. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders. DOI: 10.1007/s12402-015-0186-x
In some sense, a preference for explicit instruction, rather than being a pillar of cognitive load theory, is simply the logical consequence of accepting the two distinctions above—that biologically secondary and domain-specific knowledges differ significantly and qualitatively from their biologically primary, domain-general counterparts such that the former require explicit teaching whereas the latter do not.
... Read more »
Sweller, J. (2015) Working memory, long-term memory, and instructional design. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. DOI: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2015.12.002
From before birth through childhood, connections form between neurons in the brain, ultimately making us who we are. So far, scientists have gained a relatively good understanding of how neural circuits become established, but they know less about the genetic control at play during this crucial developmental process. Now, a team of researchers has described for the first time the so-called epigenetic mechanisms underlying the development of the cerebellum, the portion of the brain that allows us........ Read more »
Zhu, X., Girardo, D., Govek, E., John, K., Mellén, M., Tamayo, P., Mesirov, J., & Hatten, M. (2015) Role of Tet1/3 Genes and Chromatin Remodeling Genes in Cerebellar Circuit Formation. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.030
We all love our sugar, especially during the holidays. Cookies, cake, and candy are simply irresistible. While sugar cravings are common, the physiological mechanisms that trigger our “sweet tooth” are not well defined.... Read more »
von Holstein-Rathlou, S., BonDurant, L., Peltekian, L., Naber, M., Yin, T., Claflin, K., Urizar, A., Madsen, A., Ratner, C., Holst, B.... (2015) FGF21 Mediates Endocrine Control of Simple Sugar Intake and Sweet Taste Preference by the Liver. Cell Metabolism. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.12.003
We’re taking a break until 2016 so we’ll see you in January! Most of us grew up watching the weather report on TV and seeing a NORAD ‘Santa Tracker’ showing where Santa and his sleigh were on their way for a long night of work. But this is 2015 and if you celebrate the holiday, […]
Psychopaths cannot understand punishment—what does that mean for the courtroom?
fMRIs and Persuasion: Did anyone tell the jurors?
A new neurolaw caveat to minimize punishmen........ Read more »
Hougaard A, Lindberg U, Arngrim N, Larsson HB, Olesen J, Amin FM, Ashina M, & Haddock BT. (2015) Evidence of a Christmas spirit network in the brain: functional MRI study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 26676562
Santa is approaching so I don't want to keep you too long today. I just thought you might want to briefly cast your eye over the paper by Sonia Monteiro and colleagues  and their findings that: "most children are receiving early intervention services before their diagnostic ASD [autism spectrum disorder] evaluations, particularly if an ASD diagnosis is confirmed."Set within the context of some rather disturbing reports about children (and adults) sometimes waiting a very, very long ........ Read more »
Monteiro SA, Dempsey J, Broton S, Berry L, Goin-Kochel RP, & Voigt RG. (2015) Early Intervention Before Autism Diagnosis in Children Referred to a Regional Autism Clinic. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. PMID: 26647354
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have created the first complete model to describe the role that serotonin plays in brain development and structure. Serotonin, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT], is an important neuromodulator of brain development and the structure and function of neuronal (nerve cell) circuits.... Read more »
Puzerey, P., Kodama, N., & Galan, R. (2015) Abnormal cell-intrinsic and network excitability in the neocortex of serotonin-deficient Pet-1 knock-out mice. Journal of Neurophysiology. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00996.2014
This is a very different strategy for quickly reducing racial prejudice than past research has examined. This one involves the Buddhist practice called a Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) which involves focusing on a specific individual and repeating phrases like “may you be happy and healthy”. Researchers wanted to see if practicing a Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) would […]
Is racial bias fueling anti-Obama rhetoric?
Seeing and Believing and Reducing Prejudice
Ten ........ Read more »
Stell, A., & Farsides, T. (2015) Brief loving-kindness meditation reduces racial bias, mediated by positive other-regarding emotions. Motivation and Emotion. DOI: 10.1007/s11031-015-9514-x
We think pronounceable anagrams are easier, but they're harderWhen you're trying to solve an anagram (that is, re-arranging a jumble of letters to form a word), sometimes the string of letters looks like complete gobbledygook and impossible to solve, but other times, the anagram is pronounceable, or parts of it are, and the challenge appears a good deal easier.Now a new article in the journal Cognition shows this intuitive assessment, though shared by most people, is completely wrong. We th........ Read more »
Topolinski, S., Bakhtiari, G., & Erle, T. (2016) Can I cut the Gordian tnok? The impact of pronounceability, actual solvability, and length on intuitive problem assessments of anagrams. Cognition, 439-452. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.10.019
"The prevalence of schizophrenia in China has more than doubled between 1990 and 2010, with rates being particularly high in the most developed areas of modern China."So said the study results from Chan and colleagues  reviewing the collected peer-reviewed "epidemiological studies of schizophrenia in mainland China published between 1990 and 2010."Taking into account data from 42 eligible trials covering some "2 284 957 persons, with 10 506 diagnosed with schizophrenia" researchers appl........ Read more »
Chan KY, Zhao FF, Meng S, Demaio AR, Reed C, Theodoratou E, Campbell H, Wang W, Rudan I, & Global Health Epidemiology Reference Group (GHERG). (2015) Prevalence of schizophrenia in China between 1990 and 2010. Journal of global health, 5(1), 10410. PMID: 26649171
Diet Crystal Pepsi. Frito Lay Lemonade. Watermelon-flavored Oreos. Through the years, the shelves of stores have been filled with products that turned out to be flops, failures, duds, and losers. But only briefly filled with them, of course, because products like these tend to get yanked from stores quickly, leaving most consumers to wonder: Who exactly buys these things, anyway?... Read more »
Cigarette packs with disturbing photos are more helpful in increasing negative feelings about cigarette smoking.
In a recent study, researchers from the Ohio State University worked on the placement of graphic (disturbing) images on cigarette warning labels. They were trying to compare the text-only warnings with that of graphic warning images.
Researchers worked on cigarette smokers, who were habitual of smoking 5 to 40 cigaret........ Read more »
Evans, A., Peters, E., Strasser, A., Emery, L., Sheerin, K., & Romer, D. (2015) Graphic Warning Labels Elicit Affective and Thoughtful Responses from Smokers: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial. PLOS ONE, 10(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142879
Although many medical terms are long and difficult to pronounce, medical settings are punctuated with words familiar to most of us – being sworn at is an occupational hazard for healthcare workers. Exactly how often does it happen? A new review published in Aggression and Violent Behaviour by Teresa Stone and colleagues finds one study suggests rates as high as three incidents per shift in a mental health setting; in other contexts the rates appear lower, but even a lower estimate suggests one........ Read more »
Stone, T., McMillan, M., & Hazelton, M. (2015) Back to swear one: A review of English language literature on swearing and cursing in Western health settings. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 65-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2015.07.012
I have quite a bit of time for Harumi Jyonouchi on this blog (see here and see here for example). Not only has Dr Jyonouchi got an eye for some potentially important biological issues associated with at least some cases of autism, she also seems to recognise that behavioural symptoms often seem to go hand-in-hand with other more somatic features as per her work taking gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms into account for example .Another, more recent paper from Dr Jyonouchi caught my eye , ........ Read more »
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