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National Wear Red Day: 3 Ways Women Can Combat Happy Friday, ladies! If you get out and about today, you might see a sea of red — and it’s not just that everyone decided to make a bold fashion choice! Nope, today is the annual National Wear Red Day 2015, hosted by the American Heart Association (AMA) Go Red...
Novel form of experience-dependent plasticity in the adult brain revealed Scientists have shown an unprecedented degree of connectivity reorganization in newly-generated hippocampal neurons in response to experience, suggesting their direct contribution to the processing of complex information in the adult brain.
Best of Our Blogs: February 6, 2015 Are you obsessively reading blog posts and researching articles online, texting a friend or asking everyone you know about an illness, symptom or problem you have? You may be searching the wrong place to find a solution to your problem. External resources can be an important way to receive answers, but...
How Much Distraction Do I Need? So the thing is, I can work better with the radio on. But I don’t work better if the radio is talking to me. It has to be music. And it has to be music I like. If it’s music I hate, I’ll hear it, and hate it … actively....
Electronics Negatively Affecting Children Children spend a lot of their time watching television, searching the internet, or texting their friends. Some spend more time on electronic media than they do in school. Spending too much screen time can take away a child’s energy and can lead to isolation.  It is important for parents to monitor how...
New ‘ambulance’ for the brain could facilitate treatment of diseases with no therapy available The brain is protected by a barrier of cells that tightly regulates the transport of substances into this organ in order to prevent infection. The essential protective function of this barrier is also a red light for 98% of drug candidates for the treatment of the central nervous system. Today in Angewandte Chemie, scientists at [...]The post New ‘ambulance’ for the brain could facilitate treatment of diseases with no therapy available appeared first on PsyPost.
Chimpanzees learn ‘food calls,’ study finds Chimpanzees living in captivity are capable of learning calls that refer to specific food items. This was shown by an evolutionary biologist from the University of Zurich together with English researchers. They now published a behavioral study suggesting, that great apes are capable of referring to objects and socially learn meaningful calls. A special feature [...]The post Chimpanzees learn ‘food calls,’ study finds appeared first on PsyPost.
Creative In Many Ways Are you inspired to be creative in multiple ways? Many creative people are serial artists or entrepreneurs, multipassionate and multitalented. Some well-known artists are examples: the photo includes David Lynch (movie director, painter, furniture designer, photographer, musician), Jessica Lange (actor, photographer, children’s book author) and Viggo Mortensen (acting, painting, photography,...
Mindfulness and Acting What is acting? This is the question my co-teacher, a director, scholar, and teacher of theatre asked our class "Emotions in Psychology and Theatre" on day 1. The answers, from a classroom of undergraduate students with varying levels of acting experience were "being", "doing," "pretending," and "behaving truthfully".  Except none of these can possibly be completely true. Actors have to learn lines. They have to think about their light and their audience. And while they might be behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances, or "being", actors cannot behave completely with truth, otherwise no one would ever stage a murder scene for fear of being actually murdered. Cognitively, there's more going on. This is by no means an easy question to answer: scholars of acting have been trying to answer it since acting was something people began to talk about. And every theorist, actor and scholar has a different question. (I've already written about it a bit here.)  At the same time our semester began with this question, a colleague, Dr. Steven Brown from McMaster University, and director of the NeuroArts lab, emailed me with a similar question: At a cognitive level, what are actors doing? And is it somehow similar to what we all do as we play different roles in our every day lives? For sure, we are all different at work and at home; in front of parents as compared to romantic partners; in public and in private.  We know that, for example, when a person produces a gesture in dance, they are moving their body, and the audience is reading that gesture. Likewise, in acting, there are gestures and facial expressions, all of which can be produced with minimal psychological effort, and read by audience members. But what of the internal? Obviously, acting is not just hitting the right physical position and moving the correct facial muscles. So what else is going on? One possibility is "presence" or the philosophical concept of existing consciously. The idea of different "presences" in every day life has been explored, and it may be that actors are simply doing this in a performative context. Another possibility is some combination of emotion regulation and executive function: you (or actors) decide what is appropriate given a certain set of circumstances, and then you mold which parts of your personality and emotions you express, which you hold back, etc.  However, another interesting concept is that acting is a form of mindfulness. In mindfulness, one does not pass judgment, but instead simply observes what is happening physically and emotionally. As thoughts or emotions come, the individual sees them, recognizes them, but then lets them pass by, without making a big story out of them.  While theatre requires a big story (or at least some objective), that is not actually up to the actor in the moment of performance. For the moment of performance, mindfulness may be the key to what actors are "doing", becuase what they are "doing" is "being". Or, perhaps 80% of their selves are. The other 20% is remembering lines, finding light, and facing the audience. Or as Spencer Tracy said "just learn your lines and don't bump into the furniture". The acting coach Michael Checkov developed this idea of 80/20. He wrote that an actor must be 80% fully committed in character, and 20% aware of the pretense of the sitution. Perhaps then within the 80% activeness, actors are, cognitively, being mindful-- aware of what is happening around them, their physical senses, the emotions that are coming, and the thoughts and words passing through them in service of a character. At the same time, they must also be nonjudgmental, as it is not up to the actor in the moment of performance to create more cognitively than what they are supposed to be doing on stage. In the rehearsal room, of course, the actor should spend as much time as possible in exploration, but in performance, mindfulness to the exact moment of the performance may be what we mean when we say an actor is "being" onstage. While actors do not necessarily use the language of mindful awareness or nonjudgmental awareness, a conversation between these two fields could be useful. In this vien, could the difference between a good actor and a bad one be how mindful they are? How aware they are of themselves in the moment of performance? Perhaps better actors can better be nonjudgmental of their physical and emotional states when portraying a character, and can let those states pass through onto the stage. The more aware an actor can be of what various emotions feel and look like, perhaps the more likely they can portray those emotions effectively on stage.  Some combination of this type of mindful awareness and large amounts of rehearsal and prepartion of the pragmatics of acting and creating theatre may underlie acting.  Or, perhaps the preparation is what is needed into order to get into the mindfulness in the moment of performance.  Mindfulness has become a major topic of psychological research. Practicing mindful meditation has been tied to more emotional stability, quality of life, ease, and other positive outcomes. Yet actors are popularly assumed to hold the opposite of those qualities. An empirical question, then, could be whether individuals who are experts in mindfulness, indviduals who have meditated extensively, control and regulate their emotions in similar ways to actors.  Is the approach to emotions in the actual performance of acting similar to the approach to emotions in mindfulness? I think we can safely assume techniques of emotion regulation in rehearsal, with ideas of sense memory, or the physical manifestation of an emotion leading to its hormonal and physiological correlates (see: power posing) are not similar to mindful meditation in nature. Yet the actual moment of performance, particularly for performers who repeat a characters night after night, might be a type of mindful meditation, and one in need of more empirical exploration.  Topics:  Cognition Creativity Mindfulness Subtitle:  Is what actors do parallel to nonjudgmental awareness of the self? Blog to Post to:  The Mind On Stage Teaser Text:  We often ask "but what is acting" or "what are actors actually doing?" Perhaps the answer is "being mindful". Teaser Image:  Mature Audiences Only:  Content Topics:  Emotion Regulation Mindfulness Personality Meditation Cognition Parenting Environment Memory Fear Quote
Well Hung and Happy, Right? Apparently men are likely to overestimate the size of their penis. Such a surprise! The average male penis according to The Journal of Sexual Medicine is 5.6 inches, whereas the Journal of Urology says it is 5.08. This is erect. So much for the ultimate in masculinity. Having a big penis signifies power to most men, and desirability for gay men especially. The only way to make it bigger is to stretch the truth! All of us fall prey to media hype, and gay men fall hard. We are bombarded by images of beauty and youth; all, of course, photo enhanced and edited. Still, the images are powerful – and  unattainable. The profile is fake, and so our expectations of ourselves with regard to appearance, including penis size, are inherently unrealistic. Those who are self-conscious about penis size feel self-conscious about sexual encounters and thus may avoid them. They convince themselves that their penis should be their selling point, and in not measuring up, they feel insignificant. The truth is that happiness is not located just below the belt.  Feeling truly content really rests in being connected, mindful, and appreciative of all your assets as well as the good qualities of others.  The false advertising of media has many of us chasing after shadows and suffering from ever-lower self-esteem and loneliness as a consequence. One way to stand up to the billion-dollar industry of fakery is to embrace reality. Use your attributes and personality traits wisely. Others are drawn to you for a multitude of reasons, not just your looks.  Get to really know your great qualities and emphasize them; these are really your best features.  Instead of approaching life from a position of inferiority, hold your head high and enjoy who you are. This is itself is very appealing. Your natural sexiness has many reflections, let them shine, and others will respond. Topics:  Media Self-Esteem Beauty Body Image Conformity Gender Happiness Embarrassment Relationships Perfectionism Sex Sexual Orientation Social Life Subtitle:  The media is everywhere, even in your pants. Blog to Post to:  Unwrapped Teaser Text:  The media tells us who we are – and are not. The vast majority of us are too this, and not enough that. And for gay men, one message certainly is clear: “size does matter.” Mature Audiences Only:  Content Topics:  Personality Consumer Behavior Self-Esteem Loneliness Happiness Beauty Quote
Parenting and depression study: Fathers are at risk, too In stressful family circumstances, parenthood sometimes take a bigger toll on fathers’ mental health. Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton conducted research that gives a better look at how various types of parents experience stress. One finding of the study is that some stepfathers – those with multiple family roles – experience the highest [...]The post Parenting and depression study: Fathers are at risk, too appeared first on PsyPost.
Neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer’s-associated plaques New research from scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) shows that the body’s immune system may be able to clear the brain of toxic plaque build-up that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, reversing memory loss and brain cell damage. The study, which appears in the Feb. [...]The post Neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer’s-associated plaques appeared first on PsyPost.
Do cops need college? Study examines education level and police behavior A new study suggests college-educated cops are dissatisfied with the job, have negative views of their supervisors and don’t necessarily favor community policing, a strategy aimed partly at reducing the number of deadly police-citizen incidents dominating the headlines. But William Terrill, a Michigan State University criminologist and co-author of the study on police attitudes, said [...]The post Do cops need college? Study examines education level and police behavior appeared first on PsyPost.
Acute psychological stress reduces ability to withstand physical pain Traffic slows to a crawl, then a stop. You are trapped in a bottleneck nightmare, and late for a meeting. The stress takes a toll on you psychologically – but your body is at risk as well, according to a Tel Aviv University researcher. A new study by Prof. Ruth Defrin of the Department of [...]The post Acute psychological stress reduces ability to withstand physical pain appeared first on PsyPost.
Youth hockey brain imaging study suggests early marker for concussion damage James Hudziak, M.D., has two children who love ice hockey. His son skates for his college team and one of his daughters plays in high school. As a pediatric neuropsychiatrist and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine, Hudziak believes in the benefits [...]The post Youth hockey brain imaging study suggests early marker for concussion damage appeared first on PsyPost.
In a crisis, the bigger your social network, the better The more you know your neighbors, the better off you may be when disaster strikes, a new study from the University of Arizona suggests. Researchers in the UA School of Anthropology examined social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest and found that communities that were more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of [...]The post In a crisis, the bigger your social network, the better appeared first on PsyPost.
Cooperation, considered: New model reveals how motives can affect cooperation Aside from the obvious, what is it that separates Mother Theresa from Sean Penn? Both have tried to perform charitable acts – Mother Theresa worked for decades in the slums of Calcutta and Penn was among those who traveled to New Orleans to rescue victims of Hurricane Katrina. But while Mother Theresa is today recognized [...]The post Cooperation, considered: New model reveals how motives can affect cooperation appeared first on PsyPost.
Increasing individualism in US linked with rise of white-collar jobs Rising individualism in the United States over the last 150 years is mainly associated with a societal shift toward more white-collar occupations, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The study, which looked at various cultural indicators — including word usage in books, trends in baby names, [...]The post Increasing individualism in US linked with rise of white-collar jobs appeared first on PsyPost.
Is Masturbation Bad for You? Masturbation is a funny word. It might make you giggle thinking about the first time you got caught by your parents or caught your little brother in the act. It can be a great way to release tension, or a way to stay satisfied when you can’t be with a...
The Funny Thing About Self-Care, Part 2 Last Sunday I wrote about a surprising realization I’ve had about self-care: Sometimes, self-care doesn’t look or feel very much like self-care. Sometimes, it’s not blissful. It’s not serene. It might not even be enjoyable in the moment. It might not even be something you want to do. Sometimes, it...