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To Intervene, or Not to Intervene? When conflicts break out in bars, how often and under what circumstances do other people get involved?
Light treatment improves sleep, depression, agitation in Alzheimer’s A new study suggests that light treatment tailored to increase circadian stimulation during the day may improve sleep, depression and agitation in people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. Results show that exposure to the tailored light treatment during daytime hours for four weeks significantly increased sleep quality, efficiency and total sleep duration. It also
Dad’s alcohol consumption could influence sons’ drinking Even before conception, a son’s vulnerability for alcohol use disorders could be shaped by a father who chronically drinks to excess, according to a new animal study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online Wednesday in PLOS ONE, show male mice that were chronically exposed to alcohol before breeding had male
The Phenomenon of the Selfie Back in 2005-2006, when MySpace emerged on the social networking scene, I’d be in the backyard snapping photos of myself for my profile picture. “Lauren, you can point the camera to the outside world, you know.” Oh right, that. My mom did have a point or two, but it was...
Dating the Dark Triad The Dark Triad describes a personality structure consisting of subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Such a personality profile can influence romantic partner communication in numerous ways; this article highlights a few of those ways.
How To Make Your Very Own “I Don’t Suck” File I call it an “I don’t suck” file. A more positive name would probably be an I am enough file. You can call it whatever you want, but on days when it feels like we can’t do anything write (like pick the, er, right homonym), a concrete reminder that we...
Iowa revamps harsh HIV criminalization law Advocates hailed the bill signing as a historic victory that culminated after years of lobbying on the behalf of convicted Iowans.
Sleepless nights raise brain levels of Alzheimer's protein, study finds After a night of no sleep, even a healthy brain has higher than normal levels of the protein that forms the signature tangles in Alzheimer’s disease.
For new college grads, finding mental health care can be tough Young adults with a mental health condition who don't have steady jobs or stable paychecks find it difficult to find and pay for mental health providers.
#101 A Brief Glimpse of Heaven Emilio García via Compfight I was privileged to hold my mother in my arms when she died. Knowing how ill she was, Aaron had come from college to visit her and spend the weekend. He had always had a special bond with her, born in part by the uncommon physical...
New gene involved in Parkinson's disease found, finding that may result in new treatments A new gene involved in Parkinson’s disease has been identified by a team of researchers, a finding that may one day provide a target for a new drug to prevent and potentially even cure the debilitating neurological disorder. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease, and there is no cure for the progressive and devastating illness. About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year.
Don’t Give Up When He (Or She) Won’t Open Up Twelve steps to getting unstuck. One of the most frequently-voiced complaints that we hear from our clients and students (and admittedly, it usually tends to be women who we are hearing it from) is “He won’t talk to me.” “I can’t get him to open up. No matter what I do,...
Depressed in Summer? It May Be Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is usually something that wrecks your mood during the dark, cold months of winter. But for some people, summer is the time they feel the worst. It's called reverse SAD, and neuroscientists are just beginning to understand how it works....
How Do You Get Narcissists To Care About Other People? Narcissists are notoriously bad at empathizing, often to the detriment of their personal and professional relationships. So how do you get an egoist to imagine himself in someone else's shoes? Believe it or not, it could be as simple as asking him to do just that....
Decoding how the brain miswires, possibly causing ADHD Neuroscientists have shed light on why neurons in the brain’s reward system can be miswired, potentially contributing to disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
5 Tips for Communicating Assertively without Being Passive-Aggressive All of us are passive-aggressive. That is, we use a mild form of passive-aggressiveness: “saying yes when we mean no,” according to psychotherapist Andrea Brandt, Ph.D, M.F.T. However, some of us use passive aggression on a regular basis. Brandt defined passive aggression as “a coping mechanism people use when they...
Why Doctors Don’t Want Their Own Medicine When They’re Dying Nine in 10 doctors say they wouldn’t want CPR if they were terminally ill and their heart or breathing stopped. What do they know that the rest of us don’t?
Crows' memories are made of this: Scientists discover neurons allowing crows to remember short-term Researchers have discovered neurons allowing crows to remember short-term, although their brains are different from ours. An important prerequisite for intelligence is a good short-term memory which can store and process the information needed for ongoing processes. This "working memory" is a kind of mental notepad -- without it, we could not follow a conversation, do mental arithmetic, or play any simple game.
Small-molecule drugs moved through blood-brain barrier in new study A recently developed synthetic peptide carrier is a potential delivery vehicle for brain cancer chemotherapy drugs and other neurological medications, researchers have demonstrated in a mouse model. The blood-brain barrier is meant to protect the brain from numerous undesirable chemicals circulating in the body, but it also obstructs access for treatment of brain tumors and other conditions. Too often the only recourse is invasive, which often limits a drug's effectiveness or causes irreversible damage to an already damaged brain.
Four Ways Sadness May Be Good for You Sadness is not usually valued in our current culture. Self-help books promote the benefits of positive thinking, positive attitude, and positive behaviors, labeling sadness as a “problem emotion” that needs to be kept at bay or eliminated.  Evolution must have had something else in mind, though, or sadness wouldn’t still be with us. Being sad from time to time serves some kind of purpose in helping our species to survive. Yet, while other so-called “negative emotions,” like fear, anger, and disgust, seem clearly adaptive—preparing our species for flight, fight, or avoidance, respectively—the evolutionary benefits of sadness have been harder to understand…until recently, that is. With the advent of fMRI imaging and the proliferation of brain research, scientists have begun to find out more about how sadness works in the brain and influences our thoughts and behavior. Though happiness is still desirable in many situations, there are others in which a mild sad mood confers important advantages. Findings from my own research suggest that sadness can help people improve attention to external details, reduce judgmental bias, increase perseverance, and promote generosity. All of these findings build a case that sadness has some adaptive functions, and so should be accepted as an important component of our emotional repertoire. Here are some of the ways sadness can be a beneficial emotion. 1. Sadness can improve your memory. In one field study, we found that on rainy, unpleasant days that produce bad mood people had a much better recollection of details of objects they had seen in a shop. On bright, sunny days when people felt happy their memory was far less accurate in an identical situation. It seems that positive mood impairs, and negative mood improves attention and memory for incidental details in our environment. In another experiment, my colleagues and I showed participants a photo of either a car crash scene or a wedding party scene. Later, we asked participants to recall happy or sad memories from their past, in order to shift their mood. They then received some questions about the photos,  that were manipulated so that the questions either did or did not contain misleading or false information, such as “Did you see the stop sign at the scene?”— when there was no stop sign, only a yield sign. We later tested their eyewitness memory, and found that participants in a negative mood were better able to accurately remember original details, ignoring misleading information, while participants in positive moods made more mistakes. This experiment points to a basic psychological fact: What we remember about the past can be greatly altered by subsequent misinformation. It seems that negative mood reduces the likelihood that later false information will distort the original memory. So, being in the right mood can help improve our recollections. Research like ours consistently finds that happiness can produce less focused and attentive processing and so increases the chances of misleading information being incorporated into memory, while a negative mood improves attention to detail and results in better memory. 2. Sadness can improve judgment. Humans constantly make social judgments, trying to read social cues in order to understand and predict others’ thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately, these judgments can often be wrong, in part because of a number of shortcuts and biases that can lead us astray. We repeatedly find that people are more likely to make social misjudgments due to biases when they are happy. When happy or sad participants in one study were asked to detect deception in videotaped statements of people accused of theft (who were either guilty or not guilty), participants in negative moods were more likely to make guilty judgments— but they were also significantly better at correctly distinguishing between deceptive and truthful suspects. In another experiment, participants rated the likely truth of 25 true and 25 false general knowledge trivia statements, and, afterwards, they were told if each claim was actually true. Two weeks later, only sad participants were able to correctly distinguish between the true and false claims they had seen previously. Those in happier moods tended to rate all previously seen claims as true, confirming that a happy mood increases—and a sad mood reduces—the tendency to believe that what is familiar is actually true. Sad moods reduce other common judgmental biases, such as “the fundamental attribution error,” in which people attribute intentionality to others’ behavior while ignoring situational factors, and the “halo effect,” where judges tend to assume a person having some positive feature—such as a handsome face—is likely to have others, such as kindness or intelligence. Negative moods can also reduce another judgmental bias, primacy effects—when people place too much emphasis on early information and ignore later details. So negative mood can improve the accuracy of impression formation judgments, by promoting a more detailed and attentive thinking style. 3. Sadness can increase your motivation. When we feel happy, we naturally want to maintain that happy feeling. Happiness signals to us that we are in a safe, familiar situation, and that little effort is needed to change anything. Sadness, on the other hand, operates like a mild alarm signal, triggering more effort and motivation to deal with a challenge in our environment. Thus, people who are happier will sometimes be less motivated to push themselves toward action compared to someone in a negative mood, who will be more motivated to exert effort to change their unpleasant state. We put this to the test by showing participants either happy or sad films—and then assigning them a demanding cognitive task with many difficult questions. There was no time limit, which allowed us to measure their perseverance by assessing the total time they spent on the questions, the number they answered, and the number they answered correctly. In fact, participants who were happy spent less time, attempted fewer items, and scored fewer correct answers than did participants we put in a negative mood, who spontaneously made more effort and achieved better results. This suggests that a sad mood can increase and happy mood can reduce perseverance with difficult tasks, possibly because people are less motivated to exert effort when they already experience a positive mood. Sad mood in turn may increase perseverance as people see greater potential benefits of making an effort. 4. Sadness can improve interactions, in some cases. In general, happiness increases positive interactions between people. Happy people are more poised, assertive, and skillful communicators; they smile more, and they are generally perceived as more likable than sad people. However, in situations where a more cautious, less assertive and more attentive communication style may be called for, a sad mood may help. In one study, participants who first viewed happy or sad films were unexpectedly asked to go and request a file from a person in a neighboring office. Their requests were surreptitiously recorded by a concealed tape recorder. Analyses showed that the sad mood produced more polite, elaborate, and hedging requests, whereas those in a happy mood used more direct and less polite strategies. Why would this be? In uncertain and unpredictable interpersonal situations, people need to pay greater attention to the requirements of the situation to formulate the most appropriate communication strategy. They must be able to read the cues of the situation and respond accordingly. Sad people are more focused on external cues and will not rely solely on their first impressions, which happy people are more inclined to trust. In other experiments, we found that people in a sad mood are also more persuasive, produce more effective and concrete arguments to support their position, and are better able to convince others than are people in a positive mood. Here’s another example: In social science experiments, researchers use the ultimatum game to study things like cooperation, trust, and generosity. They give players money and tell them to allocate as much as they want to another person who has the power to accept or reject the offer. If the offer is rejected, neither side gets anything. Past research has found that those in the giver role are not simply driven by maximizing benefits for themselves. However mood effects on such decisions have not been measured previously. My colleagues and I asked participants to play the ultimatum game after they’d been induced to feel happy or sad. We measured how long it took for them to make their allocation decisions. Those in sad moods gave significantly more to others than did happy people, suggesting that they paid greater attention to the needs of others. In other words, mood can also influence selfishness and fairness. Those in a negative mood also took longer to make their decisions, consistent with a more attentive, thoughtful style. In addition, when researchers looked at receivers in the game, they found that those in a sad mood were also more concerned with fairness, and rejected unfair offers more than did those in the happy condition.  Sadness is not depression Though much has been made of the many benefits of happiness, it’s important to consider that sadness can be beneficial, too. Sad people are less prone to judgmental errors, are more resistant to eye-witness distortions, are sometimes more motivated, and are more sensitive to social norms. They can act with more generosity, too. The benefits of sadness have their limits, of course. Depression—a mood disorder defined, at least in part, by prolonged and intense periods of sadness—can be debilitating. And no one is suggesting that we should try to induce sadness as a way of combating memory decline, for example. Research does not bear out the benefits of doing this. But my research does suggest that mild, temporary states of sadness may actually be beneficial in handling various aspects of our lives. Perhaps that is why, even though feeling sad can be hard, many of the greatest achievements of Western art, music, and literature explore the landscape of sadness. In everyday life, too, people often seek ways to experience sadness, at least from time to time—by listening to sad songs, watching sad movies, or reading sad books. Evolutionary theory suggests that we should embrace all of our emotions, as each has an important role to play under the right circumstances. So, though you may seek ways to increase happiness, don’t haphazardly push away your sadness. No doubt, it’s there for good reason.