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Medical marijuana research for PTSD clears major hurdle A researcher at the University of Arizona is a step closer to studying how medical marijuana affects veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Protein family that helps the brain form synapses surveyed by researchers How does nature make the different types of synapses that connect neurons? And how are synaptic defects linked to cognitive disorders? A Nobel Prize winning researcher used new instruments to identify more than 450 isoforms of the neurexins, a family of proteins thought to help define synaptic form and function. The findings illuminate basic brain functions and will lead to better understanding of autism, schizophrenia and related conditions.
Form of epilepsy in sea lions similar to that in humans, researchers find California sea lions exposed to a toxin in algae develop a form of epilepsy that is similar to one in humans, according to a new study. Every year, hundreds of sea lions wash up along the California coast, suffering seizures caused by exposure to domoic acid, a neurotoxin that can produce memory loss, tremors, convulsions and death. Domoic acid is produced by algae blooms that have been proliferating along the coast in recent years, accumulating in anchovies and other small fish that the sea lions feed on.
Sharper view into brain: Exact border between two important brain regions detected Deep in the human brain, two small but very important regions lie close together: the amygdala, which plays an important role in the generation and perception of emotions, and the hippocampus, which is a central switchboard for memories. These two small neighboring regions have until now been hard to tell apart in neuroimaging investigations of the living human because of their small dimensions, the amygdala being only the size of an almond. Ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging is now offering unprecedented clarity.
Mental health on the go: Reducing anxiety with smartphone app Playing a science-based mobile gaming app for 25 minutes can reduce anxiety in stressed individuals, according to research. The study suggests that 'gamifying' a scientifically-supported intervention could offer measurable mental health and behavioral benefits for people with relatively high levels of anxiety. The game is based on an emerging cognitive treatment for anxiety called attention-bias modification training. The treatment involves training patients to ignore a threatening stimulus (such as an angry face) and to focus instead on a non-threatening stimulus (such as a neutral or happy face). This type of training has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress among people suffering from high anxiety.
Intelligent People Are More Inclined to Trust Others Seven ways that trust benefits both individuals and society as a whole.→ Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick" Related articles:Highly Trusting People Better Lie Detectors People Are Happier When They Do The Right Thing Can You Get Things Done Without Making People Hate You? 10 Smart Studies that Help Unlock the Mysteries of Intelligence Urban Living: Green Spaces Improve Your Mental Health
Challenging Advocates When Their Values Would Do US Harm Passionate advocates who want to impose their values on society put us all in danger by ignoring the tradeoffs their choices often involve. This is true for genetically modified food, climate change, childhood vaccination, gun control, and many more
Suppressing unwanted memories reduces their unconscious influence on behavior Researchers have shown that, contrary to what was previously assumed, suppressing unwanted memories reduces their unconscious influences on subsequent behavior, and have shed light on how this process happens in the brain.
Rats' brains may 'remember' odor experienced while under general anesthesia, study suggests Rats' brains may remember odors they were exposed to while deeply anesthetized, suggests research. In the study, rats were exposed to a specific odor while under general anesthesia. Examination of the brain tissue after they had recovered from anesthesia revealed evidence of cellular imprinting, even though the rats behaved as if they had never encountered the odor before.
The pain of flight MH370 lies in its ambiguity | Pauline Boss Families of passengers of the missing Malaysian airlines plane may be faced with a lifetime of unresolved grief. But there is a way for them to find healingHaving a family member go missing is called "ambiguous loss". It is one of the most painful types of loss because there is no possibility of closure or resolution. With no official proof of loved ones being dead or alive, relatives and friends of the missing flight MH370 suffer the agony of not knowing. Unlike with certain death, there is no official verification, no funeral or rituals of support, and no finality. People understandably maintain hope. And sometimes, just enough times to keep hope alive, a missing person does come walking out of the jungle or a kidnapped child is found alive.The families and friends of the missing are stuck in a painful limbo where relationships are brutally ruptured and yet grief is frozen. While those who wait for news may exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety and anger, we must remember that the source of pathology lies in their irrational situation of loss. The ambiguity is the culprit. Oscillating between hope and despair, families understandably resist change because they still hope to find the missing person. Our task is to have patience with their suffering and learn to hold the ambiguity with them.After decades of studying families of the missing, I find that people accustomed to finding answers and solving problems may suffer more because they insist on closure. For example, many New Yorkers were stunned and some even angry just weeks after 9/11 when families of the missing continued to hope that their loved ones would turn up alive somewhere. (A few actually did.) One year later, a New York reporter doing a story on the anniversary of 9/11 asked me why I thought New Yorkers weren't over it yet. My answer: "Because you're trying to get over it."Paradoxically, as TS Eliot suggests, what we do not know about a missing loved one becomes all that we know. Another poet, John Keats, recommends in his letters to a young poet that he develop a capability for living with unanswered questions. Keats called this "negative capability" – and this is what it takes to live with loved ones gone missing. This is also the way for the rest of us to stop pressuring these families to find closure.In cases of ambiguous loss, meaning will not emerge from absolute thinking. Rather, it comes from our being able to hold two opposing ideas at the same time (I think of F Scott Fitzgerald). Such paradoxical thinking requires a cognitive shift toward multiple meanings – the only way one can survive with ambiguous loss. Decades after her boy was kidnapped, a mother told me: "He's probably dead ... but maybe not. I still hope to see him once before I die." She has found the capability for living with what remains a mystery, as the families of passengers on flight MH370 may also have to.The ability to hold two conflicting ideas in one's mind at the same time provides the resilience to move forward even while the ambiguity persists. Given the absurdity of ambiguous loss, human strength emerges not from one absolute truth, but from holding on to an array of possibilities.Malaysia Airlines flight MH370MalaysiaAsia PacificAir transportAirline industryPsychologyPauline © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Stand by Me: Kids and Killers As we watched the sentencing hearing last week for Tyler Hadley for the murder of his parents, an issue was raised about a friend who was aware of it but took his time calling the police. We wonder about other cases like this of kids who know about murder and aid a cover-up. What's happening? read more
Efforts to close the achievement gap in kids start at home By the time children are three years old, those from professional families have heard about 30 million more words than children from lower-income households.
States urge top retailers to stop selling tobacco More than two dozen states joined forces urging Walmart and four other retail giants to stop selling tobacco products at their pharmacy chains.
A plunge in preschool obesity? Despite recent claims, scientists conclude that there have been no significant changes in obesity in youth or adults in the past decade.
The Danger That Lurks Inside Vladimir Putin's Brain Vladimir Putin's actions in Crimea are driven partly by a psychological profile characterised by contempt for others, and this in turn is a natural outcome of the near-unfettered power he has held directly or by proxy for the last 15 years in Russia. Appeasement of his actions will only reinforce this contempt and strong sanctions are the only way of addressing this. read more
4 Wonderful Ways Meditation Relieves Pain Meditation thickens critical areas of the cortex, changes attitudes to pain and more...→ Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick" Related articles:10 Remarkable Ways Meditation Helps Your Mind Meditation is an Effective Treatment for Depression, Anxiety and Pain 8 Wonderful Psychological Effects of Being Compassionate Meditation Changes How Genes Are Expressed Unique Human Brain Area Identified that Separates Us From Monkeys
What's so bad about feeling happy? Why is being happy, positive and satisfied with life the ultimate goal of so many people, while others steer clear of such feelings? It is often because of the lingering belief that happiness causes bad things to happen, says a researcher. A new article reviews the concept of aversion to happiness, and looks at why various cultures react differently to feelings of well-being and satisfaction.
Stress undermines empathic abilities in men but increases them in women Stressed males tend to become more self-centered and less able to distinguish their own emotions and intentions from those of other people. For women the exact opposite is true. Stress, this problem that haunts us every day, could be undermining not only our health but also our relationships with other people, especially for men. Stressed women, however, become more "prosocial" according to new research.
How Much Do Parents Determine Their Children's Success? Should you have a kid? More than one kid? How much can you influence them? "Parents picture kids as clay they mold for life, when they're actually more like flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but pops back into its original shape when the pressure is released." - Bryan Caplanread more
If you don't think multiculturalism is working, look at your street corner | Madeleine Bunting Living in a mixed area makes us more tolerant, not less, studies show. That fact must be part of the immigration debatePassive tolerance is probably not a concept many people have yet heard of. Let's hope that changes, because "passive tolerance" is the most hopeful bit of academic social psychology research to emerge in a long time. It is the idea that simply living in an area of high diversity rubs off on you, making you more tolerant of ethnic diversity.Think of all those tiny interactions between different ethnic groups on an average British city street: the newsagent, the corner shop, the delivery driver, the postman, friends laughing, children playing, a pair of lovers. This is what generates passive tolerance. You don't have to be part of the interaction yourself; just witnessing it is enough to have a significant impact – comparable to the effect passive smoking has on your health, hence the term passive tolerance.This is the finding of seven studies carried out over 10 years in the United States, Europe and South Africa, led by a team of social psychologists at the University of Oxford and published in the journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences. They were careful to rule out the most obvious explanation for their finding, social psychologists Miles Hewstone and Katharina Schmid explain – namely, that the higher levels of tolerance in more diverse neighbourhoods are a result of more tolerant people choosing to live there. Two of the studies were conducted over several years and tracked the same individuals, showing how attitudes changed. Even prejudiced people showed a greater degree of tolerance over time if they lived in a mixed neighbourhood.The study's positive message is reinforced by the finding of a separate study led by the same Oxford team – the biggest to date in England on diversity and trust. White British people were asked whether they felt ethnic minorities threatened their way of life, increased crime levels, or took their jobs; ethnic minority participants were asked the same questions. Both groups were then asked about how they interact with other groups in everyday situations, such as corner shops, and then about how much they trusted people from their own and other ethnic groups in their neighbourhood. What the study found was that distrust does rise in diverse communities, but day to day, direct contact cancels it out.The two studies together point to a more optimistic reading of how diversity impacts on urban neighbourhoods.The reason passive tolerance is politically so important is not hard to see. Sociology and social psychology have frequently been drafted in to the highly charged political debate about community, integration and multiculturalism. Key concepts and ideas take hold in the political sphere and become a rationale for policy. The danger is that oft-quoted ideas can become self-fulfilling. Perhaps the most influential in this area has been US sociologist Professor Robert Putnam, who said diversity has a negative impact on social capital, leading to people "hunkering down", and trust in strangers and neighbourhoods dropping significantly. "Hunkering down" has become a widely quoted phrase as a respectable way for liberals to articulate their growing concern in an increasingly toxic political debate on immigration.The problematic issue for the left is that lower levels of trust have been linked to declining support for the welfare state. The theory is that if you are less likely to trust the people around you, you are less willing to have a sense of solidarity and so less likely to stump up the taxes to pay for other people's benefits.The author David Goodhart, for instance, has seized upon Putnam's "hunkering down thesis as vindication of the controversial position he holds has long advanced. He routinely invokes Putnam to argue that the pace and scale of increasing diversity in the UK has been too great and, as he said in a recent interview, people "become less willing to share resources and do the things we require of people in a modern welfare state". The left faces a nasty conundrum as two of its most sacred shibboleths come into conflict: ethnic diversity and the solidarity necessary for a strong welfare state.This new research throws these conclusions into question. Putnam's work may, after all, have been misleading. In fact, rather than hunkering down, living in a mixed neighbourhood helps you open up. In some ways this vindicates many people's anecdotal experience of their own enjoyment of diversity in their neighbourhoods, and the sense that the most pronounced fear and prejudice is found in exclusively white areas.The research also vindicates the case for local initiatives to foster social exchange and build community relationships. From carnivals to coffee mornings, jumble sales to fun days in the park – all these are opportunities to generate passive tolerance. Sadly, however, many of these initiatives have fallen victim to local authority funding cuts. The impact of austerity has been compounded by a loss of confidence – in which Putnam's research played its part – about fostering strong diverse communities. Multiculturalism has fallen from favour, misunderstood and maligned as the set of ideas that guided community relations for a generation.No one was more acutely aware of this danger than Putnam himself when he talked to me on the publication of his research in 2007, the timing made the danger all the more acute in the aftermath of 7/7 bombings. Since then the theme of integration has come to dominate – with its coercive and conformist overtones. The result has been a yawning gap with no positive narrative for the fast-changing diversity of Britain's urban life.The hope is that this academic research will percolate into policy and public life, inspiring confidence again that strong diverse communities are not only possible, but can also work as beacons, converting residents and visitors alike to a possibility of rich exchange.CommunitiesImmigration and asylumPsychologyMadeleine © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds