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New research on little-understood brain disease Three recent papers on aging explore the neuropathology behind a little-understood brain disease, hippocampal sclerosis (known to scientists and clinicians as HS-AGING). HS-AGING, much like Alzheimer's disease, causes symptoms of dementia -- cognitive decline and impaired memory -- in aged persons. Although Alzheimer's disease is probably the most recognized cause of dementia, HS-AGING also causes serious cognitive impairment in older adults.
The cheerleader effect: how you can look good in a group People apparently look more attractive when seen with others than when viewed as individuals, so get yourself a bandA study published last week by scientists at the University of California, San Diego suggests that people look more attractive when seen in the presence of others than when viewed as individuals, a phenomenon known as the "cheerleader effect". But why does it happen? And what can we do with it?Well, human beings tend to form groups. Whether it's boy bands or battalions, we gravitate towards the company of others, whatever the situation. There are exceptions of course, but by and large people are social creatures.The California study argues that the cheerleader effect is caused by our tendency to perceive faces in a group as an amalgamated average, rather than separate individual objects, and the fact this "average group face" is more attractive to us than the faces that make it up. (Group influence also affects our perception of how attractive someone is. Studies have shown that if others think someone is attractive, we are more likely to find them attractive too, regardless of how they look.)The effect has been noticed in pop culture: in the US sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris's character points out a group of girls in a bar who collectively appear attractive, but on closer inspection display serious physical flaws. Likewise, the cheerleaders the effect is named for would look less appealing (and significantly weirder) if they were cheering solo, and a quick glance at any manufactured girl or boy band reveals how the enhanced attractiveness of an ensemble can be used for commercial gain.Arguably, we could all use the effect to our advantage. If you want people to find you more attractive for some reason (if, for example, you need a good photo for an online dating profile), you may wish to become friends and be seen with people whose physical characteristics complement or "compensate for" your own. That said, it would be difficult to form lasting friendships on such shallow, self-serving grounds.But human attention tends to focus on differences, so you wouldn't want to be too different from the group; that would only make things worse.PsychologyRelationshipsSexUnited StatesHuman biologyBiologyUS sportsDean Burnetttheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Torture permanently damages normal perception of pain Held alone in tiny, filthy spaces for weeks or months, sometimes handcuffed and blindfolded, prisoners of war suffer severe beatings, burns, electric shocks, starvation, and worse. New research shows that ex-prisoners of war continue to suffer from dysfunctional pain perception and regulation, likely as a result of their torture.
Structured play trumps age for future school success A psychology researcher has backed the English government's stance on maintaining Britain's school starting age saying structured play, not formal learning, is the key to success for the under fives. 
Who Is Likely to Be Unfaithful, and Why? There are few relationship difficulties as stressful to endure as infidelity. New research on attachment theory in married couples suggests who might be most at risk and why. From this research, you can gain insight into predicting which warning signs to look for in both you and your partner to protect your closest relationship. read more
Depression: 10 Fascinating Insights into a Misunderstood Condition Ten insights into a very common and widely misunderstood condition.→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Rise in pets as therapy for mental conditions Animals increasingly are being used to assist patients with mental disorders, as evidence grows that they can help people with autism, PTSD and other conditions.
Are you sleeping too much? Symptoms of to omuch sleep include anxiety, restlessness, loss of appetite and memory problems, as well as dysfunction in social settings.
Putting the Neuro into Economics The neuroscience of decision-making has direct implications for the reality of economics. Too much of economics is based on incorrect theories of human behavior. "Neuroeconomics" needs to be about more than using economic language to do neuroscience experiments - it needs to be about rebuilding economics from the ground up. The details matter.read more
Gambling addicts present brain function abnormalities that affect their decision-making capacity Researchers have analyzed similarities and differences in psychological profile and brain function when comparing cocaine addicts and gambling addicts. The study reveals that gambling addicts present brain function abnormalities affecting their decision-making capacity.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? There's good news and there's bad news. Which do you want to hear first? That depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of bad news, and if the news-giver wants the receiver to act on the information.
Repetition in music pulls us in, together A researcher explores the psychology of repetition in music, across time, style and cultures.
Considerable gender, racial, sexuality differences in attitudes toward bisexuality Men who identify themselves as heterosexual are three times more likely to categorize bisexuality as "not a legitimate sexual orientation," an attitude that can encourage negative health outcomes in people who identify as bisexual.
Bad boys: Research predicts whether boys will grow out of it or not Using the hi-tech tools of a new field called neurogenetics and a few simple questions for parents, a researcher is beginning to understand which boys are simply being boys and which may be headed for trouble.
Pleasure, pain brain signals disrupted in fibromyalgia patients New research indicates that a disruption of brain signals for reward and punishment contributes to increased pain sensitivity, known as hyperalgesia, in fibromyalgia patients. Results suggest that this altered brain processing might contribute to widespread pain and lack of response to opioid therapy in patients with fibromyalgia.
Visual representations improved by reducing noise in the brain Neuroscientists have revealed how the activity of neurons in an important area of the rhesus macaque's brain becomes less variable when they represent important visual information during an eye movement task. This reduction in variability can improve the perceptual strength of attended or relevant aspects in a visual scene, and is enhanced when the animals are more motivated to perform the task.
Music gives people a voice when words fail them at the end of their lives | Bob Heath A music therapist describes how improvising songs can open a vital channel of communication in palliative careAll that was dear to me, down below the seaI cannot hold this piece of driftwoodWhen life abandons meLiz, a patient at the Sobell House hospice, 2013In palliative care, when clients and their therapists get to know one another they do so with a shared knowledge, whether voiced or not, that while both of them are going to die eventually, at least one of them is going to be doing it very soon.The relationship between client and therapist is always unique. And whatever you may think about "therapy", all (or most) of it is based on a fundamental human process. Where there is trust and dialogue, there is an opportunity for creativity and healing. But how do you talk about dying when you know that it's about to happen? Are you frightened, angry, anxious or depressed? Are you full of remorse? Or are you relieved? What will you leave behind? Who will you leave behind?A few classic movie scenes spring to mind where the hero on the very brink of death sees his life flash before him, a 10-second review of an entire life in colour, and then he's gone. Off to ... wherever.But if, for instance, you are dying of cancer after active, curative treatment has stopped, the 10 seconds can become 10 weeks, or 10 months. And then what do you do? Do you simply wait for the end of the movie, do you try to stop it now and freeze the picture, or do you hit rewind and look at it again, frame by frame? Or do you make a new movie altogether?Serious illness, pain, exhaustion and the fear of death can contribute to an overwhelming sense of having "lost our voice". Many clients talk about their feelings of powerlessness and a silence in which they become invisible. "How can I tell my daughter how much I love her when we're too frightened to even look at each other most of the time?"As a music therapist working with people at the end of their lives, I have become familiar with these dilemmas. And over the past 10 years or so I've used therapeutic songwriting as a way to enable clients to be creative when they are trying to say the unsayable or think the unthinkable. I have lost count of the number of times I've heard myself saying, "I don't know the answer to that, but let's put it in the music and see where it takes us." And of course, music and song being what they are, we can be taken to all sorts of places, often surprising and often at great speed.Sitting in a music room with someone who has been robbed of the mechanics of speech by a brain tumour or a stroke and hearing them reconnect with their language through singing is one of the most inspiring experiences I encounter in my work. I love the way that it still surprises me, every time it happens.We all reveal ourselves in music. Whether we consider ourselves to be musical or not, human beings have a relationship with music that is as ancient as mankind itself, and yet at the same time is as contemporary and relevant as this very moment in time. Our world is full of songs.Through improvising in music we can begin to identify some of these feelings and begin to name and describe them. By creating songs in these exchanges, singing the words, clients can experience a new sense of expressive freedom and honesty. The songs they leave behind talk to us of people experiencing themselves in new ways, making surprising discoveries, creating valuable legacies for their families and, at times finding reconciliation and peace.Medicine Unboxed is a project that connects the public with healthcare professionals in a scientific, political and ethical conversation about medicine, illuminated through the arts. For more information on this year's event, visit our Facebook page, follow @medicineunboxed, or visit our Pinterest boards to learn about the conference programme Medical researchPsychologyHealthHealth & wellbeingtheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
The dark side of psychology in abuse and interrogation | Chris Chambers Chris Chambers: A new report reveals the role of US psychologists in the torture of prisonersChris Chambers
Expert in Workplace Violence Prevention Available to Discuss Bullying in Professional Sports Psychologist Joel Dvoskin has worked with Fortune 100 companies and the NBA
Wives matter more when it comes to calming down marital conflicts Marriage can be a battlefield. But a new study has found that, when it comes to keeping the peace, it's more important for wives -- than for husbands -- to calm down after a heated argument.