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Infections damage ability to form spatial memories Increased inflammation following an infection impairs the brain's ability to form spatial memories, according to new research. The impairment results from a decrease in glucose metabolism in the brain's memory center, disrupting the neural circuits involved in learning and memory. This is the first study to image the effects of inflammation on the brain. The findings help explain why inflammation impairs memory and could spur the development of new drugs targeting the immune system to treat dementia.
Mindfulness at School Decreases Chance of Developing Depression Positive results from best study yet carried out on teaching mindfulness in schools.→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Researchers find epileptic activity spreads in new way Biomedical engineers have found that epileptic activity can spread through a part of the brain in a new way, suggesting a possible novel target for seizure-blocking medicines. Evidence from a series of experiments and computer modeling strongly suggests individual cells in a part of the brain, known as the hippocampus, use a small electrical field to stimulate and synchronize neighboring cells, spreading the activity layer by layer.
Pulled Apart then Coming Back Together Can couples survive a military deployment? What types of challenges do military couples face after reuniting? Understanding the normal hurdles that couples encounter post-deployment can help partners find ways to grow and renew their relationship. Friends and family read on: learn what to expect for the couples you love after they reunite. read more
Dietary treatment shows potential in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease According to current understanding, Alzheimer's disease develops slowly and it may take up to 20 years before the first obvious symptoms occur. With the development of early diagnostics of the disease, the question of which treatments to offer to completely healthy people with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's becomes of key importance in the field of medicine. Various dietary treatments seem a promising alternative.
Rubbish music: why we judge others for their musical tastes | Tauriq Moosa Tauriq Moosa: People are commonly judged on the basis of their musical taste. Is that fair?Tauriq Moosa
The changing face of psychology Chris Chambers: After 50 years of stagnation, psychology is leading reforms that will benefit all life sciencesChris Chambers
Liars find it more rewarding to tell truth than fib when deceiving others A report based on two neural imaging studies that monitored brain activity has found individuals are more satisfied to get a reward from telling the truth rather than getting the same reward through deceit.
Timing is everything: How the brain links memories of sequential events Suppose you heard the sound of skidding tires, followed by a car crash. The next time you heard such a skid, you might cringe in fear, expecting a crash to follow -- suggesting that somehow, your brain had linked those two memories so that a fairly innocuous sound provokes dread. Scientists have now discovered how two neural circuits in the brain work together to control the formation of such time-linked memories.
Poll says majority of Americans support legal pot For the first time, a slight majority of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana use.
State turns on its gay marriage ban Virginia's attorney general announced that their gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and will not defend it against federal lawsuits.
Respect at school in decline Study shows that Americans today believe there's a lot less respect in the hallways of the nation's schools.
Distracted driving a real danger for teens Experts discuss the difficulty of trying to persuade teens not to text while behind the wheel.
Running Out of Time: Things Worth Doing A discussion of a reasonable way to decide what is worth doing in life and what is not.read more
A time for memories: How the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create memories Neuroscientists have discovered how the brain determines the timing at which neurons in specific areas fire to create new memories. This research exploits the unique opportunity of recording multiple single-neurons in patients suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication that are implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons.
Brain uses serotonin to perpetuate chronic pain signals in local nerves Setting the stage for possible advances in pain treatment, researchers have pinpointed two molecules involved in perpetuating chronic pain in mice. The molecules, they say, also appear to have a role in the phenomenon that causes uninjured areas of the body to be more sensitive to pain when an area nearby has been hurt.
Even without diagnosis, psychiatric symptoms affect work outcomes Symptoms such as insomnia and emotional distress account for much of the work impact of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, reports a study.
Why fining the parents of unpunctual pupils doesn't work | Patrick Fagan If schools want to make sure children arrive at the school gates on time, they need to focus on the intrinsic motivation of parentsLet's hope the parents of Milton Keynes have been putting money aside for a rainy day: news emerged today of plans to fine parents of pupils at Emerson Valley primary school if their children were late for school. Should a child be just a few minutes tardy and miss registration 10 times in a term, his or her parents will be fined £60. Per child. "Octomom" must be hoping the policy doesn't go stateside.A spokesperson for the school notes: "The link between good attendance and pupils achieving well at school is clear."It's somewhat disconcerting that a person responsible for educating our children does not understand the difference between correlation and causation: kids from stable homes get to school on time and they do well when they get there. More than this, though, the evidence for such a proposal is weak.Political philosopher Michael Sandel provides a pertinent example in his book What Money Can't Buy.A daycare in Israel had a similar problem: parents were arriving late to collect their children. In response, the daycare fined those who didn't pick their tots up on time. Except this did not result in increased punctuality; quite the opposite. Parents were more likely to be late after the fines were introduced. They simply paid the fee and thought no more about it. The intrinsic motivation – to conform to the social norm of being on time – was crowded out by the extrinsic motivation of cash fines.Similarly, researchers at Stanford University carried out a study in which children were asked to draw pictures. Some of the children were told upfront that they would be rewarded with a "good player award" with a red ribbon and a shiny gold star. But the results were surprising. These children spent about 9% of their free time on the drawing activity, compared with 17% for those not enticed by an award.The extrinsic motivation replaced the intrinsic one, which would have been a much stronger driver. For example, employee engagement is three times more strongly related to intrinsic than extrinsic motivation, and the former is a stronger predictor than the latter of job performance.Added to this, while I hope my boss isn't reading this, there is evidence that job performance and satisfaction are only weakly related to pay. This phenomenon has been repeatedly supported. A comprehensive review of the literature showed that extrinsic motivators (from marshmallows to money) consistently reduce intrinsic motivation. When external outcomes are concrete and predictable, intrinsic motivation reduces by about a third.So, Emerson Valley school will likely see the same results as the Israeli daycare centre. These fines – part of a borough-wide initiative but at the discretion of individual schools – may well make kids later in the morning. Surely the council can think of better ways to – dare I say it – nudge parents?The government knows full well that financial disincentives don't really influence behaviour. In fact, it's a great earner for them. About 60% of the money we pay for petrol goes to tax; a 10% price increase would only decrease traffic by 1% over a year.The fact is, we are cognitive misers and rarely weigh up the costs and benefits of a decision.Could it be that, like duty on cigarettes, alcohol and petrol, this is partly a money-making exercise for the school? In fact, these fines might even encourage parents to be tardy, by implying that it's what everyone else is doing. An experiment by Robert Cialdini found that 14% of people dropped rubbish in a clean environment, while 32% did so in a littered environment.Instead, the school might want to use social proof for good by modelling HMRC's letters and telling parents something like "85% of parents at the school bring their children in on time".Maybe this is an example of where Dave's Nudge Unit could be put to better use.SchoolsPsychologyPatrick Fagantheguardian.com © 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
Test Early, Test Often? Can routine, repeated quizzing or testing actually lead to enhanced academic performance? Apparently so!read more
Study identifies gene tied to motor neuron loss in ALS Researchers have identified a gene, called matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), that appears to play a major role in motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The findings, made in mice, explain why most but not all motor neurons are affected by the disease and identify a potential therapeutic target for this still-incurable neurodegenerative disease.