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Enhancing sleep after brain injury reduces brain damage, cognitive decline in rats Enhancing sleep after a head injury may help prevent some damage to brain cells, according to a study. Researchers found that enhancing the slow-wave cycle of sleep after head trauma minimized damage to axons -- the thin extensions that nerve cells use to send signals to other cells -- and helped preserve normal brain function.
SSRI antidepressants not associated with an increased risk cardiovascular conditions Commonly used antidepressants, known as 'selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors', are not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes, according to new research.
What Do Happy People Tweet About? Think 140 characters can’t say much about you? There are some psychologists out there who disagree with you. In a new study, researchers took to Twitter to analyze the differences between tweets from people who are satisfied and dissatisfied with their lives. To find people in both categories, the researchers...
Men and Intimacy: How Do Our Families Shape Us? “The need for love and intimacy is a fundamental human need, as primal as the need for food, water, and air.”  – Dean Ornish, MD, physician and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California Seth’s natural impulse was to shy away … ...
Three Lessons from Zootopia to Discuss with Kids I braved opening day of Zootopia with four kids. I had seen the previews and thought it would be a sweet, funny Disney movie about “becoming who we want to be no matter what” or “following our dreams.” It did meet those expectations, but there was actually more. As I watched, I wondered: Was this Disney movie actually making a political commentary about bias, sexism, racism, and xenophobia? Did they really do that? Yes, they did. My first hint was a subtle joke in the beginning when the hero—a determined, hard-working bunny named Judy Hopps—shows up for her first day at work as a police officer. She’s called “cute” by the dispatcher—a cheetah named Clawhauser—and Judy replies, “Ooh, you probably didn’t know it, but a bunny can call another bunny cute, but when other animals do it, it’s a little….” I looked around the theater. Did other folks catch that? Was that actually a line just for me, a black woman, about what can be said within a group but not without? Surely that was a blip? But it wasn’t. The movie turned out to be explicitly about bias of all types, from unconscious prejudice to a “we don’t serve your kind” attitude to the deliberate cultivation of fear to achieve political power. It speaks directly to our heated political climate, however imperfectly. It did this with compelling characters and by echoing words we often use in conversations about race and bias: “well I didn’t mean to,” “don’t be sensitive,” “they shouldn’t be here.” Now, I’m not saying that the movie is perfect. There is something really disturbing about the way the animals are sorted according to their biology, with some reverting back to their inherent “savagery.” Also, the relationship between prejudice in the movie and real-world racism is not entirely clear; Zootopia does not have much to say about power or exploitation. Perhaps as a result, much of the writing about Zootopia has run the gamut from “this is the best racial commentary ever” to “this is the worst.” It is neither, in my view. If you want a Disney movie to do all the work of explaining bias to your kids for you, then this isn’t it. Zootopia isn’t a perfect movie about bias, but it is the perfect opportunity for you to talk about these issues with your children.  In fact, you absolutely need to see Zootopia with them—and you need to talk about it afterward. Teachers can do the same in the classroom. Many children over the age of nine will easily be able to grasp the descriptions of prejudice and bias, and they’ll understand the parallels. But research indicates that even children as young as five will be able to understand the concepts of bias and prejudice. The majority of the kids who see this movie will understand the “unfairness” and the lack of justice in it. Then we as adults can help them make the direct connections to the world around us. In my dissertation research, I found that children who were better able to identify prejudice when they saw it in movie clips had parents who were helping them make sense of bias. Those children, in turn, had more cross-race peers and lower overall rates of bias. You can start with language like this: “I wonder what you noticed. Have you ever been treated that way? Have you ever treated others that way?” From there, you can use Zootopia to impart at least three lessons to kids about prejudice. (Warning: Some spoilers below!) 1. Stereotypes hurt everyone The language of stereotyping is explicitly used in the movie, as when Officer Clawhauser apologizes for calling Judy “cute.” So we can ask children if they know what a stereotype is, encouraging them to come up with examples. The five year old in our group said, “Yeah, like when kids think that I can’t do the monkey bars fast because I’m a girl or because I’m little.” That’s exactly it. We can help them understand that stereotypes are sometimes true about some people, but certainly not always true about all people. The movie quite cleverly shows how stereotypes can harm both the people doing the stereotyping and the people being stereotyped. Judy is stereotyped—but she also stereotypes other characters. She is initially deceived by a kindly, meek lamb, who (spoiler alert!) later turns out to be the movie’s villain. In the typical children’s movie, the dark, ferocious creatures are pretty much always the bad guys and the small fuzzy ones are the good guys. Not so in Zootopia, where the animals are seldom what they seem—and the lesson gets driven home over and over again that thinking in terms of stereotypes can lead you to bad conclusions or even put you in danger. 2. Prejudice is unfair This is the next step: prejudice is when stereotypes are used to differentially treat people. This is where kids often go to the “it’s not fair” portion of their understanding. There are many scenes in the movie where prejudice happens. Prejudice forces Judy to do meter-maid work instead of the job she trained for. There is a particularly sad flashback scene when one of the main characters, the con artist fox Nick Wilde, is getting ready to join an animal “cub scouts.” He is excited because foxes usually aren’t allowed in this activity, and he has worked hard to join the group. He is lured downstairs by the other animals to be initiated—but instead they tease him and tell him that he’s never allowed to join. In fact, they go so far as to muzzle him. It’s a cruel depiction of exclusion—and will certainly resonate with children’s experiences of not being included. It’s a great scene to ask: “Do you remember when they wouldn’t let Nick in their group? What did you think about that? Have you ever felt that way? Did anyone not let you into a group because they held a stereotype about you—thought that you were something you weren’t? Yes, well that’s prejudice.” By talking about these scenes and using kids’ language about fair treatment, we can actually help our children better identify prejudice when it is happening. We can help them to connect empathically with those who are the targets of bias. We can ask them how it feels to be treated that way and encourage them to think about times when maybe they treated others in prejudiced ways. The idea here isn’t to make kids feel guilty, but rather to help them put themselves in another person’s shoes and begin to identify behavior that they might want to change. 3. We can fight prejudice—and people can change The characters in Zootopia don’t just see discrimination—they also fight against it. You can highlight the strategies that they use, which include connecting with family and talking about what is going on with friends. The movie definitely conveys how members of a stereotyped group must often “work twice as hard” to achieve the same result as others. This idea is taken for granted in many families—that members will encounter barriers that force them to defy stereotypes or convince others that they are worthy. But for some kids (and some adults), this will be an entirely new idea. It also shows how “working twice as hard” isn’t a perfect strategy—despite her hard work, Judy is still discriminated against. Can people grow and change? Zootopia’s answer is yes, but change isn’t easy. The movie shows a lot of conflict, even between friends. Through these conflicts it explores the difficult idea of “allyship”—the process of supporting people who face prejudice and building relationships beyond those who share our social identities. We can use the term “ally” with our children, using Judy and Nick as examples. In Zootopia, Judy and Nick become allies. They hurt each other and make mistakes, but they also forgive and decide to work together to overcome bias. Of course, one of the best ways we can illustrate this ability to evolve and support each other is by embracing it ourselves—thus modeling for our kids. How often do your children see you connect to those who are different from you in race, sexuality, or class, to name a few. Do they see you cooperating, having fun? This might be the most valuable lesson contained in Zootopia: By connecting across our differences, we can make the world a better place. This is what Judy the bunny and Nick the fox learn to do—and your children can learn to do it, too, with your help.
ADHD Labels Are Bad, Right? Some people say labels are a bad thing. Sometimes I agree. But not always. Here’s the deal, sometimes labels are bad. If you label someone, you marginalize them. What does … ...
Ins and Outs of Pairing Introverts and Extroverts In The Genius of Opposites, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D., CSP, explores the ins and outs of pairing introverts and extroverts with the passion of a sommelier pairing food and wine.
5 Truths About The Cycle of Abuse & Mental Illness Abuse is a very difficult topic to discuss with my clients. It is even more difficult to accept when it you are the target of the abuser. Abuse can come … ...
How to talk to kids about tragic events Parenting experts say the age and temperament of a child is a key factor in the decision.
Study suggests boredom can lead to self-injury behavior Self-harming behavior may arise as a method of coping with boredom, results from a study to be published in Psychiatry Research suggests. Studies of self-harming behavior estimate that between 13% and 41% of young people have on at least one occasion purposely injured their own bodies, often by scratching, cutting, hitting, or burning themselves. In [...]
Use of mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic low back pain Among adults with chronic low back pain, both mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy resulted in greater improvement in back pain and functional limitations when compared with usual care, according to a study appearing in the March 22/29 issue of JAMA. Low back pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. [...]
How to Be Enchanted Every Day One of my favorite words is “enchant.” Enchant is “to delight to a high degree” and “to impart a magic quality or effect to,” according to Don’t you just … ...
Personality traits can be revealed by movement, study shows A pioneering new study has revealed how an individual’s movement can give a unique insight into their inherent personality traits. The ground-breaking study could open up new pathways for health professionals to diagnose and treat mental health conditions in the future. A team of experts, including from the University of Exeter, has shown that people [...]
Social media use associated with depression among US young adults The more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings could guide clinical and public health interventions to tackle depression, forecast to become the leading cause of disability in high-income countries by 2030. The research, [...]
Moviegoers may have little control over eye movements, study finds Hollywood-style films may control viewers’ attention more than originally thought, according to a Kansas State University researcher. Lester Loschky, associate professor of psychological sciences, recently published “What Would Jaws Do? The Tyranny of Film” in PLOS ONE. The study suggests viewers may have limited cognitive control of their eye movements while trying to understand films. [...]
Blending therapies improves treatment of severe anxiety Motivating willingness to change is important in treating a person with severe worry. For this, integrating motivational interviewing (MI) techniques into the commonly practised cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the ideal option, a study led by a York University researcher reveals. “Our research shows that therapists need to have two sets of skills — to [...]
Infrequent home computer use may be indicative of early cognitive decline A new study sheds light on a powerful tool that may detect signs of Alzheimer’s disease before patients show any symptoms of cognitive decline: the home computer. An early online version of this paper detailing the findings has been published and is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (volume 52, issue 2). [...]
Study: Brain metabolism predicts fluid intelligence in young adults A healthy brain is critical to a person’s cognitive abilities, but measuring brain health can be a complicated endeavor. A new study by University of Illinois researchers reports that healthy brain metabolism corresponds with fluid intelligence – a measure of one’s ability to solve unusual or complex problems – in young adults. The results are [...]
Why sexual harassment is worse than other types of abuse in online games While many women gamers can shrug off much of the name-calling and abuse they receive while playing online video games, sexual harassment sticks with them even when they’re offline. A survey of 293 women who played video games online showed that, while they didn’t like general abuse such as swearing and insults about their game-playing [...]
More Clinicians Need to Address Postpartum Depression, Related Disorders... “It’s okay to tell me that you’re not okay.” Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum or perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are the most common medical concerns for women after childbirth. Yet few medical and mental health professionals really know how prevalent and serious PPD … ...