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Posts tagged “behavioral science

The power of indifference an open letter to the scientific community

indifference

indifference

Suddenly your absent-minded thoughts are shattered by a loud noise. Quickly you look around, to the left of you, you see it, and a child has been shot, you see them bleeding heavily. People are standing around with their phones, some calling emergency services, some filming, but most looking confused and scared. No one is actively trying to help; you hear that they are afraid that the person, or persons, who shot the child is still around. What do you do next, do you choose indifference, or do you help?

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Trumped: Why the election is a symptom of a bigger problem

Donald trump hands

Donald trump hands

Right now you are probably thinking that I am going to unleash some poorly thought out diatribe about president elect Trump. No, that is not going to happen. It is not going to happen because he is not the problem, you are the problem, I am the problem, and we are the problem. That goes for those of you who are atheists, Catholics, Muslims, conservatives and liberals, or anything in-between.

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The science behind real life zombies

Zombies: Science Fiction vs. Fact

zombies ahead

In the spirit of Halloween we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, (and girls) are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic  zombie, but did you know that we aren’t the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn’t a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let’s dive in.

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Study uncovers brain changes in offending pedophiles

pedophiles

pedophiles

New research reveals that certain alterations in the brain may be present in pedophiles, with differences between hands-on offenders and those who have not sexually offended against children.

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Female brains change in sync with hormones

brain

brain

Although it has already been known for some time that the brain does not remain rigid in its structure even in adulthood, scientists have recently made a surprising discovery. The brain is not only able to adapt to changing conditions in long-term processes, but it can do this every month.

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Concentrating on the social billions

social media

social media

Using online social media does not lead to long-term problems with our ability to concentrate, according to new research. We are social animals, so it is really no surprise that billions of us now use online tools to communicate, educate and inform each other. The advent of social media and social networking has nevertheless been phenomenally rapid.

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Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse

anxiety depression

anxiety depression

There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.

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Scientists find new path in brain to ease depression

peter pan come rescue me

peter pan come rescue me

Scientists have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression. The pathway offers a promising new target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed. New antidepressant options are important because a significant number of patients don’t adequately improve with currently available antidepressant drugs.

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For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia

dementia coffee drinking

dementia coffee drinking

Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

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Sugar gives bees a happy buzz

simpson sugar mound

simpson sugar mound

An unexpected sugary snack can give bees a little buzz and appears to lift their mood, even making them optimistic, according to research that suggests pollinators have feelings, too. Since emotions are subjective and difficult to measure—particularly in animals—researchers looked at how bees’ behavior changed after they were given a sip of sucrose solution.

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Nature or nurture: is violence in our genes?

dna violence

dna violence

Nature or nurture? The quest to understand why humans kill one another has occupied the minds of philosophers, sociologists and psychologists for centuries. Are we innately violent, as Englishman Thomas Hobbes postulated in the 1650s, or is our behaviour influenced more by the environment we grow up in, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau theorised a century later?

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Research team may have observed building blocks of memories in the brain

memory

memory

A team of researchers has observed what they believe are the building blocks of memories in a mouse brain. In their paper, the researchers describe how they caused certain neurons to become illuminated when they fired, allowing them to watch in real time as memories were made and then later as they were replayed while the mouse was sitting idle.

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Linking perception to action

perception

perception

Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

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MRI scanner sees emotions flickering across an idle mind

Brain emotions

Brain emotions

As you relax and let your mind drift aimlessly, you might remember a pleasant vacation, an angry confrontation in traffic or maybe the loss of a loved one. And now a team of researchers say they can see those various emotional states flickering across the human brain.

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Entitlement — a damning recipe for happiness

I want it now

I want it now

Entitlement–a personality trait driven by exaggerated feelings of deservingness and superiority–may lead to chronic disappointment, unmet expectations and a habitual, self-reinforcing cycle of behavior with dire psychological and social costs, according to new research. In a new theoretical model, researchers have mapped how entitled personality traits may lead to a perpetual loop of distress.

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Learning to turn down your amygdala can modify your emotions

amygdala depression

amygdala depression

Training the brain to treat itself is a promising therapy for traumatic stress. The training uses an auditory or visual signal that corresponds to the activity of a particular brain region, called neurofeedback, which can guide people to regulate their own brain activity. However, treating stress-related disorders requires accessing the brain’s emotional hub, the amygdala, which is located deep in the brain and difficult to reach with typical neurofeedback methods.

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A microRNA plays role in major depression

mental health

mental health

A tiny RNA appears to play a role in producing major depression, the mental disorder that affects as many as 250 million people a year worldwide. Major depression, formally known as major depressive disorder, or MDD, brings increased risk of suicide and is reported to cause the second-most years of disability after low-back pain.

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Social connectedness can increase suicide risk

social media

social media

Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new study by sociologists who examined clusters in a single town. The study illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.

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Parents’ math skills ‘rub off’ on their children

children in math

children in math

Parents who excel at math produce children who excel at math. This is according to a recently released study, which shows a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to child. The study specifically explored intergenerational transmission–the concept of parental influence on an offspring’s behavior or psychology–in mathematical capabilities.

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Babies chew on subtle social, cultural cues at mealtime

baby eating food

baby eating food

At the dinner table, babies do a lot more than play with their sippy cups, new research suggests. Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them – and especially who is eating it. The study adds evidence to a growing body of research suggesting even very young children think in sophisticated ways about subtle social cues.

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Trauma’s epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors

I swear I didn't kill anyone
I swear I didn't kill anyone

Image credit goes to the one and only — very talented — Lora Zombie

The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood and anxiety disorders. However, there are very few opportunities to examine biologic alterations in the context of a watershed trauma in exposed people and their adult children born after the event.

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Scientists show that a ‘Superman’ disguise could actually work

Superman without the glasses

Superman without the glasses

Ever wonder think it’s silly that people don’t recognize Clark Kent is actually Superman? Well as it turns out, glasses are actually a fairly good way to disguise yourself. In fact, researchers have shown that small alterations to a person’s appearance, such as wearing glasses, can significantly hinder positive facial identification.

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A visual nudge can disrupt recall of what things look like

learning colors

learning colors

Interfering with your vision makes it harder to describe what you know about the appearance of even common objects, according to researchers. This connection between visual knowledge and visual perception challenges widely held theories that visual information about the world — that alligators are green and have long tails, for example — is stored abstractly, as a list of facts, divorced from the visual experience of seeing an alligator.

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The relationship between low physical activity and psychotic symptoms

mental health exercise

mental health exercise

Physical activity can help reduce cardiovascular disease and premature mortality in people with psychological problems. However, there is limited data on exercise in people with serious mental disorders, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This study explored whether complying with the World Health Organization recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week is related to psychotic symptoms or the diagnosis of a psychosis.

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Too much activity in certain areas of the brain is bad for memory and attention

attention span of human

attention span of human

Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.

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‘I miss you so much’: How Twitter is broadening the conversation on death and mourning

genie you're free

genie you're free

Death and mourning were largely considered private matters in the 20th century, with the public remembrances common in previous eras replaced by intimate gatherings behind closed doors in funeral parlors and family homes. But social media is redefining how people grieve, and Twitter in particular — with its ephemeral mix of rapid-fire broadcast and personal expression — is widening the conversation around death and mourning.

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Can cell phones make you feel less connected to your friends and family?

life without the screen
life without the screen

Image credit goes to: Eric Pickersgill

In this digital age, with phones at our fingertips, you would think that access to constant communication would make us feel closer to one another. But a new study shows that may not be the case. In fact, cell phone use might actually lead to feeling less socially connected, depending on your gender or cell phone habits.

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A dog’s dilemma: Do canines prefer praise or food?

dog watching cupcakes

dramatic dog cupcakes

A new study suggests that given the choice, many dogs prefer praise from their owners over food. The study is one of the first to combine brain-imaging data with behavioral experiments to explore canine reward preferences.

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Prostitution has gone online — and pimps are thriving

internet sex

internet sex

With the sale of sex shifting online, today’s pimps are avoiding police detection by using underground websites, social media, mobile apps and even by hiding their ads on mainstream sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. In a first-of-its-kind study, criminologists interviewed 71 pimps in Atlanta and Chicago to determine how their marketing decisions are influenced by police enforcement of online prostitution.

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Exercise can tackle symptoms of schizophrenia

schizophrenia advertisement

schizophrenia advertisement

Aerobic exercise can significantly help people coping with the long-term mental health condition schizophrenia, according to a new study. Through combining data from 10 independent clinical trials with a total of 385 patients with schizophrenia, Joseph Firth found that around 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training can significant improve patients’ brain functioning.

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Cardiac complications from energy drinks?

energy drinks funny meme

energy drinks funny meme

The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks may lead to cardiac complications. A new case report adds to previous reports of adverse cardiovascular events related to consuming energy drinks, including abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

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Fish oil vs. lard — why some fat can help or hinder your diet

five guys burger and fries

five guys burger and fries

A diet high in saturated fat can make your brain struggle to control what you eat. If people are looking to lose weight, stay clear of saturated fat. Consuming these types of fatty food affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger.

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Brain activity and response to food cues differ in severely obese women

fat cat funny meme

fat cat funny meme

The brain’s reward centers in severely obese women continue to respond to food cues even after they’ve eaten and are no longer hungry, in contrast to their lean counterparts. The study compared attitudes and the brain activity of 15 severely obese women (those with a body mass index greater than 35) and 15 lean women (those with a BMI under 25).

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When it comes to empathy, don’t always trust your gut

trust your intuition

trust your intuition

Ever feel like someone is hiding something? Or maybe you suddenly feel like you can’t trust a co-worker. The feeling may seem logical, but is empathy the result of gut intuition or careful reasoning? Research suggests that, contrary to popular belief, the latter may be more the case.

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How our brain puts the world in order

organizing archives

organizing archives

The world around is complex and changing constantly. To put it in order, we devise categories into which we sort new concepts. To do this we apply different strategies. A team of researchers wanted to find out which areas of the brain regulate these strategies. The results of their study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that there are indeed particular brain areas, which become active when a certain strategy of categorisation is applied.

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Secrets of the human brain unlocked… sort of

intelligence

intelligence

Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. Researchers have been recently undertaken to quantify the brain’s dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times – namely, to discover how intellect works.

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“Shocking” new role of the immune system: Controlling social interaction

social interaction today
social interaction today

Image credit goes to: The awkward Yeti

In a startling discovery that raises fundamental questions about human behavior, researchers have determined that the immune system directly affects – and even controls – creatures’ social behavior, such as their desire to interact with others. So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions?

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Erasing unpleasant memories with a genetic switch

erasing memories

erasing memories

Researchers have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a ‘genetic switch’.  Dementia, accidents, or traumatic events can make us lose the memories formed before the injury or the onset of the disease. Researchers have now shown that some memories can also be erased when one particular gene is switched off.

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Chemical changes in the brain affect Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease Robs

Alzheimer’s Disease Robs

A new study is helping to explain why the long-term use of common anticholinergic drugs used to treat conditions like allergies and overactive bladder lead to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. The findings show that long-term suppression of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine – a target for anticholinergic drugs – results in dementia-like changes in the brain.

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In doctors we trust — especially when they admit to bias

Dr. Zoidberg

Dr. Zoidberg

A doctor’s guidance may reassure us more than we realize -especially if she says she is likely to recommend treatment in her field of expertise, known as “specialty bias.” Doing research in a real-world healthcare setting, researchers have found that when surgeons revealed their bias toward their own specialty, their patients were more likely to perceive them as trustworthy. And patients are more apt to follow their recommendation to have surgical treatment.

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Fear factor: A new genetic candidate for treating PTSD

I swear I didn't kill anyone
I swear I didn't kill anyone

Image credit goes to the very talented: Lora Zombie

Researchers have identified a new genetic candidate for testing therapies that might affect fear learning in people with PTSD or other conditions. Individuals with trauma- and stress-related disorders can manifest symptoms of these conditions in a variety of ways. Genetic risk factors for these and other psychiatric disorders have been established but do not explain the diversity of symptoms seen in the clinic – why are some individuals affected more severely than others and why do some respond better than others to the same treatment?

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Postpartum depression least severe form of depression in mothers

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression–a household term since actress Brooke Shields went public in 2005 about her struggle with it–is indeed serious. But depression that begins before or during pregnancy is often more severe because it lasts longer and usually goes undetected until the doctor screens for it after the birth of the baby.

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Even when help is just a click away, stigma is still a roadblock

depression

depression

Stigma is a major barrier preventing people with mental health issues from getting the help they need. Even in a private and anonymous setting online, someone with greater self-stigma is less likely to take that first step to get information about mental health concerns and counseling.

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Google searches for ‘chickenpox’ reveal big impact of vaccinations

digital epidemiology

digital epidemiology

Countries that implement government-mandated vaccinations for chickenpox see a sharp drop in the number of Google searches for the common childhood disease afterward, demonstrating that immunization significantly reduces seasonal outbreaks. That’s one of the findings from a new study that analyzed thousands of Google searches for “chickenpox.”

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Why everyone wants to help the sick — but not the unemployed

unemployment

unemployment

New research explains why healthcare costs are running out of control, while costs to unemployment protection are kept in line. The answer is found deep in our psychology, where powerful intuitions lead us to view illness as the result of bad luck and worthy of help.

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Schizophrenia: The brain has the ability to rescue itself

schizophrenia

schizophrenia

A team of scientists have shown that the brains of patients with schizophrenia have the capacity to reorganize and fight the illness. This is the first time that imaging data has been used to show that our brains may have the ability to reverse the effects of schizophrenia.

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How the brain makes — and breaks — a habit

OCD alphabet soup

OCD alphabet soup

Not all habits are bad. Some are even necessary. It’s a good thing, for example, that we can find our way home on “autopilot” or wash our hands without having to ponder every step. But inability to switch from acting habitually to acting in a deliberate way can underlie addiction and obsessive compulsive disorders.

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Humiliation from stares are worse than tiny seats for obese air travelers

flying obese

flying obese

Feelings of shame and humiliation bother obese air passengers more than tight seat belts and tiny seats, according to a study published by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers. Participants interviewed for the study recounted the typical challenges they encounter while boarding, in-flight and deplaning.

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Extreme beliefs often mistaken for insanity

religious hatred

religious hatred

In the aftermath of violent acts such as mass shootings, many people assume mental illness is the cause. After studying the 2011 case of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, researchers are suggesting a new forensic term to classify non-psychotic behavior that leads to criminal acts of violence.

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How depression and antidepressant drugs work

depression

depression

Treating depression is kind of a guessing game. Trying to find a medication that works without causing side effects can take months, or more likely, years. However, new research demonstrates the effectiveness of ketamine to treat depression in a mouse model of the disease and brings together two hypotheses for the cause of depression.

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