How we make emotional decisions

MIT researchers have now identified a neural circuit that appears to underlie decision-making in this type of situation, which is known as approach-avoidance conflict. The findings could help researchers to discover new ways to treat psychiatric disorders that feature impaired decision-making, such as depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.

Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep

Can we learn to rid ourselves of our implicit biases regarding race and gender? A new Northwestern University study indicates that sleep may hold an important key to success in such efforts.

Why ‘I’m so happy I could cry’ makes sense

girl was crying from happiness, holding a handkerchief in his hand

The phrase “tears of joy” never made much sense to Yale psychologist Oriana Aragon. But after conducting a series of studies of such seemingly incongruous expressions, she now understands better why people cry when they are happy,  Bill Hathaway writes.

“People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions,” said Aragon, lead author of work to be published in the journal Psychological Science. “They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions.”

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Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep

Can we learn to rid ourselves of our implicit biases regarding race and gender? A new Northwestern University study indicates that sleep may hold an important key to success in such efforts.

Building on prior research, the Northwestern investigators aimed to find out whether learning to alter habitual reactions to other people could be enhanced during sleep.

Other researchers have documented many unsavory consequences of common social biases. When playing a videogame with instructions to shoot only people carrying weapons, players were more likely to shoot unarmed targets when they were Black versus White.

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ASCO: Component in green tea may help reduce prostate cancer in men at high risk

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men and is predicted to result in an estimated 220,00 cases in the United States in 2015. In recent years, an emphasis has been placed on chemoprevention – the use of agents to prevent the development or progression of prostate cancer. A team of researchers led by Nagi B. Kumar, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.D.A. at Moffitt Cancer Center recently published results of a randomized trial that assessed the safety and effectiveness of the active components in green tea to prevent prostate cancer development in men who have premalignant lesions. The results will be presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

photodune-4621678-listen-music-xsIf you’re a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training’s effects last for months.

Absolute pitch, commonly known as “perfect pitch,” is the ability to identify a note by hearing it. The ability is considered remarkably rare, estimated to be less than one in 10,000 individuals. It has always been a very desired ability among musicians, especially since several famous composers, including Mozart, reportedly had it. The assumption has been that this special talent has a critical period to be established in childhood based on early musical training and that it was not possible for adults to acquire this skill.

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Fox News, or MSNBC

CREDIT:  UCSB

CREDIT:
UCSB

Beatles versus Rolling Stones. Ironman versus the Incredible Hulk. Deep dish versus thin crust. Such differences of opinion among family and friends rarely end in serious squabbles. Let the conversation turn to political parties, however, and lively disagreements can become downright ugly.

Why is it that even among the people we care about most, differences in political affiliation often result in awkwardness and discomfort, and pushed far enough, can feel like a threat to the entire relationship?

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Study finds news may influence racial bias

This is Temple Northup. CREDIT University of Houston

This is Temple Northup.
CREDIT
University of Houston

A recent University of Houston (UH) study suggests that long-term exposure to news may negatively influence racial bias towards social groups.

Temple Northup, assistant professor at UH’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, studied the influence of news coverage on an individuals’ unconscious attitudes towards social groups. His study “Effects of Long-Term Exposure to News Stereotypes on Implicit and Explicit Attitudes” recently was published in the International Journal of Communication.

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Links for Stories with Tony Delroy May 22 2015