Infants’ brain activity shows signs of social thinking

babyAn innovative collaboration between neuroscientists and developmental psychologists that investigated how infants’ brains process other people’s action provides evidence directly linking neural responses from the motor system to overt social behavior in infants.

The study involved thirty-six 7-month-old infants, who were each tested while wearing a cap that used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain activity. During the experiment, each infant observed an actor reach for one of two toys. Immediately after, the baby was allowed to select one of the same toys. This procedure was repeated 12 times.

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Personality may dictate how distracted you are while driving

distracted_drivers_older1Extraverted older adults and conscientious, curious teens may be more likely to engage in risky driving behavior, while agreeable teens are less likely to drive distracted, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, writes Katherine Shonesy.

In the study published online this month in Accident Analysis and Prevention, the research team said that certain personality characteristics relate to distracted driving tendencies.

Leading the project was Morgan Parr, an undergraduate psychology student in the UAB Translational Research for Injury Prevention (TRIP) Laboratory. Parr worked with Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., director of the TRIP Lab and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, and others to uncover these new findings about the link between personality and distracted driving. Stavrinos has made injury prevention, and unintentional injuries such as those that result from distracted driving behaviors in particular, the core of her work.

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Wealth of unsuspected new microbes expands tree of life

This is a new and expanded view of the tree of life, with clusters of bacteria (left), uncultivable bacteria called 'candidate phyla radiation' (center, purple) and, at lower right, the Archaea and eukaryotes (green), including humans. CREDIT: Graphic by Zosia Rostomian, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

This is a new and expanded view of the tree of life, with clusters of bacteria (left), uncultivable bacteria called ‘candidate phyla radiation’ (center, purple) and, at lower right, the Archaea and eukaryotes (green), including humans.
CREDIT: Graphic by Zosia Rostomian, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The tree of life, which depicts how life has evolved and diversified on the planet, is getting a lot more complicated.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have discovered more than 1,000 new types of bacteria and Archaea over the past 15 years lurking in Earth’s nooks and crannies, have dramatically rejiggered the tree to account for these microscopic new life forms.

“The tree of life is one of the most important organizing principles in biology,” said Jill Banfield, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and environmental science, policy and management. “The new depiction will be of use not only to biologists who study microbial ecology, but also biochemists searching for novel genes and researchers studying evolution and earth history.”

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Being married may help prolong survival in cancer patients

Two linked padlocksNew research has uncovered a link between being married and living longer among cancer patients, with the beneficial effect of marriage differing by race/ethnicity and place of birth. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings have important public health implications, given the rising numbers of unmarried individuals in the United States in addition to the growing aging population.

For the analysis, a team led by Scarlett Lin Gomez, PhD, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, and María Elena Martínez, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, assessed information on nearly 800,000 adults in California who were diagnosed in 2000 to 2009 with invasive cancer and were followed through 2012.

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Mothers say middle-class status little protection against gendered racism for black boys

A new study in Gender & Society by sociologist Dawn M. Dow of Syracuse University's Maxwell School reveals how middle-class African American mothers parent young sons differently than their white counterparts -- via 'bias-preparation' strategies -- to navigate the 'Thug' image and vulnerabilities of African American masculinity. CREDIT: Courtesy Sheray Oliver

A new study in Gender & Society by sociologist Dawn M. Dow of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School reveals how middle-class African American mothers parent young sons differently than their white counterparts — via ‘bias-preparation’ strategies — to navigate the ‘Thug’ image and vulnerabilities of African American masculinity.
CREDIT: Courtesy Sheray Oliver

Middle-class African American mothers must parent differently than their white counterparts. African American middle-class mothers bear the added weight of preparing their children — particularly their sons — to navigate “gendered racism,” or discrimination based on both race and gender, from a very young age.

This is according to a new research study published in the April 2016 issue of Gender & Society, a top-ranked journal in Gender Studies and Sociology. While there has been anecdotal evidence regarding the phenomenon, this is the first rigorous analysis of what has been colloquially referred to as “The Talk” or the “Black Man’s Code,” a set of socially circumscribed rules black boys and men feel compelled to follow to protect themselves from suspicion, criminalization as “thugs,” and harm — regardless of class status. It provides more evidence that the phenomenon is widespread, and gives deeper insights regarding the nature of the problem and the role of mothers in addressing it.

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Blending therapies improves treatment of severe anxiety: York U researcher

Listening to psychologistMotivating 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 help people become ready for change, and then to help them accomplish that change,” says Dr. Henny Westra, a psychology professor in the Faculty of Health at York U. “The study results suggest that integrating motivational interviewing (MI) with CBT is more effective than CBT alone for long-term improvement.”

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Imagery effective way to enhance memory, reduce false memories, study finds

cubism naked woman orange seamless texture watercolor background artist artworkUsing imagery is an effective way to improve memory and decrease certain types of false memories, according to researchers at Georgia State University.

Their study examined how creating images affected the ability to accurately recall conceptually related word lists as well as rhyming word lists. People who were instructed to create images of the list words in their head were able to recall more words than people who didn’t create images, and they didn’t recall false memories as often. False memories occur when a person recalls something that didn’t happen or remembers something inaccurately.

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Improving depression symptoms can reduce risk of major cardiovascular problems, new study finds

Depressed manDepression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but as a person’s depression improves — or grows worse — their risk for heart disease has remained largely unknown.

But now, a new study by researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City found that effectively treating depression can reduce a patient’s chance of having a stroke, heart failure, a heart attack or death.

In fact, effective treatment for depression can reduce a patient’s heart risks to the same level as those who never had short-term depression, the study found.

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Study links inequality to large, growing gap in lifespans

Pensioner counts her last moneyPoverty in the U.S. is often associated with deprivation, in areas including housing, employment, and education. Now a study co-authored by two MIT researchers has shown, in unprecedented geographic detail, another stark reality: Poor people live shorter lives, too.

More precisely, the study shows that in the U.S., the richest 1 percent of men lives 14.6 years longer on average than the poorest 1 percent of men, while among women in those wealth percentiles, the difference is 10.1 years on average.

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Oxytocin nasal spray improves self-control in overweight men

Nasal-SprayA single dose of oxytocin nasal spray, known to reduce food intake, decreases impulsive behavior in overweight and obese men, according to a preliminary study presented at the Endocrine Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston.

Oxytocin nasal spray (made by Novartis) is a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin, which is important for controlling food intake and weight. It is approved in Europe but not in the United States other than in clinical trials. Oxytocin is available in the United States as an intravenous or injectable drug (Pitocin) to induce labor.

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