Links for Keyword: Stress

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By Kali Tal A few weeks ago an article in the Scientific American Twitter stream caught my eye. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) once again debuted as a “promising new treatment” for PTSD. EMDR, which has been repeatedly called “promising” over the last two decades, works only about as well for PTSD as other psychological treatment modalities with which it competes, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. These so-called trauma focused treatments (TFT) all garner similar results. TFT have large effects in clinical trials, with two important caveats: 1) the enthusiasm of their various advocates bias the study results towards the treatment the researchers prefer; and, 2) they are effective for a significant number of carefully selected PTSD patients. The sad truth, however, is that current short-term treatments are not the solution for most patients with PTSD. Trial criteria often exclude those with comorbid disorders, multiple traumas, complex PTSD, and suicidal ideation, among others. Even when they are included, comorbid patients drop out of treatment studies at a much higher rate than those with simple PTSD, a problem that has implications for clinical practice. The large majority of those with PTSD also have other psychological disorders (commonly, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders) and many of these patients have complex PTSD, which is both harder to treat, and more prone to relapse (see Fig. 1). Those who suffer from both PTSD and substance abuse (64%-84% of veterans, for example) often perceive the disorders as “functionally correlated.” Similarly, depression and PTSD are mutually reinforcing; each compounds the symptoms of the other. Both substance abuse and depression are notoriously difficult to treat, and harder to treat when comorbid with PTSD. Multiple studies document the long-term failure of PTSD treatment for veterans, but there are fewer on the effectiveness of therapies in treating comorbid PTSD in civilian populations. Existing studies challenge the assumption that PTSD treatments effective for simple PTSD, are also effective for combined PTSD and substance abuse, or PTSD and depression. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17857 - Posted: 02.27.2013

By JAMES DAO Over the past decade, about half a million veterans have received diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Thousands have received both. Yet underlying the growing numbers lies a disconcerting question: How many of those diagnoses are definitive? And how many more have been missed? A series of articles and videos chronicling the experiences of military veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan but continue to confront the medical and psychological scars of battle. No one can say. Though PTSD is hardly new, diagnoses still largely rely on self-reported symptoms. And while severe brain injuries are often clearly diagnosable, finding evidence of mild T.B.I.’s, particularly older ones, can be all but impossible. It means that for a soldier who, five years after duty in Iraq, still feels “not right,” with symptoms from headaches to sleeping problems to irritability, doctors can only guess at the cause. Maybe PTSD. Maybe T.B.I. Maybe both. Now, in one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers based out of New York University’s medical school have begun a five-year study to find biological signals, known as biomarkers, that could provide reliable, objective evidence of those so-called invisible injuries of war. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17777 - Posted: 02.09.2013

By Ian Chant Stress and neglect at home take an obvious toll on kids as they grow up. Many decades of research have documented the psychological consequences in adulthood, including struggles with depression and difficulties maintaining relationships. Now studies are finding that a troubled home life has profound effects on neural development. Kids' brains are exquisitely sensitive. Even sleeping infants are affected by family arguments, a new study concludes. Researchers at the University of Oregon showed with functional MRI scans that infants from families who reported more than the usual levels of conflict in the home were more sensitive to aggressive or angry voices. While asleep, these babies had an uptick in brain activity in response to sentences read in an angry tone of voice, with most of the activity clustered in the parts of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and stress. “Infants are constantly absorbing and learning things, not just when we think we're teaching them,” says Alice Graham, a doctoral student who led the study, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science. “We should expect that what's going on in the environment is literally shaping the physical connections in their brains.” As with family fighting, neglect leaves no external marks but powerfully affects the architecture of the brain. A Yale University study of teenagers found evidence using MRI scans that neglect and emotional abuse during childhood reduces the density of cells in emotion-regulating regions of the brain later on. The teens in the study did not meet the criteria for full-blown psychiatric disorders, according to the paper published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, yet many experienced emotional problems such as impulsive behavior and risk taking. © 2013 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17762 - Posted: 02.05.2013

Emotional behaviour in childhood may be linked with heart disease in middle age, especially in women, research suggests. A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. Conversely children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older. The US researchers said more work was needed to understand the link. Their study looked at 377 adults who had taken part in research as children. At seven they had undergone several tests to look at emotional behaviour. They compared the results from this with a commonly used risk score for cardiovascular disease of participants now in their early 40s. After controlling for other factors which might influence heart disease risk, they found that high levels of distress at age seven were associated with a 31% increased risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women. For men with high levels of distress in childhood - which included being easily frustrated and quick to anger - the increased risk of cardiovascular disease was 17%. For 40-year-olds who had been prone to distress as a child, the chances of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years increased from 3.2% to 4.2% for women and 7.3 to 8.5% for men. The researchers also looked at positive emotional factors such as having a good attention span and found this was linked with better cardiovascular health, although to a lesser degree. Other studies have linked adversity in childhood with cardiovascular disease in adults. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17745 - Posted: 02.02.2013

by Andy Coghlan For the first time, genes chemically silenced by stress during life have been shown to remain silenced in eggs and sperm, allowing the effect to be passed down to the next generation. The finding, obtained from detailed DNA scans in developing mouse eggs and sperm, backs up mounting indirect evidence from statistical studies that the genetic impacts of environmental factors such as smoking, diet, stressed childhoods, famine and psychiatric disease can be passed down to future generations through a process called epigenetic inheritance. Many geneticists had considered this an impossibility. Genes can be switched off by altering DNA through a chemical process called methylation, in which enzymes respond to environmental factors by marking genes with methyl groups that prevent them from working. But the idea that genes carrying these epigenetic markings could be inherited is controversial. Previous studies had shown that as sperm and eggs develop, any markings added to genes during life are erased to provide a genetic "blank slate" from which the next generation develops. Any remaining marks were also thought to be erased when an egg is fertilised. Now a team led by Jamie Hackett at the University of Cambridge has challenged this picture. The researchers extracted the DNA from mouse primordial germ cells – the precursors to sperm and eggs – at various stages of their development and used markers to spot any methylated genes. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17718 - Posted: 01.28.2013

By Nathan Seppa Digestive enzymes that escape from the intestines into adjacent tissues and the bloodstream may be a key player in triggering shock, the dangerous condition that sometimes occurs after major medical trauma. A new study finds that giving enzyme inhibitors to rats in the throes of shock can alleviate the potentially lethal condition. The findings could shed some much needed light on shock, which typically shows up as the end result of some other medical problem such as hemorrhage, sepsis, a heart attack or a systemic allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. In all cases, blood pressure plummets, sabotaging circulation and threatening tissue viability. The new study, in the Jan. 23 Science Translational Medicine, suggests that digestive enzymes play a role in this crisis. The enzymes normally help break down food, but they need to be confined to the ducts in the pancreas, where they are made, or the small intestine, where they digest food. If not, the enzymes can digest a person’s own tissue. A mucosal lining in the intestines keeps the enzymes from escaping the gastrointestinal tract and from damaging the intestines themselves. But hemorrhage, sepsis and other conditions disrupt blood flow to the intestinal wall and hinder maintenance of this barrier, says Geert Schmid-Schönbein, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla. If digestive enzymes stray into the rest of the body, he hypothesizes, they could damage vital organs and trigger massive inflammation. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17712 - Posted: 01.26.2013

By Jason G. Goldman Among animal welfare professionals, those who work at zoos might have the toughest jobs. Keepers and curators at zoo must alternately serve as biologists, psychologists, trainers, chefs, janitors, and educators. Often, those hardworking individuals take on multiple roles at once. Another important job that keepers and curators perform at the zoo is that of gerontologist. Gerontology, or the study of aging, is a field that has only been formally defined for forty years, and is becoming a more important consideration for the welfare of captive animals. With the exception of animals raised in a specific breeding program who are destined for reintroduction, animals that are born in zoos will typically live out their lives, and ultimately die, in zoos. Zoos need to therefore adequately prepare to deliver proper care – both physical and psychological – for their aging residents. Providing that sort of proper veterinary care might involve making adjustments to an animal’s environment, routine, or social groupings. Those changes, while made in the service of an animal’s welfare, could nonetheless result in psychological distress. Like any health care provider, a zoo’s animal care staff has to balance the medical health requirements of their charges with their psychological well-being. Human doctors can simply ask their patients how they feel; veterinarians do not have this option. Instead, zoo researchers conduct detailed observations of their animals to determine what consequences might follow any major change in management procedures. Tigers are typically thought of as solitary creatures. In the wild, according to common knowledge, if you see two or more tigers together (and it isn’t mating season), you can bet its a mother and her cubs. However, the social systems of big cats may be more malleable than once thought. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17711 - Posted: 01.26.2013

By DAVID DOBBS Psychological trauma dims tens of millions of lives around the world and helps create costs of at least $42 billion a year in the United States alone. But what is trauma, exactly? Both culturally and medically, we have long seen it as arising from a single, identifiable disruption. You witness a shattering event, or fall victim to it — and as the poet Walter de la Mare put it, “the human brain works slowly: first the blow, hours afterward the bruise.” The world returns more or less to normal, but you do not. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defined trauma as “a recognizable stressor that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost everyone” — universally toxic, like a poison. But it turns out that most trauma victims — even survivors of combat, torture or concentration camps — rebound to live full, normal lives. That has given rise to a more nuanced view of trauma — less a poison than an infectious agent, a challenge that most people overcome but that may defeat those weakened by past traumas, genetics or other factors. Now, a significant body of work suggests that even this view is too narrow — that the environment just after the event, particularly other people’s responses, may be just as crucial as the event itself. The idea was demonstrated vividly in two presentations this fall at the Interdisciplinary Conference on Culture, Mind and Brain at the University of California, Los Angeles. Each described reframing a classic model of traumatic experience — one in lab rats, the other in child soldiers. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17637 - Posted: 12.27.2012

By JAMES DAO Reviving a 20-year debate over illnesses of veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, a new scientific paper presents evidence that nerve agents released by the bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons depots just before the ground war began could have carried downwind and fallen on American troops staged in Saudi Arabia. The paper, published in the journal Neuroepidemiology, tries to rebut the longstanding Pentagon position, supported by many scientists, that neurotoxins, particularly sarin gas, could not have carried far enough to sicken American forces. The authors are James J. Tuite and Dr. Robert Haley, who has written several papers asserting links between chemical exposures and gulf war illnesses. They assembled data from meteorological and intelligence reports to support their thesis that American bombs were powerful enough to propel sarin from depots in Muthanna and Falluja high into the atmosphere, where winds whisked it hundreds of miles south to the Saudi border. Once over the American encampments, the toxic plume could have stalled and fallen back to the surface because of weather conditions, the paper says. Though troops would have been exposed to low levels of the agent, the authors assert that the exposures may have continued for several days, increasing their impact. Though chemical weapons detectors sounded alarms in those encampments in the days after the January 1991 bombing raids, they were viewed as false by many troops, the authors report. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17605 - Posted: 12.14.2012

A specific pattern of neuronal firing in a brain reward circuit instantly rendered mice vulnerable to depression-like behavior induced by acute severe stress, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health has found. When researchers used a high-tech method to mimic the pattern, previously resilient mice instantly succumbed to a depression-like syndrome of social withdrawal and reduced pleasure-seeking — they avoided other animals and lost their sweet tooth. When the firing pattern was inhibited in vulnerable mice, they instantly became resilient. "For the first time, we have shown that split-second control of specific brain circuitry can switch depression-related behavior on and off with flashes of an LED light," explained Ming-Hu Han, Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, a grantee of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "These results add to mounting clues about the mechanism of fast-acting antidepressant responses." Han, Eric Nestler, M.D., Ph.D. External Web Site Policy,of Mount Sinai, and colleagues, report on their study in the journal Nature. In a companion article, NIMH grantees Kay Tye, Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., used the same cutting-edge technique to control mouse brain activity in real time. Their study reveals that the same reward circuit neuronal activity pattern had the opposite effect when the depression-like behavior was induced by daily presentations of chronic, unpredictable mild physical stressors, instead of by shorter-term exposure to severe social stress.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17604 - Posted: 12.14.2012

By Scicurious Animals don’t handle stress well. I’m not talking about acute stressors, the predator charging at you through the brush, you run away and it’s over. We handle that stress very well indeed. But severe stress, losing a job, a divorce, a death in the family, these can really wear us down. Severe life stressors can not only impact your physical health, they also often occur before the onset of mental illness, particularly major depressive disorder. Depression takes many forms (lack of interest in activities, sleep changes, eating changes, severely depressed mood), but one of the most debilitating ones is the way that it impacts motivation. While some stressors (like, say, a deadline), might before have been a motivator, making you work to get it done, during depression, these stressors become insurmountable obstacles. Things you did before you couldn’t possibly get done now. You’ll never make the deadline. You can’t run the race. Stress can’t motivate you any more. What has changed? To look at this, Lemos et al at the University of Washington, Seattle, looked at one of the signals in response to stress in the brain: corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). CRF is the first step in the process that eventually allows cortisol to be released into the bloodstream, the molecule we usually associate with stress. You can see at the top of the chain there CRF being released from the hypothalamus. From there the next step in the chain is the anterior pituitary, and from there adrenocorticotropic releasing hormone (ACTH) is released, and stimulates the adrenal glands (sitting in little pads of fat above your kidneys) to release cortisol. But in the brain, it’s more complicated than that. CRF isn’t just released from the hypothalamus to the pituitary, it’s released to other regions, too. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17539 - Posted: 11.27.2012

By Wray Herbert In 2009 a regiment of Danish soldiers, the Guard Hussars, was deployed for a six-month tour in Afghanistan's arid Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold. They were stationed along with British soldiers—270 in all—at a forward operating base called Armadillo. Although none of the Guard Hussars were killed during the tour of duty, they nonetheless experienced many horrors of battle. A commander was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, and a night patrol ended in a firefight that killed and dismembered several Taliban combatants. The Guard Hussars' war experience is graphically depicted in the award-winning documentary film Armadillo, which debuted in 2010. It follows the soldiers from their emotional farewells in Denmark through their months in combat and, finally, back to joyous homecomings and family reunions. The film is a study of the inner lives of young men as they experience the excitement and camaraderie, the tedium and—mostly—the terror and trauma of war. Coincidentally, these same soldiers were also the subject of another, very different kind of study. At the same time that the film was being shot, the men were part of a larger group of Danish soldiers who were being scientifically observed and tested for emerging symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. A large team of Danish and American psychological scientists, led by Dorthe Berntsen of Aarhus University, wanted to do what had never been done before in this field of research: instead of studying soldiers who were already suffering from PTSD, they decided to assess young recruits before they were sent off to war, when they were still relatively unscathed, then to record them during the war experience, and finally to follow them back home and through several months of readjustment. In this way, the scientists hoped to see why some soldiers develop PTSD and others do not and how the symptoms of the disorder progress. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17528 - Posted: 11.24.2012

By BENEDICT CAREY Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work out of their home in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it. The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes. “I feel survivor’s guilt, both for coming back from Iraq alive and now for having had a chance to do this therapy,” said Anthony, a 25-year-old living near Charleston, S.C., who asked that his last name not be used because of the stigma of taking the drug. “I’m a different person because of it.” In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment — which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA — write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA. The Mithoefers — he is a psychiatrist and she is a nurse — collaborated on the study with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17513 - Posted: 11.20.2012

By Laura Sanders The effects of a baby’s rough start can linger. An early stressful environment during a baby girl’s first year was associated with altered brain behavior and signs of anxiety in her late teens, scientists report online November 11 in Nature Neuroscience. Although the results are preliminary, they may help reveal how negative experiences early on can sculpt the brain. Studies in animals have pointed out how tough times in childhood can influence the brain and the animals’ behavior later in life. But it’s been hard to figure out how that process works in people, says Lawrence Price, a psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “One of the real advances of this paper is that it helps move us along on that pathway,” he says. The study, led by Cory Burghy of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, drew from the Wisconsin Study of Family and Work, which in 1990 recruited pregnant women in southern Wisconsin at prenatal visits. Three times during the first year of their babies’ lives, the mothers reported whether they were experiencing stressful situations such as depression, marital conflict, money woes or parenting stress. Researchers assumed that women who reported higher stress levels created a more stressful situation for their baby. Four and a half years later, daughters whose moms reported higher levels of stress had more of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood. That observation suggests the girls had trouble shutting down a hyperactive stress response. The same effect wasn’t found in boys. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 17476 - Posted: 11.12.2012

By Scicurious Stress is generally not a good thing. Most of us who live stressful lives (which, I suppose, would be all of us), are well aware of this. We try to reduce our stress, or even stress about how stressed we are. Traumatic stress increases the risk for all sorts of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. But not all stresses are created equal, even the traumatic ones. And it turns out that it’s not the stress itself that is important…it’s whether or not you have any control over it. A stress that you can control is a very different one from a stress that you can’t. I usually think of a stress you cannot control as something like the illness of a family member, as compared to a stress you can control, say, the stress involved in training for and running a marathon (which is definitely a physical stressor). These are both stresses, but they aren’t alike. While the stress that you cannot control is often a very traumatic experience, and can predispose people to psychiatric disorders, a controllable stress is actually a good event. Not only does it blunt the impact of the stressor itself, it can be protective against the detriments of future uncontrolled stresses. Scientists call this “behavioral immunization” against future stress. Behavioral immunization involves the recruitment of very specific brain regions, especially the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. After exposure to a controllable stress, there is increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, and it is thought that the increase in activity is important for the development of behavioral immunization. If you stop this increased activity from taking place during controllable stress, you can prevent behavioral immunization. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17461 - Posted: 11.07.2012

Sitting exams and tests is often a nerve-racking experience, but being anxious beforehand may boost a candidate's grades, researchers say. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology finds being anxious only has a negative impact on results if a child's memory is poor. But if a young person has a good memory, a tendency to feel anxious is linked with getting better marks. The research assessed 96 children aged 12 to 14 in memory and anxiety tests. A questionnaire established how anxious the children usually felt, and the results were measured against their ability to perform computerised tests involving "complex" or working-memory skills. "We found that for individuals with low working-memory capacity, increases in [a tendency towards] anxiety were related to decreases in cognitive test performance," the study says. "For those with high working-memory capacity, however, the pattern of results was reversed. An increase in [a tendency towards] anxiety was linearly associated with higher test scores. "These effects were not better accounted for by gender, age, or time of testing." Poor memory The researchers say the results of the study should encourage education professionals to target help at anxious children with poor complex memory skills. BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17367 - Posted: 10.13.2012

Virginia Hughes On a chilly, January night in 1986, Elizabeth Ebaugh carried a bag of groceries across the quiet car park of a shopping plaza in the suburbs of Washington DC. She got into her car and tossed the bag onto the empty passenger seat. But as she tried to close the door, she found it blocked by a slight, unkempt man with a big knife. He forced her to slide over and took her place behind the wheel. The man drove aimlessly along country roads, ranting about his girlfriend's infidelity and the time he had spent in jail. Ebaugh, a psychotherapist who was 30 years old at the time, used her training to try to calm the man and negotiate her freedom. But after several hours and a few stops, he took her to a motel, watched a pornographic film and raped her. Then he forced her back into the car. She pleaded with him to let her go, and he said that he would. So when he stopped on a bridge at around 2 a.m. and told her to get out, she thought she was free. Then he motioned for her to jump. “That's the time where my system, I think, just lost it,” Ebaugh recalls. Succumbing to the terror and exhaustion of the night, she fainted. Ebaugh awoke in freefall. The man had thrown her, limp and handcuffed, off the bridge four storeys above a river reservoir. When she hit the frigid water, she turned onto her back and started kicking. “At that point, there was no part of me that thought I wasn't going to make it,” she says. Few people will experience psychological and physical abuse as terrible as the abuse Ebaugh endured that night. But extreme stress is not unusual. In the United States, an estimated 50–60% of people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, whether through military combat, assault, a serious car accident or a natural disaster. Acute stress triggers an intense physiological response and cements an association in the brain's circuits between the event and fear. If this association lingers for more than a month, as it does for about 8% of trauma victims, it is considered to be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The three main criteria for diagnosis are recurring and frightening memories, avoidance of any potential triggers for such memories and a heightened state of arousal. © 2012 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17360 - Posted: 10.11.2012

By AMANDA SCHAFFER For years, researchers have investigated how the body loses the ability to produce enough insulin, a hallmark of diabetes. Now an intriguing theory is emerging, and it suggests a potential treatment that few scientists had considered. The hormone insulin helps shuttle glucose, or blood sugar, from the bloodstream into individual cells to be used as energy. But the body can become resistant to insulin, and the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce the hormone, must work harder to compensate. Eventually, the thinking goes, they lose the ability to keep up. “We used to say that the beta cells poop out,” said Alan Saltiel, director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan. In reality, he added, this shorthand meant “we have no idea what’s going on.” Some evidence suggested that large numbers of these cells died through a process of programmed cell death called apoptosis. But that was at best a partial explanation. Now, researchers at Columbia University have put forth a surprising alternative. In mice with Type 2 diabetes, the researchers showed that beta cells that had lost function were not dead at all. Most remained alive, but in a changed form. They reverted to an earlier developmental, “progenitor,” state. It’s as if these cells are “stepping back in time to a point where they look like they might have looked during their development,” said Dr. Domenico Accili, director of the Columbia University Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center, who led the new work. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 17321 - Posted: 10.02.2012

By DAVID TULLER Chronic fatigue syndrome is not caused by a mouse retrovirus, according to a study initiated by the National Institutes of Health to settle what had become a contentious scientific question. The long-awaited results, posted online Tuesday in the journal mBio, found no link between the illness, also called myalgic encephalomyelitis, and mouse leukemia retroviruses, including one called XMRV. Two earlier studies had identified higher levels of the viruses in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Later research did not confirm the finding, and scientists blamed laboratory contamination for the earlier results. The N.I.H. asked Dr. Ian Lipkin, a virologist at Columbia, to investigate. Dr. Lipkin recruited in the effort scientists who initially reported the link to mouse retroviruses, and they serve as authors on the mBio paper. In the study, none of the researchers reported finding mouse leukemia viruses in any of 293 blood samples, half from people with chronic fatigue syndrome and half from those without it. An estimated one million people in the United States have the condition; many are severely disabled and homebound. Dr. Lipkin said that he viewed chronic fatigue syndrome as a major illness and intended to use blood samples he had obtained to investigate the causes. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17272 - Posted: 09.18.2012

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Having a highly demanding job, but little control over it, could be a deadly combination, UK researchers say. They analysed 13 existing European studies covering nearly 200,000 people and found "job strain" was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease. The risk to the heart was much smaller than for smoking or not exercising, the Lancet medical journal report said. The British Heart Foundation said how people reacted to work stress was key. Job strain is a type of stress. The research team at University College London said working in any profession could lead to strain, but it was more common in lower skilled workers. Doctors who have a lot of decision-making in their jobs would be less likely to have job strain than someone working on a busy factory production line. Freedom There has previously been conflicting evidence on the effect of job strain on the heart. In this paper, the researchers analysed combined data from 13 studies. At the beginning of each of the studies, people were asked whether they had excessive workloads or insufficient time to do their job as well as questions around how much freedom they had to make decisions. BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17263 - Posted: 09.17.2012