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Adults who were subjected to physical punishment such as spanking as children are more likely to experience mental disorders, say Canadian researchers who encourage other forms of discipline. Monday's issue of the journal Pediatrics includes a study on the proportion of illnesses such as depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse as well as personality disorders that may be attributable to physical punishment. Positive reinforcement techniques have more evidence backing them than physical punishment.Positive reinforcement techniques have more evidence backing them than physical punishment. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press) Physical punishment was defined as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting in the absence of more severe maltreatment of a child through physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect or exposure to intimate partner violence. "It definitely points to the direction that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age and we need to be considering that when we're thinking about policy and programs so we can protect children from potentially harmful outcomes," said study author Tracie Afifi, who is in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba. Afifi hopes the findings from the study that involved more than 34,000 U.S. adults will make parents think twice about spanking. © CBC 2012

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: 16990 - Posted: 07.02.2012

by Beverly Purdy The Medivac helicopter made a noisy descent to the landing pad at University Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The patient on board was on the final leg of a long journey home from South Africa. Jeremy Clark, an ambitious 23-year-old college graduate, had been on a Mormon mission in Johannesburg when he awoke one day unable to move his legs. He was briefly hospitalized there, but the South African doctors could not explain his sudden paralysis and found no evidence of injury or infection, so he was transferred back to the States by air ambulance. Medics wheeled Jeremy to the neurology ward, where I was waiting. They said he had been about three weeks into his two-year commitment in South Africa when one morning he did not show up for his assignment, nor did he answer his 
phone. Someone finally went to his apartment and found him lying there, immobilized. “He’s been like this for a week, doctor,” the medic told me. “He hasn’t spoken since this happened.” As the neurology resident, I needed to test Jeremy for a number of disorders, including multiple sclerosis (ms); myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease that causes varying degrees of muscle weakness; Guillain-Barré syndrome, an acute condition associated with progressive muscle weakness and paralysis; and stroke. I would also have to perform a lumbar puncture to collect fluid from around the brain and inside the spinal cord to rule out infection. Although his symptoms didn’t quite support the diagnosis, I also wondered if he could have been exposed to a toxin that can cause paralysis, such as botulism or tetanus. © 2012, Kalmbach Publishing Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16989 - Posted: 07.02.2012

by Gisela Telis Stress really does mess with your mind. A new study has found that chronic stress can create many of the brain changes associated with mood disorders by blocking a gene called neuritin—and that boosting the gene's activity can protect the brain from those disorders. The results provide new insight into the mechanisms behind depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, and could offer researchers a novel target for drugs to treat those conditions. Research has shown that mood disorders take a toll on patients' brains as well as on their lives. Postmortem studies and brain scans have revealed that the hippocampus (the brain's memory center) can shrink and atrophy in people with a history of depression and other mood disorders. People who live with mood disorders are also known to have low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth factor that keeps neurons healthy. They also have low activity in the neuritin gene, which codes for a protein of the same name that may protect the brain's plasticity: its ability to reorganize and change in response to new experiences. Ronald Duman, a neurobiologist at Yale University, and colleagues wondered if the poorly understood neuritin might play an important -- and heretofore overlooked -- role in depression and other mood disorders. They induced depression in a group of rats by subjecting them to chronic, unpredictable stress. Depriving them of food and play, isolating them, and switching around their day/night cycles for about 3 weeks left the rats with little interest in feeding or enjoying a sweetened drink. The rats also gave up and became immobile instead of swimming when placed in a tub of water—another measure of rodent depression. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

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: 16971 - Posted: 06.26.2012

By AMANDA SCHAFFER In recent decades, there have been few new treatments for people with stubbornly high blood pressure. Exercise and a low-sodium diet, along with such stalwart drugs as diuretics, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, have made up the standard regimens. But these efforts fail in a surprising number of patients. On three or more medications, many still suffer from uncontrolled hypertension and with it a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke. Now, doctors are experimenting with an innovative but drastic new approach that may help lessen the danger in patients for whom nothing else works. During the procedure, called renal denervation, a physician threads a catheter into the arteries leading to the kidney, then delivers pulses of radio-frequency energy that interrupt the signaling in nerves to and from that organ. The damage to the nerves is probably permanent, although no one is certain. Small clinical trials, conducted mainly outside the United States, have suggested that in combination with drugs, renal denervation may help to reduce high blood pressure in patients with so-called treatment-resistant disease. The treatment is already available in Australia and Europe. The largest randomized controlled trial to date is now under way in the United States. It is sponsored by Medtronic, which hopes to win Food and Drug Administration approval for a specialized catheter and generator used in the procedure. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16903 - Posted: 06.12.2012

by Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor Intense and lasting stress may deliver a blow to a kid's noggin, say researchers who found that a brain area linked to memory was smaller in children who had experienced chronic stress compared with their less-strained counterparts. The brain differences also bore out in cognitive ability, with those children with highly stressful lives performing poorer than other kids on spatial memory tests. The highly stressed children also had more trouble with tests of short-term memory, including tasks such as finding a token in a series of boxes, the researchers said. "All families experience some stress, so it is important to note that effects were found for high levels of stress," study researcher Jamie Hanson, a psychology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told LiveScience, adding that some extreme examples would include family members falling victim to violent crimes or the chronic illness of a child or other family member. The research, detailed in the June 6 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, adds to other evidence of the impacts of stress, with one recent study showing that children exposed to multiple instances of violence age faster on a cellular level. Another past study suggested childhood stress could actually take years off an individual's life. The team was inspired by work in animals that has found a link between stress and brain changes, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in working memory, or the part of your memory that's available for quick recall. © 2012 Discovery Communications, LLC.

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: 16893 - Posted: 06.09.2012

by Michael Balter Many studies in humans and animals suggest that chronic stress is bad for one’s health, in part because it suppresses the immune system. But nearly 30 years of data on wild baboons shows that top-ranking males, despite showing signs of increased stress, recover more quickly than low-ranking baboons from wounds and illness. The results may help explain why some people escape from the negative effects of stress while others do not. Most studies in humans have shown a clear correlation between higher socioeconomic status and lower risk of death or illness from stress-related diseases such as heart attacks and diabetes. Some of the most famous of these are the so-called Whitehall studies of the British Civil Service, which showed that death and illness rates decreased in a step-wise fashion the higher an employee was on the service’s 6-grade pay and responsibility scale. These and other studies also have found that being at the bottom of the totem pole leads to greater stress as a result of increased work loads and time pressures, as well as more job insecurity. But studies of animals, especially other primates, have shown that the relationship between stress and status largely depends on the social organization of the species in question. For example, in species such as baboons that have rigid social rankings and hierarchies, with so-called alpha males dominating other males and females over extended periods of time, it can apparently be more stressful at the top. In a study reported last year in Science, a team that included ecologist Jeanne Altmann of Princeton University revealed that baboon alpha males had the highest levels of glucocorticoid hormones, such as cortisol, as well as testosterone in their feces, indicators that they were under greater stress than lower-ranking individuals. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16827 - Posted: 05.22.2012

by Greg Miller Autopsies of four U.S. military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan reveal features of the same neurodegenerative disease found previously in athletes, researchers report. Experiments with mice suggest that the underlying mechanisms may be similar. In the past 10 years, the widely reported suicides and accidental deaths of professional football players and other athletes—such as that of Junior Seau earlier this month -- have sparked inquiries into whether even seemingly minor blows to the head can cause personality changes, dementia, and brain degeneration later in life. Autopsies of dozens of former players have revealed a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Its hallmark is the abnormal accumulation of a protein called tau. Many of the athletes diagnosed with CTE on autopsy (currently the only definitive test) had a history of problems with anger, rash and risky decision-making, impairments of memory and attention, and alcohol or drug abuse. Clinicians and researchers working with troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have seen similar symptoms. The new study, led by Lee Goldstein, a physician-scientist who focuses on neurodegenerative disease at Boston University, and Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts, ties these troublesome threads together. McKee examined the brains of four veterans, men between the ages of 22 and 45, who suffered from various combinations of cognitive, emotional, and impulse-control problems before dying from suicide or other causes. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16809 - Posted: 05.17.2012

By Laura Sanders A certain genetic signature gives some people the ability to form stronger memories. But that edge also has a dark side: increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the genetic effect is small, the results help scientists better understand the link between especially powerful memories and sensitivity to past trauma. Scientists led by neuroscientist Dominique de Quervain of the University of Basel in Switzerland looked at how genetic differences related to a memory task. A population of 723 healthy young Swiss adults viewed 72 photographs. After a 10-minute wait, the volunteers were asked to remember as many images as possible. Volunteers who could remember more pictures carried a particular DNA signature in at least one copy of a gene that encodes protein kinase C alpha. In animal studies, this protein has been shown to play a role in the formation of emotional memories. The volunteers’ heightened recall was true for disturbing, pleasant and neutral pictures. Further evidence came from brain scans performed in a different group of Swiss people. While viewing the pictures, people with the genetic signature had stronger brain activation in parts of the prefrontal cortex compared with those who lacked the genetic feature, the researchers report online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16792 - Posted: 05.15.2012

By Neil Bowdler Health reporter, BBC News A trial has begun of a portable brain-cooling device which could enhance the survival prospects of cardiac patients. Ground-based cars in the service of the charity London's Air Ambulance are the first in the UK to carry the Rhinochill machine. Larger brain-cooling devices are already used in UK hospitals on cardiac and stroke patients to aid recovery. But cooling the body earlier in the field, during resuscitation, could save more lives, early research suggests. "We know quite well that if you're cooled after your heart attack, it can not only mean that your chances of surviving are greatly increased, but your chances of surviving without brain damage are too," Dr Richard Lyon, a registrar with London's Air Ambulance, told BBC News. "For the last 10 years or so, the big thrust has been to cool you as quickly as possible, but usually after you get delivered to hospital, after your heart has been restarted. "What we're doing is bringing everything much further forward - starting this brain-cooling process while CPR is still being carried out in the field." BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16741 - Posted: 05.03.2012

By Robin Nixon LONDON — A seemingly trivial task – playing a particular video game – may lessen flashbacks and other psychological symptoms following a traumatic event, according to research presented here at the British Psychology Society Annual Conference. Researchers are now corroborating what some trauma sufferers have happened upon by chance: Focusing on a highly engaging visual-spatial task, such as playing video games, may significantly reduce the occurrence of flashbacks, the mental images concerning the trauma that intrude on the sufferer afterward. Flashbacks are considered by some to be the central hub of symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers Lalitha Iyadurai and Ella James of Oxford University explained to LiveScience. They are invasive, unpredictable distress signals that can make everyday activities difficult. The jarring mental images also may trigger or exacerbate other symptoms associated with PTSD, including irritability, anger, poor concentration and sleep disorders. [Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders] Reducing the occurrence of flashbacks is therefore likely to relieve post-traumatic suffering while leaving the actual memories of the trauma in place, they said. Iyadurai stressed the new research does not suggest a video game can instantly cure PTSD, but that it does suggests alternative treatments for the symptoms. © 2012 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: 16711 - Posted: 04.26.2012

by Katherine Rowland Traumatic experiences in early life can leave emotional scars. But a new study suggests that violence in childhood may leave a genetic mark as well. Researchers have found that children who are physically abused and bullied tend to have shorter telomeres—structures at the tips of chromosomes whose shrinkage has been linked to aging and disease. Telomeres prevent DNA strands from unravelling, much like the plastic aglets on a shoelace. When cells divide, these structures grow shorter, limiting the number of times a cell can reproduce. For this reason, telomeres may reflect biological age. Research has found associations between stress and accelerated telomere loss, and shortened telomeres correlate with several health problems, including diabetes, dementia, and fatigue. But the connection between telomere length and health and longevity is far from clear. "There's a lot of doubt in the field," notes Joao Passos, a cellular aging specialist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the research. "For as many studies that show telomere length as a good predictor of health outcomes, there are as many that find no relationship." Also unclear is whether childhood stress can affect telomere length. Almost all recent work on the topic has used retrospective data—that is, adults' recollections about their past. The new study examined children who were under stress to determine if they have shorter telomeres. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

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: 16709 - Posted: 04.25.2012

By Stephani Sutherland If you have ever jumped at a loud noise and felt an adrenaline rush, you have experienced the effects of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). In the body, this hormone triggers the familiar fight-or-flight response—racing heart, shortness of breath, sweaty palms. In the brain, however, it acts as a chemical messenger, playing a role in anxiety and depression. That role, a new study suggests, is more complex than anyone expected. Because animal research from the past decade found that CRH contributes to anxiety and depression, drugs were developed that would block its actions in the brain. Clinical trials of these anti­anxiety and antidepressant drugs in human patients, however, have been disappointing. The new study, published last September in Science, shows why. Jan M. Deussing, a molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, and his colleagues genetically altered mice so that some of their brain cells would be unable to detect the presence of CRH because they lacked the proper receptors. When the receptors were missing from neurons that produce the neurotransmitter glutamate, the mice displayed less anxiety, as expected. Yet when the receptors were missing from neurons that produce dopamine, the mice became more anxious. These two different neuron types, when interacting with CRH, “have exactly opposite effects in terms of anxiety-related behavior,” Deussing says. Be­cause the unsuccessful drugs limited the amount of the hormone available to all types of neurons, they ended up blocking its actions at neurons that both produce and prevent anxiety. The finding reaf­firms scientists’ growing understanding that mood disorders do not result from a simple chemical imbalance—too much or too little of one neurotransmitter—but rather from subtle changes in many systems in the brain. “The network is much more complex than we thought before,” Deussing says. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16635 - Posted: 04.12.2012

By Emma Seppala What's the difference between noticing the rapid beat of a popular song on the radio and noticing the rapid rate of your heart when you see your crush? Between noticing the smell of fresh baked bread and noticing that you're out of breath? Both require attention. However, the direction of that attention differs: it is either turned outward, as in the case of noticing a stop sign or a tap on your shoulder, or turned inward, as in the case of feeling full or feeling love. Scientists have long held that attention – regardless to what – involves mostly the prefrontal cortex, that frontal region of the brain responsible for complex thought and unique to humans and advanced mammals. A recent study by Norman Farb from the University of Toronto published in Cerebral Cortex, however, suggests a radically new view: there are different ways of paying attention. While the prefrontal cortex may indeed be specialized for attending to external information, older and more buried parts of the brain including the “insula” and “posterior cingulate cortex” appear to be specialized in observing our internal landscape. Most of us prioritize externally oriented attention. When we think of attention, we often think of focusing on something outside of ourselves. We "pay attention" to work, the TV, our partner, traffic, or anything that engages our senses. However, a whole other world exists that most of us are far less aware of: an internal world, with its varied landscape of emotions, feelings, and sensations. Yet it is often the internal world that determines whether we are having a good day or not, whether we are happy or unhappy. That’s why we can feel angry despite beautiful surroundings or feel perfectly happy despite being stuck in traffics. For this reason perhaps, this newly discovered pathway of attention may hold the key to greater well-being. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 16614 - Posted: 04.05.2012

By SUSAN DOMINUS Before the media vans took over Main Street, before the environmental testers came to dig at the soil, before the doctor came to take blood, before strangers started knocking on doors and asking question after question, Katie Krautwurst, a high-school cheerleader from Le Roy, N.Y., woke up from a nap. Instantly, she knew something was wrong. Her chin was jutting forward uncontrollably and her face was contracting into spasms. She was still twitching a few weeks later when her best friend, Thera Sanchez, captain of one of the school’s cheerleading squads, awoke from a nap stuttering and then later started twitching, her arms flailing and head jerking. Two weeks after that, Lydia Parker, also a senior, erupted in tics and arm swings and hums. Then word got around that Chelsey Dumars, another cheerleader, who recently moved to town, was making the same strange noises, the same strange movements, leaving school early on the days she could make it to class at all. The numbers grew — 12, then 16, then 18, in a school of 600 — and as they swelled, the ranks of the sufferers came to include a wider swath of the Le Roy high-school hierarchy: girls who weren’t cheerleaders, girls who kept to themselves and had studs in their lips. There was even one boy and an older woman, age 36. Parents wept as their daughters stuttered at the dinner table. Teachers shut their classroom doors when they heard a din of outbursts, one cry triggering another, sending the increasingly familiar sounds ricocheting through the halls. Within a few months, as the camera crews continued to descend, the community barely seemed to recognize itself. One expert after another arrived to pontificate about what was wrong in Le Roy, a town of 7,500 in Western New York that had long prided itself on the things it got right. The kids here were wholesome and happy, their parents insisted — “cheerleaders and honor students,” as one father said — products of a place that, while not perfect, was made up more of what was good about small-town America than what was bad. Now, though, the girls’ writhing and stuttering suggested something troubling, either arising from within the community or being perpetrated on it, a mystery that proved irresistible for onlookers, whose attention would soon become part of the story itself. © 2012 The New York Times Company

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: 16499 - Posted: 03.10.2012

By Larry Greenemeier A popular school of thought, dramatized in the recent TV drama Lie to Me, is that a careful study of facial expressions—especially eye movements—tells investigators if a perp is dissembling. Reality is neither as dramatic nor as decisive. Even experienced investigators average only about a 65 percent success rate, according to researchers. Could computers do a better job? Researchers at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (U.B.), claim their video-analysis software can analyze eye movement successfully to identify whether or not a subject is fibbing 82.5 percent of the time. The researchers, who first presented their (still unpublished) results at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition a year ago, believe they have laid the foundation for a more extensive study that will include a larger sample and take into account body language in addition to eye movement to determine whether new technologies can help interrogators in their search for the truth. The 40 interviews were conducted by Mark Frank, a U.B. professor of communication and a study co-author, and included a diversity in age, gender and ethnicity. Prior to the interview, each subject was given the opportunity to "steal" a check made out to a political party or cause that the volunteer strongly opposed. Afterward, subjects sat down with a retired law-enforcement interrogator. The interviewer first posed conversational questions unrelated to the possible theft, to establish a baseline of normal eye movement, and then asked whether the interviewee had taken the check. © 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: 16476 - Posted: 03.06.2012

by Andy Coghlan Maltreatment of children may stunt growth of the hippocampus, a brain region vital for memory. That's the conclusion of a study of 193 outwardly healthy adults aged 18 to 25 from the Boston area. The stunted hippocampi could help explain how childhood stress raises the risk of psychiatric disorders in adulthood, ranging from depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder to personality disorders, drug addiction and even suicide. Martin Teicher of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and colleagues used standard questionnaires to reveal which volunteers had suffered abuse as children, and found size differences in regions of the hippocampus through detailed MRI brain scans. Big differences were seen in people who said that as children they had experienced verbal, physical or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, bereavement, parental separation or parental discord. Three sub-regions of the hippocampus were between 5.8 and 6.5 per cent smaller in such volunteers, compared with those who reported no maltreatment. The three sub-regions – the dentate gyrus, the cornu ammonis and the subiculum – are all known to be vulnerable to the effects of stress hormones, which probably interfere with the formation of cells and new tissue as the immature brain develops. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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: 16379 - Posted: 02.14.2012

By Nathan Seppa Competing in vain for the attention of someone special or fretting over a mid-term exam may not be healthy. Such stress seems to boost a person’s supply of two proteins that cause inflammation, researchers report January 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These inflammatory triggers have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and depression. The new results add to a growing body of research that links social stress with biological risks. “We wanted to see how mental states such as optimism, or social relationships such as competition, get under the skin,” says study coauthor Shelley Taylor, a social neuroscientist at the UCLA School of Medicine. She and her colleagues looked at the relationship between day-to-day stress and two proteins that trigger inflammation in the body, called pro-inflammatory cytokines. The researchers asked 122 young, healthy adults to keep a diary of all positive and negative social interactions for eight days, as well as descriptions of any incidents that involved competition. “We picked young adults with no history of heart disease or inflammation disorders or depression [because] we wanted to look at the biological processes in a population that was healthy,” Taylor says. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16287 - Posted: 01.24.2012

The day after TODAY reported on the baffling case of 12 teenage girls at one school who mysteriously fell ill with Tourette's-like symptoms of tics and verbal outbursts, a doctor who is treating some of the girls has come forward to offer an explanation. Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, a neurologist in Amherst, N.Y., says the diagnosis is "conversion disorder," or mass hysteria. "It's happened before, all around the world, in different parts of the world. It's a rare phenomena. Physicians are intrigued by it," Mechtler told TODAY on Wednesday. "The bottom line is these teenagers will get better." On the show Tuesday, psychologist and TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz noted that just because the girls' symptoms may be psychological in origin doesn't make them any less real or painful. “That’s not faking it. They’re real symptoms,” Saltz continued. “They need a psychiatric or psychological treatment. Treatment does work.’’ Conversion disorder symptoms usually occur after a stress event, although a patient can be more at risk if also suffering from an illness. Symptoms may last for days or weeks and can include blindness, inability to speak, numbness or other neurologic problems. It's unclear which of the girls first showed symptoms, or whether any particular event triggered the outbreak. High school cheerleader and art student Thera Sanchez says her tics, stammer and verbal outbursts appeared out of the blue after a nap one day last October. © 2012 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16273 - Posted: 01.19.2012

Posted by Sarah Kliff Wired flags a new study that proves many mothers across the country right: For your own sake, you should call home more often. The research comes from Evolution and Human Behavior. It finds that a phone call to mom provides significant stress relief while instant message conversations won’t quell the nerves. The conversations happened after research subjects took a stressful test. As subjects spoke (or typed) with their mothers, the researchers measured changes in levels of cortisol (generally linked to stress) and oxytocin (a hormone linked to pleasure). When subjects talked on the phone, cortisol levels dropped and oxytocin went up. But IMing with Mom looked the same as having no contact at all: The study author tells Wired, “the results suggest that mom’s voice — its tones and intonations and rhythms, known formally as prosodics — trigger soothing effects, rather than what she specifically says.” To summarize in non-chart form: Call your mother! © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16228 - Posted: 01.09.2012

Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer Researchers are getting closer to being able to predict who might be more vulnerable to stress even before they experience trauma. A study of Bay Area and New York police academy recruits by researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UCSF and New York University is considered one of the first and largest studies to look at biological stress indicators before and after traumatic events. "This study is unique because it looks at people before they've actually been exposed to trauma," said lead author Sabra Inslicht, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF. Nearly 300 academy recruits took samples of the waking levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. The results, published in last month's issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that recruits with higher cortisol levels shortly after waking up in the morning were most likely to have stressful reactions to trauma years later as police officers. The new study is part of a larger body of research involving hundreds of recruits from the San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and New York police departments that has been going on for seven years, said Dr. Charles Marmar, who spent 30 years at UCSF before taking over as chairman of the department of psychiatry at NYU's Langone Medical Center. © 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16206 - Posted: 01.03.2012