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Researchers Identify Gene Linked to PTSD

The Compassionate Mind

Violence: An American Archetype

Alone: The Mental Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

People See Sexy Pictures of Women as Objects, Not People

Children in U.S. and U.K. Share Risk Factors for Behavior Problems

Kudzu May Curb Binge Drinking, New Study Suggests

The Pain of Social Rejection: As far as the brain is concerned, a broken heart may not be so different from a broken arm.

Foul-Mouthed Characters in Teen Books Have It All


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Study Suggests Fathers' Environmental Exposure Affects Sperm Epigenetics

September 12, 2017—Early results from a larger, ongoing study led by environmental health scientist Richard Pilsner at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that phthalate levels in expectant fathers have an effect on couples' reproductive success via epigenetic modifications of sperm DNA.

Phthalates are compounds found in plastics and personal care products such as shaving cream, and are estimated to be detectable in nearly 100 percent of the U.S. population. Exposure is known to disrupt some hormones and is associated in human studies with changes in such male reproductive measures as semen quality and androgen levels, Pilsner says.
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Higher Use of Health Care Services Throughout Adult Life Linked with Traumatic Childhoods

July 12, 2017—Experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse as a child, or other stresses such as living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness, can lead to higher levels of health service use throughout adulthood.

A research paper in the Journal of Health Service Research & Policy provides, for the first time, the statistical evidence showing that, regardless of socio-economic class or other demographics, people who have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) use more health and medical services through their lifetime.
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Puberty Hormones Trigger Changes in Youthful Learning

 

Brain study of mice has broad implications for the health and education of young girls

June 1, 2017—A University of California, Berkeley, study of mice reveals, for the first time, how puberty hormones might impede some aspects of flexible youthful learning.

"We have found that the onset of puberty hits something like a 'switch' in the brain's frontal cortex that can reduce flexibility in some forms of learning," said study senior author Linda Wilbrecht, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley.

While gleaned from young female mice, the findings, published in the June 1 issue of the journal Current Biology, may have broad educational and health implications for girls, many of whom are entering the first stage of puberty as young as age 7 and 8.
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Storytime a 'Turbocharger' for a Child's Brain

May 31, 2017—While reading to children has many benefits, simply speaking the words aloud may not be enough to improve cognitive development in preschoolers.

A new international study, published in the journal PLOS ONE and led by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, shows that engaging with children while reading books to them gives their brain a cognitive "boost."
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Mobile Technology and Child and Adolescent Development

May 30, 2017—A new special section of Child Development shows how particularly diverse the use of mobile technology is among children and adolescents, and points to great complexity in the effects of that usage.

This special section of Child Development, edited by Dr. Zheng Yan and Dr. Lennart Hardell, adds important information to the research in this area. It includes articles from national and international scholars on the complicated impact mobile technology has on infants, toddlers, children, teens and parents.
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How Listening to Music in a Group Influences Depression

 

New research takes a closer look at how music influences the mood in people suffering from depression

May 24, 2017—Listening to music together with others has many social benefits, including creating and strengthening interpersonal bonds. It has previously been shown that enjoying music in a group setting has an impact on social relationships, and that synchronizing with other group members to a beat influences how people behave to individuals both within and outside of the group. Similarly, the sharing of emotions has many social benefits as well: it helps us create and sustain relationships with others and to cement social bonds within a group, and it intensifies the potential for emotional responses. A question that still remains is whether sharing emotional and musical experiences with others might be a particularly powerful form of social bonding, and what the outcome of such an interaction might be.
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Biased Bots: Human Prejudices Sneak into Artificial Intelligence Systems

Princeton, NJ; April 13, 2017—In debates over the future of artificial intelligence, many experts think of the new systems as coldly logical and objectively rational. But in a new study, researchers have demonstrated how machines can be reflections of us, their creators, in potentially problematic ways. Common machine learning programs, when trained with ordinary human language available online, can acquire cultural biases embedded in the patterns of wording, the researchers found. These biases range from the morally neutral, like a preference for flowers over insects, to the objectionable views of race and gender.
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College Students Study Best Later in the Day

 

Some universities already offering and encouraging more evening and online courses

April 11, 2017—A new cognitive research study used two new approaches to determine ranges of start times that optimize functioning for undergraduate students. Based on a sample of first and second year university students, the University of Nevada, Reno and The Open University in the United Kingdom used a survey-based, empirical model and a neuroscience-based, theoretical model to analyse the learning patterns of each student to determine optimum times when cognitive performance can be expected to be at its peak.
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Critical Thinking Instruction in Humanities Reduces Belief in Pseudoscience

March 20, 2017—A recent study by North Carolina State University researchers finds that teaching critical thinking skills in a humanities course significantly reduces student beliefs in "pseudoscience" that is unsupported by facts. "Given the national discussion of 'fake news,' it's clear that critical thinking—and classes that teach critical thinking—are more important than ever," says Anne McLaughlin, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.
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A 48-Hour Sexual 'Afterglow' Helps to Bond Partners over Time

March 20, 2017—Sex plays a central role in reproduction, and it can be pleasurable, but new findings suggest that it may serve an additional purpose: bonding partners together. A study of newlywed couples, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that partners experience a sexual 'afterglow' that lasts for up to two days, and this afterglow is linked with relationship quality over the long term.
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Want to Help Your Mate Beat the Blues? Show Them the Love

 

Easing your partner's stress as they deal with depression can boost their mental health later

February 8, 2017—The more depressed your romantic partner may be, the more love you should give them, according to new University of Alberta research. It can be tempting to pull back, but tough as it may be, helping your loved one stick it out through a bout of depression can help their future mental health, said relationships researcher Matthew Johnson. "Efforts from a partner to help alleviate stress may prevent the development or worsening of mental health problems and, in fact, could help keep the relationship healthy."
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Belief in Free Will Is Linked to Happiness


Researchers show that a phenomenon previously seen in Western populations crosses cultural divides

January 23, 2017—Western and Asian cultures tend to have different core beliefs around free will. However, in a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology, Jingguang Li, professor at Dali University, and his research team show the link between belief in free will and happiness, also found in Western studies, exists in Chinese teenagers.

They found that 85% of the Chinese teenagers expressed a belief in free will, and that this was positively correlated with happiness. Free will describes the ability to make independent choices, where the outcome of the choice is not influenced by past events.
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Engaging Fathers in Parenting Intervention Improves Outcomes for Both Kids and Fathers

January 23, 2017—A parenting program where fathers engage with their children through reading was found to boost the fathers' parenting skills while also improving the preschoolers' school readiness and behavior, finds a study led by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

"Unlike earlier research, our study finds that it is possible to engage fathers from low-income communities in parenting interventions, which benefits both the fathers and their children," said Anil Chacko, associate professor of counseling psychology at NYU Steinhardt and the lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.
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Females Seeking a Sex Partner Can Tell Whether Males Experienced Stress During Adolescence

 

Surprise: Females prefer males who have overcome stress over those who have never experienced stress—and over those who succumbed to stress . . .

January 5, 2017—Sexual preference is influenced by males' adolescent social stress history and social status, according to a research team including Nicole Cameron, assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
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Helping Pays Off: People Who Care for Others Live Longer

December 22, 2016—Older people who help and support others are also doing themselves a favor. An international research team has found that grandparents who care for their grandchildren on average live longer than grandparents who do not. The researchers conducted survival analyses of over 500 people aged between 70 and 103 years, drawing on data from the Berlin Aging Study collected between 1990 and 2009.

In contrast to most previous studies on the topic, the researchers deliberately did not include grandparents who were primary or custodial caregivers. Instead, they compared grandparents who provided occasional childcare with grandparents who did not, as well as with older adults who did not have children or grandchildren but who provided care for others in their social network.
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Culture Not a Large Factor in Management Styles Globally

 

Management type is determined more by circumstances than individual or cultural differences

COLUMBIA, MO; December 19, 2016—Geert Hofstede's "Culture's Consequences" is one of the most influential management books of the 20th century. With well over 80,000 citations, Hofstede argues that 50 percent of managers' differences in their reactions to various situations are explained by cultural differences. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has determined that culture plays little or no part in leaders' management of their employees; this finding could impact how managers are trained and evaluated globally.
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Gesturing Can Boost Children's Creative Thinking

December 14, 2016—Encouraging children to use gestures as they think can help them come up with more creative ideas, according to research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "Our findings show that children naturally gesture when they think of novel ways to use everyday items, and the more they gesture the more ideas they come up with," say psychological scientist Elizabeth Kirk of the University of York. "When we then asked children to move their hands, children were able to come up with even more creative ideas."
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Personality Traits and Psychiatric Disorders Linked to Specific Genomic Locations

 

Researchers also find correlations between traits and distinct disorders

December 8, 2016—A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has identified six loci or regions of the human genome that are significantly linked to personality traits, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine in this week's advance online publication of Nature Genetics. The findings also show correlations with psychiatric disorders.
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Optimism May Reduce Risk of Dying Prematurely Among Women

 

New study considers concept of "psychobiotic"

Boston, MA; December 7, 2016—Having an optimistic outlook on life--a general expectation that good things will happen--may help people live longer, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death--including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection--over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic.
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Study Examines Aspects of Family Relationships That May Affect Children's Disruptive Behavior

December 5, 2016—A new study has examined the interaction between coparenting and coercive parenting in predicting children's disruptive behaviour.

Coparenting describes the way in which adults work together in their role as parents. For example, high quality coparenting may include expressions of warmth between parents during interactions with the child, shared child-rearing values, and actions that support and extend a coparent's parenting efforts. Lower quality coparenting may involve criticism between parents, or actions that thwart or undermine a partner's parenting attempts. Coercive parenting represents a negative discipline strategy characterised by hitting, shouting, and scolding.

The study of 106 families with mother and father both resident found that the influence of high quality coparenting, previously assumed to be only beneficial, may be rather more complex.
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Parents Should Avoid Pressuring Young Children over Grades, Study Says

 

Teaching compassion, decency may be more important during formative years

November 29, 2016—New research from Arizona State University (ASU) suggests parents shouldn't obsess over grades and extracurricular activities for young schoolchildren, especially if such ambitions come at the expense of social skills and kindness. Doing so, the study says, can work against helping kids become well-adjusted and successful later in life.
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When Judging Other People, First Impressions Last

 

A well-known saying urges people not to judge a book by its cover—but people tend to do just that—even after they've skimmed a chapter or two, says new research

November 28, 2016—Vivian Zayas, professor of psychology at Cornell University, and her colleagues found that people continue to be influenced by another person's appearance even after interacting with them face-to-face. First impressions formed simply from looking at a photograph predicted how people felt and thought about the person after a live interaction that took place one month to six months later.
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Should Parents Lie to Children About Santa?

November 23, 2016—Shops are bursting with toys, mince pies are on the menu and radios are blasting out Christmas tunes—so it's time for another festive favourite: lying to children. Millions of parents convince their kids Father Christmas is real—but this lie may be damaging, according to psychologist Christopher Boyle and mental health researcher Kathy McKay.
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Poor Self-Regulation in Teens Associated with Circadian Rhythms and Daytime Sleepiness

 

Findings support later start times for middle schools and high schools

November 3, 2016—Chronic insufficient sleep is at epidemic levels in U.S. teens and has been associated with depression, substance use, accidents, and academic failure. Poor self-regulation or an inability to alter thinking, emotions, and behaviors to meet varying social demands is thought to be a key link between inadequate sleep in teens and poor health and school-related outcomes. However, a study led by Judith Owens, MD, MPH, at Boston Children's Hospital and Robert Whitaker, MD, MPH, at Temple University found that the number of hours teens sleep on school nights may not be the main problem. Instead, daytime sleepiness and a tendency to be a "night owl," referred to as an evening chronotype, appear to be more strongly associated with poor self-regulation. Findings were published online November 3 by Pediatrics.
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Well-Being Linked with When and How People Manage Emotions

November 2, 2016—Reframing how we think about a situation is a common strategy for managing our emotions, but a new study suggests that using this reappraisal strategy in situations we actually have control over may be associated with lower well-being. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
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Tapping into Timeless Parenting

September 15, 2016—For thousands of years parents have been raising children with varying levels of success—whether leaning on punishment as their most trusted tool, trying out their own balance of “carrots and sticks,” hovering incessantly in a vain attempt to spare their children the pain of life’s inevitable trials and tribulations, or forgoing any kind of parental guidance whatsoever.

As we consider the many options and approaches, it can be tempting to believe that the parenting style that produced us is clearly the way to go; after all, look at how well we turned out. Yet we probably also realize that we have flaws and inconsistencies in our thinking and character, opening the possibility that maybe, just maybe, our parents didn’t have all the answers. Is it time to update our parenting style? The four books reviewed here offer varying perspectives on applying timeless parenting principles in an age of rapidly advancing media technologies.
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