Racefan’s Ramblings

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Archive for the ‘Popular Psychology’ Category

All those quick fix, self help and tests type things

Genes, Experiences Determine a Person’s Ability to Bounce Back

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 29, 2006

Interesting that the thinking that has linked peoples contrasting reactions under stress, is now going back, to where people used to believe that what you see under stress is the “real” personality. Unfortunately I feel both views are a little simplistic, as some people act totally calm and totally different in stressful situations, but fall to pieces over time, and others are the exact opposite. I fear the truth is closer to a cognitive-emotional-logical “override” mode that works in some, and possibly not in others, as otherwise, (like most of psychology), this study actually generates more questions than the science answers…

Why do we always expect one little titbit to be able to explain the worlds most complex organism, and the “only” (for the purposes of this debate) one with free will and imagination to complicate even the simplest cognitive theories…

Long-term studies of child
development indicate that some people remain psychologically healthy despite
years of severe deprivation and trauma. Researchers are now studying the
characteristics and circumstances surrounding the ability to endure stress and
bounce back-a quality they call resilience, reports the December 2006 issue of
the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

Ok so that is common sense so far Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Blogroll, Healthcare, Mental disorders/ Health Issues, Popular Psychology, Psychology | 2 Comments »

Behavior May Influence Evolution

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 22, 2006

Education    “Pending your beliefs about evolution, National Geographic is running an interesting article on the influences of behavior on evolution. The study supports the controversial idea that an animal’s behavior in response to environmental change can spur evolutionary adaptations. By adding a predator to an island where a species of lizards lived with no predators, they witnessed a quick shift in the average length of legs on the lizards.
Long legs meant to escape were useless against the new larger predators while short legs became the dominant feature since they increased climbing ability (to trees the predators could not reach). For the finer details on the research, visit the Losos Lab Research Page.”

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Psychology Today: The Doctor Is Within

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 15, 2006

Psychology today has this interesting story, not to be read by hypochondriacs!

We put a lot of faith in the medical establishment these days, and doctors can certainly tell us a great deal about our constitution. But there’s one person who knows more about your health than any doctor—you. As it turns out, the answer to one deceptively simple question—”How would you rate your own health?”—predicts disease and longevity more accurately than even the most thorough medical records.Why are our own health assessments so dead on? Maybe because we monitor our ups and downs and symptoms 24/7—a perspective no doctor has access to.

“We know things that physicians cannot physically detect,” says Yael Benyamani, a health psychologist at Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Fatigue and appetite fluctuations, for example, can be symptoms of declining health, and you’re likely to be much more attuned to them than is your doctor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Caffiene helps concentration? Fact or Falacy?

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 12, 2006

Caffiene helps concentration? Fact or Falacy?

I have always loved a good cup of coffee, and am always hearing all the old wives tales about it. here is an article from Cognitive Daily. I certainly are not going to stop drinking it. Besides with the painkillers I am on a bit of cafiene may actually help. I am trying a new post style, Let me know what you think. I have to much time not being able to get out due to the pain, so can’t stop playing to keep mind occupied!

Cognitive Daily: Caffeine and concentration

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If you’re like me, sometimes you feel as if you couldn’t get anything done at all if it weren’t for coffee. I’m sipping from a cup right now as I write this (a double Americano, in case you’re curious). Caffeine seems to perk me up just enough to organize my thoughts into a coherent whole.But Hugo at AlphaPsy points out that caffeine’s effects aren’t all good. If you give a spider a large dose, her web will be a random mess instead of a beautiful spiral. Even more fascinating are the human responses to arguments while under the influence of caffeine: In these experiments, people were made to drink an orange juice before they proceeded. In one condition, the orange juice contained some added caffeine: in the other it was pure orange juice. When the attitudes were measured after the persuasive message, it was found that the attitudes of participants under caffeine had changed more than that of the control participants.But coffee doesn’t just make you more gullible: quite the contrary. In another experiment, the researchers studied the effect of argument strength. They did exactly the same thing as in the first case, but this time there were two types of arguments: the strong ones and the weak ones. It turns out that people under caffeine are not more convinced by weak arguments, but only by strong ones. So in fact caffeine makes you more suited to understand the strength of good arguments.Potent stuff, this caffeine.

Posted in Idle thoughts, In The News, Learning resourses, Links, Popular Psychology, Psychology | Leave a Comment »

The Hacker Profiling Project

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Interesting story on Slashdot yesterday. The one thing I think is, umm, good luck. From what I understand they are prone to change methodology as soon as there is a whiff of getting blocked/cought or new tech comes into play!

“NewsForge is running a story about a project aiming to profile hackers like the police do with common criminals. Not based out of the U.S. per se, this project falls under the auspices of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
Newsforge; What would the project concretely produce as final output?
Stefania Ducci: The final goal is a real and complete methodology for hacker profiling, released under GNU/FDL. This means that, at the end of our research project, if a company will send us its (as detailed as possible) logs related to an intrusion, we — exactly like in the TV show C.S.I. when evidence is found on the crime scene — will be able to provide a profile of the attacker. By ‘profile’ we mean, for example, his technical skills, his probable geographic location, an analysis of his modus operandi, and of a lot of other, small and big, traces left on the crime scene. This will also permit us to observe and, wherever possible, preview new attack trends, show rapid and drastic behavior changes, and, finally, provide a real picture of the world of hacking and its international scene.”

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AMA worried mental health patients being jailed

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

This I found just minutes after posting my last post. It was on the ABC News Online website. Interesting extention to my previous thoughts.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says rural mental health patients are ending up in jail cells because there are not enough beds in regional areas.

The group is calling on state and federal governments to make a significant boost to mental health services as the drought drags on.

Dr David Rivette from the AMA’s rural reference group says public psychiatry has been grossly under-funded. He says incentives are needed to train more psychiatrists and to retain overworked mental health staff to work in country areas.

“We want more beds for them to go to in regional areas. I’ve had instances of patients having to be shipped all over the state to find an acute psychiatric bed,” he said. “It’s just not appropriate to keep them for long periods in small country hospitals when patients are acutely psychotic. It often means they have to be locked up in a police cell and be watched by the police.”

Dr Rivette says acutely ill patients are often not receiving the safest or best care. He says the drought is adding to the pressure on already inadequate services.

“Those doctors out west that I speak to say there’s definitely a rise in numbers of severely depressed patients, people thinking about self-harm,” he said. “So, yes, that is going to put some pressure on beds, there’s no question about that.”

Dr Rivette says psychiatry services in country New South Wales in particular are in worse shape than a decade ago.

“If there’s real advances I certainly haven’t seen them in my neck of the woods, I’d love to hear about them from anybody,” he said. “Things are worse now than they were five and 10 years ago. I certainly don’t see the situation improving, I see it going backwards.”

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Gene linked to mental Illness, So I don’t have to just “Snap out of it?”

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

I remember when I was growing up in a rural community and on a farm, that my father and most of his associates believed people with mentaGenesl illness where weak, or lazy. It is still quite common for people to believe, especially with anxiety and depressive disorders, that the person has some choice as to how they respond to “whatever”

Research has constantly shown this to be partly true, but the whole “Nature-Nurture” debate focuses on predispositions to conditions according to birth. I.E. some conditions are passed on by genes, from parents to siblings. The degree to which each condition is naturally caused and which are environmentally triggered will continue to rage, but this is another piece of the puzzle.

PsycPORT Reports:

U.S. scientists have found a gene variant linked with mental illness is also linked with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Central Texas Veterans Health Care System researchers focused on a gene related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. They found the region of the brain called the pulvinar is larger and contains more nerve cells in those carrying the gene.

Once specific nerve cells release serotonin, a molecule called the serotonin transporter, or SERT, brings it back into the cell.

Drugs that prevent this re-uptake, such as Prozac, are frequently used to treat patients with depression.

The serotonin transporter gene has two forms, or variants: short, or SERT-s, and long, SERT-l. People carrying two SERT-s genes are more likely to experience depression than people with one or no SERT-s genes.

The researchers studied brains from 49 deceased people, with and without psychiatric illnesses. They found subjects carrying two SERT-s genes had pulvinar areas 20 percent larger and contained 20 percent more nerve cells.

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Reading the Terrorist Mind

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

I find this a very timely piece. With al the “war on terrorism, and associated hype, how do you get into their minds” The following excerpts are from The Frontal Cortex : Reading the Terrorist Mind . November 8, 2006 10:35 AM, by Jonah Lehrer

I’m skeptical of these sorts of psychological models – an important part of the terrorist strategy is to not have a coherent strategy – but it’s certainly a noble effort:

“Imagine that we had a mathematical formula that could be applied to Israel’s enemies to predict their course of action?

Prof. Alex Mintz of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya claims to have created just that. Mintz has developed a formula to map how terrorist organizations make their decisions. His theory can be applied to any leader in the world, whether heads of state or terror masterminds. …”

“How does this formula work? It mimics the decision-making process of a terror organization, involving thousands of minute details. The process is twofold: first the leader rules out the options that his group cannot carry out, and then the organization maximizes “specific dimensions on the remaining alternatives.”

This is all plugged into his custom-designed computer program, which takes into account funds, weapons, opposition, elections and the most heavily weighed factor, politics. The algorithms do the rest.

What separates Mintz’s calculations from those of other experts in the field? In the world of game and decision theory there are two basic camps: the rational approach, with roots in economics, and the cognitive approach, which is rooted in psychology. Mintz’s theory is one of the first that “combines elements of both in an attempt to bridge the gap between the rational and cognitive in decision-making.”

It should also be noted that Mintz isn’t the first scientist interested in deciphering the inscrutable decisions of terrorists. I’ve got a short article on Neil Johnson in the next Seed, so I won’t describe his research in too much detail here. But Johnson has constructed a model of the terrorist mind using some techniques from the physics of complex systems. After analyzing the casualty counts and battlefield reports from several major conflicts (from Iraq to Indonesia to Columbia), Johnson realized that all the conflicts looked the same. The terrorists were all operating from an identical playbook. “In every war we looked at,” Johnson told me, “we saw the same basic patterns. On the one hand, there were lots of little clashes that had very few casualties. As you increase the number of casualties, the number of clashes is much fewer. But the really surprising thing is the way in which every war goes between these two extremes.” When Johnson graphed the relationship between the number of clashes and the number of casualties per clash, he discovered a striking consistency between totally unrelated wars. “The numbers fall perfectly on this straight line called a power-law function,” he says. “When you measure the slope of the line, you find that the number is right around 2.5. It doesn’t matter if it’s for Iraq, Columbia, Senegal or Indonesia. The line never changes.”

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