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Tag Archives: Psychology

Slideshow Presentation: Revealing your Child’s behavior in Context

Presentation Given to Parents in Atibia, Brazil.

Here I discussed importance of knowing your child in context. I also discussed a brief method of Psychiatry in assessing cognitive emotional function.  Further, I touched on aspects of attention problems and the role of anxiety in obstructing focus and its contribution to disease. I ended with a brief overview of neuroscience and the important role of keeping anxiety in check.  I believe this presentation can be useful to many, as it is to my daily self maintenance.

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Revealing Your Childs Behavior in Context

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The Edge of Good Bye, balancing the choice to live on


suicidepro

The edge of Goodbye


We may have a biochemical marker in the near future which can help flag those who are prone to suicidal attempts.  Researchers at John Hopkins University have discovered a gene that helps regulate the stimulation of cortisol.  When pressures mount, this gene, (known as SKA) apparently helps to limit the cortisol impact on the cortical receptors within the forebrain. Those individuals prone to suicidal activity were found to consistently have low SKA expression.

 

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Cortisol: the train

A good way for me to conceptualize this process is to think of cortisol as a speeding train moving through the brain.  It is set in motion by a perceived  stress we are experiencing.  Ideally, the cortisol prepares our bodies for a “get up and go” necessary to meet our challenges.  However, the brakes are necessary to slow the train down in order to remain in control of the moment. So if the cortisol is the train, then the SKA gene is the brakes.

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SKA:the breaks of the train

Studies have shown that the SKA gene remains unchanged in our makeup.  However, our life experiences can influence the expression of this SKA gene (known as epigenetic regulation). As you may grasp, when the expression of SKA is hindered, the cortisol released during periods of stress has no way to regulate activity downstream.  Cortisol becomes a runaway train. Life can become a train wreck.

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Train wreck


See attached Article

A blood test for suicide?

Alterations to a single gene could predict risk of suicide attempt

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person’s risk of attempting suicide.

The discovery, described online in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that changes in a gene involved in the function of the brain’s response to stress hormones plays a significant role in turning what might otherwise be an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves,” says study leader Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe.”

For his series of experiments, Kaminsky and his colleagues focused on a genetic mutation in a gene known as SKA2. By looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy people, the researchers found that in samples from people who had died by suicide, levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced.

Within this common mutation, they then found in some subjects an epigenetic modification that altered the way the SKA2 gene functioned without changing the gene’s underlying DNA sequence. The modification added chemicals called methyl groups to the gene. Higher levels of methylation were then found in the same study subjects who had killed themselves. The higher levels of methylation among suicide decedents were then replicated in two independent brain cohorts.

In another part of the study, the researchers tested three different sets of blood samples, the largest one involving 325 participants in the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention Research Study found similar methylation increases at SKA2 in individuals with suicidal thoughts or attempts. They then designed a model analysis that predicted which of the participants were experiencing suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide with 80 percent certainty. Those with more severe risk of suicide were predicted with 90 percent accuracy. In the youngest data set, they were able to identify with 96 percent accuracy whether or not a participant had attempted suicide, based on blood test results.

The SKA2 gene is expressed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in inhibiting negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behavior. SKA2 is specifically responsible for chaperoning stress hormone receptors into cells’ nuclei so they can do their job. If there isn’t enough SKA2, or it is altered in some way, the stress hormone receptor is unable to suppress the release of cortisol throughout the brain. Previous research has shown that such cortisol release is abnormal in people who attempt or die by suicide.

Kaminsky says a test based on these findings might best be used to predict future suicide attempts in those who are ill, to restrict lethal means or methods among those a risk, or to make decisions regarding the intensity of intervention approaches.

He says that it might make sense for use in the military to test whether members have the gene mutation that makes them more vulnerable. Those at risk could be more closely monitored when they returned home after deployment. A test could also be useful in a psychiatric emergency room, he says, as part of a suicide risk assessment when doctors try to assess level of suicide risk.

The test could be used in all sorts of safety assessment decisions like the need for hospitalization and closeness of monitoring. Kaminsky says another possible use that needs more study could be to inform treatment decisions, such as whether or not to give certain medications that have been linked with suicidal thoughts.

“We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions,” Kaminsky says. “We need to study this in a larger sample but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide.”

Along with Kaminsky, other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Jerry Guintivano; Tori Brown; Alison Newcomer, M.Sc.; Marcus Jones; Olivia Cox; Brion Maher, Ph.D.; William Eaton, Ph.D.; Jennifer Payne, M.D.; and Holly Wilcox, Ph.D.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (1R21MH094771-01), the Center for Mental Health Initiatives, The James Wah Award for Mood Disorders, and The Solomon R. and Rebecca D. Baker Foundation.

More information:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/results/directory/profile/5411152/zachary-kaminsky

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/genetic_predictors_of_postpartum_depression_uncovered_by_johns_hopkins_researchers

Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is a $6.7 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading health care systems in the United States. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. JHM’s vision, “Together, we will deliver the promise of medicine,” is supported by its mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, JHM educates medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness. JHM operates six academic and community hospitals, four suburban health care and surgery centers, and more than 30 primary health care outpatient sites. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in 1889, was ranked number one in the nation for 21 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report.

Media Contact:

Lauren Nelson
410-955-8725; lnelso35@jhmi.edu

Helen Jones
410-502-9422; hjones49@jhmi.edu

 

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Cranky Characters


Grumpy, Grumpy, Grumpy


 

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Yes, we are familiar with the cranky, grumbling, characters in our life spaces from time to time. Yet according to this study it is more related to the perspective not the problems encountered. Further, the article lends evidence to open minds as related to having more optimism. Enjoy.

GEWms

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Why do Haters Have to Hate? Newly Identified Personality Trait Holds Clues

Contact:          Joseph Diorio
                        jdiorio@asc.upenn.edu
                        215-746-1798
PHILADELPHIA (August 26, 2013) – New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined “dispositional attitude.
            People with a positive dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to like things, whereas people with a negative dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to dislike things, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The journal article, “Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences,” was written by Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., the Martin Fishbein Chair of Communication and Professor of Psychology at Penn.
            “The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator,” wrote the authors. “[For example], at first glance, it may not seem useful to know someone’s feelings about architecture when assessing their feelings about health care. After all, health care and architecture are independent stimuli with unique sets of properties, so attitudes toward these objects should also be independent.”
            However, they note, there is still one critical factor that an individual’s attitudes will have in common: the individual who formed the attitudes.  “Some people may simply be more prone to focusing on positive features and others on negative features,” Hepler said.
            To discover whether people differ in the tendency to like or dislike things, Hepler and Albarracín created a scale that requires people to report their attitudes toward a wide variety of unrelated stimuli, such as architecturecold showerspolitics, and soccer. Upon knowing how much people (dis)like these specific things, the responses were then averaged together to calculate their dispositional attitude (i.e., to calculate how much they tend to like or dislike things in general). The theory is that if individuals differ in the general tendency to like versus dislike objects, attitudes toward independent objects may actually be related. Throughout the studies the researchers found that people with generally positive dispositional attitudes are more open than people with generally negative dispositional attitudes. In day-to-day practice, this means that people with positive dispositional attitudes may be more prone to actually buy new products, get vaccine shots, follow regular positive actions (recycling, driving carefully, etc.)
            “This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory by demonstrating that an attitude is not simply a function of an object’s properties, but it is also a function of the properties of the individual who evaluates the object,” concluded Hepler and Albarracín. “Overall, the present research provides clear support for the dispositional attitude as a meaningful construct that has important implications for attitude theory and research.”

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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Interesting Items, Personality

 

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Psychology Study Guides – SparkNotes

Research Methods in Psychology

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Synopsis for Great Psychologists

SYNOPSIS (with detailed notes, tables, figures, and complete
references)*

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Research in Psychology

Learn about research funding, research tools and methods, responsible conduct of research, getting published and research in action.

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Mind & Brain

 

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Web-Based Reference Tools

Web-based reference tools useful to social science researchers

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Mind & Brain

 

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