Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Using Behavioral Indicators to Help Detect Potential Violent Acts A Review of the Science Base

Reminded of a phrase used by one of my college professors.
“Now that you have this information, what are you going to do with it?”

In this case, when one has information about a person’s behavior, what does one do?
Especially when it seems the person might be predisposed to violent acts.
Does one find a way to commit him or her to a mental institution? Arrest him or her on some other charge to remove him or her from the general population? Find some way to get the person help as an out patient?

From the summary of the report at Full Text Reports

Government organizations have put substantial effort into detecting and thwarting terrorist and insurgent attacks by observing suspicious behaviors of individuals at transportation checkpoints and elsewhere. This report reviews the scientific literature relating to observable, individual-level behavioral indicators that might — along with other information — help detect potential violent attacks. The report focuses on new or nontraditional technologies and methods, most of which exploit (1) data on communication patterns, (2) “pattern-of-life” data, and/or (3) data relating to body movement and physiological state. To help officials set priorities for special attention and investment, the report proposes an analytic framework for discussion and evaluation; it also urges investment in cost-effectiveness analysis and more vigorous, routine, and sustained efforts to measure real-world effectiveness of methods. One cross-cutting conclusion is that methods for behavioral observation are typically not reliable enough to stand alone; success in detection will depend on information fusion across types of behaviors and time. How to accomplish such fusion is understudied. Finally, because many aspects of using behavioral observations are highly controversial, both scientifically and because of privacy and civil-liberties concerns, the report sharpens the underlying perspectives and suggests ways to resolve some of the controversy while significantly mitigating problems that definitely exist.

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dualist Beliefs Linked With Less Concern For Healthy Behaviors

 

From the 27 July 2012 article at Medical News Today

Many people, whether they know it or not, are philosophical dualists. That is, they believe that the brain and the mind are two separate entities. Despite the fact dualist beliefs are found in virtually all human cultures, surprisingly little is known about the impact of these beliefs on how we think and behave in everyday life. ..

…Across five related studies, researchers Matthias Forstmann, Pascal Burgmer, and Thomas Mussweiler of the University of Cologne, Germany, found that people primed with dualist beliefs had more reckless attitudes toward health and exercise, and also preferred (and ate) a less healthy diet than those who were primed with physicalist beliefs.

Furthermore, they found that the relationship also worked in the other direction. People who were primed with unhealthy behaviors – such as pictures of unhealthy food – reported a stronger dualistic belief than participants who were primed with healthy behaviors.

Overall, the findings from the five studies provide converging evidence demonstrating that mind-body dualism has a noticeable impact on people’s health-related attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, these findings suggest that dualistic beliefs decrease the likelihood of engaging in healthy behavior.

These findings support the researchers’ original hypothesis that the more people perceive their minds and bodies to be distinct entities, the less likely they will be to engage in behaviors that protect their bodies. Bodies are ultimately viewed as a disposable vessel that helps the mind interact with the physical world.

Evidence of a bidirectional relationship further suggests that metaphysical beliefs, such as beliefs in mind-body dualism, may serve as cognitive tools for coping with threatening or harmful situations.

The fact that the simple priming procedures used in the studies had an immediate impact on health-related attitudes and behavior suggests that these procedures may eventually have profound implications for real-life problems. Interventions that reduce dualistic beliefs through priming could be one way to help promote healthier – or less self-damaging – behaviors in at-risk populations.

 

 

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restitution Vs. Apology In Forgiveness

 

"Forgiveness" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 19th July 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

People are more likely to show forgiving behavior if they receive restitution, but they are more prone to report they have forgiven if they get an apology, according to Baylor University research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

The study underscores the importance of both restitution and apology and of using multiple measures for forgiveness, including behavior, said Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“One of the main reasons for using behavioral measures in addition to self-reporting by individuals is that they can make themselves look better by only self-reporting, although they don’t necessarily intend to lie,” she said. “And it may be that ‘I forgive you’ is a more conscious feeling if they receive an apology.” ..

…Researchers examined the links between apology, restitution, empathy and forgiveness, measuring forgiveness in two ways: Through behavior (how many raffle tickets participants gave to their partners on the third round); and self-reporting on a questionnaire, with participants telling how highly they rated their motivation to forgive.

Researchers wrote that “making amends can facilitative forgiveness, but not all amends can fully compensate for offenses.” Apology may be needed to repair damage fully, but it may be a “silent forgiveness,” while restitution without apology may lead to a “hollow forgiveness” in which the offenders are treated better but not necessarily forgiven.

“The results suggest that if transgressors seek both psychological and interpersonal forgiveness from their victims, they must pair their apologies with restitution,” they wrote. “Apparently, actions and words speak loudest in concert.” 

 

 

 

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrative Body-Mind Training Prompts Double Positive Punch In Brain White Matter

From the 12 June 2012 Medical News Today article

Scientists studying the Chinese mindfulness meditation known as

brains!

brains! (Photo credit: cloois)

say they’ve confirmed and expanded their findings on changes in structural efficiency of white matter in the brain that can be related to positive behavioral changes in subjects practicing the technique regularly for a month.

In a paper appearing this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner report improved mood changes coincided with increased axonal density – more brain-signaling connections – and an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the axons, in the brain’s anterior cingulate region.

Deficits in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementiadepression,schizophrenia and many other disorders.

IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s in China, where it is practiced by thousands of people. It differs from other forms of meditation because it depends heavily on the inducement of a high degree of awareness and balance of the body, mind and environment. The meditative state is facilitated through training and trainer-group dynamics, harmony and resonance. …

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Study posits a theory of moral behavior

From the 22 February 2012 Eureka news alert

Researchers say theory may help explain ethical lapses that led to recession

WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2012 — Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists at the University of California, Riverside and California State University, Northridge have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment, and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the U.S. economy.

For decades, sociologists have posited that individual behavior results from cultural expectations about how to act in specific situations. In a study, “A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality,” published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, Jan E. Stets of UC Riverside and Michael J. Carter of CSU Northridge found that how individuals see themselves in moral terms is also an important motivator of behavior.

Those bankers, stockbrokers, and mortgage lenders whose actions helped cause the recession were able to act as they did, seemingly without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.

“To the extent that others verify or confirm the meanings set by a person’s identity standard and expressed in a person’s behavior, the more the person will continue to engage in these behaviors,” Stets said of the theory of moral identity she and Carter advance. “One’s identity standard guides his or her behavior. Then the person sees the reactions of others to his or her behavior. If others have a low moral identity and do not challenge the illicit behavior that follows from a person’s identity standard, then the person will continue to do what he or she is doing. This is how immoral practices can emerge…

Wherever individuals are located on this continuum, they act with the goal of verifying the meanings of who they are that is set by their moral identity standard, Stets and Carter said. “We found that individuals with a high moral identity score were more likely to behave morally, while those with a low moral identity score were less likely to behave morally. Respondents who received feedback from others that did not verify their moral identity standard were more likely to report guilt and shame than those whose identities were verified,” they said.

The goal is to live up to one’s self-view however that appears across the moral continuum from being very uncaring and unjust to very caring and very just, the researchers said. “When the meanings of one’s behavior based on feedback from others are inconsistent with the meanings in one’s identity standard, the person will feel bad,” they said.

More research is needed to identify the source of moral identity meanings,….

 

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Systematic review of beliefs, behaviours and influencing factors associated with disclosure of a mental health problem in the workplace

From the 19 February Full Text Report summary

Background
Stigma and discrimination present an important barrier to finding and keeping work for individuals with a mental health problem. This paper reviews evidence on: 1) employment-related disclosure beliefs and behaviours of people with a mental health problem; 2) factors associated with the disclosure of a mental health problem in the employment setting; 3) whether employers are less likely to hire applicants who disclose a mental health problem; and 4) factors influencing employers’ hiring beliefs and behaviours towards job applicants with a mental health problem….

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Childhood Hypersensitivity Linked to OCD

From the 27 December 2011 press release of Tel Aviv University

Adult onset could be connected to oral and tactile sensitivities in childhood, TAU research finds

In childhood, rituals like regular schedules for meal, bath, and bed times are a healthy part of behavioral development. But combined with oral and tactile sensitivities, such as discomfort at the dentist or irritation caused by specific fabrics, these rituals could be an early warning sign of adult Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

According to Prof. Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University‘s Department of Psychology, hypersensitivity and excessive adherence to childhood rituals may foreshadow the onset of OCD as the child ages. He first suspected the link while working with OCD patients who reported sensitivity to touch and taste as children. Now, in the first comprehensive study of its kind, Prof. Dar and his fellow researchers have established a direct correlation between sensory processing — the way the nervous system manages incoming sensory information — and ritualistic and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, suggests that when children experience heightened levels of sensitivity, they develop ritualistic behaviors to better cope with their environment. In the long term, this is one potential pathway to OCD….

Read the entire press release

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

New definition of addiction: Addiction is a chronic brain disease, not just bad behavior or bad choices

From a 15 August 2011 Science Daily news article

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has released a new definition of addiction highlighting that addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex. This the first time ASAM has taken an official position that addiction is not solely related to problematic substance use.

When people see compulsive and damaging behaviors in friends or family members — or public figures such as celebrities or politicians — they often focus only on the substance use or behaviors as the problem. However, these outward behaviors are actually manifestations of an underlying disease that involves various areas of the brain, according to the new definition by ASAM, the nation’s largest professional society of physicians dedicated to treating and preventing addiction…..

Read the article

 

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Need To Do “Something” & How to Be Happy

From the 1 May 2011 Medical News Today article 

People don’t really care what they’re doing – just as long as they are doing something. That’s one of the findings summarized in a new review article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
[Link is to abstract and full text (by paid subscription
For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

When psychologists think about why people do what they do, they tend to look for specific goals, attitudes, and motivations. But they may be missing something more general – people like to be doing something. These broader goals, to be active or inactive, may have a big impact on how they spend their time.

Author Dolores Albarracin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says she started paying attention to people’s different levels of activity in various countries and saw how much busier people are in the US relative to other areas. “People have this inclination to do more, even if what they do is trivial,” she says. In recent years, she has been doing research on how people feel about activity, including how easily she could change the level of activity that people aimed for. In one set of experiments, for example, she found that getting people to think about physical activity made them more interested in political activity. Albarracin co-wrote the review article with Justin Hepler and Melanie Tannenbaum, also of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Experiments have shown that the desire for activity is quite strong; people will go to a lot of trouble to maintain their desired level of activity, which can include unhealthy behaviors. Many psychologists have “the idea that people have these highly specific goals,” Albarracin says. “But quite often some significant proportion of our time is engaged in this global level – we want to do something, but what we do ends up not mattering much. You could end up with productive behavior, like work, or impulsive behavior, like drug use.”

How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment
Are you tired of waiting around for happiness to find you? Stop waiting and start getting happy with these tips.
By Mayo Clinic staff

Do you know how to be happy? Or are you waiting for happiness to find you? Despite what the fairy tales depict, happiness doesn’t appear by magic. It’s not even something that happens to you. It’s something you can cultivate. So, what are you waiting for? Start discovering how to be happy.
How to be happy: What science tells us
Only 10 percent or so of the variation in people’s reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. The bulk of what determines happiness is your personality and — more modifiable — your thoughts and behaviors. So, yes, you can learn how to be happy — or at least happier.

Although you may have thought, as many people do, that happiness comes from being born rich or beautiful or living a stress-free life, the reality is that those things don’t confer lasting happiness. Indeed, how to be happy can’t be boiled down to one thing. Happiness is the sum of your life choices. People who are happy seem to intuitively know this, and their lives are built on the following pillars:

  • Devoting time to family and friends
  • Appreciating what they have
  • Maintaining an optimistic outlook
  • Feeling a sense of purpose
  • Living in the moment

How to be happy: Practice, practice, practice
The good news is that your choices, thoughts and actions can influence your level of happiness. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch, but you can turn up your happiness level. Here’s how to get started on the path to creating a happier you.
Invest in relationships
Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood. And by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

Friends and family help you celebrate life’s successes and support you in difficult times. Although it’s easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships need nurturing. Build up your emotional account with kind words and actions. Be careful and gracious with critique. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you’re glad they’re part of your life.
Express gratitude
Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It’s a sense of wonder, appreciation and, yes, thankfulness for life. It’s easy to go through life without recognizing your good fortune. Often, it takes a serious illness or other tragic event to jolt people into appreciating the good things in their lives. Don’t wait for something like that to happen to you.

Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. When you find yourself thinking an ungrateful thought, try substituting a grateful one. For example, replace “my sister forgot my birthday” with “my sister has always been there for me in tough times.” Let gratitude be the last thought before you go off to sleep. Let gratitude also be your first thought when you wake up in the morning.
Cultivate optimism
Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of things. You needn’t become a Pollyanna — after all, bad things do happen, and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. But you don’t have to let the negatives color your whole outlook on life. Remember that what is right about you almost always trumps what is wrong about you.

If you’re not an optimistic person by nature, it may take time for you to change your pessimistic thinking. Start by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them. Then take a step back and ask yourself these key questions:

  • Is the situation really as bad as I think?
  • Is there another way to look at the situation?
  • What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future?

Find your purpose
People who strive to meet a goal or fulfill a mission — whether it’s growing a garden, caring for children or finding one’s spirituality — are happier than those who don’t have such aspirations. Having a goal provides a sense of purpose, bolsters self-esteem and brings people together. What your goal is doesn’t matter as much as whether the process of working toward it is meaningful to you. Try to align your daily activities with the long-term meaning and purpose of your life. Research studies suggest that relationships provide the strongest meaning and purpose to your life. So cultivate meaningful relationships.

Are you engaged in something you love? If not, ask yourself these questions to discover how you can find your purpose:

  • What excites and energizes me?
  • What are my proudest achievements?
  • How do I want others to remember me?

Live in the moment
Don’t postpone joy waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come. Instead, look for opportunities to savor the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives in the present moment. Don’t spend your time rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | 1 Comment

Too Many Hours on the Job May Put Teens at Risk

Too Many Hours on the Job May Put Teens at Risk
Schoolwork, behavior may suffer when high schoolers work more than 20 hours a week, study says

From the February 8 Health Day article by Robert Preidt

SUNDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) — High school students who work more than 20 hours a week at part-time jobs during the school year may be more likely to have academic and behavior problems, according to a new study.

U.S. researchers analyzed data collected in the late 1980s from 1,800 middle-class teens in grades 10 and 11 in order to compare students who had jobs with those who didn’t work.

The study found that working more than 20 hours a week was associated with reduced school engagement, lower expectations for further education, and an increase in illegal activities including stealing, carrying a weapon, and using alcohol and illicit drugs.

These negative behaviors persisted even after such teens reduced their work hours or stopped working, the investigators found.

However, teens who worked fewer hours appeared to experience negligible academic, psychological or behavioral effects, according to the study published in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development.

“Although working during high school is unlikely to turn law-abiding teenagers into felons or cause students to flunk out of school, the extent of the adverse effects we found is not trivial, and even a small decline in school engagement or increase in problem behavior may be of concern to many parents,” study leader Kathryn C. Monahan, a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Washington, said in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development.

She recommended that parents, educators and policymakers monitor and limit the number of hours worked by high school students.

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, Feb. 4, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A deficiency of dietary omega-3 may explain depressive behaviors

Fish Oil May Prevent Brain Damage After Stroke

A deficiency of dietary omega-3 may explain depressive behaviors

Neuroscience of nutrition

 

How maternal essential fatty acid deficiency impact on its progeny is poorly understood. Dietary insufficiency in omega-3 fatty acid has been implicated in many disorders. Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain collaboration, have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours. Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature neuroscience, which can be accessed at:http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.2736

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are “essential” lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

Olivier Manzoni (Head of Research Inserm Unit 862, “Neurocentre Magendie”, in Bordeaux and Unit 901 “Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée” in Marseille), and Sophie Layé (Head of Research at INRA Unit 1286, “Nutrition et Neurobiologie Intégrative” in Bordeaux) and their co-workers hypothesized that chronic malnutrition during intra-uterine development, may later influence synaptic activity involved in emotional behaviour (e.g. depression, anxiety) in adulthood.

To verify their hypotheses, the researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically. The researchers observed that only the cannabinoid receptors, which play a strategic role in neurotransmission, suffer a complete loss of function. This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

Among omega-3 deficient mice, the usual effects produced by cannabinoid receptor activation, on both the synaptic and behavioural levels, no longer appear. Thus, the CB1R receptors lose their synaptic activity and the antioxidant effect of the cannabinoids disappears.

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity, which is dependent on the CB1R cannabinoid receptors, is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. These parts of the brain contain a large number of CB1R cannabinoid receptors and have important functional connections with each other.

“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders“, explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required”.

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

 


 

 


February 1, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientist shows link between diet and onset of mental illness

From the December 13 2010 Eureka news alert

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Changes in diet have been linked to a reduction of abnormal behaviors in mentally ill people or animals, but a Purdue University study shows that diet might also trigger the onset of mental illness in the first place.

Joseph Garner, an associate professor of animal sciences, fed mice a diet high in sugar and tryptophan that was expected to reduce abnormal hair-pulling. Instead, mice that were already ill worsened their hair-pulling behaviors or started a new self-injurious scratching behavior, and the seemingly healthy mice developed the same abnormal behaviors.

“This strain of mouse is predisposed to being either a scratcher or a hair-puller. Giving them this diet brought out those predispositions,” said Garner, whose results were published in the December issue of the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. “They’re like genetically at-risk people.”…

…Garner’s study raises questions of how diet might be affecting other behavioral or mental illnesses such as autism, Tourette syndrome, trichotillomania and skin-picking. He said that before now, a link between diet and the onset of mental disorders hadn’t been shown.

“What if the increase of simple sugars in the American diet is contributing to the increase of these diseases?” Garner said. “Because we fed the mice more tryptophan than in the typical human diet, this experiment doesn’t show that, but it certainly makes it a possibility.”

Garner next wants to refine the experiments to better imitate human dietary habits, including the amount of tryptophan people consume. Internal Purdue funding paid for his work..
…Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/101213GarnerTryptophan.html

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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