Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The Invisible World of Human Perception [news release]

From the 18 March 2016 Univ of Toronto news release

Stage magicians are not the only ones who can distract the eye: a new cognitive psychology experiment demonstrates how all human beings have a built-in ability to stop paying attention to objects that are right in front of them.

We see much less of the world than we think we do

Perception experts have long known that we see much less of the world than we think we do. A person creates a mental model of their surroundings by stitching together scraps of visual information gleaned while shifting attention from place to place. Counterintuitively, the very process that creates the illusion of a complete picture relies on filtering out most of what’s out there.

In a paper published today in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics a team of U of T researchers reveal how people have more “top-down” control of what they don’t notice than many scientists previously believed.

“The visual system really cares about objects,” says postdoctoral fellow J. Eric T. Taylor, who is the lead author on the paper. “If I move around a room, the locations of all the objects  chairs, tables, doors, walls, etc.  change on my retina, but my mental representation of the room stays the same.”

Objects play fundamental role in how we focus our attention

Objects play such a fundamental role in how we focus our attention that many perception researchers believe we are “addicted” to them; we couldn’t stop paying attention to objects if we tried. The visual brain guides attention largely by selecting objects  and this process is widely believed to be automatic.

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Psychiatry | , | Leave a comment

[Press release]Communication is key when dealing with aging parents

Communication is key when dealing with aging parents 

elderly stubbornness iStock Squaredpixels_0

From the 27 January 2015 Penn State press release By Marjorie S. Miller

The goal of the research was not to identify whether individuals are “stubborn,” but rather to understand perceptions of older parents and their adult children regarding such behavior.

Recent findings suggest that both adult children and their aging parents identify stubbornness in the parents, and that a new approach to conversation may be the answer.

Aging parents may respond to advice or help with daily problems from their grown children by insisting, resisting, or persisting in their ways or opinions — being stubborn. Until now, research has not examined how frequently such behaviors occur and what factors are associated with these behaviors.

The researchers demonstrated that individual and relationship-based factors are linked to the perceived expression of stubbornness by parents and that there is discordance in perceptions within families. Findings suggest a need for intervention to increase understanding.

“Finding better ways to have that conversation is really important,” Zarit said.

The researchers found that stubborn behaviors are reported to have occurred in the past few months at least once, but usually more often for more than 90 percent of families interviewed.

Three-fourths of children and two-thirds of aging parents in the sample say that at least one of the behaviors — insisting, resisting or persisting — is happening sometimes. The children in these families are not providing caregiving support — high levels of support with daily activities or basic needs — but rather the family members are providing everyday support to one another.

A second finding, Heid said, is that adult children link perceptions of parent stubbornness with how children see their relationships with their parents, but parents link their perceptions to who they are as people. If parents see themselves as more neurotic or less agreeable, they report more stubbornness.

….

There are often basic differences within families about day-to-day goals that could impact how families provide care or support. It is likely, Heid says, that these differences are a barrier to providing support within families.

“Helping families learn how to talk about older adults’ preferences and about goal differences may be important in helping families best support older adults,” she said. “However, this may mean we need to do additional work and research to develop the best strategies to do so.”

“For families providing support to an older adult, this work confirms that these behaviors happen, but also that there is room for continued communication to ensure that there are shared goals in care and support,” Heid said.

 

 

 

January 31, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whether We Like Someone Affects How Our Brain Processes Movement

 

From the 5 October 2012 article at Science Daily

Hate the Lakers? Do the Celtics make you want to hurl? Whether you like someone can affect how your brain processes their actions, according to new research from the Brain and Creativity Institute at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Most of the time, watching someone else move causes a “mirroring” effect — that is, the parts of our brains responsible for motor skills are activated by watching someone else in action.

But a study by USC researchers appearing October 5 in PLOS ONEshows that whether you like the person you’re watching can actually have an effect on brain activity related to motor actions and lead to “differential processing” — for example, thinking the person you dislike is moving more slowly than they actually are…

Past research has shown that race or physical similarity can influence brain processes, and we tend to have more empathy for people who look more like us.

In this study, the researchers controlled for race, age and gender, but they introduced a backstory that primed participants to dislike some of the people they were observing: Half were presented as neo-Nazis, and half were presented as likable and open-minded. All study participants recruited for the study were Jewish males.

The researchers found that when people viewed someone they disliked, a part of their brain that was otherwise activated in “mirroring” — the right ventral premotor cortex — had a different pattern of activity for the disliked individuals as compared to the liked individuals…

..

“These findings lend important support for the notion that social factors influence our perceptual processing.”

 

 

October 10, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How You Envision Others Says A Lot About You In Real Life

How You Envision Others Says A Lot About You In Real Life

From the 14 January 2012 Medical News Today item

Quick, come up with an imaginary co-worker.

Did you imagine someone who is positive, confident, and resourceful? Who rises to the occasion in times of trouble? If so, then chances are that you also display those traits in your own life, a new study finds.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have found that study participants who conjured positive imaginary co-workers contributed more in the actual workplace, both in job performance and going above and beyond their job descriptions to help others.

The results showed that your perceptions of others – even ones that are made up – says a lot about what kind of person you really are, said Peter Harms, UNL assistant professor of management and the study’s lead author. Imagining coworkers instead of reporting on how you perceive your actual coworkers produces more accurate ratings of having a positive worldview, he said, because it strips away the unique relational baggage that one may have with the people they know.

“When you make up imaginary peers, they are completely a product of how you see the world,” Harms said. “Because of that we can gain better insight into your perceptual biases. That tells us a lot about how you see the world, how you interpret events and what your expectations of others are.” ….

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , | Leave a comment

Kids Can’t Accurately Judge Speed of Approaching Cars: Study

From a November 30, 2010 Health Day news item by Robert Preidt

HealthDay news image

Young children can’t tell the speed of a vehicle 5 seconds away and moving faster than 20 mph

TUESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) — Primary school children cannot accurately estimate the speed of approaching vehicles moving faster than 20 miles per hour, finds a new study.

“This is not a matter of children not paying attention, but a problem related to low-level visual detection mechanisms,” John Wann, lead researcher and a professor in the department of psychology at Royal Holloway College, University of London, said in a university news release.

“So even when children are paying very close attention, they may fail to detect a fast-approaching vehicle,” Wann warned….

….

“These findings provide strong evidence that children may make risky crossing judgments when vehicles are traveling at 30 or 40 mph,” Wann said.

“In addition, the vehicles that they are more likely to step in front of are the faster vehicles that are more likely to result in a fatality,” he added.

“Traveling one mile through a residential area at 20 mph versus 30 mph will only add 60 seconds to your journey time — we encourage drivers to take a minute and save a child’s life,” Wann said.

The study findings were released online Nov. 23 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Psychological Science.


December 2, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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