December 2012 Archives

Depression and Prescription Drugs in Adolescents

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Despite concerns that too many U.S. youth use prescription psychiatric drugs, a new study suggests just one in seven teens with a mental disorder has been prescribed medication.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the study, said there was "no compelling evidence for either misuse or overuse of psychotropic medications," which include stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antidepressants and antipsychotics.

The findings are based on interviews with more that 10,000 teens and their parents.

"Certainly the use of psychiatric medications has been increasing in children and adolescents over the years," said Dr. Benedetto Vitiello from the NIH, who worked on the study.He told Reuters Health, "Most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated."

This data possibly suggests there is an underuse of medication, in some cases. Bendetto and his colleagues found 2,350 teens had a type of disorder, including ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders ad depression.

A little over 14 percent of youth with mental illness had been prescribed over the the past year.

I find these results rather alarming. It's hard to believe that this many adolescents were found to have a disorder in a population of 10,000. But it's alarming to learn that only 14 percent of them have sought medication. It's possible, however, that individuals are seeking help in a form besides medication. I suppose it's possible that the participants weren't aware they suffer from a disease, or that they needed medical or professional treatment. Also, the fact that the participants were interviewed with their parents may have affected the results of the study.

Matters of the Heart

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Over time, stress can lead to an increased chance of having a heart attack, depression, and more. Research found that women with high-stress jobs (where they are subject to high demand with little control) were 67 percent more likely to have a hear attack than women in less-intense jobs. The analysis is based on a study including 22,086 women in the health-car field during a span of ten years.

Stress symptoms include increased breathing, tense muscles, and the ignition of "flight of fight" responses, which can contribute to physical and emotional problems over time.

When you are more stressed, you tend to make poor decision about diet. A new study of parents of adolescents found that those who reported greater difficulty balancing work and family obligations were more likely to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and choose fast food than their less-stressed peers.

Anxiety and depression are also associated with increased risk of dying from stroke, according to a study.

This article examines ways to reduce stress such as meditation and exercise. Meditation allows you to focus attention on breathing, which slows your heart rate. Exercise also releases endorphin, which can counteract the negative effects you feel when stressed.

After reading this article, it reinforces how important running is to my life! I would go insane without it!

Binge Drinking Gene

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A study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal found that a gene known as RASGRF-2 plays a crucial role in controlling how alcohol stimulates the brain to release dopamine, triggering feelings of reward. Alcohol activates the brain's dopamine systems, which stimulates feelings of pleasure and reward.

To begin this study, scientists looked at the brains of mice who had the RASGRF2 gene removed to see how they handles alcohol. Scientist discovered the gene was linked to a great reduction in alcohol-seeking behavior. They also found when the mice consumed alcohol, less dopamine was released into the body, reducing the sense of reward.

The committee continues to analyze the brains of 663 14-year old boys and found that when they were anticipating a reward in a mental test, those with variations of the RASGR2 gene had more brain activity. This suggests people with a variation of the gene release more dopamine when anticipating a reward, therefore they receive more pleasure from it.

Two years later the team analyzed the same group of boys. They found the same boys with the gene variation drank more often then those who didn't.

"People seek out situations which fulfill their sense of reward and make them happy, so if your brain is wired to find alcohol rewarding, you will seek it out," Schumann said in a statement about the research. "We now understand the chain of action: how our genes shape this function in our brains and how that, in turn, leads to human behavior."

I thought this article was interesting! It's interesting to see why some people drink more than others. Although it seems as though this study leads me to ask how the "binge" aspect of drinking was analyzed in this study. In other words, I feel as though the study is drawing conclusions too soon. There is a difference between drinking and binge drinking, which I don't think is made clear in this study. It's also possible that the boys had lied about their drinking practices, as I'm assuming most 16-year olds don't want to reveal their true alcoholic beverage consumption levels. Lastly, it's also possible the scientists were biased, since it appears they knew which boys had gene variations and which ones didn't.

Research Changes in Time

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I have attached a link to a meme I found on the Internet. The meme states, " Back in my day, surveys were 6 hours long and 8 times as boring." It's accompanied by a picture of an old man.
I found this meme relative to the research blog because we have spent a lot of class time discussing how effective research methods are changing. Today, men and women live busy lifestyles and tend not to take the time to fill out email or direct mail surveys. Many homes have cell phones rather then land lines, and door-to-door marketing has become rather obsolete. Due to these changes in social norms, it's more important than ever for surveys to be brief and simple, and an added incentive can help improve participation. For example, offering a participant five dollars to complete a survey would be a nice bonus. It's also important to consider the objective of a survey when choosing a medium. for example, don't call consumers and ask them to take a survey that's 40 minutes, because they most likely won't spend that much time on the phone.


Ethics in Research

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This article, from Adage, illustrates an important aspect of research- ethics. A Dutch professor of psychology, who performed studies on women's responses to beauty product ads, and allegedly falsified the results in at least 30 scholarly papers. the "Lying Dutchman" publicly announced his regret for producing misleading information and wrote, "I have failed as a scientist and researcher,I feel ashamed for it and have great regret," on the Tilburg website.

Published in the University of Chicago Press' Journal of Consumer Research, Mr. Stapel's article reports that women who saw fashion or beauty products in ads had lower self-esteem than women who viewed the same items in a nonadvertising setting. It is one of many studies being investigated by the committee at Tilburg.

This situation illustrates flaws in the research system because Stapel's work passed peer review, and not just on one occasion but nearly 50. "The peer-review process pretty well sorts out the bad eggs," says Geoffrey Precourt, editor of the Advertising Research Foundation's Journal of Advertising Research. "It should be the mission of all the editors ... to step up their review process to guard against future frauds."

This situation also displays the harm done to the reputation of research. " It has done great harm to science and the field of social psychology in particular," says the Tilburg research committee. Not only will peers in the research industry have to me more critical, but individuals in the public will also be more weary of research findings after hearing about this embarrassment event.

According to the article, the "fraud" involved the creation of data from non-existent participants. Stapel reportedly collected data from 583 females, provided the data, and analyzed his findings. There is no evidence that other researchers who partook in the study had any knowledge of the unethical actions.

The closing paragraph tof the article reads: "Mr. Barocci ventured that Mr. Stapel "isn't the first guy to abuse the system." Academicians are "intent to publish stuff," he said. "If [the work] can get into journals, readers assume ... they can trust the material. Their trust is what has been violated"

I think this paragraph is very powerful. Academicians are stereotyped as having little concern over the validity or reliability of their findings, rather they are just pleased to get their name published. It also highlights that individuals who read scholarly articles assume the results are bulletproof. This criticizes other researchers, and even people like students, professors, and knowledge seekers who learn from such materials.

After reading this article, I can't help but think about the ethics unit we studied in this class. Things such as honestly, debriefing, informed consent and the use of appropriate language are all important aspects of ethics that should be implemented by every researcher and research organization.

Athlete Emotions

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Hillel Aviezer, a psychology researcher at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, was curious if people could accurately read real-life facial expressions, rather than the posed images typically used in the research lab. He decided to perform a study using images of professional tennis players.
He chose this category of athletes because in high-stakes tennis matches, players tend to be very emotional and their facial expressions change after every point. Usually, people are able to recognize what emotion the player is feeling when they see a photo of a tennis player, holding a tennis racket on the court after enduring a well-matched game.
"When I look at a sports magazine, and I see the full picture of a person winning a point, and he has his full gesture, the whole picture makes perfect sense to me," says Aviezer. "The face looks like a victorious face, and the body looks victorious; everything together seems to make perfect sense.
However, Aviezer's opinion on the accuracy of emotional perception changed. He showed people images of only the bodies of the tennis players. People had to judge winners from losers based on body language, not facial expression. "And when people saw the body alone, they easily knew if this was a positive or negative emotion," says Aviezer.
This seems unusual, because people normally think they perceive emotion based on facial expression. This idea is illustrated when Aviezer shows people full images of tennis players -- the faces and bodies. He asks them to describe how they know what the player is feeling, and people usually describe the face. They claim to see tell-tale clues in the player's eyes or mouth. "When in fact it's an illusion," says Aviezer. "They have this false idea of information in the face when really it's coming from the body."
To manipulate the experiment one more time, Aviezer swapped the faces and bodies of winners and losers to create a mix-matched display of emotions. The individuals reported interpretations that coincided with the emotion of bodies.
"When you and I talk to each other and we look at each other, we're really looking at each other's faces. That's where our attention is. And so the assumption has been that that's where all the information is, too," says Barrett, a scientist at Northeastern University who studies emotions. "But these studies show very clearly that that's not the case."
I found this study very interesting. I would agree that I look at peoples faces when seeking hints for emotion. It would be interesting to see how the results of this study if the bodies of different athletes were used, or the bodies of everyday individuals. Maybe something about the body language of tennis players on the tennis court is misleading, due to their stance or some other factor.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2012 is the previous archive.

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