People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to have a specific profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses – difficulties appreciating others’ thoughts and feelings, problems regulating and controlling their behavior, and an enhanced ability to perceive details – but few studies have tracked children’s cognitive skills over time. Now new longitudinal research provides clues that can inform our understanding of ASD.
Psychology covers a broad spectrum of psychological disciplines that include social, behavioral, interpersonal, mental health, personality, and assessment. There is special emphasis on scientific research into human emotional and behavior and how this information can be used to live more productive and happy lives. In addition, the interrelated nature of physical and mental health receives much attention.
Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have discovered that playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster. The researchers found that video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, and this benefit doesn’t just make them better at playing video games, but improves a wide variety of general skills that can help with everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town.
In groups with high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as the survivors of the Nazi Death Camps, the adjustment problems of their children, the so-called “Second Generation”, have received attention by researchers. Studies suggested that some symptoms or personality traits associated with PTSD may be more common in the Second Generation than the general population. It has been assumed that these trans-generational effects reflected the impact of PTSD upon the parent-child relationship rather than a trait passed biologically from parent to child.
A new University of Colorado at Boulder study sheds light on the brain mechanisms that allow us to make choices and ultimately could be helpful in improving treatments for the millions of people who suffer from the effects of anxiety disorders. In the study, CU-Boulder psychology Professor Yuko Munakata and her research colleagues found that “neural inhibition,” a process that occurs when one nerve cell suppresses activity in another, is a critical aspect in our ability to make choices.
Both drinking and withdrawal from chronic drinking can raise circulating glucocorticoid levels, known as cortisol in humans and corticosterone in rodents. Prolonged and high concentrations of glucocorticoids can have damaging effects on neuronal function and cognition. Evidence shows that glucocorticoids are associated with neurotoxicity during abstinence after withdrawal from alcohol dependence (AD), and that glucocorticoid receptor antagonism may represent a pharmacological option for recovery.
A new study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet suggests that bipolar disorder – or manic-depressive disorder – does not increase the risk of committing violent crime. Instead, the over-representation of individuals with bipolar disorder in violent crime statistics is almost entirely attributable to concurrent substance abuse.
Various aspects of our environment – including political systems, economic systems, and even climate and geography – can affect our thinking and behavior, a field of study known as socioecological psychology. In a report in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientists Shigehiro Oishi and Jesse Graham from the University of Virginia examine the impact of social and physical environments on human thought and behavior.
A brain-scanning study at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, conducted with collaborators from Stony Brook University, reveals that an oral dose of methylphenidate, commonly known as Ritalin, improves impaired brain function and enhances cognitive performance in people who are addicted to cocaine. The study suggests that methylphenidate, combined with cognitive interventions, may have a role in facilitating recovery from drug addiction.