Why do men prefer nice women? Responsiveness and desire

People’s emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial “sparks” necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second date. However, it may not be a desirable trait for both men and women on a first date. Does responsiveness increase sexual desire in the other person? Do men perceive responsive women as more attractive, and does the same hold true for women’s perceptions of men? A study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin seeks to answer those questions.Femininity and AttractivenessResearchers from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, the University of Rochester, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, collaborated on three studies to observe people’s perceptions of responsiveness. People often say that they seek a partner that is “responsive to their needs,” and that such a partner would arouse their sexual interest. A responsive person is one that is supportive of another’s needs and goals. “Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time,” lead researcher Gurit Birnbaum explains. “Our findings show that this does not necessarily hold true in an initial encounter, because a responsive potential partner may convey opposite meanings to different people.”In the first study, the researchers examined whether responsiveness is perceived as feminine or masculine, and whether men or women perceived a responsive person of the opposite sex as sexually desirable. …

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Day 8 on Chemo regime Alimta/Carboplatin and Trial by local Council NSW to end illegal dumping

Day 8 of chemotherapy should see me starting to feel better. Yesterday was the day of feeling like death warmed up! Back ache, bile and metalic taste, nausea, anxiousness, fatigue and unable to sleep longer than a couple of hours at a time. Today after taking medication to fend off most of the above symptoms I am hoping to come good and enjoy the sunshine that has appeared outside! Expected temperature will be 16 degrees celcius and sunny – a perfect Winter day!Monday brought a wonderful surprise for me – my daughter Jo invited me to a high tea at the beautiful Windsor Hotel, Melbourne. I caught the bus that has replaced all trains for 2 weeks while school holidays are on and so that VLine can work on the rail …

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Alternative to surgery for Graves’ eye disease: Low-carb, gluten-free diet may help

Don Parker was facing a second surgery to treat the bulging eyes and double vision he was experiencing due to Graves’ eye disease.But then ophthalmologist James McDonnell, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center recommended an alternative therapy that did not involve surgery or medication.McDonnell told Parker to change his diet, lose weight and take a nutraceutical (natural food product) that’s designed to restore proper immune and digestive function.Parker followed McDonnell’s regimen. He lost more than 35 pounds by giving up soda pop and eating a low-carb, gluten-free diet with lots of vegetables. Each day, he takes 12 capsules of the nutraceutical.“My double vision is almost gone and there is so little bulging in my eyes that they look almost completely normal,” he said.Graves’ eye disease, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, is present in about half of people who have Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. In Graves’ eye disease, the immune system attacks muscles and other tissues around the eye. This can cause the eyes to bulge out and become misaligned.Bulging eyes can be treated with orbital decompression surgery. The surgeon removes bone and/or fat from behind the eye, allowing the eye to move back into its socket. Double vision can be treated with a different surgery, which straightens the eyes by adjusting the eye muscles.When Parker came to see McDonnell, he already had undergone one orbital decompression, and was facing a possible second surgery for his double vision. But rather than recommending surgery, McDonnell suggested a holistic approach.“Once you clear up and balance your body, a whole raft of problems can go away,” McDonnell said.Parker said his doctor’s appointment with McDonnell served as a wake-up call. “I was at a crossroads in my life,” Parker said. “I would have to either change my ways or die. …

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Don’t like the food? Try paying more

Restaurateurs take note — by cutting your prices, you may be cutting how much people will like your food.Researchers in nutrition, economics and consumer behavior often assume that taste is a given — a person naturally either likes or dislikes a food. But a new study suggests taste perception, as well as feelings of overeating and guilt, can be manipulated by price alone.”We were fascinated to find that pricing has little impact on how much one eats, but a huge impact on how you interpret the experience,” said Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a professor at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University who oversaw the research. “Simply cutting the price of food at a restaurant dramatically affects how customers evaluate and appreciate the food.”The researchers teamed up with a high-quality Italian buffet in upstate New York to study how pricing affects customers’ perceptions. They presented 139 diners with a menu that offered an all-you-can-eat buffet priced at either $4 or $8. Customers were then asked to evaluate the food and the restaurant and rate their first, middle and last taste of the food on a nine-point scale.Those who paid $8 for the buffet reported enjoying their food on average 11 percent more than those who paid $4, though the two groups ate the same amount of food overall. People who paid the lower price also more often reported feeling like they had overeaten, felt more guilt about the meal, and reported liking the food less and less throughout the course of the meal.”We were surprised by the striking pattern we saw,” said Ozge Sigirci, a researcher at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab who conducted the study. “If the food is there, you are going to eat it, but the pricing very much affects how you are going to feel about your meal and how you will evaluate the restaurant.”Public health researchers and health advocates have focused on how all-you-can-eat buffets influence people’s eating habits. On the theory that such restaurants foster overeating and contribute to obesity, some advocates have proposed imposing special taxes on buffet consumers or restaurant owners.The study did not directly address the public health implications of all-you-can-eat buffets, but the researchers said the results could offer lessons about how to optimize a restaurant experience. “If you’re a consumer and want to eat at a buffet, the best thing to do is eat at the most expensive buffet you can afford. You won’t eat more, but you’ll have a better experience overall,” said Wansink.The study fits within a constellation of other work by Wansink and others offering insights about how health behaviors can be manipulated by small changes, such as putting the most healthful foods first in a display or using a smaller dinner plate.”This is an example of how a really small change can transform how a person interacts with food in a way that doesn’t entail dieting,” said Wansink, who is author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, an upcoming book about how design choices influence eating behavior.Ozge Sigirci presented the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on Tuesday, April 29.

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Can exercise help reduce methamphetamine use?

The abuse of amphetamine type psychomotor stimulants remains a critical legal and public health problem in the US. In California, 27% of substance abuse treatment admissions are for amphetamines; high treatment-admission rates for amphetamines are also reported for other Western States such as Idaho (25%), Nevada (25%), Arizona (18%), Oregon (16%) and Washington (14%). Additional data show that 36% of the people arrested in San Diego CA, and 23% of men arrested in Portland OR, had methamphetamine in their system upon arrest. A 2009 study by the RAND Corporation estimated the total US costs for methamphetamine at $23.4 billion.Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that physical exercise may be a useful technique to reduce methamphetamine use. Drs. Shawn M. Aarde and Michael A. Taffe used a preclinical model in which male rats are trained to press a lever to obtain intravenous infusions of methamphetamine. Prior work had shown that an extended interval (6 weeks) of voluntary activity on a running wheel could reduce cocaine self-administration in laboratory rats. The investigators now report that running wheel access in only the 22 hours prior to the test session is sufficient to significantly reduce the amount of methamphetamine self-administered. …

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Neurotics don’t just avoid action: They dislike it, study finds

That person we all seem to know who we say is neurotic and unable to take action? Turns out he or she isn’t unable to act but simply doesn’t want to.A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don’t like it as much as non-neurotics. Therefore persuasive communications and other interventions may be useful if they simply alter neurotics’ attitudes toward inaction.These findings come the study “Neuroticism and Attitudes Toward Action in 19 Countries.” It is published in the Journal of Personality and was written by Molly E. Ireland, Texas Tech University; Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Hong Li, Battelle Center for Analytics and Public Health; and Dolores Albarracn -the principal investigator of the study– from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.”You’re so neurotic!” It’s a phrase that’s tossed about casually, but what exactly is neuroticism? It is a personality trait defined by the experience of chronic negative affect — including sadness, anxiety, irritability, and self-consciousness — that is easily triggered and difficult to control. Neurotic people tend to avoid acting when confronted with major and minor life stressors, leading to negative life consequences.The researchers sought to determine whether and under what conditions neuroticism is associated with favorable or unfavorable representations of action and inaction. They investigated whether depression and anxiety would decrease proactive behavior among neurotic individuals, and whether a person’s collectivistic tendencies — considering the social consequences of one’s behavior before acting — would moderate the negative associations between neuroticism and action/inaction. The study found neurotics look at action less favorably and inaction more favorably than emotionally stable people do.”People who are less emotionally stable have less positive attitudes towards action and more positive attitudes toward inaction,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, anxiety was primarily responsible for neurotic individuals’ less positive attitudes toward action. …

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New Chinese herbal medicine has significant potential in treating hepatitis C, study suggests

ata from a late-breaking abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2014 identifies a new compound, SBEL1, that has the ability to inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity in cells at several points in the virus’ lifecycle.[i]SBEL1 is a compound isolated from Chinese herbal medicines that was found to inhibit HCV activity by approximately 90%. SBEL1 is extracted from a herb found in certain regions of Taiwan and Southern China. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat sore throats and inflammations. The function of SBEL1 within the plant is unknown and its role and origins are currently being investigated.Scientists pre-treated human liver cells in vitro with SBEL1 prior to HCV infection and found that SBEL1 pre-treated cells contained 23 percent less HCV protein than the control, suggesting that SBEL1 blocks virus entry. The liver cells transfected with an HCV internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-driven luciferase reporter that were treated with SBEL1 reduced reporter activity by 50% compared to control. This suggests that that SBEL1 inhibits IRES-mediated translation, a critical process for viral protein production.In addition, the HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels were significantly reduced by 78 percent in HCV infected cells treated with SBEL1 compared to the control group. This demonstrates that SBEL1 may also affect the viral RNA replication process.Prof. Markus Peck-Radosavljevic, Secretary-General of the European Association for the Study of the Liver and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Vienna, Austria, commented: “People infected with hepatitis C are at risk of developing severe liver damage including liver cancer and cirrhosis. In the past, less than 20 percent of all HCV patients were treated because the available treatments were unsuitable due to poor efficacy and high toxicity. Recent advances means that we can now virtually cure HCV without unpleasant side effects. …

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Inspiration linked to bipolar disorder risk

Inspiration has been linked with people at risk of developing bipolar disorder for the first time in a study led by Lancaster University.For generations, artists, musicians, poets and writers have described personal experiences of mania and depression, highlighting the unique association between creativity and bipolar disorder — experiences which are backed up by recent research. But, until now, the specific links between inspiration — the generation of ideas that form the basis of creative work — and bipolar disorder has received little attention.New research by Professor by Steven Jones and Dr Alyson Dodd, of Lancaster University, and Dr June Gruber at Yale University, has shown people at higher risk for developing bipolar disorder consistently report stronger experiences of inspiration than those at lower risk.The paper ‘Development and Validation of a New Multidimensional Measure of Inspiration: Associations with Risk for Bipolar Disorder’, published in PLOS One this week, found a specific link between those people who found their source of inspiration within themselves and risk for bipolar disorder.Professor Jones, co-director of Lancaster University’s Spectrum Centre, said: “It appears that the types of inspiration most related to bipolar vulnerability are those which are self-generated and linked with strong drive for success.”Understanding more about inspiration is important because it is a key aspect of creativity which is highly associated with mental health problems, in particular bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder highly value creativity as a positive aspect of their condition. This is relevant to clinicians, as people with bipolar disorder may be unwilling to engage with treatments and therapies which compromise their creativity.”As part of the study, 835 undergraduate students were recruited to complete online questionnaires from both Yale University in the U.S. and Lancaster University in the U.K.They were asked to complete a questionaire which measured their bipolar risk using a widely-used and well-validated 48-item measure which captures episodic shifts in emotion, behaviour, and energy called The Hypomanic Personality Scale (HPS).They also completed a new questionnaire developed by the team which was designed to explore beliefs about inspiration, in particular the sources of inspiration — whether individuals thought it came from within themselves, from others or the wider environment. This measure was called the the EISI (External and Internal Sources of Inspiration) measure.The students who scored highly for a risk of bipolar also consistently scored more highly than the others for levels of inspiration and for inspiration which they judged to have come from themselves.Researchers say, although this pattern was consistent, the effect sizes were relatively modest so, although inspiration and bipolar risk are linked, it is important to explore other variables to get a fuller picture and to conduct further research with individuals with a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder.The research team is currently inviting UK-based individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder to take part in an online survey exploring associations between inspiration, mood and recovery. Go to: www.thinkingstyle.spectrumdevelopment.org.uk.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Lancaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Stigmas, once evolutionarily sound, are now bad health strategies

Stigmatization may have once served to protect early humans from infectious diseases, but that strategy may do more harm than good for modern humans, according to Penn State researchers.”The things that made stigmas a more functional strategy thousands of years ago rarely exist,” said Rachel Smith, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and human development and family studies. “Now, it won’t promote positive health behavior and, in many cases, it could actually make the situation worse.”Stigmatizing and ostracizing members stricken with infectious diseases may have helped groups of early humans survive, said Smith, who worked with David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology. Infectious agents thrive by spreading through populations, according to Smith and Hughes, who published an essay in the current issue of Communication Studies.For early humans, a person who was stigmatized by the group typically suffered a quick death, often from a lack of food or from falling prey to a predator. Groups did not mix on a regular basis, so another group was unlikely to adopt an ostracized person. Infectious disease stigmas may have evolved as a social defense for group-living species, and had adaptive functions when early humans had these interaction patterns.However, modern society is much larger, more mobile and safer from predators, eliminating the effectiveness of this strategy, according to Smith.”In modern times, we mix more regularly, travel more widely, and also there are so many people now,” Smith said. “These modern interaction patterns make stigmatization unproductive and often create more problems.”Hughes studies disease in another successful society, the ants, which have strong stigma and ostracism strategies that serve group interests at the cost to individuals.”Ants are often held up as paragons of society and efficiency but we certainly do not want to emulate how they treat their sick members, which can be brutal,” said Hughes.Stigmatization could actually make infectious disease management worse. The threat of ostracization may make people less likely to seek out medical treatment. If people refuse to seek treatment and go about their daily routines, they may cause the disease to spread farther and faster, according to the researchers, who are both investigators in the Center of Infectious Disease Dynamics in Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.Stigmatization may harm a person’s ability to survive a disease. Ostracization may increase stress, lessening the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections.”People are very sensitive to rejection and humans worry about being ostracized,” said Smith. “These worries and experiences with rejection can cause problematic levels of stress and, unfortunately, stress can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight off an infection, accelerating disease progression.”Once applied, a stigma is difficult to remove, even when there are obvious signs that the person was never infected or is cured. …

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Erectile dysfunction can be reversed without medication

Men suffering from sexual dysfunction can be successful at reversing their problem, by focusing on lifestyle factors and not just relying on medication, according to research at the University of Adelaide.In a new paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers highlight the incidence of erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual desire among Australian men aged 35-80 years.Over a five-year period, 31% of the 810 men involved in the study developed some form of erectile dysfunction.”Sexual relations are not only an important part of people’s wellbeing. From a clinical point of view, the inability of some men to perform sexually can also be linked to a range of other health problems, many of which can be debilitating or potentially fatal,” says Professor Gary Wittert, Head of the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide and Director of the University’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health.”Our study saw a large proportion of men suffering from some form of erectile dysfunction, which is a concern. The major risk factors for this are typically physical conditions rather than psychological ones, such as being overweight or obese, a higher level of alcohol intake, having sleeping difficulties or obstructive sleep apnoea, and age.”The good news is, our study also found that a large proportion of men were naturally overcoming erectile dysfunction issues. The remission rate of those with erectile dysfunction was 29%, which is very high. This shows that many of these factors affecting men are modifiable, offering them an opportunity to do something about their condition,” Professor Wittert says.The lead author of the paper, Dr Sean Martin from the University of Adelaide’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, says: “Even when medication to help with erectile function is required, it is likely to be considerably more effective if lifestyle factors are also addressed.”Erectile dysfunction can be a very serious issue because it’s a marker of underlying cardiovascular disease, and it often occurs before heart conditions become apparent. Therefore, men should consider improving their weight and overall nutrition, exercise more, drink less alcohol and have a better night’s sleep, as well as address risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.”This is not only likely to improve their sexual ability, but will be improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes if they don’t already have it.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Incentives needed to improve grain markets in India

Even after the agricultural reforms of 2002-03, for wheat, rice, and pearl millet farmers in India, grain markets are still pretty sticky. Two University of Illinois economists analyzed infrastructure of interstate trade for food-grain crops in three Indian states and found that grain farmers are unable to cash in on India’s market reforms and take advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.”We wanted to see if there was more integration in the markets since the 2002 reforms,” said Kathy Baylis. “We were surprised at how little integration we saw. Apparently there are still a lot of regulations in place. A lot of the wholesale markets are not open other than right around harvest. There is a strong incentive to sell at harvest because if you don’t you’d have to travel to Delhi or another major city. The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss that provided the funding for this research is interested in storage, and what we found in India is that there was a huge disincentive to invest in on-farm storage because even if farmers could store their grain for six months or so, they wouldn’t be able to sell it then.”Baylis explained that, prior to the reforms of the early 2000s it was difficult in India to transport grain across state lines. The reforms made that easier and also expanded the number of people who could purchase and trade grain. Farmers used to have to go through a long, arduous process to become certified. The reforms eliminated some of those issues, but other problems still plague the system.”Some people may think of this as only an engineering problem,” Baylis said, “where we just need to develop a really good place for them to store the grain. …

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What singing fruit flies can tell us about quick decisions

You wouldn’t hear the mating song of the male fruit fly as you reached for the infested bananas in your kitchen. Yet, the neural activity behind the insect’s amorous call could help scientists understand how you made the quick decision to pull your hand back from the tiny swarm.Male fruit flies base the pitch and tempo of their mating song on the movement and behavior of their desired female, Princeton University researchers have discovered. In the animal kingdom, lusty warblers such as birds typically have a mating song with a stereotyped pattern. A fruit fly’s song, however, is an unordered series of loud purrs and soft drones made by wing vibrations, the researchers reported in the journal Nature. A male adjusts his song in reaction to his specific environment, which in this case is the distance and speed of a female — the faster and farther away she’s moving, the louder he “sings.”While the actors are small, the implications of these findings could be substantial for understanding rapid decision-making, explained corresponding author Mala Murthy, a Princeton assistant professor of molecular biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Fruit flies are a common model for studying the systems of more advanced beings such as humans, and have the basic components of more complex nervous systems, she said.The researchers have provided a possible tool for studying the neural pathways behind how an organism engaged in a task adjusts its behavior to sudden changes, be it a leopard chasing a zigzagging gazelle, or a commuter navigating stop-and-go traffic, Murthy said. She and her co-authors created a model that could predict a fly’s choice of song in response to its changing environment, and identified the neural pathways involved in these decisions.”Here we have natural courtship behavior and we have this discovery that males are using information about their sensory environment in real time to shape their song. That makes the fly system a unique model to study decision-making in a natural context,” Murthy said.”You can imagine that if a fly can integrate visual information quickly to modulate his song, the way in which it does that is probably a very basic equivalent of how a more complicated animal solves a similar problem,” she said. “To figure out at the level of individual neurons how flies perform sensory-motor integration will give us insight into how a mammalian brain does it and, ultimately, maybe how a human brain does it.”Aravi Samuel, a Harvard University professor of neuroscience who studies the brain and behavior using roundworms and fruit fly larvae, said that the researchers conducted the kind of “rigorous” behavioral analysis that is essential to understanding the brain’s circuitry.”Neuroscience isn’t just making electrical recordings of circuits or finding molecules that affect circuit properties,” said Samuel, who is familiar with the research but had no role in it. “It also is about understanding the behavior itself, from sensory input to motor output. …

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Mental health on the go: Reducing anxiety with smartphone app

Playing a science-based mobile gaming app for 25 minutes can reduce anxiety in stressed individuals, according to research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.The study suggests that “gamifying” a scientifically-supported intervention could offer measurable mental health and behavioral benefits for people with relatively high levels of anxiety.”Millions of people suffering from psychological distress fail to seek or receive mental health services. A key factor here is that many evidence-based treatments are burdensome — time consuming, expensive, difficult to access, and perceived as stigmatizing,” says lead researcher Tracy Dennis of Hunter College.”Given this concerning disparity between need and accessibility of services, it is crucial for psychological researchers to develop alternative treatment delivery systems that are more affordable, accessible, and engaging.”That’s where the mobile app comes in.The game is based on an emerging cognitive treatment for anxiety called attention-bias modification training (ABMT). Essentially, this treatment involves training patients to ignore a threatening stimulus (such as an angry face) and to focus instead on a non-threatening stimulus (such as a neutral or happy face). This type of training has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress among people suffering from high anxiety.In the study, about 75 participants — who all scored relatively high on an anxiety survey — were required to follow two characters around on the screen, tracing their paths as quickly and accurately as possible.After playing the game for either 25 or 45 minutes, the participants were asked to give a short speech to the researchers while being recorded on video — an especially stressful situation for these participants.The videos revealed that participants who played the ABMT-based version of the game showed less nervous behavior and speech during their talk and reported less negative feelings afterward than those in the placebo group.”Even the ‘short dosage’ of the app — about 25 minutes — had potent effects on anxiety and stress measured in the lab,” explains Dennis, who co-authored the study with Laura O’Toole of The City University of New York. “This is good news in terms of the potential to translate these technologies into mobile app format because use of apps tends to be brief and ‘on the go.'”The researchers are currently investigating whether even shorter stints of play — similar to how we normally play other smartphone games — would have the same anxiety-reducing effect.”We’re examining whether use of the app in brief 10-minute sessions over the course of a month successfully reduces stress and promotes positive birth outcomes in moderately anxious pregnant women,” Dennis says.While it’s unclear whether this app would produce mental health benefits in those with clinically-diagnosed anxiety, it does present a compelling case for gamified ABMT acting as a “cognitive vaccine” against anxiety and stress. The researchers believe that apps could eventually be developed to assist in the treatment for other mental health disorders, such as depression or addiction.”Gamifying psychological interventions successfully could revolutionize how we treat mental illness and how we view our own mental health. Our hope is to develop highly accessible and engaging evidence-based mobile intervention strategies that can be used in conjunction with traditional therapy or that can be ‘self-curated’ by the individual as personal tools to promote mental wellness,” Dennis concludes.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Stress undermines empathic abilities in men but increases them in women

Stressed males tend to become more self-centered and less able to distinguish their own emotions and intentions from those of other people. For women the exact opposite is true. Stress, this problem that haunts us every day, could be undermining not only our health but also our relationships with other people, especially for men. Stressed women, however, become more “prosocial,” according to new research.These are the main findings of a study carried out with the collaboration of Giorgia Silani, from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste. The study was coordinated by the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Unit of the University of Vienna and saw the participation of the University of Freiburg. This is the main finding of a study just published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, carried out with the collaboration of SISSA in Trieste.”There’s a subtle boundary between the ability to identify with others and take on their perspective — and therefore be empathic — and the inability to distinguish between self and other, thus acting egocentrically” explains Silani. “To be truly empathic and behave prosocially it’s important to maintain the ability to distinguish between self and other, and stress appears to play an important role in this.”Stress is a psycho-biological mechanism that may have a positive function: it enables the individual to recruit additional resources when faced with a particularly demanding situation. The individual can cope with stress in one of two ways: by trying to reduce the internal load of “extra” resources being used, or, more simply, by seeking external support. “Our starting hypothesis was that stressed individuals tend to become more egocentric. Taking a self-centred perspective in fact reduces the emotional/cognitive load. …

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You should be ashamed — or maybe not

Shame on you. These three simple words can temporarily — or, when used too often, permanently — destroy an individual’s sense of value and self-worth.”In modernity, shame is the most obstructed and hidden emotion, and therefore the most destructive,” said Thomas Scheff, professor emeritus of sociology at UC Santa Barbara. “Emotions are like breathing — they cause trouble only when obstructed.”When hidden, he continued, shame causes serious struggles not only for individuals but also for groups. In an article published in the current issue of the journal Cultural Sociology, Scheff examines the ubiquity of hidden shame and suggests it may be one of the keys to understanding contemporary society.According to Scheff a society that fosters individualism (ours, for example) provides a ripe breeding ground for the emotion of shame because people are encouraged to “go it alone, no matter the cost to relationships,” he said. “People learn to act as if they were complete in themselves and independent of others. This feature has constructive and creative sides, but it has at least two other implications: alienation and the hiding of shame.”Scheff noted that while shame is no less prevalent now than in previous years or decades or generations, it is more hidden. “Shame is a biological entity like other emotions, but people are more ashamed of it than they are of the others,” he said. “The hiding of emotions is more widespread in modern societies than in traditional ones.”In exploring the connection between shame and aggression, Scheff cites research conducted by sociologist Neil Websdale, author of “Familicidal Hearts: The Emotional Styles of 211 Killers.” Familicide, the act of one spouse killing the other as well as their children and often himself or herself, stems from unacknowledged shame, Scheff said. “It’s about humiliation and hiding behind aggression or violence,” he explained. “The most interesting thing about the study is there’s a group of non-angry people — a minority — who lose their job and feel humiliated. …

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Galaxies in the early universe mature beyond their years

An international team of researchers, including astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology, has discovered the most distant examples of galaxies in the early Universe that were already mature and massive.The mature galaxies were found at a record-breaking distance of 12 billion light years, seen when the Universe was just 1.6 billion years old. Their existence at such an early time raises new questions about what forced them to grow up so quickly.”These distant and early massive galaxies are one of the Holy Grails of astronomy,” Director of the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology, Professor Karl Glazebrook, who was involved in the discovery, said.”Fifteen years ago they were predicted not to even exist within the cosmological model favoured at the time. In 2004 I wrote a paper on the discovery of such galaxies existing only three billion years after the Big Bang. Now, with improved technology we are pushing back to only 1.6 billion years, which is truly exciting.”Astronomers used deep images at near-infrared wavelengths to search for galaxies in the early Universe with red colours. These red colours indicate the presence of old stars and a lack of active star formation. Surprisingly, they located 15 galaxies at an average distance of 12 billion light years — only 1.6 billion years after the Big Bang.The galaxies are barely detectable at visual wavelengths and are easily overlooked. But in the new near-infrared light images they are easily measured, from which it can be inferred that they already contained as many as 100 billion stars on average per galaxy.The mature galaxies have masses similar to that of the Milky Way, but were already retired from star-formation when the universe was only 12 per cent of its current age.”While the Milky Way still forms new stars at a slow rate today, the galaxies we discovered must have formed very rapidly in a relatively ‘short’ time — roughly one billion years — with explosive rates of star-formation. These must have been several hundred times higher than in the Milky Way today,” Macquarie University’s Dr Lee Spitler said.”This is the best evidence to date that these galaxies grew up in a hurry. People have reported ‘old’ galaxies before, but it was never clear until our data that they were actually ‘old’. The excellent imaging products from the Magellan telescope allowed us to prove they are indeed ‘old’.”The finding raises new questions about how these galaxies formed so rapidly and why they stopped forming stars so early.The galaxies were discovered after 40 nights of observing with the FourStar camera on the Magellan Baade Telescope in Chile and combined with data from Hubble’s Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey and the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey. …

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Self-acceptance could be the key to a happier life, yet it’s the happy habit many people practice the least

Happiness is more than just a feeling; it is something we can all practise on a daily basis. But people are better at some ‘happy habits’ than others. In fact, the one habit that corresponds most closely with us being satisfied with our lives overall — self-acceptance — is often the one we practise least.5,000 people surveyed by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different, rated themselves between 1 and 10 on ten habits identified from the latest scientific research as being key to happiness.Giving was the top habit revealed by those who took the survey. When asked about Giving (How often do you make an effort to help or be kind to others?) people scored an average of 7.41 out of 10, with one in six (17%) topping 10 out of 10. Just over one in three (36%) people scored 8 or 9; slightly fewer (32%) scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.The Relating habit came a close second. The question How often do you put effort into the relationships that matter most to you? produced an average score of 7.36 out of 10. And 15% of people scored the maximum 10 out of 10.The survey also revealed which habits are most closely related to people’s overall satisfaction with life. All 10 habits were found to be strongly linked to life satisfaction, with Acceptance found to be the habit that predicts it most strongly. Yet Acceptance was also revealed as the habit that people tend to practise the least, generating the lowest average score from the 5,000 respondents.When answering the Acceptance question, How often are you kind to yourself and think you’re fine as you are? …

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Mental health problems mistaken for physical illness in children

Many children are admitted to general acute wards with mental health problems mistaken for physical disease. Somatic symptoms, such as abdominal pain, headaches, limb pain and tiredness, often mask underlying problems and result in the NHS spending money on investigations to eliminate wrongly diagnosed disease.A literature review published in Nursing Children and Young People examines how children’s nurses can recognize such complaints and help to address them.It identified that somatic complaints are linked to children’s upbringing and their home environments, including unstable home lives, a chaotic upbringing and parental over-protectiveness.The authors suggest that nurses working on the wards are in an ideal position to identify cases of children and young people presenting with somatic symptoms and provide holistic care.They say that nurse training and practice need to be adapted to enable somatic complaints to be diagnosed quickly and ensure correct management from the start.The article concludes that somatic disorders can, to some extent, be predicted when nurses take into consideration issues such as poor family situations and parental influences, psychosocial stress, and poor emotional functioning.Nurses should assess these factors together with physical symptoms to provide a full picture of a child’s circumstances and healthcare needs.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by RCN Publishing Company. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Drinking water linked to infections in many countries

Brisbane’s water supply has been found to contain disease carrying bugs which can be directly linked to infections in some patients, according to a new study by QUT.Dr Rachel Thomson, who has completed her PhD through QUT’s Faculty of Health, said certain species of nontuberculous mycobacteria were present in Brisbane’s water distribution system.”We know that certain species of nontuberculous mycobacteria can cause disease and infection in humans, especially in some at-risk groups, but not all exposure to mycobacteria is harmful,” she said.”We also know this is not isolated to Brisbane, with water supplies in many countries being a risk. What my study has been able to do is directly link the strains of bugs found in Brisbane’s water supply with the strains of bugs found in human infections, indicating that the water may be the source of the infection. Mycobacterial infections usually present as a persistent cough with symptoms similar to tuberculosis and include fatigue, night sweats and weight loss.”Dr Thomson said the number of mycobacterial disease cases in Queensland was steadily increasing, with an estimated 200 new cases diagnosed each year.”Mycobacterial infections are most common in people with underlying lung disease such as people with emphysema and cystic fibrosis, as well as those with immune suppression conditions like HIV or those taking chemotherapy-type medications,” she said.”But what is concerning is we are also seeing a growing number of middle-aged women getting the disease; they tend to be slender and slightly above average height, and who for all intents and purposes are fit and healthy.”It has been termed Lady Windermere syndrome because we are seeing it in women who tend to quietly and politely cough ineffectively, thereby not coughing up the bacteria.”Dr Thomson said in Queensland in people aged over 65, mycobacterial infection was more common than type 1 diabetes.”The other big concern is treatment. People who contract the infection usually have to take three different types of antibiotics over a 12 to 18 month period, sometimes even longer, and there can be side effects,” she said.”Certain strains of the disease are also notoriously difficult to treat and carry a high risk of morbidity and mortality, and there has been a recent suggestion that infection with one species may be transmitted between patients.”Dr Thomson’s study also looked at whether household water exposure through aerosols by activities like showering could lead to infection.”We found that nontuberculous mycobacteria could be aerosolised during showering to a respirable particle size and therefore potentially inhaled deep into the lungs,” Dr Thomson said.”The combined findings of strain comparisons of city wide and patient home sampling indicate that patients are at risk of infection from exposure to Brisbane’s water and showers.”Dr Thomson said the easiest way to kill water-borne mycobacteria was by boiling water, although her study suggested additional water chlorination through the water treatment process may also help. To reduce aerosolised mycobacteria, bathing rather than showering is recommended.She said reducing the temperature of home hot water systems contributed to increased household exposure to these mycobacteria.The four specific species of mycobacteria Dr Thomson found in Brisbane water that have been linked to human disease include Mycobacterium abscessus, Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium lentiflavum, and Mycobacterium kansasii.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Queensland University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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