Sleep abnormalities under the influence of Ambien

24 02 2007

Developing Intelligence points me toward an article from New Scientist, which is relevant to our recent classroom discussion of sleep in Introduction to Psychology. The article covers reports of Ambien being related to strange sleepwalking behaviors and other sleep abnormalities.

Sleep medication linked to bizarre behaviour – health – 06 February 2007 – New Scientist:

In one of these sleepwalking cases a patient woke with a paintbrush in her hand after painting the front door to her house. Another case involved a woman who gained 23 kilograms over seven months while taking zolpidem. “It was only when she was discovered in front of an open refrigerator while asleep that the problem was resolved,” according to the report.

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Diagnosing and treating childhood

24 02 2007

In our Abnormal Psychology class, we were discussing the problems of diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders in children. Mind Hacks has a link to a very funny satirical paper on the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of Childhood — that’s right — childhood.

Diagnosing and treating childhood (Link to the Mind Hacks article)

My favorite quotes:


A considerable number of psychologically-based theories of the development of childhood exist. They are too numerous to review here. Among the more familiar models are Seligman’s “learned childishness” model. According to this model, individuals who are treated like children eventually give up and become children. As a counterpoint to such theories, some experts have claimed that childhood does not really exist. Szasz (1980) has called “childhood” an expedient label. In seeking conformity, we handicap those whom we find unruly or too short to deal with by labelling them “children.”


The nineteenth century saw the institution of what remains the largest single program for the treatment of childhood — so-called “public schools.” Under this colossal program, individuals are placed into treatment groups based on the severity of their condition. For example, those most severely afflicted may be placed in a “kindergarten” program. Patients at this level are typically short, unruly, emotionally immature,and intellectually deficient. Given this type of individual, therapy is essentially one of patient management and of helping the child master basic skills (e.g. finger-painting). Unfortunately, the “school” system has been largely ineffective. Not only is the program a massive tax burden, but it has failed even to slow down the rising incidence of childhood.

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Britney Spears’s Occipital Lobe Video

17 02 2007

This short video clip by a group of high school AP Psychology students uses lyrics about the occipital lobe to voice over a Britney Spears music video.

YouTube – Britney Spears’s Occipital Lobe

Thanks to Mind Hacks for this.

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Sensation and extraordinary senses

13 02 2007

Mind Hacks pointed me toward a series done by BBC’s Radio 4 on sensation, focusing mostly on the extraordinary aspects of sensation.

BBC – Radio 4 – Extra Senses:
Aristotle defined our five senses over two and a half thousand years ago. But in fact we have many more. In this five part series, Graham Easton delves into the Extra Senses that we take for granted. He finds out how they work and meets some remarkable people who experience these senses in a unique way.

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Facial recognition in adults and children

13 02 2007

Cognitive Daily has a good research summary on facial recognition, a topic we discussed while talking about perception.

Cognitive Daily: Why grown-ups are better than kids at recognizing faces:
You might expect that 8-year-olds, who spend each day in class with dozens of kids their same age, might be better at distinguishing between 8-year-old faces than adults. But in fact there was no significant difference in accuracy for comparing 8-year-old faces versus adult faces, for either adults or kids. Adults were still significantly more accurate than kids, both for adult faces and 8-year-old faces.

The researchers say this demonstrates that adults aren’t better at face recognition because of experience: arguably kids have more experience with the faces of kids their own age. This must mean that adults’ superior ability to recognize faces is due to their greater general cognitive ability. This would also explain why adults are better at recognizing monkey faces.

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Age related declines in smell

13 02 2007

Last week, we were talking about sensation. I mentioned that smell and taste don’t seem to show age-related declines, but rather there are environmental influences. The excellent weblog Cognitive Daily pointed me to a summary of a research release by Griffith University in Australia, which adds taking medications to the list of risk factors:

ScienceDaily: Smell May Outlast Other Senses:
While eyesight and hearing deteriorate markedly during the normal aging process, new research suggests the sense of smell may actually last longer in otherwise healthy individuals.

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The New Science of Addiction: Genetics and the Brain

10 02 2007

The New Science of Addiction: Genetics and the Brain:

Top Bar

“characterized by changes in the brain which result in a compulsive desire to use a drug. A combination of many factors including genetics, environment and behavior influence a person’s addiction risk, making it an incredibly complicated disease. The new science of addiction considers all of these factors – from biology to family – to unravel the complexities of the addicted brain”

This site is an excellent collection of information, interactive activities, games, and other resources regarding neuroscience and its relation to addiction. Be sure to check out:

Make a Mad, Mad, Mad Neuron — Where you become a mad scientist’s apprentice, building a neuron.

Cerebral Commando — Where you attempt to keep a synapse in homeostasis, keeping Dopamine in check!

Mouse Party — Observe how mice having a party are affected by their drugs of choice.

Ritalin and Cocaine: The Connection and the Controversy

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Guide to hearing processes

8 02 2007

Mind Hacks pointed me to a very good guide to the processes involved in turning the energy of compressed air molecules into sound we hear. Since we’re currently covering the psychology and physiology of sensation, it’s quite relevant.

Click here to visit Retrospectacle’s guide to basic hearing processes.

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Recovered memory – Cultural construction?

3 02 2007

We just finished talking in class about memory. On that topic, Mind Hacks refers to an interesting New York Times article on researchers who are interested in recovered memories.

The researchers claim that the earliest account is from the 1782 novel Dangerous Liaisons and have published their findings in the journal Psychological Medicine.
They suggest that the idea of a recovered memory is a cultural invention and people are likely to arrive at the clinic with trauma and memory problems already shaped by these ideas.

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