The Teen Sleep Epidemic: Biology and School Start Times

  “It’s too expensive to start the school day later.” “Extracurriculars will suffer if we start school later.” “We shouldn’t coddle teens by pushing school start times.” These are just some of the arguments against later school start times for teens. Although the public has become increasingly aware of the sleep deprivation epidemic among teens in the US, the cost and logistic difficulties associated with addressing the problem have stymied attempts at reform. But what…

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Outreach Event: Brain Awareness Week 2016

Leah Lessard

Leah is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology department at UCLA and is a UCLA high school diversity project graduate researcher and the outreach coordinator for Psychology in Action. She is broadly interested in the socio-cognitive and cultural bases of achievement motivation and self-beliefs, particularly how identity maintenance and socialization interact to affect educational outcomes of minority youth.

Sleep! Taste! Heart rate! Emotions! Memory! These were only a few of the winning performances by middle school students during Brain Charades, a Psychology in Action (PIA) led event during Brain Awareness Week. The PIA outreach team was on the frontlines, as middle school students battled it out in head-to-head competition – acting out various functions of the brain for their teammates to guess. Students played for the championship through several bonus rounds where they…

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Highlights of “Building Minds”

Carolyn Bufford

Carolyn Bufford

As a grad student in Cognitive Psychology, Carolyn enjoys studying intersections of perception, learning, and technology in vision and music. She earned her B.S. in Cognitive Science from UCLA. She enjoys choral singing and dabbling in photography.
Carolyn Bufford

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  For those who missed “Building Minds: Microchips & Molecules”, here is a taste

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The Neuroscience of Altruism

Sarah Gonzalez

Sarah Gonzalez

Sarah is a graduate student in Behavioral Neuroscience, studying fear learning.When not in the lab, she enjoys hiking, painting and making terrible puns.
Sarah Gonzalez

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At times, it is tempting to take a rather cynical view of human nature. After the latest revelation of political corruption, exposure of fraud, or swiping of the last space in the crowded supermarket parking lot that you had been waiting 10 minutes for, we may want to conclude that people are fundamentally selfish. A great deal of research has investigated the neural mechanisms that may support anti-social behaviors, such as aggression or the absence…

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Outreach Event: Thought Suppression vs. Mindfulness!

Jenna Cummings

Jenna is a doctoral student in the Health Psychology department at UCLA. Her program of research crosses work on eating and alcohol use while exploring topics like reward, reinforcement, genetics, social relationships, and stress.

Infinity, pizza, spiders, shoes, pizza, iPhones, sleep, pizza, code names, iPads, games, pizza… When we asked elementary students to think about anything these were the responses. However, when we asked elementary students to think about anything but a yellow jeep, the kids told us they thought of the yellow jeep about 100 times in a minute. One child even thought of yellow pizza. Why? Well, as we explained this past Friday at the PIA Outreach Event…

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Mind the Explanatory Gap

Dualism is dead – it’s been dead for a while now, actually, and is beginning to smell a bit. Somebody ought to take it out. Ask any scientist, philosopher, or academic involved in the study of the mind and you will discover this in no uncertain terms for yourself. The notion that the mind and body are separate is an antiquated one heavily influenced by religious ideas about the separation of the soul and the…

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Music Reaches Down to Our DNA

Eric Harvey

Eric Harvey

Graduate Student at University of California, Los Angeles
Eric is a first year graduate student at UCLA, studying epigenetic mechanisms of learning and motivation. Outside of the lab, Eric enjoys hiking and movies.
Eric Harvey

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  You’ve likely experienced strong emotions while listening to music. Would it surprise you to know that, at the same time, something as fundamental as the expression of your genes was potentially being altered? Chakravarthi Kanduri and his colleagues1 at the University of Helsinki found evidence for such deep effects. They collected blood samples before and after participants of varying aptitude listened to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. These samples were compared…

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Outreach Event: Brain Awareness Week 2015!

Jenna Cummings

Jenna is a doctoral student in the Health Psychology department at UCLA. Her program of research crosses work on eating and alcohol use while exploring topics like reward, reinforcement, genetics, social relationships, and stress.

Imagine your typical morning. You crave some sugary cereal to get you fueled for the day ahead. You dash out the door to realize you forgot your keys. And – especially for you teenagers – as you’re heading out to school, you realize that you’d rather go on a spontaneous adventure today… Is it possible that all these behaviors are connected? Psychology in Action outreach coordinators Jenna Cummings and Nicco Reggente, and PIA member Micah…

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Jumping for joy on four paws: Neurological evidence of emotion in dogs

Brianna Goodale

Brianna Goodale

Doctoral Student at University of California, Los Angeles
Brianna is a third-year doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.She currently studies how group norms can exacerbate or ameliorate stereotype threat among women in science, technology, engineering and math.An avid outdoor enthusiast, her interest in stereotypes of women in fields dominated by men was spurred by her own experiences in math classes and mountaineering.When not designing studies or analyzing data, Bri enjoys strong lattes and bouldering on the beach.
Brianna Goodale

Running with Rainey is simultaneously the best thing and the worst thing.  As a joint new year’s resolution to get in better shape, we’ve been trying to run together several times a week.  Yesterday, as we started out in the warm afternoon sunshine, my iPod jamming away to White Panda’s mashup of pop music from 5 years ago, she got so excited she jumped for joy.  Let me repeat: my dog jumped for joy.

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Surrendering to Creativity: The Psychology of Remembering to Breathe (Part 3 of 3)

Brianna Goodale

Brianna Goodale

Doctoral Student at University of California, Los Angeles
Brianna is a third-year doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.She currently studies how group norms can exacerbate or ameliorate stereotype threat among women in science, technology, engineering and math.An avid outdoor enthusiast, her interest in stereotypes of women in fields dominated by men was spurred by her own experiences in math classes and mountaineering.When not designing studies or analyzing data, Bri enjoys strong lattes and bouldering on the beach.
Brianna Goodale

Up until graduate school, I often indulged the myth that good writing was a sacred thing to be done under the most precise conditions.  Akin to knowing without a timer when the soufflee has finished (sorry, I have holidays sweets on the mind), the creativity dedicated to a well-written piece had to be carefully cultured and perfected.  My patterns were always the same, although the specific details evolved with time.  In high school I had…

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Serial: the Case of Memory

Tawny Tsang

Tawny Tsang

Tawny is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at UCLA. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Music at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). Her research interests include understanding visual social attention and its relation to social and cognitive development in typically developing infants and those at-risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Tawny Tsang

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Serial has quickly become an international obsession. From the master storytellers of This American Life, the focal story of the inaugural season is about details surrounding the 1999 conviction of then high-school student Adnan Syed for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. A new episode is released every Thursday (this week will be the 11th episode), and narrator Sarah Koenig artfully pieces together recollections from other suspects, high school friends of Adnan and Hae,…

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Outreach Event: Explore Your Universe!

Jenna Cummings

Jenna is a doctoral student in the Health Psychology department at UCLA. Her program of research crosses work on eating and alcohol use while exploring topics like reward, reinforcement, genetics, social relationships, and stress.

What was the first science experiment you ever conducted? When did you first think about thinking? Were you in awe the first time you saw an illusion? Well, this past Sunday, Psychology in Action participated in UCLA’s annual Explore Your Universe Event – a scientific expo for the community to come and learn about the brain, behavior, fossils, rockets, chemistry, and more! There were over 5,000 attendees of all ages at the event, and in particular,…

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Obscurantism: Lame explanations to the lame questions

“Indeed, the quantum theory implies that consciousness must exist, and that the content of the mind is the ultimate reality.” Your intuition can fail you on what is genius and what is asinine. Good thinking strives, almost as its prime directive, to clarify. It doesn’t mean a discussion you have with someone else on a topic is going to be brief or simple, but it will strive to clarify by focusing on identifying common robust…

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Rapid Reaction – The Suicide of Robin Williams

Michael Sun

Michael Sun

Michael is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology, studying how cultural factors help explain emotional and perceptual behavior. More specifically, he is interested in how psychopathologies involving emotion dysregulation such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal behaviors, may unfold differently across cultural groups. He received his BA in psychology from the University of Washington where he also studied Computer Science and received a minor in Japanese. In his spare time, Michael likes to bike, play badminton and write letters to friends.

http://laulab.psych.ucla.edu/?page_id=202
Michael Sun

  “This post is co-written by Michael Sun and guest writer Jordan Coello, M.A., both authors contributed equally.”       “O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of…

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“Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability” Symposium – May 16, 4pm

Jeffrey K. Bye

Jeffrey K. Bye

Ph.D. Candidate at Reasoning Lab, UCLA
Jeff is a sixth-year Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA Psychology majoring in Computational Cognition in the Cognitive Area. He received his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Pomona College, with a subconcentration in Computer Science and minor in Philosophy. At UCLA, he works with Dr. Patricia Cheng in the Reasoning Lab. His primary research focus is to use both experimental and computational techniques to study causal inference, reasoning, and math education. He hopes to apply his findings to designing new teaching methods and games for math and other conceptual subjects.He has written for Psychology in Action since January 2011, served as President of Psychology in Action from 2012-2014, and now sits on the Advisory Board.
Jeffrey K. Bye

Psychology in Action is proud to announce the third annual Psychology Interdisciplinary Events symposium, Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability, to be held Friday, May 16th, 2014, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium.  The discussion will focus on legal and psychological issues regarding mens rea.  The event is completely FREE and open to the general public!  We hope to see you there!

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Feeling the Love [Hormone]: the Oxytocin Receptor

alyssa

Alyssa is a graduate student in Health Psychology, studying how positive psychosocial resources like religious practices and spirituality affect mental and physical health. She received her BA in biology and psychology from Luther College in Decorah, IA and her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She is happy to be in California with sunshine and good hiking, but sad to be far from Wisconsin Cheese and the Green Bay Packers.

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Oxytocin has gotten a lot of hype as the biological basis of our favorite human emotion, Love. Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary gland. The oxytocin system is involved in HPA axis and autonomic nervous system functions as well as reproductive functions and social behaviors.  We are coming to understand how the structure of the the receptor for the hormone oxytocin influences oxytocin’s effects and social behavior, including love.

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