Drug memories and relapse: A light at the end of the tunnel?

From All About Addiction: About a year ago, while sitting in a lecture on learning and memory, the idea that certain drugs can affect the emotional responses to memory long after the memory itself has been formed came up. As someone interested in addiction research, the implication for treatment immediately came up in my head: Could we possibly reduce the effect of drug-triggers by giving people a pill? The answer is not, in fact, that…

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Are there differences at the neural level in the ways that liberals and conservatives process information?

Some theories suggest that conservatives tend to have a more structured and persistent cognitive style, where liberals tend to be more open to ambiguity.  Building on this idea, a recent paper by David Amodio and his colleagues investigated whether liberals and conservatives would show different brain responses when completing a task requiring cognitive control.  They tested this question by recording event related potentials (brain activity) as participants performed what psychologists call a “go-no go task”. …

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Politics and Proof – The misuse of science

It’s no secret that politicians can twist words to make anything sound as if it supports their agenda. There’s even a name for those who are good at this (and a 90s band with the same name) – Spin Doctors. However, when scientific findings are misrepresented to support policies, what we get is ideological propoganda. It’s probably not a surprise that the recent Monitor on Psychology issue found a glaring example of this in the…

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A thought about the new cell-phone law

We’ve all had to swerve out of the way of someone who’s paying more attention to their cell phone than to the road. Presumably the problem stems from the fact that the person is driving one handed, dialing, looking at the phone, etc. So, on July 1, drivers in California will only be able to use ‘hands-free’ cellular devices. Makes sense, right? Actually, tests of hands-free devices show that people are distracted by the actual…

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Why does the ‘Patriotism’ argument work?

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country.” Basically, people will fall in line if a) they are scared and b) they are worried they could lose the support of their communities by disagreeing. Building off of this intuition, psychologists have found that when…

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Addiction Genetics – The new treatment paradigm.

Genetics are making their way into every facet of research nowadays, and addiction treatment is no slouch in that area. If you haven’t heard of pharmacogenomics yet, you are sure to soon. The idea that medications affect individuals differently based on their unique genetic makeup has picked up a lot of steam in the last few years. Well, the same way of thinking is beginning to emerge in addiction treatment. Just as the latter (pharmacogenomics)…

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Conservatives have a more balanced moral perspective than Liberals?!

Well, sort of. Traditionally, academics have argued that our sense of right and wrong is based on the harm that might occur or the rights that might be violated as a result of our judgments. But according to Psychologist Jonathan Haidt (2007), people have (at least) five innately prepared moral concerns. Included are sensitivities to harm and fairness, but also respect for authority, preference for ingroup members, and a sense of spiritual purity. Moreover, Haidt…

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Sharon Stone criticized over her just-world theory

Sharon Stone got in trouble today, and it wasn’t for her performance in Basic Instinct 2. No, Stone made headlines when she declared that the recent Earthquake in China, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, was the result of bad karma stemming from the chinese government’s treatment of the Dalai Lama. http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=83594 Stone’s moral intuitions are a nice example of an old finding. Melvin Lerner (1965) described the ‘just-world’ bias, which refers to…

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top social psych studies

Are you a fan of top ten lists? Do you wish you could take a look at ‘the greatest hits’ of social psych experiments all at once? Our friends at PsyBlog solicited votes on the most popular psych studies of all time. Check out the link http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/11/10-piercing-insights-into-human-nature.php The descriptions of the studies are pretty good, and most of them come with pdfs of the original papers, which are a real eye-opener if you’re into the…

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Enforcement Vs. Prevention

From all-about-addiction: The U.S. policy regarding the drug problem is centered mainly on the enforcement of its drug laws and the intervention in the drug supply both within the U.S. and from bordering countries. There is no question that this “crusade” has an impact. Importing a kilogram of cocaine into the US costs approx $15000 while sending a regular package weighing the same costs about $100 (1). Still, the recent assassination of the Mexican “drug…

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Making the System Safer

In the last 50 years, no one thinks that drivers have gotten better, but fatalities per mile driven have fallen over 80%. How has this become possible? What have we learned from this example that can be applied to other areas? David Hemenway is a professor of Health Policy at the, Harvard School of Public Health and the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. He has been working on compiling success stories in…

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Shared Decision Making in Health Care

With the ongoing saga of the Democratic Primary, and the upcoming presidential election, we will all be hearing more and more about the cost of health care in this country. While the debate at the national and state levels will certainly influence the lives of many down the road, what about the decisions that we make (or don’t get to make) when we’re in the doctor’s office? Recent work by Bob Kaplan and Dominick Frosch at…

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Schoolchildren, self-regulation, and addiction

It’s no secret that diagnoses like ADD and ADHD have been seen with much greater frequency in the last decade or so. Slight variations on the same theme, both of these disorders have to do with a person’s (usually a child) inability to appropriately control their impulses and behave appropriately. The debate about the sources of the large increase in these diagnoses is still ongoing. Some think that they are nothing but an inflated push…

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