Faces play a very important role in our social life. We make complex social decisions based on facial appearance. Extensive research has been made to identify a set of facial features which make a face attractive. Possibly no research is needed to predict which face a heterosexual male would prefer when asked to choose between Megan Fox (voted as one of the sexiest celebrities) and Jocelyn Wildenstein (voted as one of the ugliest celebrities). But we know little how we make a preference decision when the two faces are closely matched (e.g., age, race, gender, gaze, facial attributes, facial emotion). Is there any specific brain activity pattern associated with our preference (or non-preference)?
What does the brain look like? What do we really know about our brains? For centuries, we've been telling ourselves time and again that we now have an objective view of our brains. However, objectivity depends on technological developments, human actions and social and cultural factors, to name but a few. This has been revealed by research by Sarah de Rijcke, who will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 18 February 2010. In her research, De Rijcke charted how over the past four centuries humans have regarded the brain. She studied numerous documents from all over Europe and the US illustrations, manuals, atlases, articles, lab reports, diary fragments, correspondence between researchers, manuals of image technology, lab setups, microscope instructions, scan technology, print technology, etc.
People with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, have abnormalities in the way their brain unconsciously controls emotions. That's the conclusion of a new Stanford University School of Medicine study, and the study authors say the findings could open up new avenues for treatments and change our understanding of how emotion is regulated in everyday life. The work is published online in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18 percent of Americans have an anxiety disorder. GAD in particular is marked by extreme feelings of fear and uncertainty; people with the disorder live in a state of non-stop worry and often struggle getting through their daily lives.
Children and adolescents who refuse to attend school should not be given doctors' sick notes. In the current issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107), child and adolescent psychiatrist Martin Knollmann and colleagues explain the causes of school avoidance and describe measures to tackle the problem. Truancy assumes psychiatric relevance only if it occurs frequently and is accompanied by psychiatric symptoms. Children typically play truant for the first time at the age of about 11 years, whereas anxiety related school avoidance occurs in children as young as 6 years. School avoiders seem to be exposed to more stressful life events, but physical disorders such as asthma or obesity may also play a part.
Scientists are a step closer to understanding how abnormalities in brain development might lead to autism and behavioural disorders. Research into Fragile X Syndrome - a genetic condition that is the leading known cause of autism - has discovered that critical phases in the brain's development may be mistimed in people with the condition. The mistiming of key developmental stages may result in inappropriate communication between brain cells and could cause the symptoms experienced by Fragile X patients, such as hypersensitivity to touch and sound, as well as social withdrawal, hyperactivity and anxiety. The study also found these changes in the brain's connections occur much earlier than previously thought, midway through a baby's development in the womb.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia significantly improved sleep for patients with chronic neck or back pain and also reduced the extent to which pain interfered with their daily functioning, according to a study by University of Rochester Medical Center researchers. The study, published online by the journal Sleep Medicine, demonstrates that a behavioral intervention can help patients who already are taking medications for pain and might be reluctant or unable to take additional drugs to treat sleep disturbance. "This therapy made a major difference to these patients, " said Carla R. Jungquist, F.N.P., Ph.D., of the Medical Center's Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Laboratory, who is the lead author of the Sleep Medicine article.