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11.11.2015
When I was asked to write this blog for the School of Psychology initially I was overwhelmed; not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I probably have too much. I know it sounds hard to believe, but up until 3 years ago I didn’t even really know psychology existed as a subject.
The first year on this course is designed to give you an insight into a variety of areas in psychology, from psychobiology to social development, not one thing has been the same and I have honestly loved that. At school I was always told that the step up from GCSE’s to A levels was a big jump, but nothing compared to the ginormous leap between A levels and university… but I don’t 100% agree with this. Just because lectures are recorded, don’t use this as an excuse to always skip them, there’s something just that little bit more effective about being there in person.
Most PhD students will tell you that this phenomenon ramps up into overdrive for the particular subject matter that they have decided to dedicate a vast proportion of their foreseeable future to. Animals, lacking sufficient vocal control and cognitive complexity, don’t have the luxury of communicating by combining sets of words with culturally agreed meanings. Before humans developed the ability to control their voice and detach it from underlying feelings – which colleagues and I argue in a recent review was vital in the gradual evolution of speech – we most probably communicated in the same way.
We know from previous research that higher pitch is associated with higher levels of arousal and distress, and lower pitch with dominance, in both humans and other mammals, and that listeners perceive these associations.
I am also interested in the expression of strength in aggressive roars (see below) and fear screams. I’m asking people to imagine themselves in a situation where they need to convey aggression, and one where they should express fear, and recording the upper-body strength of each individual.
We produce vocalisations in many more contexts than the two examples mentioned here – this is just the tip of the iceberg. The book brings together compelling evidence for the importance of genetics in cognitive development and other educationally relevant traits. Being a book editor was a new and educating experience for me (also influenced by my genetic make-up). In conclusion, our experience is important in shaping who we are, but let’s not forget about our genes! This spring, my first paper on synaesthesia and language appears in an upcoming edition of Cognition.
When I was seventeen, I happened to mention in a German language class that someone’s name was orange because it began with an M. Seven years later, two years after an unsuccessful attempt to do my undergraduate project on synaesthesia, I found Julia Simner’s Synaesthesia and Sensory Integration (SASI) lab at the University of Edinburgh and knew I had found my first choice university for my Master’s degree. Halfway through my first year of PhD study at Edinburgh, Dr Simner and the lab moved to Sussex, and my main project was to shape that compound-word study into a paper. I know that this first publication is only a single step in my career as an academic, but it still feels like a momentous one. The ability to read emotion in others is hugely important in daily social life, not just for humans and other primates, but for many social species. Reading facial expressions of emotion between different species may present more challenges due to differences in facial and body structure, and in the forms which emotional signals take. We visited stables around Sussex and showed 28 horses photographs of positive (happy) and negative (angry) human facial expressions, whilst recording their heart rates using a Polar Equine heart rate monitor.
Overall, the horses had stronger reactions when faced with the negative than the positive expression. Horses’ abilities to read emotion on human faces may have resulted in part from their 6,000-year coevolution with humans. The continuing work of the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition lab at Sussex (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) is looking into horses’ social and emotional lives, between horses and horses, as well as horses and humans.
As part of one of my PhD research studies I conducted a 10 week interview-based study in California to talk to people about their experience of the ongoing drought and how they thought it related to anthropogenic climate change.
In some of my first interviews in the UK and also in some of the literature on climate change (e.g. When I visited different parts of California, I met a lot of people who accept anthropogenic climate change evidence and are very concerned about it, partly because of the drought.
In the case of the drought, some people argued that California has always been dry: “It’s a desert”, “We have seen many droughts”, “It’s natural cycles, they come and go, people have to adapt and we need to build more reservoirs”.
Most affected inhabitants are low income Latino farm workers, who no longer have access to clean drinking water because they are not connected to a state water supply and have always relied on groundwater from their wells. Some of the big agricultural businesses have pumped up so much ground water that the ground has started to sink[3].
I also spent three days with fire fighters in a camp which works with prison inmates to extinguish fires[4]. How or whether some of this will affect the US’ official stance and actions on climate change remains to be seen. Before applying for the JRA award I knew that becoming a researcher in Psychology was what I wanted to do, but deciding what I wanted to study seemed almost impossible given the sheer number of options available.
During the summer I got involved in an ongoing research project aimed at investigating the neural and behavioural consequences of a gene, APOE-E4, widely accepted to be the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
The analysis of the data itself proved to be a rewarding experience as it allowed me to gain extremely valuable knowledge with MRI data analysis software such as MATLAB and SPM. As soon as I saw that the School of Psychology was offering clinical placement years I knew that it was something I would be interested in. Throughout the rest of the year I am hoping to visit the eating disorder inpatient units that our team are linked to. During my placement so far I have met many clinicians in several branches of the mental health services and they have all assured me that this year will put me in a great position when applying for jobs after my undergraduate degree. If you are interested in doing a placement, you can also read about Lauren Maddock’s experience working for GSK. Zoe Hopkins: “I did the Experimental Psychology (EP) MSc, since my undergraduate degree was not in psychology.
Amy Smith: “Having completed an MSc, my biggest piece of advice for MSc, MRes and PG students is to have fun with it, and don’t worry about making mistakes! Philine Harris: “One thing that I only realised during my PhD is how valuable you as a research student are to your supervisor.
During our recent visit to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, the Bird lab met about 28,897 fellow neuroscientists.
There was a huge interest in our two posters, which Sam Berens and I presented in one long morning session. Despite the fact that there are many thousands of people in the convention centre (apparently this conference can only be held in a small number of venues, as most are not big enough) we saw quite a few people coincidentally, meeting up with old colleagues and making new acquaintances. Overall, it is definitely a conference worth going to, the sheer size is impressive, the scope, and it is a fantastic opportunity to see the latest advances in the field. Contrary to popular belief, not all meditation techniques produce similar effects of body and mind. In particular, the NUS research team found that Vajrayana meditation, which is associated with Tibetan Buddhism, can lead to enhancements in cognitive performance.
The study by Associate Professor Maria Kozhevnikov and Dr Ido Amihai from the Department of Psychology at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was first published in the journal PLOS ONE in July 2014. Previous studies had defined meditation as a relaxation response and had attempted to categorise meditation as either involving focused or distributed attentional systems. Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov and Dr Amihai examined four different types of meditative practices: two types of Vajrayana meditations (Tibetan Buddhism) practices (Visualisation of self-generation-as-Deity and Rig-pa) and two types of Theravada practices (Shamatha and Vipassana). They observed that physiological responses during the Theravada meditation differ significantly from those during the Vajrayana meditation. The researchers had also observed an immediate dramatic increase in performance on cognitive tasks following only Vajrayana styles of meditation. The findings from the study showed that Vajrayana meditation can lead to dramatic enhancement in cognitive performance, suggesting that Vajrayana meditation could be especially useful in situations where it is important to perform at one's best, such as during competition or states of urgency. After seeing that even a single session of Vajrayana meditation can lead to radical enhancements in brain performance, Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov and Dr Amihai will be investigating whether permanent changes could occur after long-term practice. Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov said, "Vajrayana meditation typically requires years of practice, so we are also looking into whether it is also possible to acquire the beneficial effects of brain performance by practicing certain essential elements of the meditation. Some 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, a new Johns Hopkins analysis of previously published research suggests. Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. For decades, there have been studies suggesting that human babies are capable of imitating facial gestures, hand gestures, facial expressions, or vocal sounds right from their first weeks of life after birth. The way we drive could help us understand how animals make their way, new research from the University of Leeds has found.
A link between handedness and mathematical skills exists, but is more complex than is thought according to a study by the University of Liverpool. This sort of navel-gazing can "increase" some aspects of the performance of the brain but the fact is that those countries where that stuff is more commonplace are more socially and technically backwards than the western nations.If this sort of meditation resulted in any real tangible benefits, most inventions in human history would have been made in places like India.
Sure the stuff can give its adherents "religious" feelings but what does it actually teach them? They would; for example set goals to climb the corporate ladder, take a new course, become more productive, make more money etc.
It can either help you to spend more time with family or it can cause you to spend more time at work. There are basically 8 dimensions or areas we have as humans, I will list them below and ask you a few questions to make you think about your life as a whole. Vipassana meditation brings peace of mind to the youth of India, at least around Mumbai, according to the Hindustan Times. Vipassana is taught as a living practice of the Buddha’s teaching and it has been passed on for millennia. Vipassana is taught over a ten day period (though there are longer retreats) and is open to anyone that wants to practice this type of meditation. While there is an open duologue with the meditation teacher, silence is observed between the participants. The idea of meditating ten to twelve hours a day for days on end may seem a bit extreme to the uninitiated. But according to the Hindustan Times young people around Mumbai are embracing Vipassana meditation in order to relieve stress.
Another reason for the youth to attend the intense retreat is to develop concentration skills that will help them in their studies and career.
Advertising executive Labony Kaushal, 25, admits the only reason she thought of giving Vipassana a shot was to alleviate her boredom. The first day, called Zero Day, is where an audio-visual explains the techniques of meditation to the new arrivals… and little else.
Ask Kaushal whether she’s noticed any permanent changes and she says, “ I was an angry person who’d react without thinking of the consequences, but I’ve become more patient now. Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Seema Hingorrany admits she’s seen a substantial rise in the number of young patients opting for Vipassana, and cites stress as the main reason. Hingorrany says that she gets emails and calls from patients asking what the right age for Vipassana is, but she opines, “It’s not about being the right age, but having the right reason. For those who return from their retreat successfully, Hingorrany notices a change in their composition.
The big surprise for most of the students is, as it was for Kaushal, by the tenth day there’s the realization that Vipassana meditation brings peace of mind, that at some point the meditators slip into effortless effort, discover detached involvement and maintain a peaceful alertness. If you found this article useful … please click the LIKE button below to share it on Facebook. Here in the west the word “yoga,” has, in popular culture, become synonymous with the physical postures (asana) while meditation is seen as a separate practice. When yoga is practiced in this way it enters into every aspect of our lives and becomes a living meditation in much the same way the Buddhist practice of mindfulness becomes mindful living.
This is the basis of the article by Alice Walton, writing in Forbes, part two of her post, “The Psychology of Yoga,” which is worth clicking past the pop-up advertisement to get to.
Stephen Cope, director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, explains that yoga itself is a form of meditation, and herein lies its power. This idea of paying attention to one’s thoughts in a nonjudgmental way is what mindfulness meditation, or mindfulness training, is all about. The benefit of yoga as meditation is that the whole of the human nervous system is renewed; the body enjoys greater energy and health, the mind is freed from memories of the past and fantasizes of the future and perception becomes clearer and non-judgmental. A study that took place in India, at the Mount Abu medical wing, found that a significant number of volunteers where able to stop smoking for six months after being taught Raja Yoga. It is believed, by the authors of the study, that meditation increased the volunteer’s ability to focus on their will power. Ramajayam, a member of the Vidyalaya, explained a study of smokers and their de-addiction process as influenced by Raja yoga meditation techniques. Self-realization is a process of shedding light on many memories and emotions that we have buried deep within us, which are the root cause of the addiction in the first place.
For many people in Western culture the word Tantra is associated with sexual practices which have been used to appeal to a popular audience.
Tantric meditation is a practice that involves awakening the Kundalini energy, which is a powerful divine feminine energy that resides at the base of the spine. Believing that our senses are the gateway between the spiritual world and the everyday reality the tantrikas (those who practice Tantra) use the senses as a way to achieve enlightenment. Just as sexual energy give birth to life, when we internalize the energy of creativity we give birth to our higher self. Because caregivers for both the ill and the elderly are under so much stress that the relief meditation provides make it a natural tool to use to help alleviate the stress.


The caregivers in this study were divided into two groups, one practiced Kirtan Kirya yoga, a meditation exercise, and the other group listened to relaxation tapes. Now here’s a meditation benefit that even I was unaware of, well at least until I read this study, done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There was a significant reduction in symptoms in the mindfulness practitioners compared to a control group.
Even though this was a small sample the researchers involved were “impressed” with the results.
So I have a gut feeling that the benefits of mindfulness meditation are a meditation benefit for the whole mind-body. How could chocolate play apart in meditation and, moreover, how could it benefit a meditation practice?
Mark Williams, clinical psychologist at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) suggested that a “chocolate meditation” may be one of the best ways to help someone understand mindfulness. The paradox is as our ability to separate ourselves from our thoughts, by becoming the witness grows, we begin to notice that the separation between us as the ‘seer, the process of seeing and the thing seen,’ closes, and we begin to feel an oneness a unity with that which we are watching. I’ve found it interesting, as I’ve travel my own path in yoga and meditation, to see how others perceive theirs. It’s a common miss conception (not as common as it once was) in the west that yoga is only the postures (asana), and meditation is simply sitting quietly. This is not meant as a criticism or a judgment only and observation, and because they “serve very different purposes…” for the author her perspective is valid and beneficial, and in truth for many years it was my own. This story is one man’s personal journey, but one that is open to us all, into the light of love and compassion, out of the darkness of pain and suffering and a war with Mara.
Mara is a demon of the heart, creator of road blocks and procrastination that urges us to try and escape from the shadow states of mind that arises as we awaken.
In the end we are led to the conclusion that our ability to love, forgive and fell compassion are our birthright and that all that is required from us is a willingness to seek out that birthright. In the short 9 months that I have been here for, I have never felt more at home; not only in a University that is just so welcoming, a city that is so much more vibrant than my hometown Coventry, but mostly in a subject that I absolutely adore and continue to learn from every day! After 2 years of studying it at A level (with two incredible teachers that I can only thank for sparking my passion for psychology), I knew it was what I wanted to pursue further into university. After what felt like the longest summer of my life after A levels, I thought that getting back into a ‘working mindset’ would be impossible, but I’ve not wanted to stop! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think university is easy but I think it’s difficult to compare the two.
Psychology is full of the loveliest people and at the start of the year everyone is in the same boat as you, wanting to make friends.
If bashing out an essay two days before the deadline works best for you, don’t worry if someone else has got it submitted 2 weeks beforehand.
If I managed to go from a U in my AS statistics exam to a 1st in my research skills exam then anyone can do it, trust me. For me, that something is every noise that comes out of any person’s mouth that isn’t speech. The systems controlling their vocal apparatus are intimately tied to their internal states, and their vocalisations communicate simple but information relevant to survival. Even though this arbitrary system for conveying meaning now predominates, nonverbal vocalisations still retain their more ancient communicative function. Their legitimacy has been widely debated in the tennis community amid accusations they are distracting, but my research aims to show that they may provide cues to each player’s mental state. I have performed acoustic analysis on hundreds of grunts from TV footage of professional matches, and am currently running experiments to determine whether listeners can predict the winner of a match just from a set of grunts.
In evolutionary terms, strength is a useful attribute to be able to perceive, as it would allow the listener to make good decisions about whether to enter into conflict with fellow competing males or not. Given that the process of evolution would favour strength-tracking capabilities, we are predicting that listeners will be able to track strength from these vocalisations, and that the acoustic structure of aggressive roars may be designed to increase perceptions of strength. In many nonverbal interactions, seemingly meaningless noises may actually contain a wealth of information and substantially influence our perceptions and behaviour. He has recently published an article in The Conversation about the evolutionary origins of laughter.
This book is dedicated to the role of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) in individual differences in traits important for education. It also emphasises the growing evidence for the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors in relation to children’s behaviour. Despite all the existing evidence for individual differences in learning, genetics is rarely considered in relation to education. Our publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, was very patient with us, and helped us a lot at a latter stage of the book preparation.
While I know that getting a paper published is always a rigorous and difficult process – as indeed it should be – I am not only excited and nervous for this paper to appear because it’s my first, but because it represents a major milestone in a journey that has thus far spanned ten years. The interest and confusion this comment elicited from my classmates surprised me; it had never before occurred to me that some people might not experience colour with letters. The first chance I had to meet Dr Simner, I paced the corridors of the psychology building for twenty minutes before I could work up the courage to step through the door and introduce myself. Besides the frequency finding, we also reported a lack of colour effect for semantic transparency – that is, synaesthetes experience the same number of colours for compounds that are easy to understand from their parts (e.g. Although sharing a piece of work in which I have so much invested is nerve-wracking, I am confident in the expertise and guidance of these fellow scientists who worked tirelessly to shape the paper into its best iteration.
On the surface, the paper strengthens the case for synaesthesia as a psycholinguistic phenomenon by showing that the number and nature of colours that synaesthetes choose for compound words is predicted by their frequency.
Long nose, eyes on the sides of the head, wiggly ears…morphologically they look very different to humans, yet it turns out they are pretty good at looking across the species barrier to read our faces. Emotions are tools of communication – for instance, if a sheep sees another sheep looking scared (bulging eyes, ears pinned back), the observer knows there is a threat nearby, and can take appropriate action (i.e.
For instance, sheep, horses and dogs can express and perceive emotion in one another’s ear movements (e.g.
We tested each horse twice, once with each emotion, in trials separated by at least 2 months to prevent horses getting used to the experimental setup. This same pattern is seen in dogs, who also display a left-gaze bias towards angry human faces, and also respond less to happy faces. It is also possible that, during an individual’s lifetime, horses form associations between angry humans and negative treatment, such as rough handling, and therefore learn to be wary of angry humans.
But, I also crossed many people who do not think anthropogenic climate change even exists, let alone think that there is any link between the extreme drought and climate change. Parts of California are very dry and there have been droughts in the past so the question is what evidence there is and what evidence it will take to convince people that anthropogenic climate change is affecting the drought differently from how it would have been otherwise. Smaller farms are struggling to keep their crops growing and some have gone out of business. For now, it looks like even within more “developed” countries such as the USA, climate change will affect those who are already more vulnerable, reflecting the global pattern. When I saw that Sussex was offering JRA awards focusing on the causes and cures for Alzheimer’s I jumped at the opportunity, as I felt this would give me a good opportunity to explore a more neuroscience-based research project which greatly interested me. I assisted Dr Simon Evans, a postdoctoral fellow in Prof Rusted’s lab, in analysing data and writing a literature review on the use of the subsequent memory paradigm in research examining the neural consequences of ageing and APOE-E4.
Immersing myself in the data for several weeks increased my personal investment in the project and the data itself, this gave me a hunger and excitement that was certainly lacking in my first and second years at university, as I felt I was genuinely contributing to something that would make a difference. Despite having to hand in assignments most weeks during term two I managed to find the time to write a personal statement and apply for the placements that appealed to me. I have shadowed assessments, psychological therapy sessions and had meals out with patients. However, I have found this beneficial in some ways because that in itself offers a lot of flexibility. I also hope to learn more in-depth about therapies that are suitable for eating disorders, which will hopefully lead to me working one-to-one with low-risk patients; doing work around eating out, preparing food, and the anxiety associated with this.
It will also give me valuable experience that I can report on my CV and discuss in interviews when applying for chartered psychologist training.
As well as managing to escape the craziness of university life (and all those assignments!) it has allowed me to spend a year experiencing an authentic working routine.
If you would like to read PhD right after the MSc course, you had better contact the potential supervisor as soon as possible. Nobody on your course has all of the answers – if they did, they’d be the supervisors already (and even then, supervisors don’t have it all figured out). Your work is as important to you as it is to them and they are grateful for your contribution to their area of research. We spent 5 days looking at a fraction of the 14,000 posters on site and enjoyed various talks on new developments in the field. As the morning progressed, we had clusters of people in front of our posters who wanted to hear everything about how “Configural learning engages the semantic memory system but generalisation involves the hippocampus” and “Stable representations of lifelike events over the course of one week”. Indeed, a recent study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has demonstrated for the first time that different types of Buddhist meditation a€“ namely the Vajrayana and Theravada styles of meditation - elicit qualitatively different influences on human physiology and behaviour, producing arousal and relaxation responses respectively. Neither of these hypotheses received strong empirical support, and most of the studies focused on Theravada meditative practices. They collected electrocardiographic (EKG) and electroencephalographic (EEG) responses and also measured behavioural performance on cognitive tasks using a pool of experienced Theravada practitioners from Thailand and Nepal, as well as Vajrayana practitioners from Nepal. They noted that such dramatic boost in attentional capacity is impossible during a state of relaxation. On the other hand, Theravada styles of meditation are an excellent way to decrease stress, release tension, and promote deep relaxation. The researchers are also looking at how non-practitioners can benefit from such meditative practices. As it is now countries like India would not have modern technology at all if they had not received it from abroad. Do you only work, and set goals around work, or do you also set goals in other areas of your life? But have you ever wondered how balanced your goals are – most people set a lot of goals only in one area of their lives like their career, or their finances or their family. These are good goals to have, but when you look at the bigger picture of your life – how do these goals actually help you to balance your life? What effect do you think setting the above mentioned goals have on the other areas of your life?
So it is important that you keep in mind how balanced your life will be when you start to set goals.
Rather work on all your areas of your life simultaneously than putting all your focus on one are only. During this time the practitioner stays at the center, cutting all ties with the outside world.
During the first three plus days the focus of practice is, appropriately enough, mental concentration, which is in preparation for formal meditation. In fact at the Vipassana centers around Mumbai, India, (as with all Vipassana centers) there is an evaluation process, like a doctors certificate, required to determine the fitness of the practitioner. In the beginning most students find the meditation practice to seem more like torture instead of the deep inner peace they are seeking. Yet at its core, Yoga means union, and its essential purpose is the integration of all the layers of life, body, mind and soul, so there is an ‘oneness’ in the essence of the practice between the postures and meditation.
After all, many people say that after starting yoga they feel mentally stronger, more relaxed, less depressed, and more level-headed than before. People who practice yoga learn how to accept all the stress-inducing thoughts that flit around in one’s head – negative self-talk, worries, snap judgments – as just that: thoughts, and nothing more. This ancient practice has gained a lot of interest from researchers (and regular folk) in recent years. By bringing awareness to these causes of suffering we can begin the process of healing and that may be the biggest benefit of meditation in dealing with addiction. The balance that needs to be maintained is not confusing sensual awareness with sensual indulgence. And while both group benefited, those who practiced the meditation reported greater improvements in the quality of their lives, including the feeling that care-giving wasn’t as much of a burden as it had been before.
This study found that mindfulness meditation helped improve the quality of life and the mental distress that accompanies irritable bowel syndrome. Because mindfulness meditation teaches the practitioner how to focus their attention and relax, it “empowers” the sufferer to deal with a difficult to treat illness.
This introduction to mindfulness seems lighthearted and fun, which it is, and yet, in these few moments of increased sensory awareness, we begin to notice that time slows down and we become more present.
Because, Prof Williams, has been using mindfulness as a treatment for clinical depression, in combination with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a way of helping patients manage their anxieties.
Standing together, we each unwrap a chocolate, shut our eyes, inhale its aroma, then look at it and, finally, eat it. He quoted Deepak as he explained how to know your soul, or at least how to know that it exists. It is conscious, our subjective awareness that allows us to experience anything in the objective world.
In particular, I’d probably say (so far) my favourite module has been Cognition in Clinical Contexts; every lecture was on a different topic and I just felt like I was learning some really cool stuff that could totally make me sound like a much more interesting person (sounds lame I know). When you get to university you’re not treated like a baby, you’re left to set your own work regime, your mum won’t get you out of bed for your 9am, you’re making your own dinners and you won’t get detention for not doing your homework (if you miss the deadline, you miss it, there isn’t any leeway). It’s the term given for when you learn, notice or experience something for the first time, and then you start noticing it everywhere.


The cacophony of grunts, moans, shouts, roars, whines and screams that pepper the interactions of human society play an almost invisible role in most people’s experience, but to me they stick out like a sore thumb.
Yet, aside from laughter, nonverbal vocalisations have remained almost untouched by the scientific community.
If they can, it is likely that when a player grunts, they are broadcasting signals that may provide their opponent with a mental advantage.
We are also investigating whether males might engage in behavioural strategies to exaggerate their strength, in the similar way to some species of deer.
I’m only halfway through my PhD but already I see human vocal behaviour in a new, broader light.
Each chapter of the book explores a particular aspect of human development, including cognitive abilities and disabilities, academic achievement, motivation, personality, behavioural and emotional problems, social functioning, and well-being. Indeed, genetic and environmental factors do not act in isolation; they co-act and influence each other across the lifespan. By taking into account what we know about the role of genetics (Nature), we can understand our environment (Nurture) better, and we can learn how to target our environment, including educational environment, so that every child could be given an opportunity to achieve the maximum of their potential. It is important to realise that this work is something you do in addition to all other things, not instead of something, so be prepared to sacrifice a lot of your spare time and to work long hours and weekends.
Our book would not be possible without our contributors; it would not be possible without them being prepared to invest their time and efforts in preparing chapters. They encouraged us during the preparation of the draft and sent reminders when we fell behind the schedule (quite often). To my relief, she agreed to supervise my Master’s project studying the mental representations of compound words like rainbow (made of two words, rain + bow) using synaesthesia. This first study functions as a proof-of-concept that I am now working on expanding to other word structures and linguistic characteristics. Animals may benefit more from recognising and reacting to potential threats in the environment over positive events, particularly in a prey animal such as the horse whose ancestral survival depended on the detection of predators. You could compare this to our human ability to recognise a dog’s social signals – if you see a dog snarling at you with exposed teeth, you would tend to steer clear of this individual. The idea being that people in the West (responsible for most of the emissions) cannot feel the immediate effects now and therefore do not reduce emissions.
Those people dispute that the local drought is linked to anthropogenic climate change, in a similar way in which global climate change is disputed in general; namely by referring to natural cycles of change versus a long term change caused by humans. In some cases, the local council is stepping in and transporting drinking water in large tanks. The camps may be preferred by inmates because they are safer and less influenced by prison gangs and politics and provide more opportunity for education. This seems to reinforce the point that environmental and social justice are not only related but are one and the same thing. Professor Jenny Rusted was advertising JRAs in the newly established Alzheimer’s Society Doctoral Training Centre and it was with her I worked closely on my application; Prof Rusted was incredibly approachable and supportive throughout the application process, assisting me right from the start. The subsequent memory paradigm involves participants being incidentally (unintentionally) exposed to words whilst completing an ongoing task in an MRI scanner, followed by a surprise recognition test in which participants indicate whether they had seen the words previously or not.
Happily, the results of the analysis also proved very interesting; results from the MRI analysis indicated that APOE-E4 carriers were consistently underactivating several regions in the brain, relative to non-carriers, throughout the task. Throughout this process I really doubted that I would succeed in gaining a placement, due to expected competition and concerns about whether I had enough experience or sufficient grades. I am very fortunate to be with a lovely team who have made me feel welcome and valued as a colleague. I have recently moved into co-facilitating group therapy, which means I am trusted to run part of the sessions. Firstly, it means that my year hasn’t been too stressful because my workload isn’t that of my paid colleagues. I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the types of services I have always imagined working for, and so far it’s certainly exceeded my expectations. During the third term of your MSc study, you can already prepare the relevant proposal and go with the application process. Never worry about troubling them for their time – I was worried I might be getting on my supervisor’s nerves with my silly little MSc project, when I actually now realise how much all supervisors value the work of any student doing research with them.
We were especially excited by a symposium on multivariate pattern analysis in medial temporal lobe. The poster session is 4 hours long and it was taking its toll, by the end we were both very hoarse. In contrast, Vajrayana meditation did not show any evidence of parasympathetic activity but showed an activation of the sympathetic system (arousal). Their results show that Vajrayana and Theravada styles of meditation are based on different neurophysiological mechanisms, which give rise to either an arousal or relaxation response.
The amount of social, medical, and other problems in that particular country is ridiculous.
Even Newton said that his understanding of the Law of Gravity came by "always thinking about it" (i.e.
Imagine how much more productive and effective you will be at work when you are more healthy, grow spiritually, enjoy love in your relationships and are mentally sharp. I will definitely take some time soon to write down my goals for each dimension (especially now that the first half of 2015 is behind us and I want to make my 2nd half even better).
Vipassana is described as the essence of the teachings of Buddha, the experience of his teachings, because he attained the experience of the truth in meditation, so meditation is truly the essence of the teaching.
Each day thereafter new practices or steps are introduced, until day ten when the silence ends.
I thought that 10 days of not talking to anyone would be good for me, since I’m not a very talkative person anyway.” Kaushal didn’t do any research before signing up, which she recommends for anyone who’s rolling the idea around in their head.
I got a headache on the first day, which is something they warn you of because your body is not used to it,” she recalls.
And every day, it felt like I was running a never-ending race,” she says, adding, “But by the final day, I didn’t want to come back to Mumbai. They feel themselves very resistant to the forced timetable (like getting up at four or four thirty in the morning), the sparse facilities, instructions of the teacher, all the discipline and even the technique itself.
Since reacting to our thoughts is typically what gets us into trouble, learning to attend to them and accept them nonjudgmentally is key. Scientists have studied how mindfulness courses can change people’s reactions and behaviors, and how they can literally change the structure of the brain. Meditation is the process by which we become self-aware of our own consciousness instead of our thoughts. I have never really had a solid idea of what I wanted to do with my life; one week I want to join the police force, the next I’m thinking about being a teacher, then the next I want to work at Heathrow airport (don’t ask me why on that one, because I’m not sure even I know). So, my research aims to discover what is communicated in such vocalisations, and what influence they have on listeners.
Maybe after reading this you’ll have some vocalisation-related Baader-Meinhof experiences of your own…! The chapters are written by international experts in various areas of psychology and behavioural genetics; more than 20 researchers from the UK, Russia, USA, Canada, and China have contributed to the book. The book provides an important contribution to educational genomics, a relatively new scientific field that combines advances in quantitative and molecular genetic methodology in relation to education, with the ultimate goal to improve education for everyone. This research was based on an unpublished study in German showing that the number of colours a synaesthete experienced for compound words was influenced by their frequency in the language.
For me personally, however, in the slow and difficult paradigm shift from student to scientist, from learner to researcher, this paper is also a tangible and long-awaited milestone. Despite such differences, dogs have previously been shown to recognise human emotion from facial expressions alone – they prefer happy human faces and dislike angry ones. To my surprise some of the news coverage of the drought in California, was being reported in relation to climate change[1].
This is an El Nino year and we will be dealing with floods soon.” What also struck me, is to what extent views about climate change are intertwined with many other beliefs and make a whole different framework of seeing the world. Many communities are organizing and mounting pressure to demand support for access to drinking water, but some are reluctant to get in touch with officials or even local organisations such as the Community Water Center, because they are scared their children will be taken from them, as a result of them being seen as unable to adequately provide for their children.
However, this might also be an example of how economic and social relationships of power come into play with environmental issues, as the economic drive towards cheap or free labour results in prisoner fire fighters. This task is designed to induce episodic memory and activation in the hippocampus, an area implicated in the premature neural ageing seen in carriers of APOE-E4.
APOE-E4 carriers demonstrated significantly less activation in frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in the brain; these areas have been reported many times before in the literature to exhibit genotype differences with APOE-E4 in a number of cognitive domains. I very nearly gave up at the last hurdle when I found out that one of my interviews was on the morning of one of my summer exams. I primarily work in an office, and my daily routine can involve anything from dealing with referrals into the service, collating outcome measures from patients, inputting blood results and weight data into our system, to attending team meetings and carrying out audits. This is something I feel really privileged to be involved in and is increasing my confidence in working face to face with patients.
Secondly, if I ask my supervisor if I can spend a day shadowing an early intervention for psychosis team, a liaison psychiatrist in A & E, or a mental health triage assessment service (all of which I have done) she is really supportive because the year is viewed as my year to gain as much clinical experience as I can. Another thing that I wish I knew when I was doing my MSc was the power and the value of asking for help.
One study showed that people hearing the storyline of a video they never saw, showed similar brain activation to people that had actually seen the video…believe it or not.
The tenth day is preparation for reentry into the everyday world, and the course end on the morning of the eleventh day.
So to discuss how and why these changes occur, I turned to two well-recognized and seasoned practitioners. Attentional training and mindfulness have been shown to provide major benefits in treating everything from stress and depression to serious addictions. But that’s what is so brilliant about psychology, there are so many aspects of the subject that I am constantly being given the opportunity to explore new areas and get new ideas of where I want to go in life.
The staff in the school of psychology are some of the most committed I think you could get, if you email or post on the online forum, sometimes you’ll get a reply within minutes!
More common words were more likely to have one colour, implying they were stored as wholes rather than in their constituent pieces.
Our analyses even showed that the frequency of the first constituent of the compound increases with the luminance of the colour that synaesthetes experience for it. Facial expressions can communicate dominance and submissiveness, so that each individual can keep their place in the dominance hierarchy.
Here in the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research group, we set out to test if horses, too, can recognise human facial expressions of emotion.
This is contrary to what I find when there are floods in the UK, which may be because it is difficult to link one particular extreme weather event to climate change. For instance, religion (those who were religious identified as Christian) is a major factor, because of belief in a God who is relied upon and trusted to sort things out. The long term trained fire fighters reported that fires were changing in intensity and becoming increasingly challenging to put out. Surprisingly, we were unable to extract any genotype differences in hippocampal activation; this is not unusual – the hippocampus is such a small area in the brain, and so it can be difficult to pull out reliable data.
In addition, I have learnt a lot about the treatment of eating disorders and their many comorbidities, not only through being placed in the heart of a busy specialist service, but through comprehensive reading of clinical guidelines and self-help books used by the service. The placement is mutually beneficial; I help the service out and they offer me a year of experiencing as many elements in the life of a psychologist as possible.
There are gatherings for postgraduate students in the school of psychology at regular intervals. If you’re stuck (whether doing research for your project or work on the taught modules), ask around for help.
It seems like current neuroimaging research in memory is moving more and more towards pattern analysis. When people remember a video immediately and a week later, there is a stable pattern of brain activation that is specific to the memory. He did not just believe any random idea that came to his mind - like those religionists who support this sort of meditation seem to be doing. My study found a similar effect in English-speaking synaesthetes, which pointed to the usefulness of synaesthesia for studying psycholinguistics and formed the groundwork for my successful PhD application. In fact scientists do connect a change in climate to modified weather patterns, including more frequent and intense extremes. Another factor is political beliefs, with quite a few people who deny climate change referring to Al Gore in particular as a liar who made climate change up for political benefits.
Taken as a whole, the results suggest that APOE-E4 carriers may be more efficiently processing memories and information, as they retained equal memory performance to non-carriers in the face of lesser neural activation. Doing this has demonstrated to me that the world of psychiatry is a vast one, where often the more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn.
Start with your supervisor or academic advisor or lecturer, and if they don’t know, they’ll point you to someone who will. But still, very few groups work with videos as memory stimuli in the MRI scanner, like we do.



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