Sunday, 22 July 2012

Neuroscience and Mental Health stuff from the week 16-22/7/12

'New study links social anxiety and dating aggression'
People with social anxiety usually recede from confrontations, but if they do lash out, they do so with less provocation.
“The notion of control seems central to understanding why socially anxious men may be more likely to engage in psychological aggression with their dating partners than their female counterparts... Men who expect their partners to evaluate them negatively may also fear that their partners will ultimately reject them.”

Many women will be familiar with the drawbacks of having large breasts: straps digging into the shoulders, back pain, self-consciousness, etc.
But at what age should girls be advised to have breast reductions? This study shows that adolescent girls are hit by the psychological impact of macromastia, as the condition is termed.
"Most teenage girls really don't want to come to a doctor and discuss this. By the time I see them, the breast has become their enemy"
"Complicating the situation is the fact that about two-thirds of adolescents with macromastia are overweight. But Labow said effective weight reduction typically doesn't resolve the breast-size problem."
The covariant overweightedness might be why macromastia is also associated with eating disorders.
Breast reduction is actually a very common form of cosmetic surgery, and comes with the added benefit that exercise, post-op, i easier, permitting the girls more weight control.

Stress damages the cardiovascular system:
"Women with high job strain are 67% more likely to experience a heart attack and 38% more likely to have a cardiovascular event than their counterparts in low strain jobs"
The research was done at Brigham and Women's Hospital - it does not mean men are unaffected, just that women are.

Stress is associated with the exacerbation of a wide variety of health conditions, including cancer:
'Stress fuels breast cancer metastasis to bone'
"activation of the sympathetic nervous system – the "fight-or-flight" response to stress – primes the bone environment for breast cancer cell metastasis. The researchers were able to prevent breast cancer cell lesions in bone using propranolol, a cardiovascular medicine that inhibits sympathetic nervous system signals."

'Cancer and injuries more likely in people with serious mental illness'
"patients with schizophrenia, when compared to the general population, were more than 4.5 times more likely to develop lung cancer, 3.5 times more likely to develop colorectal cancer and nearly three times more likely to develop breast cancer. People with bipolar disorder experienced similarly high risk for lung, colorectal and breast cancer."
The causation here is likely to be complicated; but what's undeniable is that this section of society is 'falling through the cracks'

Child abuse also increases cancer risk, by increasing stress, and the incidence of mental illness. It could simply be that the stress that goes hand-in-hand with mental illness is what increases propensity for cancer to develop.

Quality of sleep, it seems, is involved in brain maintenance, cognitionwise.
People who sleep poorly suffer more with dementia, as they age.
"Whether sleep changes, such as sleep apnea or disturbances, are signs of a decline to come or the cause of decline is something we don't know, but these four studies . . . shed further light that this is an area we need to look into more"

Small animals, whether animal, bird, or amphibian, are more likely to survive if they have larger brains for their body size.

'Research team finds zebra finches learn to vocalize in ways similar to humans'
Two areas of the Zebra Finch's brain have been identified as analogous to the corresponding regions in humans' brains.
Also, they grow in a similar way, during childhood - responding to parents' stimuli, and learning tunes.
This is thought to be another example of convergent evolution, because chimps and monkeys are not known to learn utterances like this, as they grow.

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