- 2016Oct 27
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
Surprising new research finds that frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Intriguingly, posting selfies is not related to a similar issue.
“Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we’re now starting to look at the effect of viewing behavior," said Ruoxu Wang, a Pennsylvania State graduate student in mass communications.
Viewing behavior or “lurking” describes when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer.
This form of participation in social media may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study revealed the exact opposite.
Wang and Fan Yang, graduate student in mass communications, conducted an online survey to collect data on the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies.
They worked with Wang’s graduate adviser, Michel Haigh, associate professor in communications. Posting behavior did not have significant psychological effects for participants.
Viewing behavior did. They discovered the more often people viewed their own and others’ selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction.
“People usually post selfies when they’re happy or having fun,” said Wang. “This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think his or her life is not as great as theirs.”
Those participants categorized as having a strong desire to appear popular were even more sensitive to selfie and groupie viewing.
In this case, however, selfie and groupie viewing behavior increased the self-esteem and life satisfaction for these participants, likely because this activity satisfied the participants’ desires to appear popular, according to the researchers.
Wang and Yang hope their work can raise awareness about social media use and the effect it has on viewers of people’s social networks.
The study appears online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics.
- 2016Oct 26
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
New research suggest memory retention can be improved if a person exercises after a study session.
Investigators from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria say a student’s choice of activity after a period of learning — such as cramming for an exam — has a direct effect on their ability to remember information.
They explain that students should do moderate exercise like running rather than taking part in a passive activity such as playing computer games if they want to make sure they remember what they learned.
The study is published in the journal Cognitive Systems Research.
“I had kids in an age where computer games started to be of high interest,” said Dr. Harald Kindermann, lead author and professor at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
“I wanted to find out how this — and hence the increasing lack of exercise in fresh air — impacts their ability to memorize facts for school.”
In the study, Kindermann and his colleagues asked 60 men aged 16-29 to memorize a range of information, from learning a route on a city map to memorizing German-Turkish word pairs. They were then split into three groups: One group played a violent computer game, one went for a run, and one (the control group) spent time outside.
The researchers compared how well the people in each group remembered the information they were given.
The results showed that the runners performed best, remembering more after the run than before. Those in the control group fared slightly worse, and the memories of people who played the game were significantly impaired.
“Our data demonstrates that playing a video game is not helpful for improving learning effects,” Kindermann added. “Instead it is advisable for youngsters, and most probably for adults too, to do moderate exercise after a learning cycle.”
The researchers had two main hypotheses. First, it could be that violent computer games trick the brain into believing it is under real physical threat. This, combined with the psychological stress of gameplay, means that the brain focuses on these perceived threats, and rejects any information it has just learned.
Alternatively, their second hypothesis was that the physical stress of running switches the brain into “memory storage mode” where it retains the information the student wants to remember.
During moderate exercise like running, the body produces more cortisol to keep the body’s systems in balance while it’s under physical stress. It’s this cortisol that could help improve memory. However, the link between cortisol levels and memory retention is uncertain, so further research is needed.
- 2016Oct 25
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Laboratory Equipment.
Drinking highly caffeinated alcoholic beverages triggers changes in the adolescent brain similar to taking cocaine, and the consequences last into adulthood as an altered ability to deal with rewarding substances, according to a Purdue University study.
Richard van Rijn, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, looked at the effects of highly caffeinated energy drinks and highly caffeinated alcohol in adolescent mice. These alcohol studies cannot be performed in adolescent humans, but changes seen in mouse brains with drugs of abuse have been shown to correlate to those in humans in many drug studies.
These energy drinks can contain as much as 10 times the caffeine as soda and are often marketed to adolescents. But little is known about the health effects of the drinks, especially when consumed with alcohol during adolescence.
Van Rijn and graduate student Meridith Robins published results in the journal Alcohol that showed adolescent mice given high-caffeine energy drinks were not more likely than a control group to drink more alcohol as adults.
But when those high levels of caffeine were mixed with alcohol and given to adolescent mice, they showed physical and neurochemical signs similar to mice given cocaine. Those results were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
"It seems the two substances together push them over a limit that causes changes in their behavior and changes the neurochemistry in their brains," van Rijn said. "We're clearly seeing effects of the combined drinks that we would not see if drinking one or the other."
With repeated exposure to the caffeinated alcohol, those adolescent mice became increasingly more active, much like mice given cocaine. The researchers also detected increased levels of the protein ΔFosB, which is marker of long-term changes in neurochemistry, elevated in those abusing drugs such as cocaine or morphine.
"That's one reason why it's so difficult for drug users to quit because of these lasting changes in the brain," van Rijn said.
Those same mice, as adults, showed a different preference or valuation of cocaine. Robins found that mice exposed to caffeinated alcohol during adolescence were less sensitive to the pleasurable effects of cocaine. While this sounds positive, it could mean that such a mouse would use more cocaine to get the same feeling as a control mouse.
"Mice that had been exposed to alcohol and caffeine were somewhat numb to the rewarding effects of cocaine as adults," van Rijn said. "Mice that were exposed to highly caffeinated alcoholic drinks later found cocaine wasn't as pleasurable. They may then use more cocaine to get the same effect."
"Their brains have been changed in such a way that they are more likely to abuse natural or pleasurable substances as adults," van Rijn said.
Source: Laboratory Equipment