Br ief IN
Snapshots of some of the latest peer-reviewed
research within psychology and related fields.
according to researchers at the
University of Basel in Switzerland.
The investigators looked at data from
a 14-year longitudinal study of 7, 100
Americans age 14 to 30 and also found
that emotionally stable, extroverted
and conscientious people reported
higher self-esteem than those who were
emotionally unstable, introverted or less
conscientious (Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, September).
n Researchers have found a pathway
linking memory and reward centers
in the brain that may help explain
how environmental contexts become
strong motivators in drug taking.
Scientists at the National Institute on
Drug Abuse used a combination of
anatomical, physiological and behavioral
Bypass surgery is more successful for people in happy marriages, research finds.
techniques with rats to define a pathway
from a region of the hippocampus
n Love helps keep the heart pumping,
according to research from the
University of Rochester. Psychologists
found that happily married husbands
and wives who undergo heart bypass
surgery are up to three times more likely
than their unmarried counterparts to
still be alive 15 years later. The study
also showed that women were more
likely to be positively affected by a
happy marriage, perhaps because the
emotional health of a marriage is more
important to women. For men, simply
being married was enough to improve
“SpongeBob SquarePants” may impair
preschoolers’ thinking, according
to research by University of Virginia
psychologists. The researchers randomly
assigned 60 4-year-olds to watch a fast-paced, “fantastical cartoon about an
animated sponge that lives under the
sea,” watch an educational cartoon or
draw for nine minutes. They found that
the children who watched the fast-paced
cartoon performed significantly worse on
subsequent tasks assessing attention and
working memory than children in the
other two groups (Pediatrics, Sept. 12).
to the ventral tegmental area, which
processes reward-driven behaviors.
Using inhibitory brain chemicals, they
then blocked the pathway, and found
the rats’ reward-based habits decreased
by about 75 percent. These findings,
the study authors say, could offer new,
attractive targets for interventions that
could make people less susceptible to
environmentally triggered drug relapse
(Science, July 15).
n People from diverse cultures perceive
happy, sad or angry facial expressions
differently, according to a study led by
the University of Glasgow’s Rachael E.
their chances of thriving after surgery
(Health Psychology, Aug. 22).
n Watching just a few minutes of the
popular children’s television show
n Contrary to popular belief, there
are no major differences between
men’s and women’s self-esteem levels
in adolescence and early adulthood,
Jack, PhD. Jack used statistical image
processing techniques to examine how
study participants perceived facial
expressions and found that Chinese
participants relied on the eyes more