Control beliefs, social support, and physical exercise are probably good for you

In a paper recently publised in PLoS One entitled Promoting functional health in midlife and old age: long-term protective effects of control beliefs, social support, and physical exercise, Margie Lachman, Minnie and Harold Fierman Professor of Psychology, and Brandeis postdoc Stefan Agrigoroaei analyzed data from MIDUS, a national longitudinal study of “Midlife in the US”. Controlling for other risks, the authors found significant positive contributions from three additional factors in the functional health outcome in these older adults:

  1. Control beliefs (the perception that one can influence what happens in one’s life)
  2. Social support (feeling support, not strain, in relationships with family, friends, and spouse)
  3. Physical exercise

Since I’ll be healthier if I believe I can control my health this way, why not give it a try? The popular press is also picking up on these ideas.

The Contribution of Childhood Trauma to the Neurobiology of Depression

On Thursday, Oct 28th at 3:30, Christine Heim, PhD, will speak in the Martin Weiner Lecture Series on the Psychology of Aging and the Brain, Body & Behavior program. Her presentation The Contribution of Childhood Trauma to the Neurobiology of Depression will take place in Levine Ross, Hassenfeld.
She will talk about how early life experiences, in particular childhood trauma, can have a long-lasting impact on human biology and psychology. Her research shows for example that childhood trauma can lead to specific neuroendocrine changes and contribute to the development of depression with a specific, biologically distinguishable profile, that is responsive to different types of treatment than other subtypes of depression.
Christine Heim is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.
There are still some time slots available for meeting with Christine on Thurday (between 1pm and 3pm). Please contact Nicolas Rohleder if you’re interested!

How long does it take the brain to access short-term memory?

A recent paper in Neuroimage by Brandeis Neuroscience Ph. D. program alumnus Yigal Agam, Professor Robert Sekuler and coworkers attempts to answer the question. To identify the earliest neural signs of recognition memory, they used event related potentials collected from human observers engaged in a visual short term memory task.  Their results point to an initial feed-forward interaction that underlies comparisons between what is being current seen and what has been stored in memory.  The locus of these earliest recognition-related potentials is consistent with the idea that visual areas of the brain contribute to temporary storage of visual information for use in ongoing tasks. This study provides a first look into early neural activity that supports the processing of visual information during short-term memory.

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