Saturday, 26 July 2014

VIDEO How We Read Each Other's Minds

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Neurological Dysfunction as a Significant Factor in Children with Dyslexia

by Sally Goddard Blythe

Summary of Paper presented at THE 5TH BDA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE. DYLSEXIA: AT THE DAWN OF THE CENTURY. University of York 18th-21st April 2001

A study of 54 children who had received an independent diagnosis of Dyslexia revealed that they all showed evidence of immature motor skills and related difficulties on a range of standardised neurological tests. These findings suggest that physical factors do play a significant role in some children diagnosed with Dyslexia.

It is an accepted medical fact that primitive reflexes should not persist above 6 months of age (12 months at the latest), and that postural reflexes should be fully developed by three-and-a- half years of age. Abnormalities in an individual's profile of primitive and postural reflexes at a later age provide reliable diagnostic signposts of central nervous system immaturity.

A sample of 54 children aged 8 - 15 years who had previously received a diagnosis of Dyslexia were examined for the presence of primitive and postural reflexes. An historical control was assumed on the basis of the accepted medical premise that primitive reflexes should not be present above 6 months of age and that postural reflexes should be developed by three and a half years of age. Additional tests were carried out to assess oculo motor functioning (control of eye movements), visual-perceptual performance, cerebellar involvement and dysdiadochokinesia (difficulty with rapid alternate movements).

Abnormal primitive and postural reflexes were found to be a significant underlying factor in this sample. The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck (ATNR) and Tonic Labyrinthine (TLR) reflexes were present in 100% of the sample. Both of these reflexes have a direct affect upon the functioning of the vestibular system (balance mechanism) and its connections to the centres which control eye movements. Other reflexes found to be significant were: The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, the Spinal Galant reflex, Palmar, Plantar and Rooting reflexes. Postural reflexes were also found to be under-developed.

*53% showed some signs of cerebellar involvement and 85% had difficulty with at least one of the tests for dysdiadochokinesia indicating poorly developed bilateral integration.
*92% of the sample demonstrated difficulties with oculo-motor skills, of which:
*83% had difficulty with visual tracking;
*59% had difficulty with near-point convergence (necessary to fuse the two separate images seen by each eye to send a single unified image to the brain);
*42% had difficulty with visual discrimination;
*77% showed evidence of stimulus bound effect
*98% had difficulty with hand-eye co-ordination

The results suggest that whilst individual reflex abnormalities impair functioning in specific skills, the combined effect of a cluster of abnormal reflexes can have an impact upon learning in general, particularly those areas of learning which require co-operation with the motor system. Reading may be affected because it requires a level of oculo-motor functioning. Writing is a motor task that depends upon co-ordination of the hands and the eyes with automatic support from the postural system. Lack of automisation in the acquisition of motor related skills can then affect performance on written language and other motor dependent skills.

Two recent studies have demonstrated improvements in reading (McPhillips, Hepper and Mulhern 2000) and in eye movements (Bein-Wierzbinski 2001) as a result of specific reflex stimulation and inhibition movements. The results of this study suggest that examination of patterns of motor development, oculo-motor functioning and visual-perceptual performance should be more widely used as part of the assessment procedure of a child suspected of having Dyslexia ,so that appropriate intervention at a physical level can be included in addition to specialist teaching.


Bein-Wierzbinski W 2001 Persistent primitive reflexes in elementary school children. Paper presented at The 13th European Conference of Neuro-Developmental Delay in Children with Specific Learning Difficulties. Chester. March 2001

McPhillips M, Hepper PG, Mulhern G 2000 Effects of replicating primary reflex movements on specific reading difficulties in children. Lancet 355

Full transcript of the paper available on CD from The British Dyslexia Association. Proceedings of the 5th BDA International Conference or from the corresponding author:

Sally Goddard Blythe
The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP)
4, Stanley Place
Chester CH 2LU

email: inpp

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

INFOGRAPHIC The Good and Bad Habits of Smart People

Saturday, 19 July 2014

VIDEO How Behavioural Science Can Lower Your Energy Bill

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How to Treat Others: 5 Lessons

1. First Important Lesson - "Know The Cleaning Lady"
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. Second Important Lesson - "Pickup In The Rain"
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3. Third Important Lesson - "Remember Those Who Serve"

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "50¢," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "35¢!" she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4. Fourth Important Lesson - "The Obstacles In Our Path"
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand - "Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition."

5. Fifth Important Lesson - "Giving When It Counts"
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Stress Management Top Tips

By Peter Mabbutt LCCH CEO/Director of studies Feb 2012

For the majority of us, stress management is at the core of many of the presenting symptoms we treat. We know how to work with the psychological aspects of stress, but it helps to provide some other stress tips too. You can teach your patients to incorporate these into their everyday lives and to effectively prevent adverse stress from building up in the first place.

Remember: Eustress is good stress. It helps us to function effectively and to meet deadlines. It gets adrenaline and endorphins moving and can prove to be motivational.

However, when we start to interpret the eustress situation as threatening that's when good stress becomes bad with the resulting potential damage to psychological and physiological health.

Create a regular pattern of relaxation: A day at work can be a day filled with challenges - some of which can be intense. Our body responds to these challenges by releasing adrenaline, tensing up and increasing the heart rate. The easiest way to counter this stress response is to learn to relax.
  • Teach your patients simple breathing techniques such as 7/11 breathing (repeatedly breathing in through your nose for seven seconds and breathing out through your nose for 11 seconds)
  • Teach your patients to become aware of muscular tension through direct suggestion and to trigger a relaxation response with a cue word such as 'relax'
  • Encourage your patient to practice self-hypnosis
  • It is also useful to network and refer your patients for massage, aromatherapy etc.
Get mobile: Encourage your patient's to 'break the state' by getting up and walking away from the desk.
  • At lunch get out of the office and go for a walk.
  • When on the phone, get up and walk around. 
This will exercise and stretch various muscle groups and help prevent the build-up of tension.
Create a regular pattern of exercise: Walking, running, swimming, working out at the gym etc. all work off the effects stress. However, be aware that playing competitive games can sometimes add to stress.
  • Remember that after the exercise should come relaxation: sitting in a sauna or steam room for example, or practicing self-hypnosis.
  • Whenever encouraging anyone to increase their exercise always ensure that they are fit to do so - a physical checkup at their doctors should be encouraged. 
Learn how to stretch: Sitting at a desk all day can lead to muscles and tendons becoming stiff. Learning stretching exercises is a great way of releasing the accumulated tension.

Music can soothe the savage beast: If possible, listening to calming music at work can help a person to relax and concentrate.
Lighten up: Environmental lighting at your work place is important and can reduce eyestrain. Soft, indirect lighting is far better than harsh bright light.

Look at something relaxing: Pleasant photos, artwork, even a plant can provide a relaxing and peaceful focus of attention.
  • Encourage your patient to focus away from their computer screen or paperwork at regular intervals and focus on a pleasant object. This will give their eyes and mind some needed relaxation.
Be organised: A neater desk can reduce stress as untidiness can unconsciously stimulate a sense of being overwhelmed.
  • A tidy desk can bring a sense of order to a stressed mind that helps a person to feel as if they are coping better.
Create 'me' time: We work to live, not live to work. Creating 'me' time can allow a persons mind to switch off from the stresses and tensions of the day. When they get back to the hurly burly of the working day their mind is clearer and fresher and stimulates a sense of coping.
  • Make sure 'me' time refers to me! That means doing something for yourself. Setting aside half an hour to do something that you like and enjoy is invaluable.
Eat and drink healthily: Food is the fuel that keeps us going. A regular healthy eating pattern helps to keep the body in good condition.
  • Remember to encourage your patient to take a healthy option when eating. The quality of the fuel you take in is reflected in the quality of the energy you put out.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Psychology of Retail Therapy

Choosing something to buy makes shoppers more happy, less sad and feel more in control than when they are simply browsing, according to new research.

In the study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers from the University of Michigan carried out three experiments to investigate whether shopping restored a sense of control in people to counter feelings of sadness. Shopping was up to 40 times more effective at giving people a sense of control, and they were three times less sad compared to those who only browsed.

The researchers said “retail therapy” should no longer be dismissed, and that it could help people overcome sadness. Previous studies have shown that shoppers enjoy positive feelings when reflecting on their most recent purchase, when that shopping had been motivated by a desire to repair mood. Others said they were less likely to experience sadness while shopping than immediately before setting out on a buying spree.

However, researchers said until now it had remained unclear whether shopping conveys benefits beyond those produced merely by distraction, or the passage of time. “Our work suggests that making shopping choices can help to restore a sense of personal control over one’s environment and reduce sadness,” the researchers said.

“Retail therapy – shopping that is motivated by distress – is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer behaviour, but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to minimise sadness.”

Retail therapy has been described as a way of regulating stress, along with overeating, and alcohol consumption. When the researchers asked men and women for the first word that came to mind at the mention of “retail therapy”, they were more than twice as likely to use a negative word, such as nonsense or debt, than a positive one, such as fun or enjoyment.

In one experiment, men and women were divided into choosers and browsers before looking at 12 products, from slippers to headphones, and asked to select four. Results show that 79 per cent felt more in control while choosing, compared with 2 per cent of browsers. Choosers were also three times less sad.

“Our experiments provided support for the notion that making shopping choices helps to restore a sense of personal control over one’s environment, and thus helps to alleviate sadness,” the study said.

“Our work suggests that restoring personal control after it has been lost may help to extinguish the emotion that elicited the appraisal.”

And with that, cash machines across Britain should be braced for extra demand.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Hypnosis In Surgery: Patient Sings Through Procedure

A professional singer, Alama Kante, has sung through surgery to remove a tumour from her throat, so surgeons could avoid damaging her vocal cords.

The Guinean singer, who is based in France, was given just a local anaesthetic and hypnotised to help with the pain during the operation in Paris.

Kante was nervous about losing her voice, but in a "world first" her surgeon suggested she sing throughout.

He said one slip of his scalpel could have destroyed her singing voice.

'Into a trance'

Professor Giles Dhonneur, who is head of the anaesthesia and intensive care department at Henri Mondor hospital, performed the operation in April but gave a press conference over the weekend, playing a video of Kante singing as he worked.

Kante had a tumour on the parathyroid gland, but because she was singing during the "critical moments" the surgeon could be sure the operation "was going well".

Professor Dhonneur said it was the first time a tumour has been removed using the technique, as the procedure would usually be carried out under general anaesthetic.

"The pain of such an operation is intolerable if you are fully awake. Only hypnosis enables you to stand it," he was reported as saying by to French publication Le Figaro.

"She went into a trance listening to the words of the hypnotist. She went a long way away, to Africa. And she began to sing - it was amazing," he said.

The Times reported that singer Kante, who has made a full recovery, was also at the press conference where she revealed she had been asked before the operation if she wanted to "travel".

"I let myself be guided. It's as though I was not in the operating theatre at all, I was far away in Senegal," she said.

Dhonneur said Kante had fallen silent at the end of the procedure, when "everyone held their breath" before she spoke, much to the relief of the room.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Potential Harmful Effects of Violence in the Media

Early research on the effects of viewing violence on television — especially among children — found a desensitizing effect and the potential for aggression. Is the same true for those who play violent video games? Psychological researchers are studying the question.

Television and Video Violence

Virtually since the dawn of television, parents, teachers, legislators and mental health professionals have wanted to understand the impact of television programs, particularly on children. Of special concern has been the portrayal of violence, particularly given psychologist Albert Bandura's work in the 1970s on social learning and the tendency of children to imitate what they see. As a result of 15 years of “consistently disturbing” findings about the violent content of children's programs, the Surgeon General's Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior was formed in 1969 to assess the impact of violence on the attitudes, values and behavior of viewers. The resulting report and a follow-up report in 1982 by the National Institute of Mental Health identified these major effects of seeing violence on television:
  • Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
  • Children may be more fearful of the world around them.
  • Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.
Research by psychologists L. Rowell Huesmann, Leonard Eron and others starting in the 1980s found that children who watched many hours of violence on television when they were in elementary school tended to show higher levels of aggressive behavior when they became teenagers. By observing these participants into adulthood, Huesmann and Eron found that the ones who'd watched a lot of TV violence when they were 8 years old were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults. Interestingly, being aggressive as a child did not predict watching more violent TV as a teenager, suggesting that TV watching could be a cause rather than a consequence of aggressive behavior. However, later research by psychologists Douglas Gentile and Brad Bushman, among others, suggested that exposure to media violence is just one of several factors that can contribute to aggressive behavior.

Other research has found that exposure to media violence can desensitize people to violence in the real world and that, for some people, watching violence in the media becomes enjoyable and does not result in the anxious arousal that would be expected from seeing such imagery.
Video Game Violence

The advent of video games raised new questions about the potential impact of media violence, since the video game player is an active participant rather than merely a viewer. Ninety-seven percent of adolescents age 12-17 play video games — on a computer, on consoles such as the Wii, Playstation and Xbox, or on portable devices such as Gameboys, smartphones and tablets. A Pew Research Center survey in 2008 found that half of all teens reported playing a video game “yesterday,” and those who played every day typically did so for an hour or more.

Many of the most popular video games, such as “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto,” are violent; however, as video game technology is relatively new, there are fewer empirical studies of video game violence than other forms of media violence. Still, several meta-analytic reviews have reported negative effects of exposure to violence in video games. A 2010 review by psychologist Craig A. Anderson and others concluded that “the evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.” Anderson’s earlier research showed that playing violent video games can increase a person's aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in daily life. "One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters," says Anderson.

Other researchers, including psychologist Christopher J. Ferguson, have challenged the position that video game violence harms children. While his own 2009 meta–analytic review reported results similar to Anderson’s, Ferguson contends that laboratory results have not translated into real world, meaningful effects. He also claims that much of the research into video game violence has failed to control for other variables such as mental health and family life, which may have impacted the results. His work has found that children who are already at risk may be more likely to choose to play violent video games. According to Ferguson, these other risk factors, as opposed to the games, cause aggressive and violent behavior.

The American Psychological Association launched an analysis in 2013 of peer-reviewed research on the impact of media violence and is reviewing its policy statements in the area. Both are expected to be completed in 2014.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Words of Wisdom