Reading ‘Fifty Shades’ linked to unhealthy behaviors

Young adult women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.

All are known risks associated with being in an abusive relationship, much like the lead character, Anastasia, is in “Fifty Shades,” said Amy Bonomi, the study’s lead investigator. And while the study did not distinguish whether women experienced the health behaviors before or after reading the books, it’s a potential problem either way, she said.

Full story of Fifty Shades and behaviors at Science Daily

Scientists Find Brain Region That Helps You Make Up Your Mind

One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making.

A University of British Columbia study published in Nature Neuroscience says the lateral habenula, a region of the brain linked to depression and avoidance behaviors, has been largely misunderstood and may be integral in cost-benefit decisions.

“These findings clarify the brain processes involved in the important decisions that we make on a daily basis, from choosing between job offers to deciding which house or car to buy,” says Prof. Stan Floresco of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology and Brain Research Centre (BRC). “It also suggests that the scientific community has misunderstood the true functioning of this mysterious, but important, region of the brain.”

In the study, scientists trained lab rats to choose between a consistent small reward (one food pellet) or a potentially larger reward (four food pellets) that appeared sporadically. Like humans, the rats tended to choose larger rewards when costs — in this case, the amount of time they had to wait before receiving food-were low and preferred smaller rewards when such risks were higher.

Full story of the brain and decisions at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

New Study Decodes Brain’s Process for Decision Making

When faced with a choice, the brain retrieves specific traces of memories, rather than a generalized overview of past experiences, from its mental Rolodex, according to new brain-imaging research from The University of Texas at Austin.

Led by Michael Mack, a postdoctoral researcher in the departments of psychology and neuroscience, the study is the first to combine computer simulations with brain-imaging data to compare two different types of decision-making models.

In one model — exemplar — a decision is framed around concrete traces of memories, while in the other model — prototype — the decision is based on a generalized overview of all memories lumped into a specific category.

Whether one model drives decisions more than the other has remained a matter of debate among scientists for more than three decades. But according to the findings, the exemplar model is more consistent with decision-making behavior.

The study was published this month in Current Biology. The authors include Alison Preston, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Learning and Memory; and Bradley Love, a professor at University College London.

Full story of brains decision process at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Studying Dating Abuse in the Internet Age

Non-physical abuse by a dating partner such as threats, controlling behavior and harassing text messages can have a serious effect on a teenager’s health and well-being, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

The study, which appears in the research journal BMC Public Health, is one of the first to examine the effects of both physical and non-physical dating abuse that is relevant to today’s highly connected adolescents.

While physical and sexual violence significantly affected the health and behavior of adolescents aged 13-19, non-physical abuse such as stalking through text messages or email also had a considerable effect, said Amy Bonomi, lead researcher on the study and chairperson and professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

“Often an argument in society is that abuse that is not physical or sexual really doesn’t matter,” Bonomi said. “Is it really harmful, for example, if I call my partner a bad name? Or if I’m harassing or stalking them with text messages? Well, we’ve shown that it does have a negative effect on health.”

Full story of internet dating abuse at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Young Children With Autism Benefit Regardless of High-Quality Treatment Model

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who receive high-quality early intervention benefit developmentally regardless of the treatment model used — a surprising result that may have important implications for special-education programs and school classrooms across the country.

“This is the first study designed to compare long-standing comprehensive treatment models for young children with ASD,” said Brian Boyd, a fellow at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) and one of the study’s co-principal investigators. Boyd also is an assistant professor in occupational science and occupational therapy in UNC’s School of Medicine.

“We know that more children are being diagnosed with ASD each year, and that it can cost an estimated $3.2 million to treat each child over a lifetime. Understanding that a child can benefit from a high-quality program, rather than a specialized program, may help reduce those costs by decreasing the need for teachers and other school practitioners to be trained to deliver multiple specialized services,” Boyd said. He stressed it remains important to ensure educators are trained to provide high-quality programs that meet the special behavioral, communication and other needs of children with ASD.

Full story of autism and treatment at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education