College students obtain far less sleep than is recommended and often report that environmental factors such as noisy residence halls impair the sleep they do get. Insufficient and poor quality sleep put college students at risk for suboptimal academic performance, poor neurocognitive functioning, and accidents. The purpose of this study was to examine whether increasing participant accountability and salience of personal health behaviors, including sleep, would improve sleep variables.METHODS: As part of a larger study, college students completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) in addition to a battery of other health related questionnaires both at the beginning and the end of an academic term lasting 10 weeks. Participants were 34 college students enrolled at a small liberal arts college and were recruited from psychology courses. The sample was 57% female, 88% white, and was 19.74±1.05 years in age. RESULTS: Participant self-reported sleep quality, with lower scores indicating better sleep quality, improved from Time 1 (M = 1.20, SD = 0.79) to Time 2 (M = 0.97, SD = 0.58) [F (1, 32) = 4.57; p < 0.05]. Ratings of sleep disturbance, with lower scores indicating less sleep disturbance, also improved from Time 1 (M = 1.14, SD = 0.43) to Time 2 (M = 0.94, SD = 0.49) [F (1, 32) = 7.78; p < 0.05]. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that simply asking college students to report on their health behaviors over time might be sufficient to improve sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbance. Follow-up studies should include objective measures; however, utilizing personal accountability and increasing personal salience of health promoting behaviors would be a low-cost, high impact method to improve both sleep and overall health for people of all ages.
Psychology, Sociology and Criminal Justice Research
Negative Effects of Pre-Learning Stress on Long-Term Memory are Mediated by Gender and the Emotional Arousal of the Learned Information
Effects of Pre-Retrieval Stress on Long-Term Memory Depend on Individual Differences in Corticosteroid Response to Stress
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by cognitive impairments, which may result from intrusive, traumatic memories. One factor potentially influencing the development and maintenance of intrusive memories is prefrontal cortex development, a phenomenon associated with age. The present studies examined how age influences the effects of emotional memories on rat physiology and behavior. Adolescent and adult rats were exposed to predator stress and given water maze training five weeks later. Prior to memory testing, the rats were given a reminder of the predator stress. The results indicated that a reminder of the stress experience impaired long-term spatial memory in the female, adolescent rats only. These findings may have implications for the development of intrusive memories and the increased risk that females have for PTSD.
Blunted Corticosterone Response to Acute Predator Stress Results in Long-Term Spatial Memory Impairment
Clinical research suggests that a blunted corticosteroid response to trauma may be associated with increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to more directly test this hypothesis, we examined the influence of a blunted corticosterone response to stress on the development of PTSD-like behaviors in rats. One-month-old, male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with metyrapone, an inhibitor or corticosterone synthesis, or vehicle prior to being exposed to an adult female cat for one hour. A week later, the rats were tested for anxiety-like behavior on an elevated plus maze (EPM) and for spatial learning and memory in the radial-arm water maze (RAWM). Analyses of post-stress serum samples verified that metyrapone effectively blocked the stress-induced increase of rat corticosterone levels. Behaviorally, we found that stress, independent of drug, led to an increase in some anxiety-like behaviors (e.g., overall movement, head dips) on the EPM. More importantly, we found that metyrapone administration prior to stress significantly impaired long-term spatial memory in the RAWM. These findings indicate that a blunted corticosteroid response to stress could exacerbate its effects on cognitive performance. Moreover, because anxiety-like behaviors on the EPM were not intensified by the blunted corticosteroid response to stress, our findings also suggest that specific physiological responses to an acute trauma may intensify some, but not all, PTSD-like symptoms.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that develops as a result of a mixture of genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. It is characterized by a continuation of habitual alcohol consumption following the realization that it poses a threat to the individual’s interpersonal relationships and social standing. Addiction to alcohol tends to be progressive and untreatable, partly due to the cognitive distortions that commonly accompany the disease, particularly denial. In addition, alcoholics are distinctive in that they place drinking at a higher priority than obligations. The application of Émile Durkheim’s macro-level theories can provide an understanding of alcoholism in terms of society’s influence on the individual. According to Durkheim, in modern societies, individuals are immersed in both a profane and a sacred reality. Symbols are reminders that occur during the profane reality as reminders of the sacred reality and rituals. Rituals are enacted during the sacred reality and further consolidate the emotions that originally made membership to a group captivating. Durkheim also conceptualized “anomie,” a lack of moral regulation over the individual. The lack of regulation over the treatment of alcohol, in particular, makes modern societies prone to alcoholism. Symbols are constantly compelling individuals to engage in the ritualistic act of drinking through alcohol advertising and surrounding conversations about alcohol. Joining a group with symbols of sobriety can establish a new sacred reality within the individual that thrives on the ability to defeat alcoholism. Despite psychological and genetic factors, a possible cure lies within strong group value systems that provide moral regulation over alcohol, as well as rituals and symbols that make sobriety a new, energizing way of life.
This paper addresses sociopathic behavior from the context of society as a whole. Using Durkheim and Mead takes sociopathy beyond a set of individual characteristics and allows us to look at how the sociopathic individual interacts with society to have an impact on the larger whole. Additionally, by understanding this phenomenon through both structural and interactional lenses we are able to see how patterns in society can affect and are affected by sociopathic individuals.
Interracial adoption is the phenomenon where children of one racial or ethnic group are adopted by parent(s) of another racial or ethnic group. Racial disparities are apparent within the adoption system in the United States. With the increasing acceptance of family structures outside the nuclear family, this work examines the continued reluctance to create interracial families through adoption. Max Weber’s concepts of status, party, rationality and the construction of race are used to address white parents preferring to adopt non-black, minority children, the use of race as a factor in matching a child with a family, the reluctance to the idea of a biracial family, and the hesitancy of black families to interracial adoption more so than white families.
Research has found that emerging adults often report poor sleep quality, which has been connected to problems with mood regulation, academic performance, and accidents. One way to regulate these problems is to practice healthy sleep habits, such as keeping a regular bed time to ensure optimal sleep quality. Additionally, some people with external locus of control, believing events are outside one’s personal control, may disregard their ability to engage in good sleep practices, affecting their overall sleep quality.METHOD: As part of a larger study, Rotter’s Locus of Control (LOC) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) were utilized to assess college students over the course of an academic term. Participants (N=34) ranged in age from 18-22 (M=19.73) with 19 females and 15 males.
RESULTS: An ANOVA assessing the relationship between LOC and Global PSQI scores indicated a main effect of LOC (p=.045), such that those with an external LOC had higher overall PSQI scores (M=8.59) than those with an internal LOC (M=6.28). An additional ANOVA examining regular bed times and Global PSQI scores showed a main effect of bed time (p=.016), such that those without a regular bed time had higher overall PSQI scores (M=8.47). Furthermore, participants’ scores were above the accepted clinical cutoff of 5 for Global PSQI indicating overall poor sleep quality.CONCLUSION: The results suggest that among emerging adults, an external LOC and not having a regular bed time are associated with worse overall sleep quality than those who have a set bed time and have an internal LOC. These findings suggest that manipulations of one’s locus of control as well as education about sleep hygiene might be a point of intervention for college students to improve sleep quality and, subsequently, academics and mood.
Differential expression of molecular markers of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala in response to spatial learning and predator stress-induced amnesia.
We have studied the effects of spatial learning and predator stress-induced amnesia on the expression of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and calcineurin in the hippocampus, basolateral amygdala (BLA), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Adult male rats were given a single training session in the radial-arm water maze (RAWM) composed of 12 trials followed by a 30-min delay period, during which rats were either returned to their home cages or given inescapable exposure to a cat. Immediately following the 30-min delay period, the rats were given a single test trial in the RAWM to assess their memory for the hidden platform location. Under control (no stress) conditions, rats exhibited intact spatial memory and an increase in phosphorylated CaMKII (p-CaMKII), total CaMKII, and BDNF in dorsal CA1. Under stress conditions, rats exhibited impaired spatial memory and a suppression of all measured markers of molecular plasticity in dorsal CA1. The molecular profiles observed in the BLA, mPFC, and ventral CA1 were markedly different from those observed in dorsal CA1. Stress exposure increased p-CaMKII in the BLA, decreased p-CaMKII in the mPFC, and had no effect on any of the markers of molecular plasticity in ventral CA1. These findings provide novel observations regarding rapidly induced changes in the expression of molecular plasticity in response to spatial learning, predator exposure, and stress-induced amnesia in brainregions involved in different aspects of memory processing.
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