One of the unique characteristics of humans that distinguish us from the animal kingdom is the ability to represent others' beliefs in our own minds. This sort of intuitive mind-reading, according to experts, lays the cognitive foundations of interpersonal understanding and communication.
Despite its importance, scientists have yet to reach a consensus on how this psychological function develops. Some argue that this complex and flexible ability is acquired at the age of 3-4 years and only after prerequisites such as language grammar are fulfilled. Others suggest specialized developmental mechanisms are in place at birth, allowing infants to refine this ability very early in life.
Luca Surian, a psychologist at the University of Trento in Italy, and his colleagues believe they have made some progress in the debate. In a study published in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Surian found that 13-month-old infants were able to exhibit the ability to attribute mental content.
Fri, 03 Aug 2007 16:27 UTC
How do people get ahead in the workplace? One way seems to be by making their subordinates miserable, according to a study released on Friday.
In the study to be presented at a conference on management this weekend, almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in an online survey said the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways.
"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia.
Psychopaths have a knack for rising to the top of everything, to the detriment of everyone else. A good book that might help bring you further understanding is "Snakes in Suits
." For great insight into how this same problem affects politics, and thus societies all over the world, be sure to read "Political Ponerology
A special issue of the journal Homeopathy, journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy and published by Elsevier, on the "Memory of Water" brings together scientists from around the world for the first time to publish new data, reviews and discuss recent scientific work exploring the idea that water can display memory effects. The concept of memory of water is important to homeopathy because it offers a potential explanation of the mechanism of action of very high dilutions often used in homeopathy.
Guest editor Professor Martin Chaplin of the Department of Applied Science at London South Bank University, remarks: "There is strong evidence concerning many ways in which the mechanism of this 'memory' may come about. There are also mechanisms by which such solutions may possess effects on biological systems which substantially differ from plain water."
A 5-year-old with abdominal pain, nausea and fever may have appendicitis or any of a number of other problems. But how does the child's doctor decide whether to schedule an emergency appendectomy to surgically remove a presumably inflamed appendix - a procedure that carries its own risks like any surgery - or wait and observe what could be a ticking time bomb that could rupture and kill the patient in a matter of hours? It's a classic physician's dilemma, but a new study led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center may ease the pediatrician's problem-solving and parents' anxiety.
Reporting on their review of the frequency of the most common symptoms of actual appendicitis in children, the researchers concluded that beyond fever, the most telltale signs are "rebound" tenderness or pain that occurs after pressure is removed abruptly from the lower right part of the abdomen; abdominal pain that starts around the belly button and migrates down and to the right; and an elevated white blood cell count (10,000 or more per microliter), which is a marker of infection in the body.
Scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have shown that mental and physical exercise can improve behavioural deficits in schizophrenia and repair damaged chemical transmitter pathways in the brain.
Dr Anthony Hannan, along with Dr Caitlin McOmish, Emma Burrows and colleagues, characterised a genetically altered mouse and discovered that it had schizophrenia-like behaviours, including learning and memory problems, the inability to process complex information, and abnormal responses to particular sensory stimuli.
The scientists found the mouse's condition significantly improved by simply giving them enhanced mental and physical exercise - putting running wheels in their cages, plus interesting items to smell, see and touch.
Prolonged periods of deployment among Britain's armed forces is associated with mental health problems, finds a study published on bmj.com today.
Deployment is an essential ingredient of military life. However, research shows that an increase in the pace of military operations "operational tempo" may have an effect on health and place strain on families.
The UK armed forces have recommended deployment levels called the harmony guidelines, reflecting the need to balance rest and recuperation with deployment. In times of simultaneous major operations, such as those in Iraq and Afganistan, this tool is helpful for monitoring overstretch as a measure of over-commitment.
A total of 175 people are now hospitalized in a Urals region following a pneumonia outbreak believed to have been caused by contamination in the hot water supply, local authorities said.
The infection spread in the Sverdlovsk Region after annual maintenance to hot water pipes supplying homes. Four people are confirmed to have died of pneumonia. A local Health Ministry spokesman said one of the patients is in intensive care.
Of the patients, 150 have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia, and in 66 of these cases the diagnosis has been confirmed by laboratory tests.
The spokesman said 31 people had already been discharged from hospital and that most patients were recovering following therapy.
Fri, 03 Aug 2007 03:49 UTC
A man who gets angry at work may well be admired for it but a woman who shows anger in the workplace is liable to be seen as "out of control" and incompetent, according to a new study presented on Friday.
What's more, the finding may have implications for Hillary Clinton as she attempts to become the first female U.S. president, according to its author Victoria Brescoll, a post-doctoral scholar at Yale University.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered a unique molecular pathway that detects and selectively eliminates defective messenger RNAs from red blood cells.
The mother of a man who was left in a near-vegetative state by a serious assault spoke yesterday of her joy at the "medical miracle" that has allowed him to speak and eat again - and which could benefit tens of thousands of people in a similar condition.