Mind Matters: Neural nuggets for noshing

These nuggets are gleaned from the column, “In Brief,” published in the American Psychological Association “Monitor” — only I make them even more brief for your quick consumption.

Amy Novotney and Lea Winerman distill psychological journal articles and summarize what might be most salient. Here are some of their reports of recent research.

Consider the findings of University of Washington psychologists who found that “babies make quick judgments about adults’ anger and adjust their behavior accordingly.” Fifteen-month olds, while sitting on their parents’ laps, watched as researchers showed them how to play with toys. Meanwhile, another researcher “reacted” to this demonstration either neutrally, saying, “that’s entertaining,” or acted negatively, saying sternly, “that’s aggravating.” After this, the researcher observed how readily the babies played with their toys. Those who witnessed the angry outburst were less likely to play with the toys than those who experienced the neutral response. Take heed adults: how you behave does indeed affect little ones! What might we hypothesize about young babies and children who witness angry outbursts on a continual basis?

Another study regarding the young found that those children exposed to air pollution even in the womb were more susceptible to delayed social and emotional development. The Columbia University researchers determined the amount of the common pollutant found in car emissions, coal burning, and tobacco smoke in the blood samples of 462 pregnant women. In their longitudinal individual study, they assessed the children of these mothers at ages 3, 7, 9, and 11. It was found that the children of the mothers who tested for high levels of the pollutant during pregnancy, displayed “delayed development of emotional self-regulation and social competence.” So, if air pollution is detrimental even to the unborn, what kind of priority can we make for cleaner air?

Another study, done by American University researchers, found that non-black teachers have lower expectations of their black students than do black teachers. It was found that the subtle biases of teachers may become self-fulfilling prophecies for their students.

Another study of youth, done by a researcher at the University of Warwick, England, found that adolescents who participated in cultural activities with their parents were more likely to pursue higher education than those who did not partake in such activities. In an analysis of responses from 10,000 teens, it was noted that even compared to youth who attended homework clubs or participated in extracurricular activities, those who went with their parents to museums, galleries and concerts were more motivated to go on to college. Another nugget for parents to nosh?

Look for the next Mind Matters column where the topic will also be a parental theme, but with a different tack: the societal shaming of parents!

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or 610-388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, “Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com

About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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