Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I've been a clown, a witch, a black cat, a cheetah, a red m&m, a ladybug, a dinosaur, a 50's girl, grapes, and so much more.

I was almost not going to dress up this year...

Then I realized what a big deal it apparently is at my work. The clients love Halloween and tomorrow is dedicated to all day Halloween festivities. I'm also flying to Portland for Halloween to visit a college friend for her birthday, which happens to be Halloween. I am very excited and therefore not only decided to be something for Halloween, but to get creative and make it myself. I won't tell you what I'm being yet. You'll have to wait for pictures.

In the mean time I guess I can give you a hint: It's often overlooked. It can be scary, but it can also be happy (depending what face it puts on).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The RTPG, reading other people, and....changing other's thoughts?

Mindhacks pointed me to an awesome TED talk by Rebecca Saxe on how humans are able to read other people's mental states. We can thank the right temporal parietal junction for this. I like this talk because its neither dry nor boring and has some interesting implications. Rebecca applies TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) to participants heads, temporarily suspending the activity in the RTPG, and sees what happens. It's fascinating- go check it out now! (it's only 15 minutes). The most interesting part may be the questions at the end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On hearing voices

On my very long commute home from UCLA today in which I spent all day at a training on how to conduct stress assessment interviews I listened to this. There's also a mini video feature which follows.

If you haven't checked out All in the Mind yet, you really should. You find great gems like this one. Part of me couldn't help but wonder if the clients we discharge at the psychiatric hospital I work at look and sound like this when they're home. I can't analyze this one, you'll just have to listen and/or watch the clip.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Nobel Prize Winners you aren't talking about, but should be

With everyone in a tiff about how President Barack Obama won the nobel for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," everyone seems to have forgotten the other extraordinary and revolutionary winners. With everyone debating whether it is too early for Obama to be praised with such an honor, wether it was a political move, and whether he has even done anything to deserve such an award, people have missed the quiet revolution that has been going on in the background. In fact, it didn't even occur to me to look up the other winners until tonight. And boy am I glad I looked them up. The nobel in physiology or medicine went to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack W. Szotack "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. " The nobel in economic sciences went to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance. Why is this great? Well, there's the fact that since the creation of the Nobel Prizes, only eight women had won in the category of medicine or physiology. No woman had ever won in the economic sciences, making Elinor Ostrom the first. There's also the fact that three women have never won in the sciences at the same time before. And oh yeah, did I mention that five women won a nobel this year, a new record? Women are finally being recognized as outstanding scientists, researchers, and thinkers, and as a feminist this makes me extremely happy. Carol W. Greider gave an interview for the New York times, which you can find here.
I really love her candid answer to this question:

I certainly hope it’s a sign that things are going to be different in the future. But I’m a scientist, right? This is one event. I’m not going to see one event and say it’s a trend. I hope it is. One of the things I did with the press conference that Johns Hopkins gave was to have my two kids there. In the newspapers, there’s a picture of me and my kids right there. How many men have won the Nobel in the last few years, and they have kids the same age as mine, and their kids aren’t in the picture? That’s a big difference, right? And that makes a statement.

Right on. There's a lot of work ahead in terms of women in the sciences, but this at least is a start.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Depression from an Evolutionarly Perspective

This is so interesting, I'm speechless. You're just going to have to go read it yourself. It challenges conventional notions of depression and directly states rumination might actually help alleviate depression and not cause it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh the times, They are a changing

My last entry was my farewell to summer and it now being October, I decided to welcome in Autumn. It was very cold for me today and I spent most of the day curled up reading, and finally getting around to e-mailing professors to try to get some research opportunities. And what do you know? It seems to have worked. Two professors e-mailed me back, interested in having me on board. This led me to wonder- why can't I ever take my own advice? I've been telling people to take chances, apply for everything and anything, try to get their foot in the door of their dream, but when it comes to myself, I hide. I graduated in May and it took this long to convince myself I'm smart and accomplished enough to have a professor want me as a research assistant. Of course now I'm stuck with the unpaid gigs that aren't exactly in my research area of depression. I suppose I could easily explain this psychologically- scared of failure, I waited until the last minute and now I can blame the fact that I waited until the last minute for the fact that i'm not getting awesome paid research assistant positions. And knowing that, why do I still do it? This question plagues me, but it alleviates me to know that i'm not the only one asking myself these kinds of questions. The British Psychological Research Digest just came out with its 150th issue and to celebrate they asked some of the world's leading psychologists a simple question: What's one nagging thing you still don't understand about yourself? They had to answer in 150 words and some of the answers are utter poetry. Answers stemmed from why can't we as psychologists avoid the cognitive biases which we study? to who am I really? My favorite is perhaps Dr. Sue Blackmoor's answer

I believe (although I’ve never seen it for myself) that inside my skull is a brain containing billions of neurons connected to each other in trillions of ways, with signals zooming about, setting off other signals, and generally creating massively complicated loops, coalitions, sustained patterns, and multiple parallel organised streams of information that combined together control the behaviour of this – my body. And that’s it. So how come I feel as though there is a conscious “me” as well? The oh-so-tempting idea that I am something else – a soul, a spirit, a mystical entity – is rubbish, although I once believed in it. This question nags at me so much that I have devoted most of my life to it – through research, writing, and thirty years of daily meditation. But I still don’t understand. And the more I look, the less substantial my own self seems to be. What is consciousness? And who is conscious? I really don’t know.

Nice. I suggest reading the whole thing (it's very short, as they are all 150 words or less) here

So I'm optimistic about these new prospects, and laughing at myself at the same time. Mostly, I feel good.