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What are the effects of negative self image on cognition and brain function?

What are the effects of negative self image on cognition and brain function?


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All other things considered equal, what are the effects of a negative self image, on cognition and brain function?

Are there any studies that would have specific data supporting cognitive outcomes (concentration times, memory, mind body awareness) rather than just pointing to self-esteem?

In addition, what cognitive effect does positive self image have on cognition and brain function? Are there qualities in either of them that are not inverses of the other?


Some information that partly answers your questions.

There have been some studies based on these questions, a significant article related to this type of study is Self-esteem, locus of control, hippocampal volume, and cortisol regulation in young and old adulthood (Pruessner et al. 2005).

our results clearly demonstrate that self-esteem and locus of control are significantly linked to the volume of the hippocampus in healthy young and elderly subjects. Further, we found evidence that these two factors are also related to the acute and chronic regulation of the major stress hormone in humans, cortisol.

(Note: the authors of the article acknowledge that their data does not allow them to make firm conclusions).

Cortisol affects, amongst other things, memory, learning and concentration. A specific study about this is in the article "Cortisol differentially affects memory in young and elderly men." (Wolf et al. 2001) and "Impaired memory retrieval correlates with individual differences in cortisol response but not autonomic response" (Buchanan et al. 2006). From the second article/study:

[This study] suggest that individual differences in cortisol reactivity affect memory retrieval performance, and help to explain the differential effects of stress on memory.

I will say that this is not the complete picture, but the link between self image and cortisol levels seem to be a major factor about how self image affects cognitive abilities such as learning, memory etc.


CogBlog – A Cognitive Psychology Blog

Cognitive psychology, the study of the human mental processes, is an area of study that influences many fields beyond just psychology. One specific interdisciplinary field that heavily benefits from cognitive psychology research is user experience design. User experience design is a field that focuses on improving the accessibility (usable by a wide variety of people) , usability (easiness to use and learnability), and satisfaction of using a product. Whether creating an e-commerce website or an artificial home assistant, a well-designed positive user experience is at the forefront of success. However, there are many different ways in which great product, website, and interface designs can be viewed in a negative light by a user. One of the ways that user experience design can be negatively affected is by framing. Imagine that you have an online apparel business and a potential customer encounters two different scenarios:

  • Purchase the item at the full retail price of $100
  • Purchase the item at a 50% discount of a retail price of $200

While both options end up costing the same, customers would more likely purchase the item under the second scenario. Why is this the case? The first scenario frames the purchase of the item as a loss of $100. Conversely, the second scenario is framed so that the customer has the illusion that they are saving $100 by making the purchase. They are more likely to purchase the item because it is framed as a gain. This human bias is known as the framing effect.

What is the framing effect?

An image of a people flocking towards a burger that is 75% fat free over one that contains 25% fat because the way that it is framed makes it seem healthier and more appealing.

The framing effect is an error in thinking in which people make a decision based on how a situation is presented. People are generally biased to pick an option that they view as a gain (e.g. a glass half full) over an option that they view as a loss (e.g. a glass half empty) even if both options yield the same result. They are also less likely to make a riskier decision when the option as presented as a gain versus a loss (Smith, 2013).

An example of this is seen in an experiment conducted by James N. Druckman, 2001, on the strength of framing effects. In the study, 320 participants were randomly assigned to one of three different conditions (survival condition, mortality condition, and condition that included both survival and mortality) and were tasked with choosing a program in order to combat a hypothetical disease. The table below shows the programs for each condition.

The results of the study found that in the survival condition 68.1% of the people chose program A compared to the 22.8% that chose program A in the mortality format. In the both format, 43.6% of participants chose program A. The implications of the results show that when presented with a gain (saving 200 people) people tend to be more risk-averse, are more risk-seeking when presented with a loss (400 people will die), and are generally more risk neutral when all possible information is presented. The important takeaway from this experiment is that our willingness to take risks and decision-making processes are not always as rational as we believe them to be and we are influenced by the way information is presented. An example of how framing effects can impact our seemingly rational decision making skills can be found in another post which discusses how bilingualism and framing could have impacted the results of the 2016 presidential election.

What exactly causes this bias to occur?

In a study examining the cognitive functions behind the framing effect, Gonzalez, Dana, Koshino, & Just, 2005 had fifteen participants perform various risk tasks while in an fMRI scanner (a noninvasive way to look at brain activity). The results of the fMRI showed that when choosing a gain that is guaranteed, participants used significantly less cognitive effort than when choosing a risky gain. Conversely, when choosing between a guaranteed loss and a risky loss, a similar amount of cognitive effort is required. However, choosing the guaranteed loss over the risky loss can be a more emotionally taxing option because there is no chance for a positive outcome.

All of these different possible decisions have to do with the fact that we have limited cognitive resources and our default choices are the ones that will use less resources and be less stressful. Due to the limited capacity of our cognitive load and working memory (amount of information that we can attend to and use at a particular time), we do not always process information in the deepest possible way and rely on whatever information we have easily accessible to make a decision. One way to visualize this is to imagine that you have been hired by a technology company to design an interface for a new product. You have a month to create the design and have the option to start from scratch or to use previously created designs and modify them. Choosing the first option may lead to creating a better overall design but may not be ideal given the time constraint and the amount of effort it would require compared to the payoff. The second option is easier and less stressful but may not yield the best possible design. This is similar to the cognitive tradeoffs that we have to make when deciding how many resources to spend and how deeply to process information. When we aren’t consciously aware of this tradeoff, our minds default to the decision that limits the total amount of resources being used. Therefore, our mind is susceptible to framing effects because we aren’t usually looking at how the information is framed and affects our decision.

The implications of the fMRI study confirm the behavioral observations in Druckman’s experiment and show that because of our imperfect cognitive processes, how we make our decisions can be as or even more important than the decision that we choose.

Why is the framing effect important in user experience design?

A visual diagram showing how UX (user experience) design is related to cognitive biases

Framing effects focus on the tradeoff between making a better/more rational decision and using less cognitive effort. This is directly applicable to user experience design because designs need to account for this trade off and make it easy for the user to make the best possible decision with little cognitive effort. For example, framing critical information in an overly complex way can lead to poor decision making. Imagine that you are in a super market and are looking for a low sugar drink. You find one that has 5 grams of sugar and decide that it is a healthy option and choose to buy it! However, what you fail to realize is that the drink really contains 5 grams of sugar per serving and there are actually 10 servings. This is a simple example of complexly framed information because instead of just listing the amount of sugar in the drink as 50 grams, the customer is deceived and misinformed about the truth and makes a bad decision based on how the amount of sugar in the drink is presented. In order to avoid such mistakes, information should be presented in the simplest and easiest to process ways in order to make correct decision making easy.

When evaluating design, framing effects can also distort the data. Asking someone how they “like” a product versus how they “feel” about a product can yield drastically different evaluation data. According to Morgan’s article, “The Importance of Framing in the User Experience,” using the word feel evokes a more neutral and accurate response because it doesn’t require that they actually like or dislike the product. This is a small but significant way in which the cognitive bias can skew the results of a design evaluation simply because of the uncontrollable/involuntary ways in which we process and respond to differently framed questions. Framing effects are also important when communicating the results of testing different designs because they can affect people’s perception of whether a design is good or bad and if it needs to be redesigned. Suppose that you have conducted a usability test on a website and communicate the result of the test by stating that “20% of users were unsuccessful in completing the majority of the required tasks.” Using this negative frame increases the chance that a client will want the website to be redesigned rather than if it was presented with the positive frame, “80% of users were successful in completing the majority of the required tasks.” The framing effect here is significant because it can negatively influence a person’s view of a relatively functional design.

How can you use and reduce framing effects in design?

Make it easy to think like a scientist (critically)

A study by Ayanna K. Thomas and Peter R. Millar found that when the information required to make an unbiased decision is more accessible or when participants were primed to evaluate the options closely, framing effects were reduced during decision making. This is because participants used their controlled cognitive processes when making decisions. This means that they were intentionally, consciously, and effortfully evaluating the different options, as a scientist would. You can directly apply this to a user experience design by adding in cues or priming (priming is the process of exposing a person to a specific stimulus in order to elicit a certain response when presenting another stimulus) people when they are completing a task to give them the necessary information to think critically. This can take the form of pop up messages or alerts that give them important information or signal them that the task they are about to complete will require their conscious attention and limit any unwanted framing effects. A frequently used example of good and bad design choices is the design of door handles. The way that a door with a handle is framed suggests that it should be pulled. A door with a flat metal plate suggests that it should be pushed. In the case of the door with the handle, the cue provided by the handle is that we have to grip and pull in order to open it. The cue provided by the flat metal plate suggests that there is no way to pull the door so, it must be pushed. Bad design occurs when a designer uses a handle for a door that should be pushed because this conflicts with the cues associated with a handle. This can cause frustration and errors when a person tries to use the door.

When you are creating a design, avoid overstimulation. Do not provide the user with more information than they need because it can overload their cognitive processes and make them more susceptible to framing effects, forcing them into poor decision making. Instead only provide critical information with limited options and allow the user to complete a task with minimal focused attention. By eliminating the need to think critically about a gain/loss decision, framing effects become irrelevant in good design. The image below shows an example of good an bad website design. More times than not, using lots of low quality flashing images, over the top fonts and colors, and laying out information in a messy way is a major sign of bad design. A good way to avoid this is to remember the phrase “keep it simple stupid.” The phrase is pretty self explanatory but it focuses on the principle of making things as easy to understand as possible so that people can use it properly (Bjornard, 2018). Simple designs that are easy to understand will usually be more favorable and more used in the longer run.

Surprisingly, the older you are, the more susceptible you are to framing effects (Kim, Goldstein, Hasher, & Zacks, 2005)! Why? The older you get the more accessible emotional and relational information is. This means that as you get older, you are more likely stop analytically evaluating a decision quicker and use heuristic processing (a way of processing information that is cost efficient by using whatever information is available, accessible, or applicable to a situation) because even more limited cognitive resources. Aging can also affect a person’s metamemory, whether their cognitive abilities are better or worse than they think they are. However, if you are motivated to process information analytically, your performance will be just as good no matter how old you get. To account for this in design, it is even more critical to add motivational tools for elderly users to ensure that they perform tasks as intended and are not easily influenced by framing effects.

Use framing effects to your advantage

If you are presenting data on a design evaluation, use positive language and frame information in terms of a gain instead of a loss. Doing so will increase the likelihood that users find your design to be effective and attractive and are more likely to have a positive experience if they see it in a good light.

Cognitive biases such as the framing effect are constantly present as problems that need to be accounted for in design. It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate their effects but by learning about the ways in which they affect our judgement and decision making, we can account for them to make better and more user friendly designs.

Bjornard, K. (2018, May 12). KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) – A Design Principle. Retrieved May 19, 2018, from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/kiss-keep-it-simple-stupid-a-design-principle

Druckman, J. N. (2001). Evaluating framing effects. Journal of Economic Psychology, 22(1), 91-101. doi:10.1016/s0167-4870(00)00032-5

Gonzalez, C., Dana, J., Koshino, H., & Just, M. (2005). The framing effect and risky decisions: Examining cognitive functions with fMRI. Journal of Economic Psychology, 26(1), 1-20. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2004.08.004.

Kim, S., Goldstein, D., Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (2005). Framing Effects in Younger and Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 60(4), P215–P218.


The Effect of Criticism on Functional Brain Connectivity and Associations with Neuroticism

Affiliations Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands, Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Affiliation Neuroimaging Center, Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Affiliation Neuroimaging Center, Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Affiliation Neuroimaging Center, Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Affiliation Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Affiliations Neuroimaging Center, Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen/University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands, Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands


The Effects of Storytelling on Brain Health

There have been studies that have looked at the ability to tell compelling stories as something that may have provided some survival advantage in human evolution. There have been others that have looked at the psychological and therapeutic effects of storytelling.

Perhaps most interesting in the world of longevity research, however, is the growing number of people with dementia who are benefiting from participating in group-based community storytelling, or reminiscence therapy, which is also used in treating other mental health concerns like depression.

Studies of the use of reminiscence therapy with people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's have looked at the impact the therapy has on both cognitive function and quality of life factors like happiness and mood — both of which appear to be positively influenced by the use of directed personal and autobiographical storytelling.


Abstract

Background

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is a beverage consumed for thousands of years. Numerous claims about the benefits of its consumption were stated and investigated. As green tea is experiencing a surge in popularity in Western culture and as millions of people all over the world drink it every day, it is relevant to understand its effects on the human brain.

Purpose

To assess the current state of knowledge in the literature regarding the effects of green tea or green tea extracts, l -theanine and epigallocatechin gallate both components of green tea—on general neuropsychology, on the sub-category cognition and on brain functions in humans.

Methods

We systematically searched on PubMed database and selected studies by predefined eligibility criteria. We then assessed their quality and extracted data. We structured our effort according to the PRISMA statement.

Outcome

We reviewed and assessed 21 studies, 4 of which were randomised controlled trials, 12 cross-over studies (both assessed with an adapted version of the DELPHI-list), 4 were cross-sectional studies and one was a cohort study (both assessed with an adapted version of the Newcastle–Ottawa assessment scale). The average study quality as appraised by means of the DELPHI-list was good (8.06/9) the studies evaluated with the Newcastle–Ottawa-scale were also good (6.7/9).


The Impact of Sleepiness on Mood and Mental Health

Lack of sleep can alter your mood significantly. It causes irritability and anger and may lessen your ability to cope with stress. According to the NSF, the “walking tired” are more likely to sit and seethe in traffic jams and quarrel with other people. Sleep-deprived people polled by the NSF were also less likely than those who sleep well to exercise, eat healthfully, have sex, and engage in leisure activities because of sleepiness.

Continued

“Over time, impaired memory, mood, and other functions become a chronic way of life,” says Siebern. “In the long term, this can affect your job or relationships.”

Chronic sleepiness puts you at greater risk for depression. They are so closely linked that sleep specialists aren’t always sure which came first in their patients. “Sleep and mood affect each other,” says Verceles. “It’s not uncommon for people who don’t get enough sleep to be depressed or for people who are depressed to not sleep well enough.”


Epigenetic Mechanisms

Biological and psychological effects of PE could be partly explained through epigenetic mechanisms. The term 𠇎pigenetics,” coined by Waddington (1939), is based on a conceptual model designed to account for how genes might interact with their environment to produce the phenotype (Waddington, 1939 Fernandes et al., 2017).

In particular, epigenetics is referred to all those mechanisms, including functional modifications of the genome such as DNA methylation, post-translational histone modifications (i.e., acetylation and methylation) and microRNA expression (Deibel et al., 2015 Grazioli et al., 2017), which tend to regulate gene expression, modeling the chromatin structure but maintaining the nucleotide sequence of DNA unchanged.

The current literature clearly demonstrates that these mechanisms are strongly influenced by different biological and environmental factors, such as PE (Grazioli et al., 2017), which determine the nature and the mode of epigenetic mechanisms activation.

Epigenetics plays an essential role in neural reorganization, including those that govern the brain plasticity (Deibel et al., 2015). For example, a growing body of evidence indicates that regulates neuroplasticity and memory processes (Ieraci et al., 2015).

Several animal studies reveal how motor activity is able to improve cognitive performances acting on epigenetic mechanisms and influencing the expression of those genes involved in neuroplasticity (Fernandes et al., 2017). The main molecular processes that underlie the epigenetic mechanisms are the following: through DNA methylation, histone modifications and microRNA expression (Fernandes et al., 2017).

DNA methylation is a chemical covalent modification on the cytosine of the double stranded DNA molecule. It has been recognized that DNA methylation plays a key role in long-term memory (Deibel et al., 2015 Kim and Kaang, 2017). In particular, mechanisms related to DNA methylation relieve the repressive effects of memory-suppressor genes to favor the expression of plasticity-promoting and memory consolidation genes. Several evidences showed that PE is able to coordinate the action of the genes involved in synaptic plasticity that regulate memory consolidation (Molteni et al., 2002 Ding et al., 2006).

Histone modifications are post-translational chemical changes in histone proteins. They include histone methylation/demethylation, acetylation/deacetylation, and phosphorylation, all due to the activity of specific enzymes, which modify the chromatin structure, thereby regulating gene expression. It has been demonstrated that histone acetylation is a requisite for long-term memory (LTM) (Barrett and Wood, 2008 Fernandes et al., 2017). In animals, motor activity increases these genetic mechanisms in the hippocampus and the frontal cortex, improving memory performances in behavioral tasks (Cechinel et al., 2016). Recently, following 4 weeks of motor exercise, it has been evidenced an increasing of the activity of enzymes involved in histone acetylation/deacetylation, the epigenetic mechanisms that determine an enhancing in the expression of BDNF (Maejima et al., 2018).

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, single stranded RNA molecules able to inhibit the expression of target genes. They are widely expressed in the brain, participating in epigenetic mechanisms and acting as regulators of numerous biological processes in the brain, ranging from cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, synaptic plasticity, and memory consolidation (Saab and Mansuy, 2014). Recent evidences demonstrate that PE can mitigate the harmful effects of traumatic brain injury and aging on cognitive function by regulating the hippocampal expression of miR21 (Hu et al., 2015) and miR-34a (Kou et al., 2017). Furthermore, PE contributes to attenuate the effects of stress-related increase in miR-124, involved in neurogenesis and memory formation (Pan-Vazquez et al., 2015).


Visual Impairment: Its Effect on Cognitive Development and Behaviour

Visually impaired individuals are all very different. The degree of impairment, personality, intelligence, background and the presence of other disabilities all have varying effects.

The effect of visual impairment on cognitive development and behaviour

Liyange Aruni Gunaratne (UK)

"Visual impairment" refers to all degrees of reduction in vision. "Blind" is defined as having no more vision than light perception in both eyes and where corrective lenses would make no difference. The prevalence of significant visual impairment is around 1/2000 in the Western world.

Visual impairment present at birth could be due to genetic anomalies or due to injury to the developing visual system. Dependent on the cause, the possible presence of other impairments may be indicated, as in rubella.

The degree of residual functional vision refers to acuity, the ability to interpret visual information in a practical sense and the conditions under which residual vision is optimal.

Visually impaired individuals are all very different. The degree of impairment, personality, intelligence, background and the presence of other disabilities all have varying effects. For instance, cognitive ability will affect the ability to conceptualise the environment in the absence or reduction of visual information. Temperament and personal characteristics may facilitate or interfere with adaptive tasks. As a visually impaired child grows older, although acuity may remain constant, visual function seems to improve as they gradually learn how to use the residual vision more.


Visual impairment and communication

One of the most common misconceptions about blind children is that they are equally or more adept in language skills than their normally sighted peers (Fraiberg 1977). In reality severe and early impairments are likely to affect the language development of affected children. The differences are in part due to limited access to the environment and to differences in verbal feedback from people around them. They lack visual references and have reduced integration of information from their parents. More recent studies have found that the language of visually impaired children is more self-oriented and that the word meanings are more limited than for normally sighted children (Anderson et al 1984).

Vision enables us to perceive objects in their totality and in context. Severely visually impaired children have to rely on sequential observation. They can see or touch only part of an object and from this limited information build up an image of components. Awareness of relationships between objects occurs later, and initially connections between sounds and objects are not often made. Based on the different conceptualisation of the environment, blind children may follow alternative paths of language development. The use and nature of language differs in non-verbal patterns of communication, loudness, posture, smiling and other facial expressions, and their reliance on formulaic and standard expressions.

A study by McConachie and Moore (1993) found that, almost paradoxically, parents of blind children were less likely to amplify or emphasise the meanings of their communication to the child, or to describe objects and events in detail. This delays and complicates the process of making links between early language and the surrounding world even further.

Auditory memory skills may play a different role in language development which may lead to a skewed perception of the ability to use language in comparison to sighted children. Verbal reasoning skills appear to lag behind auditory memory skills that can cause problems when having to change topics quickly or when incorporating broader meanings of a word, particularly in social situations.

Syntax and grammar seem to develop in a similar manner to sighted children, but the blind child and sighted listener may have difficulty understanding each other's referents (Landau 1997).

Burlingham (1972) reported a higher incidence of echolalia, both immediate and delayed, for blind children This could be expression of better-developed auditory memory skills in blind children. However, although visually impaired children may be more aware of the presence of auditory clues in conversations, this does not necessarily mean that they have correctly identified the implied meaning.

For visually impaired children, the process of adapting to society will differ from that of normally sighted children. Many social clues take the form of body language and therefore require vision in order to be understood, so may be only partially or not at all accessible (Groenveld 1993). Congenitally blind children are not aware of the reactions from others to their own body language unless they are specifically taught. Partially sighted children who have behavioural adaptations to make their sight more functional may, unbeknown to them, communicate body language that implies feelings that they are not actually experiencing.

Visually impaired children often face problems in social integration. Although they may have a great desire to belong to a group, they may have fears about how to go about it. This shift from family norms to peer group norms can be very difficult and pressure to be "normal" can further inhibit this integration, so much so that partially sighted children may start to deny their impairment altogether.


Visual Impairment and Mental Health

The behaviour of visually impaired children is shaped by the limitations of their visual input. This alters their perceptions of the environment, their own understandings of cause and effect and the relationships between people and/or objects. Their behaviour may well be their normal reaction to different information that they receive, rather than a deviation. Several studies have reported a high incidence of psychiatric disorder in blind children (Jan et al. 1977). However the criteria used in diagnoses are based on the sighted population. It is therefore difficult to tell if one is dealing with the outward symptoms of a psychiatric disorder or of the visual impairment itself. It is therefore very important that assessments regarding behavioural deviance are made by clinicians who are familiar with people who are visually impaired.

For the congenitally blind child, the concept of self may be delayed because of difficulties in communication due to the lack of eye contact with the mother and responsive smiling. Representational play also develops much later than normal, and the individual may wrongly be labelled "autistic". Furthermore some young blind children show pronoun reversal as is found is autism. Autistic-type features in the behaviour of totally blind children are quite common. These stereotypic movements include flicking hands or fingers, rocking, spinning, body swaying, twirling and tapping for example (Jan et al 1977) as are seen in autistic children.

Before labelling the child as autistic, the degree to which the behaviour can be minimised or modified must be investigated. It may be an expression of under-stimulation, so providing a stimulating activity may reduce the behaviour. On the other hand the movements may be due to over-stimulation. This is commonly found in children with cortical visual impairment who resort to repetitive behaviour when the environment becomes too visually complex for them to cope with (Groenveld 1990). When the environment has been made more visually acceptable for them, if the deviant behaviour is reduced, it is more likely that the cause was the visual impairment rather than a psychiatric disorder. Nevertheless, any deviant behaviour must not be initially assumed to be as a result of the visual impairment alone. Other factors must always be considered such as additional intellectual disabilities, emotional problems and language disorders. These may be compounded by the visual impairment but not be caused by it.

As visually impaired children do not have access to visual modelling and shaping of expected behaviour patterns, a number of their behaviours may be mistakenly diagnosed as pathological. Depression can be wrongly suspected or diagnosed because of misunderstanding of body language. Blind children often have low muscle tone and because they do not need to maintain eye contact for information, sit with their head down. Furthermore a child may misinterpret the meaning for the language and use overly dramatic statements that carry their own personal meaning.

The "I-You" distinction in congenitally blind children is delayed, as is representational play, which is part of the basis for the development of symbolic language. Kitson and Thacker (2000) suggest that as a result, congenitally blind adults may have depersonalised relationships they may seem unmotivated and "schizoid". Professionals are likely to underestimate mood, intelligence and personality in any client with reduced expressive behaviour.

Anderson, E.D., Dunlea, A., Kekelis, L.S. (1984) "Blind children's language: resolving some differences." Journal of Child Language, 11, pp 45-64

Burlingham, D. (1972) Psychoanalytic Studies of the Sighted and the Blind. New York: National Universities Press

Fraiberg, S. (1997) Insights from the blind. New York: Basic Books

Groenveld, M. (1993) Effects of visual disability on behaviour and the family. In Fielder, A.R., Best A.B., Bax, M.C. (eds) The Management of visual impairment in childhood. London: Cambridge University Press

Groenveld, M. (1990) "The dilemma of assessing the visually impaired child" Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 32, pp 1105-1109

Jan, J.E., Freeman, R.D., Scott, E.P. (1977) Visual Impairment in Children and Adolescents. New York: Grune & Stratton

Kitson, N. & Thacker, A. (2000) Adult Psychiatry. In Hindley, P. & Kitson, N.(eds) Mental Heath and Deafness. London: Whurr Publishers Ltd.

Landau, B. (1997) "Language and Experience in Blind Children: Retrospective and Prospective". In: Lewis, V., Collis, G.M (Eds) Blindness and Psychological Development in Young Children. Leceister: BPS Books, pp 9-28

McConachie, H. & Moore, V. (1994) Early expressive language of severely visually impaired children, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 36(3): 230-40.


What is Color Psychology?

Color Psychology is a theory of how each color affects a person’s mood, cognitive functions, creativity, and productivity. When a person is surrounded by calming hues such as blue or green, they feel relaxed. Whereas, if a person is surrounded by loud vibrant tones such as red, maroon, or orange, they feel energetic and passionate. Similarly, neutral colors such as white or gray make them feel serene.

Color Psychology is based on the scientific effect of different hues of each color of the spectrum, on the human brain. Although the effects of the colors may seem similar, studies show that each individual responds differently to standard color schemes.


How the Internet may be changing the brain

An international team of researchers from Western Sydney University, Harvard University, Kings College, Oxford University and University of Manchester have found the Internet can produce both acute and sustained alterations in specific areas of cognition, which may reflect changes in the brain, affecting our attentional capacities, memory processes, and social interactions.

In a first of its kind review, published in World Psychiatry -- the world's leading psychiatric research journal, the researchers investigated leading hypotheses on how the Internet may alter cognitive processes, and further examined the extent to which these hypotheses were supported by recent findings from psychologi¬cal, psychiatric and neuroimaging research.

The extensive report, led by Dr Joseph Firth, Senior Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester, combined the evidence to produce revised models on how the Internet could affect the brain's structure, function and cognitive development.

"The key findings of this report are that high-levels of Internet use could indeed impact on many functions of the brain. For example, the limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention -- which then in turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task," said Dr Firth.

"Additionally, the online world now presents us with a uniquely large and constantly-accessible resource for facts and information, which is never more than a few taps and swipes away.

"Given we now have most of the world's factual information literally at our fingertips, this appears to have the potential to begin changing the ways in which we store, and even value, facts and knowledge in society, and in the brain."

The recent introduction and widespread adoption of these online technologies, along with social media, is also of concern to some teachers and parents. The World Health Organization's 2018 guidelines recommended that young children (aged 2-5) should be exposed to one hour per day, or less, of screen time. However, the report also found that the vast majority of research examining the effects of the Internet on the brain has been conducted in adults -- and so more research is needed to determine the benefits and drawbacks of Internet use in young people.

Dr Firth says although more research is needed, avoiding the potential negative effects could be as simple as ensuring that children are not missing out on other crucial developmental activities, such as social interaction and exercise, by spending too much time on digital devices.

"To help with this, there are also now a multitude of apps and software programs available for restricting Internet usage and access on smartphones and computers -- which parents and carers can use to place some 'family-friendly' rules around both the time spent on personal devices, and also the types of content engaged with," he said.

"Alongside this, speaking to children often about how their online lives affect them is also important -- to hopefully identify children at risk of cyberbullying, addictive behaviours, or even exploitation -- and so enabling timely intervention to avoid adverse outcomes."

Professor Jerome Sarris, Deputy Director and Director of Research at NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and senior author on the report, is concerned over some of the potential impacts of increasing Internet use on the brain.

"The bombardment of stimuli via the Internet, and the resultant divided attention commonly experienced, presents a range of concerns," said Professor Sarris.

"I believe that this, along with the increasing #Instagramification of society, has the ability to alter both the structure and functioning of the brain, while potentially also altering our social fabric.

"To minimise the potential adverse effects of high-intensity multi-tasking Internet usage, I would suggest mindfulness and focus practice, along with use of 'Internet hygiene' techniques (e.g. reducing online multitasking, ritualistic 'checking' behaviours, and evening online activity, while engaging in more in-person interactions)," said Professor Sarris.

Co-author and director of the digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School, Dr John Torous added: "The findings from this paper highlight how much more we have to learn about the impact of our digital world on mental health and brain health. There are certainly new potential benefits for some aspects of health, but we need to balance them against potential risks."

Oxford research fellow and study co-author, Dr Josh Firth added: "It's clear the Internet has drastically altered the opportunity for social interactions, and the contexts within which social relationships can take place. So, it's now critical to understand the potential for the online world to actually alter our social functioning, and determine which aspects of our social behaviour will change, and which won't."