Writing exercise helps women overcome sexist stereotypes

According to a new study, a brief writing exercise can help women in college physics classes improve their academic performance and reduce some of the well-documented differences between male and female science students. The writing exercise seems particularly beneficial to female students who tend to subscribe to the negative stereotype that males perform better in physics, the researchers say.

Architecture can bias your cognitive map

Some people always know which way is north and how to get out of a building. Others can live in an apartment for years without knowing which side faces the street. Differences among people that include spatial skills, experience, and preferred strategies for wayfinding are part of what determines whether people get lost in buildings—and psychological scientists could help architects understand where and why people might get lost in their buildings, according to the authors of an article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Scientists report molecular structure of dopamine receptor

A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has solved the structure of one of the receptors that responds to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Although dopamine transmission is essential to normal brain functioning, the biological assembly of the molecules involved in this crucial neuronal interplay had not been known—until now. The work was reported in the November 19, 2010, issue of the journal Science.

Perceptual changes are key to our consciousness

Our brain usually combines the two slightly divergent images of our eyes into a single consistent perception. However, if the visual information does not match, only one image is seen at a time. This phenomenon is called binocular rivalry. Researchers around Andreas Bartels at the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neurosciences (CIN) and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany used this phenomenon to decipher a key mechanism of the brain functions that contributes to conscious visual perception.

Estrogen enhances mental performance

Estrogen is an elixir for the brain, sharpening mental performance in humans and animals and showing promise as a treatment for disorders of the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. But long-term estrogen therapy, once prescribed routinely for menopausal women, now is quite controversial because of research showing it increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Does sex matter? It may when evaluating mental status

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that differs between the sexes in terms of age at onset, symptomatology, response to medication, and structural brain abnormalities. Now, a new study from the Université de Montréal shows that there is gender difference between men and women’s mental ability – with women performing better than men. These findings, published recently in, Schizophrenia Research, have implications for the more than 300 000 affected Canadians.

Being faced with gender stereotypes makes women less likely to take financial risks

omen are generally thought to be less willing to take risks than men, so he speculated that the banks could balance out risky men by employing more women. Stereotypes like this about women actually influence how women make financial decisions, making them more wary of risk, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Hearing colors, seeing sounds: New research explores sensory overlap in the brain

New research indicates that the integration of senses and functions in the brain is common. About two percent of the population has a condition called synesthesia, in which two different sensations, like color and sound, are experienced at once. Although this condition is rare, the new findings suggest the brain is wired in complex and sometimes overlapping ways to help people interpret and understand their environments.

Your view of personal goals can affect your relationships

How you think about your goals—whether it’s to improve yourself or to do better than others—can affect whether you reach those goals. Different kinds of goals can also have distinct effects on your relationships with people around you, according to the authors of a paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Parental concerns could increase the size of our creative brains

Evidence from Disneyland suggests that human creativity may have evolved not in response to sexual selection as some scientists believe but as a way to help parents bond with their children and to pass on traditions and cultural knowledge, a new study published in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology suggests.

When pride in achievement leads to a large order of fries

Sometimes pride in an achievement can lead people to indulge in unhealthy choices, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Across four studies in the food consumptions and spending domains, we show that pride is associated with two opposing forces; it promotes a sense of achievement, which increases indulgence, and it promotes self-awareness, which facilitates self control.