Friday Factoids: Altruism–Is It Innate Or Taught?

Research has shown that altruism increases positive feelings. Many parents often wonder how they can increase their child’s empathy and kind behavior. There has been some debate as to whether this is a characteristic that individuals are born with or learn from their environments.


Numerous studies have shown that children as young as 1 year old can be observed participating in altruistic acts, suggesting that this was an innate ability. However, more recently there have been studies completed showing that children aged 1 – 4 years showed participation in more altruistic acts when they had recently been involved in reciprocal play. This implied that children who are exposed to others who help them, or are in environments where they observe others helping each other, are more likely to engage in benevolent behavior.


If you want to increase a child’s number of altruistic acts, you can increase the number of reciprocal acts they are involved in with others.  Children who observe environments where reciprocity is taking place are more likely to pick up on social cues that someone may benefit from their “help.” However, children who received material reinforcement for their helping behavior were less likely to continue the behavior in the absence of a tangible reward, regardless of the environment. Children should be exposed to others being kind to one another in an attempt to increase the likelihood that will continue to show kindness to others just because it feels good.


Barragan, R. C., & Dweck, C. S. (2014). Rethinking natural altruism: Simple reciprocal interactions trigger children’s benevolence: Fig. 1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(48), 17071-17074. doi:10.1073/pnas.1419408111


Warneken, F. “The Development of Altruistic Behavior: Helping in Children and Chimpanzees.” Social Research: An International Quarterly, vol. 80 no. 2, 2013, pp. 431-442. Project MUSE,


Crystal Henson, MA
Doctoral Intern



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Article Review: Bach, P., & Hayes, S. C. (2002). The use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to prevent the rehospitalization of psychotic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 70, 1129-1138. Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple.

If you work at an acute inpatient psychiatric hospital, you will see familiar faces as patients are readmitted.   It’s an evitable occurrence.  When this happens you can do one of two things, either continue with the same treatment approach or go back to the drawing boards and find new evidence based treatment techniques.


One new up and coming therapeutic approach that can be used in an inpatient psychiatric hospital is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  ACT is a part of the third wave behavioral movement that focuses on allowing the client to take action in his or her own life (Harris, 2009).   In ACT, rather than focusing on solely reducing symptoms of the psychopathology the client will work to increase his or her positive psychological skills using techniques of defusion, mindfulness, and acceptance.  ACT therapy frequently uses metaphors to describe new skills such as placing all thoughts of a leave floating down a stream when discussing the topic of defusion.


Bach and Hayes (2002) sought out to determine if a brief version of ACT could reduce the number of hospitalizations of psychotic patients along with reducing the believability of the symptoms as reported by the patients.  The researchers conducted a randomized control study with 80 patients who were readmitted to a state psychiatric hospital.  All patients either reported experiencing delusions or hallucinations.  Individuals were excluded from the study if they had a diagnosis of a substance-induced psychosis, severe intellectual disability, or neurocognitive disorder (Bach & Hayes, 2002).  The study collected several different data items including the number of readmissions a patient had for a four month period following discharge, the frequency of symptoms, distress related to those positive symptoms, and self-reported reliability of symptoms.


Study participants were divided into two groups: treatment as usual (TAU) or treatment as usual with brief ACT therapy (TAU+ ACT).   Those in the TAU group received medication, attended at least three group therapy sessions a week, and had the chance to receive individual therapy once a week (Bach & Hayes, 2002).  In the TAU+ACT group, patients received four ACT therapy sessions with a psychology intern (see psychology interns can do a lot while on internship).  Each of the ACT therapy sessions lasted approximately 45 minutes.  During the first therapy session, patients were provided with an overview of ACT, how the patient had managed positive symptoms in the past, and learning to defuse from thought (Bach & Hayes, 2002).  Each additional session took place approximately 72 hours after the previous session.  The second session focused on accepting the positive symptoms by discussing how past attempts to control these symptoms lead to additional distress.  In the third session, the patient began exploring his or her own personal values and goals for life.  When looking at their values, the patient had the opportunity to see how past attempts to manage positive symptoms hindered reaching those goals. The final session was a review session to discuss how the patient could use the skills when discharged.


The study found that just four individual ACT therapy session was enough to reduce the rate of rehospitalization by 50% for a group of patients who were considered to be severely mentally ill (Bach and Hayes, 2002).  Additionally, the study found that those who received ACT therapy were more likely to report their symptoms to others, which aided in the patients being able to stay out of the hospital.  Furthermore, both study groups reported similar levels of frequency and distress associated with positive symptoms; however, the TAU+ACT group reported lower levels of believability in those symptoms than the TAU group.  This shows that even if the symptoms were still present that patients were able to understand that the symptom content was not reality-based.  By understanding that the positive symptoms were not reality-based, the patients were then able to turn their focus to more effective coping skills.


So before you become frustrated the next time you see that familiar face being readmitted take the time to look at different therapeutic approaches because you never know what will work until you try it.


Bach, P., & Hayes, S. C. (2002). The use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to prevent the rehospitalization of psychotic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology70, 1129-1138.


Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.



Anissa Pugh, MA LPA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern




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Friday Factoids: Avoiding the Holiday Blues



For many, the holidays become synonymous with stress: finding the perfect tree, having the perfect decorations, finding the perfect gift, and spending time with family. These things can quickly turn holiday cheer into holiday drear. However, there are ways to reduce the stress that can come along with all the holiday hustle and bustle.


  • Set a budget, and stick to it (even if your budget is free). Send a heartfelt card, make something, offer to help someone else. Gifts don’t have to be material, and often the more heartfelt gifts will be remembered the longest.


  • Plan ahead and don’t spread yourself thin. Make a list, divide and conquer, delegate to other family members. You don’t have to do everything. Remember, it’s okay to say no. Scheduling conflicts will occur. That’s okay. Things will not go as planned. That’s okay.


  • Set realistic expectations and don’t strive for perfection. Things will not always go as planned. Sometimes dinner gets burnt, sometimes the cat knocks over the tree, sometimes it snows (or it doesn’t). Sometimes important people aren’t able to make it. It’s okay. Don’t stress over what you cannot control. Do what you can and nothing more. Are there important people who you can’t spend time with? Find ways to keep everyone included. Take pictures, make a phone call, or send a video.


  • Accept people for who they are. Agree to disagree. Acknowledge your feelings and realize it’s ok to not be okay. Holiday events are not the time to hash out disagreements. Learn to accept others and forgive past transgressions.


  • Remember to take care of yourself. Give yourself 15 minutes to do something alone. Remember to maintain your healthy habits. This includes exercising, eating healthy, meditating, whatever it is you typically do, keep doing it! Try to give yourself a day of rest before returning to your daily routine.


  • Get additional support. Reach out to friends, attend community events, volunteer, or seek out professional assistance if needed. Don’t isolate yourself.


Not every get together will look like a Hallmark card. Not every family interaction will be like they are in the movies. Remember, this is real life. And in real life, it is what you make it…even if that means allowing things to be perfectly imperfect.





5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress. (2016). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from


Wiegartz, P. (2011, November 12). 10 Common Holiday Stresses and How to Cope with Them.

Retrieved November 24, 2017, from



Tips for coping with holiday stress. (2017, September 16). Retrieved November 24, 2017, from


Crystal Henson, MA
Doctoral Intern

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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: Strategies to Help People With Mental Illness During the Holidays


The Christmas season in America is thought to be carefree and whimsical, associated with joy, food, and fun. However, for some, especially individuals with severe mental illness, it can be a time of despair, loneliness and depressing memories. Turnbull (2015) found in his study, 36% of individuals with mental health problems have engaged in non-suicidal injurious behaviors during the holiday season, but more than half of the participants considered harming themselves around Christmas, while 45% have considered taking their own life. A further 76% of participants in the study reported having problems sleeping, and 60% of people reported experiencing panic attacks over the festive period.


Research has found components that can aid individuals with severe mental illness, such as engaging in leisure activities (Lloyd, King, Lampe & McDougall, 2001), but unfortunately these individuals lack possibilities to spend this time in ways that are meaningful to them (Perese, 1997).  Leisure activities for individuals with severe mental illnesses have shown to have the potential to improve quality of life (Pieris & Craik, 2004; Carruthers & Hood, 2004). Leisure around the Christmas holiday for both individuals with and without disorders/disabilities is often what is wanted and hoped for, which is why it seems to be readily researched but the importance of holiday trips for people with severe mental illnesses is not widely known (Pols & Kroon, 2007). Results from Pols and Kroon (2007) found that one can assist individuals with severe mental illness while on a holiday trip by managing their medication, finances, and creating a somewhat structured routine. In addition, the researchers found holiday trips were linked with rehabilitation goals that were hard to identify by staff members who worked with the participants in the institutional setting. Holiday trips for individuals with severe mental illness helped the participants establish and maintain social relationships.


That is what the holiday season should be about, positive supportive connections, with the people that matter most in life. Turnbull (2015) suggested to combat unhealthy activities and coping methods, to “Look out for one another and show that you care by listening supportively, be affectionate, appreciative, or simply by spending time with loved ones.”


Carruthers, C. P., & Hood, C. D. (2004). The power of the positive: Leisure and well-       being. Therapeutic Recreation Journal38(2), 225-245.


Lloyd, C., King, R., Lampe, J., & McDougall, S. (2001). The leisure satisfaction of           people with psychiatric disabilities. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal25(2),   107-113. doi:10.1037/h0095035


Perese, E. F. (1997). Unmet needs of persons with chronic mental illnesses: Relationship to their adaptation to community living. Issues In Mental Health Nursing18(1),          19-34. doi:10.3109/01612849709006537


Pieris, Y., & Craik, C. (2004). Factors Enabling and Hindering Participation in Leisure     for People with Mental Health Problems. The British Journal Of Occupational        Therapy67(6), 240-247. doi:10.1177/030802260406700602


Pols, J., & Kroon, H. (2007). The importance of holiday trips for people with chronic        mental health problems. Psychiatric Services58(2), 262-265.


Turnbull, A. (2015). Pressures of Christmas lead to rise in mental health    problems. Independent Nurse, 1.


Katy Roth, MA, CRC
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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Friday Factoid: The Tryptophan In Your Turkey: What You Didn’t Know

Tryptophan found in turkey is believed to be the legendary reason why people always doze off for little naps on Thanksgiving Day.  In fact, “Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be found in several foods, which include dairy products, soy products, seafood, poultry and beans” (BeneFit from: Tryptophan, 2008) and there is even more tryptophan in cheese and chicken breast than there is in turkey, according to Elder (2009). To debunk the myth, Elder (2009) says, there is not enough tryptophan in your Thanksgiving turkey to tire you out. However, the tryptophan in your turkey is a precursor to calming, feel-good serotonin.



It seems tryptophan in our food is linked to serotonin, and melatonin. Thornton and Whitley (2012) confirmed the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin can be controlled by tryptophan ingestion (p. 40). Interestingly, Esteban, Nicolaus, Garmundi, Rial, Rodríguez, Ortega, EIbars, (2004) found differences in tryptophan  ingestion at  the beginning of light or dark phases in rats (p. 41). “The administration of  L-tryptophan during the light time  increased the brain synthesis and metabolism of serotonin. However, at night, tryptophan’s administration led to a smaller increase in the synthesis of serotonin than by day, although the turnover remained  unchanged,  suggesting that,  in the dark phase, serotonin is used as a substrate for melatonin synthesis” (Thornton & Whitley, 2012, p. 40).  Esteban et  al., (2004) results imply, “The  difference  between  the effects of increased tryptophan intake during light and dark phases suggests that  tryptophan  hydroxylase  activity  presents  circadian  fluctuations  which seem to be clock controlled” (p. 41).  So, it seems that the legend behind the Thanksgiving naps can in some ways be linked to tryptophan, and tied to our circadian rhythms.



Tryptophan due to its connection to serotonin has been somewhat studied with its role in depression. Parker and Brotchie, (2011) revealed, “There is limited evidence suggesting that depressed individuals, especially those with a melancholic depression, have decreased tryptophan levels. However, results showing a causal contribution or are a consequence of a depressed state remains an open question. Neither the less, the researchers support there is a small database claiming tryptophan preparations benefit people with depressed mood states.”


In conclusion, turkey has tryptophan but other food such as cheese and chicken breast have higher quantities of this amino acid. The amount of tryptophan you eat on Thanksgiving from turkey is not necessarily enough to make you tired, but it could have an impact on your circadian rhythm. The tryptophan you consume impacts your serotonin, and melatonin, which is likely to impact your mood. So therefore, Have A Great Increase of Serotonin on Your Thanksgiving!



P.S. According to The 10 Foods For A Good Night’s Sleep, “Tryptophan works when your stomach is basically empty, not overstuffed, full of protein and not carbohydrates.”







BeneFit from: Tryptophan. (2008). Cycling Weekly, 32.


Elder, N. (2009). The Question: Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?. Bon Appetit, 54(11), 47.


Esteban, S., Nicolaus, C., Garmundi, A., Rial, R.V., Rodríguez, A., Ortega, EIbars, C. B. (2004). Effect  of orally administered  L-tryptophan on  serotonin, melatonin and  the  innate  immune  response. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 267, 39-46.


Parker, G., & Brotchie, H. (2011). Mood effects of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine. Acta             Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 124(6), 417-426. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01706.x

The 10 Foods for a Good Night’s Sleep. (2007). Office Solutions, 24(2), 9.


Thornton, S. H., & Whitley, B. L. (2012). Tryptophan : Dietary Sources, Functions and Health Benefits. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.



Katy Roth, M.A., CRC

WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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Article Review: Ray, S. L., Wong, C., White, D., & Heaslip, K. (2013) Compassion Satisfaction, Compassion Fatigue, Work Life Conditions, and Burnout Among Frontline Mental Health Care Professionals

Professionals who work directly with individuals who have intensive mental health needs can sometimes find themselves affected by this work in ways they had not originally considered. Along with compassion satisfaction (CS) professionals may also experience burnout or compassion fatigue (CF). CS is the positive feeling that can come from helping others, while burnout and CF are the negative results of this work. They can be identified by feelings of tension or psychological stressors caused from working with others who have experienced trauma. Research has shown that both burnout and CF can lead to a decrease in CS, resulting in a greater use of sick time, higher staff turnover rates, and lower morale among professionals.


Research has also identified 6 areas of work life that can result in burnout if they do not match with the individual. These include the individual’s work load, the amount of control the individual has in making important decisions about their job, the rewards an individual receives for doing the work, the worker’s sense of community regarding relationships with supervisors and co-workers, fairness perceived through openness and respect present within the organization, and a congruence between an individual’s values and those of the organization.


The study conducted by Ray, Wong, White, and Heaslip hypothesized that higher levels of CS and increased person-job match would result in lower levels of burnout and CF. This was based on the idea that higher levels of CS would result in a more positive work environment or better match between person and areas of work life. Those who reported higher levels of CF would perceive their work environment as more negative and would have a lower match level between person and areas of work resulting in higher levels of burnout


The researchers surveyed 169 individuals providing “frontline care” to individuals with mental health needs. Respondents included nursing staff, social workers, psychologists, case managers, and mental health workers. Each participant was asked to complete the Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Traumatic Stress subscales of the Professional Quality of Life – Revision IV Questionnaire, the Areas of Work Life Scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey, and a 16-question demographic questionnaire.


Their results supported the hypothesis that higher levels of CS, lower levels of CF, and higher person-job match in the six areas of work life were predictive of lower burnout in frontline staff providing mental health care. This study found similar results to other studies where it was reported that work life conditions can contribute to both CS, CF, and burnout. It is noted that those employees who reported a personal history of trauma may need to receive additional support or supervision to help combat CF and burnout. Along with trauma history, working more hours and having less work experience were also identified as potential risk factors for CF.


Ways to help prevent burnout and CF while also increasing CS include building stronger relationships among colleagues, promotion opportunities, and greater awareness of workers’ emotions. Environments with a low staff/patient ratio and emotional distance between staff and patients also lead to an increase in CS. Environments that can pair new staff with mentors or promote more relationship building between new and senior staff may also serve as protective factors against CF and burnout.


Ray, S. L., Wong, C., White, D., & Heaslip, K. (2013). Compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, work life conditions, and burnout among frontline mental health care professionals. Traumatology, 19(4), 255-267. doi:10.1177/1534765612471144


Crystal Henson, MA
Doctoral Intern

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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: How Biological Processes Impact Sleep


There are many factors that contribute to sleep deprivation for example bathroom trips, sleep schedules, temperature, noise, and technological devices. However, there are biological processes that impact sleep as well. Specifically, there are three biological processes that are controlled through involvement of the brainstem, and two divisions of the hypothalamus, which are the anterior hypothalamus and the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).


First, the brainstem plays a vital role in REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non- rapid eye movement). “The brainstem controls events of REM sleep” Pinel, 2010, pg. 364). REM occurs under the eyelids and was discovered in the 1950’s (Pinel, 2010, pg. 343). Reinoso-Suárez, de Andrés, Rodrigo-Angulo and Garzón (2001) found, “The ventral part of the oral pontine reticular nucleus (vRPO) is a demonstrated site of the brainstem REM sleep-wake cycle, as well as with other brain components responsible for the production of different occurrences related to REM sleep.” Non-REM sleep (NREM) is referred to as slow wave sleep (de Andrés, Garzón, & Reinoso-Suárez, 2011). NREM is vital for standard physical and intellectual functioning and behavior (de Andrés, Garzón, & Reinoso-Suárez, 2011). Further, Villablanca (2004) stated, “Waking can occur independently in both the forebrain and brainstem, but true NREM and REM sleep producing mechanisms exist entirely in the forebrain and brainstem.”


Secondly, the hypothalamus plays a key role in sleep. Specifically, the anterior hypothalamus and adjacent basal forebrain are thought to promote sleep (Pinel, 2010, pg. 355). The anterior hypothalamus is in the basal-forebrain area. “Activation and deactivation of certain cells in the hypothalamus shuts off the arousal system during sleep. Other hypothalamic neurons stabilize the activation and deactivation, however if the switching of cells/neurons is absent this results in inappropriate sleep occurrences, such as disorders like narcolepsy” (Saper, Scammell & Lu, 2005).


From literature the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus plays a role in sleep also. “The suprachiasmatic nuclei is situated bilaterally in the hypothalamus, just above the optic chiasm” (Hobson & Pace-Schott, 2002). The SCN is composed of two major subdivisions, the core and the shell. “The core region of the SCN obtains information about the daily light cycle through the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT)” (Takahashi, Hee-Kyung, Ko & McDearmon, 2008). “Neurons in the SCN core correspond with the rhythmic SCN shell. Cells in the rhythmic SCN shell comprise molecular clocks driven by an autoregulatory transcription translation loop” (Antle & Silver, 2005). The SCN controls circadian rhythms (also known as the circadian clock). Interestingly, “Circadian rhythms govern a variety of biological processes in living systems, stretching from bacteria to humans” (Takahashi, Hee-Kyung, Ko & McDearmon, 2008). The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the mammalian hypothalamus contains a circadian clock for timing of diverse neuronal, endocrine, and behavioral rhythms, such as the cycle of sleep and wakefulness (Sakai, 2014). The timing mechanisms of the SCN are dependent on the firing patterns of SCN neurons. During the night SCN neurons tend to be inactive, start to fire at dawn, and fire at a leisurely stable pace all day (Pinel, 2010, pg. 354). Importantly, it seems as though genetics also influences the SCN. Hobson and Pace-Schott (2002) stated, “The molecular circadian clock is genetically controlled and synchronously expressed holistically and individually by 20,000 cells in the mammalian hypothalamus.”



While it is important to be mindful of the many factors in the sleep environment that may impact how much sleep we get, and how rested we feel, there are also biological processes located in our brain, as well as genetics to some degree which impact sleep. It seems our brain has a major role in REM sleep, NREM sleep, and our natural Circadian rhythm as well.



Antle, M. C., & Silver, R. (2005). Orchestrating time: arrangements of the brain circadian clock. Trends in neurosciences, 28(3), 145-151.


de Andrés, I., Garzón, M., & Reinoso-Suárez, F. (2011). Functional anatomy of non-REM sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 2, 70. doi:10.3389/fneur.2011.00070

Hobson, J. A., & Pace-Schott, E. F. (2002). The Neurobiology of Sleep: Genetics, cellular physiology and subcortical networks. Nature Reviews Neuroscience,      3, 591.


Pinel, John  P.J. (2010). Biopsychology, Ninth Edition.  Pearson Education, Inc.


Reinoso-Suárez, F., de Andrés, I., Rodrigo-Angulo, M. L., & Garzón, M. (2001). Brain structures and mechanisms involved in the generation of REM sleep. Sleep medicine reviews, 5, 63-77.


Sakai, K. (2014). Single unit activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus and surrounding neurons during the wake–sleep cycle in mice. Neuroscience, 260, 249-264.


Saper, C. B., Scammell, T. E., & Lu, J. (2005). Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature, 437, 1257-1263.


Takahashi, J. S., Hee-Kyung, H., Ko, C. H., & McDearmon, E. L. (2008). The genetics of mammalian circadian order and disorder: implications for physiology and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics, 9(10), 764-775. doi:10.1038/nrg2430


Villablanca, J. R. (2004). Counterpointing the functional role of the forebrain and of the brainstem in the control of the sleep–waking system. Journal Of Sleep Research, 13, 179-208. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00412.x



Katy Roth, M.A., CRC

WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: Factors That Impact Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 65 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep regularly (Ott, 2003) and many factors contribute to sleep deprivation for example bathroom trips, sleep schedules, temperature, noise, and technological devices.


Rohles and Munson (1981) in their study examined EEG’s and skin temperature measurements from six men and six women while they slept in environments with temperatures of 10·0°C, 21·1°C, and 32·2°C. EEG recordings showed that the proportion of time in each sleep stage was not affected by the temperature of the sleep environment. However, after participants awoke and completed a questionnaire, women did not sleep as well at 10·0°C as at the other temperatures, when sleeping in conventional clothing and bedding.


Muzet (2007) found sleep disturbance is largely impacted by noise in the environment. “The input to the auditory area of the brain through the auditory pathways is prolonged by inputs reaching both the brain cortical area and the descending pathways of the autonomic functions. Therefore, the sleeping body still responds to stimuli coming from the environment, although the noise sensitivity of the sleeper depends on several factors (e.g. type of noise, noise frequency, one’s age, sex, personality characteristics and self-estimated sensitivity to noise).”


With the advancements of technology, Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, and Czeisler, (2013), found in their sample, 95 percent of participants used some type of electronics at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed, like a television, computer, video game or cell phone. “Unfortunately cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day,” said, Russell Rosenberg, PhD, Vice Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. Czeisle and Shanahan (2016) stated in a “Systematic review and meta-analysis by Carter and colleagues in this issue of JAMA Pediatrics found that the mere presence of a mobile device in the sleeping environment at bedtime, and certainly its use, increased the risk of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness the next day in children 6 to 19 years old.” Gradisar, et al., (2013) found 13-18 year olds are the sleepiest of all age groups, then Generation Z’ers and generation Y’ers report more sleepiness than generation X’ers and Baby Boomers. Results revealed that Baby Boomers, due to the difference in technology use, have less sleep disturbance.


Sleep Advice
Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, and Czeisler, (2013) stated, “If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following to improve your sleep:

  • Create and stick to a sleep schedule. 
  •  Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and prevent it at night.
  •  Exercise frequently. 
  • Create a comforting bedtime routine. 
  •  Create a cool, comfortable, distraction and stress free sleep environment
  • Maintain a “worry book” next to your bed to write down your thoughts.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, large meals and tobacco at night and before bed.
  • Unless you work the night shift, No late-afternoon or evening naps.”


Czeisler, C. A., & Shanahan, T. L. (2016). Problems Associated With Use of Mobile Devices in the Sleep Environment–Streaming Instead of Dreaming. JAMA Pediatrics170(12), 1146-1147. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2986


Gradisar, M., Wolfson, A. R., Harvey, A. G., Hale, L., Rosenberg, R., & Czeisler, C. A.   (2013). The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America Poll. Journal Of Clinical   Sleep   Medicine9(12), 1291-1299. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3272


Muzet, A. (2007). Environmental noise, sleep and health. Sleep Medicine Reviews11(2), 135-142. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2006.09.001


Ott, C. (2003). Stay Young with a Good Night’s Sleep. Natural Health33(2), 68.


Rohles, F. H., & Munson, D. M. (1981). Sleep and the sleep environment temperature. Journal    Of Environmental Psychology1(3), 207-214. doi:10.1016/S0272-4944(81)80039-4


Katy Roth, M.A., CRC
WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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Friday Factoids: They Creep, They Crawl: Our Fear of Snakes and Spiders



With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about the things that go bump in the night, the things that send shivers down our spine, and the things that slither and crawl. Most people have a fear of snakes and spiders (Hoel, Hellmer, Johansson, & Gredebäck, 2017). Just the sight of one of these creepy critters can send people running, but is this fear learned or instinctual?


Many of our fears are learned, however, others are innate (Leahy, 2008). For example, eating bad fish can cause us to become ill, and we may learn to avoid similar fish (Leahy, 2008). This learned aversion is the result of one-trial learning. Yet, we have many fears that did not require trial learning. Most of us are born with a fear of heights, yet we don’t have to fall from a great height to know that heights scare us (Leahy, 2008). Instead, this fear is instinctual and useful in protecting us from potential harm.


In regards to snakes and spiders, prior research had difficulty determining if the fear was learned from parents and others in the environment or an instinctual fear (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences [MPIHCBS], 2017). Others had determined that most people, even those who lived in cities with no exposure to these creatures, had a deep fear of snakes and spiders, yet past research looked at adults and young children who might have learned this fear from parents or grandparents exposed to these tiny terrors (MPIHCBS, 2017). A new study took a different approach and showed infants pictures of flowers paired with spiders and fish paired with snakes (Hoehl et al., 2017). When examining the snakes and spiders, infants’ pupils demonstrated an increased dilation when compared to their neutral pairings, suggesting a sympathetic response to these frightening stimuli (Hoehl et al., 2017). These findings suggest that our fear of snakes and spiders, much like our fear of heights, is instinctual and meant to help us avoid potential threats (Hoehl et al., 2017).


Hoehl, S., Hellmer, K., Johansson, M., & Gredebäck, G. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider…: Infants react with increased arousal to spiders and snakes. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01710


Leahy, R.L. (2008). Are we born to be afraid? Psychology Today. Retrieved from


Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: How Fathers See Their Babies


Emotions are “contagious”, especially for babies (American Psychological Association, 2017; Waters, West, Karnilowicz, & Mendes, 2017).  When mothers hold their babies, the mother’s affect is often “caught” by the baby.  This emotional transmission can be seen when mothers are in a high-anxiety situation, the baby exhibits a sympathetic response; however, in low-stress scenarios, the baby demonstrates a parasympathetic response (Waters et al., 2017).


Past research has shown that mothers and fathers frequently respond differently to boy and girl babies (APA, 2017; Mascaro, Rentscher, Hackett, Mehl, & Rilling, 2017).  Parents often talk more to girls yet restrict their behaviors, while boys are talked to less but allowed to engage in more risk-taking activities (e.g. climbing, “rough housing”).  New research has taken another step and examined the neural functioning of fathers when with their children (Mascaro et al., 2017).  When viewing pictures of their daughters smiling, fathers demonstrate a response in the orbitofrontal cortex, yet fathers experience the same response when viewing their sons exhibiting a neutral response (Mascaro et al., 2017).  These neural responses suggest fathers have differing expectations for their children.  Through the affect contagion scenario, it might be hypothesized that our babies are being primed early in how they express emotions.  Girls are likely learning that an affective response is positive, while boys may be learning that a restricted range of emotions is desirable.



American Psychological Association. (2017). Parent-child interactions.  Particularly Exciting Experiments in Psychology, 98. Retrieved from

Mascaro, J. S., Rentscher, K. E., Hackett, P. D., Mehl, M. R., & Rilling, J. K. (2017). Child gender influences paternal behavior, language, and brain function. Behavioral Neuroscience, 131(3), 262–273.

Waters, S. F., West, T. V., Karnilowicz, H. R., & Mendes, W. B. (2017). Affect contagion between mothers and infants: Examining valence and touch. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(7), 1043–1051.


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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