Childhood neglect leaves its mark

Early childhood neglect has a lasting effect on the functioning of hormones crucially involved in emotions and social bonding. That’s according to a team of psychologists at the Child Emotion Research Group at the University of Wisconsin.

Seth Pollak and colleagues (pictured) compared levels of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in 18 four-year-old orphans and 21 age-matched control children. The controls had been raised in a typical family environment in Wisconsin, whereas the orphans had been adopted by an American family after spending the first year and a half of their lives in a Russian or Romanian orphanage where they experienced little human contact.

The researchers measured the children’s hormones at baseline; when they played with their mother (tickling and patting each other according to instructions given by a computer game); and when they played with a stranger.

Compared with controls, the orphans had lower baseline levels of vasopressin, a hormone thought to be specifically involved in recognising familiar people. Another difference emerged when the children played with their mother – oxytocin levels rose in the control children but not in the orphans. Oxytocin receptors are found in the brain’s reward pathways and it’s thought the hormone plays a role in feelings of security and protection.

The researchers said this showed “a failure to receive species-typical care disrupts the normal development of the oxytocin and vasopressin systems in young children. Perturbations in this system may interfere with the calming and comforting effects that typically emerge between young children and familiar adults who provide care and attention”. They explained these observations were consistent with reports that children reared in institutionalised settings continue to demonstrate social problems even after settling into an adopted family environment. However, they also cautioned that the current results were group effects – not all the orphans showed the hormonal differences, and children with lowered hormonal levels can go on to develop normal relationships.

But couldn’t the group difference in rising oxytocin levels be explained by the fact the controls were playing with their biological mother while the orphans were playing with their adopted mother? Lead author Alison Wismer Fries told the Digest “…our findings suggest that the neglected children's new primary attachment figures were not serving to activate the [hormonal] system the same way that typically reared kid's mothers do. And this can then help us explain the increased risk for affiliative problems in the post-institutionalized sample”.
Wismer Fries, A.B., Ziegler, T.E., Kurian, J.R., Jacoris, S. & Pollak, S.D. (2005). Early experience in humans in associated with changes in neuropeptides critical for regulating social behaviour. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 102, 17237-17240.
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Noise increases the risk of having a heart attack

Too much noise, such as the sound of passing traffic, can increase the risk of heart attack in men by 50 per cent and in women by up to threefold. That’s according to a team of German researchers who interviewed 4,115 hospital inpatients, about half of whom were recovering from a recent heart attack; the remainder served as controls.

Stefan Willich and colleagues interviewed the patients about their experiences of noise at home and at work, and used a Berlin ‘noise map’, and work-place assessments to corroborate the participants’ statements.

In men, both higher noise at home and at work were associated with increased risk of having a heart attack, whereas for women only noise at home was a factor, possibly because the female participants tended to spend more time at home. In women only, risk of heart attack was also independently related to the annoyance caused by noise, rather than just noise levels per se. Other known risk factors such as smoking and diabetes were controlled for throughout these analyses.

The researchers said “Sound pressure levels and/or annoyance by noise may enhance psychological stress and anger and lead to impaired physiological factors such as increasing catecholamine levels associated with increased blood pressure and plasma lipids [known risk factors for heart attack]”.

The researchers also noted that the risk of heart attack did not rise proportionately with noise levels, rather there seemed to be a cut off so that participants who experienced noise levels above 60 decibels (the level typical in a busy office) were exposed to increased risk of heart attack relative to participants who only experienced noise below 60 decibels.

Current European Union regulations are that workplace noise should not be higher than 85 decibels. On this the researchers said “The results emphasize the need to reassess the importance, in general, and the adequate thresholds, in particular, of wearing ear protection at work places. The currently used threshold of 85 decibels may protect sufficiently from hearing damage but not from cardiovascular risk”.
Willich, S.N., Wegscheider, Stallman, M. & Keil, T. (2005). Noise burden and the risk of myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal, In Press, DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehi658.
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How meditation alters the brain

New evidence suggests meditating can make parts of the cerebral cortex thicker and protect other parts from age-related thinning.

Sara Lazar and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital scanned the brains of 20 people who meditated for an average of 40 minutes per day and 15 controls with no meditation experience. The meditating participants were practitioners of Buddhist Insight meditation, which involves concentrating on stimuli ‘in the moment’, in a non-judgmental way and without cognitive elaboration – a process known as ‘mindfulness’.

Controlling for age and education, the researchers found that specific areas of the cortex were thicker in the participants who meditated compared with controls. These areas included the right anterior insula, known to be involved in monitoring bodily functions, and parts of the prefrontal cortex involved in attention and sensory processing. The observed differences in the insula are consistent with the fact Insight meditation involves concentrating on bodily sensations, including breathing. Parts of the prefrontal cortex showed evidence of thinning in the older control participants but not in the older participants who meditated, thus suggesting meditation might offer protection from age-related neuronal loss.

Another observation was that that the extent of cortical thickening correlated with meditation experience. Experienced practitioners show a noticeable difference in their respiration rate when they are meditating compared with being at rest. The researchers used the size of this difference as a measure of meditating experience, and found that in one specific region in the inferior occipital-temporal visual cortex, experience correlated with cortical thickness.

Jeremy Gray, co-author on the study, said “What is most fascinating to me is the suggestion that meditation practice can change anyone’s grey matter. The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated an average of 40 minutes each day, you don’t have to be a monk”.

The researchers’ report on the work cautions that longitudinal research is needed to confirm that meditation causes the effects it has been associated with here.
Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., McGarvey, M., Quinn, B. T., Dusek, J. A., Benson, H., Rauch, S. L., Moore, C. I. & Fischl, B. Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport, 16, 1893-1897.
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Think like Freddie

Contributed by Matt Devereaux at Totton College

To find out what it means to be ‘mentally tough’ in the world of cricket, Stephen Bull, a consultant psychologist, and colleagues at the English and Wales Cricket Board asked 12 elite English players, several of whom had previously been ranked as a top-ten batsman or bowler in the world.

Four main themes emerged from interviews with the cricket stars – ‘environmental influences’, ‘tough character’, ‘tough attitudes’ and ‘tough thinking’. The authors said the relationship between these themes was key, with the framework best visualised as a pyramid with environmental influences at the base. These influences lead to a generally tough character, which in turn manifests as a set of tough attitudes. “Finally, and very specifically”, they explained, “…on top of these attitudes sits ‘tough thinking’, which represents the key psychological properties of a ‘mentally tough’ mind, oriented towards the competition demands of the moment”.

Key environmental factors were: parental influence, childhood background, exposure to foreign cricket and overcoming childhood setbacks. “I must have been 15 when I was going to be signed up as a leg spinner and then just lost it. That was mentally a very defining year for me. You’ve gone from being a hero in your school to being a bloke who’s lost it” one player explained.

Aspects of ‘tough character’ included being independent and having resilient confidence. ‘Tough attitudes’ included being willing to take risks, going the extra mile, believing in quality preparation and having a ‘never say die’ mindset. “You can throw whatever stones you want at me but I am not going off this course. It might take me 10 or 15 years but I will get there. I will play for England” one player said, recalling his early career attitudes. Tough thinking included good decision making at critical moments in a match, honest self-appraisal, and overcoming self-doubts.

The authors said that thanks to recommendations arising from the research, the role of sports psychology consultants is now developing within the ECB’s age-group squads.
Bull, S.J., Shambrook, C.J., James, W. & Brooks, J.E. (2005). Towards an understanding of Mental Toughness in Elite English Cricketers. Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, 17, 209-227.
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Do you ever feel like a fraud

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve really only got where you are by a mixture of luck and bluffing? Such feelings are often experienced by high achievers who believe they’ve successfully deceived others into believing they’re something they’re not, and so fear that their true lack of ability will be discovered. Psychologists call it the ‘imposter phenomenon’ and a new study reports the feeling is more common among women and people who measure their own success against the achievements of others.

Shamala Kumar and Carolyn Jagacinski gave 93 male and 42 female undergrads questionnaires that tested their experience of the imposter phenomenon (by probing their agreement with statements like “I can give the impression I am more competent than I really am”; see here for more examples). Other questionnaires gauged their views on intelligence, their experience of test anxiety, and attitudes towards achievement.

Kumar and Jagacinski found the female students agreed with significantly more imposter-related statements than the male students, and that among the female students only, feelings of being an imposter tended to be associated with the belief that intelligence is a fixed attribute that cannot be developed over time.

Men who reported feelings of being an imposter approached tasks with the aim of avoiding negative comparison with their peers, agreeing with statements like “The reason I do my work is so others won't think I'm dumb”. Women who felt like imposters tended to seek favourable comparison with their peers, agreeing with statements like “I would feel successful at university if I did better than most of the other students”. Indeed, across both sexes, those students who had feelings of being an imposter tended to measure their own success against the achievements of others, rather than viewing task success as an end in itself, and so they tended to disagree with statements like “I do my work is because I like to learn new things”.
Kumar, S. & Jagacinski, C.M. (2006). Imposters have goals too: The imposter phenomenon and its relationship to achievement goal theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 147-157.
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Hungry men prefer bigger women

Men in rich, Western countries tend to prefer thinner women, whereas men in poorer South Pacific countries tend to prefer bigger women. It’s been argued that this is due to cultural and ethnic differences, but increasingly psychologists now believe it has more to do with socioeconomics, so that men prefer bigger women when resources are scarce because a woman being bigger is an implicit sign that she’s got access to resources.

To test this idea further, Viren Swami and Martin Tovee asked 61 male undergraduates at a British University to rate the attractiveness of 50 differently-sized women as depicted in black and white photos. The women were either emaciated, underweight, normal, overweight or obese, according to their body mass index (the ratio of height to weight). They were dressed in identical grey leotards and their faces were obscured. The male participants were recruited as they were entering or exiting the university dining hall, and they rated whether they were hungry or full on a 7-point scale.

The researchers found that the hungrier participants rated heavier women as more attractive than the full participants did. The hungrier men’s ratings were also less affected by the women’s shape, as measured by their hip to waist ratio.

“Temporary affective states can produce individual variation in mate preferences that mirrors patterns of cultural differences”, the researchers concluded. They also speculated about the generalisability of the findings. “If hungry men judge heavier women as more attractive than satiated men, might they also judge other heavy objects as generally more aesthetically pleasing?”, they asked.

Swami, V. & Tovee, M.J. (2005). Does hunger influence judgments of female physical attractiveness. British Journal of Psychology. In Press, DOI: 10.1348/000712605X80713
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Suggest a study

Have you come across an exciting new psychology experiment that you'd like to see featured in the Digest?

If so, please make your suggestion by clicking 'comment(s)' below. The research must be new and published in a respected peer-reviewed journal. Please give the full reference and a brief explanation for why the research would excite our broad readership.
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Why did I do that?

What if free will is an illusion? Perhaps we make up the reasons for our actions retrospectively, tricking ourselves into believing we know why we did what we did, when really our behaviour was involuntary. A new study lends credence to this suggestion by demonstrating a phenomenon the authors dub ‘choice blindness’.

One hundred and twenty participants were shown 15 pairs of female faces (taken from here). For each pair they had to say which of the two faces they found more attractive, and on a fraction of trials they had to say why they’d made that choice, in which case the photo of the face they’d selected was slid across the table to them so they could look at it while they explained their choice. Crucially, on a minority of these trials, the researchers used sleight of hand to surreptitiously pass the participant the photo of the face they had just rejected, rather than the one they’d chosen.

Bizarrely, only about a quarter of these trick trials were noticed by participants, despite the fact the two faces in a pair often bore little resemblance to one another. Even stranger was the way the participants then went on to justify choosing the face on the card they were holding, even though it was actually the face they’d rejected. It’s not that participants weren’t paying attention to the face they’d been passed – the justifications they gave often related to features specific to this face, not the one they’d actually chosen. Independent raters who compared participants’ verbal explanations for choices they had made (non-trick trials), with their explanations for the choices they hadn’t made (trick trials), found no differences in amount of emotional engagement, degree of detail given, or confidence.

The researchers said “Participants failed to notice conspicuous mismatches between their intended choice and the outcome they were presented with, while nevertheless offering retrospectively derived reasons for why they chose the way they did. We call this effect choice blindness”.

Lead researcher Petter Johansson told The Digest that interviews with the participants afterwards confirmed the choice blindness effect was real rather than a consequence of participants being afraid to say something odd was going on at the time.

Johansson, P., Hall, L., Sikstrom, S. & Olsson, A. (2005). Failure to detect mismatches between intention and outcome in a simple decision task. Science, 310, 116-119.
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Don't ring us, we'll ring you

Just a few supportive phone calls from a clinician can make all the difference to people following a home-based, computerised form of behavioural therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The therapy, known as ‘behavioural therapy (BT) Steps’, involves clients using a manual to help them understand what triggers their compulsions, and how to gradually resist performing the rituals (e.g. hand washing) they normally carry out when exposed to those triggers. Clients use a touch-tone phone to report their progress and receive encouragement via recorded voice messages. Such systems allow people who don’t have face-to-face access to a clinician to engage in therapy. However, what’s not clear is how important it is for such clients to receive scheduled telephone calls from a clinician providing help and advice, as opposed to clients being given a free-phone number that they can choose to call whenever they need guidance.

To find out, Mark Kenwright and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry recruited 44 sufferers of OCD to take part in a 17 week BTSteps programme. Half the clients were given a free-phone number to contact lead research Mark Kenwright, a clinician, for guidance; the other half received nine scheduled calls from him over the 17 week period.

Clients who received the scheduled calls were less likely to drop out, were more likely to complete homework that involved resisting performing obsessive rituals, and showed greater improvement in their OCD symptoms. Overall, the clients given scheduled calls received an average of 76 minutes of clinician support over the phone, compared with the clients given a free-phone number who received an average of only 16 minutes clinician support (only 8 clients actually used the support number).

“To further ease OCD sufferer’s access to computer-aided self-help at home, the BTSteps system, including its user’s manual, will henceforth be made accessible on the internet under the name of OCFighter...” the researchers said.

Kenwright, M., Marks, I., Graham, C., Franses, A. & Mataix-Cols, D. (2005). Brief scheduled phone support from a clinician to enhance computer-aided self-help for obsessive-compulsive disorder: randomised controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 1499-1508
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New team members spark group creativity

Here’s a research finding to console Prime Minister Blair following his latest unplanned cabinet reshuffle. Apparently, substituting a team-member for a newcomer can help increase group creativity. That’s according to Hoon-Seok Choi at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea and Leigh Thompson at Northwestern University, USA.

They compared the creativity of 33 three-person groups across two tasks. After the first task, half the groups exchanged one of their team for a newcomer from another group, whereas the other half of the groups kept the same personnel throughout. The first task required the groups to think of as many ways as possible to categorise 12 vegetables into subgroups (e.g. can be eaten raw vs. cannot be eaten raw). The second task required the groups to think of as many uses as possible for a cardboard box.

There were no differences between the groups in the number of vegetable sub-categories they thought of. But those groups who swapped one of their members then went on to think of significantly more uses for a cardboard box, and significantly more different kinds of uses, than did the groups who’d kept the same personnel throughout. Analysis of the contributions made by each individual showed that a newcomer to a team increased the creativity of the two original team members.

The researchers cautioned that things are more complex in real-life scenarios. For example, recomposition of team membership could lead to interpersonal conflict and of course creativity isn’t always the aim of a group. However, they concluded that “For the most part, introducing new talent to the group can ensure that the group does not go stale”.

Choi, H-K. & Thompson, L. (2005). Old wine in a new bottle: Impact of membership change on group creativity. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 98, 121-132.
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Tip of the fingers syndrome

We’ve all had that ‘tip of the tongue’ feeling when we’re sure we know the word or name for something but we just can’t think of it. Now a study has shown that a similar phenomenon occurs in American Sign Language (ASL), in what the researchers dub a ‘tip of the fingers’ experience.

Robin Thompson and colleagues at the University of California asked 33 deaf signers to name 20 pictures of famous faces, and then to translate a list of fairly obscure English words, including names of cities and countries, into ASL.

In ASL, many famous names are ‘finger spelled’, with a different hand-shape spelling out each letter of the name. For the famous faces task, 21 of the participants experienced 55 instances of a ‘tip of the finger’ syndrome between them, in which they were sure they knew the name but couldn’t spell it out. As in spoken language, in which people can often only think of the first letter of a word, the participants here were often able to sign the first letter but no more.

Most other words and proper nouns in ASL are represented by a precise combination of hand-shape, location, orientation and movement. When it came to translating obscure English words, 13 of the participants reported 24 instances of ‘tip of the finger’ experiences between them. This often manifested as an ability to recall one or more of the correct hand-shape, location, orientation or movement, but a failure to recall all these aspects, which is needed to communicate the word correctly. This mirrors the way speakers can often recall the first letter, the number of syllables, length, or certain sounds of a word they are struggling to think of.

With spoken language, ‘tip of the tongue’ syndrome is considered to show that word meaning and word form are represented separately in the mind. The authors said their study shows a similar situation pertains in sign language and helps dispel the common misconception that Sign is a form of complex pantomime in which intended meaning and Sign form are always related.

Thompson, R., Emmorey, K. & Gollan, T.H. (2005). “Tip of the fingers” experiences by deaf signers. Psychological Science, 16, 856-860.
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The long-term effect of streaming on children's self-esteem

Those against academic streaming point to the stigmatising effect on children of being placed in a lower ability class. But now a study by researchers in Singapore has found that in the long-term, streaming may actually protect the academic self-esteem of children placed in lower ability classes.

In Singapore, children are separated into ability streams based on their performance in public examinations they take before starting secondary school at age 12. Liu Woon Chia and colleagues recruited 495 boys and girls who were beginning their first year at secondary school (284 were in higher-stream classes, 211 in lower stream). They asked them to complete questionnaires about their academic confidence (e.g. by rating their agreement with statements such as “I am good at most of my school subjects”) and their academic effort (e.g. “I study hard for my tests”) on four occasions over three years: at the beginning of their first term at secondary school – about two weeks after the streaming process –and then at the end of each academic year thereafter. Scores from the two test dimensions were collapsed to form an overall score of academic ‘self-concept’ or self-esteem.

Children allocated to lower ability classes started off with lower academic self-esteem than children allocated to higher ability classes, a difference that disappeared when only boys were considered. Girls appear to be more sensitive to the stigmatising effect, the researchers said. But after three years, although academic self-esteem had fallen across the sample overall (adolescence is a difficult time), it was now children in the lower ability classes who had the higher academic self-esteem.

The researchers suggested children in lower ability classes may benefit from a ‘big fish in a little pond’ effect relative to their peers in high ability classes who face more pressure and stiffer competition from their classmates. Also, in Singapore, lower-stream children are given a limited chance to jump streams, which could have a motivating effect.

Liu, W.C., Wang, C.K.J. & Parkins, E.J. (2005). A longitudinal study of students’ academic self-concept in a streamed setting: The Singapore context. British Journal of Educational Psychology. In Press, DOI: 10.1348/000709905X42239.
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Addicted to joyriding

Some young people show all the signs of being addicted to joyriding, the dangerous driving of stolen cars for the thrill of it. That’s according to Sue Kellett (Community Drug and Alcohol Services, Leicester) and Harriet Gross (Loughborough University) who say their research has implications for how to rehabilitate young joyriders.

Kellett and Gross interviewed 54 male joyriders aged between 15 and 21 years, who were in custody in either North Ireland or the Midlands following convictions for car theft.

As with drug abuse, the main motivation for joyriding seemed to be mood-modification. “…you get a buzz out of drugs yeh, well it’s 10 times better than that…” said one participant.

There was evidence of ‘tolerance’ as participants described stealing ever faster cars and seeking out more chases with the police. When they couldn’t joyride participants craved the thrill “I don’t know, you just get like an aching in your mind…you just want to go out there and just drive about”. And at least one participant described taking more drugs when he was unable to joyride, indicative of ‘withdrawal’.

Some participants had tried to stop but couldn’t. “I don’t know what it is, I’ve tried to stop, I just can’t do it, I’ve tried and tried but I just can’t do it, I don’t know why”, one 16-year-old said. Indeed, participants continued joyriding even in the face of overwhelming negative consequences: “like I put one of my mates in a coma before”, said one.

The authors suggested borrowing rehabilitation strategies, such as harm reduction, from the field of addiction. “If joyriders are not considering changing their behaviour in the immediate future then it is sensible to consider ways in which their activities might be made safer”, they said. For example, the authors recommended providing “…meaningful education regarding the effects of taking drugs and alcohol whilst driving…the benefit of wearing seatbelts; judging distance and stopping times; the effects of adverse weather conditions; plus discussions of the times and places that increase the likelihood of encountering pedestrians”.

Kellett, S. & Gross, H. (2005). Addicted to joyriding? An exploration of young offenders’ accounts of their car crime. Psychology, Crime and Law, 12, 39-59.
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Why perform psychology experiments on rats?

Following readers' criticisms of the research behind the item "Phew! How rats sigh when they're relieved" (see comments under previous post), the Digest invited lead author of that research, Dr. Stefan Soltysik, to defend his study. To continue the debate, please do use the 'comments' function at the bottom of this post. First, here's what Dr. Soltysik had to say:

I am grateful for the comments addressed to some aspects of the paper: “In Rats, Sighs Correlate with Relief.” I would like to initiate a dialogue to promote mutual understanding.

First about pain experiences in experiments.

In reply to those (Karen, Freya, Richard, Dave S.) justly concerned with the use of pain in behavioural experiments, I would like to offer a few words of explanation. This explanation does not apply to many studies where excessive electric shocks are used, but does apply to a great many behavioural studies, such as this one, in which the animals are required to exhibit normal emotional states.

The expression 'tail-shock' sounds bad if one does not realize that five brief and mild pain incidents per day is the least of unpleasant experiences the rats may go through in normal life. Not only do they inflict more harm on each other in normal fighting, but the effects of bites or scratches could be much more painful, prolonged, dangerous, and even lethal. Animals trained with the use of pain, such as in this study, are spared long-lasting unpleasant experiences of hunger, thirst, low or high ambient temperature, anxiety, cutaneous itch or swellings from lice or other parasites - all of which are normal in "natural life conditions."

Both I and my co-workers regularly tried the electric shock on ourselves. It wasn’t pleasant but was certainly preferable to a rat’s bite. Our entire experiment had to be very tolerable for the rats, because they needed to learn when it was safe and when not. They wouldn’t have been able to learn to relax and feel relief if the training was more disturbing. The same intensity of shock was used on cats in previous studies and to our surprise and satisfaction, many of these cats purred and fell asleep between trials. Both our cats and rats, when handled before and after the daily session, were quiet and friendly.

If it is accepted that there is a need to study emotional states of anxiety, fear and relief, then the administration - carefully and as humanely as possible - of pain is inevitable. Pain is not an abnormal experience – some cultural attitudes not withstanding – and a total lack of it (pain deprivation) may be deleterious to normal non-exaggerated responding to it and future coping with it.

As to the question of “scientific interest” and “benefit …. for humanity” (Karen, Louise) or replacing rats with humans (Dave Stevens – you probably think of paid volunteers, but I've even received suggestions of using inmates), consider this:

First, it is interesting per se, to find common psycho-physiologic grounds between our and other animals’ behaviour and “psyche.” Second, such commonality allows us to explore new ways (treatments, drugs) for dealing with human suffering (anxieties, depressions, phobias etc.). I do not know of any other procedure or behavioural test, or physiological index, that compares anxiety and relief, which would provide 20-fold (2000%) difference in objective measurements (it is usually measured in fractions, like 35% or so). Our rats sigh approx. 25 times/hour spontaneously, less than 10/h when anxious, but more than 180/h when relieved! So, consider, if you really have experimental animals` wellbeing in mind and not just negative feeling about any animal experimentation, that far fewer animals will be required to test a new psychotropic drug or some other procedure, when measuring emotional states (using sighs instead of heart rate, blood pressure etc.) is so dramatically improved (as demonstrated by the current study). And third, why not humans? Indeed, why not? I am sure now that rats have pioneered this approach, studies of human sighing should be considered as one of many other possible steps. But, humans seem diverged from other mammals (rats?) in that they use sighs in many emotional contexts: We sigh with relief, but also for something, to somebody, with disappointment, in frustrations, when resenting, etc. etc. That complicates things, unfortunately.Our paradigm that elicits in the rat three emotions (anxiety, fear and relief) reliably within 15 seconds of each trial has undeniable simplicity. So please, try to accept the possibility that mild aversive experiences and clear-cut highly significant results will benefit both humanity (leading to the fast reliable testing of new drugs) and animals (because fewer will be needed to obtain results).

Stefan Soltysik
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