Friday, April 15, 2016

Brain imaging study suggests risk-taking behaviors can be contagious

Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe? In a new study, Caltech researchers explored the neural mechanisms of one possible explanation: a contagion effect.
The work is described in the March 21 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study led by John O’Doherty, professor of psychology and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, 24 volunteers repeatedly participated in three types of trials: a “Self” trial, in which the participants were asked to choose between taking a guaranteed $10 or making a risky gamble with a potentially higher payoff; an “Observe” trial, in which the participants observed the risk-taking behavior of a peer (in the trial, this meant a computer algorithm trained to behave like a peer), allowing the participants to learn how often the peer takes a risk; and a “Predict” trial, in which the participants were asked to predict the risk-taking tendencies of an observed peer, earning a cash prize for a correct prediction. Notably in these trials the participants did not observe gamble outcomes, preventing them from further learning about gambles.

O’Doherty and his colleagues found that the participants were much more likely to make the gamble for more money in the “Self” trial when they had previously observed a risk-taking peer in the “Observe” trial. The researchers noticed that after the subjects observed the actions of a peer, their preferences for risk-taking or risk-averse behaviors began to reflect those of the observed peer–a so-called contagion effect. “By observing others behaving in a risk-seeking or risk-averse fashion, we become in turn more or less prone to risky behavior,” says Shinsuke Suzuki, a postdoctoral scholar in neuroscience and first author of the study.

Use of Genetically Informed Evidence-Based Prevention Science to Understand and Prevent Crime and Related Behavioral Disorders

  1. Jamie M. Gajos1,*
  2. Abigail A. Fagan2and
  3. Kevin M. Beaver3
Article first published online: 15 APR 2016
Criminology and Public Policy
DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12214
Research Summary
In this article, we outline the potential ways that genetic research can be used to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of preventative interventions. We conclude by drawing attention to how the incorporation of genetic variables into prevention designs could help identify individual variability in program effectiveness and thereby increase program success rates.

Policy Implications
Evidence-based prevention science seeking to reduce crime and other related behavioral disorders has made significant progress in the identification of risk factors involved in the development of antisocial behavior, as well as in the creation and testing of such programs intended to target these risk factors. Nonetheless, issues of program effectiveness remain as individual responsivity to prevention interventions is often overlooked. Paralleling the movement toward evidence-based prevention science, but largely isolated from such efforts, has been an area of research devoted toward identifying how genetic factors interact with social environments to influence behavioral outcomes. By joining these two fields, genetically informed prevention interventions have the potential to increase our understanding of the causes of crime and other problem behaviors, as well as to help identify individual variability in program effectiveness.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Most men with borderline testosterone levels may have depression

March 6, 2015

Men with borderline testosterone levels have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than the general population, new research finds. The results will be presented Saturday, March 7, at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
"Over half of men referred for borderline  have . This study found that men seeking management for borderline testosterone have a very high rate of depression,, obesity and physical inactivity," said principal study author Michael S. Irwig, MD, FACE, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Andrology in the Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington, DC. "Clinicians need to be aware of the clinical characteristics of this sample population and manage their comorbidities such as depression and obesity."