18-07 Segment 1: Dashing Old Stuttering Myths

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The causes of stuttering have long remained a mystery. Over time, people have been led to believe that stuttering can be caused by psychological issues or develop due to parenting style. But, experts are discovering that these beliefs may not be true. Recent research has started to develop the idea that stuttering is actually caused by a structural problem in the brain.

Dr. Scott Grafton, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at University of California, Santa Barbara explains that diffusion MRI scanning has been used in research to discover that a large portion of the arcuate fasciculus was missing in seven of the eight stutterers, but it was present in all of the non-stutterers. The arcuate fasciculus connects two parts of the brain that allow for language function, so if these parts of the brain are not connected, an individual’s ability to perform classic language functions can be affected.

Another cause of stuttering in speech is related to issues of perception. Dr. Devin McAuley, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Michigan State University states that individuals who have a difficult time discerning musical beats may also have a hard time picking up on natural speech rhythms, too. This inability to perceive beats may induce a stutter in an individual because they are not capable of timing their speech due to an issue in generating natural rhythms of language.

How can these new discoveries help doctors develop new treatments for those who suffer from a stutter? Dr. Roger Ingham, Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at University of California, Santa Barbara explains one new method of altering speech. It is called modifying phonation intervals (MPI) which is a treatment that trains people to reduce the frequency of very short intervals of phonation in order to create fluent speech. While MPI treatment works about twice as well as other speaking treatments, there is still plenty of research to be done in order to increase the effectiveness of treatments for stutters.

Guests:

  • Dr. Roger Ingham, Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Dr. Scott Grafton, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Dr. Devin McAuley, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Michigan State University

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18-07 Segment 2: Manufacturing Happiness

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We all want to be happy yet the American culture appears to be experiencing a joy-deficit. While it is well known that some individuals suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects their ability to be happy, many people are not aware of the fact that they can change the happiness that they feel by creating it on their own.

Seeking joy is an important aspect of human life. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness and Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy But Does explains that Americans have the opportunity to experience joy everyday, but many are overlooking the small ways to feel it. She believes that people spend too much time waiting for big moments, rather than taking advantage of the little moments to experience joy.

So, what can a person do to feel more joy? Dr. Alex Korb, neuroscientist at University of California, Los Angeles and author, The Upward Spiral: Using Neural Science to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change At a Time states that it is possible for people to increase their serotonin levels on their own and provides a few ways, such as sitting in the sunlight, remembering positive memories, and partaking in simple exercises. Just by partaking in some of these activities, people have the possibility to experience a little more joy in their daily lives.

Guests:

  • Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California-Riverside and author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want and Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does
  • Dr. Alex Korb, researcher at University of California, Los Angeles and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neural Science to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change At a Time

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Medical Notes 18-07

 

Medical Notes this week…

Melanoma carries a poor prognosis when it’s not caught early, but a common, inexpensive drug could boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy to treat it. Current immunotherapy treatments have a response rate of less than 35 percent but a study in the journal OncoImmunology finds that the addition of pan beta blockers increases it substantially. In the study, 70 percent of patients receiving pan beta blockers with immunotherapy were still alive after five years versus about 25 percent of those who did not receive them.

If you’re sick, other people can tell it with just a glance. Researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B injected half of a group of people with bacteria that produce flu-like symptoms, then photographed all of the subjects two hours later. The pictures were shown for no more than five seconds each to another group who were able to pick out who was well 70 percent of the time.  

Going to religious services can be good for your health. A study in the journal PLOS One finds that people who attend religious services at least once a week receive a substantial amount of protection against mortality. Even those who attended less frequently suffered less mortality than those who didn’t attend at all. Religious affiliation made no difference. Scientists say health behaviors can explain some of it—those who attend services are less likely to smoke or drink, and more likely to exercise and get health screenings.

And finally, scientists may have discovered why some women stay away from particular college majors or career paths—the perception that you have to be brilliant to succeed in them. Researchers say girls begin to associate “smartness” with boys by the time they’re six years old, and their study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology finds that those stereotypes persist over time. so women are less likely to think they’ll fit in if it takes being really smart to succeed.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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