Stimulating drugs, such as khat and cocaine, have a negative impact on everyday activities such as driving a car and working, as well as on social behaviour. That’s because these drugs seriously damage control centres in a user’s brain. Psychologist Manuel Ruiz’s research aims to increase understanding, and improve treatment, of drug addiction. His PhD defence at both Leiden University and the University of Granada took place on May 12.
Children with autism spectrum disorder are able to empathise with others. However, they can be quickly overwhelmed by other people's emotions, which may make them more aggressive. These are the newest insights from research by developmental psychologist Carolien Rieffe and her colleagues.
A unique network is activated in our brains whenever we think of other people. This network has a social function, and changes during adolescence. The change enables us to become better at understanding others and sharing in their feelings. But, as psychologist Sandy Overgaauw discovered, it doesn’t have the same effect in everyone. PhD defence 19 February.
Children learn how to control and slow down their own behaviour at an early age. This important skill initially requires a lot of brain activity, but becomes more and more efficient as they grow older and become adolescents, concludes PhD candidate Margot Schel.
People’s willingness to donate money to a charity increases after eating food that contains the amino acid tryptophan, found in fish, soya, eggs and spinach. Leiden psychologists Laura Steenbergen and Lorenza Colzato published their findings in Frontiers in Psychology.
People who are angry as well as depressed warrant additional attention and should possibly be offered more critical treatment. This particular combination may indicate a high-risk complex of symptoms, neuro-psychologist Floor Verhoeven discovered. PhD defence 6 November.
A robot that whips up a cup of coffee or tea in a jiffy is no longer the realm of science fiction. Psychologists and computer scientists have developed a model that codes how people perform these activities. The model is 500 times faster than earlier programmes.
Steve Jobs swore by a fruit diet, as he believed it improved his ideas. And he wasn’t wrong: food with high levels of tyrosine, like bananas, peaches and almonds, allow us to think harder and more creatively. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato published an article on the subject on 26 September in Psychological Research.
A slip-up, a speech error or a missed musical note literally knocks us out of our rhythm and makes us slow down, write Leiden psychologists in the Journal of Neuroscience. ‘Due to an “Oops, a mistake!” reaction, the brain becomes momentarily distracted,’ says Leiden scholar Rudy van den Brink, first author of the article.
Risk-taking and sensation-seeking are typical behaviour for adolescents. Research by Leiden psychologist Barbara Braams and her colleagues published in NeuroImage shows that the social context also plays an important role.
People from an ‘honour culture’ often respond more aggressively to insults and provocations than those from a ‘dignity culture’. Saïd Shafa examined the underlying mechanisms and discovered how such responses can be avoided. PhD Defence 26 June.
Industrial organisations often use communication to convince the public of their good intentions concerning the environment, writes organisational psychologist Gerdien de Vries in her dissertation. But this strategy has some pitfalls. Dissertation defence on 18 June.
People can think too much about their capabilities. Once you've mastered something, it's not a good idea to spend too much time thinking about it. Leiden cognitive psychologists Bruno Bocanegra and Bernhard Hommel have published an article on the subject in Psychological Science.
Can online treatment benefit patients with chronic physical disorders? Cognitive behavioural therapy via internet has been shown to be effective. Health psychologist Sylvia van Beugen writes in the 'Journal of Medical Internet Research' about the effects of Ehealth therapy for physical disorders.
If a pill containing no active ingredients still helps, this positive expectation is called a placebo effect. A negative expectation is called a nocebo effect. Both can be produced by verbal suggestions and conditioning. According to Andrea Evers’ research group, combining these is the most promising approach to itching.
A supportive upbringing is crucial for an adoptive child’s development, concludes Leiden PhD candidate Christie Schoenmaker. Malnourished adopted children initially have a lower IQ score, but malnutrition does not have any consequences for their occupational level later on.
People’s working memory functions better if they are working in an ambient temperature where they feel most comfortable. That is what Leiden psychologists Lorenza Colzato and Roberta Sellaro conclude after having conducted research. They are publishing their findings in Psychological Research.
The difference between the rational left hemisphere and the emotional right hemisphere is by no means as strict as the popular view would have us believe. PhD candidate Jurriaan Witteman has published a study on this topic in Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience.
A child suddenly runs out into the road. Brake!! A driver who has recently eaten spinach or eggs will stop faster, thanks to the amino acid tyrosine found in these and other food products. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato publishes her findings in the journal Neuropsychologia.
Children who experience chronic rejection and exclusion by their parents can become more sensitive to social exclusion later on in life and suffer the effects for a longer period of time. This is the subject of an online publication on the website Plos One by Anne-Laure van Harmelen and her Leiden University colleagues.