Wednesday 6 December 2023

Melodic Memories: How Music Affects Memory Recall

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A Brief Background 

Music is present in many parts of an individual’s life. People may listen to music to feel emotions, connect with it through dancing, write music as a form of creativity, and more. There are many benefits to music. Another way we are linked to music is through our memories. Have you ever heard a song and felt like you were back to the first time you heard it? Research identifies a connection between music and autobiographical memory.  

Autobiographical memories develop during an individual’s life, like puzzle pieces that make up one's story. According to past studies, there is a good relationship between familiar songs and important life memories. Familiar music is more likely to draw memories and emotional responses. 

Further Studying Music and Memory

Music can produce memories and emotions. In the past, music, memories, and emotions have been studied using unknown songs. An experiment in 2023 looked at how life memories were affected by familiar music and different emotions.


There were two parts to this study. First there was an online study. It had 139 participants ages 18-29 years. They listened to 22 clips of music. Following were questions about their recognition of the song, whether it seemed happy or sad, and the song’s energy level. The main experiment included 100 participants of the same ages. Both familiar and unfamiliar clips of music were presented. They pressed a button if they recalled an important life memory. They did not press the button if there was no memory. 


The results showed how known songs and emotions drew life memories. Memories were formed quickly when listening to familiar music. Upbeat music pulled good memories while unhappy memories were connected to sadder music. 


To Conclude

The study grew research on memories and music. It looked at how familiar music affects memories. Due to the number of participants and music clips tested, the results of this research may not apply to everybody. Future research could include more participants listening to all music clips and examine cross-cultural differences. Music is important for many reasons and almost everyone listens to it. Understanding the link between music and memories can allow individuals to relive past moments and feel the songs. My advice is that you should listen to a song that makes you happy and let any memories flow. 

Friday 24 November 2023

How Avoiding Social Anxiety is Making you More Anxious

Do you often think about past conversations you have had, or what other people are thinking about you in social interactions? Do you have high standards for how you act around others? Those with social anxiety highly focus on their behaviour, appearance, and speech. During and after social interactions, they may analyze and think about their behaviour. This is done to learn from experiences and improve future interactions. This leads to increased pressure to manage how others view them. They may focus on their behaviours so much that it can lead to overthinking and a fear of making mistakes. People with social anxiety believe that social interactions will go wrong. They may act in ways to reduce the risk of negative consequences such as embarrassment or not being liked. This can influence their self-presentation, by showing a guarded version of themselves. 

Safety Behaviours

Behaviours showing social anxiety include shaking, not talking clearly, awkward pauses, or seeming tense and fidgety. They may find it hard to start and keep conversations going. These behaviours are seen as a lack of social skills by others. Others also sense that they are uncomfortable and nervous during conversation. Social approach behaviours leave a positive mark on others. This includes looking engaged and friendly, and sharing interests. 

A study by Rassaby et al., (2023) looked at how socially anxious people act in social situations. There were two situations: a back-and-forth conversation and giving a speech. They found that those with social anxiety had two types of safety behaviours. Safety behaviors are things people do to feel safer in a situation. They depend on the context and anxiety levels. 


The first is avoiding social situations. This limits the risk of judgment or embarrassment. These behaviours include avoiding eye contact and limiting how much they talk. Those who used these behaviours in social interactions had negative moods, seemed more anxious, and were less likely to approach others. 


The second is self-presentation. This is controlling what others think to show a positive self-image. Those who self-monitor are found to think about the social event after it happens. It may look like hiding anxiety or pretending to agree with others. The findings show that monitoring behaviour gives way to better mood. They also found positive behaviours like approaching others. 

In the study, people without social anxiety were asked to use safety behaviours. They experienced anxiety when using these behaviours. This shows that trying to hide social anxiety creates more anxiety. Self-monitoring shows to be a better way to deal with social anxiety compared to avoidance. Those with social anxiety are aware of the mistakes they make during social interactions. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes during social interactions. It can be tricky to have social anxiety since it makes it feel like only you are imperfect. 

Author: Sofi Kotilehti

Evans, R., Chiu, K., Clark, D. M., Waite, P., & Leigh, E. (2021). Safety behaviours in social anxiety: An examination across adolescence. Behaviour research and therapy, 144, 103931.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness. Mental Health Information.,social%20anxiety%20disorder%20is%20treatable

Rassaby, M., Smith, T., & Taylor, C. T. (2023). Examining Safety Behavior Subtypes Across Distinct Social Contexts in Social Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression. Behavior therapy54(3), 572–583.

Svennevig, J. (2014). Direct and Indirect Self-Presentation in First Conversations. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 33(3), 302–327.


What Reducing Your Social Media Use Can Do for Your Body Image

 By: Lucy Fisher

(Credit: Oziel Valdez)

Social media has become a large part of teens’ daily lives. Teens spend on average five hours per day using some type of social media. Being a teen is challenging and is a transitional time in development. Social media helps teens form new connections and relationships. It also helps them learn new things but too much social media use can have negative influences on teens. So, what does too much time spend on social media mean for teens growth and mental health.

Research shows that spending more than five hours a day on social media is linked to teens thoughts about suicide, self-harm, and feelings of sadness. Most if this time on social media is spent making comparisons about physical appearance. Teens feel like they are not thin or attractive enough and are worrying about needing to fit into beauty ideals. Excessive social media use is also linked to lower self-esteem and more fear of missing out in teens. These behaviors contribute to teens feeling worried and at risk for mental health issues. This data also shows that teens who spend four or more hours a day on social media doubles the risk of developing negative thoughts about their body image.

 To see if spending less time on social media makes a difference, researchers had two hundred students between the ages of 17-25 volunteer to be a part of a study. This study had the volunteers lower their social media use to one hour per day or continue to use social media as they normally would. The volunteers had feelings of worry and sadness before the study. They also answered questions about their body image and the way that they look before and after the study. This time on social media was tested for three weeks. The results of this study showed that lowering social media to one hour per day improved body image and weight concerns in participants. 

Social media is an important part of our lives. Teens are going to continue to use social media and technology despite the risks. This information shows teens that lowering their usage may improve feelings towards their physical appearance. Identifying the benefits and risks can help teens begin to change their social media behaviors. In turn, contributing to a more positive body image and overall well-being. 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Cues used during social 'mindreading'

        When we think about mindreading, we often picture impressive psychic abilities - the type we see in movies and magic shows. This does not stop us from trying to mindread ourselves, of course. In psychology, mindreading is called ‘social mentalizing,’ which means predictions based on our understanding of other people. Whenever we try to figure out what someone else is thinking, we are doing something called first-order mentalizing. Second-order mentalizing is similar, but involves inferring how close others are to thinking about our own minds. Different social cues, like past experiences and tone of voice, affect how we do this in our minds.        

        If we study how these cues work, we might be able to learn how we mentalize. A 2023 paper hoped to study just that. Participants were put into pairs with other participants. Each person was then given a desk with a computer. They completed a ‘spot the difference’ task with two pictures on their screens for ten seconds. Next, participants were asked to predict how many differences they would find after another ten seconds. This task and question were used to measure second-order mentalizing. After another ten seconds, participants viewed the first ten seconds of their partner’s task. They were asked to guess how many differences the partner would find after 20 seconds. This task and question were used to measure first-order mentalizations.

        The authors suggested that during both types of mentalizations, how well one and how well the other were doing on the task are both used as cues. These cues help us make predictions when we are trying to mindread. They also suggested that future research should explore how other forms of cues, like body language, can affect how we ‘mindread.’

Sunday 19 November 2023

Sleepless in the Digital Age: Social Media's Impact on Rest

The growth in social media has affected our attention, memory, and other everyday behaviours. This increase has led to the need for always wanting to reach for your device. But does this influence our sleep? It was found that as young people start using a cellphone, social media use increases. Young people are also more likely to stay up at night to use their phones. Our sleep can affect our mental health, but so can the time we spend on social media.  If we spend our nights scrolling through the information provided on the internet rather than sleeping, our mental health may be at risk.

This article aims to learn how social media addiction plays a part in sleep problems in college students. Using social media at night, and fear of missing out are two things that were chosen to help understand this.

The authors had four predictions. First, that college students’ social media use will play a part in sleep problems. Second, being afraid to miss out on something will help to explain why social media addiction plays a part in sleep problems. Third, using social media at night will also help to explain social media addiction on sleep problems. Lastly, both factors together will have a part to play in the relationship.

They sent questionnaires to 907 college students in China. The questions allowed the students to report on how they felt about their own experiences. Once they were returned, they compared the results of how they felt about their social media addiction, if they felt fear of missing out, how often they used social media at night and whether they had sleep problems.

There was a link between social media use and sleep problems. Fear of missing out and using social media during the night contributed too. Using social media can impact sleep by itself as well as combined with the other two factors. Both other factors helped explain this link between social media use and sleep problems as they contribute to social media addiction.


A problem with the findings was that they only looked at college students. They did not compare the results to another age group, which might have showed a different pattern. But their predictions were confirmed. This opens a door for more research to be done around social media addiction and how it effects a person’s sleep problems. With this opportunity, we can study another age group, such as high-school students, where social media usage tends to begin.

Social media has created a world where we no longer have to be mindful of our behaviours. We can display only the good things in our life and use it to distract us from the lives we actually have. It’s important to know that limiting our social media use can help support our health in many ways. We can prevent our everyday usage from becoming an addiction and we can improve our mental health and sleep habits.

Friday 17 November 2023

Childhood Food Insecurity and Binge Eating Disorder

The State of Food Insecurity in Canada


To start, it's important to define food insecurity. Food insecurity arises when people or families do not have enough food. This problem is usually caused by the person or family not having enough money to get food but can also be caused by other problems that make it harder for people to get food. For example, a problem might be not having a car to get you to the store and having to rely on the bus. In recent years food insecurity has become a growing issue for Canadians. Almost 1 in 5 Canadians reported experiencing food insecurity. The age group that experiences food insecurity the most is children. About 1 in 4 of Canadian children experience food insecurity.


 Food insecurity has been connected to several health concerns. This includes both physical and mental health. For adults, food insecurity can put them at risk of anxiety, depression, issues with sleep and other mental health problems. For kids in families who do not have enough food, there are the same mental health concerns as adults. But children for who go hungry there are also risks of things like behaviour problems and trouble paying attention.


Food Insecurity and Binge Eating Disorder


Mental health issues related to not having enough food have been the focus of a lot of research. Recently, there has been growing concern that kids without enough food might be at a higher risk for eating disorders. One specific disorder that has been looked at a lot is binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a mental illness where someone regularly eats a lot of food in a short time. Also, people with this disorder feel like they can't control their eating.


A new study checked how food problems and binge eating disorders are connected in kids aged 9 to 14. This study followed the kids for 2 years. They found that kids with food issues were more likely to get binge eating disorder than kids who did not. The authors say kids with limited food had a 33% higher chance of getting this disorder compared to kids who didn't have food problems.


The paper also mentions that since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are now having trouble getting food. Since kids are the most likely to have trouble accessing food in Canada. Then the decrease in access to food may have put more kids in danger of not accessing food. That means the number of kids developing eating disorders might be on the rise.


Take Away


If this post has left the reader with anything hopefully it has shown that limited access to food puts children at risk for eating disorders and that this is a major public health concern. There has been a recent increase in the number of children experiencing food insecurity after the COVID-19 pandemic. There are more children than ever who are at a higher risk of developing binge eating and other mental health disorders. It is important for us to address their need for mental health services and increase their access to the care they need.


Thursday 26 January 2023

Protective Behavioural Strategies Shown to Lower the Risk of Alcohol-Induced Blackouts

 By Natasha Savanhu

Most of us enjoy the occasional cocktail at a special dinner date or a bar, cheering with friends. Some welcome the company of a California ruby red cabernet sauvignon with a moment of relaxation after a long hard day at work. But, then, there is just the absolute satisfaction of cracking open an ice-cold beer while watching your favourite team play. 

Whatever your fancy, we know that alcohol consumption is prevalent in our society. Yet, the adverse consequences of alcohol can be dangerous, specifically instances of memory loss or amnesia about the previous day or night's events. One may recall some part of the night but then draws a complete blank.

Dr. Timmen L. Cermak – Psychology Today, shares a story of the consequences of alcohol blackout  (Credit: Getty Images)