Brain and Behavior

Lumosity Pays Millions in Fines, ‘Deceived Consumers’

I haven't seen a Lumosity television commercial for awhile. I wondered why that was, and now I know.

As I pointed out nearly four years ago, Lumosity was apparently selling the equivalent of snake oil to unsuspecting folks. The company simply didn't have the research to back up its grand claims -- "improve [your] brain health and performance" -- from the company's inception through early 2015.

The U.S. federal government's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finally caught on to the scam, announcing an enormous settlement with the company yesterday.

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Creativity

New Study Connects Distraction to Creative Genius

We knew it.

It seems as if everyone you know does some of their best work while sitting in their local coffee shop, but you don't even bother bringing your laptop when you're killing time at Starbucks. You know that every customer order shouted out or every whirl of the espresso maker will derail you from whatever project you attempt to work on. You've tried to block it all out but have failed every time.

But there's good news if this always happens to you.

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Family

New Year’s & Coping with Loss

As soon as the Christmas rush subsides and the wrapping paper is thrown away, we start to think about how we will ring in the new year. Images of smiling faces, popping champagne corks, and fireworks tell us how we might be behaving, thinking or even feeling. Yet for many, the persistent feelings of loss and sadness about a person, a relationship or life once lived limit the awareness that a new year is truly a new start.

The spotlight that is placed on our lives at New Year's creates a make-believe time where we imagine that the thoughts we engage with can assist us in navigating the year ahead. While the powers of intentional thoughts have their place in our emotional well-being, for many facing lost loved ones or relationships, their desires can be beyond their grasp.

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Brain and Behavior

What is Affluenza? Is it Real?

Affluenza is a term describing a "metaphorical illness" whereby children or teens who grow up in a privileged lifestyle, largely isolated emotionally and developmentally from their working parents, feel excessive pressure to achieve in both academic and extracurricular activities. This can make children feel more isolated than their friends, while at the same time feeling an increase in pressure to perform. The result? Greater depression, anxiety and substance or alcohol abuse compared to their friends.

Researchers don't generally refer to this as affluenza, but rather as problems growing up in a culture of affluence. There is no official diagnosis of "affluenza," and research into this phenomenon is fairly scarce.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Is Your Microbiome Making You Crazy?

Anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood disorders, mood swings or just feeling out of sorts? It’s possible that the answers may lie in the health of the trillions of bacteria living in the intestine called the gut microbiome.

There is a profound connection between gut flora composition and mood. Depending on the different types and quantities that are prevalent, these bacteria can influence everything from the immune system, digestion, DNA expression, inflammation and brain function -- for better or worse. Bacteria are even known to play a role in serious conditions like autism and schizophrenia. Put simply, a balanced microbiome equals good health, but the opposite is true as well.

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Best of Our Blogs

Top 10 Important or Intriguing Psychology Articles of 2015

The field of psychology is diverse and large -- the American Psychological Association alone has divisions representing more than 54 separate topic areas. Tens of thousands of psychology papers are published every year in peer-reviewed journals. In 2015 alone, there were more than 2,000 meta-analyses papers (research that summarizes and examines other research) published in psychology's PsycINFO research database.

Here are ten psychology articles published in the past year that I think were important or intriguing, and advanced the field of psychology significantly.

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Addiction

Nomophobia & Smartphone Addiction Among Children

The term “addiction” is usually associated with alcoholism and drug abuse. Yet people do get addicted to different stimulants that are quite legal substances.

Smartphones changed our primary concept of a cell phone. It is no longer used strictly to establish audio communication. Smartphones allow us to have our camera, GPS navigator, video game terminal, and even our own library in hand. Nevertheless, the biggest and most important aspect is that a smartphone gives us access to the Internet.

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General

50 Psychology & Psychiatry Terms to Avoid

In August of this year, researchers Lilienfeld et al. (2015) published a review article of a list of 50 inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases typically used in psychology and psychiatry. The rationale behind the list comes in the first two sentences of the article: "Scientific thinking necessitates clarity, including clarity in writing. In turn, clarity hinges on accuracy in the use of specialized terminology."

Psychology as a field has especially struggled with terminology, using murky, unclear terms to describe complex phenomena. Society often takes it one step further, putting their own spin on the definitions -- making psychology terms even less definitive and clear.

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Addiction

Daily Rituals to Reduce Anxiety

Who among us has not experienced their fair share of anxiety? Whether it be from finances, school assignments, career troubles or relationship issues, we all - at least occasionally - get caught in the rainstorm that is anxiety. Some prefer to outrun this brewing downpour. I say, save your energy, and just bring an umbrella.

An anxiety umbrella can take many forms: medicine, therapy, self-reflection or alterations in one’s daily tasks that reduce the burden of anxiety and allow you to focus on more important matters. Here are a few examples that you can use when that cloud of stress turns threatens to turn into a perfect storm:

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