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How to Get Your Children to Eat Better, Brain’s Signaling Systems Might Determine PTSD Severit

Welcome back to 

In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address how to get your children to eat better, how the brain’s signaling systems might determine PTSD severity, how terrorism affects voter psychology, and more.

How to Get Your Children to Eat Better – The Wall Street Journal

18% of American children from 6 to 11 years of age are obese, and pediatricians are seeing rising numbers of children who eat no vegetables at all. So why is this happening?  A contributing factor may be that we treat meals as occasions for getting a child quickly fed, rather than opportunities for learning how to eat in a healthy way. But forcing our children to eat healthy food doesn’t work—so how do we encourage children to enjoy healthy foods? Rather than pushing for a clean plate, help children learn to stop eating when they are full – that is, teach children hunger management. Parents have great power in teaching this crucial eating skill and others, like appreciating a wide range of foods. Our eating habits are a consequence of familiarity, not biology. The trick to getting your children to eat better is make trying new foods feel like a game, not a punishment. For more information, check out Public Interest’s ABCDE brochure.

A new study published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry suggests people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have an imbalance between two of the brain’s signaling systems. Previous research has shown that people with PTSD have changes in brain anatomy and function, and this also involves a shift in the balance between brain signaling systems. But this recent study may be the first to actually show that shift, and this could lead to improvement in the understanding of PTSD and to better treatments for the condition.

With the shocking rise of ISIS and the recent terror attacks that have killed civilians abroad and at home, terrorism has become a major issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Stanford sociologist Dr. Robb Willer notes that in past research “probably the most reliable finding from research on the political impact of terrorism is that the threat of terrorism increases support for standing leaders.” Incumbents often benefit because of the “rally around the flag” effect, and people seem to gather behind their leaders when faced with terror attacks. But this election cycle is uncharted territory from a political-psychology-of-terrorism standpoint.

How Your Job Can Make You Smarter– The Wall Street Journal

New studies by neuroscientists show your job could also be making you smarter. On the job skills may help sharpen your cognitive abilities. Training in certain mental skills can build the brain’s capacity to process information and solve problems.  Jobs that are hard enough that we make mistakes, that are continually challenging, and that we can’t quite master can improve our cognitive abilities.  Dr. Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science in San Francisco, notes that to build brainpower, workers must remain “engaged in the world in all its details.” Cynthia Green, a speaker and president of Total Brain Health, also notes that working in a stimulating environment with other people also “gives people an opportunity to work out” cognitive skills.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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