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The Underrepresentation of Women in Science: International and Cross-Disciplinary Evidence and Debate

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889454341 Year: Pages: 168 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-434-1 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2018-11-16 17:17:57
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There is no shortage of articles and books exploring women’s underrepresentation in science. Everyone is interested--academics, politicians, parents, high school girls (and boys), women in search of college majors, administrators working to accommodate women’s educational interests; the list goes on. But one thing often missing is an evidence-based examination of the problem, uninfluenced by personal opinions, accounts of “lived experiences,” anecdotes, and the always-encroaching inputs of popular culture. This is why this special issue of Frontiers in Psychology can make a difference. In it, a diverse group of authors and researchers with even more diverse viewpoints find themselves united by their empirical, objective approaches to understanding women’s underrepresentation in science today. The questions considered within this special issue span academic disciplines, methods, levels of analysis, and nature of analysis; what these article share is their scholarly, evidence-based approach to understanding a key issue of our time.

Visual Dysfunction in Schizophrenia: A View into the Mechanisms of Madness?

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889195152 Year: Pages: 319 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-515-2 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-10-30 16:33:44
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Research on visual perception in schizophrenia has a long history. However, it is only recently that it has been included in mainstream efforts to understand the cognitive neuroscience of the disorder and to assist with biomarker and treatment development (e.g., the NIMH CNTRICS and RDoC initiatives). Advances in our understanding of visual disturbances in schizophrenia can tell us about both specific computational and neurobiological abnormalities, and about the widespread computational and neurobiological abnormalities in the illness, of which visual disturbances constitute well-studied, replicable, low-level examples. Importantly, far from being a passive sensory registration process, visual perception is active, inferential, and hypothesis-generating, and therefore can provide excellent examples of breakdowns in general brain functions in schizophrenia. Despite progress made in understanding visual processing disturbances in schizophrenia, many challenges exist and many unexplored areas are in need of examination. For example, the directional relationships between perceptual and cognitive disturbances (e.g., in attention, memory, executive function, predictive coding) remain unclear in many cases, as do links with symptoms, including visual hallucinations. The effect of specific visual disturbances on multisensory integration in schizophrenia has also not been explored. In addition, few studies of vision in schizophrenia have used naturalistic stimuli, including real-world objects, and almost no studies have examined processing during interaction with objects or visual exploration, which can provide important data on functioning of the perception for action pathway. Relatedly, studies of visual processing in schizophrenia have also not been conducted within contexts that include emotional stimulation and the presence of reinforcers - characteristics of many real-world situations - and the consequences of this are likely to be an incomplete view of how and when perception is abnormal in the condition. An additional important area involves treatment of visual disturbances in schizophrenia. Two major questions regarding this are: 1) can visual processing be improved in cases where it is impaired (and by what types of interventions affecting which cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms)? and 2) what are the clinical and functional benefits of improving specific visual functions in people with schizophrenia? Other important and understudied questions concern: 1) the extent to which indices of visual functioning can serve as biomarkers such as predictors of relapse, treatment response, and/or recovery; 2) the potential role of visual functioning in diagnosing and predicting illness; 3) the extent to which some visual perception disturbances are diagnostically specific to schizophrenia; and 4) the extent to which visual disturbances are truly manifestations of disease, as opposed to aspects of normal variation that, in combination with disease, serves to modify the clinical presentation. This Frontiers Research Topic explores some of these, and other issues facing this exciting interface between vision science and schizophrenia research. We include papers that span the entire range of different Frontiers paper types, including those that are data driven (using psychophysics, electroencephalography, neuroimaging, computational and animal models, and other methods), reviews, hypotheses, theories, opinion, methods, areas of impact, and historical perspectives.

Manual Asymmetries, Handedness and Motor Performance

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889198634 Year: Pages: 147 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-863-4 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-01-19 14:05:46
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The performance of most tasks with one hand, typically the right, is a uniquely human characteristic. Not only do people prefer to use one hand rather than the other, but also they usually perform tasks faster and more accurately with this hand. The study of manual asymmetries and what such performance differences between the two hands reveal about brain organization and motor function has been a topic of considerable research over the last several decades. The aim of this Research Topic is to review and further explore the origins of manual asymmetries and their relationship to handedness, unimanual and bimanual motor performance, and brain function. The articles included here involve original research conducted in humans or non-human models species, as well as theoretical perspectives, review articles, and meta-analyses.

From Sex Differences in Neuroscience to a Neuroscience of Sex Differences: New Directions and Perspectives

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889196890 Year: Pages: 199 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-689-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Internal medicine --- Medicine (General) --- Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-04-07 11:22:02
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This research topic aims to integrate scattered findings on sex differences in neuroscience into a broader theory of how the human brain is shaped by sex and sex hormones in order to cause the great variety of sex differences that are commonly observed. It can be assumed that these differences didn’t occur arbitrarily, but that they rather determined and still determine evolutionary success of individuals and were shaped by the processes of natural and in particular sexual selection. Therefore, sex differences are not negligible and sex difference research cannot be discriminating against one sex or the other. In fact a better understanding of the underlying causes of sex differences has great advantages for both men and women and society as a whole, not only in terms of health care, but in every aspect of life. Gender equality can only work out if it is equally well understood for men and women what their individual resources and needs are. Therefore, it is of great importance to pave the way for identifying the underlying principles of structural and functional brain organization that cause men and women to act, think and feel differently. To this end it is of particular interest to identify possible similarities and interrelations between sex differences that did so far stand separately, in order to investigate whether they share a common source. To understand, where a specific sex difference comes from and whether or not it is caused by the same principle as other sex differences, it is necessary to explicitly link sex differences in behavior to their neuronal correlates and vice versa link sex differences in brain structure and function to their behavioral outcomes. In particular a new understanding of male and female brain functioning may arise from findings on how sex hormones interact with various neurotransmitter systems. In the past few years several findings demonstrated that women’s behavior is influenced by the sex hormone fluctuations they experience naturally during their menstrual cycle to the extent that sex differences may only be detectable in one cycle phase but not another. The study of menstrual cycle dependent effects gives important hints about which sex differences are activational and which are organizational. Additionally it only recently came to attention, that hormonal contraception may alter a women’s mood, cognition and behavior as a consequence of changes in brain structure and function. The underlying mechanisms are so poorly understood that it is even hard to predict, whether hormonal contraception will mask or amplify sex differences in a given task. Since the oral hormonal contraceptive pill is meanwhile used by 100 million women worldwide and even by teenagers whose brains are not yet fully developed, the question of how the synthetic steroids contained in hormonal contraceptives act on the brain is to be studied hand in hand with naturally occurring sex differences. This topic summarizes the current state of the art in sex difference research and gives new perspectives in terms of hypothesis generation an methodology. Both are necessary to gain a complete picture of what it is that makes a brain male or female and move towards a neuroscience of sex differences.

Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Drug Use: Evidence from Pre-Clinical and Clinical Models

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889455300 Year: Pages: 201 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-530-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychiatry --- Medicine (General) --- Therapeutics --- Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2019-01-23 14:53:42
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The purpose of this collection is to provide a forum to integrate pre-clinical and clinical investigations regarding the long-term consequences of adolescent exposure to drugs of abuse. Adolescence is characterized by numerous behavioral and biological changes, including substantial neurodevelopment. Behaviorally, adolescents are more likely to engage in risky activities and make impulsive decisions. As such, the majority of substance use begins in adolescence, and an earlier age of onset of use (<15 yr) is strongly associated with the risk for developing a substance use disorder later in life. Furthermore, adolescent drug use may negatively impact ongoing neurological development, which could lead to long-term cognitive and emotional deficits. A large number of clinical studies have investigated both the acute and long-term effects of adolescent drug use on functional outcomes. However, the clinical literature contains many conflicting findings, and is often hampered by the inability to know if functional differences existed prior to drug use. Moreover, in human populations it is often very difficult to control for the numerous types of drugs, doses, and combinations used, not to mention the many other environmental factors that may influence adult behavior. Therefore, an increase in the number of carefully controlled studies using relevant animal models has the potential to clarify which adolescent experiences, particularly what drugs used when, have long-term negative consequences. Despite the advantages of animal model systems in clarifying these issues, the majority of pre-clinical addiction research over the past 50+ years has been conducted in adult animals. Moreover, few addiction-related studies have investigated the long-term neurocognitive consequences of drug exposure at any age. In the past 10 years of so, however, the field of adolescent drug abuse research has burgeoned. To date, the majority of this research has focused on adolescent alcohol exposure using a variety of animal models. The results have given the field important insight into why adolescents are more likely to drink alcohol to excess relative to adults, and the danger of adolescent alcohol use (e.g., in leading to a persistence of excessive drinking in adulthood). More recently, research regarding the effects of adolescent exposure to other drugs of abuse, including nicotine, cocaine, and cannabinoids has expanded. Therefore, we are at unique point in time, when emerging results from carefully controlled pre-clinical studies can inform the sometimes confusing clinical literature. In addition, we expect an influx of prospective clinical studies in response to a cross-institute initiative at NIH, known as the ABCD grant. Several institutes are enrolling children prior to adolescence (and the initiation of drug use), in order to control for pre-existing neurobiological and neurobehavioral differences and to monitor the age of initiation and amount of drug used more carefully than is possible using retrospective designs.

Exploring Gender and Sex Differences in Behavioral Dyscontrol: from Drug Addiction to Impulse Control Disorders

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889198337 Year: Pages: 99 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-833-7 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychiatry --- Medicine (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-01-19 14:05:46
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Males and females exhibit discrete attitudes and skills, experience dissimilar emotional and psychological needs, and react differently to peer pressure, lack of self-realization, or other personal and social expectations. In addition, they are differently influenced by family history, and diverge in the perception of self-image and health risks. To complicate the matter on gender dichotomy, male testosterone levels markedly vary over the course of the day, while female levels of sex hormones significantly fluctuate depending upon the menstrual cycle, the pre- or post-menopausal age, and the use of oral contraceptives. All of these factors interact with genetic background and sex hormonal fluctuations, and determine the differences observed in their predisposition to develop an addiction. This term is traditionally associated to the abuse of legal and illegal substances. However, a compulsion toward the engagement in a non-drug-related rewarding behavior, usually involving a natural reward, also activates the brain reward system and engenders persistent behavior, thus resulting in a diminished control over it. These latter behaviors are defined as “behavioral addictions”. This definition encompasses any behavior characterized by the followings: i) feeling of tension or arousal before the action; ii) gratification and/or relief at the time of performing the act; iii) inability to resist an urge or drive even against great obstacles or dangers; iv) absence of consideration for the negative consequences that may affect family, friends, and/or work. As such, behavioral addictions include compulsive food intake and sexual activity, pathological gambling and Internet addiction, excessive exercising, compulsive buying and pyromania. These behaviors, which are often classified as "impulse control disorders", result in actions that are harmful to oneself and/or others, share common features (e.g. compulsiveness, impulsivity, impaired decision-making, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, high rates of relapse), and involve dysfunction of several brain circuits. Derangement from functional neurobiological mechanisms underpinning both sensitivity to reward and inhibitory control can also lead to compulsive behaviors. For instance, pathological gambling and other impulse control disorders (e.g., hypersexuality, compulsive painting, eating and buying) are often reported in Parkinson's disease patients. Gender-dependent differences in the rate of initiation and frequency of misuse of addicting drugs have been widely described. Yet, men and women also differ in their propensity to become addicted to other rewarding stimuli (e.g. sex, food) or activities (e.g. gambling, exercising). The goal of the present Research Topic is to explore and summarize current evidence for gender (and sex) differences not only in drug addiction, but also in other forms of addictive behaviors. Thus, it will include studies showing gender-dependent differences in drug addiction, food addiction, compulsive sexual activity, pathological gambling, Internet addiction and physical exercise addiction. Psychiatric comorbidity, potential risk factors and the underlying neural mechanisms will be also examined, with particular emphasis to the role of sex hormones in modulating addictive and compulsive behaviors.

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