New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

The Unhappy Triad: Pain, Sleep Complaints, and Internalizing Symptoms

Erin Koffel, Erin E. Krebs, Paul A. Arbisi, Christopher R. Erbes, and Melissa A. Polusny

Chronic pain, sleep complaints, and anxiety/depression are three significant sources of distress that incur great personal and societal costs. Two competing theories describing the relationships among these factors suggest that internalizing symptoms mediate the relationship between sleep complaints and pain or that pain mediates the relationship between sleep complaints and internalizing symptoms. National Guard soldiers completed assessments of physical complaints, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and personality traits before (at 1 month) and after (at 2-3 months and 2 years) combat deployment in Iraq. The findings suggested that sleep problems lead to an increased risk of internalizing problems and a resulting increase in pain, indicating that improving sleep may also help improve anxiety/depression and pain problems in this population.

Is Homesickness a Mini-Grief? Development of a Dual-Process Model

Margaret Stroebe, Henk Schut, and Maaike H. Nauta

Homesickness, when severe, is associated with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression, and social isolation. It can spur or exacerbate mood disorders, insomnia, memory problems, and immune deficiencies. When people move to a new place, they often experience problems associated with separation from their old life and with adjusting to their new environment. Many models of homesickness have conflated these two factors, but a new model proposed by the authors — the dual process model of coping with homesickness (DPM-HS) — distinguishes between them. The model identifies separate complications associated with each factor and describes how interactions of the two can lead to the development of incremental difficulties. This new model suggests new avenues for the development of interventions and lines of research into homesickness.

Seeing Can Be Remembering: Interactions Between Memory and Perception in Typical and Atypical Development

Goffredina Spanò, Mary A. Peterson, Lynn Nadel, Candace Rhoads, and Jamie Ogline Edgin

Figure-ground perception — a type of perceptual grouping necessary for people to visually recognize objects — is modulated by object memory and by lower-level generic cues. The contribution of high-level cues (object memory) and low-level generic cues (convexity and surface integration) to figure-ground perception was examined in children, adolescents, and young adults who were typically developing, had Down syndrome (DS), or had autism. The researchers found that children as young as 4 used both high- and low-level cues for figure assignment. Although participants with DS showed impaired ability to use object memories for figure-ground integration, participants with autism showed no such impairment. The impaired ability to access memories seen in those with DS could contribute to impairment, not only in perception but also in adaptive skills and everyday functioning.

Socioeconomic Status and Social Support: Social Support Reduces Inflammatory Reactivity for Individuals Whose Early-Life Socioeconomic Status Was Low

Neha A. John-Henderson, Jennifer E. Stellar, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, and Darlene D. Francis

Low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood is associated with a host of negative long-term health outcomes. Children brought up in low-SES environments are particularly sensitive to their environments, leading researchers to wonder whether changing the availability of social support would influence physiological reactivity associated with early-life SES. Participants discussed a negative experience with a research confederate who was trained to be engaged and supportive or disengaged and unsupportive. Saliva samples were taken before and after the task to assess for inflammatory reactivity. Early-life SES negatively predicted post-task inflammatory reactivity for those in the unsupportive condition, but not for those in the supportive condition, suggesting that increasing social support may be one way to reduce differences in physiological reactivity associated with early-life SES.

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