SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Verona, E., & Bozzay, M. L. (2017). Biobehavioral Approaches to Aggression Implicate Perceived Threat and Insufficient Sleep: Clinical Relevance and Policy Implications. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(2), 178-185. doi:10.1177/2372732217719910

Abstract: Besides reducing the burden of aggression and violence on society, the biobehavioral study of aggression can inform our understanding of emotional problems and maladaptive behaviors more broadly, since aggression can often co-occur with psychological disorders (e.g., depression). This article reviews the neuroscience/psychophysiology literature to explain brain processes in aggression that can be targeted to reduce its scourge on society. In particular, the review implicates brain circuitry that is often triggered by feelings of threat, which in turn disrupt higher order cognitive processes and may prompt aggression. One potentially modifiable factor less frequently considered in the study of aggression is sleep insufficiency or problems. The neurophysiological impact of sleep insufficiency can parallel the brain-related risk factors of aggression. Policy recommendations span individual mental health innovations, community-based interventions, and public health campaigns promoting healthy lifestyles to reduce aggression and violence.

Journal Article 2: Levy, I. (2017). Neuroanatomical substrates for risk behaviorNeuroscientist, 23(3), 275-286. doi: 10.1177/1073858416672414.

Abstract: Individuals vary substantially in their tendency to take risks. In the past two decades, a large number of neuroimaging studies in humans have explored the neural mechanisms of several cognitive processes that contribute to risk taking. In this article, I focus on functional and structural MRI studies that investigated uncertainty processing, one of the main features of risk behavior. Using decision-making and learning paradigms, these studies implicated a network of brain areas, including posterior parietal cortex, anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, in various aspects of uncertainty processing. Individual differences in behavior under uncertainty are reflected in the function and structure of some of these areas and are integrated into value representations in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum, reinforcing the potential contribution of all of these brain structures to individual tendencies to take risks.

Journal Article 3: Simon, C. D., Adam, E. K., McKinney, C. O., Krohn, J. P., & Shalowitz, M. U. (2016). Breastfeeding, bed-sharing, and maternal cortisolClinical Pediatrics, 55(5), 470-478.
doi: 10.1177/0009922815601981.

Abstract: Prior studies have found that close mother-child sleep proximity helps increase rates of breastfeeding, and breastfeeding itself is linked to better maternal and infant health. In this study, we examine whether breastfeeding and infant bedsharing are related to daily rhythms of the stress-responsive hormone cortisol. We found that bed-sharing was related to flatter diurnal cortisol slopes, and there was a marginal effect for breastfeeding to predict steeper cortisol slopes. Furthermore, mothers who breastfeed but do not bed-share had the steepest diurnal cortisol slopes, whereas mothers who bed-shared and did not breastfeed had the flattest slopes (P< .05). These results were significant after controlling for subjective sleep quality, perceived stress, depression, socioeconomic status, race, and maternal age. Findings from this study indicate that infant parenting choices recommended for infants (breastfeeding and separate sleep surfaces for babies) may also be associated with more optimal stress hormone profiles for mothers.

Journal Article 4: Hummer, T. A. (2015). Media violence effects on brain development: What neuroimaging has revealed and what lies aheadAmerican Behavioral Scientist, 59(4), 1790-1806.
doi: 10.1177/0002764215596553.

Abstract: Substantial research has indicated that media violence induces both short- and long-term increases in aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Recently, neuroimaging techniques have begun to identify the mechanisms driving these changes. An important avenue that these neuroimaging tools can address is how exposure to media violence in childhood affects brain development, which can have lifelong behavioral consequences. This review highlights neuroimaging research examining how media violence exposure affects the pediatric brain. While such research is limited, evidence suggests that prefrontal mechanisms for controlling emotion and behavior are altered by exposure to violent media. Therefore, long-term increases in aggression and decreases in inhibitory control due to excessive media violence exposure may result from impaired development of prefrontal regions. However, additional neuroimaging research is necessary to establish whether and how exposure to media violence specifically shapes subsequent neural maturation. To optimize the use of neuroimaging in this inquiry, imaging studies should not stand on their own, but instead must be integrated with more traditional research paradigms to establish a more complete picture of effects. Future research must employ more longitudinal approaches to better characterize long-term effects that high exposure to violent screen media may have on brain development, particularly prefrontal and limbic brain regions.