The healing power of optimism

In Mind
Monday, 25 August 2008 00:00

Vici research: Why do optimists recover faster than pessimists?

It is a fact that people recover better from illnesses and live longer after operations if they have a positive attitude to life. Research at Maastricht University is examining whether optimists also develop chronic pain complaints less often than pessimists. How exactly could that work? And is it possible to change a pessimist into an optimist temporarily, to open the door to new therapies? With the help of a Vici grant, Professor Madelon Peters hopes to find answers in her experimental research in Maastricht.


Fear of falling tackled

In Body
Thursday, 07 February 2008 00:00

Group course for the elderly significantly reduces fear of falling

Fear of falling can drastically affect older people’s social lives. Whether they have had previous experiences with falling or breaking bones is irrelevant: knowing that a broken hip can lead to death within months, many stop visiting family or going out altogether. This results in a break with society and higher risk of depression and social isolation. “It’s high time we try to do something about this,” says Prof. Ruud Kempen of Maastricht University. A generous ZonMw grant will enable his team to continue researching this subject over the next four years.


“Researchers acknowledge the usefulness of an earlier study through citations. Useful papers are therefore cited more. This is the basis of citation analysis. Accordingly, a university should hire and promote researchers whose work has a large number of citations.

However, citations are often made years after publication, while funding and hiring decisions must be made immediately. In these cases, the quality of the journals and other publication outlets in which the researcher’s work is published can be used.


Distinguishing your mother tongue from Japanese

In Mind
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 00:00

Study into language processing of deaf and hearing babies

Before babies can learn and start to speak a language, they have to be able to recognise their mother tongue. Babies also have to be able to recognise words from the stringsofwordswithoutaudiblespaces. These two topics are the focus of scientific research into early language cognition and development in children, more specifically hearing-impaired and deaf children – although very little is known about language processing in hearing babies either.


Schizophrenics are on their own

In Mind
Wednesday, 25 July 2007 00:00

PhD research into late-onset schizophrenia

Most people who develop schizophrenia usually show the first signs while in their twenties. However, twenty percent of all schizophrenic patients only develop symptoms after the age of 45, or sometimes even twenty years later. There is very little scientific interest in this group, despite the current ageing of the population. Except in Maastricht. ‘We are now researching questions that scientists have been asking for the past hundred years.’


Wil Buntinx: ‘The support-based approach will cause a huge swing’

He started to get suspicious in January: after their annual ‘mid-winter meeting’ the AAIDD board announced that Wil Buntinx had been nominated and asked him to provide a copy of his CV and some more detailed information. And on 23 May, it became reality: during the 131st Annual AAIDD Meeting in Atlanta he was awarded the yearly AAIDD International Award. A ‘life time achievement award’, or as he would rather see it: ‘a long time achievement award’. Although at 60 he is rapidly approaching retirement age, Buntinx is by no means ready to stop working. Wil Buntinx owes the AAIDD life-time achievement award to his work on professionalising the care and support provided to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He can take the credit for not just one, but countless developments. If you had to summarise them, you could say that he is a practice oriented man, but that science is always at the heart of his professional and managerial activities. In the field of intellectual disabilities, people who make this link are still few and far between.


Spreading functional panic

In Mind
Thursday, 25 January 2007 00:00

Maastricht inhalation test to be further professionalized

One in five of all heart patients consulting a cardiologist with a possible heart problem, actually turns out to have a panic disorder. The symptoms are the same: palpitations, dizziness, hyperventilating. Many years ago, Maastricht University developed an inhalation test to diagnose patients with a ‘panic disorder’. These patients show a much more violent reaction to inhaling 35% CO2 than non-patients. Interest in the device is now growing and so Dr. Marlies van Duinen, assisted by a Casimir grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, is working on refining both the device and the method.


Doctoral candidate Ellen Dreezens knows how to influence our attitudes

Although many consumers have negative associations with genetically modified (GM) food, they hardly ever stop to think about this when shopping in the supermarket. Whilst they consider respect for nature to be important, consumers make no connection with this information when choosing products. Dr Ellen Dreezens studied whether the attitude of consumers can be influenced by giving them gentle reminders of their base values. Read more about biscuits, stealing and the never-give-up approach.


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