‘What did I do to deserve this?’

In Body
Thursday, 11 March 2004 00:00

How women handle breast cancer

"The treatment of breast cancer fights the tumour and possible metastasis, but there is too little attention for the psychological condition of the patients. This is in contrast with the depressive feelings and fear for recurrence of the disease that part of the women faces, even though principally they have been cured. Therefore, I am not surprised that some people, such as Sylvia Millecam, resort to alternative health care." Psychologist Mieke Oosterwijk stands up for more attention for the psychological consequences of breast cancer. She studied the psychological mechanisms (cognitive strategies) that women use to deal with breast cancer. On 12 March 2004 she receives her doctorate for this research at the Faculty of Medicine of Universiteit Maastricht.


How reliable is an eyewitness?

In Mind
Wednesday, 04 February 2004 00:00

Research into memory errors

Imagine: you stop for the traffic lights at a crossing. Right before your eyes a car hits a pedestrian. Directly after the accident you give a testimony as a witness at the scene. You describe the incident with all the details that are still very clear in your mind: the crossing pedestrian, the car driver who hit the pedestrian, the motorcycle with sidecar and the man who rode the motorcycle who gave first aid. Five weeks later you have to give your testimony again before the judge. You tell the same story, only this time your memory has already somewhat faded. You do describe the motorcyclist, but you forget to mention that it was a motorcycle with sidecar. To your astonishment your testimony is disregarded in the trial because it is a statement that cannot be used. The judge decides that it is inconsistent and therefore unreliable.


European Subsidy for Depression Research

In Mind
Tuesday, 06 January 2004 00:00

Each depression its own medication

If you throw an ordinary rat into a swimming pool, it will swim to the side. A depressive rat, however, will let its legs hang and commit suicide. Depression causes great suffering and is expected to become one of the major psychiatric diseases of the next decade. Approximately four per cent of the population suffers from it and fifteen to twenty per cent of all people run the risk of having a depression at least once in their lives.
At the same time, we know relatively little about this disease. Is depression accompanied by genetic changes? And what effects do antidepressants have? What medication is suitable for which person? Why does it generally take several weeks before an antidepressant becomes effective? And is it possible to use a blood test to determine without any doubt that a person is suffering from a depression? These are some of the questions that will be dealt with within the New Mood research project. The seven million euros that the European Union recently made available for this project will be divided among fourteen international universities. Maastricht will get half a million euros.
The driving force behind this project is Professor Harry Steinbusch. As head of the Maastricht research institute Brain and Behaviour, he is responsible for the non-clinical part of the research.


Commitment and community spirit as a marketing strategy

"Creating commitment creates satisfied people, who are prepared to do something for someone else." These are the words of Prof. Dr. Ko de Ruyter, professor of Marketing at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Universiteit Maastricht and winner of the Edmund Hustinx award 2003. The Hustinx award is presented once every two years to a Maastricht researcher of great national and international merit. "It is sort of an award for the oeuvre," explains De Ruyter, "they don’t look at one specific project or research, but it is a general evaluation of all the work you have done so far."


Revenge does not make wounds heal faster

In Society
Thursday, 09 October 2003 00:00

Research into the function of a mysterious emotion

Recent developments in the Middle-East cause the question tot arise again why people are inclined to repay evil with evil. Prof. Hans Crombag, emeritus professor of Psychology of Law, conducted research among Psychology and Law students to find an explanation for this phenomenon. Unfortunately, the results of this research didn’t give an indication of what the function of revenge could be. He did find out that most people are not inclined to take revenge when they are hurt. Besides, it does not make a difference if one takes revenge or not for coping with hurt in the long run.


Large study of psychosis

In Mind
Tuesday, 16 September 2003 00:00

Life in the country protects

Why do people who grow up in the country have a smaller risk to get a psychosis than people, who spend their youth in the city? That is one of the research subjects of Geestkracht (Mind Power), the most extensive research into psychosis (schizophrenia) that was ever done in the Netherlands. The Geestkracht research programme will take ten years, will be carried out in Maastricht, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Groningen and has received a subsidy from research financing organization ZON/MW of no less than five million euro. By following one thousand patients and their relatives in the first remove, the researchers hope to get more insight in the factors that increase or decrease the risk of psychosis. Psychologist dr. Lydia Krabbendam is project coordinator of Geestkracht Limburg and as a researcher attached to the department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Brain and Behaviour Institute of Universiteit Maastricht. e-Research magazine asked her why such a big study is necessary.


Forensic psychologists better not trust on their intuition

Delinquents that have forgotten they committed a crime or are categorized as psychiatric patients could possibly fake this memory loss or their psychiatric symptoms with the prospect of a lower sentence or to avoid imprisonment. The opposite, faking good, can also occur: for example, patients who are detained under a hospital order can simulate to be normal because they hope for early release. Therefore, it is the job of forensic psychologists to be sceptical and to recognize these cases. Doctoral student Maaike Cima studied in the last two years how this kind of simulation, technically called malingering and supernormality, can best be recognized.


Prof. dr. Jelle Jolles

In Mind
Wednesday, 21 May 2003 00:00

Already at the age of thirty parts of the brain start to function less. At which age the deterioration exactly starts differs for each individual and depends on a number of factors. Computer scans of the brains prove that the aging starts earlier than we would ever have thought possible. Prof. dr. Jelle Jolles, professor of neuropsychology and psychobiology in Maastricht, tries together with his colleagues to analyse the underlying mechanisms of occurring cognitive disorders. His research programme is called 'Brains, cognitive development and aging'. Within this research a lot of work is done around the theme 'Successful aging'. "The brains are plastic. When you hardly do anything with them, it is almost as if they think: 'Okay then, I give up', says Jolles. "In neuroscience there are strong indications for: 'use it or lose it'."


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