Browsing by Subject " psychology"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-20 of 25
  • Pihkala, Panu (2020)
    Eco-anxiety and climate anxiety are widely discussed in contemporary media and are subjects of growing research interest. However, there is a lack of research about the definitions and variations of these phenomena. This article analyzes various views of eco-anxiety from a wide range of disciplines. Insights from various anxiety theories are used to discuss empirical studies about forms of eco-anxiety. The article points out that uncertainty, unpredictability, and uncontrollability seem to be important factors in eco-anxiety. Most forms of eco-anxiety appear to be non-clinical, but cases of “pathological” eco-anxiety are also discussed. Other relevant terms and phenomena are scrutinized, such as ecological grief, solastalgia, and ecological trauma. The relationship between studies on eco-anxiety and research about ecological emotions and affect is probed. Eco-anxiety is found to be closely connected to fear and worry, but several disciplines include discussion of its character as existential anxiety. Psychosocial and sociological perspectives point out that social dynamics shape forms of eco-anxiety in profound ways. While paralyzing forms of eco-anxiety emerge as a problem, it is noted that eco-anxiety manifests itself also as “practical anxiety”, which leads to gathering of new information and reassessment of behavior options. This variety of forms of eco-anxiety should be taken into account in healthcare and public discussion.
  • Ghahramani, Abolfazl (Unigrafia, 2017)
    Occupational injuries are a major problem worldwide and affect all countries, particularly developing ones. In recent decades, the application of approaches such as the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) has led to the successful control of workplace injuries in high-income countries. The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 as a world-recognized OHSMS has gained considerable acceptance by a large number of organizations. However, few studies have examined the effectiveness of OHSAS 18001 on safety performance in certified organizations. This study consisted of four sub-studies, and was conducted to explore the effect of OHSAS 18001 on the occupational injury, safety climate, and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)practices in OHSAS 18001-certified companies compared with a control group in Iran. OHSAS 18001 practices were also examined in the certified companies, where interviews were conducted to explore the influencing factors on the effectiveness of OHSAS 18001. A negative binomial regression indicated no significant effect of OHSAS 18001 certification on the occupational injury rate. The second sub-study applied a new safety climate questionnaire, and a hierarchical regression indicated that the safety climate was influenced by the implementation of OHSAS 18001 and safety training. The third sub-study pointed to the better OHS practices of the certified companies compared with the control ones. The results also showed that adopting the OHSAS 18001 standard improved the documentation for the management of OHS, but did not lead to continuous improvement in the required practices. The evaluation of the collected evidence revealed the main reasons for a poor safety culture. The interviewees emphasized the internal and external influencing factors in the effectiveness of OHSAS including commitment of top management and the enforcement of OHS legal requirements. It can be concluded that the implementation of OHSAS 18001 in an organization is not a guarantee of improved safety performance and of the existence of a high-quality management system. This study suggests that certified companies should focus on proper improvement and maintenance of the implemented management systems by escalating their commitment to the requirements of the established management systems and by participating their employees in OHSAS 18001 practices. This study also emphasized the importance of providing safety training for employees who work in the certified companies. These efforts may help the companies in the creation of a good safety culture and the transforming the paper systems into effective management systems to make improvement in OHS performance.
  • Suarez Figueiredo, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy may present risks for the developing fetus and offspring lifelong physical and mental health. Exposure to postnatal early life stress (ELS) has also been extensively associated with health problems decades later. According to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis, environmental factors during pregnancy and early childhood may compromise the development of tissue, organs and systems, such as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. While the underlying biological mechanisms are not fully understood, epigenetic alterations and genetic vulnerability are the promising biomarkers, which have been suggested to mediate the association of antenatal and early adversity with physical and mental health later in life. The aim of this work was to examine whether exposure to maternal antenatal depression and anxiety was associated with polyepigenetic modifications in their children reflected by the polyepigenetic biomarkers of child’s epigenetic gestational age (GA) and glucocorticoid (GC) exposure score. Additionally, it explored whether these modifications were associated with and mediated the effects of antenatal exposures on child mental health outcomes and whether the associations were moderated by child’s sex. As epigenetic processes undergo age-related changes, the next aim was to study whether epigenetic modifications reflected by the polyepigenetic biomarker of epigenetic clock were associated with physical growth, neuroendocrine functioning, cognition and mental health in adolescents. Finally, this thesis also examined whether genetic variants in FKBP5, the gene that plays a role in the HPA-axis regulation, interacted with exposure to ELS in prediction of type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and quantitative glycemic traits in older adults. The participants for the studies come from three prospective cohorts. Studies I and II capitalize on the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (PREDO) birth cohort. We had full information on genome-wide methylation and genotype from 817 fetal umbilical cord blood samples. In Study I, 694 mothers provided information on their history of depression diagnosed before pregnancy, 581 completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) throughout pregnancy, and 407 completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at child’s mean age 3.7 years. DNA methylation (DNAm) GA of fetal cord blood DNA was based on the methylation profile of 148 selected CpG sites. Polyepigenetic biomarker of child’s epigenetic GA was calculated as the arithmetic difference between DNAm GA and chronological GA and adjusted for chronological GA. In Study II, we had information on child diagnoses of mental and behavioral disorders and the number of days the child had been receiving in- or outpatient treatment for these disorders as the primary diagnosis from birth to age 7.1-10.7 years (n=814). Mothers (n=583) reported depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy, using CES-D and State Anxiety Inventory (STAI), respectively. A weighted cross-tissue polyepigenetic GC exposure score was calculated based on the methylation profile of 24 CpGs. Study III was based on the Glycyrrhizin in Licorice (Glaku) cohort. We had information available on DNA samples, physical growth and pubertal development, cognitive abilities, psychiatric problems assessed by mothers with CBCL questionnaire, and saliva samples to estimate cortisol levels for a subsample adolescents at the mean age of 12.3 (n=239). DNAm age was estimated using the Horvath age estimation algorithm. The polyepigenetic biomarker of epigenetic clock was calculated as the unstandardized residual from a linear regression of DNAm age on chronological age and six cell count types. For Study IV, a total of 1,728 Helsinki Birth Cohort Study (HBCS) participants born from 1934 to 1944 were genotyped for FKBP5 SNPs (rs1360780, rs9394309, rs9470080) and were administered a 2-hour (75 g) oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and a questionnaire on physician-diagnosed and medication use for chronic diseases at a mean age of 61.5 years. Of them, 273 were exposed to ELS defined as separation from biological parents at a mean age of 4.7 years due to evacuations during World War II. In Study I we found that lower child’s epigenetic GA at birth was significantly associated with maternal history of depression diagnosed before pregnancy and higher antenatal depressive symptoms. It also prospectively predicted child’s total and internalizing problems in early childhood, partially mediating the association of maternal antenatal depression with child internalizing problems, although only in boys. It may signal about their developmental vulnerability to maternal depression during pregnancy (Study I). In Study II we show that while polyepigenetic GC exposure score at birth was not predictive of higher risk for any mental and behavioral disorder in childhood, lower score was associated with more days spent in in- or outpatient treatment for any mental and behavioral disorder as the primary diagnosis. This finding may contribute to better understanding and identification of children at risk for more severe mental and behavioral disorders already at birth (Study II). Next, we demonstrate that adolescents with epigenetic clock age acceleration (AA) displayed more advanced physical growth and development, had higher salivary cortisol upon awakening and higher odds for displaying borderline clinically significant internalizing problems, which may index risk of earlier aging and age-related diseases (Study III). Finally, Study IV revealed that three selected FKBP5 polymorphisms moderated the association of ELS on insulin and glucose values at fasting state and/or during an OGTT in late adulthood, supporting the role of gene-environment interaction and HPA axis dysregulation in the development of metabolic disorders. These study findings provide valuable insights on how the polyepigenetic biomarkers of antenatal adverse exposures and aging and biomarkers of genetic vulnerability in combination with the information about ELS might contribute to early identification of individuals at risk for complex mental and physical disorders enabling timely targeted preventive and therapeutic interventions.
  • Pihkala, Panu (Suomen mielenterveysseura, 2019)
    This first, more extensive Finnish-language report on climate anxiety is based on multidisciplinary re-search and observations made from practical actions taken to alleviate it. Climate anxiety is an aspect of the wider phenomenon of eco-anxiety: it encompasses challenging emotions, experienced to a significant degree, due to environmental issues and the threats they pose. On a wider scale, both eco-anxiety and climate anxiety are components of a phenomenon, in which the state of the world (i.e. the so-called macro social factors) impacts our mental health. Climate anxiety can be a problem if it is so intense that a person may come paralysed, but climate anx-iety is not primarily a disease. Instead it is an understandable reaction to the magnitude of the envi-ronmental problems that surround us. Climate anxiety can often be an important resource as well, but this entails that a person finds, along with others, a) enough time and space to deal with their emotions and b) enough constructive activity to help mitigate climate change. The report places climate anxiety as one of the health effects of climate change (Chapter 2). Two cen-tral psychological challenges and tasks (Chapter 3) are a) adjusting to changing circumstances, i.e. re-maining functional, and b) accepting one’s own ethical responsibility and keeping a healthy perspec-tive, i.e. living with ambivalence. The report publishes, for the first time in Finnish, a review of the various symptoms of climate anxiety, with reference to international studies (Chapter 4). The symp-toms can be placed on a scale of the mildest to the most severe and they can also manifest as psy-chophysical symptoms. What makes identifying the symptoms more difficult is that they are multidi-mensional (climate change impacts almost everything). Social pressures that relate to climate change also influence this. Chapter 5 deals with vulnerabilities and the role of social context when coping with climate change. The chapter includes a list of people who are especially vulnerable and life situations that create vul-nerabilities. Some of these groups of people identify with climate anxiety (e.g. young people) and some (e.g. farmers) experience symptoms relating to the phenomenon but call it something else. The sixth chapter raises the issue of the importance of experiencing that life is meaningful, when dealing with climate anxiety (meaning-focused coping, existential well-being.) Chapter 7 discusses the various emotions, such as sadness, fear and guilt, which may possibly relate to climate anxiety. Cli-mate anxiety can also be approached from the perspective of shock and trauma. Emotional skills and mental health skills can help when dealing with climate anxiety. The report also emphasizes that strong emotions can be a powerful resource. Chapter 8 offers an extensive overview of the various initiatives and resource materials, that have been developed in the last few years to deal with climate anxiety, both internationally and in Finland. The focus is on third sector initiatives. Basic formats include a) self-help and support materials, b) group activities, c) events and d) peer support. The report takes a broad look at the resources and initiatives created in, e.g. Australia and the United Kingdom. In addition to psychologist organizations’ initiatives, those created by environmental organizations, ecopsychologists, artists and environmental educators are also discussed.
  • Istók, Eva (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Music appreciation and aesthetics have been subject to philosophical considerations and empirical investigations for decades. These scientific endeavours have been complicated by the fact that multifarious biological and cultural factors interact in all musical actions. The present thesis made use of behavioural methods and the event-related-potential technique (ERP) to investigate cognitive and neural determinants of music appreciation and aesthetics. At first, the structure and content of the knowledge-based concept of music aesthetics was examined on the basis of hundreds of verbal descriptions. In a second step, the developmental stage of school-aged children was investigated with regard to their recognition of music emotions, personal music preferences, and their concept of beauty. The event-related potential (ERP) method served to study whether long-term music preferences affect evaluative and cognitive judgments of music and whether expressive timing facilitates the neural processing of musical phrases. The results suggest that one s experience of beauty is at the core of aesthetic responses to music among both music experts and laymen. In line, by the age of six years, children have already developed a mental concept of beauty that resembles that of adults. They are able to recognise music emotions and to express their own music preferences. These early music preferences may become stable over a lifetime and later seem to modulate neural correlates of judgment processes during active music listening. Expressive timing, in turn, determines the neural processing of musical phrases even when these are unattended. In addition, expressive timing seems to facilitate the sequential organisation of melodies by directing listeners attention towards key musical events. The concept of beauty, music preference, music emotions, and the action of successfully structuring musical information constitute major elements of music appreciation. Thus, this thesis deepens our understanding of the conceptual and neural underpinnings of pleasurable musical experiences and allows extending and transferring current general models of aesthetic processing to music-specific demands.
  • Visala, Aku (2021)
    Some philosophers and scientists have argued that we humans cannot be held morally responsible for anything. Invoking results of the neurosciences and the cognitive sciences, they argue that humans lack the kind of conscious control and awareness required for moral responsibility. For theological ethics and Christian theology as a whole, moral responsibility is indispensable. I will begin by outlining some empirical results that are invoked in support of moral responsibility skepticism. I will, then, examine the subsequent discussion and the question why conscious awareness is central to moral responsibility. Consciousness contributes to morally relevant control over action in multiple ways. I will briefly examine some accounts of conscious control that are resistant to the skeptical challenge. Although the empirical results might lead us to revise the degree and range of conscious control, there seems to be enough of it to ground many everyday practices of responsibility. I will conclude the article with some theological reflections.
  • Nokelainen, Ossi; Rezende, Francisko de Moraes; Valkonen, Janne K.; Mappes, Johanna (2022)
    A big question in behavioral ecology is what drives diversity of color signals. One possible explanation is that environmental conditions, such as light environment, may alter visual signaling of prey, which could affect predator decision-making. Here, we tested the context-dependent predator selection on prey coloration. In the first experiment, we tested detectability of artificial visual stimuli to blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) by manipulating stimulus luminance and chromatic context of the background. We expected the presence of the chromatic context to facilitate faster target detection. As expected, blue tits found targets on chromatic yellow background faster than on achromatic grey background whereas in the latter, targets were found with smaller contrast differences to the background. In the second experiment, we tested the effect of two light environments on the survival of aposematic, color polymorphic wood tiger moth (Arctia plantaginis). As luminance contrast should be more detectable than chromatic contrast in low light intensities, we expected birds, if they find the moths aversive, to avoid the white morph which is more conspicuous than the yellow morph in low light (and vice versa in bright light). Alternatively, birds may attack first moths that are more detectable. We found birds to attack yellow moths first in low light conditions, whereas white moths were attacked first more frequently in bright light conditions. Our results show that light environments affect predator foraging decisions, which may facilitate context-dependent selection on visual signals and diversity of prey phenotypes in the wild. Light environments are constantly changing and may alter visual appearance of prey, but also bias predators' decision making. Our findings using blue tits in visual search tasks and the wood tiger moth prey under two light environments demonstrate that birds show context-dependent predatory behavior. This suggests that light environments can play a major selective role and influence visual signaling in the wild.
  • Poletaev, Dmitry (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    Goals. The goal of this research was to find out, how the use of the non-identifying dynamic algorithm would affect fairness experience; and through it, behavioral intentions, in rebating context. Besides that, it was assessed how the provision of detailed information on algorithm's logic affects the fairness experience. Dynamic pricing, especially based on identification, has been shown to negatively affect fairness. The dynamic algorithms are better to companies due to their profitability potential. It is of vital importance to find out the conditions, on which they might be employed, while taking into account the possible reactions of the customers. A differential assessment of entity and event fairness through the lens of fairness heuristic theory is chosen as a backbone of this research to extend the mosaic empirical evidence of their mutual interaction paths. The fairness experience is also closely connected to affects; incidental affects and integral emotions, which are evoked by the fairness experience itself. Because of this close relationship, to complement general picture, the affects were assessed as well. Methods. The manipulations were performed on two levels. The first level, the exposure to dynamic algorithm or seeing the human-set pre-determined rebate rates, happened on the company's site when the algorithm trial was run. The second manipulation level, the amount of the available information, was performed during the gathering of the survey data. There were three conditions in the information manipulation: no information (the control), bare information about the ongoing trial and trial information including a detailed algorithm's logic description. The size of the final sample, used for the analysis, consisted of 404 participants. The main analysing technique employed was SEM. Results and conclusions. Effect paths between entity and event fairness areas were in accordance with the fairness heuristic theory - event fairness mediated the change in entity fairness partially. The subjects that were exposed to the algorithm, event fairness was affected negatively by the bare trial information as expected. The provision of the detailed information did not affect fairness. Entity fairness was connected to both, incidental affects and integral emotions. There were no analogous connection between event fairness, and affects and emotions. Fairness mediated only partially the change from incidental affects to integral emotions. Integral emotions were not connected to the behavioral intentions. Entity fairness mediated fully the effect of event fairness on the behavioral intentions. The provision of the detailed information affected directly positively on pro-active behavioral intentions without a mediation of fairness. None of the manipulations affected directly complaining intentions. The results provide important information about the dynamic algorithm exposure in real life, outside the laboratories. Despite the dynamic pricing being seen as unfair in principle, the exposure to the detailed information might have positive effects on the outcomes. There was only a limited support for the role of affects in the pricing fairness context.
  • Pihkala, Panu (2020)
    Anxiety and distress about the ecological crisis seems to be a rapidly growing phenomenon. This article analyzes the challenges and possibilities posed by such "eco-anxiety" for environmental education. Variations of eco-anxiety are analyzed, and it is argued that educators should be aware of the multiple forms that the phenomenon has. Eco-anxiety is found to be closely connected with many difficult emotions, such as grief, guilt, anger, and despair. However, anxiety also has an adaptive dimension, which can be called "practical anxiety". Anxiety is connected with expectation, motivation, and hopes. Previous research about eco-anxiety and ecological emotions in various disciplines is discussed, and related studies from various fields of education are brought together. Based on this extensive literature review, theoretical analyses are made, using a philosophical method. It is argued that environmental educators need organizational and peer support both in relation to their own difficult emotions and in order to develop emotional skills in their work. Educators should first practice self-reflection about eco-anxiety, after which they have many possibilities to help their audiences to develop emotional resilience. Potential practical activities related to eco-anxiety are discussed, drawing from various fields of education. These include validation of eco-anxiety and ecological emotions, providing safe spaces to discuss them, and, if possible, providing embodied and creative activities to more fully deliberate on them.
  • Pihkala, Panu (2022)
    The environmental crisis is producing an increasing number of both physical and psychological impacts. This article studies the challenge of eco-anxiety for pastoral care, drawing from both interdisciplinary research and ecological theology. The aim is to help both practitioners and re-searchers to encounter eco-anxiety more constructively. The rapidly growing research about eco-anxiety and therapy is discussed in relation to pastoral care. The various forms of eco-anxiety are briefly analyzed. The role of the caregivers is discussed by using sources that study the challenges of therapists in relation to eco-anxiety. The existential depths of eco-anxiety are probed in the light of recent research and older existentialist theory. It is pointed out that the political character of ecological issues, especially climate change issues, causes many kinds of challenges for pastoral care. As the constructive conclusion of the article, various possibilities and resources for encountering eco-anxiety in pastoral care are discussed, along with the connections with wider pastoral theology. It is argued that pastoral care providers should engage in self-reflection about their own attitudes and emotions related to ecological issues, preferably with the support of trusted peers or mentors. Various organizational developments are also needed to support care-givers. Dialectical thinking is one tool that can help to navigate the complex dynamics related to environmental responsibility, eco-emotions, and questions of hope or hopelessness.
  • Igna, Cornel V. (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Previous research has shown that negative affectivity (NA) and lifestyle associate with CVD/CHD risk factors. In the present thesis the relationships between some key indicators of NA (depressive symptoms, vital exhaustion, hopelessness, and anger expression) and lifestyle factors, body mass index, serum lipids and blood pressure were investigated. All the four studies that constitute this investigation were based on data from the Helsinki Metabolic Syndrome Prevention Trial, which was an uncontrolled preventive trial aimed at improving prevention of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by developing a practical method for primary health care. The main idea was to screen and identify men with cardiovascular risk clustering and give them individual counselling based on their risk profile. Evaluation of risk was based on a Risk Index that included five factors: body mass index, total serum cholesterol, blood pressure (systolic and diastolic), smoking habits, and physical inactivity. The participants in the screening were 40-55 year-old-men residing in the north-east Helsinki. Data collection was carried out between May 2001 and June 2004, and all the participants were asked to answer questionnaires dealing with lifestyle factors and psychosocial risk factors. Study nurses from the Helsinki Heart District interviewed all the participants and recorded basic biomedical measurements (e.g. blood pressure, waist circumference, weight). The size of the sample in studies I-IV was 893, 705, 444, and 710, respectively. The findings of this study indicate that depressive symptoms had a consistent statistically significant correlation with adverse lifestyle factors and triglycerides. For cholesterol fractions, path analyses indicated the parallel existence of two main pathways: from depression through the adverse health behaviour to an unfavourable cholesterol fraction balance, and from depression through a direct, probably physiological, link to favourable cholesterol levels.
  • Kosonen, Kari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Over the past decades the sense making of learners by means of various external models and representations has received educational researchers heightened attention (Ainsworth, 2006; Hay and Kinchin, 2006; Furberg et al., 2013). Similarly, the particular function of domain-specific concepts in the transformation of learners thinking and understanding remains an issue repeatedly approached from the perspective of various theoretical frameworks and empirical findings (Land, Rattray et al., 2014; Meyer and Land, 2005). The present doctoral thesis sheds light on how the learners that aim to understand multifaceted conceptual objects can be supported by the instructional tools sensitive to the specific conceptual organization of these phenomena. The thesis includes four studies. Studies I-III focused on the development and testing of an instructional meta-model based on frequent expository text structures with blind readers. Study IV explored the use of modeling language based on this model in a domain-specific pedagogical setting in higher education. Studies I-III aimed to develop and explore the use of a conceptual meta-model in guiding the young blind participants to process such complex conceptual objects as expository texts in reading for understanding. The context of Study IV remarkably differed from the contexts of Studies I-III due to the specific conceptual dimensions of the topic of the investigated seminar, which were qualitative and mixed methods. While the pedagogical challenges of Studies I-III were related to the participants blindness and their problems in cognitive functioning and with the structures of the processed text, the conceptual complexity of the topic of the investigated seminar on qualitative and mixed methods, in turn, constituted the main pedagogical challenge in Study IV. The meta-model was used as a generic conceptual frame in designing the context-specific modeling language to highlight some crucial concepts and conceptual relations suggested to be used in digital concept mapping. To circumvent the limitations of the conventional hierarchical structure of concept maps the modeling language used was endowed with specific elements, language codes. These codes were meant to afford the processing of both static conceptual relations and various practice related and functional dependencies in the domain when the participants created concept maps on qualitative and mixed methods. In all four studies the participants activities investigated were theoretically conceptualized and operationalized as various forms of orienting activity mediated by cultural tools. This theoretical focus of the present dissertation study is based on the Cultural Historical Theory founded by Vygotsky and psychological activity theory-framework. However this framework is integratively implemented capitalizing on some contemporary theoretical perspectives and practical approaches in pedagogical design and developmental psychology. Consequently, learners activity and instructional discussion are explored as joint orienting activity shaped by cultural tools. This activity is considered to organize various relations and properties underlying the phenomenon being concerned with a point of view that constitutes the perspectival understanding of this phenomenon. The case-study research strategy implemented in the research made it possible to analytically generate a large body of findings that inform practitioners about the potentially applicable ways of using the approach investigated in pedagogical settings. In Study I the participant was found to have internalized the elements of the meta-model as a thinking tool in processing and reflecting on a wide variety of conceptual topics. The findings from both Studies II and III shed light on how the use of the elements of the meta-model allowed the intervener to adjust his guidance to the current form of the blind participants thinking. In Study II the participant s elaborative questions in processing expository texts were found to have transformed in respect to their analyticity and predicted better than previously the content of the texts processed. In Study III the participant was found to gradually incorporate some of the elements of the meta-model as part of his text-structuring actions, which increasingly drew his attention to the frequent expository text-structures that he was previously prone to ignore or misinterpret. In Study IV the participants were found to repeatedly implement some of the contextualized and digitalized elements of the meta-model in elaborating on various dimensions of the field of qualitative and mixed methods as well as the related practices. This repeated use of selected codes supported the maintenance of some conceptual stability of the informational content of the elaborations in the participants concept maps. The teacher of the investigated seminar was found to repeatedly lean on these elaborations in guiding the participants in how to further deepen their knowledge on qualitative and mixed methods.
  • Thiede, Anja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Developmental dyslexia is at the low end of a spectrum in reading and writing abilities, and may arise despite normal intelligence and education. It often is accompanied by difficulties in domains important for reading, such as phonological processing and verbal working memory. Neural impairments in speech processing are evident in the majority of dyslexic individuals and could be linked to phonological and temporal sampling problems. This thesis integrates four studies for which neuropsychological assessments, magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were conducted. The first study examined the influence of familial dyslexia risk on neural speech-sound discrimination in newborn infants (Study I). The second and third study investigated neural processing of speech-sound changes (Study II) and natural speech (Study III) in adult dyslexic and typical readers. The fourth study analyzed anatomical brain abnormalities in dyslexia (Study IV). In addition, the associations of neural measures to reading and related phonological-processing and working-memory skills were investigated (Studies II–IV). The main findings of this thesis were neural speech-processing impairments in newborns at risk of and adults with dyslexia, neuroanatomical abnormalities in adults with dyslexia, and links between the neural measures and skills relevant for reading. Specifically, newborns at risk of dyslexia compared to a group of low risk showed atypical neural speech discrimination responses that may be precursors of phonological deficits in dyslexia (Study I). However, neuromagnetic discrimination responses elicited by the same speech-sound changes suggested no abnormalities in adults with dyslexia, yet, the responses were associated with reading and working memory functions (Study II). Inter-subject correlation (ISC) to natural speech was weaker between dyslexic than typically-reading adults in delta- and high gamma-frequency bands, and stronger in the theta, beta, and low gamma bands, possibly reflecting temporal sampling deficits of natural speech features (Study III). The ISC strength was related to all three reading-relevant skills of interest. Structural abnormalities were observed in dyslexic adults as decreases in grey- and white-matter volumes in temporal, frontal, and subcortical structures important for reading (Study IV). Furthermore, grey- and white-matter volumes were associated with reading and working memory functions. Taken together, this thesis illuminates neural speech processing deficits in dyslexia and its risk at birth and pinpoints associations between reading skills and neurofunctional and -anatomical measures.
  • Ritola, Ville (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    Background. Knowing what a psychological test measures and if it works the same way in different contexts, i.e. has measurement invariance (MI), is crucial for its valid and reliable use. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) was published in Finland in 2012. However, recent research suggests that the factor model given in the WAIS-IV test manual and the information regarding MI between different age groups and levels of education are lacking. Methods. This study employed the normative sample of the Finnish WAIS-IV. First, the factor model in the manual was examined and improved using confirmatory factor analysis with a mixed data-theory approach. Second, the new model was tested for strict residual MI for different age groups and levels of education, in order to study if the test reaches an acceptable level of MI. Results and conclusions. The results indicated that the normative data is best modeled by an oblique non-g model. The study also replicated a Spatial Visualization factor with loadings from Block Design, Visual Puzzles and Picture Completion, and Quantitative Reasoning factor with Figure Weights and Arithmetic. A previously unmentioned link in factor analytic literature on WAIS-IV was found between Block Design and Processing Speed factors. The results questioned the link between Arithmetic and Verbal Comprehension factor and found the underlying source of shared variance to be links between Information and Arithmetic, which was interpreted as Educational Achievement. WAIS-IV reached strict residual MI for both different age groups and levels of education. The study offers a more accurate factor model of WAIS-IV and gives confidence that psychologists can reliably apply it over different ages and levels of education in the normal population of Finland.
  • Stoycheva, Polina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Functional hemispheric asymmetry or laterality refers to the distinctive contribution of the two cerebral hemispheres during several cognitive processes. The left hemisphere is often found to display superiority in processing verbal material while the right hemisphere has an advantage in processing non-verbal material. In the somatosensory system, haptic laterality is reflected in differences in performance between hands in terms of accuracy and speed in various perceptual and cognitive tasks. Due to contralateral innervation, a left hemisphere advantage is manifested as superior performance in the right hand, and vice versa. In the present thesis, haptic laterality was studied behaviourally by having participants perform haptic memory tasks using the right and left hand separately, with verbal (upper and lower-case letters) and non-verbal (nonsense) 2-dimensional shapes as stimuli. In Study 1, the effect of retention intervals on laterality was studied in haptic discrimination by investigating hand/hemisphere advantage for upper-case letters, geometrical shapes and nonsense shapes at 5, 15 and 30 s retention intervals. In Study 2, laterality in haptic discrimination was further addressed by introducing two levels of stimulus complexity within the verbal stimuli, that is, less complex upper-case letters and more complex lower-case letters. Study 3 examined haptic recognition memory and laterality for upper and lower-case letters and nonsense shapes. The results showed that laterality effects were influenced by the verbal/non-verbal type of stimuli (Studies 2 and 3), and also by hand order of performance (Study 3) and retention time (Study 1). In Study 2, a clear left hand/right hemisphere advantage was found for nonsense shapes, while the right hand/left hemisphere advantage only approached significance for upper-case letters. In Study 3, more advanced memory performance of right hand/left hemisphere was found with upper-case letters, but only when the right hand performed the task after the left hand. The lower-case letters did not show any laterality effects. Across stimulus types, left hand/right hemisphere sustained haptic discrimination for up to 15 s, while the right hand/left hemisphere declined progressively in performance throughout all retention intervals (Study 1). Altogether, the findings in this thesis showed that laterality effects in haptics existed but they were rather weak. This may be due to the predominantly spatial and sequential nature of the processing of the haptic sense. In addition, letters are haptically unfamiliar stimuli. Thus, verbal stimuli might be processed primarily as spatial objects, which can result in diminished verbal coding and hence the lack of clear verbal laterality effect in haptics. Overall, upper-case letters showed better performance than lower-case letters (Study 3) and nonsense shapes (Studies 1 and 3). Such superior memory of letters with less complex shapes (capital letters) may perhaps be due to their more effective dual (spatial and verbal) coding.
  • Saad, Elyana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The relationship between mental representations based on external visual percepts (i.e., information held in short-term memory or via mental imagery) and the encoding of visual input remains unsettled. What stimulates this debate is the share of overlapping neural resources between visual short-term memory (VSTM), mental imagery and visual perception in the realm of the early visual cortex (EVC). This overlap raises a number of questions: how do the internal memory and imagery representations affect the perception of incoming visual information? What happens to imagery and VSTM abilities when cognitive resources need to be shared with the encoding of visual input? In short: how do visual memory/imagery and visual perception interact? This work addressed these questions by the use of behavioral paradigms coupled with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in situations where the encoding of the visual percept (measured via the tilt after effect (TAE) magnitude) happens either simultaneously or subsequently to holding information in VSTM/imagery. Therefore, when VSTM and the encoding of external input occurred concurrently, VSTM maintenance was found to inhibit visual encoding, reflected as a reduction of the TAE. Using TMS, it was shown that this inhibition takes place at the level of EVC. This reduction was found when the VSTM content matched the visual input, and when they were incongruent. However, when the encoding of external input occurred after VSTM maintenance phase had ended, VSTM maintenance was found to facilitate the former when the VSTM content matched the visual input. The subjective strength and the contrast of VSTM and mental imagery content (as reported by participants) affect visual detection of a briefly presented masked target. The reported visual contrast was positively associated with reporting target presence for both VSTM and mental imagery, in other words, inducing a more liberal bias. However, a differential effect was found for the subjective strength of the representations. Whereas the subjective VSTM strength was positively associated with the visual detection of the target, the opposite effect was observed for imagery. Finally, TMS applied at the EVC revealed a partial dissociation in the neural basis of VSTM and mental imagery by inducing delayed responses for the former selectively. Thus, while VSTM and mental imagery share neural resources, their neural mechanisms are partly dissociable at the level of early visual cortex.
  • Mittag, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The processing of audiovisual information is ubiquitous in our daily life. As such, understanding the cortical correlates of audiovisual processing and its interactions offers a promise of practical interventions in many real-life settings. Reading, as one example, relies on the formation of artificial audiovisual associations and requires adaptions from brain mechanisms in order to process and integrate these connections effortlessly. In dyslexia, reading problems are associated with a failure in forming those associations, and neural changes and improvements of reading skills in children with dyslexia were reported after interventions ameliorated those processes. The present thesis investigates the neural networks associated with speech sound processing and discrimination when accompanied by printed text. In all studies, a high-density EEG system was utilized, enabling the examination of spatio-temporal dynamics of audiovisual processing in adult fluent readers and in readers with dyslexia. In fluent adult readers, change-related responses to consonant and pitch changes were greater when presented with printed text than with scrambled images, suggesting that letters modulate speech sound discrimination at an early cortical processing stage. This integration was sensitive to precise temporal alignment between the sounds and printed text, as it broke down when a time delay between the sounds and print was introduced. In contrast to fluent readers, adult readers with dyslexia showed a general attenuated discrimination of speech sounds when presented with print. Their neural responses for speech sounds presented with print did not differ from those presented with scrambled images. Our results, therefore, suggest that audiovisual processing is generally impaired in dyslexia, and support the notion that letter representations are poorer in readers with dyslexia than fluent readers. In addition, audiovisual processing was delayed in readers with dyslexia, suggesting a deficit in concurrent processing of multiple sensory cues. The studies of this thesis also show that attention to one of the modalities is needed for the audiovisual integration to occur, and, moreover, that audiovisual attention boosts the integration. Furthermore, our results reveal that, in addition to attention, the phonological content of the task modulates letter-speech sound processing. The studies presented in the present thesis confirmed, with a more controlled methodology, that letters modulate speech sound discrimination at an early neural level. The present results illuminate the way these processes are impaired in dyslexia, and, further, that audiovisual attention is most beneficial for such an integration to occur. To conclude, the studies at hand have shed novel light on the basic and aberrant mechanisms of letter-speech sound processing, and can be used, for instance, in training programs to promote accurate mapping of letters and speech sounds, and, consequently, reading skills in individuals with dyslexia.
  • Bona, Silvia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    This thesis investigates the causal role of two extra-striate visual regions, the lateral occipital (LO) cortex and the occipital face area (OFA), in certain visual processes. Firstly, I examined whether these areas are causally implicated in the perception of bilateral visual symmetry. Despite the ubiquitous presence of this feature in the external world, the neural basis underlying its detection is not fully known. In Studies I and II,this issue was explored by disrupting the activity of LO and OFA with fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) while participants discriminated between symmetric and nonsymmetric dot configurations and between perfectly symmetric and normal (i.e. somewhat non symmetric) faces. The results showed that rightOFA plays a causal role in detection of symmetry in both configurations of dots and faces whereas LO exclusively in the former, with the rightLO showing greater involvement relative to the homologous region in the left hemisphere. As symmetry is extracted in a holistic manner (i.e. through a parallel global analysis of the stimulusrather than via a serial point-by-point comparisonof the local elements), Study III examined whether rightOFA is involved, more generally, in visual detection based on holistic encoding and, if so, whether its role is restricted to faces or extends also to non-face stimuli. To examine this issue, rightOFA and rightLO were stimulated with fMRI-guided TMS meanwhile participants were asked to detect Mooney faces and non-face images, a class of stimuli which are known to be perceived through holistic processes. The results showed that rightOFA is causally involved in detection of both Mooney faces and objects. Taken together, this thesis sheds new light on the functions of LO and OFA in visual perception. Firstly, it demonstrates that both of these regions are causally involved in holistic processes, including detection of symmetry. Secondly, it is shownthat OFA s role in holistic processing extends to both face and non-face stimuli, suggesting that this region is not strictly face-selective.
  • Kaipio, Marja-Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Abstract In the present thesis, auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs), mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a, were used to investigate involuntary attention shifting, that is, distractibility in people with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and healthy controls. In passive oddball paradigms, the participants either watched a silent movie (Studies II, III and IV) or concentrated on a visuomotor task (Study I) to ensure that their attention was directed away from the stimuli. Abnormal distractibility in TBI patients was suggested in Study I by an enhanced late portion of the P3a amplitude to unattended unexpected novel environmental sounds with the participants concentrating on a continuous visuomotor task. In Study II, the healthy controls successfully ignored background speech stimuli when watching a silent movie, whereas the patients enhanced P3a amplitudes revealed their inability to exclude the meaningless deviances of these semisynthetic speech stimuli. In Study IV, hyperexcitability of the MMN, suggesting excessively reactive involuntary attention mechanisms and abnormal distractibility, was found in patients with no abnormalities detected by conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. These MMN and P3a findings elucidate on the neurophysiological level ~150–300 milliseconds from the onset of the deviant auditory stimuli, a phenomenon described by TBI patients as the excessive intrusion of meaningless background noises and sounds from everyday surroundings. Moreover, Study III gave neurophysiological evidence for a fast vigilance decrement in TBI patients, reflected by a significant MMN amplitude decline during an hour-long experiment. This amplitude decline not present in controls was found both in patients with and without neuroradiological abnormalities. The patients did not exhibit significant latency delays for MMN or P3a in Studies I to IV. The present MMN and P3a findings indicate overly sensitive involuntary attention shifting, that is, abnormal distractibility in TBI. Distractibility was found in both patients with cerebral MRI/computerized tomography (CT) abnormalities and patients without neuroradiological abnormalities on conventional MRI. The fast vigilance decrement suggested by the MMN amplitude decline was found similarly in patients with and without neuroradiological abnormalities.
  • Dhir, Amandeep (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The purpose of this dissertation is to increase understanding of the nature of Internet Addiction (IA) among adolescents (aged 12 to 18 years), focusing on what IA is and how it is measured. Particular emphasis is given to the measurement of IA, and different variables are considered in order to deepen understanding of its various aspects. Accordingly, five studies have been conducted. Study I examines various Internet uses and gratifications (U&G) among adolescent Internet users by developing a valid and reliable 27-item Internet gratification scale (N = 1,914); Study II investigates the role of adolescents’ demographic, technology accessibility, unwillingness to communicate attributes, and sought Internet U&Gs in predicting their tendency to experience IA (N = 1,914); Study III examines the effect of adolescent Internet users’ background characteristics (e.g., demographics, technology accessibility, unwillingness to communicate attributes) on predicting different Internet U&Gs and heavy Internet use among adolescents (N = 1,914); Study IV investigates the psychometric properties of the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS), and the relationship between the CIUS and adolescent Internet users’ background characteristics (e.g., demographics, ICT accessibility and Problematic ICT use) (N = 2,369); and Study V focuses on the development and validation of WhatsApp (WA) addiction scales for adolescents (N = 405). Cross-sectional research and psychometric theory based analysis reveal the following findings. First, a valid and reliable Internet U&G instrument (27- item) addresses six dimensions of Internet U&G, namely information seeking, exposure, connecting, coordination, social influence, and entertainment (Study I). Second, the following are risk factors for adolescent IA: being male, lower academic performance, high daily time spent on Internet use, strict Internet parenting at home, higher approach avoidance and reward seeking, looking for more connecting, coordination and social influence seeking, and pursuing lower information seeking and exposure gratifications (Study II). Third, older females, adolescents with higher academic performance, higher reward seeking and lower daily Internet use content gratifications such as information seeking & exposure; male, adolescents seeking higher approach avoidance and reward seeking tend to seek higher social gratifications such as connecting & coordination; and higher approach avoidance and reward seeking tendencies predicted process gratifications such as social influence & entertainment (Study III). Fourth, the CIUS possesses good psychometric properties with fairly high reliability, homogeneity and validity. Male, older adolescents, those with lower academic performance, lower life satisfaction, active Internet use (including daily Internet use, excessive Internet use and overall Internet activity) and problematic Internet use significantly predicted compulsive Internet use among adolescents. The study confirmed the findings of Study II (Study IV). Fifth, three original IA scales were adjusted to access WhatsApp (WA) addiction among adolescents. The data showed that they were valid and reliable self-reporting instruments. In addition, a shorter version of each of the three adapted instruments and a 16-item unified scale were also developed and validated. All five studies (Studies I, II, III, IV, V) examined various perspectives on the conceptualization of IA with a strong focus on the measurement and development of valid and reliable instruments to measure IA To conclude, the results indicate that not all adolescents equally experience IA; rather, some are more vulnerable than others. The studies have clarified situations, attributes or behaviors that lead to IA among adolescents. Moreover, new Internet U&Gs have been identified to help to conceptualize IA. In addition, the developed and validated instruments (27-item Internet U&G, 14-item CIUS, 14-item WA addiction test, 8-item and 10-item compulsive WA use) will serve as handy tools for teachers, educational psychologists, and counsellors. By utilizing these instruments, one can easily screen compulsive Internet users from a normal population and provide vulnerable students with timely help and support. The present study confirms the findings of earlier IA literature available in the context of Internet users from a wider age group, and different cultural and demographic settings. The current studies are important, especially because the target user group is adolescent Internet users (aged 12 to 18 years) who have been overlooked in IA and Internet U&G literature. These findings also emphasize the importance of recognizing IA as a problem among adolescents, which many adolescents unknowingly are or become vulnerable to be in daily life settings. The findings are valuable in terms of education and research.