Lauren Rubenstein

Director of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Treating Schizophrenia’s Lesser-Known Symptoms

Matthew Kurtz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has published an article in the March 2013 issue of Scientific American Mind magazineKurtz, who studies schizophrenia, writes about the less-well-known symptoms of the disease, which include cognitive and social deficits. These troubles make it difficult for people with schizophrenia to maintain meaningful relationships, hold jobs and live independently. Sadly, drugs used to treat the hallucinations and delusions in schizophrenia do nothing to improve patients’ quality of life in these other areas.

In the article, Kurtz describes some of the new psychological interventions shown to improve cognitive and social skills in people with schizophrenia. One such therapy, called cognitive remediation, uses computer software or paper-and-pencil exercises to improve patients’ ability to concentrate, remember, plan and solve problems. Other treatments, called social cognitive or “social skills” training programs, work to improve social skills by helping patients to decipher emotional cues and take another person’s perspective. Remarkably, these therapies appear to create visible changes in brain activity.

Watch Kurtz discuss his research in this video.

Three Million Political Ads Aired in 2012 Election

Politico covered a new analysis released by the Wesleyan Media Project about advertising in the 2012 election. Two new papers by the Project co-directors published in The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research on Contemporary Politics reported that more than 3 million political ads aired in the last election season for presidential and congressional candidates, representing a 33 percent increase in volume and an 81 percent increase in cost over the 2008 election. “We knew it was going to be a record-breaking year,” Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler told Politico. “It was just a question of how record breaking it would be.”

NPR also covered the new analysis. Fowler told NPR that the record numbers of ads “were crammed into just a few key battleground markets. If you were in one of those markets, you were getting inundated from May right up through election day, whereas if you were outside of those markets, you didn’t really see very many presidential ads, if [any] at all.”

Read more about the analysis in a blog post by Fowler.

Presidential Rhetoric is Swimming in Pathos

Just ahead of the State of the Union address, Chicago Reader cited the wisdom of Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim on presidential speeches. Quoting Lim’s book, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, the article notes that modern presidents tend to overemphasize emotional appeal, or pathos, in speeches. “Presidential rhetoric does have persuasive and nation-unifying functions, which pathos ideally facilitates, but these purposes should not be the be-all and end-all of presidential rhetoric… Article 2 mandates the president to ‘give the congress information of the state of the union,'” Lim writes.

A History of Marriage Onscreen

Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger appeared on WNYC’s “The Takeaway” to discuss her new book, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies. She also spoke of some of the students she mentored in Wesleyan’s film studies program who’ve gone on to success in Hollywood, including Joss Whedon, Paul Weitz, Benh Zeitlan, Dan Janvey and Michael Gottwald.

Why Does the World Exist?

President Michael S. Roth reviewed a new book by Jim Holt for The Washington PostTitled, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story, the book examines the origin of everything, introducing readers to advanced mathematics, theology, physics, ontology and epistemology, among other subject areas. Roth writes: “Holt is usually very good about not losing us along the way, even when the math or the logic gets pretty esoteric.”

Gallim Dance Troupe to Perform at Wesleyan

The Hartford Courant published a feature story on the Gallim Dance Troupe, which will perform two dances at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts on Feb. 8 and 9. Gallim choreographer and founder Andrea Mitchell, a Bridgeport native who took master classes at Wesleyan, was called “a wild child of movement innovation” by Dance Magazine.

“It’s a meteoric success story,” CFA director Pamela Tatge says of Miller’s rise in contemporary dance. “Her movement vocabulary has so much to do with about now — its risk-taking, its fierceness, its athleticism. It’s so engaging and really just has the finger on the pulse of a certain contemporary energy that people seem to respond to.”

A Remarkable Journey from Kibera to Wesleyan

Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper featured the remarkable journey of Kennedy Odede ’12, who grew up poor in the Kibera slum and attended Wesleyan. Together with his wife, Jessica Posner ’09, Odede founded Shining Hope for Communities, an organization that runs a tuition-free school for girls, and provides health care, nutrition and sanitation for Kibera residents.

New Collection of Reed’s Short Works Published

Publishers Weekly reviewed a new collection of 34 of Resident Writer Kit Reed’s short works, including six previously unpublished stories. “Reed’s fiction shows a remarkable consistency of quality; her prose is carefully shaped, with the clarity of diamonds. Often dark, but always worth reading, this collection is a must-have for both those new to Reed and those who have been following her work for decades.”

Gruen’s “Last 1,000” Chimps Website Featured

In the wake of a recent announcement by the National Institutes of Health that about 450 research chimpanzees under its purview would be retired and moved to sanctuary, the media has featured a new website by Prof. Lori Gruen. The site, “The Last 1,000” Chimpanzees, documents 1,000 chimps by name that are currently housed in biomedical and behavior research labs, and tracks their movement to sanctuary.

Gruen is professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies. She previously created a website, “The First 100,” memorializing the first 100 chimps used in scientific research.

Read about it in The New York Times and NPR.

 

Basinger’s Book on Marriage in the Movies Reviewed

The Wall Street Journal review of I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, by Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger, states: “Crammed with summaries and analysis of films from the past 100 years, I Do and I Don’t brilliantly demonstrates Hollywood’s abiding ambivalence about the institution of matrimony. Ever since the silent era publicity people have avoided using the word ‘marriage’ when they promote a film, convinced that audiences find romance exciting while judging married life a bore. Yet movies about married people proved enduringly popular…”

The book was also reviewed in Salon.

Reading Obama’s Rhetoric for Clues on Second Term

Bloomberg View columnist Amity Shlaes recently turned to Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim for his reading on Obama’s rhetoric in his Inaugural Address and other recent public statements. Obama’s “bold posture” in advocating for ambitious, liberal goals signals that he intends to follow the aggressive approach of Franklin Roosevelt in his second term, rather than the cautious and moderate approach of Bill Clinton.