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Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feelings and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists also seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, linking the discipline to neuroscience. As a social science, psychologists aim to understand the behavior of individuals and groups.

A professional practitioner or researcher involved in the discipline is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Some psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior. Others explore the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, brain functioning, and personality. Psychologists' interests extend to interpersonal relationships, psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas within social psychology. Psychologists also consider the unconscious mind. Research psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. Some, but not all, clinical and counseling psychologists rely on symbolic interpretation.

While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts, psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. Many psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Other psychologists conduct scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior. Typically the latter group of psychologists work in academic settings (e.g., universities, medical schools, hospitals). Another group of psychologists is employed in industrial and organizational settings. Yet others are involved in work on human development, aging, sports, health, forensics, and the media. (Full article...)

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Cognitive flexibility is an intrinsic property of a cognitive system often associated with the mental ability to adjust its activity and content, switch between different task rules and corresponding behavioral responses, maintain multiple concepts simultaneously and shift internal attention between them. Term cognitive flexibility is traditionally used to refer to one of the executive functions. In this sense, it can be seen as neural underpinnings of adaptive and flexible behavior. Most of flexibility test were developed under this assumption several decades ago. Nowadays, cognitive flexibility can also be referred to as a set of properties of the brain that facilitate flexible yet relevant switching between functional brain states.

Cognitive flexibility varies during the lifespan of an individual. In addition, certain conditions such as obsessive–compulsive disorder are associated with reduced cognitive flexibility. Since cognitive flexibility is a vital component of learning, deficits in this area might have other implications. (Full article...)
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Work by Adolf Wölfli, an outsider artist and patient at a Swiss psychiatric hospital
image credit: public domain

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Donata Francescato (born April 17, 1944 in Arona, Italy) is an Italian community psychologist and academic, trained in the United States, and known in academia and the media for her work on sex roles, communes, and personal and organizational empowerment. Her work in community psychology led to the discipline being recognized in 1985 as a compulsory subject in Italian universities where psychology is taught as a major subject.

Francescato is currently the Scientific Director of the post-graduate School of Specialization in clinical community psychology and psychotherapy at ASPIC (Associazione per lo Sviluppo Psicologico dell'Individuo e della Comunità, Association for the Psychological Development of the Individual and the Community). Previously, she was a Full Professor of Community Psychology at the University of Rome, a position she retired from in 2014 at the age of 70. (Full article...)
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