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  • May 1, 2016
  • 02:17 PM
  • 18 views

Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and scientific thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Generally seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. However, in a new article, a biology researcher delves into observations on the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking over the centuries.

... Read more »

  • May 1, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • 22 views

Being Explicit About Symmetry

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Working to orient oneself to the symmetries available in mathematical situations seems like one appropriate remedy to what I've called "left-to-rightism," or "cinemathematics"—a syndrome that makes us teach concepts like the equals sign (unwittingly) in a left-to-right way, such that students take away (unwittingly) the misconception that the equals sign indicates that some answer is to follow, rather than that two expressions are equal. Some recent research points........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:55 PM
  • 56 views

Salts in the brain control our sleep-wake cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Insomnia, fun fact those of us who have served or are serving in the military have a much higher incidence of sleep problems. So if you are like me and have ever been prescribed something to help you sleep, you know that there are some unwanted side effects. For instance the time I lost memory of a whole day of interacting with people to the ambien I had taken the night before, not fun. Thankfully Danish researchers found that the level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we a........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 12:15 PM
  • 55 views

Words On The Brain: A Semantic Map of the Cortex

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a new Nature paper, Berkely neuroscientists Alexander G. Huth and colleagues present a 'semantic atlas' of the human brain. Huth et al. have mapped which brain areas respond to words, according to the semantics (meanings) of each word. It turns out that these maps are highly similar across individuals - which could have implications for 'mind reading' technology.



Huth et al. recorded brain activity with fMRI while seven volunteers listened to over two hours of audio narrative (taken fr... Read more »

Huth AG, de Heer WA, Griffiths TL, Theunissen FE, & Gallant JL. (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-8. PMID: 27121839  

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 53 views

The 'anti-neuroinflammatory activity' of oxytocin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin  that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:10 PM
  • 55 views

Don’t retweet if you want to remember

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.

... Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 55 views

Phubbing, more FOMO, blonde jokes, and what holds our  attention?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s time to run down some articles that are curious, but not substantial enough to justify a full blog post. Once again, we have kept a few pearls in our virtual filing cabinet, and have combined them here for your curiosity and possibly entertainment. This is one of those combination posts that will offer you […]

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Red, redux: Men won’t pay attention to Tammy in red
Does this mean we need to pay no attention to 1 in  10 research f........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 72 views

Why organisations should encourage their staff to become friends

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

They say you should never mix business and pleasure but in reality many of us find that we become friends with the people who we work with. No wonder, when you consider the hours spent together and the deep bonds formed through collaboration and sharing the highs and lows of the job.A new study in Personnel Psychology is among the first to examine the effects on job performance of having more "multiplex relationships" – colleagues you work with directly who are also your friends outside of wor........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 02:33 AM
  • 64 views

Organophosphate exposure and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with higher urinary DMP [dimethylphosphate] concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the results presented in the paper by Yu and colleagues [1] who looking at "97 doctor-diagnosed ADHD cases and 110 non-ADHD controls who were 4-15 years of age" examined urine and blood samples for various factors including "biomarkers of OP [organophosphate] pesticide exposure." Th........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 90 views

What parents of children with autism expect from their child's therapists

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Parents ultimately wanted therapists to produce positive outcomes for their children and were willing to sacrifice other desired qualities, as long as the therapy program was effective."and"The SLPs [Speech-Language Pathologists] expressed strong support for evidence-based practice (EBP) and indicated that they thought parents expected their children would be provided with evidence-based interventions."Those quotes come from two papers recently published in the same journal; the first........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 04:55 PM
  • 176 views

Addiction, it’s in your genes… maybe

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why does one person who tries cocaine get addicted, while another might use it and then leave it alone? Why do some people who kick a drug habit manage to stay clean, while others relapse? And why do some families seem more prone to addiction than others? According to a new study, the road to answering these questions may have a lot to do with specific genetic factors that vary from individual to individual.

... Read more »

Flagel, S., Chaudhury, S., Waselus, M., Kelly, R., Sewani, S., Clinton, S., Thompson, R., Watson, S., & Akil, H. (2016) Genetic background and epigenetic modifications in the core of the nucleus accumbens predict addiction-like behavior in a rat model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201520491. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520491113  

  • April 27, 2016
  • 04:42 PM
  • 110 views

Measuring happiness on social media

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Happiness. It’s something we all strive for, but how do we measure it — as a country? A global community? Not so surprisingly, researchers are turning to social media to answer these questions and more. In a newly published study, computer scientists used two years of Twitter data to measure users’ life satisfaction, a component of happiness.

... Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 75 views

Why Science Matters to Our Dogs and Cats

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Science – and science blogging – can help animal welfare in important ways.We wish our companion animals to lead a charmed life and always be happy. We want our dogs and cats to have a wonderful relationship with us. But we can’t achieve this if we don’t know what they need and how we should interact with them.Last year, some readers took part in a survey of who reads science blogs. The preliminary results are out, and it’s got me thinking about why science – and science blogging –........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 17 views

A cure for the know-it-all: “Reflecting on explanatory ability” 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Most of us think we know more than we actually do and sometimes, that sense is taken to an extreme that can be annoying (as well as inaccurate). Two years ago, we wrote about a study on modulating political extremism and mentioned the recommended strategy was similar to one we use to topple self-appointed “experts” […]

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Guilt-proneness and the ability to recog........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 03:07 AM
  • 90 views

The A Word: the science behind...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The A WordI'm not typically inclined to talk about TV programmes on this blog (well, not usually) but today I'm making an exception based on the conclusion of the BBC drama series 'The A Word' last evening.For those who might not know, this [fictional] series charts the ups and downs of a family living in the Lake District whose lives are in one way or another touched by autism as a function of a 5-year old boy diagnosed with the condition. The show had a notable addition to the cast with a very........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 27 views

Are certain groups of people more likely to leave suicide notes?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

It is a sad fact that we can never ask of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who take their own lives each year – why did you do it? Instead, psychologists talk to people who attempted, but failed, to kill themselves, and they also look into the minds' of suicide victims through the notes that they leave. But in fact only a minority of suicide victims leave notes, and the validity of studying these notes depends in part of the assumption that victims who leave notes are the s........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 05:06 AM
  • 19 views

Teaching children the ancient "mental abacus" technique boosted their maths abilities more than normal extra tuition

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Seeing an expert abacus user in action is a sight to behold. Their hands are a blur as they perform arithmetic operations far quicker than anyone using an electronic calculator. The mental abacus technique is even more impressive – it works just the same as a real abacus, except that you visualise moving the beads in your mind's eye (check out this video of people using mental abacus to perform amazing feats of arithmetic).Surprisingly, there is little research on the benefits of teaching the ........ Read more »

  • April 26, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 94 views

Bacterial origin and transferability of depression?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Zheng and colleagues [1] caught my eye recently and the interesting ideas that "dysbiosis of the gut microbiome may have a causal role in the development of depressive-like behaviors" and "transplantation of GF [germ-free] mice with ‘depression microbiota’ derived from MDD [major depressive disorder] patients resulted in depression-like behaviors compared with colonization with ‘healthy microbiota’ derived from healthy control individuals."Bearing in........ Read more »

  • April 25, 2016
  • 07:02 AM
  • 102 views

“Creepiness”: You know it when you see it! 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

You know what ‘creepy’ is and in the movie The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins personified creepiness. While it may be hard to believe, no one has ever “pinned down” what makes a person creepy. Since there must be a need for such information, enter academic Francis McAndrew of Knox University (in Galesburg, Illinois), […]

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Is there an effective strategy that reduces a........ Read more »

McAndrew, F., & Koehnke, S. (2016) On the nature of creepiness. New Ideas in Psychology,, 10-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2016.03.003  

  • April 25, 2016
  • 06:39 AM
  • 117 views

Yet more evidence for questionable research practices in original studies of Reproducibility Project: Psychology

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

The replicability of psychological research is surprisingly low. Why? In this blog post I present new evidence showing that questionable research practices are at the heart of failures to replicate psychological effects. Quick recap. A recent publication in Science claims that only around 40% of psychological findings are replicable, based on 100 replication attempts in […]... Read more »

Asendorpf, J., Conner, M., De Fruyt, F., De Houwer, J., Denissen, J., Fiedler, K., Fiedler, S., Funder, D., Kliegl, R., Nosek, B.... (2013) Recommendations for Increasing Replicability in Psychology. European Journal of Personality, 27(2), 108-119. DOI: 10.1002/per.1919  

Gerber, A., Malhotra, N., Dowling, C., & Doherty, D. (2010) Publication Bias in Two Political Behavior Literatures. American Politics Research, 38(4), 591-613. DOI: 10.1177/1532673X09350979  

Head ML, Holman L, Lanfear R, Kahn AT, & Jennions MD. (2015) The extent and consequences of p-hacking in science. PLoS biology, 13(3). PMID: 25768323  

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