2010-10-22 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:

Scientific American Mind’s Bering in Mind has two unmissable pieces on the psychology of suicide – the first taking a critical look at the idea that suicide might be adaptive in some cases, the second looking at the individual psychology of the suicidal person.

Why shaking someone’s beliefs turns them into stronger advocates. Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a new study on the endlessly fascinating effects of cognitive dissonance.

The Lancet has an excellent open essay on neuroethics and brain science.

Speakers with a foreign accent are perceived as less credible – and not just because of prejudice. The BPS Research Digest reports on some disappointing data to follow last weeks news about reduced libido in foreign countries.

New Scientist has a good series on the science of morality which has some paywalled pieces which, annoyingly, aren’t well marked.

Journalist Carl Zimmer is interviewed about his new neuroscience e-book, Brain Cuttings, and the electronic future of science writing over at Neurotribes.

The New York Times has an interactive feature on how psychology is being applied to school cafeteria design to encourage healthy eating

To the bunkers! Popular Science reports on the first fully automated robot surgery to removed a prostate. Today, a prostate, tomorrow your frontal lobes.

Seed Magazine has a short but through-provoking piece wondering whether vaccine quackery in autism is partly supported by cognitive biases that under-value ‘sins of omission’ in causal explanations.

Light swearing at the start or end of a persuasive speech can help influence an audience according to a new piece from PsyBlog. Welcome, new dawn of evidence-based swearing.

CNN reports on the 20-year-old female criminology student whose just been made police chief in a dangerous Mexican town shortly after the mayor was murdered.

Emos rejoice! Feeling sad makes us more creative, according to research covered by a great Frontal Cortex piece. OK, stop rejoicing, you’ll lose that artistic edge.

Science News covers an intriguing new study finding that we value potential purchases more highly and are more likely to buy if they’re physically present.

A study covered by Barking Up the Wrong Tree reports that you have a 6% chance of shagging someone you meet at a speed-dating event. What’s the standard deviation you ask? Doesn’t say but my guess is spanking.

Wired Danger Room takes a critical look at the US Army’s ‘breakthrough’ blood test for brain injury and notes that there’s more than a little hype in its announcement.

Contrary to the researchers’ expectations people with autism were more susceptible to magic tricks than neurotypical folks. Great write up on the Cracking the Enigma blog.

BBC News has pictures of the Mexican authorities burning 105 tons of marijuana. Think 50 Cent gig without the baseball caps.

There’s an excellent piece on how the concept of risk became central to psychiatry over the Frontier Psychiatrist.

RadioLab has an excellent short podcast on communication patterns embedded in animal calls.

[Honestly dear], receiving a massage increases trust and co-operation in a financial game. Dan Ariely’s excellent Irrationally Yours blog covers an interesting study that also works as a good excuse for executives.

The Economist argues that the Mexican drug war could be curtailed with better police in Mexico, stricter gun laws in America and legal pot in California. Best of luck with that.

Got a solution? Well, have we got a problem to sell you. Pharmalot interviews author of new book ‘Sex, Lies & Pharmaceuticals’ on the invention of female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and the new pills that are supposed to treat it.

The British Psychological Society are looking for a freelance blogger to write about occupational and business psychology. Interested?

On the controversy that ripped anthropology asunder – the trashing of Margaret Mead. Great coverage of a new book by Savage Minds.

NPR Science has a piece on a fascinating anthropological study of Japanese teens finding that most electronic messages they send have no ‘news’ – they’re just signalling their social connectedness.

A history of psychology post-doc is blogging her tour of US asylums past and present over at Asylum Notes.

There’s a great interview with broad thinking perceptual psychologist Mark Changizi over at Neuroanthropology.

GQ has a compelling, tragic and enraging feature article on the man shortly to stand trial accused of encouraging suicidal people to kill themselves online by pretending to enter into suicide pacts. Great journalism on a dreadful case.

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