Research Digest blog

Mind Hacks contributor Christian Jarrett [Hacks #18, #62, #66] has started a blog for the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. Writes the BPS:

Each fortnight we send out an email full of fun, engaging accounts of the most exciting new research, together with invaluable syllabus advice. This unmissable service is aimed primarily at undergraduate and A-level students, but academics have been signing up too, either to help with their teaching or simply to keep abreast of the best research outside of their specialist area.

So now you can get via blog rather than via email – and contribute comments back on papers Christian has summarised.

The science and curiosities of psychology

Professor Anthony Walsh has compiled a comprehensive guide to psychology, full of curiosities, images and tutorials.

Some of my favourites include images of trepanning devices from the middle ages, a case study of Mollie Fancher, a curious patient from the 19th century and a Dr Walsh’s own guide to classroom decorum!

This is one of the most comprehensive online psychology resources I’ve discovered as yet, and certainly one of the most fun to browse through.

Good starting points are his pages on:
* Introduction to Psychology
* Abnormal psychology
* Statistical methods in behavioural science

2005-02-25 Spike activity

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


An area of the brain may be responsible for warning us of risky outcomes and the possibility of making future mistakes.

New Scientist publishes a lead article on the use of psychedelic drugs for treating mental distress online.

Recent evidence suggests that some migraines may be linked to heart minor heart problems.

The relationship between distance and clarity of vision in face recognition research leads to important evidence for a murder trial.

Research shows that men are more committed to ‘e-relationships’ than women and internet dating relationships are generally more successful than previously thought.

A detailed diary kept by a mother of an autistic child leads to important insights into the development of play and social skill in autism. Other research shows that autistic people may have better visual skills than others.

Researchers measure the change to visual perception in a particular area of space when we focus our attention without moving our eyes.

History of neuropsychology: Guaranteed safe!

Professor Derek J. Smith has a detailed and comprehensively annotated neuropsychology timeline on his website.

For those of you who are worried that this thorough review of the history of brain science is just a honeypot, filled with fake links to gambling and porn sites, you may be rest assured that:

The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so.

There’s other excellent writing and reviews by Professor Smith linked from his homepage. Explore in safety!

2005-02-18 Spike activity

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


A recent study shows that the preference for side of body used to cradle infants is linked to the dominant hemisphere of the mother’s brain. Another example of how observing simple behaviours (like kissing) can show underlying brain structure.

Alphabets and writing may have been shaped by the constraints of our visual system.

For those who consistently over-commit themselves, research suggests it maybe because we are excessively optimistic about time for future tasks.

An article from Scientific American on what we do and don’t know about how anesthetics work.

Research challenges the idea that the visual system must separate objects from background before they are classified (PDF of full article).

Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips discusses his new book on sanity. A sign of the growing trend for a focus on positive psychology?

A gene known as ApoE, known to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, has been linked to poorer memory even in healthy individuals. Part of ongoing push to understand the genetics of psychological abilities.

2005-02-11 Spike activity

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


Previously it was known that higher IQ predicts longer life, but it was not known exactly why. A recent study suggests that faster reaction times, which are known to be linked to higher IQ, may be one of the key factors.

Recent research suggests that some aspects of visual function actually improve with age, particularly some motion perception skills (story 1, story 2).

The ability to make sense of ‘wholes’ rather than ‘parts’ (and vice versa) seems to rely on areas on the opposite sides of the brain in right and left handers.

An in-depth article from this month’s Scientific American on the neuroscience of memory is available online.

Bad news for smokers: Tobacco smoking can cause memory and cognitive impairment in adolescents, and smoking marijuana can have long-term effects on the brain’s blood flow.

A brain scanning study finds that when information is stored, activity in parts of the brain can predict whether it will be recalled accurately or form a false memory.

2005-02-04 Spike activity

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


An article on Alexander Shulgin chemist and author of PiHKAL, a book about the chemistry, pharmacology and experience of psychedelic drugs.

Scientists unlock the secrets of sleep and elsewhere report that listening to relaxing music before going to bed can help with sleep problems.

When we make slips of the tongue it may be our language skills which are at fault rather than our intentions, suggests recent research which showed that people often correctly look at an object they incorrectly name.

The large number of young people involved in car crashes may be partly explained by the frontal cortex not being fully mature until the mid twenties. This area of the brain is involved in a number of driving-relevant skills, such as attention, multi-tasking and decision making.

2005-01-28 Spike activity

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


A study finds significant differences in the structure of male and female brains related to IQ. However, an insightful article from the NYT seems to cut through a lot of the crap and looks at the implications and (mis)interpretation of such findings in the age old debate about male-female psychological differences.

‘Bad driving’ may be related to hormones. Best read with the previous link in mind.

Developments in ‘gene chip‘ technology look likely to push forward the understanding of genetic influences on brain development.

Recent brain scanning work has examined the brain functions responsible for looking someone in the eye. Studying this simple action may result in a better understanding of how volutary actions are controlled by the brain.

More research on the contentious area of the genetic contribution to homosexuality has just been published. Don’t be fooled by the title of the article though. Anything which claims that the “gene(s) for x have been identified”, where x is a complex behaviour, is almost certainly marketing or bad journalism rather than informed scientific conclusion.

2005-01-21 Spike activity

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


More news on developments in ‘lie detector’ technology – a mix of informed journalism and wild speculation.

A journalist’s personal experience of synaesthesia, the experience of having information in one sense, cross over to another (tasting words, for example).

A recent study suggests a drink a day seems to be protective against mental decline in older women.

Howard Rheingold on the psychology of texting.

Ones to watch

Two blogs I’ve just discovered and will be keeping an eye on are <a href="
“>Mixing Memory (who has recently done an excellent post on time perception, in two parts!) and Circadiana who has just started and promises:

‘This blog will be dedicated to tracking and commeting on the advances in the study of biological time, mainly circadian rhythms, but also other aspects of temporal biology, e.g., developmental timing.’

And to wet your appetite is this post Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

Spike activity

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


More on the proposed project to study the pain-killing effect of religion – a continuation of the research on the pain-reducing effect of soft porn perhaps ? Only seems to work for men though, sorry girls.

Lovers are worse at spotting other people in love. Truly, love is blind.

fMRI study shows that the brain is connected as a small-world network. Like actors, mathematicians and even the internet.

Exploding the self-esteem myth – a critical article on the concept of self-esteem from Scientific American.

Research shows passive smoking can have significant negative effects on reading, math, and logic and reasoning, in children and adolescents.