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  • January 6, 2016
  • 06:16 AM

Students who believe they have more "free will" do better academically

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Psychologists are coming to realise that it's not just people's abilities that are important in life but their beliefs about their abilities. Much of this research has focused on whether people think traits like intelligence and self-control are fixed or malleable, with those individuals who endorse the idea of malleability tending to fare better at mental tasks and even at life in general, at least as measured by their feelings of well-being.Now a study in Personality and Individual Differences........ Read more »

  • January 6, 2016
  • 02:50 AM

Gender dysphoria and autistic traits?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity."That's how NHS Choices describe gender dysphoria illustrating how biological sex and gender identity are not always one and the same for everyone. I might add that science is also coming around to the idea that the dichotomy of two biological sexes (male and female) might also not be as accurate as we've all been led to believe.With........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2016
  • 02:11 PM

Why daring to compare online prices pays off offline

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The constant barrage of post-holiday sales touted by web-based retailers may make it seem like online shopping is killing real-world stores. But shoppers are actually engaging in “web-to-store” shopping — buying offline after comparing prices online.... Read more »

  • January 5, 2016
  • 01:50 PM

Female Finches Get Stressed Just Hearing the Voice of a Stressed-Out Mate

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Humans aren't the only animals who know when something's the matter. The chirps of a stressed-out zebra finch may make his mate feel stressed too—even when she can't see him. It's a hint that a kind of empathy exists in birds.

Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) mate for life. They work together to find food, guard their nests, and raise their young. When they're apart, they call to each other to check in.

Emilie Perez, a researcher at the University of Saint-Etienne in France, and her........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2016
  • 09:16 AM

We Have Become Exhausted Slaves in a Culture of Positivity

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

We live in an era of exhaustion and fatigue, caused by an incessant compulsion to perform. This is one of the central tenets of the book "Müdigkeitsgesellschaft" (translatable as "The Fatigue Society" or "The Tiredness Society") by the German philosopher Byung-Chul Han. Han is a professor at the Berlin Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) and one of the most widely read contemporary philosophers in Germany. He was born in Seoul where he stu........ Read more »

Byung-Chul Han. (2015) The Burnout Society. Stanford University Press. info:/

  • January 5, 2016
  • 06:30 AM

By age 8, children already recognise the greater moral seriousness and consequences of criminal acts compared with mere mischief

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

At last, some actual data that could help guide judgments about the Age of Criminal ResponsibilityThe idea that children can't be held fully responsible for their crimes dates back thousands of years. Today, in many countries around the world, the principle is written into law as "The Age of Criminal Responsibility". For example, in the UK (excluding Scotland), the Age of Criminal Responsibility is 10, whereas it's as low as 7 in the US, but as high as 16 in Belgium.Part of the reason for this h........ Read more »

  • January 5, 2016
  • 03:01 AM

Just what is 'non-coeliac gluten sensitivity'?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The question posed in the title of this post relates to the findings reported by Federica Branchi and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) surveying "knowledge about nonceliac gluten sensitivity among gastroenterology specialists" in Italy.In amongst the various results gathered from over 200 gastroenterologists who completed a study questionnaire, the authors report that: "98.6% were aware of the existence of a syndrome called "nonceliac gluten sensitivity" and 77% believe in its ex........ Read more »

  • January 4, 2016
  • 01:36 PM

If our brain is a computer, do we really have free will?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The background to this new set of experiments lies in the debate regarding conscious will and determinism in human decision-making, which has attracted researchers, psychologists, philosophers and the general public, and which has been ongoing since at least the 1980s. Back then, the American researcher Benjamin Libet studied the nature of cerebral processes of study participants during conscious decision-making.... Read more »

Schultze-Kraft, M., Birman, D., Rusconi, M., Allefeld, C., Görgen, K., Dähne, S., Blankertz, B., & Haynes, J. (2015) The point of no return in vetoing self-initiated movements. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201513569. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1513569112  

  • January 4, 2016
  • 07:02 AM

Four (new) ways to identify a liar…. 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve tracked the literature on deception detection for some time now and so were glad to see recent multiple new entries in the pursuit of identifying liars. Rather than blogging about these strategies one at a time, here’s a combined entry to let you know about them all in a single post. Are children good […]

Related posts:
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
“Everyday liars” and “Prolific liars”
Do great liars know how to tell if you’re lying to them? (Yes, they ........ Read more »

Fenn, E., Blandón-Gitlin, I., Coons, J., Pineda, C., & Echon, R. (2015) The inhibitory spillover effect: Controlling the bladder makes better liars. Consciousness and Cognition, 112-122. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.09.003  

  • January 4, 2016
  • 02:59 AM

Fatty acid chemistry and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Fatty acids in both serum and red blood cells were abnormal among this small group of Canadian children with autism compared to controls, underlining a need for larger age- and gender-matched investigations in this community."Based on the analysis of fatty acid status in a small group of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (n=11) compared with a small group of 'not-autism' control participants (n=15), the paper by Joan Jory [1] reports that there may be more to see in this important ar........ Read more »

  • January 2, 2016
  • 09:24 AM

Can Psychology Be an Empirical Science?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a provocative new paper, Norwegian psychologist Jan Smedslund argues that psychology "cannot be an empirical science". Smedslund is a veteran of the field; his first paper was published in 1953.

He opens by saying that
Psychology is a science in crisis, both with respect to theoretical coherence and practical efficiency.
This, he says, is not a problem that could be remedied by further development of psychological theory. Rather, the point is that the whole enterprise is inherently... Read more »

Smedslund, J. (2015) Why Psychology Cannot be an Empirical Science. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. DOI: 10.1007/s12124-015-9339-x  

  • January 2, 2016
  • 05:02 AM

Iodine and autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Welcome back to Questioning Answers in 2016.Let's continue our travels down the autism peer-reviewed research path by starting with some brief discussion of the findings reported by Anna Błażewicz and colleagues [1] talking about iodine and autism.With the aim of assessing "the iodine status of Polish boys with severe autism compared to their healthy peers" (authors words not mine), researchers reported results for various iodine and related measures (including metabolites related to........ Read more »

Błażewicz, A., Makarewicz, A., Korona-Glowniak, I., Dolliver, W., & Kocjan, R. (2015) Iodine in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2015.12.002  

  • December 30, 2015
  • 09:45 PM

Guns And Controllers: The APA Reviews, Kotaku Gets Aggressive, The Game Continues

by Alexis Delanoir in How to Paint Your Panda

Just about one year ago, I summarized the best research available on the topic of violent video games causing aggressive behaviour. Reviewing several meta-analyses and discussing the APA's statement on the subject, I concluded that violent video games almost certainly have a minimal effect and likely have a higher effect on aggressive cognition. In August of this year, the APA released a new resolution as well as a full report on video games and violence/aggressive behaviour. As promised in........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2015
  • 02:17 PM

3-D footage of nematode brains links neurons with motion and behavior

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Princeton University researchers have captured among the first recordings of neural activity in nearly the entire brain of a free-moving animal. The three-dimensional recordings could provide scientists with a better understanding of how neurons coordinate action and perception in animals. The researchers reported a technique that allowed them to record 3-D footage of neural activity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a worm species 1 millimeter long with a nervous system containing a mere ........ Read more »

Nguyen JP, Shipley FB, Linder AN, Plummer GS, Liu M, Setru SU, Shaevitz JW, & Leifer AM. (2015) Whole-brain calcium imaging with cellular resolution in freely behaving Caenorhabditis elegans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26712014  

  • December 30, 2015
  • 05:26 AM

2015 autism research review on Questioning Answers

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So here we are again. The end of another blogging year and time to reflect on the peer-reviewed research highlights that made it on to Questioning Answers in 2015.As per other years (see 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), it's been another interesting year that I'm gonna break down into research by the months. The question as always is: are we any further forward when it comes to the autism spectrum, it's aetiology, nature and improving quality of life for those on the spectrum? As in previous yea........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2015
  • 12:10 AM

Do Experts Make Bad Teachers? No.

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

A pair of new studies has found that the stereotype of the aloof professor—you know, the one that is accomplished in her field but I'd like to see her come teach the kids in my school—might be, surprise surprise, a little unfair.

Researchers found that the superior content knowledge of mathematics professors (8 assistant professors and 7 full professors) relative to secondary teachers was associated with a significantly greater amount of conceptual explanations, as opposed to........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 02:46 PM

Being anxious could be good for you! If you’re in a crisis…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

New findings by French researchers show that the brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat than those that are benign. The results may help explain the apparent “sixth sense” we have for danger. This is the first time that specific regions of the brain have been identified to be involved in the phenomenon. The human brain is able to detect social threats in these regions in a fast, automatic fashion, within just 200 milliseconds.... Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 07:04 AM

Social Pain Revisited: Opioids for Severe Suicidal Ideation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Does the pain of mental anguish rely on the same neural machinery as physical pain? Can we treat these dreaded ailments with the same medications? These issues have come to the fore in the field of social/cognitive/affective neuroscience.As many readers know, Lieberman and Eisenberger (2015) recently published a controversial paper claiming that a brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC, shown above) is “selective” for pain.1 This finding fits with their long-time narr........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 05:57 AM

Nothing good comes from exposure to lead

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In this population of Mexican children, current blood lead level among children with low exposure (< 5µg/dL) was positively associated with hyperactive/impulsive behaviors, but not with inattentiveness. These results add to the existing evidence of lead-associated neurodevelopmental deficits at low levels of exposure."That quote from the paper by Siying Huang and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) kinda says it all when it comes particularly to childhood exposure to lead (Pb)&........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2015
  • 05:12 AM

It's better to have two passions in life than one

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

As long as you don't become obsessive and defensive about it, there's a wealth of evidence to show that having a passion in life is good for you psychologically – people with a so-called "harmonious passion" (but not so much those with an "obsessive passion") tend to be happier, to enjoy more positive emotions and be more satisfied with life, as compared with people who don't have a passion. As we look ahead to the new year, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies poses a simple ........ Read more »

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