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  • February 28, 2016
  • 05:00 PM

Matrix Unloaded: How you can fly a plane using expert-pilot brainwave patterns

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

“I know kung fu,” movie buffs might remember the remember the quote from “The Matrix.” We can all probably agree that being able to download knowledge “on tap” would be a boon to humanity. It is a shame it is just a movie… right? While that may be the case, it is just for now. That is because researchers have discovered that low-current electrical brain stimulation can modulate the learning of complex real-world skills.

... Read more »

  • February 28, 2016
  • 12:29 PM

Against epiphenomenalism: summary and reply.

by Sergio Graziosi in Writing my own user manual - Sergio Graziosi's Blog

What follows is a direct reaction to the discussion I’ve had with Jochen below my first epiphenomenalism post. The discussion meandered into scary places, and Jochen ended up recommending me to keep it simple instead. I’m sure it is a…Read more ›... Read more »

Brian D. Earp. (2012) I can't get no (epistemic) satisfaction: Why the hard problem of consciousness entails a hard problem of explanation. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences, 5(1). info:/

  • February 28, 2016
  • 12:22 AM


by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

At the moment, I would argue that modern educational thought does not pay sufficient attention to that first acquisition phase of learning. This does not seem to be a deliberate shifting of attentional resources away from Phase 1; rather, it is more a matter of conceptualizing "learning" as not having a Phase 1 at all—or a Phase 1 so straightforward and inevitable that it is of little interest to either practitioners or researchers.... Read more »

  • February 27, 2016
  • 04:39 PM

Technology and human biology: The singularity may not be so singular

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Life literally inside the world wide web, it’s an interesting idea. One that has tantalized sci-fi fans since before the framework for the internet was even finished. While the idea of a seemingly eternal disembodied life through the unfiltered and raw computer consciousness that we all share a connection with, maybe we are shooting for a goal that isn’t really possible — maybe we are asking the wrong questions.

... Read more »

Nicolau, D., Lard, M., Korten, T., van Delft, F., Persson, M., Bengtsson, E., Månsson, A., Diez, S., Linke, H., & Nicolau, D. (2016) Parallel computation with molecular-motor-propelled agents in nanofabricated networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201510825. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1510825113  

Morsella, E., Godwin, C., Jantz, T., Krieger, S., & Gazzaley, A. (2015) Homing in on Consciousness in the Nervous System: An Action-Based Synthesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1-106. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X15000643  

  • February 27, 2016
  • 03:32 AM

C-section and the microbial transplant

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm pretty sure that the paper by Maria Dominguez-Bello and colleagues [1] speaks for itself when describing the results of "a pilot study in which infants delivered by C-section [Caesarean section] were exposed to maternal vaginal fluids at birth." If you need a graphic, some coverage of the research in the New York Times helpfully provides a visual aid (see here).The long-and-short of it is that following some concerns that infants delivered via C-section might be missing out on some valu........ Read more »

Dominguez-Bello MG, De Jesus-Laboy KM, Shen N, Cox LM, Amir A, Gonzalez A, Bokulich NA, Song SJ, Hoashi M, Rivera-Vinas JI.... (2016) Partial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via vaginal microbial transfer. Nature medicine. PMID: 26828196  

  • February 27, 2016
  • 12:00 AM

Sticks and stones (3): How names hurt

by Michael Ramscar in The Importance of Being Wrong

The shock of the old

Most people in Iceland don’t have family names. Instead, Icelanders’ last names are made from their father or mother’s first name, to which males add the suffix -son (son) and females -dóttir (daughter). This practice can seem strange to outsiders, but it was common throughout Scandinavia until surprisingly recently: laws compelling citizens to adopt heritable family names were only enacted in 1828 in Denmark, 1901 in Sweden, and 1922 in Norway......... Read more »

Baek SK, Kiet HA, & Kim BJ. (2007) Family name distributions: master equation approach. Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics, 76(4 Pt 2), 46113. PMID: 17995066  

Chang, J., Donnelly, P., Wiuf, C., Hein, J., Slatkin, M., Ewens, W., & Kingman, J. (1999) Recent common ancestors of all present-day individuals. Advances in Applied Probability, 31(4), 1002-1026. DOI: 10.1239/aap/1029955256  

Colman, A., Sluckin, W., & Hargreaves, D. (1981) The effect of familiarity on preferences for surnames. British Journal of Psychology, 72(3), 363-369. DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.1981.tb02195.x  

A. Crook. (2012) Personal Names in 18th-Century Scotland: a case study of the parish of Beith (North Ayrshire). Journal of Scottish Name Studies, 1-10. info:/

Guo, J., Chen, Q., & Wang, Y. (2011) Statistical distribution of Chinese names. Chinese Physics B, 20(11), 118901. DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/20/11/118901  

Shannon, C. (1948) A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Bell System Technical Journal, 27(3), 379-423. DOI: 10.1002/j.1538-7305.1948.tb01338.x  

Shannon, C. (1951) Prediction and Entropy of Printed English. Bell System Technical Journal, 30(1), 50-64. DOI: 10.1002/j.1538-7305.1951.tb01366.x  

  • February 26, 2016
  • 02:11 PM

Why people oppose same-sex marriage

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Marriage is legal (here in the US anyway), now I’m not gay, but that is exciting to me. So the question remains, has society fallen apart? Are cats hanging out with dogs and toast falling butter side up? Of course not, so then why do opponents of same-sex marriage really oppose it? A UCLA psychology study concludes that many people believe gay men and women are more sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals, which they may fear could threaten their own marriages and their way of life.

... Read more »

Pinsof, D., & Haselton, M.G. (2016) The moral divide over same-sex marriage: reproductive strategies in conflict?. Psychological Science. info:/

  • February 26, 2016
  • 07:02 AM

Spiders, dogs, assassins, beards and the demons  of sleep paralysis (things you want to know)

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We read a lot of articles in order to blog regularly and often find intriguing (not to mention weird, odd, esoteric, freakish) pieces of information to which we do not wish to devote an entire post—yet, also do not wish to hoard the information. At times like these, you will see a collection of the […]

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Do you believe there are Angels and Demons among us?

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  • February 26, 2016
  • 03:57 AM

Teenage offenders are highly adept at spotting when their peers are lying

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Most people are poor at detecting whether someone is lying, at least partly because most people think mistakenly that things like shifty eye movements and fidgeting hands are reliable signs of deception.However, it's emerged in recent years that not everyone is equally bad at lie detection. In fact, people who themselves are skilled at lying tend to have quite a knack for spotting when someone else is telling a fib. Now a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology makes a similar obser........ Read more »

Jupe, L., Akehurst, L., Vernham, Z., & Allen, J. (2016) Teenage Offenders' Ability to Detect Deception in Their Peers. Applied Cognitive Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3214  

  • February 26, 2016
  • 02:49 AM

Wandering and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I probably don't need to provide most readers with too much background information on the topic of wandering/elopement and autism given the multitude of news reports that have been, and continue to be, generated on this worrying behaviour. The article titled: 'The Life and Death of Avonte Oquendo' pretty much sums up the very saddest outcome of wandering, and how in some respects, autism can potentially be a life-limiting condition.I do however think it is important to discuss the findings repor........ Read more »

  • February 25, 2016
  • 02:36 AM

Does rubella (german measles) cause autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Rubella rash @ NHS Choices"Rubella might still cause autism, even in vaccinated populations."That was one of the points raised in the '2015 reappraisal' document published by Jill Hutton [1] (open-access) covering a topic that has quite a long history with autism in mind (see here).Rubella, also called german measles, a previously common childhood disease characterised by a rash, high temperature and cold-like symptoms, has in many parts of the world almost been entirely eradicated as a con........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2016
  • 11:12 AM

This woman went hitchhiking in a hijab, for science

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

According to evolutionary psychology, just as animals and birds sing and dance and build houses to communicate their sexual interest to others, we humans do things like wear red, tell jokes, drive fancy cars and, well yes, we sing and dance too. A consistent finding in this area is that people's attractiveness to others depends on whether their appearance communicates an interest in short or long-term sexual commitment, and moreover, whether this matches what a potential suitor is looking for. F........ Read more »

Pazhoohi, F., & Burriss, R. (2015) Hijab and “Hitchhiking”: A Field Study. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2(1), 32-37. DOI: 10.1007/s40806-015-0033-5  

  • February 24, 2016
  • 08:05 AM

You hear a voice in your head when you're reading, right?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

As you're reading this blog post silently to yourself, do you hear an inner voice speaking the words in your head? A new paper published in Psychosis suggests that most people do hear an internal voice when they're reading. But as this is one of the first ever investigations into the question, and it used an unconventional methodology, it's fair to say the results are far from conclusive.Ruvanee Vilhauer at New York University took advantage of questions about the phenomenon posted on Yahoo........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2016
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: What would Jesus do? 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

A few years ago we were doing a mock trial in New York City and I saw a Rastafarian street vendor selling coffee cups with WWJD on them in block print. I thought it was odd and so looked more closely to find in teeny tiny letters under WWJD, it said “What would Jung do?”. […]

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Simple Jury Persuasion: It’s really pretty black and white….
Simple Jury Persuasion: Analytic or Intuitive?
Simple Jury Persuasion: Christian religious concepts increase racial prejudice ........ Read more »

Ginges J, Sheikh H, Atran S, & Argo N. (2016) Thinking from God's perspective decreases biased valuation of the life of a nonbeliever. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(2), 316-9. PMID: 26711991  

  • February 24, 2016
  • 02:48 AM

Parents lived experience of an offspring autism diagnosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I recently happened upon the paper by Emilia Carlsson and colleagues [1] talking about parental experiences of the diagnostic processes for their children (with autism in mind) and thought it worthy to mention on this blog.Detailing the results of a qualitative study where "parents were interviewed about their experiences of the neuropsychiatric diagnostic process, i.e. the time before the screening, the time during the neuropsychiatric multidisciplinary evaluation and the time after diagno........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2016
  • 02:33 AM

Your brain treats LEGO people as if they're alive

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

Participants were especially good at spotting scene changes that involved LEGO people. Image from LaPointe et al.Our brains are wired such that we pay extra attention to anything that seems to be alive. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – after all, other living things might be about to eat us, or maybe we could eat them.Consistent with this evolutionary perspective, prior research has shown that at a very basic level, we pay more attention to images of animals and people tha........ Read more »

LaPointe, M., Cullen, R., Baltaretu, B., Campos, M., Michalski, N., Sri Satgunarajah, S., Cadieux, M., Pachai, M., & Shore, D. (2016) An Attentional Bias for LEGO® People Using a Change Detection Task: Are LEGO® People Animate?. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale. DOI: 10.1037/cep0000077  

  • February 23, 2016
  • 06:10 AM

Love? All You Need is... Oxytocin

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Oxytocin, the love hormone, is involved in emphatetic behaviours in tiny rodents.... Read more »

Burkett, J., Andari, E., Johnson, Z., Curry, D., de Waal, F., & Young, L. (2016) Oxytocin-dependent consolation behavior in rodents. Science, 351(6271), 375-378. DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4785  

  • February 23, 2016
  • 02:50 AM

On the question of a 'real' increase in cases of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "Increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnosis may partially reflect [an] increase in rates of behaviour associated with ASD and/or greater parent/teacher recognition of associated behaviours."That was a primary finding reported by Ginny Russell and colleagues [1] (open-access) who set about to "confirm an increase in parent-reported ASD diagnosis at age 7 in the UK between two time points (two population-based cohorts from 1998/1999 and 2007/2008)" among ot........ Read more »

Russell, G., Collishaw, S., Golding, J., Kelly, S., & Ford, T. (2015) Changes in diagnosis rates and behavioural traits of autism spectrum disorder over time. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 1(2), 110-115. DOI: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.000976  

  • February 23, 2016
  • 02:21 AM

Why is it so hard to persuade people with facts?

by BPS Research Digest in BPS Research Digest

An effective way to correct people’s falsely held beliefs is to address them directly with evidence. However, such rebuttals can sometimes backfire, leading people to double-down on their original position. A new paper published in Discourse Processes suggests why: when people read information that undermines their identity, this triggers feelings of anger and dismay that make it difficult for them to take the new facts on board.Past research had suggested that one reason changi........ Read more »

  • February 22, 2016
  • 07:02 AM

Substance use and other mental health concerns among US  attorneys

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Over the past few years, following a number of high-profile attorney suicides, much more attention has focused on mental health needs of attorneys. The study we are featuring today was funded by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs. In short, the authors conclude we need to pay more […]

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Reports of novel or contradictory health research reduces public trust  in science
Lying makes me sick!
Defense Attorneys: More Sisyphus........ Read more »

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