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  • January 4, 2012
  • 12:34 AM

Why men don't listen and women are great at maths

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

Ask the average person on the street if men and women are wired differently and you'll more often than not get an affirmatory response. Not overly suprising given the knowledge that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Am I right? But dive a little deeper and chances are you'll find that the vast majority of people would be relying heavily on deeply ingrained stereotypes, such as the "mythically superior 'multitasking’ abilities" of women or men who just don't listen, rather than any s........ Read more »

  • January 3, 2012
  • 04:40 PM

Antidepressants: Bad Drugs... Or Bad Patients?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Why is it that modern trials of antidepressant drugs increasingly show no benefit of the drugs over placebo? This is the question asked by Cornell psychiatrists Brody et al in an American Journal of Psychiatry opinion piece.They suggest that maybe it's the patients fault:Participation that is induced by cash payments may lead subjects to exaggerate their symptoms [i.e. in order to get included into the trial]... Another contributing factor to high placebo response rates may be the extent to whic........ Read more »

  • January 3, 2012
  • 02:43 PM

Chimps Prefer the 2-Point Conversion

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If non-human great apes were coaching more football games, you could expect to see fewer extra points being kicked. We risk-averse humans usually prefer kicking an easy extra point after a touchdown, rather than attempting a more difficult 2-point conversion. But chimps and other great apes, after considering their odds, usually opt for the greater risk and the bigger reward.

By "reward," I mean banana.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany tested a group of chimpanzees, bonobo........ Read more »

  • January 3, 2012
  • 12:43 PM

The Barry White Syndome: Why Are Deep Voices Attractive?

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Darth Vader had one thing going for him: a deep voice. The ranks of George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Don LaFontaine, and Barry White includes a common factor: A lower pitched voice—considered a positive masculine feature associated with with older, heavier, taller, hairier, and more attractive men (1). Studies have demonstrated a female preference [...]

... Read more »

Collins SA. (2000) Men's voices and women's choices. Animal Behaviour, 60(6), 773-780. PMID: 11124875  

Simmons, Leigh, Peters, Marianne, & Rhodes, Gillian. (2011) Low Pitched Voices are Perceived as Masculine and Attractive but Do They Predict Semen Quality in Men?. PLoS One, 6(12), 1-6. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0029271

  • January 3, 2012
  • 02:53 AM

A coffee a day keeps the adenosine at bay

by Andrew Watt in A Hippo on Campus

It's fair to say that for most of us the day doesn't truly begin until we can feel the warm lick of caffeine coursing through our veins. Be it an espresso, flat white, latte or low-fat, soy, double-shot, moccacino. Whatever your poison very little in our lives is ever achieved before that first cup of black magic has passed our lips. However despite our love affair with this bitter alkaloid, the exact manner in which caffeine interacts with our brains has been largely misunderstood. That is unt........ Read more »

Simons, S., Caruana, D., Zhao, M., & Dudek, S. (2011) Caffeine-induced synaptic potentiation in hippocampal CA2 neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 15(1), 23-25. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2962  

  • January 3, 2012
  • 01:05 AM

They Joy of Embarrassment

by Eric Horowitz in peer-reviewed by my neurons

Before humans learned to become reality TV stars and patent trolls our brains actually developed some fairly neat tricks. The latest evidence of our past mental prowess comes from a study that examines embarrassment as a social cue. It turns out that when you appear embarrassed after tripping in public, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.... Read more »

Feinberg, M., Willer, R., & Keltner, D. (2012) Flustered and faithful: Embarrassment as a signal of prosociality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(1), 81-97. DOI: 10.1037/a0025403  

  • January 2, 2012
  • 12:30 PM

Best Trial Idea of 2011: Apply "Social Listening" To Your Case

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

As we turn the page on a new year, it is a good time to look back on the trials of 2011. The year had its share of high profile cases from the 'second times a charm' prosecution of Rod Blagojevich, to the conviction of Dr. Conrad Murray, and even the grand jury phases of the Jerry Sandusky trial. In these cases and others, the year held many great trial moments, but as far as the trial moment with biggest impact on litigation generally, the distinction goes to the Casey Anthony case, not for i........ Read more »

O'Connor, Brendan, Balasubramanyan, Ramnath, Routledge, Bryan R., & Smith, Noah A. (2010) From Tweets to Polls: Linking Text Sentiment to Public Opinion Time Series. Tepper School of Business. info:/

  • January 2, 2012
  • 09:16 AM

The Difficulties of Scientific Writing (An Update)

by PsychYourMind in Psych Your Mind

When I was a young graduate student, with one publication to my record, I ambitiously wrote a piece for the Association of Psychological Science's (APS) Magazine, the Observer, lamenting the difficulties of scientific writing. Oh, to be a young researcher again!

I look back on this bit of writing with equal parts pride (the Observer goes out to all APS members) and embarrassment (here I was, early in my career, trying to tell people how to write). Anyway, as we are starting the New Year,........ Read more »

  • January 2, 2012
  • 07:37 AM

2011: The Year in Drugs Deaths and data fraud

by Neurobonkers in Neurobonkers

A round-up of this year’s drugs news along with the latest available statistical data which shows that helium killed more than ecstasy, cannabis, mephedrone and GHB combined.... Read more »

Measham,F. Moore, K. Østergaard, J. (2011) Mephedrone, ‘‘Bubble’’ and unidentified white powders: the contested identities of synthetic ‘‘legal highs". DRUGS AND ALCOHOL TODAY, 137-146. info:/

Editorial team. (2010) The EMCDDA annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, also published in Euro surveillance :European communicable disease bulletin, 15(46). PMID: 21144426  

  • January 2, 2012
  • 07:02 AM

“I like you but I don’t know why”

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Ahhh….it’s a good thing we know why. We write regularly about increasing likability of your client by making them “like” your jurors. And for the same reason, we cover research about values, attitudes, beliefs, community and family involvement and so on. This research nugget points out another way of making your client “like” the jurors–and [...]
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... Read more »

Gunaydin, G., Zayas, V., Selcuk, E., & Hazan, C. (2012) I like you but I don’t know why: Objective facial resemblance to significant others influences snap judgments. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 350-353. info:/

  • January 2, 2012
  • 06:36 AM

What're You Lookin' At (When You Dream)?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Why do our eyes move during sleep?Here at Neuroskeptic we've already asked why do we sleep? and why do we dream? There are plenty of theories, but no clear answers to either of those questions.We don't even know the function of one of the most famous sleep phenomena, rapid eye movements (REMs). It's been known for decades that during certain phases of sleep, the eyes show a pattern of rapid flickering movements, and that this REM sleep is when most (but not all) dreams occur.But what are the eye........ Read more »

  • January 1, 2012
  • 10:02 AM

New Year’s Resolutions – Doomed to fail?

by Stuart Farrimond in Guru: Science Blog

New Year’s Resolutions: Do they work? What’s so magical about the stroke of midnight on December 31st? Many of us pledge to get fit, save money or stop smoking. Many of us also know how often these attempts end in failure. Perhaps Oscar Wilde had it right: Resolutions are “pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil”. Oscar [...]... Read more »

  • January 1, 2012
  • 09:41 AM

Copyright vs Medicine: If this topic isn’t covered in your newspaper this weekend, get a new newspaper

by Neurobonkers in Neurobonkers

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, after thirty years of silence, authors of a standard clinical psychiatric bedside test have issued take down orders of new medical research.... Read more »

Newman, J., & Feldman, R. (2011) Copyright and Open Access at the Bedside. New England Journal of Medicine, 365(26), 2447-2449. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1110652  

  • December 31, 2011
  • 03:43 PM

Study: True Memories Can Form As Early as 2 Years Old

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Ah, New Year's Eve: It feels so important to find something significant, meaningful, memorable to do. And then two weeks later you can't recall what it was, because it was so much like all the others.  If this year brought something really unique and striking (a sky-parade of 12 dancing pink ...Read More
... Read more »

  • December 31, 2011
  • 09:39 AM

Variation in the human cannabinoid receptor CNR1 gene modulates gaze duration for happy faces

by Dorit Kliemann in neuro JC

The authors of the current study (2) investigated the relationship of common genetic variations and gaze patterns. In particular, they tested whether variations in the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) gene would modulate gaze duration on (happy) faces. To this end, four single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CNR1 gene were genotyped in 30 healthy subjects (13 [...]... Read more »

  • December 30, 2011
  • 12:13 PM

Be Fear Free

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

(This post first appeared in April 2011. See you all next year!)

If you have a fear of heights, called acrophobia, you probably consider activities such as standing on a glass ledge 103 stories high to be stressful. But a scientist in Switzerland says that cortisol, the stress hormone, can actually help banish your fear.

A team of researchers led by Dominique de Quervain at the University of Basel recruited 40 patients with serious acrophobia. All the patients received a se........ Read more »

de Quervain, D., Bentz, D., Michael, T., Bolt, O., Wiederhold, B., Margraf, J., & Wilhelm, F. (2011) From the Cover: Glucocorticoids enhance extinction-based psychotherapy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(16), 6621-6625. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018214108  

  • December 30, 2011
  • 08:04 AM

How Realistic is fMRI?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

How representative are fMRI experiments? Is "the brain" that we investigate with fMRI the same brain that we use outside the MRI scanner?A new paper from Bernhard Hommel and colleagues of Leiden in the Netherlands offers some important caveats. They looked to see what effect playing some recorded MRI scanner sounds had on people's ability to perform some simple cognitive tasks, while sitting outside the scanner.MRI is notoriously noisy. When you have an MRI scan you have to wear earplugs to prot........ Read more »

Hommel, B., Fischer, R., Colzato, L., van den Wildenberg, W., & Cellini, C. (2011) The effect of fMRI (noise) on cognitive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/a0026353  

  • December 30, 2011
  • 04:29 AM

Publishers, psychological tests and greed

by Dorothy Bishop in bishopblog

Commentary on a recent article in New England Journal of Medicine about authors copyrighting simple psychological assessment... Read more »

Newman, J., & Feldman, R. (2011) Copyright and Open Access at the Bedside. New England Journal of Medicine, 365(26), 2447-2449. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1110652  

  • December 30, 2011
  • 01:11 AM

Why You’ll Never See a Comma at Best Buy

by Eric Horowitz in peer-reviewed by my neurons

When it’s time to make an important purchase there are way to ensure you don’t get screwed. You could talk to your friend who’s an industry insider, spend days scanning various websites for good deals, or simply go to the store and attempt to bargain. Nevertheless, in the end the people doing the selling will [...]... Read more »

  • December 29, 2011
  • 11:16 AM

Create the Conditions for a Creative Trial Strategy

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

Around the war room conference table, all of the eyebrows went up at once as I shared a recommendation for the opening statement. I can't share the idea without revealing the case, but suffice it to say that it was unorthodox. Several around the table shared that they had never done an opening that way before, and I countered that they had probably never tried a case with exactly these challenges before.

As much as litigators like to believe that they are at the cutting edge of persuasion, I........ Read more »

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