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  • August 10, 2010
  • 02:43 PM

Is reassurance reassuring?

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

Having started yesterday’s post by discussing health anxiety, and pointing out that one of the things people do to cope with their anxiety about their pain is to seek reassurance, I thought it might be useful to go back to a paper published a couple of years ago by Linton, McCracken & Vlaeyen (2008).  In … Read more... Read more »

  • August 10, 2010
  • 02:02 PM

Hauser Of Cards

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A major scandal looks to be in progress involving Harvard Professor Marc Hauser, a psychologist and popular author whose research on the minds of chimpanzees and other primates is well-known and highly respected. The Boston Globe has the scoop and it's well worth a read (though you should avoid reading the comments if you react badly to stupid.)Hauser's built his career on detailed studies of the cognitive abilities of non-human primates. He's generally argued that our closest relatives are smar........ Read more »

Hauser MD, Weiss D, & Marcus G. (2002) Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins. Cognition, 86(1). PMID: 12208654  

Hauser MD, Glynn D, & Wood J. (2007) Rhesus monkeys correctly read the goal-relevant gestures of a human agent. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 274(1620), 1913-8. PMID: 17540661  

Wood JN, Glynn DD, Phillips BC, & Hauser MD. (2007) The perception of rational, goal-directed action in nonhuman primates. Science (New York, N.Y.), 317(5843), 1402-5. PMID: 17823353  

Hauser MD, Kralik J, Botto-Mahan C, Garrett M, & Oser J. (1995) Self-recognition in primates: phylogeny and the salience of species-typical features. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 92(23), 10811-14. PMID: 7479889  

  • August 10, 2010
  • 09:15 AM

Eat Yer Spinach! …and other tales from Bangkok

by Jason Goldman in Child's Play

As was pointed out this past weekend, even Cookie Monster readily admits that fruits and vegetables (especially eggplant, for Dr. Cookie) are important components of any healthy diet. Yet children and adults routinely consume far fewer servings of fruits and vegetables than are recommended. Recent data from Thailand suggests that preschoolers and school-age children eat [...]... Read more »

  • August 10, 2010
  • 08:56 AM

What does a Nautilus see?

by Mike Mike in Cephalove

... Read more »

W.R.A. Muntz, & U. Raj. (1984) On the visual system of Nautilus Pompilus. Journal of Experimental Biology, 253-263. info:/

  • August 10, 2010
  • 03:00 AM

Boundaries on the boundaryless?

by David Winter in Careers - in Theory

Does a boundaryless career really work? What do the careers of successful people look like? And what does successful mean?... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 05:40 PM

A Thinking Machine: On metaphors for mind

by melodye in Child's Play

“The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do. The mystery which surrounds a thinking machine already surrounds a thinking man.”–B. F. Skinner. The study of mind begins with a metaphor. In the 20th century (and now on into the 21st) the metaphor that has dominated our study of mind is the [...]... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 05:25 PM

Why psychotic patients with religious delusions are harder to cure.

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

We all hold beliefs that are not provable, and defining when these beliefs cross the line and become psychotic delusions is not easy. It's clear that such a line does exist, however: every town has its share of people whose religious beliefs fall sufficiently far outside the conventional that they are declared psychotic.

In popular imagination, at least, psychotic delusions often have a religious component. In reality, many psychotic delusions are not religious. However, many delusions involve ........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 04:05 PM

Delayed Gratification = Success?

by Darcy Cowan in Skepticon

Today we are going to step into the time machine and go back 21 years to 1989. It was in this year that the study to become known as the “Marshmallow experiment” was published. Performed by Walter Mischel at Stanford University this experiment showed an amazing thing, that testing a child’s self-control at 4yrs could [...]... Read more »

Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. (1989) Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244(4907), 933-938. DOI: 10.1126/science.2658056  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 03:20 PM

Does thinking keep it so? Health anxiety & memories

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

Years ago, the relationship between depression and chronic pain was the hot topic, and it’s only more recently that anxiety and pain have become popular. So slightly tangentially, but I think you’ll see how it relates, today I want to muse a bit about health anxiety and some of the findings from this interesting area … Read more... Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 01:33 PM

Zapping Memory Better in Alzheimer's

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Last month I wrote about how electrical stimulation of the hippocampus causes temporary amnesia - Zapping Memories Away.Now Toronto neurologists Laxton et al have tried to use deep brain stimulation (DBS) to improve memory in people with Alzheimer's disease. Progressive loss of memory is the best-known symptom of this disorder, and while some drugs are available, they provide partial relief at best.This study stems from a chance discovery by the same Toronto group. In 2008, they reported that st........ Read more »

Laxton AW, Tang-Wai DF, McAndrews MP, Zumsteg D, Wennberg R, Keren R, Wherrett J, Naglie G, Hamani C, Smith GS.... (2010) A phase I trial of deep brain stimulation of memory circuits in Alzheimer's disease. Annals of neurology. PMID: 20687206  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 12:56 PM

Storytellers and How They Force Their Brainwaves on Their Audience

by Livia Blackburne in A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing

In a previous post, I suggested that writers were brain manipulators. Now I'm refining the description. It's more like a Vulcan mind meld.

A recent experiment by scientists at Princeton University shows neural coupling (coordinated brain activity) between a storyteller and a listener. The researchers used fMRI to scan a speaker’s brain as she told an unrehearsed story about an experience from high school. They then scanned 10 volunteers as they listened to a recording of the story.

The ba........ Read more »

Stephens GJ, Silbert LJ, & Hasson U. (2010) Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20660768  

  • August 9, 2010
  • 04:17 AM

Predicting when a crime is about to take place on CCTV

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

Are experienced CCTV operators better than naive participants at judging from an unfolding scene on CCTV whether or not a crime is about to be committed? The short answer is no, they aren't. Presented with 24 real-life 15-second CCTV clips, and asked to predict which half ended just before a crime was about to be committed (examples included violence and vandalism) and which half were innocuous, 12 experienced CCTV operators managed just 55.5 per cent accuracy - no bette........ Read more »

  • August 9, 2010
  • 02:34 AM

…Why we’ll never have a Winter of Love or a Summer of Discontent

by Rift in Psycasm

Some time ago I made this post - it was my preamble to my own personal caffiene exploration. At the end of it, I wrote the following in italics: And on a side note: I remember reading some time ago that warm drinks make people feel good. Or at least dial up their positive affect. I [...]... Read more »

  • August 8, 2010
  • 03:41 PM

Top down, bottom up or both? Attention to pain

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

I guess we all pretty much know that our brains don’t seem to capture everything that goes on around us – thankfully we can filter out a lot of unnecessary information (no, I don’t want to know what that funny noise outside is right now!) so that we can focus on what is important. When … Read more... Read more »

Legrain V, Damme SV, Eccleston C, Davis KD, Seminowicz DA, & Crombez G. (2009) A neurocognitive model of attention to pain: behavioral and neuroimaging evidence. Pain, 144(3), 230-2. PMID: 19376654  

  • August 8, 2010
  • 01:25 PM

Placebos: All you never wanted to know (Part 3a) - Experimental Evidence

by Richard Morrisroe in DisgruntledPhD

Well, here we are again to continue on our tour of research surrounding the knife in Descartes eye, the placebo effect. I wonder sometimes if mind-body dualism hadn't become so popular, would we have learned to understand the placebo effect long before now? In any case, Part 3 (Parts 1 and 2) of this series is going to look at experimental evidence surrounding the placebo effect. This section may end getten broken up some more, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. An interesting stu........ Read more »

  • August 8, 2010
  • 05:58 AM

Are Gay Men More Abusive than Straight Men?

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

Kay and Jeffries (2010) take a look at life in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and how difficult it might be for gay men abused within their intimate relationships to get the professional support they might so desperately need.... Read more »

  • August 7, 2010
  • 11:14 PM

Bad News for the Genetics of Personality

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

CREDIT: RYAN SNOOK (from Holden, 2008).The latest search for genetic variants that underlie differences in personality traits has drawn a blank (Verweij et al., 2010). The researchers conducted a genome-wide association study using personality ratings from Cloninger's temperament scales in a population of 5,117 Australian individuals:Participants' scores on Harm Avoidance, Novelty Seeking, Reward Dependence, and Persistence were tested for association with 1,252,387 genetic markers. We also perf........ Read more »

  • August 7, 2010
  • 02:21 PM

The Calming Hormonal Effect of Marriage

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Married life is stressful, as any stand-up comedian or therapist will tell you. But being married or in a long-term relationship can also change not only your mood, but also your hormones and behavior as well. Biologists have known for a while that when male birds or monkeys stop mating and start raising offspring, they [...]... Read more »

  • August 7, 2010
  • 11:26 AM

What should you spend on to maximize your happiness?

by Psychothalamus in Psychothalamus

     When it comes to spending our money, we instinctively think that we will derive the most happiness by spending it on ourselves, regardless of whether it is to pay that pesky bill or buy ourselves a nifty new gadget or that gorgeous handbag that we have been eyeing for ages. But is spending on ourselves really the best way to boost our happiness or is there something more to it? Dunn, Aknin & Norton (2008) provides some unexpected insights.     The........ Read more »

Dunn, E., Aknin, L., & Norton, M. (2008) Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687-1688. DOI: 10.1126/science.1150952  

  • August 6, 2010
  • 10:21 PM

Men Making the Commitment to Genuine Anti-Violence

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

A research study by Casey and Smith (2010) in which 27 men who took a stand on violence against women are asked about their experience of that process.... Read more »

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