Friday, 15 February 2013
1. The RSA in London has published a new report: "Divided Brain, Divided World: Why the best part of us struggles to be heard" originating from its Social Brain project. As the project's director Jonathan Rowson explained in a blog post, it's tricky to sum up the message of the report in a snappy soundbite. However, he explained: "The evidence-based case is that the abstract, articulate, instrumental world view of the left hemisphere is gradually usurping the more contextual, holistic but relatively tentative world view of the right hemisphere." [disclaimer: I wrote a related blog post last year Why the Left-Brain Right-Brain Myth Will Probably Never Die. The myth has become a powerful metaphor, but it's one we should challenge].
2. Maria Konnikova wrote a wonderful blog post on the story of Paul Broca and his patient Monsieur Leborgne, who could only utter the syllable Tan. Maria mentioned the grand challenge issued by Jean-Baptiste Bouillard - 500 francs for a patient with language problems but no frontal lobe damage - which I wrote about last year. See also this recent Digest post, covering some newly unearthed details about Leborgne's life.
3. Slate reported on the peculiar phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, "which refers to a particular combination of pleasurable physical and psychological affects experienced by a surprisingly large number of people when they hear things like soft whispering, quiet tapping, and gentle crinkling noises." Any Digest readers experience this?
4. Our sister blog The Occupational Digest covered an intriguing study looking at the implications of job application tests being placed online. It makes cheating easier, but it also means you cast a wider net. "This paper brings a fresh angle to the issue of test security," writes Alex Fradera.
5. Tom Stafford's always excellent column at BBC Future, this week reflected on drivers' intolerance of cyclists in terms of the game theory concept of altruistic punishment. "Deep within the human psyche, fostered there because it helps us co-ordinate with strangers and so build the global society that is a hallmark of our species, is an anger at people who break the rules, who take the benefits without contributing to the cost. And cyclists trigger this anger when they use the roads but don't follow the same rules as cars." (also see here).
6. 5 evidence-based ways to optimise your team-work. "Teamwork can lead to shrewd decisions and flourishing creativity, but only if you pay attention to the social psychology that comes into play in a group setting."
7. MPs are to be offered mental health treatment at Westminster for the first time.
8. The Daily Telegraph reported the case of a woman who has heard "How much is that doggie in the window?" playing in her head for three years straight. Doctors say it's a case of musical hallucination. A Digest blog post on this condition continues to attract comments from sufferers.
9. Of all the Valentine's-based research reports doing the rounds this week, my favourite was this one by Khalil Cassimally: Lovers' hearts beat at the same rate every day.
10. "I [took] ... an entire paragraph from the blog of Christian Jarrett" - this was part of fallen writing star Jonah Lehrer's public mea culpa earlier this week. "Christian who?" was probably the audience reaction at the Knight Foundation conference where Jonah gave his speech. His full apology to "friends, family, colleagues. My wife, my parents, my editors," is online. The video of the talk was on this website, although I'm not sure it's still working. For the record, Jonah apologised to me personally a while ago. I accepted and wish him well.
Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.