Minibrains And Twitter Bots: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

Psychologists are increasingly turning to Twitter and other social networking sites to learn about human behaviour — but what happens when the accounts they’re studying don’t really belong to people at all? At Nature, Heidi Ledford explores how researchers are dealing with the problem of ever-more sophisticated bots.

“Minibrains” — lab-grown brain organoids — differ from human brains in fundamental ways, researchers have found. The cells in the lab-grown brain tissue seem to be undernourished and do not mature into the specific subtypes present in human brains, reports Jon Hamilton for NPR. The team hopes that their findings will help improve minibrain models for future research.

How could social media be redesigned to prevent people feeling FOMO, the fear of missing out? Researchers have some suggestions over at The Conversation, including restricting the number of notifications people receive and allowing users to indicate to others that they don’t always respond to comments.

If you could sacrifice one person to save the lives of five others, would you do it? The answer might depend on where you’re from, writes Sigal Samuel at Vox. People’s answers to the classic trolley problem seem to depend on the “relational mobility” of their society: how easy it is for a person to develop new relationships. In America, for example — where relational mobility is high — people are more likely to say they would choose to sacrifice the single individual than in Japan, where relational mobility is lower.

Want to make a good first impression? Then look no further than this story in BBC Future, in which William Park explores the psychology of handshakes.

Scientists have created a high-resolution map of a portion of fruit fly brain, consisting of 25,000 neurons. The 3D model took two years to put together, reports Molly Glick at Popular Science — and the result is quite beautiful.

And if that’s not enough neuroscience for you, here’s one more: at Discover, Neuroskeptic reports on a case study of a rat whose brain was made up mainly of empty space filled with fluid — but which suffered no ill-health and otherwise behaved normally.  “This rare case can be viewed as one of nature’s miracles providing the unique opportunity to examine the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity and reorganization necessary for survival,” the researchers write in their paper.

Compiled by Matthew Warren (@MattbWarren), Editor of BPS Research Digest

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