Our weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web
The 2020 World Happiness Report has been published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, with Finland ranking as the world’s happiest country. “Happiness” in the report doesn’t refer to the expression of emotion per se, writes Maria Cramer at the New York Times, but is rather about a sense of satisfaction in life and belief that members of one’s community care for each other — a particularly poignant definition given present circumstances.
An imaging technique adapted from geophysics could provide a new way of looking at the human brain, reports Ian Randall at Physics World. Researchers have traditionally been unable to scan the brain using ultrasound, as the waves are scattered by the skull. But now a team have shown that ultrasound can be used to record signals from inside the skull, with the help of a method normally used to construct images from below the surface of the Earth based on seismometer recordings.
Researchers have developed an AI capable of smelling certain odours, reports Gege Li at New Scientist. Chemical sensors respond to particular odours in the environment, and an algorithm then uses that pattern of response to identify the smell, similar to the processes used by the mammalian olfactory bulb.
It’s a myth that autistic people aren’t social, writes Scott Barry Kaufmann at Scientific American. Negative impressions about the social life of autistic people are driven by the biases of others –— including researchers.
Volunteers who thought they were taking part in a psychedelic drug study experienced mood changes and even hallucinations — but hours into the experience, they learned they had only been taking a placebo. At Discover Magazine, Neuroskeptic describes the lengths that researchers went to, in order to trick participants into thinking they were taking an active drug. The study highlights the importance of disentangling placebo effects from those actually caused by psychoactive substances.
What can crosswords teach us about memory? At Scientific American, Adrienne Raphel examines how word puzzles provide a glimpse into the inner workings of our mind.
Finally, a selection of coronavirus-related psychology coverage from this week:
- At The Conversation, Sarita Robinson suggests some measures you can take to avoid cabin fever during self-isolation, while Emma Maynard discusses how to make the situation easier for children.
- Matt Reynolds explores how behavioural science is involved in the UK’s response at WIRED.
- In the New York Times, Benedict Carey talks to decision-making researcher Ido Erev, who suggests that the biggest threat in the current crisis is complacency, rather than panic.
- In Scientific American, Diana Kwon looks at the studies being run by psychologists during the pandemic to figure out the most effective forms of messaging and ways to fight misinformation.