Colour Vision And Masked Smiles: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for idea

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

It turns out we perceive much less colour information in our peripheral vision than we might think, reports Neuroskeptic at Discover Magazine. Researchers showed participants a series of images, ending with a scene in which the periphery was desaturated or converted to strange hues. On some trials as many as three-quarters of participants didn’t notice that anything was odd.

What’s it like living with chronic pain, with those around you unaware that you are suffering? Jude Cook recounts his experience “performing wellness for others” at Psyche.

A new review of studies into electroconvulsive therapy for depression concludes that there is no evidence that the treatment is effective, and that given its risks it should be suspended. There have been only 11 placebo-controlled studies on the use of the therapy, all of which have important methodological flaws such as lack of blinding or follow-up data, writes one of the authors of the new paper, John Read, at The Conversation. Some psychiatrists still maintain that the treatment should continue for severe cases, reports Mark Easton at BBC News.

This week saw the start of a new series of All in the Mind, the BBC’s excellent show about all things psychology. In the first episode, Claudia Hammond talks to two developmental psychologists about the way children think about maths and time.

Many parents are understandably worried about the effect lockdowns and school closures might have on their children’s development and mental health. At BBC Future, David Robson examines what the consequences could be — and what can be done to ensure that children thrive after the crisis is over.

It’s no harder to recognise a smile from someone wearing a mask than from someone with their face uncovered, according to a soon-to-be-published study. That’s because smiles also involve changes around the eyes, explains researcher Ursula Hess at Scientific American. However, her team also found that certain other emotions — fear and surprise — are harder to discern behind a mask, as they rely more on the mouth.

Finally, back in March we looked at the work psychologists had just begun in the wake of the pandemic, including an ongoing study run by UCL’s Daisy Fancourt tracking UK residents’ experiences and mental health. That study has since been releasing weekly reports which you can read online. The latest suggests that while levels of depression and anxiety remain above average, there have been some recent improvements, reports Paul Gallagher at i.

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