Psychedelic Drugs And Social Distancing: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

Keyboard for ideaOur weekly round-up of the best psychology coverage from elsewhere on the web

There’s been a lot in the media this week about the potential for psychedelic drugs to treat mental health conditions. At The Guardian, researcher Robin Carhart-Harris discusses the potential for psilocybin to treat depression, while at BBC Science Focus, Jason Goodyer talks to David Nutt in more detail about the group’s findings. And of course, earlier this week we reported on a study looking at how psilocybin alters levels of glutamate in the brain.


A new lab due to open at Birkbeck University this month is dedicated to understanding the development of toddlers’ brains, reports Roger Highfield at Wired. The Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab will use imaging methods such as functional near-infrared spectroscopy, and will be equipped with VR tools so that researchers can study how toddlers behave in realistic environments.


Like humans, corvids — birds such as crows and ravens — spend an extended part of their life among their family before venturing off into the world. Researchers think that this could explain why the birds developed such large brains and high intelligence, reports Amanda Heidt at Science. Corvids spent much longer in their nests while young than other birds, the researchers found, and seemed to learn a lot from observing their parents.


Researchers already knew that mental health problems like depression and anxiety are linked to a greater risk of developing dementia. Now a new study suggests that negative thinking among older adults could also be related to increased risk. Participants who displayed more repetitive negative thinking patterns showed a greater decline in cognition and memory, writes researcher Natalie Marchant at The Conversation, as well as more deposits of tau and amyloid in the brain — both biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease. It remains to be seen whether negative thinking is a cause or effect of these changes.


Why do so many of us end up getting back together with an ex — often against our better judgement? Chermaine Lee looks at what the research has to say at BBC Future.


The coronavirus crisis is taking its toll on many people’s mental health. But what will the long-term effects be — and what are the best strategies for coping? At Scientific American, Lydia Denworth takes a look at what is, unfortunately, the “biggest psychological experiment in history”.


Why is it so hard to stay two metres away from our loved ones — while the same distance from a stranger on the street might feel too close? In The Guardian’s ‘Science Weekly’ podcast, Nicola Davis talks to psychologist John Drury about the psychology of social distancing. Drury, Stephen Reicher and Nick Hopkins have more thoughts on social distancing over at The Psychologist, while at Scientific American, Gish Jen and Qi Wang examine cultural differences in social distancing.

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

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