Chummy Chimps And Linguistic Legends: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

You’ve probably heard tales of people who are suddenly able to speak a language they didn’t know while hypnotised. It goes without saying that the evidence doesn’t really support these claims — but it’s interesting that linguistics seems to attract this sort of pseudoscientific idea. At Knowable Magazine, Charles Q. Choi discusses “fantastic linguistics” with historical linguist Sarah Thomason.  

Neuroscientists are increasingly recognising the influence of our internal states, such as heart rate, on our mental processes. Researchers studying “interoception” hope that a better awareness of what’s going on in the body could help people manage symptoms of anxiety and other mental health conditions. João Medeiros has more at Wired.

We tend to place too much value on the ending of an experience, which can bias our view of the experience as a whole, reports Ali Pattillo at Inverse. A recent study found that the brain encodes the overall value of an experience in the amygdala, while dislike of a disappointing ending is represented in the insula. Whether we make good choices or are unduly influenced by the ending of an experience seems to be related to the pattern of activity in those two areas.  

In the internet age, pornography is more accessible than ever — and many people have voiced concern about its harmful effects. But what does the research actually say about the consequences of viewing porn? Well, like so much in psychology, the story is complicated. Zoe Cormier explores some of the nuances at BBC Science Focus.

The concept of “wisdom” has a rich history in philosophy and religion — so how do you go about studying it in a scientific fashion? At Aeon, Igor Grossmann discusses the attempts he and colleagues have made to establish a “scientific consensus on the psychological characteristics of wisdom and best practices for its measurement”.

Chimpanzees show a similar pattern of “social ageing” to humans, with the size of their social networks shrinking in older age. And just like us, older chimps also seem to have stronger social bonds than their younger counterparts, reports Ian Sample at The Guardian.

Local lockdown measures are ramping up across various regions of the UK, which once again poses challenges for connecting with our friends and families.  At The Conversation, Pascal Vrticka and Philip J. Cozzolino have some psychologically-informed tips for maintaining that feeling of connection at a distance. And of course don’t forget to listen to our recent podcast on the topic as well.

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