Cheese Dreams and Bird Behaviour: The Week’s Best Psychology Links

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

There’s a widespread belief that eating cheese before bed can give you weird dreams. But there’s no evidence that this is true, writes Jessica Brown at BBC Future. The belief may have arisen from the fact that cheese is sometimes eaten as the last course of a meal, and eating late at night can disrupt our sleep.


In English, we tend to pair nonsense words like “bouba” with round shapes, and words like “kiki” with spiky ones. But now researchers have found that this phenomenon is common across many different languages and writing systems, reports Cathleen O’Grady at Science. The research suggests that as spoken language evolved, the sounds of words may have corresponded in some ways to their meaning.


Also at Science: a video about the rare sleep disorder idiopathic hypersomnia, in which people can sleep for long periods of time without feeling rested. Joel Goldberg looks at the possible causes — and treatments — for the disorder.


We think of self-control as a human trait — but it has also been observed in birds, write researchers John Quinn and Jenny Coomes at The Conversation. The pair found that great tits who displayed better self-control were also better at adapting their foraging behaviour to suit the situation, for instance. They also found links between personality and foraging behaviour: the birds who showed a tendency to explore new environments also took more risks in order to get to a better food source.


Why do so many people believe in ghosts? At BBC Science Focus, Stephen Kelly chats with Richard Wiseman about the power of human creativity and belief.


Recently, there has been a rise in Tourette-like tics among young women, and some researchers believe that the phenomenon is linked to exposure to influencers on TikTok and other platforms, coupled with the stress of the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that these tics aren’t real, writes Sirin Kale at The Guardian, and many young people suffering from the condition are struggling to get the mental health support they need.


In 2018, the World Health Organization released the 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which included “gaming disorder” as an addictive behaviour. But psychologists who study video games are frustrated that the WHO will not explain the rationale for including gaming disorder in the manual, reports Will Nelson at the NME, and say that current research doesn’t support the WHO’s decision.

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