the latest news from Psychology sites

ScienceDaily: Psychology News

Mon, 30 May 2016   The brain clock that keeps memories ticking

Just as members of an orchestra need a conductor to stay on tempo, neurons in the brain need well-timed waves of activity to organize memories across time. In the hippocampus--the brain's memory center--temporal ordering of the neural code is important for building a mental map of where you've been, where you are, and where you are going. New research has pinpointed how the neurons that represent space in mice stay in time.

Sun, 29 May 2016   Connections between gut microbiota and the brain

Intestinal bacteria that can boost bravery or trigger multiple sclerosis: An increasing body of research results confirms the importance of the “gut-brain axis” for neurology and indicates that the triggers for a number of neurological diseases may be located in the digestive tract.

Fri, 27 May 2016   Imaging study shows promising results for patients with schizophrenia

A team of scientists from across the globe have shown that the brains of patients with schizophrenia have the capacity to reorganize and fight the illness. This is the first time that imaging data has been used to show that our brains may have the ability to reverse the effects of schizophrenia.

Thu, 26 May 2016   Stress affects males, females differently

A stress receptor in the brain regulates metabolic responses to stressful situations differently in male and female mice, report researchers. The results could aid in the development of treatments for regulating hunger or stress responses, including anxiety and depression.

Thu, 26 May 2016   Coping with active surveillance anxiety in prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer who are under medical surveillance reported significantly greater resilience and less anxiety after receiving an intervention of mindfulness meditation, a study found. The anxiety and uncertainty that men who choose active surveillance experience when diagnosed with prostate cancer causes one in four to receive definitive therapies within one to three years, even when there is no sign of tumor progression.

BPS Research Digest Blog

   Link feast

Our editor's pick of this week's best psychology links:

Can a Morning Routine Make You Better At Your Job?
While some people struggle to make it out of bed on time, there are others who manage exercise, language lessons and more – all before work.

Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit
The University of Pennsylvania psychologist and grit advocate responds to a new meta-analysis that concludes grit is not a useful concept.

The Psychologist Guide to… Leadership
Ella Rhodes speaks to psychologists for evidence-based tips. Sponsored by Goldsmiths Institute of Management Studies.

IQ Can Predict Your Risk of Death, and 8 Other Smart Facts About Intelligence
Nobody wants to be a number. But there is one number that probably says a lot about you, whether you know it or not: your IQ, or intelligence quotient.

Neuromyths With Laura Flores Shaw
The latest episode of the NeuroCurious podcast tackles the 10 per cent myth, the left brain / right brain myth plus much more!

Psychology’s ‘Registration Revolution’
Moves to uphold transparency are not only making psychology more scientific – they are harnessing our knowledge of the mind to strengthen science.

What Your Walk Really Says About You
We often think we can read someone’s personality from their gait – but while many of those assumptions are wrong, your walk may nevertheless reveal the one thing you are trying to hide.

The Empty Brain
Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer, argues Robert Epstein.

Your Words May Predict Your Future Mental Health
In this new TED talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at our inner lives and details a word-mapping algorithm that could predict the development of schizophrenia.

How to Use Distraction to Your Advantage
Your scatterbrain is great when it is time to think of new ideas. But when it comes to executing those ideas? Not so much.
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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2016-05-27   No, being kind to yourself does not make you weak or immodest

People who are kinder to themselves tend to be happier, healthier and to cope better when bad things happen. There's also some evidence that training to be more self-compassionate is beneficial. Overall, self-compassion seems to be a sensible practice, so why are some of us averse to it? 

In their new study in Self and Identity researchers from Canada, Germany and the USA predicted that people averse to self-compassion think it will make them feel bad about themselves – for example, that they'll feel more selfish – and also that they hold different values from their more self-compassionate peers, such as believing more strongly in the importance of success. They'd probably agree with motivational speaker Zig Ziglar who said:  “When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you". 

Kelly Robinson and her colleagues surveyed 161 young adults about their tendency to be self-compassionate or not, the importance they ascribed to different values from prosperity to equality, and then asked them to imagine two scenarios of personal failure, one in which they treated themselves with self-compassion and forgiveness, and one in which they were hard on themselves and self-critical. Finally, the participants said how they'd feel about themselves after these two scenarios, based on 18 different character dimensions.

The less self-compassionate participants tended not to have different values from the self-compassionate, and they also agreed that self-compassion is good for well-being. But the less self-compassionate said they'd see themselves differently after showing care and tenderness towards themselves. Specifically, they said they would feel less industrious, ambitious, responsible, modest, careful, and competitive as compared with the participants who practised more self-compassion in their lives. Also, after being self-critical, the less self-compassionate participants said they would feel stronger and more responsible.

Overall, the results suggest that people who differ in self-compassion are just as interested in success and achievement, it's just that the less self-compassionate think that being kind to themselves will hinder their ability to achieve because they associate self-kindness with being weak and less responsible and ambitious. The findings have implications for self-care interventions – those of us who struggle with self-compassion don't just need to learn ways to be kind to ourselves, but we also need help challenging the negative assumptions we have about showing a little TLC to me.

--Resisting self-compassion: Why are some people opposed to being kind to themselves?

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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2016-05-27   Psychologists have devised a test for measuring one-year-olds' creativity

The study found that creative parents tended to have creative toddlers
A team of psychologists in England say they've developed a reliable way to measure divergent thinking in one-year-old infants. Divergent thinking is a form of creativity that involves uncovering new ideas or ways of doing things. The finding published in Child Development opens up the possibility of exploring the early factors that lead one infant to be more creative than another, and potentially intervening to help foster creativity extremely early in a child's life.

Elena Hoicka and her colleagues filmed 29 toddlers (average age of 19 months) as they played freely on their own with a specially designed box that was paired for 90 seconds at a time with one of five unusual objects, including a wire egg cup and a plastic hook.

Later, researchers watched back the videos and counted how many unique actions each child performed with each object. To be counted as a new action, the child had to do something different with the object, or perform the same action with the object but on a different part of the box. The box featured various compartments, steps, shelves, holes and strings, offering a multitude of ways to play. The greater the number of different actions that the toddlers performed with the objects and box, the higher the divergent thinking score they received.

The researchers found that there was a wide spread of scores on the test showing its ability to differentiate between children. What's more, when the same toddlers performed the test two weeks' later, they tended to achieve very similar scores second time around. In psychological jargon, this is a sign of "test/re-test reliability", which suggests the test is measuring a persistent trait of divergent thinking, rather than the influence of momentary factors such as mood or fatigue. Also, most toddler actions performed during the second test were new, so it wasn't just that higher scoring toddlers were remembering their actions from the first session.

Another aspect of the study was that the researchers asked each toddler's mother or father to complete an adult test of divergent thinking that involved completing partially drawn images in imaginative ways. The parents' creativity scores showed a moderate to high correlation with their toddlers' scores. This could be because creativity is partly inherited through genes, or it could be due to toddlers learning from their parents' creativity. Another intriguing possibility raised by the researchers is that creative toddlers may influence their parents' creativity. "It is possible," they write," that if a parent has a child who tends to explore, parents may be influenced by this and also explore more".


Hoicka, E., Mowat, R., Kirkwood, J., Kerr, T., Carberry, M., & Bijvoet-van den Berg, S. (2016). One-Year-Olds Think Creatively, Just Like Their Parents Child Development DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12531

--further reading--
Cultivating little scientists from the age of two
The jokes that toddlers make
Pre-schoolers can tell abstract expressionist art from similar works by children and animals

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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