Psychology Round-Up

The Six Most Interesting Psychology Papers of 2015

See why Maria Konnikova chose these six papers to feature in The New Yorker:

(1) “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science,” from Science
(2) “What Works in Inpatient Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation?,” from Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
(3) “Best Friends and Better Coping: Facilitating Psychological Resilience Through Boys’ and Girls’ Closest Friendships,” from British Journal of Psychology
(4) “Nonpharmacological Treatments of Insomnia for Long-Term Painful Conditions,” from Sleep
(5) “A Mechanistic Link Between Olfaction and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” in Current Biology
(6) “Fibroblast Growth Factor 9 Is a Novel Modulator of Negative Affect,” from PNAS

Don’t let the titles scare you. Konnikova summarizes the importance of this research, which covers topics such as insomnia, traumatic brain injury, and depression.

Being happy won’t make you live longer, study finds

I’ve seen a lot of advice articles that maintain making yourself happy will help you live longer. But here’s a report on a new study that concludes ““happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality.”

The brain’s miracle superpowers of self-improvement

Here’s a comprehensive look at the controversial concept of “neuroplasticity, which is what we call the brain’s ability to change itself in response to things that happen in our environment.”

Neuroplasticity has its evangelists, such as psychologist Ian Robertson:

neuroplasticity really is a remarkable thing. “What we do know is that almost everything we do, all our behaviour, thoughts and emotions, physically change our brains in a way that is underpinned by changes in brain chemistry or function,” says Robertson. “Neuroplasticity is a constant feature of the very essence of human behaviour.” This understanding of the brain’s power, he says, opens up new techniques for treating a potentially spectacular array of illnesses. “There’s virtually no disease or injury, I believe, where the potential doesn’t exist for very intelligent application of stimulation to the brain via behaviour, possibly combined with other stimulation.”

Yet other scientists warn that the results of neuroplasticity therapy may be less dramatic than they are often portrayed as:

It’s perhaps understandable why crazy levels of hope are raised when people read tales of apparently miraculous recovery from brain injury that feature people seeing again, hearing again, walking again and so on. These dramatic accounts can make it sound as if anything is possible. But what’s usually being described, in these instances, is a very specific form of neuroplasticity – functional reorganisation – which can happen only in certain circumstances. “The limits are partly architectural,” says Greg Downey. “Certain parts of the brain are better at doing certain kinds of thing, and part of that comes simply from where they are.”

Still, neuroplasticity has produced results in many areas for which there previously were only limited options. Read this article to learn how neuroplasticity works and what it can and cannot accomplish.

False Memories: How false memories are created and can affect our ability to recall events

Your memories of past events may not be as accurate as you think it is. This article discusses “how false memories are created, the impact of questioning, language and other factors on our recall and the real life consequences of false memories.”