Psychology In the News

  • A key hormone helps determine whether we will trust lovers, friends or business contacts, scientists claim. Exposure to an oxytocin "potion" led people to be more trusting, tests by University of Zurich researchers found. They report in the journal Nature that the finding could help people with conditions such as autism, where relating to others can be a problem. View news story
  • US researchers say they have found a better way to counsel people with a form of prolonged grief. Bereavement causes strong emotional, physical and spiritual reactions that can take years to work through. Some develop a chronic, debilitating condition known as complicated grief that is more intense than normal grief and distinct from clinical depression. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association explains how 16 sessions of tailored therapy can help. View news story
  • Cancer survivors may be at risk of problems with mental abilities such as memory and learning, research suggests. It found those who had undergone cancer treatment were twice as likely to develop cognitive problems than people who had never been treated for cancer. The University of Southern California team say it is possible chemotherapy damage may be to blame, but stress more research is needed. View news story
  • Anti-social behaviour in some children could be the result of their genetic make-up, a study says. UK research on twins suggests children with early psychopathic tendencies, such as lack of remorse, are likely to have inherited it from their parents. View news story
  • Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that comprehend sarcasm - honestly. By comparing healthy people and those with damage to different parts of the brain, they found the front of the brain was key to understanding sarcasm. Damage to any of three different areas could render individuals unable to understand sarcastic comments. View news story
  • If winning is everything, British anthropologists have some advice: Wear red. Their survey of four sports at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens shows competitors were more likely to win their contests if they wore red uniforms or red body armor. View news story
  • The brain reacts differently to the faces of people from different races, research shows. When volunteers looked at pictures of African-Americans, the brain area that processes emotions became active, a study in Nature Neuroscience found. When they looked at photos of Caucasian faces, the activity was much less. View news story
  • Growing research shows that babies as young as four months show a preference for certain colours. Dr Anna Franklin, from the Surrey Baby Lab, has studied more than 250 babies to look at which colours they prefer. View news story
  • Fake acupuncture works just as well as the real thing in relieving migraines, scientists have found. In a study of more than 300 patients, both genuine and sham acupuncture reduced the intensity of headache compared with no treatment at all. View news story
  • Scientists believe they have identified the gene which determines how much sleep humans can get by on. A US team found that fruit flies with a mutated version of the gene were able to get by on much less sleep than others. Fruit flies have a similar genetic make-up and sleep patterns to humans. University of Wisconsin Medical School researchers said the findings might help develop new techniques to treat people with sleeping problems. View news story
  • The first Alzheimer's patients to test pioneering gene therapy are proof of the treatment's promise, say doctors. Between 2001 and 2002, surgeons at San Diego's University of California placed genetically modified tissue into the brains of eight Alzheimer's patients. It is designed to boost a naturally occurring protein that stops cell death and stimulates cell function. View news story
  • Scientists say they can read a person's unconscious thoughts using a simple brain scan. Functional MRI scans plot brain activity by looking at brain blood flow and are already used by researchers. A team at University College London found with fMRI they could tell what a person was thinking deep down even when the individual was unaware themselves. View news story