Psychology In the News

  • Babies exposed to sign language babble silently with their hands even if they can hear, US research shows. Dr Laura-Ann Petitto at Dartmouth College, Hanover, had previously found similar hand-babbling in deaf babies. But critics say deaf babies cannot be compared directly with hearing babies and babbling should not be regarded as an attempt at language. View news story
  • Healthy people, including children, might one day take drugs to boost their intelligence, scientists predict. The think-tank Foresight, outlined the scenario in an independent report looking at potential developments over the next 20 years. Such "cognitive enhancers" could become as "common as coffee", they suggest. Scientists did not rule out children taking exams facing drug tests, as sportsmen do, to see if any have taken 'performance enhancing substances'. View news story
  • A university research team says it has discovered why most people "hearing voices" in hallucinations say they hear male voices. Dr Michael Hunter's research at the University of Sheffield says that male voices are less complex to produce than female. As such, when the brain spontaneously produces its own "voices", a male voice is more likely to have been generated. Among both men and women, 71% of such "false" voices are male. View news story
  • Scientists have uncovered clues about what happens in the brain to make some people "over-friendly". US National Institute of Mental Health experts looked at differences in the brains of people with an abnormality which makes them highly sociable. Researchers used scans to identify areas which failed to work properly when they saw frightening faces.
  • There is growing evidence that a common childhood throat infection increases the risk of neurological disorders such as Tourette's syndrome. Scientists found children with such disorders were twice as likely to have had recent streptococcal infections than their healthy peers. Researchers at Seattle's Center for Health Studies suggest the body's response to the infection may be key. View news story
  • Parents who sit their toddlers in front of the TV could be damaging their child's future learning abilities, US researchers fear. TV viewing before the age of three was linked to poorer reading and maths skills at the ages of six and seven among the 1,797 children they studied. The University of Washington findings back the US advice that children under two should not watch any television. But TV viewing among those aged three to five seemed to aid literacy later. View news story
  • Women are bigger wimps than men when it comes to pain, research suggests, contrary to the popular notion that the reverse is true. Not only do they feel pain more easily, women are less able to cope with it, believe scientists at Bath University. Women focus on the emotional aspects of their pain, which makes it worse, while men tend to focus on the physicality. View news story
  • Scientists have uncovered a new factor influencing neurodegenerative disorders such as motor neurone disease and Huntington's disease. These diseases are associated with protein clumps in nerve cells. The latest study showed how the cells' waste disposal process, which prevents clump formation, is dependent on transporter proteins called dyneins. View news story
  • Girls with autism may not be identified because they do not show traditional signs of the disorder, an expert warns. Children with autistic spectrum disorders have poor social and communication skills. Hyperactivity, and interests in technical hobbies have been seen as characteristics of the disorder. View news story
  • Good friends promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, researchers say. Australian scientists said having friends around in old age can do more for life expectancy than having family members around. View news story
  • Meditating monks are giving clues about how the brain's basic responses can be overridden, researchers say. Australian scientists gave Buddhist monks vision tests, where each eye was concurrently shown a different image. Most people's attention would automatically fluctuate - but the monks were able to focus on just one image. View news story
  • 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 new story