Psychology In the News

  • 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
  • Workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers, new research has claimed. The study for computing firm Hewlett Packard warned of a rise in "infomania", with people becoming addicted to email and text messages. View news story
  • Can a five-minute online test help tell whether you are racist or not? In the US, two million people have taken one and now a UK version is available. Racism is a reality encountered every day in Britain, but how many people actually consider themselves racist? It's difficult to be sure because people's true feelings are inevitably concealed by their politeness. So much so that those who harbour prejudice sometimes cannot admit it even to themselves. View news story
  • Women are not attracted to dare-devil men, US researchers believe. Men thought the opposite sex would be attracted by risky stunts such as bungee jumping and fast driving, a study of 48 men and 52 women found. But in contrast, women said it was a turn-off, claiming they preferred more cautious people for partners. View news story
  • Four-year-old children who watch more television than average are more likely to become bullies, research suggests. The University of Washington team found children who went on to bully watched about five hours of TV per day - almost two hours more than those who did not. The study of 1,266 four-year-olds also showed mental stimulation, such as outings, being read to and eating with parents reduced the risk of bullying. View news story
  • US scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again. It comprises a computer chip that sits in the back of the individual's eye, linked up to a mini video camera built into glasses that they wear. Images captured by the camera are beamed to the chip, which translates them into impulses that the brain can interpret. View news story
  • Many animals may have their own forms of laughter, says a US researcher writing in the magazine Science. Professor Jaak Panksepp says that animals other than humans exhibit play sounds that resemble human laughs. These include the panting sounds made by chimps and dogs when they play and chirping sounds observed in rats. This suggests that the capacity for laughter may be a very ancient emotional response that predates the evolution of humankind, says Panksepp. View news story
  • A drug can reduce the disability associated with treatment for Parkinson's disease, research suggests. Doctors at University Hospital, Toulouse, gave the drug, rasagiline, to Parkinson's patients already taking levodopa to control their symptoms. It helped to reduce the impaired and abnormal movements which develop in most patients who take levodopa over a long period.