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The Tragic Story of the Most Famous Amnesiac and Pictures of His Brain Henry Molaison's brain has been preserved forever as a Google Map.Henry Molaison has–or rather had–the most famous amnesiac brain in psychology. The results of tests carried out on him over the last five decades have produced thousands of academic papers examining all aspects of memory and thinking... Continue reading - - > → Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Calculate Your Life's Psychological Footprint Your life footprint is the effect you have on other people, both those who are close to you and those who you'll never meet. Calculate your own lasting impressions with this 10-item quiz. Even if your life footprint is light at the moment, there are ways to improve the positive impact you have on others, from your closest partners to people you may not even know.read more
But What KIND of Universal Pre-K? Corporate-styled school reformers, who favor prescriptive standards and high-stakes testing, will interpret "high-quality" pre-K as a dreary regimen of direct instruction of facts and skills, particularly for poor children.read more
Retrieval practice improves memory in severe traumatic brain injury, researchers demonstrate Researchers have shown that retrieval practice can improve memory in individuals with severe traumatic brain injury. Despite the small sample size, it was clear that retrieval practice was superior to other learning strategies in this group of memory-impaired individuals with severe traumatic brain injury.
Autistic brains create more information at rest, study show New research finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest – a 42% increase on average.
Paul Flowers became a bank chairman after a psychometric test. Can I try? The disgraced former head of Co-op bank had done well in their tests – so perhaps our reporter can follow in his footstepsThe words "I really like most people I meet" flash on to my screen, as the computer asks me how strongly I might agree or disagree with that statement.For me, this is a nice easy one with which to get off the mark, so I quickly disagree and move on to 242 further intrusions, asking if I possess a vivid imagination, if I'm a worrier, or if I tend to be cynical and sceptical about others' intentions.Welcome to the world of the psychometric test, for which the top prize could be a bank chairmanship and bags of class A drugs.At least that was the bounty scooped by Paul Flowers who – we learned last week via the Treasury select committee – rose to the top of the Co-op by scoring highly in a similar test, which seemed to trump any other concerns about his expertise, experience or lifestyle.If I wasn't a cynical worrier with a vivid imagination before learning about the dear Rev Flowers' finance career, I find myself considering those points slightly more carefully now. But perhaps most troublesome is that the psychologist studying the results of my test does not seem to think that I should be barred from leading a major company either – at least not solely on the data in front of him. That's despite me emerging as someone scoring very low on the scales measuring self-discipline, outgoingness and orderliness and very high marks on, er, absolutely nothing.Still, if you're the type of person who focuses on the positives, you might hone in on the one character trait where I did manage to score a high mark – imagination – leaving the overall package painting a portrait of some sort of cross between Walter Mitty and Albert Steptoe. As well as being used by the Co-op, psychometric tests are now used regularly, across business sectors, with most major headhunting firms testing candidates for major executive roles in this way, as a standard part of the selection process.The examinations effectively measure five major character traits that psychologists say explain how we all differ from each other: emotional reactions, interpersonal patterns, openness to change, agreeableness, and work ethic. Each of the so-called big five is then divided into six further sub-categories and, even at that level of detail, there were very few assessments in my report that I could convincingly argue with.But couldn't I just have lied in order to make myself out to be some tough businessman and bagged a cushy boardroom berth? Certainly people try, but it is probably not quite that easy.One City human resources director says: "The tests have built-in questions to check if you are lying. It's a bit of a basic tool but could mean your results could be all over the shop if you try to manipulate it. Also, say you were going for a sales job – you could answer all the questions that make you sound ruthless and driven, even if you didn't feel that. But for most roles that doesn't work. Most companies are not looking for an extreme personality."Psychologists also say that there is no particular profile that suggests somebody will be a good leader – although quite often bosses score low marks on scales such as "consideration for others" – so trying to manipulate the results may also be pointless. Also the scores only form part of the evaluation.David Cooper, the founder of Cooper Limon, which conducts psychometric tests for businesses, says: "It is certainly possible for people to try to lie. But a decent psychologist will find that out. You take multiple data points and then you discuss it [with the candidate]. The assessment is primarily based on the conversation."There are other clues that can be gleaned during these face-to-face meetings. For example, if, during his interview, the Rev Flowers took a second biscuit with his cup of tea this might provide a clue for the self-indulgence measure, which looks at how easily tempted a person is. How candidates talk about their own achievements can provide further information for the modesty score, and so on.However, even psychometric testing's strongest advocates won't recommend the personality evaluations should be the major factor in hiring decisions, as was suggested in the Flowers case.It is also thought to be more appropriate when recruiting executives, rather than part-time non-executives, like Flowers, as it provides an insight into how a certain personality might fit into an existing team.Kit Bingham, head of the chair and non-executive director practice at City headhunters Odgers Berndtson, said: "I can't think of an occasion when we've been asked to use psychometric tests as part of a chairman appointment, though we frequently use it as a tool for executive appointments. So much of what makes a successful chairman is about experience, wisdom and sound judgement, as well chemistry, style and their fit with other members of the board, particularly the chief executive."Co-operative GroupBankingPsychologySimon Goodleytheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Game on, or off? Should we be worried about our tech-addicted toddlers? Everybody frets about games. But, from doctors to parents, nobody is entirely sure they're actually bad for childrenSmall private hospital in Central London, residential rehab courses for screen-addiction for children, the youngest patient so far, four-years-old ...I know what you're thinking: either that we're going to hell in a handcart, as we fail to bring up our young to be the least bit interested in the actual world; or that there are some parents with a lot more money than sense.Dr Richard Graham can help you through these prejudices, which have a certain addictiveness of their own. Graham, technology addiction lead at the Capio Nightingale hospital and consultant adolescent psychiatrist at the Tavistock, remembers the programme's beginnings in 2009. Alongside colleagues, he was constructing models of distress based on the behaviour they were seeing that seemed to have properties of addiction – kids spending six or seven hours a day on Xboxes."The real wake-up call for me was when people moved onto games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, where social networking converged with game playing," says Graham. "It made no sense to me that they were moving from sophisticated game consoles to PCs and laptops. They were playing 10, 12, 14 hours a day. It became far more absorbing and difficult to withdraw from."I feel very stupid looking back upon what is now obvious: which is that if you converge gaming with peer coercion, you end up merging gang processes with competitive game playing." Which, you can tell just by the tone of his voice, is a little like merging ephedrine with hydrogen chloride (crystal meth).The symptoms – you can rank your own children or spouse on this list, if you haven't got enough to argue about – are all recognisable from other addictions: how does your internet use impact upon the rest of your life and mind? How much do you crave it? Do you deny it or lie about it? And yet the thing itself – these games that set the social mind and the competitive spirit alight simultaneously – are unlike anything you would know about the world of toxins.Up close, from medics to parents to gaming experts, everybody frets, but nobody is entirely sure they're actually bad for you. "I'm really torn", said Catherine Loveday, neuropsychologist and mother of two sons, one of whom is heavily into Minecraft. "On one level he's really learned an awful lot – he's very creative if you can get him off the screen and onto Lego, he's really using what he's learnt. He knows about elements, he'll know what a sapphire is, all sorts of random things, he'll know what they are because he uses them to build in these games."Kate McEwan, who has a nine-year-old son, agrees: "Some of the stuff they do is so incredibly creative. He's learned how to make these amazing houses, over several stories, and then he has a lift which is actually a waterfall. I'm not saying it's a good thing ..." She trails off. We both, plainly, find this quite impressive.Gaming expert Tom Chatfield described in a TED lecture how these processes had become so engrossing; the game itself is monitoring the intensity of reward among the players ("One billion points of data!" he says at one point, in triumph) and this has led to incentives so precisely calibrated that, well, to say it was almost perfect would be a supposition of mine.But even without the improvements that the future will inevitably deliver, it's hard to see how the real world of imperfect rewards could compete. Graham often uses the word "sumptuous": "The quality of screens, the richness of the colours, the speed of the process – all of those things are very appealing to a child. Half a billion on the planet are playing Candy Crush to a considerable degree." (He talks about it so wistfully that I suggest to him he might have his own weakness for it. "Well, I'm only on level seven," he says, modestly.)Besides complexity there is, of course, fellowship; one person's "gang-processes" are another person's friendships. Louise Baxter has three children of seven, nine and 11. The oldest two, who are boys, play Minecraft and, she says, "Skype their friends while they're playing. The game itself is interactive, they're in there with their friends as well. It's not like they sit on their own in a darkened room."These two impulses – to create complex environments, competitively, on the one hand, and to interact with people, on the other – exist in varying proportions in gamers who exhibit exactly the same compulsion to play. Graham describes seeing two patients "playing the same game, both struggling to speak, both missing school, both playing until three in the morning. Success for one was entirely about dominating the field. For the other, it was almost exclusively social, he wanted to get back to his friends."Treatment is the same, in any case. If you want to pre-empt your children turning into adolescents who can't control their gaming impulses, you could try a screen Sabbath once a week. And you should also limit your own screen time. But once the desire is fierce, they have to detox. "In tandem with diet and exercise, this seemed to improve the mood so much that on the rare occasions where I had used medications, anti-depressants, I felt rather guilty about it."Parents and parentingFamilyChild protectionChildrenSocial careInternetGame cultureGamesPsychologyZoe Williamstheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
How neurons control fine motor behavior of the arm Motor commands issued by the brain to activate arm muscles take two different routes. As a research group has now discovered, many neurons in the spinal cord send their instructions not only towards the musculature, but at the same time also back to the brain via an exquisitely organized network.
The Psychology of Storytelling and Empathy, Animated I want to tell you a story about two neurochemicals...→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Being shorter may lead to feelings of inferiority Study shows people who had their height "virtually lowered" felt inferior and mistrustful.
Stress reduces when shared Study suggests sharing your feelings of stress with someone having a similar emotional reaction to the same situation reduces levels of stress more than sharing them with someone who is not.
Imaging technique shows brain anatomy change in women with MS, depression A multicenter research team used a new, automated technique to identify shrinkage of a mood-regulating brain structure in a large sample of women with MS who also have a certain type of depression.
Sex-specific patterns of recovery from newborn brain injury revealed by animal study Physicians have long known that oxygen deprivation to the brain around the time of birth causes worse damage in boys than girls. Now a study by researchers conducted in mice reveals one possible reason behind this gender disparity and points to gender-specific mechanisms of brain repair following such injury.
Worry on the brain: Researchers find new area linked to anxiety Previous studies of anxiety in the brain have focused on the amygdala, but a team of researchers had a hunch that understanding a different brain area, the lateral septum (LS), could provide more clues into how the brain processes anxiety. Their instincts paid off -- the team has found a neural circuit that connects the LS with other brain structures in a manner that directly influences anxiety.
Does caregiving cause psychological stress? Study of female twins says it depends A newly published study shows that the associations between caregiving and different types of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, perceived stress and perceived mental health) depend largely on a person's genes and upbringing -- and less so on the difficulty of caregiving.
Revealing how the brain recognizes speech sounds Researchers are reporting a detailed account of how speech sounds are identified by the human brain. The finding, they said, may add to our understanding of language disorders, including dyslexia.
How to cope with football withdrawal symptoms after Superbowl ends Once the Super Bowl ends, millions of fans will go through withdrawal symptoms from not being able to watch football. In a new article, a psychiatrist describes the effects this has on the brain and offers tips on how fans can cope.
The Abandoned Baby Yesterday, an 8-year-old child, Gabrielle, was brought to me. When she was born, her biological father gave her away to a relative. From birth, her biological mother completely abandoned her and never appeared to her up to this day.A number of weeks ago, when Gabrielle found out that her caretakers are not her real father and mother, she began to cry, give blank stares, and exhibit wild or violent behavior. Several days ago, Gabrielle lost interest to continue school. She-s unable to talk anymore and her hands would stiffen or not move.
Does Our Height Influence Our Mental Health? Experiment in virtual reality shows that reducing a person's height can increase feelings of vulnerability and raise levels of paranoia.read more
Brain Map of Love and Desire Is there any connection between love and sexual desire in the brain?→ Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"