When is brain development finished?

This is an interesting article on how the brain develops, and whether it ever finishes. There is also an interesting discussion of teenage thinking and emotions.

The human brain reaches its adult volume by age 10, but the neurons that make it up continue to change for years after that. … The pruning in the occipital lobe, at the back of the brain, tapers off by age 20. In the frontal lobe, in the front of the brain, new links are still forming at age 30, if not beyond.

Source: You’re an Adult. Your Brain, Not So Much. – The New York Times

Tattoos make men more attractive … to men

Men with tattoos are likely to provide serious competition for a woman’s attention, at least in the eyes of other guys, but women themselves actually aren’t that impressed. … the female participants didn’t rate the tattooed gentlemen as more attractive; moreover, they considered them worse prospects as partners and parents.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/12/21/men-think-women-will-be-impressed-by-a-tattoo-but-theyre-not/

 

Wear the red dress?

Are women really more attractive if they wear red? Research results used to say “yes”, but replicating those studies is proving to be difficult.

… nothing, it seems, is straightforward in psychology any more. A team of Dutch and British researchers has just published three attempts to replicate the red effect in the open-access journal Evolutionary Psychology, including testing whether the effect is more pronounced in a short-term mating context, which would be consistent with the idea that red signals sexual availability. However, not only did the research not uncover an effect of mating context, all three experiments also failed to demonstrate any effect of red on attractiveness whatsoever.

Source https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/12/12/wardrobe-malfunction-three-failed-attempts-to-replicate-the-finding-that-red-increases-attractiveness/

 

The science of gift shopping – Don’t try so hard

Research has been done on what gifts people like to receive. It turns out that simple and straight forward is often the best approach.

Social scientists bear glad tidings for the holiday season. After extensively observing how people respond to gifts, they have advice for shoppers: You don’t have to try so hard. You’re not obliged to spend hours finding just the right gift for each person on your list. Most would be just as happy with something quick and easy. This may sound too good to be true, but rest assured this is not a ploy by some lazy Scrooges in academia.

Source: The Perfect Gift? It’s the One They Asked For – The New York Times

Science denial and climate change

This is an interesting article on science denial and how it may be possible to inoculate people against misinformation.

Science denial has significant consequences. AIDS denial caused over 300,000 deaths in South Africa. Vaccination denial has allowed preventable diseases to make a comeback. Climate science denial helped delay sorely needed mitigation policies, committing us to direr climate impacts for decades to come.

Source: A Skeptical Response to Science Denial – CSI

Recognizing faces is hard

When studying automatic, biometric face recognition it is import to understand what an appropriate baseline performance level is. Research has often shown that humans are actually not that good at doing face recognition, especially when comparing a photograph with a person in front of them.

Here is some more research in this area.

Experiments suggest that telling if two unfamiliar faces are the same or different is no easy task. … A new article in Applied Cognitive Psychology confirms these fears, suggesting that our real-world capacity to spot fakes in their natural setting is even worse than imagined.

 

Death by selfie

Here is interesting research on the growing phenomenon of getting yourself killed while trying to shoot a selfie. Apparently, the goal is to build a kind of this-is-a-dangerous-selfie warning app.

In 2014, 15 people died while taking a selfie; in 2015 this rose to 39, and in 2016 there were 73 deaths in the first eight months of the year. That’s more selfie deaths than deaths due to shark attacks. That raises an interesting question—how are these people dying, and is there a way to prevent these kinds of accidents?

Source: Data Scientists Chart the Tragic Rise of Selfie Deaths

and the research paper can be found at https://lnkd.in/fpdiVwx

 

Correlations and milk

Another example of the importance of understanding the relationship between correlation and causation.

In a study of more than 2,700 children aged one to six, Toronto researchers found that those who drank whole milk had a body mass index score almost a full unit lower than kids who drank one per cent or two per cent milk.That’s comparable to the difference between having a healthy weight and being overweight, said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital who led the study.

Did drinking whole milk make the kids thinner, or are heavier kids drinking low-fat milk because they are heavier?

Source: Kids who drink whole-fat milk are leaner, study finds – Macleans.ca

On Facebook and happiness

Here is another study that explores the relationship between Facebook and emotions.

People’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit Facebook for 1 week… Millions of hours are spent on Facebook each day. We are surely better connected now than ever before, but is this new connectedness doing any good to our well-being? According to the present study, the answer is no…

Source: If You Want to Be Happy, Quit Facebook? – Neuroskeptic

Who’s the playground boss?

The development of social behaviour has always been fascinating. How and when do children learn to interact with adults and each other? Here is some interesting research.

A new paper in Child Development has explored the … question of when and how young children are able to discern social power from more subtle social dynamics between two parties, finding that already by age three children can interpret various forms of social power – resource control, goal achievement, and permission giving – to identify who’s in charge.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/11/16/by-age-three-children-are-already-adept-at-figuring-out-whos-boss/