Our weekly round-up of the best psychological coverage from elsewhere on the internet
A neural implant has enabled a paralyzed individual to type by writing letters. The implant of 200 electrodes in the premotor cortex picks up the person’s intentions to perform the movements associated with writing a particular letter and translates them into a character on a screen. The person was able to type 90 characters per minute with minimal errors, reports John Timmer at Ars Technica.
Robin Dunbar is famously estimated that people are limited to around 150 friends due to cognitive limitations due to the size of our brains. Now a new study questions the accuracy of Dunbar’s number, as reported by Jenny Gross at The New York Times (although Dunbar again denies the results).
Poor sleep can make us less able to focus on a task and ignore distractions. This comes from a study that compared the performance of an attention test of 23 people with insomnia and 23 good sleepers. The results may not sound very surprising, but as researchers David James Robertson and Christopher B. Miller point out The conversationIt pounds home the importance of sleep for tasks like driving, where distractions can be deadly.
An analysis of bacteria in the teeth of Neanderthals and ancients homo sapiens found that both groups ate a lot of starchy foods. This in turn suggests that their common ancestor ate this type of food more than 600,000 years ago, reports Ann Gibbons at science. This was a time when the hominin brain got much bigger. The researchers believe that the starch gave the old people the energy they needed for this growth.
Moral panic about technology is widespread – but they rarely take into account how those technologies are evolving. After all, movies and video games from the 1970s are very different from their counterparts today. Have the supposed links between these technologies and mental health outcomes changed over time? By and large, no, reports Tom Chivers at Unheard.
Researchers have studied how individual neurons in different parts of the brain behave when someone (well, a monkey) is anesthetized. At the WiredMax G Levy looks at the results of the studies and considers what effects this has on the understanding of consciousness.
Can we control our experience of disgust? At the Scientific AmericanCharlie Kurth examines what research says about combating disgust in non-moral scenarios (think of a medical student disgusted at the sight of blood) – and how that might affect moral situations (when someone from members of a certain social group is disgusted). for example).
Compiled by Matthew Warren (@ MattBWarren), Editor of BPS Biomedarticles