Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Gossip drives social bonding and helps people learn

Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about. Nevertheless, chit-chat about others has a dubious reputation. That’s unfair, say psychologists and social scientists, who argue that gossip is a useful communication tool, … Continue reading

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Several brain regions help us anticipate what’s going to happen next

If you watch a movie clip on repeat, many areas of your brain begin to anticipate upcoming events onscreen, according to a recent study published in eLife. The first time you see the clip, your brain forms a distinctive neural … Continue reading

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Friends appear to share patterns of brain activity

  Great minds think alike, so goes the saying. Greatness notwithstanding, a study in PNAS finds that the minds of friends do appear to share patterns of activity. “A lot of us have the intuition that our friends are kind … Continue reading

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Future choices may be guided by our memories of past ones

When it comes to making choices, past decisions may play a surprisingly large role. The traditional view of decision-making is that our choices are guided by what we remember about the outcomes of previous choices we’ve made. But in recent … Continue reading

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People who are likely to dismiss journalism as “fake news” tend to believe the world is predictable

The notion of “fake news” spread like wildfire in the United States after the 2016 election. Recent research in Psychological Science tried to determine what psychological factors drove this concept—generally defined as the suspicion that politically-biased news outlets produce deliberately … Continue reading

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Judging others based on the rewards they receive correlates with political leanings

Which employee deserves the highest salary? Should a professor receive tenure? Did my spouse do their fair share of the household chores? These types of questions all require people to pass judgment on the effort expended by others. According to … Continue reading

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Dopamine-making neurons, an ongoing mystery, play a bigger role in reinforcing learning than in initiating action

Deep in the midbrain, one type of neuron has two crucial jobs when it comes to acting while anticipating a reward—a state also known as Pavlovian conditioning. Called dopaminergic (DA) neurons, they can link a signal, such as a sound … Continue reading

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For choices involving uncertainty, the brain simplifies the math that drives our decisions

Every day, people make countless decisions, big and small: Should I buy that new house? Do I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream? A recent study suggests that when faced with uncertainty regarding a choice, how a person evaluates their … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Psychological tasks in the lab are poor predictors of real-world self-regulation

Skipping dessert to stay healthy, saving money for a rainy day, not shouting at your boss even when there might be good reason—psychologists group these and other human behaviors under the large umbrella of “self-regulation.” That is, despite the near-term … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Pinpointing theory of mind deficiencies in autism

Around age four, preschoolers learn that other people have unique thoughts and feelings, an inner life. These children start to be able to predict a person’s behavior based on that understanding. They start developing theory of mind (ToM). That developmental … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Tracing light’s effect on mood and learning in mice from the eye to deep within the brain

To the mammalian eye, light offers more than just sight. “Light is so important for many innate functions,” says neuroscientist Samer Hattar of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “We really don’t appreciate the importance of light in our … Continue reading

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