Lucky dip

EUSci now has a fairly extensive archive of fascinating articles- use this page to show you a random selection.

What’s in a Name? Searching for a Species Concept

Criminal minds: helping the people nobody will help

Q. Did you always want to be a forensic psychiatrist?

Before I did medicine, I did a degree in human sciences, which is really just about human behaviour in general. I was interested in the way people behave: how people behave in society and deviance from society. Forensic psychiatry is just the area of psychiatry that relates to legal issues, and crime and offending, so it’s not a great leap.

Q. What encouraged you to specialize after that?

I wanted to do a PhD, but I found the lab quite removed. At the time, I was working with a lot of doctors who were doing clinical research and going onto wards, and I thought that seemed a lot more interesting. It's nice to have patient interaction. I've had some very interesting and unusual cases, but unfortunately I can't tell you about them - because of confidentiality.

Q. So you can’t talk about cases? Read more »

Neurophysics: a glimpse at the future

Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and has historically been interwoven with biology, chemistry, philosophy and mathematics. Although less obvious at first glance, physics has also completely revolutionised the field of neuropsychology. Physics is the study of matter, energy and force through time and space. It has shed light on invisible forms of energy like magnetism and radiation that can penetrate matter and reveal new aspects previously unobserved. In the context of neuropsychology these principles have transformed the way in which we explore the human brain. Read more »

Practical Applications

Crucially, GAME THEORY has also found a key application in evolutionary biology, notably in our understanding of altruism. Altruism can be summed up in the colloquialism 'You scratch my back if I scratch yours’. Behaviour like this has an obvious benefit – there are some parts of my back that I can’t reach! In terms of game theory, one might describe behaving altruistically as increasing an opponent’s payoff (in nature biological fitness and therefore reproductive capacity) at the expense of one’s own. However, this seems counterintuitive; surely the drive not to reciprocate should produce groups of selfish individuals. As in the prisoner’s dilemma, it is always better to take advantage of an altruist than to return the favour. Read more »

The Yawn of Man

Have you ever seen someone else yawning and felt the involuntary need to do so yourself? Contagious yawning has long been observed in humans and has been hypothesised in recent years to be linked with empathy.

Humans are known to be more empathetic to those within their own close-knit groups. This lack of empathy for outsiders is based on the psychological concept of ingroups and outgroups. Ingroups are those we see as similar to ourselves, and outgroups are those we perceive as different. Biases involved in ingroup-outgroup discrimination are known to result in involuntary responses in humans, including those connected to empathy for pain. Rather unsettlingly, this shows that many of the feelings involved in discrimination and racism are the result of psychological biases largely out of our control. These innate biases hint at discrimination having its roots in our evolutionary past even though empathy has previously been thought to be a uniquely human trait. Read more »