The Cyber Effect, by Mary Aiken.

cybereffectMary Aiken describes herself as a “cyberpsychologist”. She has spent her career investigating the effect that continual exposure to internet-connected devices has on the human mind. She describes how the addictive nature of phones and computers leads to deviant sexual behaviour, risk-taking, and crime. She is a scientist, but she also believes that we should go beyond science in our understanding of the modern world, because the nature of social interaction is changing so fast that we have no time to wait for carefully controlled longitudinal studies.

“A great, important book – a must read” – Steven D. Levitt

“Fascinating and accessible” – Alexandra Frean, The Times.

“A social alarm bell” – Sunday Times, Books of the Year.

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It was just a dream… by Michelle Carr

Lucid dreams are the experience of being conscious while dreaming. Most of us can only remember our dreams when we wake up. Many people achieve lucidity for a moment or two before waking up. But some people regularly have lucid dreams, in which the world around them seems tangible and real, and they are “awake”, and aware that they are dreaming.

Ursula Voss at the Goethe University Frankfurt has discovered a way to use electrical brain stimulation to induce lucid dreams. Kristoffer Appel at Osnasbrück University is now able to communicate with lucid dreamers inside their dreams. This might one day lead to new therapies for anxiety disorders.

One participant looked around his dream for something that might convey signals from outside. He was in a bus terminal, and spotted a ticket machine. Soon, it began to beep.

The article also contains instructions on how to achieve lucid dreams yourself.

New Scientist No. 3113, 18th February 2017, p. 32 – 35.

Mental Blocks, by Helen Phillips.

We know from Loftus that it is possible to insert memories into people’s minds. But is it possible to erase memories, or to remove traumatic associations from memories of adverse experiences?

Neuroscientists are investigating a process called “reconsolidation.” It seems that every time a memory is recalled, it is just as if a new memory is being laid down. This process can be manipulated with drugs, ECT, or even by playing Tetris during reconsolidation.

“We can reverse-engineer the brain’s time machine, hijack it or jump-start it.”

New Scientist No. 3111, 4th February 2017, p.36-39.

Cause and Effect, by Rachel Yehuda.

Rachel Yehuda noticed that people with post traumatic stress disorder have lower levels of cortisol. Which is contrary to what you would expect, given that cortisol is “the stress hormone”.

To work out why, she has to convince a community of Holocaust survivors to subject themselves to scientific study.

Cause and Effect.

http://www.storycollider.org/stories/2016/9/22/rachel-yehuda

 

The Aftermath, by Jessica Hamzelou

Why are women more than twice as vulnerable to PTSD than men? New evidence suggests that oestrogen may play a role in the disorder. Vasiliki Michopulos at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, is researching genetic and biochemical factors which influence anxiety.

“The horrible event may be over, but you’re held hostage by what happened to you.”

“As we discover how PTSD differs between people, we realise treatments should differ too.”

New Scientist No. 3091, 17th September 2016, p.38-41.