Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Brain journal

The lifelong importance of nutrition in pregnancy for brain development

The importance of a healthy diet for proper functioning of the brain is increasingly being recognized. Week in, week out studies appear recommending a high intake of certain foods in order to achieve optimal brain function and prevent brain diseases. Although it is definitely no punishment for the most of us to increase our chocolate consumption to boost brain function, the most important period during which nutrition affects our brain may already be behind us.

Read More

Suicide and the First Amendment

What does suicide have to do with the first amendment right to free speech? As it turns out, the question comes up in many contexts: Can a state university student be disciplined for sending a text threatening suicide to another student? Can a young woman be criminally prosecuted for repeatedly texting her boyfriend to insist that he fulfill his intention to commit suicide?

Read More
Musical Prodigies

Is musical success written in the stars?

When we look at the so-called “miraculous gifts” of musical prodigies, it is easy to get caught up in the nature vs. nurture debate: are these prodigies born or made? But we won’t be entering here into the discussion as to whether genetics or education plays the greater role. Instead, there may be a secondary element to this debate that is often overlooked, an element that intrinsically ties together these two conflicting sides.

Read More
The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick
By Kyle Arnold

Philip K. Dick’s spiritual epiphany

In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick’s life changed. While he was recovering from dental surgery, he claims, he had a spiritual epiphany. It started with a delivery from the local pharmacy. Three days after Dick’s surgery, an order of medications arrived in the hands of a stunning delivery woman.

Read More

What does assisted suicide have to do with gay marriage?

When Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, advocates of physician-assisted suicide had almost as much reason to celebrate as gay citizens who had been longing to marry. Physician-assisted suicide, or aid in dying, is the option currently available in five states for competent terminally ill people with less than six months to live

Read More
17585368 gerontologyseriesb

LGBT Pride Month: A reading list on LGBT older adults

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. The Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village was one of the city’s few gay bars or nightclubs at that time.

Read More

Valuing sadness, past and present

In September 2013, the American comedian Louis C.K. talked to chat-show host Conan O’Brien about the value of sadness. His comments grew out of a discussion about mobile phones, and the way they may distract us from the reality of our emotions.

Read More

Prodigy or savant: two sides of the same coin?

As adults, we remain fascinated with images of young children performing extraordinary feats, with platforms such as YouTube offering us an unending wealth of mini Mozarts and baby Einsteins for us to feast our eyes and ears on, and providing the perfect fodder for our daily Facebook feeds. We are filled with awe at the sight of such small individuals undertaking tasks that most adults only dream of undertaking.

Read More

Bath salts in the emergency department

Psychosis, agitation, disorientation, or bizarre behavior due to drug ingestion is a common presentation to the emergency department (ED), and frequently psychiatry is consulted to assess for an underlying psychiatric illness. A working knowledge of how different substances are expected to affect patients is an important part of keeping up-to-date as a psychiatric emergency clinician.

Read More
Losing Touch: A man without his body

Movement without touch: the life of Ian Waterman

When I first met Ian Waterman in the mid-1980s I could scarcely believe him. He claimed to have lost touch, and movement and position sense (termed proprioception) below the neck, though he could still feel pain and temperature, and his movement nerves were unaffected. Not only was I not aware of any such condition in medicine, but he had walked to the clinic and was sitting calmly as we chatted.

Read More

Artificial Intelligence – Episode 35 – The Oxford Comment

Imagine a world where the majority of our workforce was composed of robots as capable and as psychologically similar to human beings. The robots are constantly working and are faster and more efficient than humans—leaving humans to be pushed towards early retirement to enjoy a life of leisure and wealth due to a large growth in investments on this artificial intelligence (AI).

Read More

Mind This Space: The psychology of our embodied senses

We’re all quite familiar with having five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. These senses help us understand the world outside our body. The idea of five senses is so ingrained that having a ‘sixth sense’ is a clue that something isn’t right. But what about other physical sensations?

Read More

Spiritual awakening in Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous has provided millions of people with a chance at recovery from addiction. There is one aspect of membership for some members that most people, even addiction specialists, are not aware of, namely, the remarkable transformation that many AA members call a spiritual awakening. It’s a remarkable phenomenon for anyone interested in social science on the addictions.

Read More

Joey Alexander: call me a ‘musician’, not a ‘prodigy’

If you tuned in to this year’s Grammy awards, you would not have failed to witness the extraordinary performance of 12-year-old jazz pianist Joey Alexander. The short solo performance, which earned him a standing ovation, was without doubt the cherry on the cake of this young musician’s short but remarkable career thus far.

Read More

Your brain on the scientific method

Broccoli prevents cancer. Broccoli causes cancer. We are all familiar with the sense that we are constantly being pulled in a million different directions by scientific studies that seem to contradict each other every single day. We are all familiar with the sense that we are constantly being pulled in a million different directions by scientific studies that seem to contradict each other every single day.

Read More
The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Geropsychology

Mental health in older age [infographic]

All over the world, populations are changing. People are living longer, and older people are forming a larger percentage of the global population. Baby boomers are retiring and improved health care has extended life expectancy. At the same time, as globalisation and urbanisation break apart familiar social and family structures, more older adults are living alone or without social support.

Read More