From the evolution of consciousness to cosmic encounters, the Brain Health Gap to palliative medicine, 2021 has been a year filled with discovery across scientific disciplines. On the OUPblog, we have published blogs posts showcasing the very latest research and insights from our expert authors at the Press. Make sure you’re caught up with the best of science in 2021 with our top 10 blog posts of the year:
1. Why did evolution create conscious states of mind?
“When we open our eyes in the morning, we take for granted that we will consciously see the world in all of its dazzling variety. The immediacy of our conscious experiences does not, however, explain how we consciously see.”
Read the blog post from Stephen Grossberg, author of Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain: How Each Brain Makes a Mind, to learn how—and why—we have evolved to consciously see.
2. The neuroscience of human consciousness
How can the study of the human brain help us unravel the mysteries of life? Going a step further, how can having a better understanding of the brain help us to combat debilitating diseases or treat mental illnesses?
On this episode of The Oxford Comment, we focused on human consciousness and how studying the neurological basis for human cognition can lead not only to better health but a better understanding of human culture, language, and society as well.
3. 10 books on palliative medicine and end-of-life care
Each year an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care, 78% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. This reading list of recent titles can help you to reflect on palliative medicine as a public health need.
4. Can what we eat have an effect on the brain?
Food plays an important role in brain performance and health. In general, the old saying, “a healthy mind in a healthy body,” is still very valid, and the overall positive results on cognitive ability of entire diets can be summarised with: “what is good for your heart, is also good for your brain.”
This blog post from review co-author Bo Ekstrand discusses the role of diet in key areas of brain development and health from the findings published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
5. What can neuroscience tell us about the mind of a serial killer?
Serial killers—people who repeatedly murder others—provoke revulsion but also a certain amount of fascination in the general public. But what can modern psychology and neuroscience tell us about what might be going on inside the head of such individuals?
Read the blog post from the John Parrington, author of Mind Shift: How Culture Transformed the Human Brain, to learn more about recent neuroscience studies investigating serial killers’ minds.
6. Does “overeating” cause obesity? The evidence is less filling
The usual way of thinking considers obesity a problem of energy balance. Take in more calories than you expend—in other words, “overeat”—and weight gain will inevitably result. The simple solution, according to the prevailing Energy Balance Model (EBM), is to eat less and move more. New research shows that viewing body weight control as an energy balance problem is fundamentally wrong, or at least not helpful, for three reasons.
Discover the three reasons in this blog post from David S. Ludwig, co-author of new research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
7. Earth’s wild years: the creative destruction of cosmic encounters
Contrary to common sense, cosmic collisions are not all about destruction and death. It appears entirely possible that collisions could have been beneficial to the development of conditions suitable for the formation of first organisms—our distant relatives—on Earth. What do we know about these early cosmic catastrophes?
Learn about the innumerable challenges facing the research of early cosmic events by reading the blog post from Simone Marchi, author of Colliding Worlds: How Cosmic Encounters Shaped Planets and Life.
8. What if COVID-19 emerged in 1719?
We’re often told that the situation created by the attack of the new coronavirus is “unique” and “unprecedented.” And yet, at the same time, scientists assure us that the emergence of new viruses is “natural”—that viruses are always mutating or picking up and losing bits of DNA. But if lethal new viruses have emerged again and again during human history, why has dealing with this one been such a struggle?
In this blog post, Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson, authors of A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution, consider what makes our “cultural DNA” unique and how the story of COVID-19 would have been very different had it emerged 300 years ago.
9. Closing the brain health gap: addressing women’s inequalities
There is a clear sex and gender gap in outcomes for brain health disorders across the lifespan, with strikingly negative outcomes for women. The “Brain Health Gap” highlights and frames inequalities in all areas across the translational spectrum from bench-to-bedside and from boardroom-to-policy and economics.
Read the blog post to learn how closing the Brain Health Gap will help economies create recovery and prepare our systems for future global shocks.
10. The case for readdressing the three paradigms of basic astrophysics
A long-held misunderstanding of stellar brightness is being corrected, thanks to a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society based on International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly Resolution B2.
Learn about the key findings in this blog post from Zeki Eker, lead author on the study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.