Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199670000_450

Beauty and the brain

Can you imagine a concert hall full of chimpanzees sitting, concentrated, and feeling ‘transported’ by the beauty of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Even harder would be to imagine a chimpanzee feeling a certain pleasure when standing in front of a beautiful sculpture. The appreciation of beauty and its qualities, according to Aristotle’s definition, from his Poetics (order, symmetry, and clear delineation and definiteness), is uniquely human.

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Brain-front-matter

What stays when everything goes

Imagine the unimaginable. Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the person with whom you shared most of your life has forgotten who you are, and even worse, can no longer remember their own experiences, their relationships, and how to behave appropriately in everyday situations. But although most of their long-term memory is heavily impaired, they may continue to relate astonishingly well to autobiographically relevant pieces of music.

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The status of older people in modern times

The nineteenth century witnessed radical changes in the social and economic landscape, especially in Western Europe and North America. Social scientists observed that industrialized countries were becoming wealthier; more powerful and politically more stable. Yet, the changes that accompanied modernization were not altogether positive. There were also dramatic social changes such as the breakdown of the traditional extended family into nuclear families.

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Ball

The US Supreme Court, same-sex marriage, and children

During the decades of debates over marriage equality in the United States, opponents centered much of their advocacy on the purported need to maintain marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution in order to promote the well-being of children. It was therefore fascinating to see the well-being of children play a crucial role in the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in Obergefell v. Hodges, albeit not in the way opponents of marriage equality hoped.

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The baby is all grown up

This year, the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education is celebrating its 20th birthday, and I’m celebrating my 20th year as Editor. After bringing JDSDE into this world, watching it grow up, attending to its bumps, bruises, and milestones, it’s time for me to let it go and let it find its own way in the world.

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Gaudiano

Can schizophrenia really be treated by “talk therapy” alone?

A recent study published by psychologist Anthony Morrison and colleagues in the British medical journal, The Lancet, is stirring up a long-standing debate about the treatment of schizophrenia. The article describes a randomized controlled trial with people diagnosed with schizophrenia who refused to take psychiatric medications called “antipsychotics.” The researchers tested whether these patients could be treated with a form of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in lieu of medications.

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50 shades of touch

Disgusting or delighting, exciting or boring, sensual or expected, no matter what you think about it, 50 Shades of Grey is certainly not a movie that passes by without leaving a mark on your skin. Based on E.L. James’ novel (honestly, somehow even more breathtaking than the movie), it tells the story of the complicated relationship between the dominant multi-millionaire Christian Grey, and the newly graduated, inexperienced, and shy, Ana Steele.

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Wenk Blog

What 4,000 years of hallucinations have taught us about our brain

Over the past forty years, many of my students have shared their personal experiences with hallucinogenic drugs. They are typically more fascinated, than frightened, by the experience. About sixty years ago the scientist C.H.W. Horne commented that “It is remarkable that one characteristic which seems to separate man from the allegedly lower animals is a recurring desire to escape from reality.”

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From Galileo to Rosetta

For some people, recent images of the Rosetta space program have been slightly disappointing. We expected to see the nucleus of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet as a brilliantly shining body. Instead, images from Rosetta are as black as a lump of coal. Galileo Galilei would be among those not to share this sense of disappointment.

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Happiness: it’s not always smiley faces and that’s okay

Imagine that today is Happiness Day. For the next 24 hours, you get to enjoy the day to the best of your ability. What would you do?’ I asked some of my friends and family this same question. If you’re like many of the people I polled, you would probably plan to spend the day with family, indulge in a pleasurable activity, or aim to carve out a significant chunk of time with one of your favorite hobbies. But not everyone approaches happiness the same way.

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Wenk Blog

How do gut bugs affect brain health?

Our brain lives in a symbiotic relationship with the bugs in our gut. Whatever we eat, they eat. In return, they help our brain function optimally in a variety of ways. During the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that in the absence of bacteria humans would never have evolved to our current level of cognitive performance. Our brains are profoundly dependent upon a wide range of chemicals produced by these gut bugs.

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9780199826759

Can the Sequential Intercept Model help with behavioral health justice?

There is now pending legislation in the United States Senate and the U.S. House involving the diversion of justice-involved individuals with behavioral health disorders from standard prosecution. Both bills use the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), developed by Mark Munetz and Patty Griffin in collaboration with Hank Steadman, as an organizing tool to help structure the proposed law. What is the SIM? How can it be used?

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9780199929382

College education for emerging adults [infographic]

College education trends have been changing a lot over the past few decades — from the cost of education to the enrollment rates to reasons for attending. While it may seem as though today’s emerging adults aren’t satisfied with today’s education trends, 9 out of 10 high schoolers expect to continue their education in some way after graduation, and 84% of college graduates believe their education was a good investment.

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Wenk Blog

Can your diet make you feel depressed?

I am often asked whether eating particular foods can enhance mood and treat the symptoms of depression. With very few exceptions, the answer is no. In contrast, our mood can be easily depressed by our diet. Why? For adults, the brain responds primarily to deficits, not surpluses, in the diet.

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Schizophrenia Bulletin

Parsing schizophrenia

The effective treatment of schizophrenia has long presented a challenge to clinicians and scientists. Common misunderstandings around symptoms and behaviors, and inadequate approaches to diagnosis and physiology, have hindered significant progress for patients and professionals.

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