Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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In the ‘mind’s eye’: two visual systems in one brain

By Mel Goodale and David Milner
Vision, more than any other sense, dominates our mental life. Our visual experience is so rich and detailed that we can scarcely distinguish that subjective world from the real thing. Even when we are just thinking about the world with our eyes closed, we can’t help imagining what it looks like.

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Why do polar bear cubs (and babies) crawl backwards?

This YouTube video of a three-month-old polar bear taking his first wobbly steps at the Toronto Zoo was viewed over 4.5 million times in the first four days of it being posted, and is sprouting all over the internet. Something I noticed immediately is that the baby polar bear is mostly crawling backwards. Many (human) infants do the same – crawling backwards for a few weeks before they crawl forwards.

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Be Book Smart on National Reading Day

By Anne Cunningham and Jamie Zibulsky
If you want to help a child get ahead in school and in life, there is no better value you can impart to him or her than a love of reading. The skills that early and avid reading builds are the skills that older readers need in order to make sense of sophisticated and complex texts.

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Diseases can stigmatize

By Leonard A. Jason
Names of diseases have never required scientific accuracy (e.g. malaria means bad air, lyme is a town, and ebola is a river). But some disease names are offensive, victim-blaming, and stigmatizing. Multiple sclerosis was once called hysterical paralysis when people believed that this disease was caused by stress linked with oedipal fixations.

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Encore! Encore! Encore! Encore!

By Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis
How much repetition is too much repetition? How high would the number of plays of your favorite track on iTunes have to climb before you found it embarrassing? How many times could a song repeat the chorus before you stopped singing along and starting eyeing the radio suspiciously? And why does musical repetition often lead to bliss instead of exhaustion?

How high would the number of plays of your favorite track on iTunes have to climb before you found it embarrassing? How many times could a song repeat the chorus before you stopped singing along and starting eyeing the radio suspiciously?

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Remembering Daniel Stern

By Colwyn Trevarthen
Daniel N. Stern, a New Yorker, died in November 2012 after a long illness. He was a distinguished child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and a world-famous developmental psychologist who transformed ideas of human nature in infancy, and he made wonderful contributions to his last days.

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What the bilingual brain tells us about language learning

One of the most common questions people ask revolves around when and how to learn a second language. One common view is that earlier is better. There is good evidence for this view. A number of studies have found that the earlier a person learns a second language, the better they perform on a number of tests.

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Landfill Harmonic: lessons in improvisation

On the first day of class in my ‘Psychology of Music’ course, I often ask students to create their own musical instruments. The catch is… they have to make them out of whatever they happen to have in their backpacks and pockets that day!

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Everybody has a story: the role of storytelling in therapy

By Johanna Slivinske
When was the last time you told or heard a good story? Was it happy, sad, or funny? Was it meaningful? What message did the story convey? People have been telling stories throughout history. They tell stories to teach lessons, to share messages, and to motivate others.

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Buddhism and biology: a not-so-odd couple

By David P. Barash
Science and religion don’t generally get along very well, from the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the heliocentric solar system to vigorous denials — mostly from fundamentalist Protestantism this time — of evolution by natural selection.

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Imagination and reason

By Molly Andrews
“By reason and logic we die hourly, by imagination we live!” wrote W.B. Yeats, thus resurrecting an age-old dichotomy between our ability to make sense of the world around us and our ability to see beyond what meets the eye. A belief in this dualism informs much thinking on imagination, which is often pitted against what is real. Jean Paul Sartre had a different way of seeing things.

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Three reasons why we’re drawn to faces in film

If we were to measure looking time (for instance, with an eye-tracking device), we would probably find that most people would scan all the pictures, but focus mostly on the frames with the faces. Even though the exterior shots and full-figure frames are more complex and colorful, our gaze would tend to fix on the faces.

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Our kids are safer than you might think

By Eric Rossen PhD, NCSP
“Our society has run amok.” ; “What is happening in our schools?” ; “You aren’t safe anywhere these days.”
Whether through conversation with my family, friends at dinner, or concerned parents talking to me as a mental health professional, I have heard these statements with growing frequency.

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One drug for all to cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?

By Murat Emre
Recently researchers from the MRC Toxicology Unit based at the University Of Leicester provided “food for hope”: Moreno et al reported in Science Translational Medicine, that an oral treatment targeting the “unfolded protein response” prevented neurodegeneration and clinical disease in an animal model, in “prion-infected mice”, a model of prion diseases which occur also in humans

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Nelson Mandela’s leadership: born or made?

By Julian Barling
Retrospectively understanding the leadership of anyone who has achieved iconic status is made difficult because we ascribe to them our own needs, dreams and fears. When we try and understand the leadership of Nelson Mandela, it’s natural to think that leadership must be something you are born to do. As but one example, organizational scholar Rosabeth Moss Kanter observed that “There are very few people in the world who could have done what he did.

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Mental health and human rights

By Michael Dudley and Fran Gale
On 29 November, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Soviet dissident poet and translator, died in Paris. In August 1968, this mother of two was arrested, “diagnosed” with schizophrenia and underwent five years’ forcible psychiatric treatment at Moscow’s then- infamous Serbsky Institute. She famously protested in Moscow’s Red Square against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

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