Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Conscious unity, split perception

We take it for granted that our entire brain only produces one conscious agent, despite the fact that the brain actually consists of many different, more or less independent modules. But how is this possible? The classic answer to this riddle is cortical connectivity. Separate brain regions only give rise to one conscious agent because the different parts continuously exchange massive amounts of information.

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Embodied Selves and Divided Minds

Where your mind goes, you go? (Part 1)

What does it take for you to persist across time? What sorts of changes could you survive, and what sorts of changes would bring your existence to an end? The dominant approach to personal identity says that a person persists over time by virtue of facts about psychological continuity (e.g. continuity of memory, character, or mental capacities). Various puzzle cases have been presented to support this view.

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The nature of addictive disorders

What are addictive disorders? Are they indeed disorders? The nature of problematic psychoactive substance use continues to be a matter of controversy among the public and politicians; even among health professionals there is little consensus. Some have a view that repeated use of a substance (or gambling or gaming) represents personal choice (a “free-will decision”) even when problems are occurring.

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Challenging assumptions about how music helps

When people asked me what I did for a living, some were curious and wanted to know more, while others looked at me as if I were selling snake oil. Nowadays, these conversations are slightly different. Although it is still not always well understood as a profession, more people are familiar with the term “music therapy” and open to the idea that music and other creative mediums may be used to promote health and well-being.

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Can you learn while you sleep?

We will all spend about one third of our lifetime asleep, deprived of this precious ability to act and to react. During these long idle hours, little is perceived from the external world and little is remembered. For some, sleep is a refuge. For others, it is just a saddening waste. Yet, all animals, from fruit flies to humans, need to sleep and scientists have proven, time and time again, the variety of benefits that sleep has on the body and most importantly, on the mind.

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Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry

Social democracy: a prescription for dementia?

In present-day Western Europe and North America, the dementia research field is in as much political turmoil as mainstream politics. And the struggling forces at play in both domains are often the same: individual activity or collective solidarity, technological solutions or community development/public health, for-profits versus nonprofits, unbridled capitalism or regulatory constraint.

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Winnicott’s banquet of 1966

Winnicott’s admiration for Freud developed apace. When Freud emigrated to London in 1938 to escape the Nazi menace, Winnicott paid an unexpected visit to Freud’s home in order to inquire about the well-being of the Viennese refugees and to offer help and support – a gesture deeply appreciated by the family. Throughout his working life, Winnicott remained a devoted Freudian.

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Collective Emotions

Emotional dynamics of right-wing political populism

Donald Trump’s election to the 45th President of the United States is the biggest victory of contemporary right-wing political populism to date. The Brexit referendum had already shattered Europe and the UK “remain”-voters alike, but Trump’s win is of worldwide significance. The outcomes of both elections took the media, pollsters, and political analysts in the relevant countries and elsewhere by surprise.

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The Mental Capacity Act 2005: an opportune time to reflect

More than a decade has passed since the Mental Capacity Act (‘MCA’) received royal assent. Described as a ‘visionary piece of legislation’, the MCA was a significant landmark on the legal landscape. It represented a triumph of autonomy by recognising that, as far as possible, people should play an active role in decisions about their welfare.

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Curing brain aneurysms by reconstructing arteries

While it is believed that about one in 50 Americans harbor a brain aneurysm, most will never know it, and their aneurysm will never cause a problem. But rarely, the arterial wall of an aneurysm can become so thin that it bursts, spilling blood over the brain’s surface. This is the most feared outcome of a brain aneurysm and is what drives the urgency in treating many brain aneurysms, even if found accidentally.

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How the Mind Comes into Being

How the mind comes into being

When we interact with our world – regardless if by means of a simple grasp, a smile, or the utterance of a sentence – we are typically quite confident that it was us, who intended to and thus executed the interaction. But what is this “us”? Is it something physical or something mental? Is it merely a deterministic program or is there more to it? And how does it develop, that is, how does the mind come into being?

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On not taking Trump literally

Donald Trump has always had a rocky relationship with the truth. The fact that his pronouncements often fail to align with reality has now simply become an accepted fact. In earlier times candidates who spoke this way would have quickly fallen off the map. Why not Trump? One interesting take on this is the claim that his statements should not be taken literally. What exactly does it mean to not take something literally?

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Comprehensive affordable solutions to a major health problem

Alcohol and drug abuse costs Americans approximately $428 billion annually. Despite this enormous cost—which, we must remember, is just the economic face of a community, family, and individually life-shattering problem—the vast majority of those with an alcohol or substance use problem do not receive treatment, and even fewer are likely to achieve long-term sobriety.

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The Psychology of Meditation

New Year’s resolution: compassion in the face of fear

Over the course of the last year, we have witnessed expressions of anger, fear, pitilessness and even hatred both predictably and unexpectedly. The British vote to leave the EU and US voters’ preference for a Trump presidency were prompted in part by feelings of anger towards leaders or ‘the system’ and fear about immigration and identity. The world has watched the war in Syria as thousands die and millions are misplaced with both horror and helplessness.

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Dilemmas of a broken substance abuse system

With rising health care expenses, we are all trying to solve the paradoxical dilemma of finding ways to develop better, more comprehensive health care systems at an affordable cost. To be successful, we need to tackle one of the most expensive health problems we face, alcohol and drug abuse, which costs us approximately $428 billion annually. Comparatively, the expenses of health care services, medications, and lost productivity for heart disease costs $316 billion per year.

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Where next for dementia research?

Modern medicine has done well in helping Western citizens live longer. So have other changes like improved diets, better public hygiene, and less smoking. Dementia, which is primarily though not entirely age-related, has come to prominence in part as other lethal diseases have diminished. It recently surpassed heart disease as the number one killer in England and Wales (overall and in women, according to the UK Office for National Statistics).

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