Psychology

Part guidebook, part workbook, Ariel's book for neurotypical partners is sure to be considered a boon for spouses who know almost nothing about Asperger's Syndrome. Written by  Cindy Ariel, a licensed psychologist who provides therapy for a variety of issues, including relationships, it is an easy-to-read guide to understanding Asperger's Syndrome and why partners on the spectrum behave in ways that may be hard for those unfamiliar with the syndrome to understand.

If you want to irritate a lot of people at once, write an article about evolutionary psychology. Publishing such an article will invariably provoke a firestorm of denunciations and criticisms. Given the vehemence of these attacks, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that the scientific basis for evolutionary psychology (or “evpsy” as it is sometimes abbreviated) was akin to tarot cards or bloodletting. Yet the basic premise of evpsy—that some aspects of the human brain and behavior were subject to evolutionary pressures—seems to be scientifically sound.
A recent study by University of Alberta researchers Elena Nicoladis and Cassandra Foursha-Stevenson in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology wanted to see whether speaking French (being bilingual) influenced how children assigned gender to objects. It yielded some interesting observations, like that in the unilingual crowd, more cows are boys and cats are girls.
There's a joke that goes when a man gets married, his wife changes everything about him and then complains he's not the man she married.

While it isn't entirely true, the sentiment goes both ways. So if your significant other makes a romantic effort this Valentine's Day, give them some credit for trying instead of remembering all the ways they have let you down. 

A new Northwestern University survey/study says that the more you believe your partner is capable of change and perceive that he or she is trying to improve, the more secure and happy you will feel in your relationship. That is true even if you think your partner could still do more to be a better partner.
The gap between atheists and the religious seems at times to be an impossible divide, almost as if believers and non-believers come from different species. What separates the secular from the sacred? An "Ask the Brains" question on the Scientific American site recently inquired as to any differences between the brain of an atheist and the brain of a religious person. Andrew Newberg, the director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia, responded that, yes, in fact, there are some small but perceptible differences between the brains of believers and non-believers.

Conventional wisdom holds you're born with perfect pitch or you're not. The conventional wisdom is wrong. Here's how to train perfect pitch.

For my book Brain Trust, I interviewed Diana Deutsch, University of California San Diego professor and president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and she said the trick is pairing pitch with meaning -- early!

Taking notes during class? Topic-focused study? A consistent learning environment? All are exactly opposite the best strategies for learning. Really, I recently had the good fortune to interview Robert Bjork, director of the UCLA Learning and Forgetting Lab, distinguished professor of psychology, and massively renowned expert on packing things in your brain in a way that keeps them from leaking out. And it turns out that everything I thought I knew about learning is wrong.

Here's what he said.
Changes to the diagnostic definition of autism will be published in the fifth edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" - DSM V - but exactly what those changes will be is a key point of discussion. There are still a lot of qualifying issues in a lot of areas for a publication that has already been a long time in the making.

At stake? Apparently a lot of money.  Autism was once rare enough that a definition was not rigorous but it also was not crucial - some leeway was allowed.  As a result, recent increased instances, either to more occurrences or more accurate diagnoses or even mis-diagnosis, have made the new definition for DSM-V a hot topic.
Gamification is a topic I have mentioned not too long ago (see this post). Recently I attended a Boston CHI presentation by Chris Cartter called "The Socialization and Gamification of Health Behavior Change Apps."

Gamification

One thing that Cartter said that sounds right, and may resonate with some of my readers, is that games are fuzzy, not perfect sequential processes. And that is what health behavior changes are more like.

So gamification in this area might actually result in better methods than old fashioned x-step procedures.

Who do you think will win the Republican presidential nomination? Obsession with this question possesses the entire United States. Today a brief search on Google for “GOP primary prediction” returned close to 40 million results. Over the past few months, the news media has been a continuous spin cycle of talking heads, pontificating pundits, bleating politicians, and outraged citizens, all converging on the topic of who will eventually be crowned the Republican candidate for the American presidency. The amount of effort expended on this process is staggering—even though many people felt that the probable outcome was more or less obvious from the start.