Welcome, one and all, to the long-delayed 83rd edition of Encephalon. It is a special privilege for me to return to hosting this carnival of the best psychology and neuroscience writing on the web and the lineup this time around is as strong as ever. Maintained in an on-again off-again fashion since 2006, the carnival takes its name from the Greek enkephalos (vertebrate brain).
First up is a post by Khalil Cassimally at Lab Coat Life with an overview of some fascinating research into how preverbal infants shape their social preferences and how they are influenced by others' behaviour toward unrelated third parties. And, yes, infants do pick up on that sort of thing.
Then we have Janet Kwasniak at Charbonniers.org weighing in on the complex and troubling question of free will (which I choose not to believe that I have). Can scientists actually provide some insight into what motivates us to behave the way we do? She also provides with a post on confabulation, transparency, and the cognitive quirks that all of us have.
We also have the redoubtable Neurocritic who shares a fascinating post which asks that perplexing question: Do more friends on Facebook mean a larger amygdala? (sadly, it doesn't).
Are autistic people lost in space? That is the question posed by Michelle Dawson at Autism Crisis in a disturbing post describing some research into how autistic children perceive reality as well as the problems posed by the research methodology used. Speaking of autism, Jacy Young of Advances in the History of Psychology provides us with a look at "Donald T.", the now-77 year old man who was the first ever case to be diagnosed with autism in 1943.
Which bring us to Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology with a two-part post on prodromal psychosis and how subtly psychotic disorders can begin (an how frightening it can be when it happens). Part One is here and the second part can be found here. We also hear from Dr. Shock, MD who talks about the psychological factors that make a good bodyguard.
Allison Goldstein of the the Wiley-Blackwell Life Sciences Blog shares this post reviewing research into video games and how they enhance visual attention skills. So World of Warcraft has some benefit after all (who knew?).
For my own blog, I weigh in a historical mystery surrounding Friedrich Nietzsche, the bizarre illness that felled him, and how a diagnosis can gain propaganda value. The first part can be seen here and the second part is here.
Finally, we have Karen Franklin of In the News who provides us with two fascinating posts. The post on the recent Arizona shootings and how the various media pundits are feeding on the tragedy for their own ends. Can shooters be detected before the violence begins? She also shares a post on the use of solitary confinement in supermax prisons which asks the provocative question: Supermax: Hell on earth or . . . not as bad as we thought?
The next installment of Encephalon is February and will be hosted by Janet Kwasniak at Charbonniers.org. We're also still looking for hosts for the upcoming year! If you're interested in hosting, check out the Encephalon page and let Mike Lisieski over at Cephalove know of your availablility.