Brain Scans

Psychological constructs as local optima

NATURE REVIEWS PSYCHOLOGY

Psychological constructs are necessary abstractions to operationalise otherwise intractable entities. However, the way constructs are defined and refined over time introduces notable bias into models of behaviour, which prevents effective knowledge building within and across subfields.

Image by Hal Gatewood

How malleable are cognitive abilities? A critical perspective on popular brief interventions

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST

A number of popular research areas suggest that cognitive performance can be manipulated via relatively brief interventions. These findings have generated a lot of traction, given their inherent appeal to individuals and society. However, recent evidence indicates that cognitive abilities might not be as malleable as preliminary findings implied and that other more stable factors play an important role.

Image by ALAN DE LA CRUZ

Shifting minds: A quantitative reappraisal of cognitive intervention research

PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE

Recent popular areas of research in psychology suggest that behavioural interventions can have profound effects on our cognitive abilities. In particular, the study of brain training, video gaming, mindset, and stereotype threat all include claims that low-cost, noninvasive manipulations of the environment can greatly affect individual performance. Here, I provide a quantitative reappraisal of this literature, focusing on recent meta-analytic findings.