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March 2017

Ideomotor Apraxia: The Burden of Intentional Movement

Neurologist Dr R. sits with Mr J., a 48-year-old photographer who’d recently suffered a stroke, in his office. Dr R. asks Mr J. to demonstrate a waving motion as if he were saying hello, to which he attempts with some difficulty. When asked to point towards the ceiling, Mr J. again encounters difficulties as he finds himself clenching and unclenching his fist. Dr R. proceeds to hold his hand out in front of him with his palm facing the floor. “Try to imitate the movement,” he asks. With deliberate effort, Mr J. eventually manages. “That’s good!” praises Dr R, “Now turn your hand over.” Mr J., with increased frustration, gives this a try – only to begin repeatedly slapping his hand against his thigh instead.

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The Echo Chamber: Is Social Media to Blame?

With the recent inauguration of Donald Trump and the results of the Brexit referendum, alongside a growth in support for parties like UKIP, it seems that populations of voters are becoming more extreme in their political views.

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Say Yes to The Mess

This article was inspired by Tim Harford’s talk on “The Importance of Being Messy”, an Intelligence Squared Debate, 6th Dec. 2016

Economist Tim Harford puts forth a compelling case to put our autopilot selves on hold occasionally, and embrace the unexpected. While we derive comfort and efficiency from organization and structure, Harford proposes that structure doesn’t always help us get the best out of our abilities, that randomness and chaos force us to become the best versions of ourselves in extenuating circumstances – such as pianist Keith Jarrett’s concert in Cologne, where he gave one of his most powerful performances on an untuned rehearsal piano. Oppenheimer and colleagues (2010) carried out a study on ‘desirable difficulties’ as mechanisms to improve exam performance of students. They found that changing the font of the study material to something relatively uncommon or difficult (think comic sans ms or Ar Decode) helped those students score better than the ones who read the material in more typical fonts like Times New Roman. ‘Complex’ fonts increased attention and slowed their pace of reading, thus leading to more in-depth retention of the material.

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Postgraduate Application Guide (PAG) #4: Work Experience and Future Careers

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As the field of academia gets increasingly more competitive, it becomes harder to impress the admissions office: there are too many intelligent people out there nowadays, so good grades alone just don’t cut it anymore. This is where work experience comes in. Not only does it enable your application to stand out, but also demonstrates your maturity, responsibility, commitment and many other important qualities that make you a worthy applicant. So, work experience is pretty much a necessity for an aspiring psychologist, but you probably already know this from all the careers lectures you had to sit through during your time at UCL. So, what can postgrads advise when it comes to work experience?

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