The results of a clinical study into the effects of ‘gut-directed’ hypnotherapy on IBS have been so positive that even the researchers were surprised.

Featuring: Dr Simon Peters, Psychophysiologist, Clinical Gut-Directed Hypnotherapist.

Lady undergoing hypnotherapy
Lady undergoing hypnotherapy

Patients are asked to imagine their gut as a beautiful, perfectly slimy set of passages, where all the digesting food slips through as if smoothly lubricated. Or they might be asked to think of their gut system as a free-flowing river, no obstacles, no blockages, everything working as it should.

This is the brave new world of hypnotherapy treatment for IBS — irritable bowel syndrome — a nasty and mysterious gut disorder that affects as many as one in seven Australians. At best it’s painful and restricts diet and lifestyle. …

Although it was a century ago, there are parallels between the Spanish Flu pandemic and COVID-19. What was it like on the frontline for our healthcare workers this time around — and what have we learnt as a society?

Featuring: Rose Jaspers, Intensive care nurse, Vanessa Clothier, Emergency nurse, Michael Hau, Historian.

Spanish flu medical staff.
Spanish flu medical staff.
The 1918 Spanish Flu has also been called “The Forgotten Flu”.

It’s highly contagious and deadly. Medical systems are quickly stretched. There’s no vaccine and no consensus about how to contain it — and who should do the containing.

Some people wear masks, some refuse. Travellers are quarantined, the populace locked down. Businesses shut and the economy goes south. Borders shut. Governments argue with each other. The death toll rises.

In our year of COVID-19 this should all sound familiar, but in fact it’s a description of events 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu, the worst pandemic in history. …

Pioneering research indicates that those with an acquired brain injury are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to online fraud.

Featuring: Kate Gould, Neuropsychologist.

Picture of a brain made up with blue cogs and a broken red cog.
Picture of a brain made up with blue cogs and a broken red cog.
Are people with acquired brain injurys (ABI) more likely to be scammed over longer periods of time?

Back in 2005, Melbourne man Colin*, now 57, was involved in a road accident. “I came off second-best,” he says. He was riding a motorcycle, and the result was a traumatic brain injury.

It would be a long road to recovery. Life would never be quite the same. The last thing he needed was to be scammed online. But that’s what happened.

It was a romance scam, which Monash University researchers now believe may be especially difficult for people with an acquired brain injury (ABI) to spot, deal with, and recover from.

There’s little or no global research being undertaken in the area, despite the consequences of an ABI making a person highly vulnerable to online scams due to impaired memory, inflexibility, disassociation, disinhibition, impulsivity and loneliness. …

The evidence is telling us the Rainbow Laces campaign or Pride Games do little to stop homophobic language in sport.

Written by: Erik Denison, Behavioural Science Researcher.

Footballer wearing Rainbow Laces
Footballer wearing Rainbow Laces
Can Rainbow Laces help fix homophobia in sport?

Sport organisation CEOs, board members, corporate sponsors, and even LGBTQ partners have all asked us if there’s any evidence that the Rainbow Laces campaign, or Pride Games in other countries, help to end homophobia and make sport more inclusive for LGBTQ people.

Until very recently, it was impossible to answer this question. Over the past 50 years, there have been thousands of studies conducted into the problem of homophobia in sport ( see this timeline). …

Recent scientific studies suggest that motherhood physically and functionally reshapes neurological function for a lifetime, and is potentially beneficial for the ageing maternal brain.

Written by:
Winnie Orchard, PhD candidate investigating the neuroscience of parenthood.

Neural Pathways diagram on a pregnant woman’s tummy
Neural Pathways diagram on a pregnant woman’s tummy
Once a mother, always a mother — at least in your brain!

It’s well-understood that the extreme hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy prepare a mother’s body for the physical aspects of motherhood — growing a child, giving birth, and producing breast milk.

But what we’re beginning to understand now is how the hormonal changes prepare her brain for the behavioural, mental and emotional tasks of caregiving.

This is what we colloquially call “mummy-brain” or “baby-brain”. The social brain itself has been restructured.

Taiwan’s “humour-over-rumour” approach is an example of how to effectively counter misinformation in the digital age.

Featuring: Lennon Chang, Criminology expert.

Boy shouting out about fake news
Boy shouting out about fake news

Since the advent of web-based social media platforms, the creation and dissemination of information is no longer in the hands of a few.

Citizens can now simultaneously be creators, consumers and spreaders of content. The analytics and algorithms of social media mean citizens have a new power not only to create information, but also to disseminate information by posting or reposting, and this has led to a large increase in the volume of information circulated.

When it’s reposted by “ super spreaders “ such as entertainment or sport celebrities or politicians, it’s perceived to have their endorsement. …

Female voices on our smartphones and networked home devices are re-creating an outdated feminine stereotype.

Featuring: Yolande Strengers, digital sociologist.

Image for post
Image for post
Siri — creating an old-fashioned feminine stereotype?

In the The Jetsons, the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series set in the future, Rosie the robot did the chores that nobody else cared to do — cleaning and cooking, scratching George Jetson on the back, and shooting basketball hoops with young Elroy.

Funnily enough, the original Rosie was an older-model robot, which was all the Jetsons could afford. But the family grew to love her, and refused an upgrade.

In their new book The Smart Wife: Why Siri, Alexa and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist Reboot, Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy argue that the female voices on our smartphones and networked home devices such as Google Home are re-creating an old-fashioned feminine stereotype, where a little lady can be called upon to help us out. …

A new, simple brain-training technique can help people with alcohol addiction.

Featuring: Victoria Manning, Addiction expert, Antonia Verdejo-Garcia, Psychology expert, Dan Lubman, Psychiatrist and Addiction Medicine Specialist.

Woman looking at an alcoholic drink.
Woman looking at an alcoholic drink.

When we drink frequently, alcohol cues such as places, sights, smells, and social situations that remind us of drinking, subconsciously capture our attention and drive impulses to drink. This tendency is called a cognitive bias.

Your kitchen fridge on a Friday night is a perfect example of an “alcohol cue,” says Associate Professor Victoria Manning.

As a society, Australians are continually bombarded with alcohol cues, be it from bottle shops, pubs, or advertising at sporting events. …

The popular vote counts for little as the US election draws nearer. All eyes are on the magic electoral college number of 270 — and there’s plenty to yet play out. And there’s the COVID factor…

Written by: Daniel Steedman, International politics expert.

US election 2020 voting
US election 2020 voting
Given all the uncertainty, if Biden should win, he needs to win by a significant margin.

The US election next week carries something of the whiff of a Las Vegas casino — bluff, bluster, and braggadocio.

The stakes for the nation are perhaps higher than they’ve ever been. The entire electoral table is in play.

The election may be on Tuesday (US time), but there’s still a long way to go and, as we saw in 2016, anything can happen in the interim.

The magic number is 270

To win this election, Trump or Biden must win the electoral college. Consisting of 538 members, the winner needs at least 270 electoral votes.

It’s not enough for a candidate to win the popular vote. Remember that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. More people voted for her than Donald Trump. But, she didn’t carry the electoral college, and she lost the election. Trump carried 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. …

When are we most likely to do our best work? New research shows that, on average, our brains work best in the middle of the day — if asked to perform abstract, logical or problem-solving tasks.

Featuring: Denni Tommasi, Economist.

Image for post
Image for post
Exam results study suggests the cognitive peak happens in the middle of the day.

New research shows that, on average, our brains work best in the middle of the day — if asked to perform abstract, logical or problem-solving tasks.

Monash economist Denni Tommasi and University of Granada economist Alessio Gaggero came to this conclusion after studying 500,000 exam paper results in the UK over a five-year period. The exams were scheduled at 9am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm.

“The researchers had unwittingly stumbled upon “the perfect experiment to understand our productivity.”

“We discovered a regularity that we couldn’t explain by simple economic reasoning,” Dr Tommasi says. The exam result study suggested the cognitive peak happened in the middle of the day — on average, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) students performed best in the 1.30pm …

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