The Touch Test. When did someone last touch you? Maybe they kissed you goodbye this morning or someone touched you on the arm on the bus because you’d dropped something. The Touch Test explores touch in its many forms and launches a major piece of research in which we want as many people as possible to take part.
Commissioned by Wellcome Collection to conduct The Touch Test in collaboration with BBC Radio 4 is Michael Banissy Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London. Also in the studio are Deborah Bowman, Professor of Medical Ethics at St Georges University, and Laura Bates from the Everyday Sexism campaign. Exploring the future of touch is Hannah Limerick from Ultraleap, demonstrating how touch sensations will be used in the near future.
Professor Roger Kneebone and lace maker Fleur Oakes explain how medical students can learn to touch, and Claudia visits Dr Sarah Wilkes at the Institute of Making and encounters some extraordinary tactile materials including the lightest material ever made. We hear a preliminary taster from the drama company 20 Stories High from their show Touchy, and paper engineer Helen Friel creates an artwork in the studio with a revealing message.
Are bucket lists a good thing?
Are bucket lists always a good thing? Many people choose to write a bucket list to fill their life with exciting and new experiences. Blogger Annette White tells Claudia Hammond about how her bucket list has helped her overcome anxiety. But clinical psychologist Linda Blair is not convinced that they really help people’s well-being.
A new paper found that people tend to worry more about the actions of significant others in their lives than their own actions or the actions of people they are not that close to. Surprisingly, people also worry more about moderate friends than they do about themselves.
Annie Hickox is a consultant clinical neuropsychologist with 35 years experience of helping clients with their mental health. One day she got a call from her daughter Jane and discovered that her own daughter had depression. Jane and Annie share their story of navigating depression.
A new paper shows that people who engage in altruistic behaviours may experience an instantaneous buffer to physical pain.
Producer: Caroline Steel
Allergies and anxiety; imposter syndrome; recognising dog expressions
There’s a growing number of children with severe allergies to peanuts and other foods. Parents and children themselves have to learn not only to cope with the physical risks but mental health issues that severe food allergies can bring. Rebecca Knibb, Associate Professor of Psychology from Aston University discusses how the psychological impacts are being addressed which until now have been slow to be recognised.
Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you shouldn’t really be allowed to do what you’re doing and that eventually everyone else will realise that. And new research shows that it’s more widespread than we thought. Claudia Hammond discusses fraudulent feelings with Professor Richard Gardner from the University of Nevada, who’s done this new research and Dr Steve Nimmo, Editor of the Journal Occupational Medicine.
How good at humans at recognising their dog’s emotions? Is it something we can all do or something you have to learn? Federica Amici from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig has published new research on this little studied area, that could help reduce problems when human-hound encounters go wrong.
Producer Adrian Washbourne
The importance of play in childhood
Psychologists’ advice is that play is beneficial for children developmentally and socially. In this Christmas episode of All in the Mind Claudia visits the Play Well exhibition at Wellcome Collection which looks at the significance of play in childhood and across society as a way of learning, expressing emotions and building empathy. Claudia’s joined at the exhibition by play experts Maia and Rachel.
Children in the UK have written letters to Father Christmas since Victorian times and Dr Sian Pooley at the University of Oxford shows how they reveal the history of play.
LEGO Professor of Play Paul Ramchandani at the University of Cambridge researches the developmental benefits for children and looks at how fathers play with their children.
And how do you get children off the computer and playing outside? Helen Dodd, Professor of Child Psychology at Reading Univesity, and Dr Pete Etchells, Reader in Psychology and Science Communication at Bath Spa University, look at the evidence and ask if a balance can be achieved.
Pain and the brain
Pain has long been recognised as something of an enigma by scientists and clinicians. It's both a measurable physiological process, as well as deeply personal and subjective. Claudia Hammond meets scientists attending the British Neuroscience Association's Christmas symposium on pain and the brain.
She talks to the so-called "queen of pain", Professor Irene Tracey of Oxford University, about how research into acute and chronic pain is being addressed. We hear from Professor Ulrike Bingel about the positive and negative effects of expectation and anxiety on painful symptoms, and how this could be harnessed to enhance the power of drug treatments and reduce side effects.
Professor Tamar Makin of University College London reveals some of the latest insights into the mysterious pain associated with missing limbs and wonders if we've been getting the thinking on phantom limb pain all wrong.
And why are some kinds of pain - after exercising say, almost enjoyable? Professor Siri Leknes of Oslo University discusses the curious relationship between pain and pleasure.