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Nurturing The Brain – Part II, Chocolate

Chocolate refers to anything that is made from cacao beans. The word “chocolate” has been etymologically traced to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao. It’s thought to have been cultivated by different cultures in central and south America for at least 3,000 years. The scientific name for cacao was […]

Actually, still no good explanation of ‘that dress’

The last time I almost went blind staring at “that dress” was thanks to Liz Hurley and on this occasion I find myself equally unsatisfied. I’ll spare you the introduction about the amazing blue/black or white/gold dress. But what’s left me rather disappointed are the numerous ‘science of the dress’ articles that have appeared everywhere […]

Spike activity 28-02-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Nautilus magazine has a good piece on behavioural economics and rethinking ‘nudges’. Although the rethink is really just another form of standard ‘nudge’. The biggest hedge fund in the world, the $165 billion Bridgewater, starts an AI team to help give it the edge […]

What Color Is This Dress? It’s An Optical Illusion

This is pretty amazing – almost as much for how quickly this has gone viral as for the effect itself. There is now an intense debate going on in the intertubes over whether this dress is black and blue or white and gold. Take a look and decide for yourself. Buzzfeed has a poll which currently [...]

Liberals and Conservatives Both Resist Science, But Differently

There have been a number of studies looking at how ideological belief influence attitudes toward science. It is no surprise that in general people, of whatever ideological bent, engage in motivated reasoning to deny science that appears to contradict their religious or political beliefs. There are different views, however, regarding whether or not the two [...]

Living with Schizoaffective Disorder – A Personal Story

Being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder was a real blow. I felt alone. I felt helpless. I felt my life had ended. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in a bathtub staring at the vein in my arm, wondering how much it would hurt to cut through the skin, or how frightened I’d […]

Anti-GMO Propaganda

There is so much anti-science propaganda out there I often feel like I am emptying the ocean with a spoon. Just today I was faced with an array of choices for my post – should I take on anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, or anti-AGW propaganda? For today, anyway, anti-GMO won. I’ll get to the others eventually. This [...]

ADHD Is Real

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has long been a target of those who dislike the very concept of mental disorders. This is partly because the emotional stakes are high – the diagnosis often results in children being treated with stimulants. Opposition to the concept of ADHD also reflects fundamental misunderstandings about medicine. A recent opinion [...]

Are “Helicopter Parents” Creating a Race of Disconnected Automatons?

One of the negative consequences of our high tech- and fear-dominated modern culture is the systematic withdrawal of children from independent and exploratory play, in natural social and physical environments. Our fear culture frustrates outside, unfettered exploration for the developing child. Show More Summary

Research in Maori Community Yields Hope for Huntington’s

I have just returned from a couple weeks in New Zealand, where I am collaborating with Dr. Melanie Cheung and others on a pretty incredible Huntington’s disease project. I am so inspired by what we’re doing there that I wanted to share a bit about it. Show More Summary

Podcast: Highlights from “Neuroplasticity and Healing” Summit…

Did you miss the “Neuroplasticity and Healing” Summit with the Dalai Lama, Dr. Michael Merzenich, Dr. Edward Taub, and Norman Doidge? Or did you find the video feed a bit lengthy and hard to understand? The wonderful Brain Science Podcast–long...Show More Summary

Collective Memory – Without WWIII Could Obama Be Forgotten?

Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon, I hate to shamefully admit, are the only American presidents from before the 1980s for whom I could recall their rough chronological place in American history. Considering that I am from Scotland, and have never studied American history, I guess that’s not too bad, right? Well, to […]

"Shell Shock"

From the British Psychological Society: A lecture from October 2014 by Prof. Edgar Jones on the topic, "Shell Shock: The First World War and the Origins of Psychological Medicine" Watch the lecture here. This is a very informative historical presentation about the topic.

Alzheimer's Disease: Julianne Moore on Preparing for Her Role in "Still Alice"

BBC Front Row's interview with Julianne Moore included a description of how she prepared for her role as Alice: Listen here

The Determiner Wars

A and The: almost certainly the least interesting words in the English language; and quite possibly the least useful as well. In fact, many languages manage perfectly well without them (which is why – for example – Russian learners of English often struggle with them). Nonetheless, these two little words – which linguists call “determiners” […]

Brains Aren’t Fooled By Virtual Reality

The scenes and the environments in World of Warcraft games appear so real that, for a moment, you forget you are staring at the screen. Technology has advanced so much that we can not only recreate reality but also engage with it. But however real the virtual may seem, the brain knows the difference! According […]

Kids are Not Naturally Nice – Parents Shape Future Heroes

For years, research has led parents to believe that children are naturally helpful and cooperative, before gradually learning to be selective about whom they help. Now this interpretation is being challenged by Stanford University research, which claims that altruistic behavior is governed more by social relationships than inborn instincts. Show More Summary

The smart unconscious

We feel that we are in control when our brains figure out puzzles or read words, says Tom Stafford, but a new experiment shows just how much work is going on underneath the surface of our conscious minds. It is a common misconception that we know our own minds. As I move around the world, […]

Spike activity 20-02-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Interesting social mapping using subway journey data from Beijing reproted in New Scientist. BPS Research Digest has compiled a comprehensive list of mind, brain and behaviour podcasts. That study finding a surge of p values just below 0.05 in psychology, probably not a sign […]

What Do Smartphones Do to the Brain?

Even as the smartphone continues to evolve in functionality and power, parents are anxious that their kids seem to be addicted to their device. According to them, all that their kids do is switch off their ears, bury their heads, and tap, flick, and scroll on their touchphone screens. But, scientists have discovered at least […]

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