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Are We Superhuman? Part 1 – Feeling the Future

A surprising number of researchers suspect that your brain and body may be giving you a potentially game-changing glimpse into your conscious awareness of future events. Your nervous system may in fact have the ability of presentiment, where it creates unconscious changes in your physiology in anticipation of an impending future event occurring up to […]

The Mystery of Left-Handedness

Until recently, left-handedness was a matter of great prejudice, and in many cultures, it was common to force left-handed children to write with their right hand. Throughout the world, the prevalence of left-handedness is highly variable, ranging from approximately 5% to 25% and – for unknown reasons – is more common in men than in […]

Sleep and Obesity

Thanks to the obesity epidemic, we’ve seen an explosion of research on the problem of excess weight and the physiological mechanisms of weight control. It has turned out that body weight balance is far from the simple arithmetic of “calories in” and “calories out”. What has surprised many researchers, however, is the clear connection between […]

The wrong sort of discussion

The Times Higher Education has an article on post-publication peer review, and whether it will survive legal challenges The legal action launched by a US scientist who claims that anonymous comments questioning his science cost him a lucrative job offer has raised further questions about the potential for post-publication peer review to replace pre-publication review. […]

Facebook – Are We Over-Connected?

The evolution of the human brain is deeply intertwined with our experience as social beings, and the ability we have to bond with others through co-operative activities. According to Dunbar’s study of human brain size and complexity in relation to those other species, humans can manage at most around 150 people as part of their […]

The Humanities Are Ruining Neuroscience

Photo illustration by Andrea Levy for The Chronicle Review Inflammatory title, isn't it. Puzzled by how it could possibly happen? Then read on!A few days ago, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece called Neuroscience Is Ruining the Humanities. Show More Summary

Distraction effects

I’ve been puzzling over this tweet from Jeff Rouder: Surely, I thought, psychology is built out of effects. What could be wrong with focussing on testing which ones are reliable? But I think I’ve got it now. The thing about effects is that they show you – an experimental psychologist – can construct a situation […]

Wankers and prankers on the suicide hotline

The New York Magazine‘s new Science of Us section has an interesting review of a new documentary on hotlines – whether they be for suicide support or phone sex. I was initially annoyed at the fact that the documentary puts both of these in the same category but it’s based on the interesting premise that […]

Explore our back pages

At our birthday party on Thursday I told people how I’d crunched the stats for the 10 years of mindhacks.com posts. Nearly 5000 posts, and over 2 million words – an incredible achievement (for which 96% of the credit should go to Vaughan). In 2010 we had an overhaul (thanks JD for this, and Matt […]

Improve Cognition With A Trip Down Memory Lane

The human brain can concentrate on externally focused tasks, such as answering a question or solving a puzzle, or internally focused tasks, such as daydreaming. Until recently, these activities were believed to be mutually exclusive. That is, activating one suppressed the other. But now, evidence suggests that engaging the internally focused brain network actually improves […]

How to Choose Science Advisers

I recently discussed the decision of the EU president to eliminate the post of the EUC science adviser. It seems that a major factor in eliminating the position was the unpopular pro-GMO views of the person holding the post, Professor Anne Glover. Now the US Congress has just passed a bill that would change the way [...]

How Much Water?

Water is the focus of a great deal of medical myths and snakeoil. This is perhaps due to water’s health halo – it is the very essence of purity, the elixir of life. I wonder if there is an evolved psychological connection to water. The idea of drinking dirty or contaminated water seems to be [...]

Perception vs Facts

I was recently in a conversation with someone about the alleged threat that Muslims present to Western societies. I made the point that not all Muslims are radicals, and it’s not valid to condemn the entire group based upon the actions of their most radical members. They countered that “90%” of Muslims were radicals. Obviously, [...]

Politics vs Science

What happens when your political or ideological views are contradicted by the consensus of scientific opinion regarding the evidence? It appears that a common reaction (depending on how strongly held the ideological views are) is to reject science. Not only do people reject the science specific to their issue, they reject science itself. They reason [...]

The Seduction of Cancer Quackery

Here’s another instance of the narrative clashing with reality. I wrote recently about an 11-year-old girl, a member of Canada’s Six Nations community, who has leukemia. Her parents, concerned about the side effects of chemotherapy, would rather treat her with traditional and alternative medicine. They are fighting for their right to do so, and the [...]

Spike activity 21-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Wall Street Journal on The Future of AI: An Ubiquitous, Invisible, Smart Utility. A list of the 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter compiled by the BPS Research Digest. And a mixed bag it is too. Student Science has a fantastic how-to […]

An Equation for Happiness?

It’s no secret that the level of personal happiness isn’t directly linked to the material things in life. This is well illustrated by the fact that this year, the crown of the happiest nation in the world went to Panama, according to the Gallup and Healthways Global report. In comparison, the UK is ranked 76th […]

Vogue magazine continues neglect of cognitive science

Mind Hacks has been awarded the 2014 British Psychological Society’s Public Engagement and Media Award for its services to obsessive coverage of psychology and neuroscience. I think I can speak for both Tom and I when I say we were actually aiming for recognition by Vogue magazine but it’s better than a poke in the […]

Does Your Social Network Shape Your Weight?

According to scientific studies, your wellbeing, your opinions and even your weight are shaped by your social networks. Now many of these factors are broadcast online. How do they affect us? Nicholas Christakis, physician, social scientist and professor at Yale University, has explored how our face-to-face social networks affect everything we think, feel, and do. […]

Cushing’s abandoned brains

I’ve just found a great short documentary about the abandoned brain collection of pioneering neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing. The video describes how Cushing’s archives, which genuinely involved hundreds of brains in jars, as well as rare slides and photos of the early days of brain surgery, were rediscovered in the basement of Yale University and restored […]

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