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The Sad World of Uncited Papers

A Nature News feature examines academic papers that have never been cited. According to author Richard Van Noorden, by some estimates up to half of all papers have yet to receive their first citation 5 years after publication, and even 10% of Nobel Prizewinners' papers go uncited. However, Van Noorden reports that these estimates are far too high. Show More Summary

The Emerging Neuroscience of Mind-Body Medicine

For years as a hard-nosed neuroscientist, I’ve been baffled by the success of clinical techniques that my wife, Chris Gilbert M.D. Ph.D., has pioneered to diagnose and cure illnesses such as back pain, chronic fatigue, stomach ailments, and recurring respiratory infections. The reason for my head-scratching is that many of Dr. Chris’s diagnostic tests and […]

Gambling Addiction: Is it as Bad as Cocaine?

Is gambling an addictive pathology that causes changes in the brain and requires treatment? Or is it merely a compulsive behaviour? This question has long kept the medical world confused. Traditionally, it was thought that addiction could happen only when a person is dependent on some physically existing substance. However, now this traditional way of […]

How Does Starting School Early Impact Educational Attainment?

A singular cutoff point for school entry results in age differences between children of the same grade. In many school systems, September-born children, begin compulsory education in September of the year in which they turn five, making them relatively older than summer born children who begin school aged four. Research on these annually age-grouped cohorts […]

Brief Guide to the CTE Brains in the News. Part 2: Fred McNeill

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the neurodegenerative disease of the moment, made famous by the violent and untimely deaths of many retired professional athletes. Repeated blows to the head sustained in contact sports such as boxing and American football can result in abnormal accumulations of tau protein (usually many years later). Show More Summary

The Dangers of American Sexual Prudishness

Is the US the world’s most uptight nation regarding sex? Maybe not the most, but certainly among them. For example, the US has more laws regulating sexual behavior than all European countries combined. US prudishness is so severe as to be deadly. To end sexual violence and harassment against women, something has to change. Is […]

The Remarkable "Curvature Blindness" Illusion

A new optical illusion has been discovered, and it's really quite striking. The strange effect is called the 'curvature blindness' illusion, and it's described in a new paper from psychologist Kohske Takahashi of Chukyo University, Japan. Here's an example of the illusion: A series of wavy horizontal lines are shown. Show More Summary

The Neuroscience Behind the Placebo Effect

As a child, did you ever feel better after your mother kissed your bumped knee? How do you think that worked? The power of suggestion—or the placebo effect—is a powerful psychological phenomenon that affects every aspect of our lives, dictating our preferences for food, drink, medication, social activities, and more. Pioneering experiments describing the use […]

Predicting Suicide: Return of a Scandal (Part 2)

In the first post in this series, I looked at the work of Swedish psychiatrist Lars Thorell, who has developed a test which, he claims, is able to predict suicides in depressed patients. Thorell's test is called electrodermal orientation...Show More Summary

Brief Guide to the CTE Brains in the News. Part 1: Aaron Hernandez

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the neurodegenerative disease of the moment, made famous by the violent and untimely deaths of many retired professional athletes. Repeated blows to the head sustained in contact sports such as boxing and American football can result in abnormal accumulations of tau protein (usually many years later). Show More Summary

The Bottom of the Barrel of Science Fraud

Sometimes, scientific misconduct is so blatant as to be comical. I recently came across an example of this on Twitter. The following is an image from a paper published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C: As pointed out on PubPeer,...Show More Summary

The Pseudoscience of Masaru Emoto

Masaru Emoto thinks that emotions can affect inanimate objects. If you are nice to water and then freeze it, it will make pretty happy crystals. If you are mean to water and then freeze it, it will make ugly unhappy crystals. He writes: The result was that we always observed beautiful crystals after giving good […]

Renewed Antiscience Legislation

The fight over science in public education continues, and if anything picked up considerably in 2017. Earlier in the year Nature reported on various state laws designed to water down science education or allow for equal time to be given to unscientific views. They report: Florida’s legislature approved a bill on 5 May that would […]

Marijuana And Sexual Dysfunction — Could Your Marijuana Usage Be Hindering Your Performance in Bed?

What is marijuana? Marijuana, also called pot, cannabis, weed, reefer, Mary Jane, dope, broccoli, chronic, reefer, and 420, among countless others, consists of a mixture of dried plant leaves, flowers, and/or stems of the Cannabis Sativa plant. In addition, there is a resin-based version of marijuana that is called hash. Most people either smoke marijuana […]

Evolution Observed in Darwin’s Finches

Just two weeks ago I wrote about “Evolution Caught in the Act” – I was writing about fossils that are clearly transitional and occur within a major evolutionary change, like a land animal adapting to aquatic life. Now we have another report that justifies the same title, although this one is in living species. For […]

How Wikipedia Tackles Fringe Nonsense

Wikipedia is an interesting experiment in amateur crowdsourcing of information. I think it is a massively successful experiment, but it faces specific challenges. This page on Wikipedia discusses their approach to what information they allow to remain in their pages. They have a number of policies and practices that are meant to act as a […]

Re-Learning the Joy of Living with Journaling and Meditation

Moving along the treadmill of life, many of us succumb to the ever-present pressures to be faster, stronger, more efficient, and smarter. Perspective on what is happening in our lives is lost. We focus on failure and lacking within ourselves, rather than the abundance and opportunities for growth that surround us. We stop taking the time to […]

The Moon Landing Hoax – Again

James Randi has often observed that paranormal beliefs are like “unsinkable rubber duckies.” No matter how many times they are knocked down, they just keep popping back up. That’s because they are not based on facts or logic, but motivated reasoning serving some deeper cultural or emotional need. You can counter them with facts, but […]

God in the Brain: the Science of Neurotheology

We are the only species on the planet known to practice religion. This feature is universal among humans: there is no nation on Earth that does not practice one or another form of spiritual belief. The question is what makes our brain different so that we practice spirituality? Does religion serve any purpose to our […]

Medicinal Plants and the Brain — St. John’s Wort, Skullcap, and Ashwagandha

Medicinal plants still comprise a nebulous cloud in biomedical science. We know they have been used since the dawn of man, but there are precious few good quality scientific studies that support their use. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, plant medicines consist of many different molecules that interact together in the body to have a variety of, […]

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