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Archives for Brain Function

Brain Function

Looking at the Negative (Spaces) In Our World

Elisha Goldstein’s book, The Now Effect, has sent my brain spinning in yet another direction.

The anecdote:
A professor stood before a philosophy class holding an empty jar. As the students took their seats, she began filling the jar with golf balls. When they reached the top, she asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then took a bag of pebbles and...
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Anxiety

Imagery and the Mind and Mindfulness

I’ve only just started reading the new book by fellow PyschCentral blogger Elisha Goldstein, and I’ve already found something useful.

Goldstein is a psychologist in private practice, and his excellent blog is about mindfulness. His book, The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life, is a manual for learning mindfulness. The book is short, quick-read chapters that leave you with lots to think about and try.

“See, Touch,...
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Aging

Good Stuff I’ve Learned In A Year Of Real World Research

This blog celebrated its first anniversary on January 1, so I am therefore compelled (it's the law) to reflect on the past year.

Writing Real World Research has been fun and also a lot of work. I read a lot more research than I end up writing about. Academic writing is no easy read and I am eternally grateful to those researchers who manage to slip a little joke in here and there. Some papers...
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Anxiety

Fear of Parties: One Good Reason


New research finds a small but significant correlation between social anxiety and ability to recognize faces.

Yes. Oh yes.

I don’t have severe social anxiety, but I do have some, and this gave me an aha! moment about it. I have a terrible time remembering faces.  Even famous people. I recognize George Clooney, easy. Matt Damon? Not so much. Meryl Streep, easy. Charlize Theron?...
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Brain Function

How Pain Ate My Brain

The other day I learned that I’ve been walking around for the better part of a decade with a dislocated toe.

I knew something was wrong. I’d had it X-rayed and the doctor said it looked like I’d jammed my toe somehow (true) and had developed some form of arthritis. I can’t remember the name. He gave me a prescription I never filled. I was not ready for a lifelong commitment, and figured...
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Brain Function

Daydreaming As Our Default Mode (And Why That’s Not Great)

Last night, my yoga and meditation teacher mentioned her surprise at how  much easier meditation gets over time.

She no longer has to work nearly as hard as she once did, she said, to reach a meditative state. And, she said, it's much easier than it once was to keep intrusive thoughts and daydreams at bay while she meditated. “I don’t know why,” she concluded, with some wonder in her voice.

Coincidentally, I’d just spent much...
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Aging

The Language of Dementia

New research from Penn State and the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging finds that caregivers of people with dementia are not listening to what the people they care for want.

The researchers interviewed 256 pairs of people. In each pair, one person had  mild to moderate dementia, the other was the caregiver.

From a press release from Penn State:
The researchers interviewed members of the pairs separately, asking questions related to how much...
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Brain Function

My Brain is Tired…Whatever That Means

My brain is tired.

My work as a freelance writer requires a lot of thinking. Not only a lot of thinking, but a lot of thinking about a lot of different subjects. Research too. And then, after I’ve thought and researched and thought some more, I have to string together words to explain all that thinking and research in a way that might be interesting to other people.

I’ve cranked out a lot of work in...
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Autism

Women in the Sciences: Fire Up Your Inner Dilbert

Dilbert lives.

The socially awkward engineer is turning up in research labs—and not only as the guy in the lab coat.

Research out of Cornell University and published in the journal of the International Society for Autism Research found that in male university students, systemizing (the skills of math and science) and empathizing (including such social skills as reading nonverbal signals) are on one scale: if they’re good at systemizing they’re not so good...
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Brain Function

Does All Research Have a Point? (Should It?)

I’m a big fan of scientific and behavioral research. It’s interesting and useful and fun to read (well, not fun fun) and I believe it usually matters even when it doesn’t seem to.

Even so, sometimes I read a study and think, “Yeah, and….?”

Like this research on fear, in which researchers used a computational model of a rodent amygdala, taught fear to their model (I don’t know, maybe showed it really scary equations), and caused...
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