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Archives for Cognition

Books

Brush Up On Your People Skills, Read a Novel

“I never read fiction,” is a point of pride for many people, along the lines of “I never watch TV.”

The implication is that nonfiction is a higher calling, that fiction is a frivolous pastime while nonfiction is a serious education. This has been a push-pull throughout the history of the novel, especially since early novels tended towards salacious or scandalous, more Danielle Steel than Ian McEwan.

Poet Samuel Coleridge, (1712 to 1835) stated his...
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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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Cognition

Creativity Under Pressure In The New Media Landscape

“The Internet has ruined everything,” my husband likes to grumble.

In some ways, he’s right.

The Internet has laid waste to newspapers and threatens traditional publishing in all forms. It sucked the money out of the music industry. It's killing off traditional bookstores--even the superstores that killed off the small independents.

New technology has opened up forms of expression to people who had been blocked by gatekeepers, but at the same time threatens to drag down the...
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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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Aging

What It Takes To Be a Lifelong Learner

A friend learning her way around her new iPad wonders if learning really is different as we get older. And what’s the deal with that?

The short answer is yes, our ability to learn does change as we age. We get slower.

We have diminished capacity in our working memory as we age. That is, you can’t throw too much stuff at us at once. As a rule, it takes older people longer to learn things...
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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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Books

Audio Books vs. Book Books: Which Does the Brain Prefer?

I’ve recently started listening to audio books. The idea never appealed to me much because I’ve never liked being read to. Reading is a solitary experience for me and being read to always seemed a little icky, though I couldn’t tell you why.

Certainly being read to has a venerable history. At one time, all writing was meant to be read aloud, since few people could read. And reading aloud was family entertainment in...
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