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Posts Tagged "mind"

Anthropology in Practice

What makes theme parks popular vacation destinations?

Disney World's Big Thunder, 2008. Photo by author.

One of the hallmarks of the Fourth of July weekend here in the United States is that it’s a big travel weekend. Many people take advantage of the holiday to plan vacations (it’s an extra day off, after all). And if children are a part of the traveling troupe, theme parks are often popular destinations. [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Urban Lore Debunked in New E-Book: Fact or Fiction: Science Tackles 58 Popular Myths

Did NASA really spend millions creating a pen that would write in space? Is chocolate poisonous to dogs? Does stress cause gray hair? These questions are just a sample of the urban lore investigated in our newest eBook, Fact or Fiction: Science Tackles 58 Popular Myths. Drawing from Scientific American’s “Fact or Fiction” and “Strange [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Announcing Scientific American MIND’s Tablet Edition for iPad

Mind-iPad-Cover

Our readers have been clamoring for more digital ways to access Scientific American Mind. So today is particularly exciting for the Mind team: our tablet edition for the iPad is now live! Check out our free trial issue in the Apple App Store on your iPad. In addition to all the articles that appear in [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Moderated Discussion on Social and Emotional Learning: Preparing Our Children to Excel

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 7:00 P.M.–8:30 P.M. The New York Academy of Sciences For more information about the event click here. School has traditionally been about teaching kids new knowledge and skills. Most people have long believed that each child’s temperament and capacity for learning are more or less inborn—or at least, not the [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Don’t Forget Our New E-Book, Remember When? The Science of Memory

Remember When? The Science of Memory

Why can you vividly recall the day your father took you to your first baseball game many years ago, but you can’t remember where you just put the car keys? We tend not to think about it much, but memory is the seat of consciousness. The process of how we remember, how we forget, and [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American MIND Launches a New Home Page and Blog Network

I am thrilled to announce two big developments for Scientific American MIND today. We are launching a new home page, mind.scientificamerican.com, so that fans of the magazine can find our print and online articles, as well as multimedia, in one convenient location. Starting today, you’ll start to see several new contributors in the mix, which [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

No Silly Love Songs? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Our Latest E-Book: Love, Sex and Science

eBook - Disarming Cupid: Love, Sex and Science

Will “Love Will Keep Us Together” or is it true that “Love Is a Battlefield”? Whereas the topic of romance has provided limitless inspiration for artists, writers and musicians, scientists are just as fascinated by affairs of the heart, though they seldom sing about it. Cupid’s unpredictable arrow explains little, so it can be more [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Introducing Beautiful Minds

kid on playground

When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with a learning disability. By the age of three, I had already suffered from twenty-one ear infections. As a result, I developed “Central Auditory Processing Disorder,” which made it very difficult for me to process auditory input in real time. For much of my youth, I felt as [...]

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Bering in Mind

Natural homophobes? Evolutionary psychology and antigay attitudes

Consider this a warning: the theory I’m about to describe is likely to boil untold liters of blood and prompt mountains of angry fists to clench in revolt. It’s the best—the kindest—of you out there likely to get the most upset, too. I’d like to think of myself as being in that category, at least, [...]

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Brainwaves

Catching Ourselves in the Act of Thinking

rodin-thinker

From 1934 to 1970, Louie Mayer worked as a cook and housekeeper for writers Virginia and Leonard Woolf at their home in Rodmell, England. Her very first day on the job, she noticed something strange. As Louie worked in the kitchen, voices poured through the ceiling from the upstairs bathroom, where Virginia was soaking in [...]

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Brainwaves

Why We Need to Study the Brain’s Evolution in Order to Understand the Modern Mind

In the September 17th issue of The New Yorker, Anthony Gottlieb analyzes Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, a new book by David Barash, a psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Gottlieb’s article is more than just a book review—it’s also the latest in a long line of critiques of evolutionary [...]

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Brainwaves

Know Your Neurons: How to Classify Different Types of Neurons in the Brain’s Forest

illustrations-of-neurons

Previously, on Know Your Neurons: Chapter 1: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron Chapter 2: How to Classify Different Types of Neurons, or The Dendrology of the Neuron Forest Scientists have organized the cells that make up the nervous system into two broad groups: neurons, which are the primary signaling cells, and glia, which [...]

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Brainwaves

Know Your Neurons: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron

selection-of-neuron-types

Over the years, I have taught my copy of Microsoft Word a lot of neuroscience terminology: amygdala, corpus callosum, dendritic spines, voxel. But it always knew what neuron meant. I thought I did too. Neurons—the electrically excitable cells that make up the brain and nervous system—first fascinated me in high school. In college, like so [...]

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But Not Simpler

Dangerous Optimism: Risk, Bias and Smoking

Trails of acrid grey mist hang in the air. I use the front of my shirt as an impromptu gas mask as I cough out my drink order to the bartender. Passing through one of these repulsive clouds is an irritating game of “try not to breathe.” The saturated air inside has made it almost [...]

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Food Matters

Is your nose making you overeat?

Fruit flies overeat when they smell something tasty; what about you?

Some people are drawn to the thick smell of bacon, sizzling and crackling in the skillet on a Saturday morning.  For others, it’s the aroma of freshly baked cookies on a Friday night or the smell of McDonald’s fries creeping in through the car window.  At this time of year, I find the scent of [...]

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Guest Blog

The Potential of LSD, Heroin, Marijuana and Other Controlled Substances in Brain Research

no drugs sign

Imagine being an astronomer in a world where the telescope was banned. This effectively happened in the 1600s when, for over 100 years, the Catholic Church prohibited access to knowledge of the heavens in a vain attempt to stop scientists proving that the earth was not the center of the universe.  ‘Surely similar censorship could [...]

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Guest Blog

Dangerous Optimism: Risk, Bias and Smoking

Trails of acrid grey mist hang in the air. I use the front of my shirt as an impromptu gas mask as I cough out my drink order to the bartender. Passing through one of these repulsive clouds is an irritating game of “try not to breathe.” The saturated air inside has made it almost [...]

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Guest Blog

You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential

"One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts." —Albert Einstein While Einstein was not a neuroscientist, he sure knew what he was talking about in regards to the human capacity to achieve. He knew intuitively what we can [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

To Patch a Visual Gap, Turn That Text Around

Fixation maps

Reader, be proud. You’re a perceptual expert. As you read, your eyes alternately focus and move along each line of text in a seamless sequence honed over years of practice. Reading, recognizing faces and distinguishing colors or musical tones are all forms of perceptual expertise. To appreciate the visual skill involved in reading, turn a [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

The Search for a Nobel Prize-Winning Synapse Machine

In the cellular machinery that Rothman, Schekman and Südhof all helped reconstruct, a SNARE complex - made of synaptobrevin, syntaxin and SNAP-25 - zips together to bind a synaptic vesicle to the surface of a receiving neuron. Courtesy of Danko Dimchev Georgiev, M.D. via Wikimedia Commons.

2013’s Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine honors three researchers in particular – but what it really honors is thirty-plus years of work not only from them, but also from their labs, their graduate students and their collaborators. Winners James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof all helped assemble our current picture of the cellular [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Plenty of Pheromones in the Sea

As we sat in my car outside a silent movie theater in Los Angeles, my friend anxiously opened a plastic bag containing a white T-shirt she’d slept in for the past three nights. “Does it smell like me?” she asked nervously, gesturing the open end toward my face. I stuck my nose into the bag [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

How to Erase Bad Memories

Courtesy of R. Douglas Fields.

I’ll never forget it. They strapped electrodes to my wrist, cranked up a black dial on a frightening electronic device encrusted with switches and knobs, and shocked me repeatedly with jolts of electricity. No, this was not torture and the memory is not a traumatic one. I was inside the laboratory of Dr. Daniela Schiller, [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Creativity, Madness and Drugs

San Diego—Would we have Poe’s Raven today if the tormented author had taken lithium to suppress his bipolar illness? Not likely, considering the high frequency of psychiatric illnesses among writers and artists, concluded psychiatrist Kay Jamison of Johns Hopkins Medical School speaking last week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Madness [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

The Dark Side of Power Posing: Cape or Kryptonite?

In 1942, the mild mannered Clark Kent excused himself from his friend Lois Lane to take an important call. Clark slipped into a phone booth (remember those?), and moments later Superman emerged. Have you ever wished that you had ability to step into a phone booth or bathroom for a minute to shed your insecurities [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Read the Thoughts of a Boy with Autism

Reprinted with permission from SFARI.org, an editorially independent division of the Simons Foundation. (Find original story here.) The autism described in The Reason I Jump is quite different from the mostly social disorder that I, as a researcher and clinician, find in textbooks and journal articles. The new bestselling book, featuring the remarkable testimony of [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

The Ancient Marriage between Music, Movement and Mood

Think back to that moment when you first heard your favorite song. What about it made you stop in your tracks? Was it the incessant buildup, soaring high, filling you with a sense of elation? The flirty high notes, light as wings, bringing a bounce in your step? Or the rumbling base drop, furiously cascading, [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Should Habits or Goals Direct Your Life? It Depends

It happens to us all: you spend all day avoiding the cookie jar at work, but when you pass by it in the late afternoon, your hand reaches in and grabs a cookie. Before you know it, you’re wiping crumbs from your mouth. Or, on the way to the new job, you get distracted by [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

How I Recovered My Social Skills after Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can seriously impair the ability to relate to people, but with effort, a degree of normalcy can be attained. As someone who lives with schizophrenia, this is glaringly obvious to me. When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually [...]

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Observations

Brains in Boston: Weekend Recap of Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting

poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting

Greetings from Boston where the 21st annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society is underway.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with symposia, lectures and more than 400 posters.  Here are just a few of the highlights. The bilingual brain has been a hot topic at the meeting this year, particularly as researchers grapple with the [...]

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Observations

The Continuing Mystery of the Moon Illusion [Video]

The harvest moon is almost upon us—specifically, September 19. It’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it has deep significance in our cultural histories. Namely, it enabled our ancestral farmers to toil longer in the fields. (Today, electricity enables us to toil longer in the office—thanks, Tom Edison.) One enduring belief is [...]

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Observations

Bumblebees Quickly Learn Best Paths to Sweet Flowers

bumblebees learn shortest routes to flowers

Bumblebees, it turns out, don’t bumble. Using tiny radar tracking devices, motion-activated cameras and artificial flowers, scientists have learned how the bees themselves quickly learn the best routes to take when they go foraging from flower to flower. In fact, their cognitive competence in this area seems to match that of bigger-brained animals. A team [...]

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Observations

What’s a Voxel and What Can It Tell Us? A Primer on fMRI

fMRI working memory task

At right is a picture of someone’s brain as seen through functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI. This particular subject is taxing his neurons with a working memory task—those sunny orange specks represent brain activity related to the task. fMRI images show the brain according to changes in blood oxygen level, a proxy for degree [...]

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Observations

Sleep Violence: A Real Danger, Little Understood

Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, painting by Henry Fuseli

Last month, psychiatrists at Stanford University announced that sleepwalking is on the rise. More than 8.4 million adult Americans—3.6 percent of the population over 18—are prone to sleepwalking. That’s up from a 2 percent prevalence the same authors found a decade ago. And as the latest issue of Scientific American Mind notes, a subset of [...]

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Observations

Field Tests for Revised Psychiatric Guide Reveal Reliability Problems for 2 Major Diagnoses

DSM

PHILADELPHIA—In the summer of 2011 I began working on a feature article about a book that most people have never heard of—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a reference guide for psychiatrists and clinicians. Most of the DSM‘s pages contain lists of symptoms that characterize different mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, [...]

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Observations

APA Announces New Changes to Drafts of the DSM-5, Psychiatry’s New “Bible”

I have this slim silver book on my desk called the “Quick Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-IV-TR.” Page 153 reads: Schizophrenia A. Characteristic symptoms: Two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated): (1) delusions (2) hallucinations (3) disorganized [...]

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Observations

Spine Tuning: Finding Physical Evidence of How Practice Rewires the Brain

all-star-shoelaces

In kindergarten, several of my friends and I were very serious about learning to tie our shoes. I remember sitting on the edge of the playground, looping laces into bunny ears and twisting them into a knot over and over again until I had it just right. A few years later, whistling became my new [...]

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Observations

Neuroscientists: We Don’t Really Know What We Are Talking about, Either

brain-dunce-cap

NEW YORK—At a surprise April 1 press conference, a panel of neuroscientists confessed that they and most of their colleagues make up half of what they write in research journals and tell reporters. “We’re always qualifying our conclusions by reminding people that the brain is extremely complex and difficult to understand—and it is,” says Philip [...]

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Observations

Brain-Machine Interfaces in Fact and Fiction

AUSTIN, Texas—Use your brain to control the world. That’s the promise of the brain-machine interface, a system that directly translates your thoughts into actions. Here at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova, technologists from the Near Future Laboratory, have showed how popular culture has explored the possibilities of the devices—for [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Quick! What Is the Word for a Pair of Opposites? [Video]

memory_nyoin

  // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the first video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in New York City. [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Who Needs Stimulants for ADHD?

Ritalin. Courtesy of en:User:Sponge via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1970, 150,000 U.S. children were taking stimulant medications. By 2007, that number had risen to 2.7 million, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark of the University of California, San Francisco. In the video embedded in this post, titled “Do 2.5 Million Kids Really Need Ritalin?” Newmark analyzes the reasons behind the rise in prescriptions, which [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How To Coach Parents [Audio]

Most moms and dads are not taught how to parent. We are supposed to just know what to do, I suppose. But even if you have a relatively calm and obedient child, moments inevitably arise when you could really use an owner’s manual. Belatedly, I think I’ve found one. Parent-child interaction therapy is a kind [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Teen Builds Gateway to the Brain for Girls

Girls run on a brain maze

The Synapse Project “encourages young women to enter the field of neuroscience through information and mentorship,” according to its website. This endeavor, an amalgam of outlets for kids, information for teens and career advice for young women, turns out to be the brainchild of … a child, one keenly interested in the brain. Sixteen-year-old Grace [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How to Avoid the Self-Esteem Trap

Courtesy of Key Foster via Flickr.

I have always assumed that having a strong sense of self-worth was important. I figured it made a person happier, healthier, more successful, and easier to be around. Turns out that these benefits of self-esteem are rather hard to prove. Having high self-esteem has some modest pluses, studies suggest. It makes you more persistent, for [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How to Become More Resilient

person rock climbing

I clearly remember the day in the ninth grade that a classmate accosted me in the hallway of my junior high to recruit me for the high school debate team. I thought he was crazy. My heart would beat frantically at the prospect of answering a question in class. I could not talk in front [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

When Is Stress Good for You? [Video]

Courtesy of Ashley Campbell Photography via Flickr.

We hear a lot about the downsides of stress. Too much of it can impair thinking, harm our health and, more prosaically, put us in a bad mood. But anyone who pontificates about the risks of chronic stress would be remiss in not pointing out that some measure of psychological tension is an important (not [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Hear Me Talk about Social and Emotional Learning!

On Monday, May 13, at 7pm, I’ll be moderating a panel at The New York Academy of Sciences. If you are in the area, please attend! Here a description of the event: Social and Emotional Learning: Preparing Our Children to Excel Monday, May 13, 2013 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM The New York Academy [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How to Make Kids Smarter—and Ease Existential Terror

A few months ago, I logged on to Lumosity.com to play my daily dose of brain games. The company had given me a free, temporary account so that I could try out their system as part of my research for an article I was writing on brain training. My then 11-year-old son wanted to play, [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Do Music Lessons Make You Smarter?

Practice makes progress, if not perfection, for most things in life. Generally, practicing a skill—be it basketball, chess or the tuba—mostly makes you better at whatever it was you practiced. Even related areas do not benefit much. Doing intensive basketball drills does not usually make a person particularly good at football. Chess experts are not [...]

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