Category: Mind & Brain

Let’s End the Debate About Video Games and Violence

By Christopher J. Ferguson, Stetson University | February 19, 2018 11:03 am

Young gamers give new titles a spin during a past SXSW gaming conference in Austin, Texas. (Credit: Shutterstock)

In the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Broward County, Florida high school, a familiar trope has reemerged: Often, when a young man is the shooter, people try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media. Florida lawmaker Jared Moskowitz made the connection the day after the shooting, saying the gunman “was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game.”

In January, after two students were killed and many others wounded by a 15-year-old shooter in Benton, Kentucky, the state’s governor criticized popular culture, telling reporters, “We can’t celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics and remove any sense of morality and sense of higher authority and then expect that things like this are not going to happen.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

How to Spot the Language of Depression

By Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, University of Reading | February 7, 2018 1:00 pm

A drawing of Kurt Cobain. (Credit: Shutterstock)

From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: emotions

This Is Your Brain on Mixed Martial Arts

By Mark Barna | December 28, 2017 12:38 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Michael Bisping has fought professionally in mixed martial arts since 2004. Last year, the journeyman won his first title. He knocked out Luke Rockhold in the first round to win the middleweight belt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, the most popular of several MMA organizations.

On Nov. 4 of this year, at age 38, Bisping defended his title for a second time. His opponent was the Canadian Georges St. Pierre, a former UFC champ. The fight, held in New York’s Madison Square Garden, was close until the third round, when a series of blows knocked Bisping to the canvas. Pierre pounced on the fallen fighter and applied a rear-naked choke, cutting off oxygen to Bisping’s brain. His body went limp. Read More

Are You a Directionally Biased Kisser?

(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Your brain is an organ of two halves – the left side and the right side. And there are many brain functions, such as language skills or which hand you write with, which are organized mostly in one side of the brain or the other.

Simple behavioral tests have now allowed us to see how this organization is revealed through biases in how we see and interact with the world – and each other – often without us being aware of it. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Why Are Oddly Satisfying Videos So…Satisfying?

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 15, 2017 11:58 am


If you’ve never seen a master lathe operator at work, I highly recommend it. Deft movements and practiced flourishes turn a block of spinning wood into a bedpost, top, bowl or some other circular object, each motion peeling away curls of wood to uncover the beauty hidden inside.

It’s hard to explain why the motions feel so right, but there is an undeniable allure to the work, as if it scratches an itch you didn’t know you had. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: senses

Do We Need a Word for Everything?

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 4, 2017 10:27 am

(Credit: danm12/Shutterstock)

Imagine walking through a forest near dusk. It is peaceful and quiet; the setting sun paints streaks of light through tree trunks and across your path. The scene is familiar to anyone who’s ever taken a walk in the woods. 

Using one word, how would you describe the experience? 

You might defer to a string of adjectives: serenity, beauty, peace, fulfillment — words that dance around the feeling without ever precisely pinning it down. But that’s not the case in Japanese. In that language, a specific term encapsulates the feeling evoked by sunlight dancing through the trees: komorebi.

It’s a tidy way of packaging calm, wonder and harmony into one word. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: emotions, psychology

Collective False Memories: What’s Behind the ‘Mandela Effect’?

By Caitlin Aamodt | February 16, 2017 1:45 pm


Would you trust a memory that felt as real as all your other memories, and if other people confirmed that they remembered it too? What if the memory turned out to be false? This scenario was named the ‘Mandela effect’ by the self-described ‘paranormal consultant’ Fiona Broome after she discovered that other people shared her (false) memory of the South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s.

Is a shared false memory really due to a so-called ‘glitch in the matrix’, or is there some other explanation for what’s happening? Broome attributes the disparity to the many-worlds or ‘multiverse’ interpretation of quantum mechanics. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: Memory & learning

Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched?

By Ben Thomas | October 31, 2016 10:51 am

(Credit: Shutterstock)

You’ve felt it at one time or another. You’re standing on a crowded train platform, or in the park, and suddenly, your alertness spikes: you’re being watched.

The hair on the back of your neck stands up. From some unconscious part of your brain, an alarm sounds: “Look over there!” Often, you turn and find your mind was playing tricks on you. But sometimes you turn and meet the eyes of a stranger whose gaze you’ve somehow sensed without consciously seeing it.

The idea that we can feel another’s person’s gaze has captured the attention of fringe researchers and parapsychologists for decades, but are we anywhere closer to explaining the roots this unnerving feeling? Does it exist? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: senses

Why Our ‘Procrastinating’ Brains Still Outperform Computers

By Parashkev Nachev, UCL | October 21, 2016 3:56 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Automated financial trading machines can make complex decisions in a thousandth of a second. A human being making a choice – however simple – can never be faster than about one-fifth of a second. Our reaction times are not only slow but also remarkably variable, ranging over hundreds of milliseconds.

Is this because our brains are poorly designed, prone to random uncertainty – or “noise” in the electronic jargon? Measured in the laboratory, even the neurons of a fly are both fast and precise in their responses to external events, down to a few milliseconds. The sloppiness of our reaction times looks less like an accident than a built-in feature. The brain deliberately procrastinates, even if we ask it to do otherwise. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts

Police Lineups: The Science of Getting It Right

By Ben Thomas | September 23, 2016 12:42 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

One night in 1984, a man broke into Jennifer Thompson’s apartment and raped her at knifepoint. Throughout the attack, the college student memorized every detail of her rapist’s face, promising herself that when she took the witness stand against him, “he was going to rot” in prison.

Thompson hurried to police the morning after the attack, giving them a detailed description of her rapist, filling in all the characteristics she’d memorized so carefully. The police put together a photographic lineup – the standard lineup technique in the modern U.S. – and Thompson selected a man named Ronald Junior Cotton. “I had picked the right guy,” she said. “I was sure. I knew it.”

But Cotton was innocent, as DNA evidence proved – after he’d spent 11 years in prison. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts

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