Category: Mind & Brain

What I Learned Studying Real Vampires

A scene from "Interview with the Vampire" featuring Christian Slater and Brad Pitt. (Credit: Warner Bros./Youtube)

A scene from “Interview with the Vampire” featuring Christian Slater and Brad Pitt. (Credit: Warner Bros./Youtube)

[Editor’s note: One of the most popular articles on our site is a piece by Georgia Institute of Technology researcher John Edgar Browning about his work with the real vampire community, published in March 2015. In it, Browning discusses what a real vampire is, how they live their lives, and what researchers are hoping to learn about them. Here, he expands on the difficulties of finding and studying this enigmatic group of people, as well as the lessons he’s learned in the process.]

With Christopher Rice’s tantalizing tweet about the new Vampire Lestat television treatment and news of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s Dracula prequel, Dracul, due out from Putnam in October, the topic of vampires again looms nigh for lovers of fiction and the supernatural. What happens, though, when the borders between fact and fiction fade into gray uncertainty?

For real vampires (or human vampires, as they are otherwise called), this is the reality they live with every day. What follows is not the full scope of their story. It’s not even a little. But it’s enough, I hope, to offer insight and invite curiosity. And perhaps, from some of us, even to spur self-reflection. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Our Ancestors Got High, Too

By Cody Cottier | April 9, 2018 8:00 am
high-drug-ancestor

Humans have been getting high for a long, long time. (Credit: Shutterstock)

The tales we tell — from Homer and Genesis to your friend’s ninth recounting of that epic rave last summer — are rich with drug use. But studies show our ancestors were chewing, brewing and blazing long before they started to record their intoxicated escapades.

Virtually all human societies use mind-altering substances. What’s more, about 90 percent give drug-induced altered states of consciousness a role in their fundamental belief systems, according to a survey of 488 modern societies. And this isn’t new. Many psychoactive plants we consume today, and those that have fallen out of style, date back thousands of years. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts

Let’s Journey Through the Mind of a Dog

By Erica Tennenhouse | March 22, 2018 12:55 pm
an adorable dog looking at the camera

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Inside a dog’s furry head are millions of neurons firing away, passing chemicals to one another and generating thoughts. We may guess at what our canine pals are thinking about: food, a walk, their loving owners.

But for all the time humans spend interacting with dogs, their thoughts largely elude us, and it’s easy to see why: dogs can’t speak their minds (at least in any language we know). But we still are curious about our best bud’s mindset, and scientists have devised creative methods to get into their heads. While our grasp of canine cognition may never approach what we know of the human psyche, the latest research has yielded tantalizing nuggets about the inner lives of dogs. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, Top Posts

Theoretically, Recording Dreams Is Possible…Scientists Are Trying

By Charlotte Hu | March 21, 2018 1:44 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: FCSCAFEINE/Shutterstock)

Dreams can feel awfully real when you’re deep in sleep. Perhaps you find a hidden doorway in your home that leads to entirely new rooms and passageways. Maybe you went to work in your underwear—yikes.

When you wake up, you check your closet for that mysterious doorway; maybe you jolt awake in a cold sweat, instantly relieved you still have plenty of time to properly clothe yourself before leaving the house. Regardless, whatever you were experiencing felt very real just moments ago.

Dreams are essentially vivid memories that never existed. Yet you find yourself inside an all-encompassing parallel reality, a fantastical world that’s uniquely yours. The trouble with dreams, especially the fun ones, is that they’re fleeting. Often, you can’t remember a thing from a dream just moments after waking—the echo of some feeling is all that remains. But what if you could record your dreams, and play them back for analysis, or even share them with friends?

Theoretically, experts say, that might one day be possible. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts

Let’s End the Debate About Video Games and Violence

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

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
cobain

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
shutterstock_585315854

(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

satisfying-1

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
shutterstock_172852223

(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
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