The Goldilocks Principle of Stress and Anxiety

As I was chatting with a friend, we noticed that we both felt incredibly excited and anxious about the work we were currently doing. We could not come up with the right word to describe that exact feeling: we were stressed, yes, but not in a negative way. We did worry about the outcome of …

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Impossible colors: our vision’s incomplete palette

We take the way we see the world for granted. But our experience of the world is shaped in part by our visual system—which is both extremely complex and limited. Impossible colors, which are sometimes called non-physical colors, are a great reminder to not consider our perception of the visual world the only possible experience. …

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Brain-training games are BS

“Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!” claims the fifteen-year old Nintendo brain-training app, also known as Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training. The app consists of mini-games supposedly designed to stimulate various parts of the brain and help combat normal aging effects on the brain. The latest version was released early 2020 in Europe …

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Beyond human consciousness

“What is it like to be a bat?” famously asked Thomas Nagel in 1974 in The Philosophical Review. It may sound like a silly question, but it has profound implications. We quite literally make sense of the world through our touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Our sense of space in particular is governed in …

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The Evolution of Consciousness: a talk by Dr Derek Tracy

These are raw notes from a lecture Dr Derek Tracy gave at UCL on March 2nd 2020. Dr Derek Tracy is a psychiatrist and clinical director at Oxleas NHS and Bexley Care, as well as a senior lecturer in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, and at UCL’s division of …

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Somewhere over the brainbow: a beautiful neuroimaging technique

In the late 1800s, researchers discovered a technique to stain neurons black. Called the Golgi’s method after its inventor Camillo Golgi, an Italian physician and scientist, it allowed us to discover a number of new facts about the organisation of the nervous system, and gave rise to the neuron doctrine—the concept that the nervous system …

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The genetics of happiness: does happiness really depend upon ourselves?

“Happiness depends upon ourselves” is a quote often attributed to Aristotle. It is supposedly up to the individual to create their own happiness. Throughout the centuries, people have spent lots of time, energy, and money in the quest for happiness. Today, billions are being spent on self-help books, aromatherapy, coaches, and even mood-enhancing crystals, all …

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Neuroeducation: exploring the potential of brain-based education

Most people are aware that learning and mental performance are a function of the brain. As such, neuroscientists spend a lot of time exploring the biology behind processes such as the formation of memories, creative processes, social and emotional cognition, and more. But how can these scientific findings be translated into the real world? That’s …

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Is there a limit to the human brain’s capacity?

The human brain is a fascinating machine. The complex interactions in our mind shape our thoughts, memories, feelings and dreams, and ultimately make us who we are. Is there a limit to what this wonderful machine can accomplish? Is the human intellect capped to a certain level? If we project ourselves in, say, a thousand …

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Science-based methods to improve your memory

Many think it’s impossible to improve your memory. But scientific research shows that many techniques do have an impact on how well we remember things. Unfortunately, lots of people use the wrong methods. For example, highlighting has virtually zero effect on information retention. “It seems like if I have highlighted something (…) then I should …

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