Free will: the mind’s best trick

Free will, which is considered by many central to human nature, has been studied as far back as ancient Greece by philosophers and scientists alike. It is most commonly defined as the capacity to choose between different courses of action in an unimpeded way—that is to say the ability to make choices in which the …

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The comforting pseudoscience of the MBTI

When I was in uni, we had to attend a series of workshops designed to improve our career prospects. We were supposed to learn how to create a resume, how to use job boards, and lots of other useful skills. At the beginning of the very first session, the instructor gave us a long personality …

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Neuroproductivity: how to be more productive using neuroscience

Neuroproductivity is the neuroscience of productivity. Most of us have goals we would like to achieve. These can be professional or personal. But obstacles get in the way, which we need to overcome to get closer to where we want to be. External obligations such as social events, unforeseen additional work, and demanding customers can …

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Joy triggers: happiness on demand

Love, money, family, work. So many big goals, which can at times feel overwhelming. And yet we keep saying: “It’s the small things that matter.” A nice cup of tea, getting hugged by a friend, petting a dog. When it comes to happiness, it may just be the case that enjoying the little things and …

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IQ and death: why smarter people live longer

In my article about neuromyths, I debunked the commonly-held belief that IQ tests results only represent your ability to take IQ tests. In reality—and despite their flaws—IQ tests are predictive of many things. And, in particular, IQ tests can help predict your chances of dying. In a cohort study conducted in 2009 with almost a …

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Neuromyths: debunking the misconceptions about our brains

Fake news has become a hot topic. But the deliberate disinformation of the general public via traditional outlets or social media goes beyond the news: there is also an alarming rise in “fake science.” The brain and the mind feel extremely familiar. We do spend lots of our time inside our heads. That’s why it’s …

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The Mind, Explained: a Netflix documentary

The news and opinion website Vox just released a new mini-series on Netflix. It’s five 20-minute episodes, all about how the mind works. In typical Vox style, The Mind, Explained mixes cultural narratives, philosophy, and light science to ask interesting questions. I spent the evening watching these and wanted to share my notes. Overall, this …

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The neuroscience of ikigai

I lived in Japan for seven months when I was younger. For all of the challenges I faced there as a woman and a foreigner, I still was fascinated by the culture. Because Japan experienced a long period of relative isolation from the outside world—caused by sakoku (“closed country”), the isolationist foreign policy of the …

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The generation effect

Do you feel like you can remember things better when you actively engage with the information and create your own version of it? That’s called the Generation Effect. In a research paper published in 1978 in the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, scientists described it as the phenomenon where information is better remembered …

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