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 …

Read more

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 …

Read more

5 books to understand how your brain works

I love reading. I read a couple of books a month. And, as you know, I’m fascinated with the weird ways our brain works and the biology of the mind. This is a short list of great books about the human brain which anyone can read. No need for a neuroscience degree, just a lot …

Read more

Build your own mental gym

At this point, most people are aware of the benefits of physical exercise. It doesn’t mean we actually act on it—$1.8 billion spent on unused gym memberships in the U.S. only—but we do know physical activity is good for us. What about mental exercise? Shouldn’t we train our brains, too? Building mental strength is not …

Read more

Neuralink and the future of knowledge work

Yesterday evening, Elon Musk gave the first public presentation about Neuralink, a company he founded in 2017 to build brain-computer interfaces. While most of the research in that field has been focused on restoring functionality lost due to paralysis, Elon targets healthy and able-bodied people. Elon considers that artificial intelligence surpassing human intelligence is not …

Read more

How stress and anxiety impact your ability to focus

Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety can have an effect on cognitive processes, with many studies showing that inducing negative mood states in individuals leads to a reduction in executive functions (Grant et al, 2001; Hammar & Ardal, 2009). This reduction may be caused by a depletion in limited attention resources in individuals experiencing …

Read more

Are emotions good or bad?

The role of emotions has been debated over the years, with some claiming that they are “bad for our peace of mind” (Skinner, 1948), and others arguing that they are important for our “physical or social survival” (Keltner & Gross, 1999). Emotions can be defined as states induced by the occurrence, termination, or omission of …

Read more

Personalised medicine and mental health

Personalised medicine is a medical model that tailors treatment to individuals based on genetic, epigenomic, and clinical information (Mathur & Sutton, 2017). Also called precision medicine (Boguski et al., 2009), P4 medicine (Flores et al., 2013) or stratified medicine (Trusheim et al., 2007), it is anticipated to have a major effect on both the development …

Read more

Mental disorders in high versus low income countries

Psychiatric epidemiology studies the distribution and causal mechanisms of mental disorders in the population (McQuistion, 2008). It is a branch of epidemiology with its own set of challenges, including difficult assessment of caseness, high comorbidity, complex measurement of risk-factors such as stress or lack of social support, costly diagnostics, and information bias (Burger & Neeleman, …

Read more

Benzodiazepines and anxiety disorders: a risky bet

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterised by significant and ongoing feelings of worry and fear. They include agoraphobia, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalised anxiety disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). They constitute the most prevalent subgroup of mental disorders, with up …

Read more