Category Archives: Neuroscience

What Really Happened to Phineas Gage? – Psychology’s Most Famous Case Study

Phineas Gage close-up

If you have ever studied psychology, you probably know the name “Phineas Gage.” He was an American railway worker whose life changed dramatically on September 13, 1848. He was removing rocks so a railway to be laid, which sometimes requires drilling holes into the big boulders that can’t be pushed aside, and pushing in gun powder with an iron rod before exploding them from a safe distance. That day, however, he accidentally scraped the boulder which ignited the gun powder, projecting the rod into the air. It went straight through his head… but he lived. His legacy lives on as psychology’s most famous case study; but his legend is usually distorted in myth.

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The Psychological Science of Storytelling

Microphone with blurry audience BG

ResearchBlogging.orgIt hit me about two years ago, sometime after I started this blog. Somewhere between the comedy shows and alarming amount of documentaries I began watching, and the seemingly endless number of people I have met in the last few years, I realized that the social world spins on the axis of stories. It’s hard to believe this fact unless you’re actually in a position where you exploit it. For me, it has become a hard fact of life – if you’re a good storyteller, good things come to you, and people want to be around you. It seems like the most popular people are often the best storytellers, and if you’re a good storyteller, you’re probably good at other things too. But just how do stories have such amazing effects on our lives?

Posted in Culture, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Social Psych, TED | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Does Chewing Gum Help You Concentrate?

Bubble Gum Girl

ResearchBlogging.orgIf you want to be a rocket scientist, you might want to start chewing that stick of gum. At least, that’s the hypothesis of a growing body of research that suggests chewing bubble gum is correlated to the ability to concentrate on various mental tasks. And as every student knows (or at least should know) it’s not the amount of time you spend studying that matters – it’s the the amount of time you are actually learning. In short, the more you concentrate, the more you learn, the more you know. But what does the actual science say about this.

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The Brain is Not Simply Split into Two Totally Separate Halves, and Other Lessons on Skepticism

left brain right brain WRONG

One year ago, I wrote an article that skewered the infographic that one website had been sending to the public. I showed the evidence that contradicted what was claimed, and I ended up busting two persistent myths in that article. The first myth was that the two hemispheres of the brain (right and left) were radically different sections of the brain; the second myth was that people have distinct learning styles, which make some people “visual learners,” while others are “audial learners,” etc. I don’t mind explaining this stuff to laypeople, but there’s something unnerving about the email I got from one of the creators of the infographic.

Posted in Blogging, Media, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Skepticism | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Tortured Confessions – The Science of Waterboarding, Torture, and “Intense Stress”

zero-dark-thirty

ResearchBlogging.org With the new movie “Zero Dark Thirty” raising a lot of eyebrows with its depiction of waterboarding, there has been a lot of talk regarding the veracity of such techniques. Namely, does torture yield the intended results? Did the results assist in the hunt for Osama bin Laden? There are the anecdotes that make this an interesting case to look at, but we also have the science to give a more conclusive answer to the question of whether or not waterboarding works.

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Advertising to the Brain – Is Neuromarketing Ethical?

Have you enjoyed any recent commercials you saw on TV? Was there one that you considered profound, hilarious, moving, or inspiring? Advertisements nowadays are sometimes designed to appeal to you by using an increasingly popular procedure called “neuromarketing.” Neuromarketing is the study and practice of measuring how people’s brains respond to an advertisement, in order to maximize its effectiveness. This is done by monitoring things such as brain activity, eye-tracking, and skin response. But along with the technological advances that allow people to scan brains in order to sell products comes the all-important question: Is neuromarketing ethical?

Posted in Culture, Media, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Technology | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Hypnosis, the Power of Suggestion, and the Science of Hypnotherapy

You are getting very sleepy… As I count to three, you will fall into a deep trance. 1… Your eyes are scanning the words across the page, getting ready to read the rest of this post. You’re preparing for the amazing two BBC documentaries below that will together answer virtually every question about hypnosis of which you have ever conceived. 2… You’re going to understand what hypnosis really entails; including how it works, and its strengths and limitations. You will finish this article, say “Wow, that was amazing,” and write a fabulous comment below. …3!

Posted in Abnormal & Clinical Psych, Medicine & Health, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Social Psych | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Left-brain vs. Right-brain Learning Styles

Are you a creative person? Then you might be a right-brain thinker. What about your analytical skills? If you’re a highly organized and logical person, then you may be a left-brain thinker. These distinctions have been said to guide students and workers alike to function more efficiently in their everyday lives. That is, knowing what type of “thinker” you are can help you determine what your learning style is. For example, it may be useful to know whether or not you are a visual learner. So check the infographic below to find out what you are!

Posted in Activism, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Skepticism | Tagged , , | 10 Comments