“The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%,” is the tagline for Lucy, the new Scarlett Johansson speculative thriller, but isn't it just as likely that the reason our average brains max out at around one tenth of their dimensions is due to an abundance of caution? Given our transcendent abilities to do damage to ourselves and those around us with that mere sliver of cranial capacity it seems probable on an evolutionary standpoint that the other 90% of our head-stuffing chooses to remain fallow from the firm conviction that exercising even another couple percentage points would result in destruction on [...]
"In a new study, researchers found that when people wrote down their unwanted negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then threw the paper away, they mentally discarded the thoughts as well."
"In a series of papers on adolescent health published in The Lancet today, scientists describe how new research has changed our understanding of adolescence which was thought to start with the physical changes to the body around puberty and to be completed when growth stopped in the late teens. Now researchers believe the brain goes on maturing and is not fully developed until at least the age of 24."
"So if teens think as well as adults do and recognize risk just as well, why do they take more chances? Here, as elsewhere, the problem lies less in what teens lack compared with adults than in what they have more of. Teens take more risks not because they don't understand the dangers but because they weigh risk versus reward differently: In situations where risk can get them something they want, they value the reward more heavily than adults do." —This is a good read on how the teen brain works. God, you couldn't pay me enough to be that age again. [Via]
A study of 550 birds of 48 different species living in the exclusion zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Russia showed a five percent decrease in brain size directly attributable to lingering radiation. Measures taken after the reactor exploded of 1986 found traces of radioactive material in pretty much every country north of the equator. So count on future generations of humans to walk into screen doors even more frequently than we all do now. (Sidebar: the person who took the video is mean.)
A new study suggests that, contrary to popular opinion, the brains of risk-taking teens might be more mature and adult-like than those of teens who are less cool likely to engage in such behavior. It also raises the possibility that we might actually be evaluating risk-taking behavior through the prism of ageism.
“Intuition is thinking without thinking. It's what people call gut feelings. Women tend to be better than men at these kinds of skill which are linked with being good mothers,” says a professor who is probably never gonna hear the end of it for making that statement.
"An Arizona man who had a runny nose for more than 18 months was actually leaking fluid from his brain." If I may briefly voice an opinion about this story: GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH OMG SO GROSS UGH MY WHOLE HEAD FEELS DISGUSTING NOW SERIOUSLY UGGGGGGH. Okay, I'm a little better. For now.
Hey, guess what, Moderate Drinkers? You're hurting your hippocampus too! So you can stop looking down at those of us with more robust thirsts.
I have very recently come to realize that I am a terrible friend. Well, perhaps "terrible" is a bit of an overstatement: I will be there for you if you come to me in need, or really make any kind of effort at all, but otherwise I try to keep my head down and not get involved. There are plenty of reasons for this, mostly involving fatigue and heavy drinking and a crippling sense of dread at the thought of picking up the phone just to chat and catch up on your life. In a sense, our new electronic world has been a major accomplice in my declining amiability; [...]
"Young people’s brains are developing while they are immersed in fast, multitasking technology. No one quite knows what effect this is having." —Unlike, you know, playing stickball in the street. Or running around catching fireflies in an idyllic suburban backyard. Or doing math! What about all that writing by hand, with pens and paper? I bet that did crazy things to brains. Anyway, I hereby sentence David Brooks to 40 consecutive Tree of Life viewings.
Science, what excuse can you give me for my inappropriate behaviors today?
The brain does not stop developing until we are in our 30s or 40s – meaning that many people will still have something of the teenager about them long after they have taken on the responsibilities of adulthood. The finding, from University College London, could perhaps help explain why seemingly respectable adults sometimes just can’t resist throwing a tantrum or sulking until they get their own way. The discovery that the part of the brain key to getting on with others takes decades to fully form could perhaps also explain why some people are socially awkward [...]
"Regular consumption of sugar-laden fizzy drinks could ‘profoundly’ change the brain, experts fear. A study found that long-term consumption of a sweet drink led to hyperactivity and altered hundreds of proteins in the brain. Similar brain changes have been seen in illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease."
"The memory of eating a large meal can make people feel less hungry hours after tucking into food, according to new research."
Now that mad cow disease is back, should you be worried? They say no here, but I'm a big believer in the idea that if something bad could happen it almost definitely will happen, so, yeah, go ahead and panic. Let's not pretend like there aren't tons of wacky cattle pieces in the system already. In fact, if you've consumed red meat in the last, oh, twenty years or so, it is fairly certain that BSE WILL EAT YOUR BRAIN. So there's really nothing to be done about it at this point. Might as well go have that burger.
"This study revealed that Bengalese finches can learn grammar and, furthermore, that their grammatical abilities involve a specific part of the brain region distinct from other brain regions involved in singing. This is similar to what neuroscientists understand about human language processing. If the tweets of birds can be roughly likened to strings of human words, and if birdbrains process songs in a way similar to how human brains process language, future research may tackle whether these animals possess other cognitive abilities once thought to be singularly characteristic of human intelligence." —Of course, as soon I come all out my face talking about how birds are stupid and [...]
"Here are two facts: (1) we now know from the new science of attention and the most recent findings in neuroscience that our brain is not, as was previously thought, an inheritance that come with all of its components fixed and certain; the brain is a learning organism and that means it is constantly changed by its environment, by what it experiences, by its interactions. But (2) except in B-horror movies ('The Brain that Wouldn't Die' or 'The Brain from Planet Arous' and so forth), the brain doesn't power itself and it doesn't power us. The brain R us. That is, what we experience our brain experiences." —HASTAC co-founder, [...]
So, okay, there is story about narrative and attention span and print and Internet, and part of it goes like this: "'We experience our lives in narrative form,' says novelist Jonathan Franzen. 'If you can't order things in a narrative fashion, your life is a chaotic bowl of mush.'" That is not how I visualize my mind or my life at all! I thought we were all pretty convinced that there were freeway offramp pathways between topics, and filing cabinets of things that are filed next to associated things, instead of by some structured use of the alphabet or by some mental Dewey Decimal system. It is a strandy [...]