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Can We Trust Our Intuition? A Q&A with Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is the world’s pre-eminent investigator of the ways in which the limits of our cognitive abilities shape our judgments. Since the late 1960s, his work, much of which was carried out in close collaboration with the late Amos Tversky (1937–1996), has focused on our intuitive judgments. One of Kahneman and Tversky’s favored methods of studying such […]

aging

How Hormones Help Your Body

The body produces the chemicals we call hormones to control all kinds of body functions. Glands, the organs that secrete hormones, make up the endocrine system, which helps to regulate functions such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Imagine hormones as the Pony Express of the body, delivering important chemical messages and instructions. The brain produces seven […]

aging

Three Quandaries of Getting Really Old

In the college classes I teach, students are concerned about what happens in what they call “old age.” Of course the best answer is, “It surely beats the alternative.” But often, that’s not enough. Some students actually express the desire to die relatively young — as young as 50! (Which will seem old to them — until they get close to it.) But perhaps that’s because […]

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How to Keep Calm and Carry On

One of my scientific heroes, positive-psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, published a study a few years ago showing that the largest variable in determining our level of life satisfaction is resilience – the ability to bounce back quickly from life’s small and large upsets. It wasn’t having […]

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Can Addiction Be Positive?

Is there such a thing as “positive” addiction? It sounds contradictory. But what exactly is addiction? An issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter advises us that uncontrollable craving and prolonged use of a substance are involved. The idea of craving was highlighted by research in the 1990s […]

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What Buddha Can Do For Your Brain

Just as we can get better at playing tennis or cooking steak, we can get better at using our brains, re-training it so that we become happier, more resilient people, says neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., co-author (with Richard Mendius, M.D.) of the bestselling book “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom.” Using principles at the intersection of psychology […]

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The Aha! Moment: The Science Behind Creative Insight

For most of us, it usually occurs at the most inopportune times; never when we’re searching for it. To Archimedes, it happened in the bathtub. Newton experienced it while wandering an apple orchard. Arthur Fry: church. Each encountered an epiphany, that powerful moment of spontaneous insight. Archimedes shouted Eureka! upon realizing how to calculate density […]

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Inside The Dream Mind

What goes on inside your brain when you’re dreaming? Well, as it happens, no one seems to know exactly. Not the mystics with the crystal balls, not the dream interpreters, and not even, as you might suspect, scientists. While several theories are floating about in both the scientific and non-scientific worlds about what dreams are […]

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You Are Getting Sleepy: The Art of Hypnosis

While driving on a trip from New York City to the Catskills, which I had taken numerous times, I noticed a tree was missing in a spot along the route. I was surprised that I recognized one tree among many miles of scenery. I knew that I could not have paid attention to every single tree or house or any other item on the route. How could my mind keep track of such things when I wasn’t […]

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5 Ways to Conquer Distraction in a Super-Connected World

The human race has reached a point of information overload, or at least a point where some feel so overwhelmed by an unrelenting firehose of messages delivered 24/7 by our various devices that they would risk their lives while driving just to retrieve one more text message or phone call. Our brains have evolved to adapt and change easily, so we are in the midst of a grand experiment […]

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Where’s Your Brain’s Dictionary?

Research from MIT suggests that there are parts of our brain dedicated to language and only language, a finding that marks a major advance in the search for brain regions specialized for sophisticated mental functions. Functional specificity, as it’s known to cognitive scientists, refers to the idea that discrete parts of the brain handle distinct tasks. […]

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Building a Better Brain

If you are a teacher and it is your job to open minds, shouldn’t you know how the brain works? If you are a parent, wouldn’t an understanding of brain development provide useful insights into successful child-rearing? As the proud owner of the most complex object in the entire universe, understanding how the human brain works, and the kinds of changes […]