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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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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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 […]

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The Neuroscience of Jokes

“A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes have rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator” […]

aging

Charles Darwin on the Expression of Human Emotions

As Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progresses into its middle stage and later, word-finding skills diminish and meaningful verbal communication becomes increasingly impaired or even nonexistent. The thoughts, desires and emotions of a person with AD still remain, but how can a caregiver discern what they might be? The answer may, in part, be located in the research and writings of Charles Darwin […]

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Man’s Best Friend For 32,000 Years (and Counting)

Dogs and humans share a mutual desperation for each other’s attention. According to a study in Nature Communications, scientists estimate that dogs and humans have been best friends for quite some time; they’re talking, 32,000 years! By sequencing the genomes of our hairy best friends – dogs – and comparing them with their even hairier ancient ancestors – grey wolves […]

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The Myth Of Multitasking

In today’s modern, technologically advanced world, with e-mail and smartphones and Twitter and Facebook demanding all of our attention all of the time — even as we work, socialize and play — multitasking may seem like the only answer. But science cautions us to restrict multitasking efforts: do not deceive yourself — you are not accomplishing more by multitasking. […]