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Notes to Live By: Why Your Brain Craves Music

Music isn’t essential for our survival. You won’t die if you go without listening for a week, and it’s not necessary for procreation. So why does your brain crave music? In an issue of Science, neuroscientists reported that music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, the same brain structure that releases dopamine, the “pleasure chemical,” during sex and eating. [ … ]

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A Look at the Write Brain

Verbal language of some sort has likely been part of the human experience since the dawn of Homo sapiens. Writing, on the other hand, is not innately part of the human brain’s repertoire of behaviors. All human cultures include speech, but not all have written language, and, even today [ … ]

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Will We All Be Gamers Someday?

Gone are the days of video games merely being an idle pastime for the average couch potato, when all that mattered was pushing buttons for the right moves and getting to the next level. With their ability to embed in the brains of longtime gamers and change human behavior, video games have evolved [ … ]

aging

For The Artist, Age Has Its Advantages

Artistic activity of all kinds — painting, music, writing, crafts, and hobbies — seems to benefit both society and its most senior citizens. It is no accident, I think, that ancient people relied upon their elders to be their “seers,” the visionaries whose final occupation it was to create order out of elemental chaos. [ … ]

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Your Brain on Altered States: On the Origin of Altering Consciousness

When you think of altered states of consciousness (ASC), what are some of the first things that come to mind? If you’re like most of us — and not a neuroscientist or anthropologist — you’ll probably think of 1960s counterculture; of school buses decorated with psychedelic colors and images, crazed rock concerts and the popular use of LSD and other psychoactive drugs. [ … ]

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How Secrets Make Us Sick

Are you familiar with the 2005 film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”? It’s a fantastic romantic action comedy about two married assassins who work for competing firms. The punch line here is that each of them believes their spouse to be a regular civilian — that is, until their companies team up and try to have them kill each other. [ … ]