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The Power of Green

It’s not just fresh air that helps clear your mind when you take a walk in the park — simply being around plants and trees has a beneficial effect, too. What can numb pain, make you a better person, and help you concentrate … ? A plant. It may sound far-fetched, but it’s true. While big pharmaceutical companies spend billions trying to come up with new medications to [ … ]

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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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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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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 [ … ]

aging

Call in the (Cognitive) Reserves!

How many paths does your brain have? Our thoughts run across a massive, diverse network of synaptic pathways, with trillions of synapses that form a staggering number of possible connections. Every human brain has more potential synaptic combinations than there are atoms in the universe [ … ]

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Exploring the Uncanny Valley

With bright red lips, rosy cheeks, and painted smiles, clowns are creepy. They make us balloons shaped like puppies, dance, and tell jokes — they even come out of small clown cars, all to make us laugh. So why are these (supposedly) beloved clowns so unnerving? It’s because of the “uncanny valley” [ … ]