April PsychNotes

Harvesting the spaghetti crop, 1957The first mass media April Fool joke was reportedly the BBC’s 1957 Panorama segment on spaghetti harvesting, for which a cameraman hung “pounds of spaghetti over trees in a little Swiss village” and persuaded locals to harvest the crop. The BBC was inundated with calls. “[T]he majority either wanted to know where they could see a spaghetti harvest, or obtain information to start a spaghetti farm” (Humphrys 1999).

It was a simpler time. Here are some research goodies from last month. Continue reading “April PsychNotes”

February PsychNotes

phrenologistWanna hear a joke? A neuron and a glial cell went to summer camp. When they arrived at the barracks, the neuron demanded the top bunk. “Why should I get stuck on the bottom,” asked the glial cell. The neuron answered, “because I want to have a high resting potential!” (I didn’t say it was a good joke.) Here’s some recent news, starting with the brain’s tiny unsung heroes. Continue reading “February PsychNotes”

October PsychNotes

We’re approaching binge-eating season. It seems natural selection has saddled us with a powerful hankerin’ to bulk up for the winter. There was a time when a little extra weight helped us live longer, and science has shown that being not-dead makes it easier to pass on DNA. Hence, DNA tells us to store extra fat for what it thinks will be lean times.

But as Steven Pinker said, “my genes can go jump in a lake.” You are free to disobey your DNA if it is telling you to snuggle up with a Cinnabon for the next six months. Here are some compelling, brain-related reasons to burn calories rather than store them this fall. Continue reading “October PsychNotes”

PsychNotes • Get Me Some Numbers, Stat!

Here’s a fact of life as comforting as it is troubling: most everything regresses to the mean. The good news: every sweltering day will eventually be followed by a cooler one. The bad news: every eight-year-old with a stratospheric IQ will be closer to average by the time they’re 10. Numbers are so beautiful and so heartless. Here are five (5) stories on the subject. No more, no less. Continue reading “PsychNotes • Get Me Some Numbers, Stat!”