You’ll probably get the urge to yawn if you stare at this yawning dog. Why? Because you’re a kind and empathetic person, of course! That explanation, and more, in this month’s thrilling edition of PsychNotes. Continue reading “June PsychNotes”
Here’s a little challenge for ya. Take a look at this chart of cognitive biases and see if you can identify two that you’re especially guilty of, and two that you’re reasonably good at avoiding. I suffer inordinately from reactive devaluation and gambler’s fallacy, and I’ve gotten reasonably skilled at avoiding confirmation bias and hyperbolic discounting, when I try. How about you? Continue reading “May PsychNotes”
The 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”
What is green and pecks on trees? Woody the Woodpickle. (That joke never fails with kids.) Here are some goodies from last month, including studies on woodpecker brain damage, preventing extramarital affairs, and why your brain might not trust certain people. Continue reading “March PsychNotes”
Wanna 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”
Someone once said the problem with the future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it. Ready or not, happy new year! Here are a few items that caught my attention as 2017 wound down. Continue reading “January PsychNotes”
Happy November! Sometimes it seems like everything is a competition. My own brain can’t even get along with itself. Here are some recent tidbits about our subtle inner tug-o-wars. Continue reading “November 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”