Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Strange Illusion Shows The Human Brain Mess With Time to Maintain Our Expectations


'I saw it with my own eyes' is something people often say. The implication is that since we perceived something, it must have happened.

But what we perceive can be influenced by a great many things, and a strange new experiment shows just how easily our perceptions can be manipulated by our own expectations and assumptions.

In a new study, scientists discovered a "novel perceptual illusion" that effectively reorders the perceived temporal order of events in a sequence.

"Is our perception of time and temporal order a faithful reflection of what happens in the world (or at least what arrives at our retina) or can seemingly higher-level expectations, such as [presumed] causality, affect the order in which we experience events occurring?" writes a team of researchers led by first author and experimental psychologist Christos Bechlivanidis from University College London.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Why Too Much Empathy Can Be Unhealthy


Experiencing empathy has its benefits, but there are also many downsides to it, which is why we must learn to practise healthy empathy.

Empathy is an ability to sync emotionally and cognitively with another person; it is a capacity to perceive a world from their perspective or share their emotional experiences. It is essential for building and maintaining relationships, as it helps us connect with others at a deeper level. It is also associated with higher self-esteem and life purpose.

There are broadly two types of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Emotional empathy is about sharing feelings with others to the extent that you may experience pain when watching someone in pain, or experience distress when watching someone in distress. This is what happens to many people when they watch upsetting news on TV, especially when they relate to specific people and their lives.

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Here's How The Human Brain Reboots Itself After The Deep Sleep of Anesthesia


You may well have spent hours wondering what your laptop is up to as it takes its time to boot up. Scientists have asked the same question of the human brain: How exactly does it restart after being anesthetized, in a coma, or in a deep sleep?

Using a group of 30 healthy adults who were anesthetized for three hours, and a group of 30 healthy adults who weren't as a control measure, a 2021 study reveals some insights into how the brain drags itself back into consciousness.

It turns out that the brain switches back on one section at a time, rather than all at once – and abstract problem-solving capabilities, as handled by the prefrontal cortex, are the functions that come back online the quickest. Other brain areas, including those managing reaction time and attention, take longer.

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Thursday, March 3, 2022



RESEARCHERS have been steadily gathering important insights into the effects of Covid-19 on the body and brain. Two years into the pandemic, these findings are raising concerns about the long-term impacts the coronavirus might have on biological processes such as aging.

As a cognitive neuroscientist, I have focused in my past research on understanding how brain changes related to aging affect people’s ability to think and move — particularly in middle age and beyond.

But as evidence came in showing that Covid-19 could affect the body and brain for months following infection, my research team shifted some of its focus to better understanding how the illness might influence the natural process of aging. This was motivated in large part by compelling new work from the United Kingdom investigating the effect of Covid-19 on the human brain.

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Sunday, February 20, 2022

Meta-analysis suggests psychopathy may be an adaptation, rather than a mental disorder


A meta-analysis of 16 studies revealed no differences in the rates of non right-handedness between community individuals who scored high and low in psychopathy, psychopathic and non-psychopathic offenders, and psychopathic and non-psychopathic mental health patients, partially supporting the adaptive strategy model of psychopathy. This research was published in Evolutionary Psychology.

Psychopathy is characterised by “antisocial, impulsive, manipulative, and callous behavior” and was long considered a mental disorder. Today, many of the defining features of psychopathy fall under the diagnostic criteria of Antisocial Personality Disorder in the DSM-5. Despite a widespread belief among the scientific community that psychopathy is a mental disorder, “an alternative, evolution-minded perspective has been proposed: that psychopathy is instead a life history strategy of social exploitation maintained by negative frequency-dependent selection,” write Lesleigh E. Pullman and colleagues.

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

Stress relief: how the “PEACE” method can help manage emotional responses to stressful situations

I have always been a crier. Whether I'm happy or sad, frustrated or shocked, tears have tended to be my go-to emotional response.

But throughout the pandemic, the tears dried up and I found myself turning to other coping mechanisms to deal with the daily stress and anxiety of lockdown.

When put under pressure, we all react in different ways, and some are healthier than others. But according to Amy Saltzman, MD, a holistic physician and mindfulness coach, in times of difficulty, our choices don't always decrease our stress. Sometimes, they actually increase it.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Our Favorite Neuroscience Stories of 2021


From a Nobel prize and photosynthesis-powered brains to neurodegeneration research and controversy over a new Alzheimer’s drug, a look back at some of the biggest brain-related developments of the year.

This year saw innovations in augmenting the brain’s capabilities by plugging it in to advanced computing technology. For example, a biology teacher who lost her vision 16 years ago was able to distinguish shapes and letters with the help of special glasses that interfaced with electrodes implanted in her brain. Along a similar vein, a computer connected to a brain-implant system discerned brain signals for handwriting in a paralyzed man, enabling him to type up to 90 characters per minute with an accuracy above 90 percent. Such studies are a step forward for technologies that marry cutting-edge neuroscience and computational innovation in an attempt to improve people’s lives.

In one of the year’s stranger developments, researchers were able to supply tadpoles with oxygen using photosynthetic microorganisms, allowing for continued brain function even under hypoxic conditions. The team injected photosynthetic algae into tadpoles kept in low-oxygen conditions, and upon exposure to light, the concentration of oxygen in the animals’ ventricles increased and their brain activity resumed. Still, the finding’s applicability to animals where light would not be able to penetrate the skin and reach the brain is limited.