Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

The Neuroscience of What Makes People Trigger-Happy

Not just violence on TV and in games, but just having a weapon will increase the chances of violence.  Scary.  From Time magazine:

Trayvon Martin: The Neuroscience of What Makes People Trigger-Happy

Our brains are wired to be unreasonable when it comes to perceived threats
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April 20, 2012 Posted by | neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

“There is someone in my head, but it’s not me”

Most of the work in your brain happens unbeknownst to (or before your) conscious self.  Excerpts from David Eagleman’s excellent book Incognito, from September 2011 issue of Discover magazine:

Your Brain Knows a Lot More Than You Realize


Neuroscientist David Eagleman explores the processes and skills of the subconscious mind, which our conscious selves rarely consider.

by David Eagleman

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October 10, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, brain, neuroscience, psychology | , , , | 2 Comments

The End of Morality

A neuroscientific look at morality incorporating the most recent research. Fascinating read. From Discover magazine, July-August 2011 issue:

The Vexing Mental Tug-of-War Called Morality

Would you kill a crying baby to save yourself and others from hostile soldiers outside? Neuroscience offers new ways to approach such moral questions, allowing logic to triumph over deep-rooted instinct.

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September 12, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, neuroscience | | 1 Comment

Grow your brain

A few good tips besides the well-known exercise and meditation. From The Globe & Mail, April 19, 2010:

How to grow your brain: It takes more than just math puzzles

By Wency Leung
A walk in the park or a game of Whac-a-Mole may hold the key to a thicker cortex, say the team behind The Winner’s Brain

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | brain, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

Failure can be good for you, if you let it.  This article explains the why and the how.  An illuminating quote:

“…we carefully edit our reality, searching for evidence that confirms what we already believe. Although we pretend we’re empiricists — our views dictated by nothing but the facts — we’re actually blinkered, especially when it comes to information that contradicts our theories.”

Check out the “How to learn from failure” part at the end of the article. From Wired, Jan 2010:

Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

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January 6, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, neuroscience | , | Leave a comment

How Much of Your Memory Is True?

As it turns out, you can’t always tell — just confirms how much you cannot trust your memories.

From the August 3, 2009 edition of Discover Magazine:

How Much of Your Memory Is True?

New research shows that memories are constantly being re-written by our minds.

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September 23, 2009 Posted by | brain, neuroscience | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

Humans have a tendency to see patterns in everything, even when there is none (“patternicity”);  there is also the tendency to assume there is an agent causing actions (“agenticity”), explained in the article below.  I am thinking that the “agenticity” could be an extension of our “patternicity” — since we see the pattern of  cause-effect so often, when we do not see the cause, we make it up (the invisible agents).  What do you think?

From Scientific American Magazine –  May 19, 2009

Why People Believe Invisible Agents Control the World

A Skeptic’s take on souls, spirits, ghosts, gods, demons, angels, aliens and other invisible powers that be

By Michael Shermer

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May 23, 2009 Posted by | behaviour, creationism, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, religion | , , , | 1 Comment

Irrational about money

Michael Shermer’s blog about money (“Why People Believe Weird Things About Money“) describes how people would choose less money over more as long as the less money is more than someone else would get.  The article also describes how this “irrational” trait has been observed in monkeys too, suggesting that it is a behaviour that evolved pre-humans.  A very worthwhile read.

I found one of the responses (reproduced below) questioning the “irrational” label of this trait, highly entertaining:

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January 24, 2008 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, evolutionary psychology, neuroeconomics, neuroscience | Leave a comment

Thinking with your body

The article below suggests that our brain and bodies are more closely linked than we think. From the Boston Globe:

Don’t just stand there, think

New research suggests that we think not just with our brains, but with our bodies

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January 18, 2008 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, neuroscience | Leave a comment

What your brain looks like on faith

Study examining how the brain processes belief.

“…within the brain pan, at least, the distinction between objective and subjective is not so clear-cut. Although more complex assertions may get analyzed in so-called “higher” areas of the brain, all seem to get their final stamp of “belief” or disbelief in “primitive” locales traditionally associated with emotions or taste and odor…”

What Your Brain Looks Like on Faith

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January 3, 2008 Posted by | behaviour, brain, neuroscience, religion | Leave a comment