Experienced Scrabble players know there’s more to the game than an expansive vocabulary. An effective player should also be able to quickly find words in a jumble of letters. Developing this skill, reports a team of Canadian researchers, will not only improve your game, it will change the way you use your brain. »
Skipping a night of sleep to work on a project or study for an exam is something many of us have done at one time or another. But what does sleep deprivation actually do to the brain? A new study shows that all-nighters are not without neural consequences—some of them potentially longterm.
We’re still a long ways off from achieving technologically-enabled telepathy, but a recent question-and-answer experiment by researchers at the University of Washington shows that progress is being made. »
The definition of autism is getting increasingly broader. As a result, we are building a new reality of the disorder that doesn’t accurately represent the most affected population.
It’s no secret that drinking coffee shortly before bedtime disrupts sleep, but a new study suggests that caffeine can actually affect our body’s internal clock, pushing back our natural rhythms by nearly an hour. »
We still have no idea how the brain produces conscious awareness. In this excellent short video produced by The Economist, various experts are called upon to explain the “hard problem” that is consciousness, and how scientists might solve this profound mystery. »
We think in binaries: plant/animal, day/night, edible/disgusting, safe/dangerous. Breaking the world into discrete chunks helps us make rapid decisions about how to behave, but can also make us uneasy when we’re faced with things that don’t easily fit into one of our mental boxes. »
Off-license users of modafinil—a drug developed to treat various sleep disorders—have known for some time that it doubles as a surprisingly effective cognitive enhancer, and with very few side effects. A new systematic review shows it’s true, raising some important ethical questions about the use of smart drugs.
Sure, who wouldn’t want to be more creative? But what about a pill to improve your self-control, or sociability? What if you enjoy being impulsive, or revel in your alone time? If a pharmacological enhancement changed a defining aspect of your personality, how would it change your perception of that enhancement? »
Taste receptors don’t only exist in your mouth. You can find them all over your body, including your stomach, your lungs, and your colon. Why? It turns out the taste receptors are much more versatile tools than we suppose. »
Imagine you’re playing a video game, maybe walking somewhere, basically minding your own business when the orgasm arrives. No arousal, no physical stimulation, no buildup, no control: just an instantaneous shift from status quo to woaaah. It’s called an orgasmic seizure. Here’s what scientists are learning from people… »
Ever since Morpheus explained how the machines use humans as batteries in The Matrix, we’ve been fascinated by the idea. But can the human body actually generate enough current to do anything useful? We decided to find out, by asking experts how long it would take a human brain to charge an iPhone. »
The notion that musical training can have positive effects on cognitive functions other than music has long been a source of interest. Research first emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. Standardised assessments of IQ and musical ability suggested the two were correlated – and it was thought that… »
When the love of your life dumps you, you’re going to go a little nuts. But it’s a very specific form of crazy: There are actually conflicting neural systems active inside your brain. It’s like you’re falling in love all over again, only in reverse. Here’s how neuroscience explains it. »
We know human screams are jarring. They’re loud, occasionally shrill, and tend to make us feel stressed, or even fearful. What’s unclear is why they elicit anxiety. But a new study suggests this response may have something to do with the acoustic quality of human screams, and how they trigger the brain’s fear response. »
The sensory chaos of battle has always posed a challenge to armies hoping to prepare for—and recover from—war. And while it’s clear to most people how sight and sound factor into a soldier’s experience and memory of battle, the smells of combat were, for most of history, largely ignored. But by the eve of the 20th… »
Science is full of lucky whoopsies, and psychiatric medication has more than its share. From incredibly wrong-headed ways to keep people from masturbating to making TB patients dance, here’s how we (accidentally) got the modern pharmaceutical industry. »
If you use Google’s new Photos app, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Skype’s new translation function, you’re using a form of AI on a daily basis. AI was first dreamed up in the 1950s, but has only recently become a practical reality — all thanks to software systems called neural networks. This is how they work. »