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Sleep Drug Modafinil Affirmed by Scientists as a Safe and Effective Brain Booster

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.
» 8/20/15 3:00pm 8/20/15 3:00pm

If You Could Take a Pill to Improve Your Creativity, Would You?

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? » 8/18/15 3:20pm 8/18/15 3:20pm

When You Have an Orgasm for No Reason

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… » 8/18/15 11:30am 8/18/15 11:30am

Could You Charge an iPhone with the Electricity in Your Brain?

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. » 8/12/15 9:22am 8/12/15 9:22am

Musical Training Can Accelerate Brain Development and Help With Literacy

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… » 7/21/15 10:40am 7/21/15 10:40am

How a Human Scream Uniquely Activates the Fear Response in Your Brain

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. » 7/17/15 1:00pm 7/17/15 1:00pm

How the Science of Smell is Changing Modern Warfare

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… » 7/17/15 11:21am 7/17/15 11:21am

You're Using Neural Networks Every Day Online—Here's How They Work

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. » 7/13/15 11:03am 7/13/15 11:03am

What You Probably Don't Know About the Most Famous Case in Neuroscience

In 1845, a meter-long iron rod pierced the skull of Vermont railway worker Phineas Gage. The resulting changes to his personality forever changed our perception of the human brain. But what happened next to Gage is rarely covered in textbooks — a problematic oversight, say psychologists.
» 6/30/15 10:40am 6/30/15 10:40am

Here's How That New Sex Pill for Women Actually Works

Yesterday, the FDA voted to approve flibanserin, a new drug to treat women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or lack of desire for sex. The drug, marketed as Addyi, has been touted as “female Viagra,” in the sense that it helps bring sex back into these women’s lives. But flibanserin doesn’t actually work like… » 6/29/15 3:39pm 6/29/15 3:39pm

Some People Can't Conjure Mental Images. Are You One of Them?

Mentally count the windows in your home. Did you close your eyes? Visualize your house’s layout in your head? I did, when I tried this task. But some people, researchers have discovered, seem to be incapable of producing and holding such images in their mind’s eye. (They’re also perfectly capable of answering the… » 6/25/15 11:00am 6/25/15 11:00am